‘Rising Global Tide’ Of Anti-Gay Crackdowns; More in Global LGBT Recap


At the Washington Post, Max Bearak takes note of the “rising global tide of crackdowns on LGBT communities” that we have been documenting in Religion Dispatches’ weekly Global LGBT Recap:

This week, a government journal in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan announced that the country’s interior ministry had compiled a registry of “proven” gays and lesbians. The list named 319 men and 48 women, whom Tajik federal prosecutors identified in operations they called “Morality” and “Purge.”

A purge — likely in the form of mass incarcerations — is exactly what human rights organizations are afraid will happen. But the phenomenon would not be unique to Tajikistan: Over the past few months, police in Egypt, Azerbaijan, Tanzania, Indonesia and the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up people suspected of being gay — and in many cases tortured or publicly humiliated them.

What’s more, many of the crackdowns look like “copycats” of one another. “There are a lot of ways in which these crackdowns follow the same sequence of events,” said Kyle Knight, a researcher on LGBT rights at Human Rights Watch. “And there’s reason to believe that what’s happening in Tajikistan now is based on things their government there has learned from, say, what Azerbaijan just did.”

The Post also reported from Cairo on the intensifying crackdown there:

Gay rights activists view the suppression of their community as part of an effort to distract from the country’s pressing political and economic woes, including rising costs of living and declining government subsidies, that have fomented anger on the streets.

Targeting the gay community, activists say, appeals to Egypt’s mostly conservative population; both Muslims and Christians consider homosexuality a sin. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 95 percent of Egyptians believed that homosexuality was socially unacceptable.

In a separate Post story, Katy Pearce suggested that the anti-gay campaign in Azerbaijan, launched after an investigative journalism coalition released a report on a massive corruption scandal, was the latest in a series of anti-Western campaigns that have “targeted civil society and pro-democracy groups.”

LGBT groups are seen as a symbol of the West’s attack on traditional values. And no group is more symbolically associated with the West. As political scientist Emil Edenborg explains in his new book, LGBT rights have been characterized as the key difference between the West and more traditional societies such as Russia and Azerbaijan. After years of media framing, Edenborg argues, many in “traditional societies” conflate LGBT people with the West’s imagined attack on traditional, national moral values.

That’s how the Azerbaijani government is portraying the recent attacks on gay people and trans women. Pro-government media explicitly describe the raids as measures to “prevent acts contrary to national and spiritual values,” associating these individuals with sex work. …

Further, although Azerbaijan is an officially secular country, religiosity is growing — which the government considers one of the strongest threats to the regime. The LGBT raids let the regime display a commitment to protecting spiritual values and nod toward the country’s Islamic religious groups, a faction with whom it has had a challenging relationship.

This is a particularly sensitive time for that relationship. Political commentator and religious history scholar Altay Goyushov notes that the LGBT raids come during Muharram, one of the holiest times in the Islamic calendar, which may be an effort to appease religious groups.

Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, sent a letter to the Azeri government asking for information about recent arrests and detentions of dozens of people “on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity,” which Muižnieks says “run counter to the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Carley Petesch reported for Associated Press on the fears of some LGBT activists in Africa that the Trump administration will undermine gains that had been made with “the support of the Obama administration and the international community.”

Xorje Olivares writes at Vice about the first-ever Pride Parade in Eagle Pass, Texas, a town of about 25,000—96 percent Latino–that sits on the U.S.-Mexico border. Many residents, Olivares writes, “are die-hard Catholics who stick to deep Mexican American traditions rooted in machismo and strict gender roles.” But cheering supporters along Main Street suggest times are changing times are changing. “Young brown kids with name and faces like mine will always know that their neighbors embrace them, and it absolutely warms my huge, queer heart.”

Marriage equality advocates are meeting in Costa Rica November 8-11.

Tajikistan: Government compiles list of LGBT people

A newspaper published by the state prosecutor reported that authorities have compiled a list of 319 gay men and 48 lesbians who will be “required to undergo testing to avoid ‘the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases,’” reports AFP:

Unlike in neighbouring Uzbekistan, where “sodomy” is illegal, homosexuality is not banned in Tajikistan although it is frowned upon in this conservative society.

In 2014, Tajikistan’s most senior Muslim cleric blasted homosexual relationships as “calamitous” during a sermon in the main mosque in the capital, Dushanbe.

