Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) Activities
1. SPW articles on the Pope Benedict XVI visit to Brazil
2. SPW at the IASSCS 6th International Conference
Sexuality around the world: main debates
3. Human Rights Council review process: opportunity to advocate for sexual rights
4. Yogyakarta Principles
5. Nigerian same sex marriage act
6. WSF 2007
Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW) Activities
Pope Benedict XVI visit to Brazil on May 2007 has many implications for national political debates on sexuality and human rights. The Vatican has systematically expressed doctrinal views against divorce, contraception, the use of condoms, abortion and same sex relationships. In contrast, Brazilian policy debates and initiatives in relation to these matters — steadily pushed by civil society actors — have moved in a progressive direction. For instance, in 1988, the new constitution did not include a “right to life since conception” provision. The progressive premises orienting the national HIV/AIDS policy are internationally known and in 2003 the federal program Brazil without Homophobia was launched. Since the early 1990’s, in various global policy arenas, Brazil has systematically adopted progressive diplomatic stances in respect to related matters. The presence of the Pope in Brazil, among other, will mean that stronger pressures will be made on politicians and other social actors to not support the legalization of abortion, the use of condom, same sex marriage as explicitly announced in the document Sacramentum Caritatis made public on March 14th, 2007.
Sexuality Policy Watch will therefore develop a series of analyses aimed at understanding what motivates this visit and what can be its potentially negative effects. The first article already posted on our website examines the shifting religious landscape in Brazilian society, a reality that is certainly one key motivation behind the visit. In the next weeks other analyses will follow that will address: controversies and convergences between science and religion; secularity and laicité in the Brazilian political experience; Catholic Church positions on reproductive rights, abortion HIV/AIDS and sexual plurality; ethical challenges in the 21st century and the rise of religious moral dogmatisms.
Sexuality Policy Watch has applied to participate in the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) 6th International Conference, “Dis/Organized Pleasures – Changing Bodies, Rights and Cultures”, that will take place in Lima, Peru from 27 to 29 June 2007. The meeting will address sexual rights in political and cultural context across Latin America and the rest of the world. The Lima conference agenda emphasizes aspects of mobilization for the defense of sexual rights in a world where bodies, cultures and the very notions of ‘rights’ are evolving.
Since 2004, Sexuality Policy Watch has been involved in a global research effort to investigate the intersections of sexuality, politics and policy formation in nine countries and two global institutions. Everywhere, biomedicalization, economic biases and liberal approaches to privacy tend to exclude matters of desire, pleasure, and their sexual expressions from public debates and policy frames. Concurrently, states and religious forces are systematically re-inserting sex into public discourses through regressive policy positions and doctrinaire prescriptions on abortion, homosexuality, female virginity and honor, abstinence or simply the social risks of “bad sexual behavior”. In between, feminists, LGBT groups, HIV activists, and sex workers are deeply engaged in political endeavors that aim at framing sexuality as a human rights and social justice issue. Our proposal for the IASSCS Conference comprises two panels that will explore “The trans-global politics of sexuality: Silence? Obsession? Transformation?”
Panel 1 – will focus on sites where a perverse combination of silencing and obsession with sex on the part of powerful institutions prevails: Peru, Poland, Vietnam and the World Bank. The cases will look into the contentions around women’s sexuality and abortion (Poland), homosexuality (Peru and Vietnam) and sexuality and HIV (Peru, Vietnam and the World Bank) as well into the negative impacts of these dominant institutions on societal and individual practices. The panel will also highlight the presence and influence of positive transnational forces such as the expansion of human rights discourses and the negative global of other global trends such as the Vatican influence or the effects of current US HIV/AIDS policies.
