Religious Conservatives Mobilize Internationally Against Spanish Nondiscrimination Bill; And More in Global LGBT Recap

“Anti-Gender Campaigns in Europe: Mobilizing Against Equality,” edited by Roman Kuhar, associate professor at the University of Ljubljana, and David Paternotte, lecturer at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, has been published by Rowman & Littlefield International. From the publisher’s description:

This book examines how an academic concept of gender, when translated by religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church, can become a mobilizing tool for, and the target of, social movements. How can we explain religious discourses about sex difference turning intro massive street demonstrations? How do forms of organization and protest travel across borders? Who are the actors behind these movements? This collection is a transnational and comparative attempt to better understand anti-gender mobilizations in Europe. It focuses on national manifestations in eleven European countries, including Russia, from massive street protests to forms of resistance such as email bombarding and street vigils. It examines the intersection of religious politics with rising populism and nationalistic anxieties in contemporary Europe.

New York University’s School of Professional Studies is offering an open enrollment non-credit class on Global LGBT Rights

Spain: Religious conservatives oppose proposed nondiscrimination bill

The international arm of the U.S.-based conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom has called on the Spanish parliament to reject a proposed nondiscrimination bill, claiming that the law would likely have “a significant and detrimental impact on citizens’ fundamental freedoms.” ADF International called the Spanish bill “the most harmful and damaging we have seen so far” in Europe. The Spanish Evangelical Alliance also opposes the legislation and has gathered nearly 10,000 signatures on a petition against it. Earlier in the summer a network of Latin American Christian groups called the Ibero-American Congress for Lie and Family warned that the legislation was putting Spain on “the road to totalitarianism.”

HazteOir, a Spanish organization that is part of the World Congress of Families, has also been lobbying against the legislation, with the group’s president Ignacio Arsuaga running an aerial ad campaign with planes pulling banners utilizing similar graphics to the anti-trans bus ads promoted by religious conservatives in several countries this year. El Pais notes connections between HazteOir and its activist cousin CitizenGo and Alexey Komov, WCF’s Putin-connected representative in Russia, and asks whether the groups may serve, intentionally or not, as agents of Russian foreign policy goals.

Australia: Supreme Court OKs mail ballot on marriage, opponents claim threat to religious freedom

The Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to the non-binding mail ballot that the government has decided to hold after it could not win parliamentary support for an actual referendum on marriage equality. Supporters and opponents clashed in an “angry stand-off” outside a church in Brisbane following the ruling.

Ballots are scheduled to be mailed to Australian households this week. A poll released at the end of last week brought bad news for marriage equality supporters, saying that support for marriage equality has “crashed” and reporting that fewer than 60 percent of young voters said they planned to vote.

Marriage equality supporters responded with “the biggest demonstration for LGBTIQ people in Australia’s history” in Sydney on Sunday. At a rally in Brisbane, some marchers sang Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” in response to counter-protestors who carried banners with messages about God’s judgment. The Vote Yes campaign has released ads.

Singer-songwriter Josh Belperio released a video of “Dear Malcom Turnbull,” a pro-marriage equality song directed at the country’s prime minister, who supports marriage equality but who insisted on sticking with a political deal within the ruling coalition requiring a public vote before allowing a vote in parliament.

As we noted last week, anti-marriage-equality activists had already been portraying marriage equality as a threat to children and to religious freedom, a strategy that the Coalition for Marriage says it will pursue in a “respectful way.” From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton, who ordinarily runs the Australian Christian Lobby, promised to run a “respectful campaign” focusing on so-called consequences same-sex marriage, which he said were restrictions on religious freedom and more gender theory in classrooms.

Anti-marriage equality pamphlets in Chinese distributed by the Australian Chinese for Families Association says “same-sex marriage has nothing to do with equality” and would “threaten freedom of speech and faith.”

Nigeria: U.S. based anti-gay group promotes anti-gay propaganda amid increasing official hostility

The Mail & Guardian follows up on the July arrest of 52 men at a party in the state of Kano on suspicion of homosexuality.

The men were arrested by the Hisbah Corps, an Islamic security force established by the Kano state government in 2003 to enforce Sharia, Islamic religious law. Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, one of the Corps’ commanders denied having any knowledge of the arrests.

