The year of 2019 has finished and, as traditionally, SPW offers our readers and followers a compilation of the main facts, trends, setbacks and victories in gender and sexuality politics that marked the year and point to the challenges ahead in 2020.
TRENDS & FACTS
January and February
The UN Committee on Human Rights has finally published General Comment 36 on the Right to Life that resulted from three years of consultations and debates. The comment, in its article 8th, provides a solid approach to the required balancing rights in debates concerning the right of the embryo and women´s right to health and life.
The year of 2019 began with the installation of Jair Bolsonaro administration in Brazil that immediately impacted on gender and sexuality politics, as made clear in inaugural speech, but also other critical policy domains, such as economic, gun control, environmental regulation and indigenous rights. Strategic policy areas — Foreign Affairs, Education and Women, Family and Human Rights — were occupied by openly anti-gender and anti-abortion ministers (read here a compilation of news and analysis of the new government inauguration). Not surprisingly, at the subsequent session of the UN Human Rights Council, on February 25th, the Minister of Family blatantly defended the “right to life from conception”. This was followed by carnival, when the President made an eschatological post on twitter – the so called “golden shower episode”—which reverberated widely at the global level. Against this gloomy backdrop, carnival was also a glittering moment of resistance as the Mangueira samba school won the Rio de Janeiro parade award with a script that payed a tribute to Marielle Franco, the black lesbian municipal councilor assassinated in 2018.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, presented his report on women´s human rights defenders in which the negative impact of various factors is analyzed including anti-gender campaigns.
In Hungary, Viktor Órban announced an incentive to raise the country’s very low fertility rates, a move analyzed by Washington Post as it reviewed historical failures of similar measures aimed at increasing population growth rates in other countries.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, at the de Vries University, a theology lecturer connected with the US religious right compared “gender ideology” to Nazism. The good news from Europe came from Spain, where the anti-gender NGO Hazte Oír (which gave birth to the global platform CitizenGo) had its public utility status suspended. By contrast, in Canada, as reported by Open Democracy, the Ontario provincial government has removed sexuality education for pre-teens from the public school curricula and established a hotline “for parents to report teachers who continue to teach these topics”.
The Brazilian parliamentarian Jean Wyllys, a known advocate of LGBTI and abortion rights, who was subject to constant death threats, has resigned and decided to leave the country (here and here). This painful personal decision was openly commemorated by the president, his son and part of his electorate.
In Mexico, the promise of a progressive administration under the new president Lopez Obrador was rather blurred. The government re-published a “Moral Handbook” originally written in 1944, which evokes a “return to family, cultural and spiritual values” as the best way to resolve the country´s “moral crisis”. A bit later, the administration announced that it will de-fund community run child care centers causing immediate protests by feminist organizations.
In Angola, the colonial-era Penal Code criminalization of homosexuality was struck down and a provision was approved to criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation (Check our compilation of news and analysis).
In India, the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) approved the Transgender Rights Bill in December 2018. This provision was highly criticized by trans groups and LGBTTI+ activists. Click here to learn more. Then, in Singapore, a lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court calling for the erasure of the language regarding unnatural acts that is still part of the city state’s Penal Code. And, in Myanmar, local LGBTTI+ activists began organizing to contest similar provisions in the national criminal statutes. In contrast, in Japan, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the law requiring trans people to be sterilized before changing their legal gender identity.
In Cuba, after intense pressures from Catholic and Christian-Evangelicals forces, the new constitution did not recognized marriage as a union between same-sex people. In El Salvador, the Constitutional Chamber ruled against a lawsuit arguing the unconstitutionality of the Family Code that defines marriage as an union between “a man and a woman”. Then in, Brazil, the Supreme Court began judging two lawsuits, filed a few years back, which called upon the state to criminalize homophobia and transphobia. A number of voices, however, raised concerns about using criminal law as a privileged means to protect human rights.
In Argentina, the green scarves movement stormed again the streets to mark the first anniversary of the 2018 attempt to reform the country’s laws to make abortion legal. Then in Mexico and in El Salvador, women who were imprisoned for abortion were released.
