As the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) got underway last Monday (it runs from March 13-24), the US State Department announced that joining the official US delegation would be representatives from two organizations that are extremely hostile to LGBT human rights: C-Fam and the Heritage Foundation. As I noted at Right Wing Watch:
C-Fam, formerly the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and its leader Austin Ruse are so committed to enshrining “traditional” ideologies about gender, marriage and family in international law that they have teamed up with many of the world’s most repressive regimes to carry out their fight at the U.N. The Heritage Foundation is at the heart of a massive Religious Right coalition pushing to give business owners a broad legal right to discriminate against LGBT people and families as well as single parents based on their holding traditional religious views about gender, marriage and family.
Shortly before his colleague was named to join the delegation, Ruse had been writing about C-Fam as a tiny David standing up against a Goliath of “sexual revolutionaries.” One of C-Fam’s allies, CitizenGo, a group that mobilizes conservative activists, has been gathering signatures on a petition to delegations at the CSW calling for elimination of any language around sexual orientation and gender identity:
Abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity, and comprehensive sexuality education are controversial topics among the majority of UN Member States and are not agreed upon conclusions. To better help women and girls globally, please remove any mention of them from the final report generated at CSW 61. Instead, promote initiatives that support clean water, eradicating hunger and poverty, maternal health and abstinence.
OutRight Action International has launched a petition to Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, calling C-Fam a hate group and urging that the group be removed from the delegation.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, has threatened that the US will withdraw from the Human Rights Council unless it implements “considerable reform.” Graeme Reid, director of Human Right’s Watch’s LGBT Rights Program, criticized the move, saying, “Surely this is not what UN Ambassador Nikki Haley had in mind when she pledge to ‘unabashedly promote American values.’” C-Fam has teamed up Russia and anti-equality African and Islamist nations to try to undermine the Council’s newly created independent expert, who is charged with investigating discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
CNN reported this month on the ways that Donald Trump’s travel ban and suspension of refugee admittance are harming LGBT refugees from countries with Islamist countries. This week Maria Melo wrote at The Advocate, “Make No Mistake: The New Travel Ban is Targeting LGBT People.” Also writing in The Advocate, OutRight International’s Jessica Stern wrote, “Trump’s MuslimB an Could Be a Death Sentence for Many LGBTs.”
The governments of Libya, Syria, and Somalia punish homosexuality with prison, even up to 10 years. Sudan, Iran, and Yemen officially punish homosexuality with death. OutRight has documented more than 39 people killed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria for alleged homosexuality from 2014 to 2016 alone. By closing the doors to LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees, President Trump is effectively accepting the persecution and violence targeting this community and allowing some LGBTIQ people to die. He has joined the ranks of those who believe imprisoning and killing people for being LGBTIQ is permissible.
Australia: Bible Society Marriage Ad Leads to Backlash Against Brewer of ‘Bible Beer’
A video produced by the Bible Society features two conservative members of parliament, one a supporter of marriage equality and one an opponent, debating the topic in a “civil and respectful way” over bottles of beer from Coopers Brewery. Some LGBT activists and bar owners responded by launching a boycott of Coopers, even though the brewery said it does not oppose marriage equality and did not give permission to be included in the video.
Coopers did recently launch a commemorative can honoring the Bible Society’s 200th birthday; the text on the can read, “Happy 200th birthday to Australia’s longest-living charity, from Australia’s longest-living family brewery.” Coopers subsequently cancelled the release of the commemorative cans and announced that the company would join Australian Marriage Equality.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton criticized corporate executives who have supported LGBT activists’ marriage equality campaign. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was among 20 business leaders who urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to move marriage equality legislation. Dutton’s remarks did not go over well with Joyce.
His remarks prompted a swift reply from Qantas. In a statement, the company said it speaks out on marriage equality and other social issues because “we believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier”.
Trinidad and Tobago: News report cites growing support, but LGBT advocate faces death threats
Jason Jones, an activist who filed a lawsuit against the country’s colonial-era sodomy law last month, told the Washington Blade that he has received nearly 50 death threats since then.
In contrast, the anti-bullying Silver Lining Foundation told the Trinidad Express that it was heartened by a strong show of support for LGBT rights at a women’s rights march.
Cameroon: Human Rights attorneys advocate in face of threats
Human Rights Watch profiles Michel Togué, a human rights lawyer who, along with his colleague Alice Nkom,”received the prestigious Dutch Geuzenpenning Award” on March 13. Togué and Nkom are, says HRW, the only two lawyers in the country who have a long record of representing LGBT people, who can be sent to prison for five years for homosexual conduct. Togué remains in the country even though his wife and children were granted refugee status in the US based on threats he has received for his human rights work. Four years ago HRW called on the government to take action against people who have been threatening the lawyers.
Mexico: More thn 8,000 same-sex couples have married in Mexico City since 2010
La Jornada reported that since 2010 more than 8,000 same-sex couples have been married in Mexico City, home to an estimated 28 percent of the country’s LGBT population. Activists are preparing for a mass wedding at the Zócalo, the city’s massive public square, on March 25.
Guatemala: Religious Right groups push anti-trans message on both sides of Atlantic
We reported recently on the anti-transgender bus ad that the anti-equality group HazteOir was sending around Spain; the same ad has shown up as a billboard in Guatemala courtesy of CitizenGo, an affiliated organization that helps mobilize socially conservative activism.
Back in Spain, HazteOir’s Ignacio Arsuaga was pelted by protesters with eggs and ketchup when he and his bus arrived in Barcelona.
Nigeria: Man faces 10 years in jail for running gay bar
Mamba Online reported that a court “issued an arrest warrant for a man who’s been accused of running a gay bar and could now face ten years in jail.” More from the article:
Gay sex is illegal in Nigeria, with penalties including 14 years imprisonment. Twelve northern states in Nigeria operate under Islamic Sharia law that allows homosexuality to be punished with death by stoning.
The Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, enacted in 2014, outlaws any kind of same-sex relationship with 14 years’ imprisonment. The law also punishes establishing, supporting, and participating in gay organisations, clubs and public displays of affection with 10 years in prison.
Human Rights Watch has reported that the law has led to an increase in extortion and violence against LGBT people and has also imposed restrictions on nongovernmental organisations providing essential services to LGBT people in Nigeria.
Malaysia: Disney won’t censor Beauty and the Beast for Malaysian audience
The country’s Film Censorship Board ruled that four minutes of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” were unacceptable. According to Fortune, “The footage in question involves a subplot with a ‘gay moment,’” the board’s chairman Abdul Halm Abdul Hamid told Reuters via text message. Disney has reportedly said that the film “will not be cut for Malaysia.”
Kenya: Interview with human rights attorney Eric Gitari
The International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House this month interviewed human rights attorney and LGBT equality advocate Eric Gitari.
Colombia: LGBT activists work to ease implementation of peace accord
LGBT activists have opened four “Houses of Peace” to support the implementation of a peace accord between the government and FARC rebels in November (after voters rejected the first agreement in October “against the backdrop of anti-LGBT rhetoric from religious and conservative groups that opposed it.”
Bermuda: Religious groups preserve tax status
Over the objections of some LGBT equality supporters, the government granted charity status last year to Preserve Marriage, “a Bermudan religious organization that openly argues for ‘traditional’ marriage,” reports Nonprofit Quarterly. The status is about to become permanent as the required one year probationary period expires.
Fiji: Hate crimes attacks afraid to report to police
The Fiji Times reported that victims of anti-LGBT hate crimes are often afraid to report attacks to the police.