Donald Trump Scares LGBT People Worldwide and More, in This Week’s Global LGBT Recap

LGBT protest in Brazil

The Bay Area Reporter found that LGBT people around the world are shocked and “flooded with worry and anxiety” after Donald Trump was elected the next president of the U.S.:

Trump could have a profound effect on LGBT rights abroad beyond his professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He could do away with the Global Equality Fund, threaten global HIV/AIDS funding, remove the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons; reverse U.S. embassies acting as safe havens for LGBTs; halt resettling LGBT refugees; and stop LGBT immigration.

LGBT activists around the world are concerned that Trump, who will be sworn in January 20, has given a new lease to anti-gay leaders around the world and carte blanche to discriminate against queer people. World leaders who were put on notice – and in some cases denied financial support by the U.S. under the Obama administration – may now find a friend in the White House.

LGBT activists question if they can count on or trust the U.S. to support their quest for equality as the U.S. joins what Daily Xtra called the “Unholy Alliance” of anti-LGBT countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vatican City under a Trump presidency.

Just last week a bloc of 54 African states attempted to oust the newly appointed U.N. LGBT monitor Vitit Muntarbhorn. The states introduced a resolution to do away with his new position that is expected to have nearly unanimous support from the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, whose member states have resisted upholding international human rights obligations. Several countries already have taken action, pulling out of the International Criminal Court.

“This is horrible,” Ukrainian LGBT activist Olena Schevchenko told BuzzFeed. “We expect the backlash in all spheres of rights – LGBT rights, minority rights, women’s rights, migrant rights.”

At the Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson reports on places where life has already been getting worse for LGBT people, including Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria:

But a primary reason is the export of U.S.-based homophobia. Evangelicals have risen from 5 percent of the Brazilian population in 1970 to nearly 25 percent today, and their leaders—many trained in the United States—have exported the U.S. Christian right’s extreme homophobia to the Brazilian context.

They are also in Brazil’s congress. The “parliamentary coup” that removed liberal president Dilma Rousseff from office was accomplished with back-benchers affiliated with evangelical Christian groups. Indeed, the investigation against her was initiated by Congressional Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who had a history of anti-gay remarks (and called on Congress to establish “Heterosexual Pride Day”) before he was forced out of office as bribery charges were filed against him.

In Indonesia, as we have been reporting here, the problem is, in Michaelson’s words, “right-wing Islam, rather than right-wing evangelical Christianity—but some of the patterns are eerily familiar.”

What’s behind the flareup? Activists say the abrupt shift in government rhetoric is “cower[ing] in the face of militant Islamists.” And indeed, the rightward drift in Indonesian political life—not entirely unlike that in Brazil—appears to be part of the reason for the change in official rhetoric, with the attendant consequences felt in the streets of Jakarta. Ironically, Indonesia’s relatively tolerant indigenous form of Islam is being supplanted by fundamentalist Islam brought in from outside—yet the Islamists claim to be protecting Indonesian culture.

And in Nigeria, Michaelson writes, LGBT people are caught in a battle for religious influence:

African Anglican Church leaders, “tainted” by the Episcopal Church’s support for LGBT people, took a hard line in order not to seem more lenient than Muslims (Sharia governs 12 Nigerian states and punishes homosexuality by imprisonment, caning, or stoning).

Said [Christian LGBT activist Davis] Mac-Iyalla, “The very first bill to further punish Nigeria homosexuals was an executive bill sponsored by the government in 2006, with the full blessing of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.”

One thing is for sure: The situation of LGBT people in Nigeria grows more precarious every day, and now, with the likely ending of U.S. support for LGBT issues around the world, they will lose their greatest advocate.

November 20 is commemorated as Transgender Day of Remembrance. From this year’s statement by GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality:

Now is the time to deeply engage with our own communities while also connecting with others around us. Ours is not the only community under attack. Empowered right-wing movements and governments are assaulting many of us on different but ultimately the same grounds. Let’s work together to create and sustain the political conditions needed for change. All around the world there are many compelling initiatives you can support to help create a future for all of us . Trans people have not only an urgent need to help these efforts, but also the skills necessary to play a key role in building an emancipated future for all. Because when it comes to be about crossing borders and remembering the past while believing in tomorrow, we surely know how to do it.

The Transgender Legal Defense Project released a report on violation on transgender people’s rights in Russia.

The Council of Europe held a session on the rights of children in rainbow families.

