Human Rights Watch released its 2017 World Report, in which the group reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries, which a focus on the “dangerous rise of populism” and global attacks on human rights values. From a description:
In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights as an impediment to the majority will. For those who feel left behind by the global economy and increasingly fear violent crime, civil society groups, the media, and the public have key roles to play in reaffirming the values on which rights-respecting democracy has been built.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a U.S. based legal group resisting LGBT equality and reproductive choice around the world, announced that it has selected veteran Religious Right activist Mike Farris to be its CEO and president as founder Alan Sears steps down.
Rex Tillerson, incoming U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice to be secretary of state, declined at his confirmation hearing to say specifically whether gay rights are human rights, but he did say that “American values don’t accommodate violence or discrimination against anyone.” In an interview with the Washington Blade, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the struggle for LGBT human rights “has to be waged internationally and a very efficient way to touch a lot of countries in a concerted way and in an aggressive way is the United Nations.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a formal apology for discrimination against LGBT employees during the “Lavender Scare,” which included decades of purges of gay men and lesbians working at the State Department and other federal government agencies.
The anti-choice and anti-LGBT LifeSiteNews has run a two-part series of articles from anti-gay activist Peter LaBarera on “what really goes on” at the International LGBT Leaders Conference that was organized by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute in December. Among his shocking discoveries: gay U.S. ambassadors, gender-neutral bathrooms, “Gays for Trump” and activists gearing up to preserve gains made during the Obama administration. LaBarbera celebrates the call by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins to “ferret out” liberal “sexual activists” from the U.S. State Department, which LaBarbera acknowledges would be “a tall order.”
The LGBTQI+ Voice of the Revolution Project in the U.K. is seeking musicians, artists and activists from countries “where it is illegal to be LGBTQI+” for a touring musical program:
“For this year’s 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, “LGBTQI+ Voices of the Revolution” brings life to our struggle for liberation today and highlights the ongoing issues we still face. The focus is the ongoing criminalisation of homosexuality across the world (76+ countries) and Britain’s responsibility in challenging it, which started with the British Empire’s colonial legislation.”
Europe: MEP commissions report on movement opposing SRHR in Europe
MEP Heidi Hautala commissioned a report on opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe. From the Executive Summary:
At the international level, anti-choice organisations have played a key role in constructing a coalition of conservative states, which promote an agenda aiming to undermine the consensus on equality and respect for minority rights, which lies at the heart of the global human rights treaties. This coalition, led by Russia and supported by Central Asian, Muslim and African states, has recently begun attracting support from European countries.
The report also addresses the use of “gender ideology” as an umbrella term for anti-SRHR effort globally (citations removed):
Antichoice actors are part of a wider anti-gender movement, which gathers groups opposed to feminism, LGBT rights, gender studies, gender mainstreaming, the fight against gender-based violence as well as contraception, abortion, sexual education, civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.
The proponents of the anti-choice agenda lump these issues together under the umbrella term ‘gender ideology’ or ‘gender theory’, which was coined by the Vatican in response to the outcomes of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, and the 1995 Fourth International Women’s Conference in Beijing.
The conclusions of the two conferences, which explicitly recognised the importance of reproductive health as a driver of sustainable development and called for the empowerment of women, went against the Vatican’s negotiating position. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church thus presented an alternative interpretation of this outcome, stating that it had been motivated by a ‘gender ideology’, an ideological project attempting to start an anthropological revolution negating sexual difference and gender complementarity.
‘Gender theory’ was, along this line of argumentation, designed by feminists, LGBT activists and gender studies scholars and supported by Western powers. The Vatican presented this as a political project aiming to impose Western values on citizens in the rest of the world by international institutions such as the UN, and later also the EU, attempting the neo-colonisation of ‘traditional’ societies.
Anti-choice organisations have embraced this rhetoric, and use it to promote their policy agenda by presenting themselves as grassroots opposition initiatives representing citizens and their concerns vis-à-vis the political elites attempting to force a ‘new form of colonial rule’ upon them.
