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Every month Hornet looks 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 Chechnya investigation into human rights abuses is officially underway, and the people of Taiwan will soon head to the polls for a referendum on LGBTQ issues.
We’ve got that and more in this monthly look at global LGBTQ headlines.
From the UK, a new report by Stonewall found that LGBT people face “shockingly high level of hostility and unfair treatment” when seeking health care. More than half of those surveyed experienced depression, and 60% experience anxiety. Among trans respondents, 46% had suicidal thoughts, and 12% have attempted suicide. Unfortunately, many are afraid to seek health care, and those who do have experienced discrimination and/or been outed without their consent. Also, 25% say providers have a lack of understanding on LGBT specific needs.
In Malta, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced the opening of a new gender clinic to provide trans people multi-disciplinary services “to ensure competent and specialized assessment and support throughout the gender affirming transition and beyond.”
Sixteen members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have invoked the “Moscow Mechanism” to establish a mission of experts to investigate the reports of human rights abuses in Chechnya against perceived LGBT people, human rights defenders, the media, civil society, and others. Delegations from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the United States had previously requested the Russian delegation explain reports of abuses — including persecution, arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances and executions — but Russia “did not provide a substantive response to our questions.”
In France, efforts to curb months of violence against LGBT people have escalated. Following rallies in Paris and calls from the mayor for change, the Minister of the Interior, Minister of Justice, and the Secretary of Equality met with members of SOS Homophobie, l’Inter-LGBT, FLAG!, and others to discuss actions to counter hate. Meanwhile, politician and activist Jean-Luc Romero has launched a petition calling on the Prime Minister to label LGBTQI-phobias the “Great National Cause” for 2019.
In Mexico, newly sworn in members of the Chamber of Deputies passed a law granting same-sex couples social security benefits. Senator Martha Lucia Micher Camarena said the bill was the first of many planned to support LGBT+ rights.
In Taiwan the public will go to the polls on Nov. 24 and will be asked to vote on five different referendum questions pertaining to sexual education and marriage equality or civil unions. Ahead of the vote, the Referendum Act requires public televised debates must be held on every question. However, many were concerned by reports that the debates were “rigged” in favor of anti-LGBTQ groups. Local fact checking groups report that there are widespread misconceptions about the referendums that could prevent progress. Meanwhile, over 130,000 marched at Taipei Pride calling for the government to keep the promise made by the Judicial Yuan’s 2017 pro-marriage equality ruling.
In South Africa, transgender prisoner Jade September has filed a complaint with the Cape High Court against the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services for refusing to allow her to express her gender identity while incarcerated and subsequently traumatizing her mental health. September isn’t seeking to be moved into a women’s facility, only to be allowed to live with dignity.
Bangladesh acknowledged hijras as a third gender in 2013 and this year added it as a third gender category to voter forms. Earlier this year Taiwan announced it has considered adding a third gender option to identification documents and the Bureau of Consular Affairs confirmed there would be “no technical difficulties” in adding the option to passports.
Indonesian police are again targeting suspected LGBT people for arrest and “rehabilitation.” Police in West Sumatra used Facebook posts to track down and arrest 10 women suspected of being lesbians. Last month police in West Java arrested two men suspected of running a Facebook page for gay people. Police in the Lampung province were videotaped arresting and hosing down three trans women in a public street. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the government to end the campaign of violence, while several regional authorities have said they intend to revise local bylaws to further restrict LGBT rights.
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.