In Germany, a revision of a Nazi-era law that prohibited doctors from advertising abortion services was approved by Parliament. In the United Kingdom, while the Isle of Man (UK) fully decriminalized abortion, in Northern Ireland a woman presented a constitutional plea to the requesting that the current ban on abortion be lifted. Concurrently, the Brexit effects on access to abortion were also debated.
The Supreme Court ruling on a Louisiana law that would drastically reduce the number of service providers authorized to conduct abortions in the state prompted debates over the future of Roe vs Wade. Check a compilation.
Sex workers rights
The Networks of Sex Workers Project launched a new great tool: a global map on laws on prostitutions and commercial sex. Check here!
The ongoing Venezuelan crisis has hardly hit the country’s HIV/AIDS response.
Sexual abuse scandals once more made the headlines, prompting Pope Francis, who headed a historic trip to Abu Dhabi, to even admit sexual slavery inside the Church. Read here the various facts involving the Vatican in early 2019 as well as the responses and reaction taken by the Church to address the crisis.
The project Género y Política en América Latina (G&PAL) held a meeting between January 28 and February 2, 2019 in São Paulo. Read more about it!
The 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status on Women aimed to reach consensus in regard to “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”. Even in trouble times of ultra-neoliberal policies and anti-gender push, CSW 2019 delivered a robust outcome document reaffirming commitments on gender, equality, sexual and reproductive rights and health and universal social policies.
As it happens annually, International Women’s Day was intensively commemorated by feminist and women’s rights activists worldwide (check our compilation). The novelty of 2019 was that, for the first time ever, anti-feminist events have also been registered in a visible scale in Spain, in Uruguay (in Spanish) and Brazil (in Portuguese).
In Christchurch, New Zealand, the massacre at two mosques shed light on white supremacism and islamophobia. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was appraised for the compassionate but firm handling of the tragedy. At the time, SPW recalled an essay by Sonia Corrêa on the 2011 mass shooting in Norway that inspired New Zealand killer. Check a compilation.
Brazil – US
The US was the first country visited by Bolsonaro (JMB) after being elected. As extensively reported by mainstream and alternative media, the visit signaled to alliances with the Trump administration in various policy fronts (security, trade, migration and visas). As predicted, the “combat against gender ideology” was mentioned in the joint press conference.
The most relevant event to be reported was the 13th World Congress of Families (WCF) held in Verona, from March 29 to 31 under the theme “The wind of change: Europe and the global pro-family movement”. We collected news and critical statements on the event.
In Paraguay, the Ministry of Education issued a resolution, prohibiting teachers of public and private schools to use the Comprehensive Sexual Education Guide for its “libertarian” outlook on gender and sexuality related themes.
In Argentina, high school students have autonomously organized and published an online guide on sexuality education as to deflect the anti-SexEd attacks propelled by anti-gender religious groups. (read in Spanish).
The Brunei Sultanate adopted a reform of its Penal Code to re-incorporate dogmatic interpretations of sharia in various domains, including capital punishment by stoning to rape, adultery and male same-sex intercourse. Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a cautionary note to Brunei authorities (see a compilation).
A study conducted by Rutgers University published on November 2018 that examines the negative impacts of Trump’s Gag Rule in Africa and also Latin America revealed that in the latter region the number of unsafe abortions has tripled since 2017.
In Argentina, after pressure made by feminist and other pro-abortion rights voices, an agreement between the Ministry of Health and Social Development and an Evangelical NGO aimed at creating a hotline to counsel pregnant teenagers was suspended.
In Brazil, the Federal Public Defendant’s Office (DPU) held a public hearing calling ANVISA – the national regulatory health agency – to revise the draconian restrictions to the access to misoprostol as to ensure its access to abortion procedures in the cases of rape, women’s life risk and anencephaly. The Public Hearing sparked a series of press reports (read in Portuguese) showing that the Ministry of Health had not purchased the drug and other commodities for obstetric care for 2019. This led the Federal Prosecutor’s Office to request the Ministry to explain this delay.
