One Equal World

Archive for the ‘International laws’ Category

A photo of a mosque in Chechnya.

A mosque in Chechnya.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Russia is known for having regressive views towards homosexuality, but the republic of Chechnya (which is part of the Russian Federation) is taking things to another level.

Police there are suspected of having rounded up over 100 men “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” At least three have been killed, though specific details remain unclear.

The round-up began after a gay rights group in Russia applied for permits to march in a different part of the country. Although authorities aren’t releasing much information on the case yet, it’s very clear that Chechnya is not LGBT-friendly.

To give you a little background, Chechnya is a small region in Russia that has long been a thorn in the side to Russian leadership ever since Stalin. The region’s current leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, is known for human rights violations, although until now, gay men were not targeted in large numbers.

Kadyrov’s spokesman, Ali Karimov, denied reports of the action, stating that there are no gay men in Chechnya, and that “it’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic.” But he went on to say that if there were gay men in Chechnya, “law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

It’s clear that the government of Chechnya is hiding something, and certainly has no love for its gay citizens. Outright denying these claims, which have been substantiated by several sources (including Russian federal law enforcement) is a weak smokescreen at best.

But claiming that there aren’t even any gay people to oppress, while dismissing them as some kind of pests who would have been killed by their own families, shows a complete lack of conscience on the part of Kadyrov. Unfortunately, the only thing that this proves is that it is still very, very dangerous to be gay in certain part of the world.

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Image via The Saturday Paper: Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and Noel Tovey (seated) outside Parliament House.

In the Australian state of Victoria, homosexuality (for men) was a crime until 1981, which is frighteningly recent. Even after it was decriminalized, the criminal records of those arrested and jailed under the law weren’t vacated. Those still in prison were set free, but the arrest record haunted them, making employment and travel humiliatingly difficult.

Last year in 2015, the Victorian government finally began a process to clean those records. And on Tuesday, May 24th, the very first official apology from the state government to its queer citizens was given by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Laws against homosexuality are inherently abusive and Victoria’s was no exception. One of the men present to hear the apology, Tom Anderson, was forced to plead guilty at fourteen to the medieval-era crimes of buggery and gross indecency for the crime of being sexually abused by a man three times his age. Anderson said in a speech before the formal apology that only now did he finally feel like his government did not still think him a criminal.

Australia inherited its anti-homosexuality laws from the United Kingdom, as the Buggery Act of 1533. The various states did not begin repealing those laws until the 1970s. Tasmania was the last to repeal theirs in 1997, and only when forced to it by the United Nations. Perhaps in an effort to cleanse their image, Tasmania was also the first Australian state to recognize same sex marriage, barely 7 years later.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

As Donald Trump continues to lead the pack of Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, he continues to use inflammatory, anti-immigrant rhetoric to maintain the lead. He has so tipped the Republican talking points against immigration that his chief rivals have had to get on board and make similar claims. At the point, both he and Ted Cruz have sworn to deport all of the estimated 11 million “illegal” immigrants in the country, and Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country as well.

The result has, somewhat ironically, been a significant increase in attempts to cross the border into the United States from Mexico and other Central American countries. A number of factors, such as droughts and gang violence, have been pushing Central Americans north for years, and those factors are generally getting worse. But now, some people who fear that the Republicans will win the White House in November have adopted a “now or never” mentality as it pertains to immigration.

The number of people caught trying to cross the border between October and February was up 24% from the previous year, and the number of unaccompanied minors doing the same is up over 100%. Many people are convinced that crossing now would be easier than crossing after November, and if they get here before Trump wins, they might have a better chance of staying.

The issue is one of constant discussion in Central America, where many people expect that a Republican win would be devastating to both immigration and to those people already living in the United States “illegally.” Despite all this, the U.S. is still a tempting destination for people wishing to escape the poverty and violence of their current homes. Illegally crossing the border poses a lot of dangers to migrants, but historically they have been deemed worth the risk. Even as those dangers are increasing, they still seem worth it.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

LGBT travelers can sometimes face scary experiences – especially if they’re using services such as Airbnb, NightSwapping, or CouchSurfing to stay in stranger’s homes. The apps are indeed great for getting a taste of affordable local living, but travelers are unsure how to gauge in advance whether their hosts will be chill or homophobic. For non-LGBT travelers, few have to worry about preparing a contingency plan for their stay if an Airbnb host decides they don’t approve of their lifestyle.

Although Airbnb doesn’t tolerate discrimination, it’s quite difficult to monitor 1.5 millions listings across the world. Despite a recent video campaign promoting LGBT travel, discrimination still lingers even in countries that achieved marriage equality.

Thankfully, there are apps such as Wimbify and Misterbnb that solve this problem where they connect LGBT travelers with local LGBT hosts.

