Why we’re covering this: Even the most homophobic countries are being forced to face LGBTQ-rights head on. It’s not always good news, but it is a sign of how things are changing — and a reminder that, over all, the moral arc of the universe may be long but tends towards justice.
The European Parliament released its latest progress reports on LGBTI rights in Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albania. The Parliament also adopted a report expressing concern over the rights of Central Asian LGBTI citizens with particular mention of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Member of European Parliament Malin Björk warned that initiatives that restrict LGBTI people ‘take place in an environment where government critics are imprisoned and independent groups and opposition parties are silenced.’
The UK issued a travel advisory warning against travel to US states North Carolina and Mississippi, noting that LGBT visitors may be adversely affected. During a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US president Obama said the legislation was ‘wrong and should be overturned.’ Meanwhile, US nonprofit Trans Lifeline reported that calls to their national suicide hotline have doubled since North Carolina passed anti-LGBT House Bill 2.
Across the 53 countries that comprise the Commonwealth, 40 still uphold colonial laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity. In a new ‘Toolkit for Policy Progress‘ the Royal Commonwealth Society and Kaleidoscope Trust investigate how rights of LGBT citizens can be expanded across the Commonwealth.
Swedish Public Health minister Gabriel Wikström announced that the government will compensate transgender people who—up until 2013—were forced to undergo sterilization as a requirement for gender reassignment surgery.
The Jerusalem District Court convicted the man who murdered a 16 year old and injured 6 others during the Gay Pride Parade last year. In the ruling the court condemned police for allowing the man access to the parade as he had only recently been released from jail, having served 10 years in prison for stabbing people during the 2005 Pride Parade.
An Egyptian court convicted 11 men accused of homosexuality and sentenced them to serve between 3 and 12 years in prison.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued its first judgment on issues related to same-sex couples, ruling against Colombia for denying a man pension benefits after his partner of 10 years passed.
Eric Gitari of Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commision filed a case asking the Kenyan High Court to strike out portions of the Penal Code that criminalize same-sex sexual activity.
Also in Kenya the Mombasa High Court heard a constitutional petition against forced anal examinations to ‘detect homosexuality’ filed by two men against police and health officials. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has called the exams ‘a practice that is medically worthless and amounts to torture or ill-treatment.’
A Thailand court ruled in favor of a couple whose surrogate refused to sign custody papers after discovering the biological father and his partner are gay. The couple and their baby had been unable to leave Thailand without proper documentation since January 2015.
After a Deputy Inspector-General of Police in Malaysia announced that even ‘qualified’ LGBT people would not be allowed to serve as officers, activists issued an open letter urging police to follow the example of Philippine police who undergo gender and sexuality sensitivity training.
From Greece activist Stella Belia spoke on the state of LGBT rights and how social equality and civil partnerships fit within the context of the country’s ongoing economic crisis.
In South Africa, migrant rights group Scalabrini Centre launched a photo campaign to promote LGBTI rights and highlight the intersectionality between homophobia and xenophobia. Meanwhile in Spain a campaign meant to advertise for the local LGBT festival sparked criticism with the ambiguous slogan ‘Imagine Madrid without gays.’
For the Huffington Post, writer Stephanie Farnsworth argued that sex work rights and LGBT rights are historically linked and deserve equal attention. And for the Washington Post writer Max Bearak explored why India’s ‘third gender’ communities can’t be defined with Western definitions of ‘transgender.’
In Germany, advocates urged Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière to reject designating Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco as ‘safe countries of origin,’ especially for LGBT asylum seekers who suffer violence in those countries.
Across multiple South African universities the student movement continues to be divided over queer and gender issues after a violent protest earlier this month.
UK students produced short films to tackle LGBT bullying in schools.
The National Health Service (NHS) of England was forced to ‘reconsider’ its decision not to provide PrEP treatment after the National AIDS Trust threatened legal action. Also in the UK public health officials warned that an outbreak of drug-resistant ‘super gonorrhoea’ continues to spread despite a national alert issued last September.
In the US many businesses have come out against anti-LGBT state legislation, stopping contracts and cancelling conferences unless legislation is amended or repealed. However, several of these same companies continue to operate in countries that discriminate or criminalize homosexuality.
…[R]eaching the counseling room I found a lady seated there and she asked for my history and I told them how I love and sleep with boys and the lady looked at me and she said, “we don’t offer services to such people.”
And I was like “I’m a human being who is dying soon, can you please give me drugs and I go?” She told me to move out of the center and go somewhere else. Meanwhile she started calling people to come and see “this rotten person,” so I had to walk out the center and went back home.
I felt like committing suicide — so lost and confused.
— Adroa, a 26 year-old Ugandan who was denied access to HIV treatment because of his sexual orientation.
Unicorn Booty 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 via Catriona Savage/Flickr)