Panel 2 – will explore contexts in which contemporary sexual politics is breaking through the silences and negative obsession with “ sex” and the conflicts and challenges that ensue—in Turkey, India, and Brazil and South Africa. These cases will look into the political intersections between HIV –AIDS, sexuality, and human rights (Brazil, India, South Africa), the greater political visibility of female sexuality (Brazil and Turkey) or LGBTQ rights (India, South Africa and Brazil). They will also address the complexities and paradoxes of legal reforms (all cases). The session will also highlight the presence and influence of expanding human rights frames (in all cases) or EU accession (Poland and Turkey) and look into the effects of internal inequalities (Brazil and South Africa).
Sexuality around the world: main debates
Since March 15th, 2006, when the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution creating the Human Rights Council, the Council has met in four sessions. The 5th session will take place from June 11th to 18th, 2007, when it is expected that the ongoing HRC institution building process will be completed.
Concerning how sexuality related matters have been dealt with in the 4th Session of the Council, which ended on March 30th, check here
The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, developed and unanimously adopted by a distinguished group of human rights experts, from diverse regions and backgrounds, were launched during the 4th session of the HRC (see below). They affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. The Yogyakarta Principles are available in different languages, check it out!
In the first months of 2007, multiple and hard struggles involving sexual rights, kept evolving around the world. Among them one has captured the mainstream media attention and raised much concern among human rights experts and LGBT activists: the law provision aimed at banning same sex marriage proposed in early 2006, that includes another measures such as the punishment of any person who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex, performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage,” or “is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations,” and “prohibits any public display of a ‘same-sex amorous relationship’.” In the course of 2006, Nigerian LGBTQ and human rights activists have struggled hard against the provision and expected the voting to be deferred to the next legislature. However, in March 2007 the provision was tabled and it is currently being discussed by the Nigerian Senate. A wide range of actors and sectors from all over the world raised protests and public concerns.
Check information on the following links:
Read UN press release: Independent UN Experts Express Serious Concern Over Draft Nigerian Bill Outlawing Same-sex Relationships. Click here
Some of the statements delivered during the HRC 4th session by countries such as Canada, Belgium, Norway and The Netherlands raised concern about the Nigerian Bill. ARC-International will soon prepare a report providing more detailed information about the language used in these statements. Check this and other reports in their website.
Check article posted at the Human Rights Watch website, click here.
Check article posted at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission website, download here.
In February, the Sexuality Policy Watch website has provided information on how gender and sexuality issues have been addressed by the World Social Forum 2007 (Nairobi, Kenya). Our last positing on this subject is a letter written by feminists from all over the world in which deep concerns are raised about the growth of fundamentalist voices present in Nairobi and the potential threat this implies for the Sexual and Reproductive Rights global civil society agenda. Check it out!
“Sexuality and Development” IDS Policy Briefing. Download here
BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack “Gender and Sexuality”
IDS Bulletin “Sexuality Matters”
To find out more on IDS work on sexuality see:
Check it out! Events and opportunities
Members of the Asia-Pacific media with an interest in regional HIV/AIDS coverage are invited to attend a major conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from August 19 to 23. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.icaap8.lk
May 7th, 2007, Brazil: International Workshop Secular Freedom (Information just in Portuguese)
June 27-29, 2007, Peru: IASSCS conference
August 13 –18, 2007, Mexico: ALAS congress (Information just in Spanish)
October 23-26, 2007, Mexico: International Congress “El Cuerpo Descifrado” (April 30th– Deadline to submit abstracts)
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice – Deputy Director
The deputy director will work in partnership with the Executive Director in development and oversight of the Foundation’s strategic and operational plans and budgets. S/he is responsible for day-to-day operations. S/he is also responsible for ensuring that the Foundation has strong internal systems to support programming and development.
For more information on how to apply click here.
The University Consortium for Sexuality Research and Training (UCSRT) Dialogues provides you with an exciting sexuality research tool and resource. http://www.ucsrt.org/
LGBT and Human Rights workshop – The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, RFSU and RFSL (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Rights) will jointly conduct a training program on LGBT and Human Rights. The course is open only for application by participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
If you wish to subscribe the SPW Newsletter please click here