The story reports that even though the men were released after three days, they have been stigmatized and are facing mistreatment in their communities based on the arrests. Activists say the passage of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014 “officially authorizes abuses against LGBT people, effectively making a bad situation worse.”

Juliet Bar, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, says the security agents are taking advantage of the discriminatory laws and environment and “now use every opportunity they get to arrest people perceived to be LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex]”.

“It is a terrible situation. People will continue to get arrested until something is done about the unfriendly legal environment,” says Bar.

The same month, 40 men were arrested in Lagos for “performing homosexual acts.”

MassResistance, an extreme anti-gay organization based in the U.S., announced in August that the leader of its Nigerian chapter has “published a ground-breaking book exploring and dissecting the homosexual movement through African eyes.” Its author Dominic Ido describes it as an “attempt to awaken African consciousness towards resisting the fast-ravaging homosexual revolution that sets to redefine and destroy the ideals of the traditional family.” According to MassResistance, among the attendees at a May book launch was the Bishop of the Ogoja Catholic Diocese.

Indonesia: Women forced from home based on religious complaints

The Guardian reports on 12 women who were “evicted from their home in the conservative Indonesian province of West Java amid renewed fears of crackdown on sexual diversity.” One official told Human Rights Watch, ““It’s not acceptable to have female couples living together. Some have short hair, acting as the males. Some have long hair, acting as the females. It’s against sharia [Islamic law]. It’s obscene.”

The group had been renting a shared house in the village of Tugu Jaya, where their cohabitation and “unfeminine” appearance had unsettled conservatives.

Responding to a complaint from religious leaders and an Islamic youth group that the women’s living arrangements was “against the teaching of Islam”, police raided the women’s home last Saturday, giving them three days notice to leave.

According to interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, authorities provided no legal justification for the raid and forcible eviction.

“What’s most offensive about this incident is that police and government officials steamrollered privacy rights and rule of law to appease the bigotry of a few neighbours,” Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Israel: Haredi parliamentarian criticized for attending celebration of gay nephew’s marriage

The Tablet reports that Avi Guata, a member of the Knesset from the Haredi Shas party, emerged as an unlikely champion of same-sex unions after he attended a party for his nephew who had married his boyfriend abroad:

Almost immediately, prominent rabbis took to the airwaves to denounce Guata and call for his resignation. “Attending the wedding of two men is just as despicable as homosexuality,” said Shmuel Eliyahu, Tzfat’s influential chief rabbi, and Shlomo Benizri, a former Shas MK and a haredi radio personality, called Guata’s actions “blasphemous” and encouraged Shas’s voters to take to the streets and protest.

But Guata himself remained unmoved. He may be halachically opposed to gay marriage, he told Israeli Army Radio, but he’s a firm believer in letting his family members know he loves them and supports them no matter what.

Canada: Refugees from anti-gay violence in Chechnya face struggles, fears of continued persecution

We noted last week that the Canadian government had been working with Rainbow Refugee to help settle gay men fleeing persecution in Chechnya. in a follow-up, the Globe and Mail reported on the ongoing struggles facing the refugees:

Organizers working with LGBT refugees stressed that they are not saying sexual minorities deserve greater assistance than other refugees, only that they often have special needs, having in the case of the Chechens fled imprisonment, torture and the threat of death at the hands of their own families.

“I’d like to see all vulnerable refugees treated better,” said Lisa Hébert, of the Ottawa-based Capital Rainbow Refuge. “And LGBT refugees are among the most vulnerable.” Sexual minorities in refugee camps are often beaten and harassed by other refugees, she pointed out.

“LGBTQ refugees face special challenges from arrival through integration,” said Sharalyn Jordan, board chairwoman of the Vancouver-based Rainbow Refugee, which helps match LGBT refugee applicants to private sponsors.

Examples she offered: Where is a safe place for a gay Muslim refugee to pray, or for a lesbian with children to find services in Farsi?

On a related note, the Russian LGBT Network has asked media outlets not to report information on the location of resettled victims:

People, who suffered persecution in the Chechen Republic, fled Russia fearing that the persecutions will continue. They fear not only the Chechen authorities, but also the members of the Chechen diaspora, that continues their efforts to track the victims. Any information regarding the exact location of these people can harm their safety and security.

As if to confirm those fears, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Ottowa told the Globe and Mail that the government would investigate reports of a Canadian underground railroad.