At the 63rd Session of CSW, UNDP and UNFPA hosted a side event titled “Let’s talk about sex work: addressing the health and protection needs of sex workers”. Also during the 30th ILGA World Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, a resolution was approved establishing the decriminalization of sex work as a key priority for the LGBTTI+ movement.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa declared his support to the decriminalization of sex work. His position is aligned with the 2017 recommendation made by the Law Reform Commission on the matter.
# A Revived Arab Spring?
Eight years after the Arab Spring, political upheavals erupted in Algeria and Sudan. In the first case, popular protests led President Bouteflika, in power since 1999, to resign. The transition was put under strict military oversight and popular claims for a deeper political reform whose motto was they all must leave were heavily restrained. In Sudan, dictator Omar al-Bashir was also ousted, arrested and replaced by a military transitional council. Sudanese women have been at the forefront of the rebellion. Check the compilation.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that North American funding to the Organization of American States (OAS) would be trimmed down in retaliation for OAS support to abortion rights”. This move, as insightful noted by Rewire, must be read as a push towards widening the scope of the global gag rule. Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay have taken a step that mirrors the US initiative by sending a note to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The position was sharply criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and CEJIL.
The CAS decision on Caster Semenya
The Switzerland Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) ruled against the appeal made by South African runner Caster Semenya and established that women who have high levels of testosterone in their bloodstream (hyperandrogenism) must reduce these levels to compete. The decision was considered unacceptably discriminatory by a wide range of voices (see a compilation).
In the wake of the World Congress of Families (WCF) held in Verona, we called attention to the remarkable research and analyses published by openDemocracy on the large flow of money — over 50 million euros –, transferred by US religious and secular conservatives to European far-right movements. Another report from openDemocracy examined in depth how the WCF acts as a regular strategic meeting point of highly conservative personalities and groups.
Few days later, a similar event was organized in Colombia, the 3rd Transatlantic Summit, in which Catholic and Evangelical activists, politicians and legislators from thirty countries gathered to trace common strategies (see a compilation in Spanish).
Tragically, at the end of April, a far-right terrorist act against a synagogue in San Diego (US) left one dead and several wounded. The attack emulated in many ways the Christchurch killings. In the statement about his motivations, the shooter made reference to “cultural Marxism”, a discourse extensively deployed by anti-gender forces in Latin America.
The European Lesbian* Conference, held in Kiev, became the target of far-right religious forces, leading to the canceling of the last day of the conference. Amnesty International issued a call demanding a prompt response from Ukrainian authorities (see a compilation of press articles).
Security forces have been engaged in a crackdown on LGBTTIQ+ people in Lebanon. In contrast, the country’s Military Tribunal issued a landmark ruling that can pave the way to decriminalizing homosexuality in the military and security institutions.
In Costa Rica, the Social Security’s Therapeutic Protocol for Trans People, approved in 2017, has been finally enacted. Hormonal and psychological procedures and care were to be delivered through the public health system.
In Brazil, on April 16th, 2019, a constitutional amendment (PEC 29/2015) that aims at inserting the right to life from conception into the Constitution was presented at the Senate. Check the International Alert (in English, Spanish and French). In Costa Rica, the Ministry of Health approved the registration of emergency contraception (EC) pills. Also in Honduras, one of the Central American countries where abortion restrictions are draconian, a campaign was launched to ban the lift on emergency contraception. Check the site of the campaign #HablemosLoQueEs. (Read on The Guardian)
In South Korea, the Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional the nearly 70-year law criminalizing abortion (exemptions made for rape, incest, severe genetic disorders or women’s health risk). Read more here.
In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame pardoned 367 women who had undergone self-performed abortion procedures and other persons who assisted them. Days later, the Ministry of Health issued Ministerial Order N°002/MoH/2019 defining less strict rules for abortion provisions in the cases allowed by law.
A study that surveyed 262 prostitutes informed that, since FOSTA-SESTA legislation signed by President Trump one year before, personal safety measures have sharply decreased amongst these professionals.