United Nations: Effort to strip language on SOGI from extra-judicial killings resolution fails

As part of an ongoing backlash against LGBT human rights at the United Nations, the Group of African States continues to try to undermine the independent expert hired by the Human Rights Council to investigate violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and identity; the group is pushing for a General Assembly vote that would put that work on hold for “further consultations to determine the legal basis upon which the mandate of the special procedure established therein will be defined.”

The attack on UN’s advocacy for LGBT Human Rights continues on a number of fronts. On November 18, an effort by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation moved an amendment that would strip language regarding sexual orientation and gender identity from a resolution regarding “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.” More from OutRight Action International:

Today [November 18], the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has voted to maintain language on sexual orientation and, gender identity (SOGI) in resolution A/C.3/71/L.38, on ‘Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions’. The resolution, which is introduced biennially in the Third Committee, urges States to protect the right to life of all people and calls upon States to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds.

“People are targeted and killed everyday because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. States voted today not only to commit to continue protecting LGBTIQ people from unjust harm and violence, but also to investigate and address these cruel and arbitrary killings. States affirmed that our lives and our rights matter,” commented Jessica Stern, Executive Director, OutRight Action International, in response to the vote.

The government of Uzbekistan, representing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), introduced an amendment against the resolution in what was a “veiled attempt to remove the list that included SOGI from the resolution,” according to Siri May, OutRight Action International United Nations Program Coordinator. The OIC amendment lost with the following result: in favor 60, against 84, abstentions 27, but the margin of votes to keep language explicitly mentioning sexual orientation and gender identity as a category of protection has gotten closer since last year. The EJEs resolution, with inclusive language, was successfully passed today with 106 votes in favor, 0 against, and 69 abstentions and absences.

…In 2010, an amendment was proposed by the African Group in the UNGA to strip the resolution of reference to”sexual orientation.” Initially, the Third Committee voted to remove the reference, prompting a massive mobilization by civil society including through action alerts issued by OutRight, then known as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. In a dramatic turn of events, the resolution was introduced to the full General Assembly several months later, which voted to reinstate the language, with 93 votes in favor, 55 against, 27 abstentions and 17 absent.

More detail and historical background is available at the blog of the European Journal of International Law.

The role of South Africa in current UN disputes over LGBT human rights is being disputed. South Africa had been the sponsor of a key 2011 resolution at the Human Rights Council, but has since stepped back.  
Mamba Online reported his week that human rights experts believe the South African government is saying one thing and doing another regarding the move to suspend the new independent expert:

Last week Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) spokesperson Clayson Monyela told Mambaonline that South Africa would not vote in favour of blocking the recently appointed Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

He also insisted that South Africa had not signed any letter or statement by the Africa Group at the UN that called for such a move.

Experts, have however, claimed that Monyela is being disingenuous and that it was not required of South Africa or any African country to actually “sign” the statement to show support for it.

“South Africa did support the tabling of the Africa Group resolution and accompanying statement – it was a consensus position presented on behalf of the Africa Group, which includes South Africa,” Graeme Reid, Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, told Mambaonline.

…Nevertheless, Reid agreed that it was “good news” that South Africa had at least committed itself to not voting for the planned resolution to suspend the Independent Expert.

Reid said, however, that South Africa should also as “a gesture of good faith” cosponsor another resolution led by eight LAC (Latin American and Caribbean region) countries to block the Africa’s Group’s attempt to scupper the appointment of the Independent Expert.

The Daily Maverick has more on South Africa’s actions.

El Salvador: Religious leaders push for constitutional restriction on marriage

“Ultraconservative lawmakers in El Salvador submitted a proposal to the country’s parliament Wednesday to ratify a constitutional reform to restrict same-sex marriages,” reports teleSUR. The country does not provide any legal recognition for same-sex couples, but the right-wing ARENA party, along with “Catholic and Protestant leaders” are pushing for a constitutional change to restrict marriage to a man and a woman.

Taiwan: Religious opponents of marriage equality rally in opposition

With Taiwan potentially on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalize marriage by same-sex couples, religious hardliners rallied thousands of people to protest outside the legislature. The China Post reports that protesters are demanding a referendum even though recent polls have shown majority support for marriage equality:

The rally was organized by Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of Family (護家盟), a hard-line conservative group known for fighting to stop the legalization of gay marriage.

The demonstrators, numbering in their thousands, were dressed in white and stuck large stickers reading “Marriage and family, let the people decide” to their clothes.

Protest leaders speaking to the crowd on a temporary stage said “All children have the right to a mother and a father” as the rally congested the main road outside the Legislative Yuan for over six hours.

In a petition letter, the group said that individual clauses could be amended to protect the rights of people who are LGBT, including emergency room visitation and inheritance rights.

