Every month we look at world news briefs from every continent, courtesy of Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.
This month, Angola #DecriminalizesLGBT, pushback against sterilization requirements for trans people and LGBTQ people seeking acceptance in faith communities.
All that and more in this month’s look at world news.
Here are 12 pieces of world news:
World News Out of Africa
Angola’s National Assembly approved a new penal code with a near unanimous vote that will go into effect in 90 days. Among the changes, the code has dropped the provision on “vices against nature” that criminalized same-sex sexual activity and includes protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. A final draft of the code is expected to be released soon.
An Egyptian court found TV presenter Mohamed al-Ghaity (above) guilty of contempt of religion and incitement to debauchery for his interview with a gay man last year. Although al-Gheiti has spoken against homosexuality, he was sentenced to one year in prison for “encouraging the practice” of being gay. The verdict can be suspended if he pays a bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds.
World News Out of Asia
Japan’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a trans man who argued that country’s gender recognition law is unconstitutional because it requires sterilization to officially change gender and violates his right to self-determination. Although the court upheld the law, two justices noted that “doubts are undeniably emerging” and recommended regular reviews of the law.
Hong Kong‘s High Court upheld the government’s policy of requiring full sex reassignment surgery before a person can legally change gender. The case was brought forward by three trans men who have been living as men, have had their breasts removed and take hormones, but they are unable to update their gender identity cards due to the current law.
In Singapore, activist Bryan Choong (above) has filed a case with the Supreme Court arguing the law criminalizing sex between men is “inconsistent” with the constitution and “is therefore void.” Last September musician Johnson Ong Ming also filed suit against Section 377A of the Penal Code, arguing it is “absurd and arbitrary.” Both cases are pending.
And in India, the Juna Akhara — one of the 13 official Akharas (or organizations of Hindu holy persons and spiritual disciplines) — has decided to share spiritual teachings with and officially induct the “Kinnar Akhara” — a sect of transgender, hijra and third gender people. By joining the Juna Akhara the Kinnar will be able to participate in all future mass Hindu pilgrimages. For the first time, the Kinnar were allowed to participate in the “holy dip” at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. Kinnar Akhara leader, rights activist and celebrity Laxmi Narayan Tripathi spoke with local reporters and said, “This establishment of the Kinnar Akhara proved to be a stepping stone to regain the past glory of Hijras in India.”
World News Out of Europe
This year’s Davos meeting by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland featured the launch of a new global initiative for businesses to accelerate the inclusion of LGBTQ people. The “Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality” aims to operationalize the United Nation LGBTI Standards of Conduct in the workplace by 2020.
In Poland, Robert Biedron, the openly gay former mayor of Slupsk (above), has launched a new political party that wants to enforce strong separation of church and state, bring equal pay to women, recognize gay partnerships, reduce air pollution and other progressive ideals. Announcing the party, “Wiosna” (Spring), to a crowd of thousands, he said, “Our most important value is community. We no longer want Poles to be at war with each other. We want mutual respect and dialogue.”
A Macedonian trans man took his country to the European Court of Human Rights because, despite trying for many years, he has been unable to legally change his gender marker without undergoing genital surgery. The court found in his favor. It stated that because Macedonia does not have a process for full legal recognition of a person’s gender that is “quick, transparent and accessible,” it violated Article 8 of the European Convention for Human Rights which guarantees the right to respect his private and family life.
In the UK, 100 Anglican priests published an open letter condemning the bishops of the Oxford diocese for encouraging clergy to support and accept LGBT parishioners. Last October the bishops of Oxford, Dorchester, Reading and Buckingham released a letter entitled “Clothe Yourself with Love” (from Colossians 3:14) that presented five principles which lead to affirming LGBTQ Christians’ place in faith and the church. But some clergy reject the ideas they presented and feel it does not represent their reading of the New Testament, especially in regards to gender identity, same-sex couples and non-celibate gay people. As they state, “Advocacy of same-sex sexual intimacy is either an expression of the love of God or it creates an obstacle to people entering the kingdom of God. It cannot be both.”
World News Out of South America
Brazil’s openly gay congressman Jean Wyllys told newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that he has gone to an undisclosed location outside of the country after escalating death threats and a climate of heated rhetoric and violence against the LGBT community. Councilman David Miranda, who is also openly gay, has taken over Wyllys’s seat.
In Chile, a gay couple filed a case with the Court of Appeal against the Civil Registry for denying them the right to marry. Lawyer Mónica Arias pointed to the recent Supreme Court ruling that every inhabitant of the country has a right to marry and, as such, they will argue marriage should be allowed to all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
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 Oleksandr Rupeta / NurPhoto