In India, #MeToo has hit a new range of high-rank state officials. The Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi was accused of sexually harassing a former employee. While the news reached the international press with great visibility, the Indian press was much more cautious.
Strong and contradictory signs were reported in regard to Vatican internal politics, after Cardinal Ratzinger, former Pope Benedict XVI, broke his silence in a letter that attributed the Church long trajectory of sexual abuse to the 1960s sexual revolution. Check the compilation of articles.
SPW pleasantly launched Volume 2 of the collection SexPolitics: Trends and Tensions in the 21st Century – Contextual Undercurrents, which comprises seven chapters chartering main trends and debates at work in sexual politics in Africa, the English speaking Caribbean region, Europe, Latin America, post-Soviet Countries, China and India.
May and June
#StopTheBans – Protesters marched across the US to protect abortion rights after Alabama state house passed, on May 15th, the strictest provision in the country (see a compilation). This was another attack on abortion rights, a regressive trend that reflects investments made by Trump to please his Evangelical base with a view for re-election in 2020.
#EU Elections – The far-right and populist parties increased their participation and secured 25 percent of seats at the European Parliament, a five percent increase from previous elections. Check our compilation of news and analysis.
ICD-11 – The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 11 was finally approved, after being published in July 2018, ending an eight-year-old struggle carried out by trans and intersex activists to remove trans-related categories from the role of mental disorders. However, as GATE argued in a public note, there is still an arduous work of activism to completely depathologize trans identities.
UNHRC– On 29 May, a joint transnational lawsuit was filed at the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on behalf of four girls, survivors of sexual violence from Ecuador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, demanding sexual and reproductive justice and reparation for the victims.
HRC – At the 41st Section of the UN Human Rights Council, Brazilian diplomacy for the first time, since the 1990s, took bold positions against gender and sexual and reproductive rights. Despite these blatant attacks Brazil did not leave the Core Group that since 2011 supported the creation of the mandate for human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity and voted for its continuation. However, at the end of the voting the Brazilian ambassador declared that Brazil would interpret the term gender in the text to mean male and female sex. Check a compilation of articles in Portuguese with their respective translations.
SPW offered an assessment with various essays on the 180 days of sexual politics under JMB administration (read here).
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was welcomed at the White House. At the occasion, Orbán declared the “protection of Christian communities around the world” is the common goal of both countries. In his home country, Orbán has now targeted the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in his row against academic freedom.
On May, 30th the State Department announced the creation of the Commission on Unalienable Right, to advise State Secretary Mike Pompeo and to promote a re-interpretation of human rights from “natural law and rights” perspective (read on the Washington Post).
In the context of Argentinean presidential elections, a conservative front was forged around the anti-abortion and anti-gender agenda (See a compilation).
Similarly in Guatemala, where general elections were held on June 16th, a front to protect “life and the family” was created comprising fifteen presidency and vice presidency candidates, who signed a commitment not to approve same-sex marriage or any provision regarding abortion.
Brazilian anti-feminist activist Sara Winter traveled to Argentina to speak against abortion and then to Uruguay to deliver a lecture titled “Feminism and the destruction of women” in various cities across the country. (Check the Uruguayan reports here and here).
Paraguay: An investigative report by the newspaper El Surtidor has shown that anti-gender organization Decisiones received public funds to promote misinformation and conservative religious convictions on sexual and reproductive rights and health in high schools.
In Peru, the Center for Law Studies Saint Thomas More – connected to antigender organization Padres en Acción — filed a public complaint against the national branch of Catholics for the Right to Choose.
The Taiwanese Parliament voted favorably on the implementation of same-sex marriage. But the law was limited in relation to adoption rights, as biological children will have legal parental protection.
Botswana’s High Court overturned a colonial-era law that criminalized same-sex relations in a landmark victory for Africa’s LGBTQ movements on June 11th. Similar colonial criminal provisions were, however, kept in the books in Kenya where the High Court ruled unanimously against the petition to repeal provisions 162 and 165 of the Penal Code.