There are growing concerns over the safety of LGBT communities across Muslim-majority regions of the former Soviet Union. In March, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta said authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya were imprisoning and torturing gay men.

One Chechen resident publicly testified in Moscow this week about being detained and tortured because he is gay. And last month, Amnesty International raised alarm over the apparent detentions of LGBT people in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reports that the article claimed that the individuals’ “affiliations” with sexual minorities had been “proven” in “operations called ‘Morality’ and ‘Purge’ carried out by federal prosecutors and the Interior Ministry in the nation of 8.7 million.”

“Rights groups say LGBT people face discrimination and persecution across the Muslim-majority former Soviet republics in Central Asia,” says RFE/RL.

Ecuador: Activists challenge religious leaders over message of ‘family’ march

Activists took several religious leaders to court over a demonstration by social conservatives against language about gender education in a bill targeting violence against women. Activists sought “precautionary measures” to stop the October 14 demonstrations—which were held in 25 cities under the motto, “Don’t Mess with My Children”—which they said  would create a more hostile environment for LGBT people. The marches took place but religious leaders appeared at a hearing on Thursday and will appear again on Wednesday, October 24. According to Actuall, “The judges of the Court of Criminal Guarantees of Quito have accepted a petition for precautionary measures against members of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, the Ecuadorian Evangelical Confraternity and the Adventist Church.” (Translation by Google.) Some of the religious leaders are affiliated with the Movement for Life and Family. Supporters of the religious leaders denounced “the LGBT Mafia” for challenging the marches and seeking the precautionary measures.

Brazil: Growing political power of evangelical groups threatens LGBT gains, gay-friendly reputation

PRI’s Global Post reported on the recent court ruling in Brazil that opened the door to “conversion therapy,” which had been banned by the Federal Council of Psychology in 1999.

That didn’t stop a group of 23 evangelical psychologists from carrying out the “treatment.” Leading member Rozangela Alves Justino describes herself as a “missionary” who is “directed by God to help people who are homosexual.” She lost her license for continuing to perform the therapy and then brought her case to court.

Judge Waldemar Cláudio de Carvalho’s ruling means that Justino and her colleagues can resume their work.

Reporter Ciara Long notes that Brazil’s gay-friendly reputation does not tell the whole story:

LGBT individuals here also suffer discrimination, violent attacks or other serious problems leading to suicide. Today, researchers say the growing power of evangelical Christian groups is fueling prejudice and intolerance in the country’s political, professional and cultural circles. Increasingly, those outside of the heteronormative or religious mainstream are becoming targets for intolerance.

Carvalho’s decision represents a second setback for LGBT Brazilians in September alone. On Sept. 11, one of Porto Alegre’s biggest art museums made the decision to close a queer art exhibition following a barrage of threats from right-wing protesters, who also harassed museumgoers. Among their claims, protesters from the evangelical-backed Movimento Brasil Livre say the exhibition promoted pedophilia, blasphemy and bestiality.

Although the ruling and the museum closure were both bloodless, they represent a subtle erasure of LGBTQ rights to public space and participation. Jurema Werneck, director of Amnesty International in Brazil, said the country should do more to uphold its citizens’ constitutional rights. “These debates make explicit the vulnerable situation of the LGBT population, particularly the trans population,” she said. …

Brazil’s second-largest television network, owned by a conservative evangelical bishop, has helped elect 24 current congressmen in Brasilia. And at local levels, powerful Pentecostal and Baptist churches are gaining influence in city and state governments across the country, posing a challenge to secular moderates but also to other members of the clergy in what’s traditionally been considered the world’s largest Catholic nation.

Sarah DiLorenzo examines recent culture-war flashpoints around modern art exhibits. DiLorenzo, too, notes the rising political power of conservative evangelicals:

Brazil’s conservatism has been bolstered by the rise of evangelicals, a heavy-voting group that now accounts for one in five people — up from one in 20 a few decades ago in what is still the world’s most populous Catholic nation. Their fervor has been fed by a tidal wave of political corruption scandals that have led many Brazilians to believe the nation needs moral leadership.

Liberal activists have struggled to make Brazil a more open place for gays and women, and they gained some traction during the left-leaning Workers’ Party governments that led Latin America’s largest nation between 2003 and 2016. But conservatives are fighting back — aided in part by the fact that corruption scandals weakened the leftist movement.