India: Asian feminists denounce murder of journalist

Feminists who gathered in Thailand last week for the Asia Pacific Feminist Forum denounced the murder of Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh as “an emblematic example of the attacks our governments have enabled through their support to right wing vigilante groups and their own attacks on civil society feminism and human rights”:

A fearless journalist, Lankesh wrote about and ridiculed the rise of authoritarian, patriarchal nationalism and human rights violations committed against religious minorities, different genders, persecuted people like the Rohingya refugees, sexual minorities; as well as oppressive traditions, caste politics, and the nexus between environmental destruction and corruption. Hers was one of the strongest voices against the polarising Hindutva forces in India in recent times, both in Kannada and English languages. Her fearless journalism had drawn multiple threats and verbal attacks from groups like the RSS and she faced legal charges of defamation for her work.

“We believe her murder in a large city, right outside her home, was possible because of the climate of impunity created to support violent, right wing groups and because religious and cultural extremism has been normalised in an attempt to enrich a few at the expense of the many.  Murders of Women Human Rights Defenders like Lankesh make the rapid erosion of rights in India possible,” says Albertina Almeida, human rights lawyer from India.

Jersey: Marriage equality in Jersey postponed

Marriage equality legislation in Jersey will not be introduced until next spring at the earliest, an announcement which disappointed activists coming on the eve of the Channel Islands’ pride celebration, which had a wedding theme to celebrate what had been expected to be imminent introduction of the legislation. Jersey is a crown dependency of the United Kingdom.

Faroe Islands: First same-sex couple married

A British gay couple became the first same-sex couple to be married in the Faroe Islands, where the parliament voted in favor of marriage equality in May 2016. The law did not require the church to perform weddings for same-sex couples; the couple married at the courthouse.

The Faroe Islands, located about halfway between Norway and Iceland, are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Hong Kong: Canada encourages marriage equality; US Religious Right group launches chapter

The anti-gay MassResistance also announced the creation of a Hong Kong chapter it says is led by a Catholic priest “and a core group of eight veteran Hong Kong family activists.”

In contrast, Canada’s consul general in Hong King Jeff Nankivell told the South China Morning Post that if Hong Kong would recognize marriage for same-sex couples, “it would signal to the international community that the city welcomed a diverse group of people, enabling access to a larger pool of global talent.”

Separately, Brian Leung Siu-fai, chief campaigner of local gay rights group Big Love Alliance, questioned why Hong Kong could not recognise same-sex marriage while Taiwan did so.

“In the past, this was considered a Western value. But Taiwan’s court ruled in favour of gay marriage in May,” he said. “Why can’t Hong Kong do the same, as an international city?”

Leung said over the years the public had become increasingly accepting of homosexuality. He criticised local officials for not taking action in line with public views.

Before she was elected chief executive in March, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she would not rule out consultation on gay marriages, but a spokesman said later: “Mrs Lam has no intention to push for same-sex marriages.”

United Arab Emirates: Singaporeans detained, deported for gender expression

Human Rights Watch denounced the arrest, conviction, and sentencing of two Singaporean nationals “for attempting to resemble women.” The two, a cisgender male fashion photographer and a transgender woman were deported after spending three weeks in custody.

Mexico: Puebla legislators resist court ruling on marriage equality

At Puebla Online, Gerardo Cruz Castañeda writes that state deputies’ anti-gay prejudice is preventing them from passing marriage equality legislation to comply with federal Supreme Court rulings. Last month Puebla Archbishop Víctor Sánchez Espinosa criticized the court, saying that decisions on family belong to the state Congress and that the court’s ruling damaged the “social fabric” of the state and country.

Bermuda: Same-sex couple marries as MP prepares legislation to ban marriages

We reported last week that a member of parliament has introduced legislation to overturn a court’s marriage equality ruling. Meanwhile, the Royal Gazette reporters, a gay couple that lives in Australia – one of whom is Bermudian — were married on Friday.

Finland: More than 1,500 same-sex couples married since March

The Helsinki Times reported that more than 1,500 same-sex couples have married since marriage equality laws went into effect in March.

Malta: Marriage equality sets stage for celebratory pride

The Allied Rainbow Community’s annual gay pride march on Saturday was set to be a “huge celebration” marking the officially Catholic country’s standing as the most LGBTIQ-friendly country in Europe after the new marriage law went into effect at the beginning of this month.