However, they added, “the fundamental concept of what marriage is — the combination of a man and a woman — should not be changed,” saying that doing so would be “very confusing for children.”

If no referendum were held, public hearings should be conducted instead before the bill moves forward, the demonstrators said. However, around noon, the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee voted five-four not to hold hearings.

A small, peaceful counter-protest was staged near the main demonstration, with advocates of marriage equality waving rainbow flags and banners reading “We support gay people.”

Catholic Church: US Bishops and Vatican at odds

Two stories from New Ways Ministry’s Bondings 2.0 blog: Archbishop Kevin Farrell, the pope’s top official on marriage and family issues, criticized US bishops for not engaging on the recent apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia and specificially “rebuked Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and other bishops who have released pastoral guidelines on the exhortation, without broader consultation.” Meanwhile, conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke has threatened Pope Francis with a “formal act of correction” if the pope does not respond to a set of questions Burke and three other cardinals sent him about Amoris Laetitia. More from Robert Shine:

In Rome, the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has published essaysdefending Amoris Laetitia against conservative critics in the church. And Farrell has been very clear that the exhortation and surrounding conversations are “the Holy Spirit speaking” and, per the National Catholic Reporter that the document is “faithful to the doctrine and to the teaching of the church.”

At one level, all of these debates impact LGBT people and their families because the specifics of pastoral guidelines and the new openness to accompanying all people that is intended by Pope Francis can have very real consequences, positive and negative.

But on a deeper level, there are ecclesiological implications of the Amoris Laetitia debate, begun when the pope first called the Synod on the Family and led the church universal into that process. It is ironic that Cardinal Burke is claiming bishops have a right and duty to correct the pope or that Archbishop Chaput is defending the power of local ordinaries to act pastorally in their contexts when they have so often defended a legalist, centralized, even authoritarian understanding of church.

Even more ironically, their protests display episcopal collegiality and ecclesial decentralization that they have traditionally staunchly resisted.  This collegial and decentralized perspective is favored by Pope Francis and, in fact, called for by Vatican II. So, for bishops conferences to be debating and even ignoring a papal document is, in a sense, progress. For bishops to understand they have a certain co-responsibility for the church, and that the papacy exists within the college of bishops is progress, too.  It is odd, though, that those who have so strongly resisted such practices are now promoting them.

Movement towards a church that, to quote the pope, is “home for all” will benefit LGBT equality. It is good when church ministers have greater autonomy to respond to their contexts and the specific needs of their people. It is good when the coercive powers of the pope and the Vatican are lessened in favor of broader power sharing. It is good when theology is messy and pastoral responses are not entirely clear. This is the chaos in which the Spirit works and from which a renewed church that practices inclusion and abides by justice comes forth.

Uganda: Hearing held in SMUG lawsuit against Scott Lively

A November 9 hearing was held in the lawsuit filed against U.S. anti-gay activist Scott Lively by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Lively is being represented by Liberty Counsel, an anti-equality religious right legal organization. MassResistance, an anti-gay group that has expanded its activities overseas this year, complained about the judge and said the case has only gone on due to “the twisted state of American jurisprudence.”  

Turkey: LGBT activist and lawyer detained

Amid a broad assault on political opponents by the Turkish government, LGBT News in Turkey reports that Levent Pişkin, a lawyer and LGBTI activist, had been detained.

Special operations police units arrived at Pişkin’s house in Kurtuluş, Istanbul around 05.00 a.m and confiscated some of Pişkin’s belongings from his room after detaining him.

Pişkin, a member of Libertarian Jurists Association (ÖHD), which is among the 370 associations ordered to halt their activities, is a renowned human rights advocate.

Egypt: Report on violence and criminalization released

Solidary with Egypt LGBT released on its Facebook page data on violence and criminalization cases against LGBTQ people in Egypt from the end of 2013 until this month, November 2016.

Jamaica: Vogue profiles “Gully Queens”

Earlier this month, Vogue published Julia Felsenthal’s profile of “Gully Queens,” transgender women “defying Jamaica’s Culture of Homophobia.” Among them are four tans women who appear in the music video to British R&B singer RAY BLK’s “Chill Out.” The article describes a Jamaica that, while progress has been made in recent years, “remains a place with a strong undercurrent of bigotry: a devoutly Christian nation with sodomy laws still on the books, where influential dancehall stars peddle antigay sentiment, major newspaper cartoonists mock homosexuals, and the national refrain of ‘One Love’ blithely ignores those whose identity exists outside of the heteronormative/cisgender framework.”