Evangelical lawmakers in Congress are pushing to ban abortion in all cases. The Supreme Court has ruled that some public schools can teach religion. A judge has waved aside objections from the nation’s top psychologists in ruling that homosexuality can be addressed with so-called conversion therapy and treated as an illness, though that was knocked down by higher courts.

The Advocate reports that actor Tommy Dorfman and illustrator Paul Tuller have collaborated on a T-shirt addressing the conversion therapy ruling:

All of the proceeds will benefit Grupo Gay de Bahia, a nonprofit LGBT organization based in São Paolo. The shirt says “Cura Gay,” which means “Gay Cure.” The “Cura” on the shirt is crossed out to signify that you cannot “cure” homosexuality — nor does it need to be cured.

South Korea: Anti-gay Christians increasingly assertive politically

“Homosexuality has become Korea’s main political hot potato once again,” reports Korea Times’ Choi Ha-young. “Voices against sexual minorities are nothing new but they have palpably grown and unified.”

 As the National Assembly moves to revise the Constitution, Christian groups have convened in nationwide protests. The controversial part of the proposed constitutional revision is the change to the phrase “gender equality” from “equal rights for both sexes.” Anti-homosexuality activists believe the change will institute same-sex marriage and change the military law banning gay sex.

“So far, we’ve gathered 500,000 signatures to protest stipulating gender equality in the revised Constitution,” Professor Gil Won-pyong of Pusan National University, who leads the campaign, told The Korea Times.

“The constitutional revision played a crucial role in igniting our anger. Christians who were lukewarm over municipal ordinance and educational guidance have become desperate owing to the revision, which is a grave issue. People are sharing information voluntarily via chat rooms, and they are actively voicing their opposition to lawmakers who are in defense of homosexuals’ human rights.”

The story reports that Christian groups mobilized opposition to two people President Moon Jae-in nominated to the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court over their supposed support of homosexuality.

Liberal lawmakers, mainly from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the People’s Party, were targets of “text bombing” by Christians vying to make their lives difficult. Many Christians fired salvos against the People’s Party, which held the decisive vote.

“I couldn’t turn on my phone when the text bomb hit the ceiling owing to the never-ending messages,” a People’s Party lawmaker said on condition of anonymity. Some lawmakers were summoned by pastors of megachurches in their electoral districts.

Lawmakers from the conservative Liberal Korea Party are also working with Christian activists to push an effort to remove protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation from the National Human Rights Commission Act. One researcher told Korea Times that conservatives are using attacks on homosexuality as an enemy-identifying strategy to replace the no-longer-effective charges that liberals are “pro-North Korea.”

Australia: Abbott teams up with ADF again; marriage advocates consider religious exemptions

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a fierce opponent of marriage equality, is making his second trip to the U.S. at the invitation of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a U.S. based group that resists LGBT equality around the world. Abbott also addressed ADF last year. The Financial Review notes that Abbott is scheduled to talk about his belief that marriage equality threatens religious liberty. ADF is representing a baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding in a case testing the boundaries of religious freedom claims and nondiscrimination laws before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr Abbott has been relatively quiet on same-sex marriage since he tried unsuccessfully to have a song banned from the National Rugby League grand final. A spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage said Mr Abbott had not been benched.

But the No campaign is turning its sights on trying to legislate religious freedoms should the Yes vote win. It faces an uphill battle after Labor this week threw its weight behind Liberal backbencher Dean Smith’s private members bill.

This would allow churches and celebrants to refuse to marry gay couples if it clashed with their faith but opponents are claiming this does not go far enough to protect religious freedom and there will be unintended consequences.

Australian Christian Lobby chief Lyle Shelton, a prominent No campaigner, said on social media that people should by worried by Labor’s refusal to protect free speech and freedom of Muslim and Christian schools.

Labor though believes the bill struck an acceptable compromise between legalising gay marriage and protecting religious freedoms and resolved it would press the government to pass that bill in its current form as quickly as possible.

Georgia: Marriage ban put in constitution; first openly gay candidate runs for office

The Parliament overrode a presidential veto to put a ban on same-sex couple marrying into the country’s constitution, along with other amendments.

Reuters reports on the campaign of Nino Bokvadze, a 40-year-old lawyer who is making news as “the first openly gay candidate to run for public office in the former Soviet republic, where homosexuality is largely taboo.”