In Cuba, the Communist Party canceled the annual Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia under the pretext that it is propelled by undue “political motivations”. The prohibition seems to be connected with the attack against same-sex marriage in the 2018 Constitutional Reform mobilized by conservative religious sectors.
In Poland, civil rights activist Elżbieta Podlesna was arrested for putting up posters that displayed the Virgin Mary with an LGBT flag.
Abortion and reproductive rights
On May 28th, International Day of Action for Women’s Health, the Argentinian National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion mobilized a demonstration as the new draft bill to reform the abortion law was tabled at Congress. At the Cannes Film Festival, at the launching of the documentary “Que sea ley”, Campaign activists were joined by celebrities all of them wearing the green scarf.
On May 18th, a “March for Life” in Italy counted with the presence of Catholic conservative leaders from other countries as well as senators and other delegates from the US, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, New Zealand and European countries.
According to the English Collective of Prostitutes, in London, Brexit has increased levels of harassment against foreign sex workers.
In the UK, A new report published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reported on the high levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault faced by LGBT people in the workplace.
In Brazil, a complicated sexual violence case involving Neymar, the Brazilian idol of soccer, has taken over the national and international pages. We offered a partial compilation of the massive commentary and elaborations on the case and its implication. In September, the judiciary closed the case, concluding that the woman´s accusation was false (in Portuguese).
In early June, the Vatican made public a new document entitled: Male and Female He created them- Towards a path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education. SPW followed the immediate impact of the launching. Francis I has also issued a new apostolic letter establishing that sexual abuses are to be compulsorily denounced to Church authorities, and these regulations have already attracted much criticism.
July and August
An investigative report prepared by the Chilean organization CIPER, as part of the wider project Transnacionales de la Fe, analyzed how US-based conservative religious NGOs are undermining OAS procedures and human rights work. (read in Spanish).
During the OAS General Assembly in July, in Medellín (Colombia), Brazil sustained the same diplomatic position held at the Human Rights Council. It remained in the LGBTTI friendly core group and supported the SOGI resolution, but at the end of the negotiation the ambassador clarified that Brazil now interprets gender identity to mean the “biological female sex”.
On July 10th, JMB announced during an Evangelical service in the Parliament he would appoint a “terrifically Evangelical” candidate for a seat in Brazil’s Supreme Court. The day before, he had signed two decrees attenuating fiscal duties for churches.
In July, JMB announced he would shut down the Nacional Agency of Cinema (Ancine) and, to justify this measure, he declared the agency had a history of investing in sexual movies that battled “family values”. Read here our compilation on the episode.
Seven new bills against the propagation of “gender ideology” were tabled im June at Congress by JMB congressional base (read a brief report). Later, JMB tweeted that he would order the Ministry of Education to draft a bill to prohibit the dissemination of “gender ideology” in public elementary schools. SPW and ABIA issued a public note condemning it.
As the October general elections approached, a coalition of Catholic and Evangelical congressmen of the National Party proposed a pre-referendum to repeal the Trans Comprehensive Law, collecting 69,000. The proposal was defeated as only 9.9% of voters supported the referendum.
In the midst of the presidential elections campaign in Argentina, a conservative front was forged around the anti-abortion and antigender agenda (see a compilation).
On August 12nd, conservative Alejandro Giammattei (Vamos Party) was elected president while declaring his antigender, anti-abortion opinions, as well as his full support of the death penalty.
The Peruvian Pro Familia Movement, that is also linked to Con Mis Hijos No Te Metas, used without authorization the Lima municipality logo for the promotion of the “Peruvian Family Day”. The municipality demanded the image to be erased.
Con Mis Hijos No Te Metas spokesperson, Christian Rosas, while visiting Bolivia for his conference “Gender Ideology: How to Defeat a Lie”, received public recognition from the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). This tribute was contested by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the LGBT movement and later annulled by the Congress’ Social Policy Commission.