One of the anti-SRHR groups, Agenda Europe, responding with a mocking post entitled, “Baby-killing and Sodomy Network worried about Pro-Life and Pro-Family Network.”
Indonesia: Anti-LGBT activists testify that consensual gay sex could make country ‘uncivilized’
The Constitutional Court is hearing arguments related to a request by the Family Love Alliance to criminalize extramarital sex and homosexual activity; the Jakarta Post reports that “experts” supporting the Association of Muslim Housewives argued that permitting such consensual sexual activity “might turn Indonesia into an uncivilized nation.”
Human Rights Watch’s 2017 World Report criticizes Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s “ failure to speak up in defense of human rights for persecuted minorities desperately in need of government support and protection.”
Suriname: In spite of religious objections judge rules government must recognize trans man’s gender
A judge in Paramaribo granted the request of Yvanna Hilton, a transgender woman who sought to officially change her gender at the Census Office, which had refused to recognize her gender even after sex-reassignment surgery. The Daily Herald reports that Hilton’s case had generated objections from Christian and Muslim religious groups:
Hilton’s case had triggered the ire of religious leaders who warned that if the judge granted her request it would be like “opening the floodgates for more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Suriname.” The Association of Pentecostal Churches in Suriname VVPES held a protest march on December 12 to voice its objections; a few thousand people attended. The Suriname Islamic Association SIV also spoke out against Hilton’s goals.
Evangelical pastor and VVPES Chairman André Misikaba said on Wednesday that he was surprised by the judge’s ruling. He said the church would accept the verdict, but would continue to encourage following God’s word. “I hope that this is not the beginning of a move to force the church to do things that are against the word of God,” he said.
Finland: Bisexual right-wing politician fined for anti-Muslims remarks on social media
Bisexual politician Sebastian Tynkkynen, a member of the right-wing Finns Party Congress, was fined for Facebook postings calling for Muslims to be removed from Finland, which a judge ruled incited hatred against Muslims, reports Gay Star News. He could have faced two years in prison. Tynkkynen complained of a double standard:
‘The freedom of speech in Finland doesn’t look very good for LGBT people. In 2013 Finnish imam Abbas Bahmanpour compared homosexuality to incest and told in live TV-show, that gays should be punished to death. If that isn’t incitement, what is then? Bahmanpour has never been challenged with his thoughts in court.’
‘My right to defend Finland as a society, where human rights and gender equality come true, should be bigger than the right of Muslims to not be hurt when I criticize their religious teachings to kill gays.
‘The whole Europe must wake up, when violent teachings of the Quran are coming true. We must start loving our beautiful values and say no to Islamization of Europe. This 300€ charge won’t stop me for warning Finland and Europe about Islam.
‘Next time when I have enough money to express my political views again, I am ready to post the same warnings to Facebook.’
Somalia: Islamist terror group reportedly executes two for homosexuality
The al-Shabaab group reportedly announced the execution of a 15-year-old boy and 20-year-old man after the two were arrested by the group’s Islamic police. From a January 11 report by Mamba:
They were executed in a public square in the town of Buale for “immoral and reprehensible” sexual acts.
It is believed that this is the first time that al-Shabaab – which is allied to al-Qaeda – has claimed responsibility for executing anyone for homosexuality.
The report of the cold-blooded killings follows the release on Monday of pictures of the execution of another man in Iraq by Isis militants.
Found “guilty” of homosexuality, the desperate blindfolded victim is seen clinging to the parapet before being pushed off the roof of a building in Mosul.
Turkey: Designer in detention for remarks
Barbaros Şansal, a fashion designer known for his LGBT advocacy, is being detained by police after he “was subjected to a lynch attempt” at the airport in Istanbul after he was deported from Northern Cyprus after he posted a provocative video on social media on New Year’s Eve that reportedly said “Are you still celebrating the New Year while so many journalists are under arrest, so many children are being harassed or raped, corruption and bribery are over the top, and bigots share crap on the streets together with religious annunciators. Drown in your crap, Turkey.” He has since called his comments a “satire against discrimination.”
