September is the key moment of the year in regard to abortion rights, as the 28th marks the International Safe Abortion Day worldwide. As informed by the International Campaign for Women’s to Safe Abortion, the pre-day bulletin circulated by the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and other sources in 2017 a much larger number of events, debates and demonstrations have taken place than in previous years (read here.) This year’s initiatives included efforts to have political leaders and academic experts expressing their view in favor of legal and safe abortion. They were also better articulated globally, as illustrated by the Joint Statement on Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Globally, signed by 285 organizations presented at the Human Rights Council on September 22nd.
This positively signals towards the revitalization of transnational abortion rights struggles that are vital to resist, contest and contain regressions at play in most varied contexts. The best example is, eventually, the US given the potentially negative impact of the Gag Rule re-instated by the Trump administration, including on Syrian women’s refugees’ health. But also because Republican Congressional politics is further threatening Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, aggravating situations that are already extreme as in Kentucky’s where the last abortion clinic is about to be closed.
In the realm of LGBT rights important developments were also registered at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Because of health and family reasons, Professor Vivit Muntarbhorn resigned from the role of UN’s Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for family and health issues (read his own statement here), opening a new process for the post to be fulfilled. In the last session of the Human Rights Council a debate has also taken place that gained the mainstream media attention as specifically referring to capital punishment applied to homosexuals, when in fact the debate concerns death penalty broadly speaking as brutal human rights violation as analyzed by the Sexual Rights Initiative bulletin. In this same session, ARC International has launched a tracking map of how sexual orientation, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression have been addressed in Universal Periodic Review (UPR) processes, which also includes voting records per country. Also at the United Nations, one major step forward in respect to gender identity rights to be registered is was the launching by UNDP Asia Pacific of a series of nine country case studies on gender recognition laws policies and practice that have also heard over 220 transgender people.
Meanwhile human rights violations and discriminatory acts continue to take place in the most varied countries. For example, in the US, after pressure by the CIA Chelsea Manning was disinvited to fill the visiting Harvard Fellow she had previously received. To what she tweeted “honored to be 1st disinvited trans woman visiting harvard fellow [..] they chill marginalized voices under cia pressure […]“. Also in the US, in what regards the human rights violations of intersex children, a coalition formed by intersex and LGBT rights organizations, academic and UN experts and three former US Surgeons General is calling for an end to medically unnecessary non-consensual surgeries on intersex children.
It this particular realm it is also to be noted that, despite recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Denmark will continue subjecting intersex children to compulsory surgery. In the same manner, Finland informed that will not strike down the mandatory sterilization for trans people who wish to change their gender legally, even when this policy was condemned in the last country UPR review.
In Russia, while a queer festival QueerFest was held without any major problem in Saint Petersburg, Evdokia Romanova, who is a member of the Youth Coalition was arrested and I facing charges for homosexual propaganda on social media. Amnesty International made an urgent action for pressuring Russia for this unjust arrest.
Concerning Europe, however, the most troubling news of the month is found in the results of German elections, that reaffirmed Merkel, but has also given around 90 seats in the Parliament to the extreme right (AfD) and saw the Social Democrats heavily defeated. In this unexpected shift, the AfD lesbian leader gained wide media visibility, creating some perplexity amongst political analysts not acquainted with ongoing homonationalism and homo right-leaning trends in Europe.
Moving South, in Australian, as the non-binding postal referendum continues, the anti same-sex marriage groups are using internet robots to mobilize moral panics. Also, SPW recommends the article by Rodney Croome that insightfully retraces and analyzes the roots of contemporary anti- LGBT politics in the country to the colonial history and legacy of prison camps.
In Indonesia, a group of lesbian women had their home raided by the police after denounces have been made by extremist Islamic groups. Two Singaporean nationals were arrested and deported from the United Arab Emirates for ‘attempting to resemble women’. An in Azerbaijan, another crackdown was responsible for the arrest of 60 people, under a systematic display of violence over the LGBTI community.
Crisis and violations were also registered in Africa. In Nigeria, 70 minor boys were arrested for allegedly disrespecting Islam teachings amidst the Eid-il-Mubarak festivities because they were organizing a homosexual party and a woman was arrested after being accused by her ex-husband of having an affair with another woman. In Zanzibar, the police arrested a group of twenty parents, local partners and staff of an NGO in a workshop on HIV and AIDS prevention (Read their press statement here).
Then there is Egpyt where, as reported by Scott Long at The Nation, the young heroes of Arab Spring continue to be caught by the draconian grips of the authoritarian regime. And where on September 22nd the raising of a rainbow flag during the show of Lebanese rock band triggered a major crackdown on the LGBT community (read a compilation here).
But in what concerns preoccupying trends in sexual politics, regrettably, Brazil appears as the champion of the month, as regressions have been registered in various overlapping domains at once. Sonia Correa, Rajnia de Vito and Angela Freitas report.
Despite so many negative trends, there are also few good news to be shared. The Diversity Network of West Africa (IDNOWA) that includes members from Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Liberia has held its first LGBT-friendly religious groups conference. In the Philippines, the House of Representatives approved the final reading of a bill that aims to protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The Nepal Supreme Court has issued that decision grants full rights for people to change their names and gender on citizenship documents. Lastly, thirty-one Chechen refugees under risk of a crackdown by anti-gay purges welcomed by the Canadian government LGBTI refugee program.
Sexuality and Art
What you don’t see: prostitution through our own eyes is a project that aims to tell the different perspectives and lives of prostitutes in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics and Paralympics.
Paola Paredes: Revelations is a photographic exhibition on the ‘gay conversion clinics in Equador that compellingly speak to the lack of limits between cure and torture implied in these practices.
Papers and articles
The Children of the Arab Spring Are Being Jailed and Tortured, by Scott Long – The Nation
In censoring a ‘Queer Museum,’ Brazil edges closer to authoritarianism – The Conversation
Osunality: sex lessons from Africa – OpenDemocracy
It is time to scrap the Eunuchs Act – The Hindu
Bring women farmers to the food security table – Mail & Guardian
Poo Poo Dilip and his valian knights – Kafila
The long road to gender equality in Southeast Asia – OpenDemocracy
In Angela Merkel, German Women Find Symbol, but Not Savior – New York Times
Gender based violence in the workplace – OpenDemocracy
Publications and resources
36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – Compilation of resolutions, oral statements, side events and panels
Rights at Risk: OURs Trends Report 2017 – The Observatory on the Universality of Rights
LGBT in Britain: Hate Crime and Discrimination – Stonewall Report
1st edition of the Journal of Language and Discrimination has just been released and it promotes a few articles on open access.
Pinsof D, Haselton MG (2017) The effect of the promiscuity stereotype on opposition to gay rights. – PLoS ONE 12(7)
The fight over women’s bodies – The New York Times
A frightening myth about sex offenders – The New York Times
Check it out
The submission deadline is 15 October.
Please note the abstract deadline for 10th International Gender and Language Association Biennial Conference (IGALA10) – Gaborone 2018 has now been extended. The new deadline is 30th November 2017.
Webinar at Williams Institute UCLA: The Role of Experts and Academics in LGBT Advocacy
October 13th. Register here.
Brazilian Journalism Research – 2018 Call for papers (Vol. 14, n. 1): Journalism and Gender Studies
Deadline: November, 1st 2017