Wimbify’s co-founder and CEO Alessio Virgili, who was born and lives in Rome, told MTV News that he and his long-time partner were inspired to create the app when their lesbian couple friends were discriminated against when they scheduled a home-stay during their vacation. Wimbify’s market research shows that 53% of LGBT people travel alone at least once a year and that they want to be able to discover the gay scene of a destination, be able to go out with their partners without shame, and meet like-minded people in the local LGBT community.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, it is not easy to find information about the local gay scene, especially in destinations where the gay life is more underground,” said Virgili. “That’s why with Wimbify, you’re able to find more than just a safe place to stay — you’ll also be connected with a friendly LGBT host who’s eager to show you around.”

Similar to Wimbify, Misterbnb connects the global gay travel community, most recently opening in Belgium. The site is present in more than 130 countries with over 33,000 hosts offering homes to travelers.

Wimbify and Misterbnb are only currently available for iOS, however, there plans to support Android devices in the near future.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The colors were queer and the colors were beautiful.

Although being LGBT is still seen as shameful in most of India, hundreds of gay rights activists danced to drum beats and held colorful flags as they celebrated and marched in a parade in New Delhi last Sunday, celebrating what they consider the “diversity of gender and sexuality”.

While the gay pride parade celebrated the gains made in recent years of India’s LGBT community, parade organizers also wanted to highlight the continuing discrimination it faces. The event marked the 8th anniversary of the Queer Delhi Parade march, and the second one since the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the courts should not have struck down section 377, which criminalizes homosexual acts, in 2009. Before this year’s parade, organizers released a list of demands in a statement including legal protections for transgender citizens:

“…Section 377 remains a blight on our laws,” says a member of the Delhi Queer Pride Committee. “In our everyday lives, too many of us remain fearful of being ourselves in homes, schools, workplaces, hospitals, and the public spaces of our city.”

“Over the past decade, homosexuals have gained a degree of acceptance in parts of deeply conservative India, especially in big cities. Many bars have gay nights, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues,” says members of the pride committee.

Although being gay is seen as shameful in most of the country and many of them remain closeted, things aren’t all bad though progress of the community is slow. “But it’s happening. People are increasingly attending the parade without masks, which is indicative of the changing trends around the topic of homosexuality,” says Harsh Argarwal.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

An anti-gay petition is demanding that Singaporean concert organizer MediaCorp cancel Adam Lambert’s New Years Eve performance, but he’s not letting homophobia stopping him from taking the stage. He’s booked to sing at the country’s Celebrate 2016 concert.

With over 20,000 supporters, Lambert’s critics (including antigay activist group Focus on the Family), launched the petition (now closed) so that people in Singapore would no be “affronted by lewd acts in the name of entertainment” as the openly gay singer’s headlining gig would be out of line with the country’s values.

In defense, a counter petition on the same website supporting the singer managed to pull almost 25,000 signatures. Lambert has every intention of performing and vowed that his set “will not only be a spectacular one, it will celebrate the entire human family in all its diversity.”

In a Facebook post via Warner Music Singapore, his statement continues:

“I am a uniter, not a divider, and I believe in celebrating the human heart and spirit. I have put together an entirely new show experience for my fans that is kicking off in Singapore.

“The Original High tour is based primarily on new material, and it promises to be a thoughtful and sophisticated insight into the pursuit of happiness and self-worth.

“There is no better time for celebration than at the moment one year changes into another, so I hope you will join me to celebrate the future and 2016.”

“The opposing petition have lost,” the event’s organizers said. “Adam is still going to do the concert. The only thing the opposing side has accomplished is embarrassing themselves and the groups that promoted their petition. This is a clear message to those people that their homophobic and discriminatory ways are not welcome in Singapore.”

The first Ugandan trial since the adoption of tough anti-gay laws recently took place, with two men accused of having homosexual sex before a Ugandan court this week. Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who appeared in the court in the capital Kampala, are both expected to plead not guilty.

Kim Mukisa, 24 is a businessman who reportedly identifies himself as gay and Jackson Mukasa, 19, is his alleged trans partner. The two men face a potential life sentence in jail. The Ugandan police arrested the couple in January as they fled an angry mob, according to The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, a local watchdog group.They are being charged under Section 145 of the Penal Code that bans consensual same-sex relations, according to Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Uganda-same-sex-lawsuit

Uganda is one of 82 countries where homosexuality is illegal. Pecold / Shutterstock.com

Although there has been anti-gay legislation in Uganda since colonial times, President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill in February that calls for “repeat homosexuals” to be jailed for life and makes it a criminal offence to not report someone for being gay. Prosecutors have lined up several witnesses to testify against the two, who have been charged with engaging in sex acts “against the order of nature,” said their lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi.

The law’s passage drew international condemnation, with US Secretary of State John Kerry likening it to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany. Western countries have ever since withheld or cut aid to Uganda over the law, hoping the country’s legislators will repeal it. Several Ugandan government officials have described the Western pressure over the bill as blackmail.

Uganda, is just one of 82 countries where homosexuality is illegal. Most of these countries are in Africa and Asia, though homosexuality is also condemned in countries such as Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, and Indonesia. As of January 2014, no country in Europe has an official law against homosexuality—though countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova have unofficial anti-gay agendas.