Mexico: Mexico City adds marriage equality to its constitution
Mexico City’s legislature overwhelmingly approved an amendment to its constitution to recognize the right of LGBT people to be legally married, part of a broad recognition of the rights of vulnerable people to live free from violence and discrimination. Mexico City is not part of any Mexican state.
A documentary about a same-sex couple getting married in the town of Mexicali in Baja California has been released. “Etiqueta no rigurosa,” the debut for filmmaker Cristina Herrera Bórquez, “offers audiences a front row seat to the aggravating and bureaucratic nightmare that this couple faced on their way to becoming the first same-sex couple to be married in Mexicali.”
Pakistan: Court orders bureau of statistics to count trans people in census
The Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to provide s category for transgender citizens in the upcoming census. The Nation reported that Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah “held they should be treated like other citizens enjoying the same rights in the country under the constitution of Pakistan.”
The petitioner prayed to the court to direct the federal government to make laws for the welfare of transgender community, keeping in view its obligations under international conventions on civil and political rights ratified in 2010. He also sought protection for the transgender community in performance of religious obligations like Hajj and Umrah.
Germany: Study contrasts support for legal equality with lingering discomfort
A study found that Germans are overwhelmingly in favor of protecting gay people from discrimination, including 83 percent who support marriage equality for same-sex couples. But the study found that some kinds of prejudice persist, with 38 percent reporting that they are uncomfortable seeing two men kissing.
Zimbabwe: Profile of LGBT activists on VOA
Voice of America speaks with LGBT activists fighting stigma and “harsh laws” in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is one of the least accepting countries in the world for gay, lesbian and transgender people. A 2006 revision to the country’s criminal code expands the penalty for sodomy to include acts that “would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act.” This could include two men holding hands, hugging or kissing and could carry an extended prison term.
And Zimbabwe is not alone. Homosexuality is outlawed in 35 African countries and punishable by death in two countries, Mauritania and Sudan, as well as in areas of Somalia and Nigeria, according to Amnesty International U.K…
The heated rhetoric and misunderstanding can lead to violence. In 2014, armed men stormed a gathering of the group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe and left 35 injured.
Frank Malaba, a gay Zimbabwean living in South Africa said homosexuality in the country is so culturally taboo that people simply cannot come to grips with it.
“There are a few things that make people frown upon homosexuals, the main one being people do not understand how a man or a woman is capable of being sexually attracted to someone of the same gender,” he said. “At times a person is just born that way, but people just can not grasp that idea, hence it’s not something we’re taught about in our homes.”
But Mokwele said that attitude is changing among the young generation. “There is still hope that change will come. The youth who are the leaders of tomorrow are a lot more accepting and understanding,” he said. “Our current leaders are old and they don’t understand, neither do they respect the concept of human rights.”
Peru: Constitutional court orders registration of same-sex couple’s Mexican marriage
A constitutional court issued a historic ruling “ordering the identification registry to register a marriage in Mexico between two men.”
China: Gay-themed movie gets nod from censors
China’s “first gay-themed commercial movie” has been approved by official censors for a second time and will open sometime later this year. It is not clear whether the film had to be cut in order to win approval this year; it had originally been scheduled for release last March, but as China Film Insider notes, “It was around that time that Chinese censors said they were banning depictions of gay people on television.”
Cuba: LGBT activist blocked from leaving country for international workshop
Government agents pulled LGBT activist Nelson Gandulla Díaz out of a security line at Havana’s international airport as he was preparing to attend a workshop in Colombia organized by Caribe Afirmativo, and LGBT advocacy group. According to a report by the Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers, he was told that he was not allowed to leave the country even though two other independent LGBT activists were permitted to attend the worship.