Nestled in the Caucasus, at the crossroads between East and West, Georgia has witnessed a cultural clash between liberal forces and religious conservatives over the past decade, as it embarked on radical reforms and rapid modernization.

Its leaders have worked hard to westernize the country’s image but homophobia remains widespread, rights groups say.

Bokvadze was an organizer of “a now-infamous rally in 2013 against homophobia, which was broken up by a crowd of priests and thousands of protesters, forcing participants to flee.” The Orthodox Church has commemorated that date with “Family Day” celebrations; In 2016 the World Congress of Families scheduled its global summit in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, around the same anniversary.

Russia and Chechnya: More on Chechen violence; activists fined under propaganda law

Maxim Lapunov, a 30-year-old man from Siberia, has spoken publicly about the detention and torture he says he experienced in Chechnya. News reports suggest that another victim of the violent anti-gay campaign, Chechen pop singer Igor Kochetkov, is believed to have been tortured and  murdered after being detained when he returned to Grozny for a family wedding from Moscow where he had been living. Vice reports that Voices 4 Chechnya organized a Saturday march to call attention to the anti-gay persecution.

Meanwhile, a Russian judge fined activist Evdokiya Romanova 50,000 rubles for sharing articles from Buzzfeed and The Guardian, which the judge ruled violated the country’s anti-gay “propaganda” law because the links were “circulated among minors.”

Egypt: Crackdown has LGBT people asking, ‘Is it time to leave?’

We have been reporting on an intensifying anti-gay crackdown in Egypt following social media outrage about a rainbow flag being waved at a rock concert by a Lebanese band whose lead singer is openly gay. Alexandra Zavis at the Los Angeles Times reports that the brutal crackdown “has gay and transgender Egyptians asking: Is it time to leave?”

“The problem is that no one can tell the limit of this crackdown and how far it might go,” said Mostafa, a community activist who asked to be identified by one name, for fear that he too might be swept up by police. “There was an incredible amount of hate speech by the media and by people on social media. Everyone I know is depressed and fearful.” …

The “Arab Spring” uprising that toppled Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak a decade later brought some respite for the city’s embattled LGBT community, whose members were able to socialize more openly at house parties and bars.

But that respite came to an abrupt end after the military takeover that brought President Abdel Fattah Sisi to power in 2013. Hundreds of gay and transgender people have been rounded up, part of a broad crackdown that has seen political dissidents jailed, public protests harshly put down and the country’s once vibrant civil society quashed.

Zavis writes that the response to the flag-waving as “swift and brutal.”

Influential TV talk show hosts and newspaper columnists denounced the flag wavers as “sexual deviants” and suggested they were part of a foreign-backed plot to destabilize the country.

Al Azhar University, the center of Islamic learning in this mostly conservative Muslim country, said it would be organizing sermons and lectures to “fortify youth against these deviant thoughts.” St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral announced a conference on what it termed a “volcano of homosexuality.”

Responding to the public outcry, Egypt’s top prosecutor, Nabil Sadek, ordered an investigation into the flag waving.

Days later, Egypt’s media regulatory body issued an order prohibiting coverage that promotes or legitimizes homosexuality, which it labeled a “sickness and disgrace.” It also barred homosexual people from appearing in the media, unless it is to repent. The pro-government musicians union announced it would no longer issue permits to foreign performers unless they obtain security clearance.

Kyrgyzstan: Russian-style propaganda law brings rise in rape and other violent crime

The Guardian’s Katie Arnold reports that Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, “was long a liberal beacon in Central Asia—until a ban on ‘LGBT propaganda.’” Arnold reports that rape and other violent hate crimes against LGBT people are on the rise:

This was not always the case in Bishkek. With its dedicated gay clubs and largely indifferent population, the capital once served as a relatively safe haven for Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT community.

But in 2014, the government launched a series of legal reforms that marked a dramatic shift away from the western values that had earned Bishkek a reputation as Central Asia’s most socially liberal city.

In Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, homosexual conduct is criminalised, carrying a maximum prison sentence of two and three years respectively. With it goes widespread and deep-rooted homophobia and discrimination, including among law enforcement officials and medical personnel. Turkmen people detained and charged with sodomy are forced to undergo examinations with the purported objective of finding “proof” of homosexual activity.

