In Europe, the rise of the extreme right – which implies both the deepening of racism and a threat to gender and sexuality related rights – continued its course. Its scariest demonstration was seen in Poland where, on November 11th, a far-right rally gathered over twenty thousand people who shouted dogmatic religious and nationalist lemmas and made calls against refugees, communism and LGBT rights. The march was a response to the European Union decision to apply Article 7 of the European Convention to assess if whether or not democratic standards are being respected by President Duda proposed reforms of the Judicial system. Germany conditions after the recent election are also worrying, as Angela Merkel has lost the Parliamentarian majority, the right wing AfD has won 100 seats and in the course of the last few weeks, it has not been possible to form a new coalition government. Concerning these rightward expanding political trends, as reported by The Guardian, the internet is one key factor to be looked at. New studies have found how internet bots magnify hate speech, crystalize the trope of “dangerous others” (in particular targeting Islam), propel sentiments of insecurity and disseminate claims for traditional values against “gender” and LGBTT rights.
In respect to conservative political trends also underway in the Americas an important development was that the right wing candidate Sebastian Pinera did not fare so well, as predicted by polls, in the recent Chilean presidential elections. The voting also resulted in a surprising ballot for the Frente Amplio candidate Beatriz Sanchez creating the conditions for for a wider left coalition to be formed for the second round. This prospect is potential good news in relation to LGBT rights and abortion, given the known regressive views of Piñera on these matters, as the candidate has even affirmed recently that “with time trans kids grow up differntly’. In contrast, in Argentina, president Macri has enacted new and stricter security laws and, in an un-precedent decision, denied the visa to sixty three international activists who planned to be in the country for the WTO Summit. This decision is to be read in connection to the international outcry condemning the deaths of activist Santiago Maldonado and a Mapuche young political leader in the South of the country. In this quite regressive scenario, the results of the US interim legislative elections have been unexpectedly positive as the left democrats gained space and, most principally, in Virginia ( a very conservative state) Danica Roem, a transgender lawmaker defeated the ‘anti-gender’ republican Bob Marshall.
Moving towards the abortion front line, The Guardian reported on the outraging case of Dafne McPherson, convicted for 16 years for homicide after experiencing a miscarriage in the state of Queretaro in Mexico, of the states of the country that adopted a premise of right to life from conception after the abortion law reform in Mexico City a decade ago. Going back to the US, a potentially damaging definition of fetal rights has been inserted into the Republicans (GOP) tax bill now being processed at Congress, as the now text includes the language on the unborn child as beneficiary or individual.
A similar strategy of inserting fetal rights into a provision addressing another matter is what resulted in the so-called Trojan Horse constitutional amendment (PEC 181) now being processed in Brazil. As reported by Angela Freitas e Rajnia Rodrigues, the approval of the amendement by a Special Committee in early November has provoked a major pro-abortion rights reaction in society. As analyzed in this report, the wide repudiation of PEC 1981 was followed by the grounbreaking case of Rebeca Mendes, a young black women from São Paulo who requested the Supreme Court an authorization to perform a legal abortion. As the request was denied she travelled to Colombia where she undergone a safe and legal medical abortion procedure. In what concerns abortion rights, we also strongly recommend the lengthy article on struggles underway in Poland that was published by The Guardian on November 30th to mark the first anniversary of the massive pro abortion march of November 2016.
In respect to LGBT rights, once again, there are troubling news to be reported of crackdowns on LGBT activists: in various locations across Central Asia especially in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, but also in Nigeria where two men were tortured and condemned for homosexual practices after being denounced by a police officer that infiltrated their community. In Egypt, the crackdown that began after the waving of the rainbow flag in a concert in September led to the sentencing of 16 gay men. In response, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has published Trap: Punishing Sexual Difference in Egypt, a full and detailed report on how since 2013 state repression has sharply intensified against sexual dissidents. These episodes of political repression against sexual dissidents have also been examined by a long article and a series of interviews posted at the Madamasr website. Moving to India, on November 19th, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Government presented the Transgender Persons Bill’s text that will be forwarded to Parliament. As analyzed by Sampoorna, the bill constitutes a grave setback to transgender and intersex people’s rights. (you can sign the solidarity call here)
Furthermore, in Latin America, a region usually portrayed as highly friendly to LGBTT rights, retrogressions are also underway (beyond Brazil, where conditions have been deteriorating in recent years). In Argentina, President Macri has withdrawn the federal support to the LGBT pride parade. Then, in Bolivia, on November 15th the Constitutional Court issued a very problematic decision on the recently approved Law on Gender Identity. The decision does not completely strike the law but restricts its definition of a full right to gender identity using the argument that human dignity is grounded on the biology of sexually differentiated bodies. This line of juridcal thinking is cleraly aligned with the arguments propelled by anti-gender campaigns now flaring across the region (check the article by Sonia Corrêa in We Recommend).
At the transnational level, there are, however, positive news to be reported. On November 27th, the Additional Principles and State Obligations on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics were launched to mark the 10th anniversary of Yogyakarta Principles. And right after, on December 4th, the new UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Costa-Rican Victor Madrigal-Borloz, was also appointed on December 4. In line with these developments, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a Press Release urging states to promote policies that protect intersex persons and prevent all types of violence and discrimination to which they are subject to.
On the occasion of the International AIDS Day, the Brazilian Ministry of Health has announced it will invest $2.7 million to provide access to PrEP drugs to key populations. However, as pointed out by experts at the ABIA Seminar on HIV Prevention these investments are not sufficient to respond to existing needs and, most principally, MoH has not yet defined a consistent strategy to reach out the groups that most urgently need access to new prevention strategies, such as youth, transgender, travestis, drug users and sex workers. Another main concern raised in the seminar is that since HIV prevention must openly address questions related to gender and sexuality this new directive may be compromised by the regressive views on gender and sexuality that are gaining space in Brazilian public policies, in particular in education.
Gender Ideology: tracking its origins and meanings in current gender politics – LSE Blog Engendering
Characteristics and Mental Health of Gender Nonconforming Adolescents in California – Williams Institute
POLITICS OF RELIGION AND CONSERVATISM
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