Every month, we look at news briefs from around the world, courtesy of Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. This month, a look at the major LGBTQ political wins in Colombia, but bad news in the United States as bills that would criminalize child marriage are shot down over homophobia. Also, Israel is turning away queer refugees to Uganda, despite laws there making homosexuality illegal. All that and more in this month’s look at world news.
HIV self-testing kits are making it easier for LGBTQ people to get care without worrying about queerphobia
A randomized trial in Burma found that HIV self-testing kits can be successfully used and help link trans women, gay men, and other men who have sex with men to care. A study in South Africa of gay and bisexual men found that nearly all participants were willing and able to use self-testing kits.
Body image troubles are still plaguing the LGBTQ community
Also in Canada, a program “Every Body” was launched to help queer men struggling with body image issues. And in the US, a first-of-its-kind national study found that 54% of surveyed LGBTQ youth had been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Of those diagnosed, 58% have also had considered or attempted suicide.
Homophobes and religious extremists are blocking a Philippine anti-discrimination bill
In the Philippines, Senator Risa Hontiveros resubmitted the Anti-discrimination Bill (ADB) in December—a bill intended to prevent discrimination against any person regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. However, supporters of ADB say that some representatives are purposefully blocking its passage and refusing to call a vote. Meanwhile, thousands of people led by the “Jesus Is Lord (JIL)” movement rallied in front of the Senate to oppose the bill.
Colombia now has new LGBTQ congressmembers
In Colombia’s recent elections, 14 LGBT candidates ran for Congress. For the first time, the public elected openly bisexual Angélica Lozano to the Senate and openly gay Mauricio Toro Orjuela to the Congress. In the Philippines, the country’s first openly trans woman elected to Congress, Representative Geraldine Roman, has become the first openly trans military officer, joining the Reserves.
German homophobes give up on trying to undo marriage equality
In Germany, the Christian Social Union (CSU) political party has abandoned efforts to reverse same-sex marriage, which was legalized in the country last year, after a legal report concluded any challenge would have little chance of succeeding.
United States politicians refuse to ban child marriage in fears of it keeping them from banning same-sex marriage
In the United States, politicians in Kentucky and Tennessee came under fire for refusing to consider bills to ban child marriage. Reportedly, the Kentucky Family Foundation and the Family Action Council of Tennessee had lobbied politicians to delay the bills, arguing that child marriage decisions should be a parent’s choice; and in Tennessee, arguing that any bill on marriage would disrupt efforts to reverse gay marriage rights. National media coverage sparked public outrage, and both bills will now be brought back to a vote.
Courts in the United States and Thailand rule against trans job discrimination
Thailand’s Central Administrative Court ruled that Thammasat University unfairly fired trans lecturer Kath Khangpiboon.
The US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employer unlawfully fired a trans woman due to her gender identity, finding that discriminating against trans workers is a form of sex bias. The employer had claimed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected his decision to fire the woman, but the judge stated:
Tolerating Stephens’ understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.
The ruling comes on the heels of the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that found that sex bias includes protection for sexual orientation.
Hate, sadly, is on the rise worldwide
Writing for the Guardian, Natalia Antonova asserted that current far-right ideology “tends to transcend borders” and that hate and bigotry should not be thought of as a “localized phenomenon”. Instead, she argues:
Shared humanity, the idea of belonging to a common cause – these are the tools we have at our disposal if we wish to adequately address the rising tide of hate.
An Indonesian mob raids the home of two men who hugged
From Indonesia came reports that a mob raided the home of two men accused of being gay after the men were seen hugging. The mob took the men to the police where they were subsequently sent to “prayer rehab” at Jakarta’s Social Agency. In a separate report, the Agency’s head of rehabilitation said that trans women are classified as “people with social dysfunctional traits” and, as such, they are also being rounded up and sent to rehabilitation centers. He declared that any person sent to rehabilitation must promise not to “repeat the violation”:
Once or twice is still OK, but if we catch them a third time, they can be sent to jail for committing the same violation over and over.
Israel is turning away queer refugees to Uganda, despite laws criminalizing homosexuality
Israel has begun detaining and deporting asylum seekers, who are mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, to “third countries”—Rwanda and Uganda. Although women and children have been excluded from deportation, Border Authorities confirmed that gay and bisexual asylum seekers are not excluded, despite laws in Uganda that criminalize homosexuality.
Hornet brings attentions to global issues of significance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Our partnership with Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, is part of that effort. To learn more, visit their site at Equal-Eyes.org.
This coverage promotes sexual and gender equality while highlighting issues of health, violence, culture, and legal and human rights. Equal Eyes provides advocates and allies a common frame of reference for the realities of global LGBTI communities. Through followup reporting and disseminating this coverage, our effort is to ensure we have a representation of the global stories that matter most or may have under-reporting.
Featured image by Daniel Estrin/NPR