The situation is not much better in Kazakhstan, where many LGBT people choose to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of reprisal. In order to change their listed gender on identity documents, transgender people are forced to undergo invasive procedures, including coerced sterilisation.

Bishkek’s liberal attitudes are now under threat. In April last year the law, order and crime-fighting parliamentary committee returned Kyrgyzstan’s anti-LGBT bill for a second reading. Its proposed ban of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” appeared aimed at suppressing information about same-sex relations in Kyrgyzstan.

Tanzania: Human rights defenders challenge arrest of lawyers, clients

Activists with the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA) released a statement criticizing the government’s October 17 arrest and detention of lawyers and clients who were meeting to discuss a legal case challenging an earlier government decision to restrict the provision of HIV services. Among those arrested was ISLA’s executive director, Sibongile Ndashe, described by Human Rights Watch as “a South African feminist lawyer.” The government also announced it had “suspended the business” of CHESA. From Pink News:

In Tanzania, male homosexual sex carries a sentence anywhere between 30 years and life in prison.

Their Colonial-era penal code criminalises anyone who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.”

Earlier this year, Tanzania stopped health clinics from providing HIV services, saying they “cater to homosexuals.”

It is believed 33,000 people in Tanzania died from AIDS-related illnesses last year, and 1.4 million are living with the disease nationwide.

Romania: Journalist discusses U.S. religious groups part in campaign against marriage equality

Hundreds of people rallied to have civil partnerships be legally recognized. A referendum to put a ban on same-sex couples marrying into the constitution is pending.

Journalist Gabriel Sandu, in the U.S. on a research project, talked to the Bay Area Reporter about homophobic attitudes in Romania and about the role played by American religious conservatives. (The Liberty Counsel took marriage-refusing county clerk Kim Davis on a tour of Romania to drum up support for a referendum putting a marriage ban in the constitution, an effort being promoted by the Orthodox Church.) “It’s the only cause in the world that American money and Russian Money are given for the same cause, which is anti-LGBT policies,” says Sandu. “That’s just insane.”

India: Author urged Hindus to explore pre-colonial history on LGBT relationships

Raj Rao, author of “Criminal Love? Queer Theory, Culture, and Politics in India,” writes that he is not optimistic that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding the right to privacy would bring about an end to Section 377, the colonial-era anti-sodomy law that was reinstituted by a court ruling in 2013.

Even if it is de-criminalised, our patriarchal Indian families will continue to insist that their kids get married. Gay people themselves will do so because of social resistance.

In recent years, we are seeing a different portrayal of LGBTQ characters in the popular media and advertisements. This is a welcome development, to the extent that it can generate awareness and change mindsets. But the media can’t be trusted entirely, for it is notorious for its flip-flops.

What further deters LGBTQ people is the lack of a network. There are no gay marriage bureaus. Or any gay bars worth their name in Indian cities. Gay parties are not held as frequently as they used to be before, due to police raids. A mere amendment of the law is not going to make things great for us.

Rao calls on the Hindu nationalist BJP to look to pre-colonial history:

For most Indians, history begins with 19th century British imperialism. Depictions of homosexuality in Khajuraho and in the Kamasutra are hardly known to most Indians, including our politicians.

If the BJP really dreams of a Hindu Rashtra, then the first thing it should do is legalise same-sex love, because Hindu India never criminalised it in the past. It was the English Victorians who criminalised it. Yet, Victorian morality now passes off as Hindu morality. The West has rejected its own archaic thinking of the 19th century, but we still think that to speak about homosexuality is a ‘Western’ fad.

New Zealand: New Prime Minister left Mormon Church over anti-gay doctrines

Jacinda Ardnern, the country’s new 37-year-old prime minister, is a former Mormon who left the church when she was in her 20s, “mostly as a consequence of its anti-homosexual stance.” From the New Zealand Herald:

“For a lot of years, I put it to the back of my mind. I think it was too unsettling. If something like religion is part of your foundation, and then suddenly you start questioning that – it’s quite a confronting thing to deal with.

“Even before the Civil Union Bill came up, I lived in a flat with three gay friends and I was still going to church every so often and I just remember thinking ‘this is really inconsistent – I’m either doing a disservice to the church or my friends’. Because how could I subscribe to a religion that just didn’t account for them?

“It was one of the issues that became a real flashpoint. You drift along a bit, there are always going to be things you can’t reconcile, but I could never reconcile what I saw as discrimination in a religion that was otherwise very focused on tolerance and kindness.”

