Two outstandingly positive news are to be reported in sexual politics worldwide in August 2017. In India, the Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking decision on the right to privacy. In Chile, the Constitutional Court approved a new abortion law that leaves behind the draconian prohibition of pregnancy termination established during the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1980’s.
The Indian Supreme Court decision is groundbreaking. According to Vivek Divan, it does not automatically change the status quo in relation to the 2013 judgment that stroke down the 2009 Delhi Court Decision on Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code. However, it expands the interpretation of the right to privacy to also address cultural diversity, plurality and more importantly, to recognize it as a right that is not merely about being left alone in a private space, but also about the respect to personhood and the ability to decide the course of one’s life. As noted by Anja Kovacs, the decision is crucial not exclusively for queer people but also for other social minorities and for gender equality (read more about the decision).
Other positive events were also registered in respect to LGBT rights in Asia. In South Korea, the Supreme Court recognized the right of association to LGBT groups after a longstanding debate on the matter. In Nepal, a trans woman married a cis man who was married to another women and Sunil Pant, the founder of Blue Diamond Society has written about the wedding. Moving to Europe, in Malta, the recently approved same sex marriage law began being implemented.
As for the Chilean Congress approval and Constitutional Court reaffirmation of the new abortion law, it is a breakthrough for historical reasons, but also because this is the first time in a long time that, in Latin America, a political victory is won against the fierce opposition of anti abortion forces. On August 2nd, the bill to legalize abortion in three cases (when the woman’s life is at risk, when the fetus is non-viable and when a pregnancy results from rape) was approved in the Senate. On August 21st, the Constitutional Court concluded that the law does not infringe constitutional premises and on the 28th the text was ratified by the Parliament.
Significantly, right after these decisions, the Bachelet government tabled a proposal (here and here ) aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same sex couples. The Chilean reform may be also a source of inspiration for legislators in El Salvador, where the Parliament is right now processing a provision to reform another draconian prohibition of abortion, under which, in July 2017, Evelyn Hernández was convicted to a 30 years sentence. On the downside for Chile, however, the Constitutional Court recognized the right of individual and institutional conscientious objection that, as exemplified by the Uruguayan experience can create many obstacles to abortion rights.
A series of positive legal developments have also taken place in relation to Muslim women rights in the Middle East and also in India. On July 26, the Tunisian passed a landmark law on gender based violence. Then in August the Parliaments in both Jordan and Lebanon repealed articles of these countries penal codes that allowed rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victims. Then, the Indian Supreme Court has also issued an important decision on the Islamic norm of talaq,talaq, talaq (instant divorce). Though according to feminist legal experts the decision will not bring automatic change on the concrete life of women, it is very relevant from the juridical point of view. Lastly, in Nepal, , after serious repercussions about the deaths of three girls due to the chaupadi practice, a new law has been decided in order to set penalties for those who still practice it. Experts and activists argue, however, that criminal law is not the best answer, but the eradication of the practice mostly requires education.
Finally, as this announcement was being closed, we had good news to report in Brazil. Draft Provision No 198 – defining the transmission of HIV as a heinous crime, which was being processed since 2015 has been stalled and the text will be archived. According to ABIA, this an important victory of the Brazilian AIDS movement and its partners.
However, as usual, not all news to be reported are good. In Uganda, the LGBT Pride event has been cancelled because no safety could be ensured to participants the Kushu Times explained the decision and interviewed Kasha Jacqueline . And, in Nigeria forty two men were arrested during an HIV prevention event and are now facing homosexuality criminal charges.
But perhaps the most troubling trend in relation to LGBT rights concerns the Australian so called referendum on same sex marriage that was called even when the majority of Australians approve of same sex marriage. The voting is a non binding postal survey aimed at pleasing religious conservative groups, many of which have been propelling anti-gender ideology arguments and propaganda in recent years. The voices pro LGBT have however reacted, taking to the streets and enrolling voters, which could backfire the attempt to keep young voters from participating (read further into it here).
Last but not least, on the abortion front in Brazil, potential regression continues to threaten legal abortion already enshrined in the law. Carla Batista and Sonia Correa report.
As a final somber note, the SPW August 2017 announcement could not gloss over the eruption of blunt racism and revived white supremacy in Charlottesville. The contours of this regrettable and worrying evoke some of of the sharp analyses we have compiled in November 2016 that analyzed the results of the US election.
The report of the APF-UNDP Conference on Yogyakarta Principles: What have we learnt and where to now? held in Bangkok from 25-26 April 2017 has been launched. It is accompanied two short videos: ‘Turning Principles into Passion’ and ‘Building Partnerships for Equality‘.
The statement of the Montevideo meeting on Conscientious Objection to Abortion
Papers and articles
From a global crisis to the ‘end of AIDS’: New epidemics of signification written by ABIA’s president Richard Parker and Matthew Thomann on the Global Public Health Journal
Abortion, sexual abuse and medical control: the Argentinian Supreme Court decision on F., A.L. by María Eugenia Monte, Sexuality, Health and Society No 26
Publications and resources
The report of the APF-UNDP Conference on Yogyakarta Principles: What have we learnt and where to now? held in Bangkok from 25-26 April 2017 has been launched, accompanied by the video shown at the conference ‘Building Partnerships for Equality’ and a short companion video of the Conference titled ‘Turning Principles into Passion’ .
Check it out
International Call for Applications for the Master of Public Health (MPH) – James P Grant School of Public Health (BRAC JPGSPH), BRAC University, Bangladesh – Application deadline for international students is 1st November 2017
The YCSRR is calling on all young people under 30 years old to submit original artwork (posters, infographics, pictures, postcards, videos, etc.) and original writing (articles, stories, poetry) on the theme of “Resist and persist—our bodies, our abortions, our rights” for the 28 September 2016 Abortion Rights Watchdog publication. Deadline: August 25th 2017
The first Health Systems Global (HSG) Media Fellowships Programme is offering six fellowships to journalists undertaking cutting edge news and reporting on health systems and health policy topics across the world. The deadline for applications is 30 September 2017.
Call for papers by the Program on Gender Studies of San Marcos National University and Flora Tristan Center of Peruvian Women for the editorial project Women, abortion and religions: debates on sexual policy, subjectivities and religious field. Deadline: June 30th 2018
Sexuality and Art
Stray Bullet: Inscriptions of violence in Rio, by Anna Kahn