And now?

“I can’t see myself being a member of an organised religion again.”

Nigeria: Profile of some of the men and boys arrested in anti-gay sweep

NZ City speaks with some of the 40 men and teenagers arrested by policy in a raid on a “gay nightspot” in July, reporting on lost jobs, families, and educations – and violence from family members:

The situation for LGBTI people in northern Nigeria is more difficult than for those living in the south, with at least 114 gay men and women having been arrested since January this year.

“What we’ve seen are people arming themselves with these laws and arresting people indiscriminately,” LGBT and women’s rights activist Dorothy Aken`Ova says.

“Any time the Hisbah (religious police) catch wind of any gathering they’ll bust up the party and arrest and torture them.”

In August, she says, a 17-year-old schoolboy was allegedly beaten to death by some of his classmates in Jigawa state because they suspected he was gay.

“The [classmates] were taken to police custody but in their statements they said they did it to correct [the student who died] from the social vice because he was suspected to be gay.”

Northern Ireland: DUP’s anti-marriage stance at odds with younger unionists

The Guardian’s Siobhan Fenton covers a mock wedding ceremony held in a Belfast cabaret club, “part cathartic art performance, part protest.” A poll taken last year showed public support for marriage equality at 70 percent but efforts to change the law have been consistently blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party, which is now a partner in UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

Stormont uses a parliamentary system designed, ironically, to prevent discrimination against minority and marginalised groups. Parties can effectively veto or obstruct individual pieces of legislation. The DUP has made use of this power five times to block same-sex marriage from being legalised, despite equality having majority support in the chamber since 2015.

The legal differences between civil partnership – which is legal for same-sex couples – and marriage are minimal in Northern Ireland. Civil partnerships cannot include religious elements in the ceremony, while the grounds for a dissolution cannot include adultery, unlike a marriage. Some bureaucratic documents list separate tick boxes for marriage or civil partnership, effectively forcing individuals to disclose their sexuality.

Fenton notes that DUP’s founder Ian Paisley once led a “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign against decriminalization of homosexuality.

More recently, its politicians have stated that same-sex relationships are worse than paedophilia; have called homosexuality “repulsive”, “unnatural” and “harmful to society”; and suggested that God sent Hurricane Katrina as a punishment for LGBT rights. The party has opposed same-sex couples being able to adopt and objects to men who have sex with men being allowed to donate blood.

But public support crosses traditional political lines:

While the rival parties clash, public support for equality transcends traditional unionist/nationalist and Catholic/Protestant divides. Another recent survey found younger, pro-union Protestants feel increasingly alienated from the stance of unionist parties.

Albania: Activist writes of decision to leave

At DailyXtra, LGBT activist Kristi Pinderi writes about the decision to flee Albania. “By the time we left, we were receiving doens of death threats on social media every day—threats we couldn’t ignore. The false sense of security we had built around us started to crumble.” Pinderi explains how his public activism started:

It was the summer of 2009, when the right-wing Democratic Party of Albanahad won the elections for a second time but the political opposition was accusing Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha of election fraud.

In order to distract the public from the scandal, Berisha suddenly announced that his government would propose a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

We hadn’t known each other for more than an hour when [Pinderi’s friend] Xheni and I caught the headlines on the news: Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic leaders were releasing a joint press release in opposition of gay marriage.

After years of public activism led to threats and vandalism, Pinderi and his partner have emigrated to Canada.

Alderney: Island approves marriage equality

The government of Alderny in the Channel Islands, a British Crown dependency, voted to approve marriage equality, but it could take more than a year for the law to receive formal assent from the UK Privy Council and go into effect.


The long and complicated march toward marriage equality continues. In Nuevo Leon, 118 people received an amparo, an injunction from a federal court requiring the civil registry of Nuevo Leon to marry them.

Panama: Draft Supreme Court ruling bad news for marriage equality advocates

A draft Supreme Court ruling reportedly holds that restricting marriage to a man and a woman is not unconstitutional; the ruling reportedly says making changes in marriage law is the responsibility of the National Assembly.

Hong King: Exhibit of same-sex couples asks ‘Why not here?’

A photography exhibit entitled “Why Not Here?” features 13 same-sex couples who are “legally married in another country but settled in Hong Kong,” reports the South China Morning Post.