On May 22nd, the Ministry of Education approved Order N. 33/2019, which established as a priority the inclusion of gender equality in the country’s educational plans. The measure that received support from the progressive and feminist sectors was directly attacked by the Dominican episcopate and this triggered a wide public debate.
On July 17th, the Secretary of State sponsored the second Ministerial Meeting for the Advancement of Religious Freedom, attended by more than a thousand participants from the US, but also other countries. According to The Atlantic, the meeting is to be read as a main effort to make of Washington the center of a conservative global order based on faith (see a compilation of analysis).
An openDemocracy report informed that a proposition was tabled at the European Parliament to extend the rights of religious entities within the European Union, allowing religious organizations direct access to the legislative process of the body.
On May 20, Italian organization Pro Vita and Famiglia put up a 250-meter poster in Rome showing an 11-week fetus, repeating an action carried out a year ago by the Spanish organization CitizenGO.
During the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, Archbishop Marek Kedraszewski made comparisons between Marxist ideology and the “rainbow ideology”, referring to LGBT people “who want to dominate souls, hearts and minds.”
SPW also recalls, sadly, the sentencing of Ugandan feminist academic Stella Nyanzi for “harassing” the country’s President.
September 28 – “Abortion is a Health Issue” was the theme of this year’s International Safe Abortion Day, widely celebrated around the world (see compilation).
UN General Assembly – On September, JMB made his debut at the United Nations. In his address to the UN General Assembly, JMB in addition to openly attacking member states and Raoni the indigenous leader, emphasized that his administration is building a “family-oriented” country. As noted by Conectas JMB’s speech further undermined Brazil’s credibility. Check a compilation of articles and analyses.
HRC – At the plenary meeting of the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, a joint statement on abortion rights was presented by the Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI). The Session also included a side event on abortion rights (watch here). During this same session, the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was formally renewed.
OAS – The Vatican opened an office at the OAS to more closely follow its policy debates (in Spanish).
European Union –The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, has proposed a portfolio called Democracy and Demography that will be headed by the conservative Croatian member of the Europarliament, Dubravka Suica. The Spanish newspaper El Diario published an investigative series relating stories of the intense lobbying undertaken by Catholic and evangelical organizations within the structures of the European Union.
On September 11th, Argentine Catholic bishops published a 20-page document entitled “The God of Life and Human Love,” repudiating the spread of “gender ideology” (read it in Spanish).
For the first time, Argentine public television gave space to evangelical churches and a new TV program called “Good News”, led by the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the Argentine Republic (ACIERA), was created, beginning broadcasting on September 7th.
The São Paulo Governor requested the confiscation of a handbook on sexually transmitted diseases, condom use, teenage pregnancy, sexual diversity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Santa Catarina’s Governor also announced that he would ban “gender ideology” in the state’s public education system, a position rejected in a joint public note signed by scientific and human rights organizations.
In Rio de Janeiro, the pastor mayor Marcelo Crivella (PRB/RJ) issued a censorship order against The Avengers comic book, sold at Rio’s Biannual Book Fair because it showed two men kissing. The episode had widespread national and international repercussions.
The American Capitol Ministries, an organization of evangelical ministers supported by US Vice President Mike Pence, which promotes Bible studies for lawmakers and executive authorities, opened a branch in Brazil with a Senate hearing on August 15th.
A series of “religious freedom”-related lawsuits filed in the US Supreme Court indicated that the court has become a breeding ground for conservative religious advocacy.
The Third Demography Summit was held in Budapest, Hungary, bringing together conservative leaders from various countries, religious and non-religious organizations, and civil society organizations to discuss what they name as the “demographic winter”. Brazil was represented by Minister Damares Alves from the Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights who, on twitter, declared that she was making contacts to create a group of “family-friendly” countries within the United Nations.
The Spanish organization Hazte Oír awarded Argentine anti-gender theorists Agustin Laje and Nicolás Márquez, authors of “The Black Book of the New Left”, during the 16th edition of #PremiosHO.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Oaxaca also became the 20th Mexican state to approve same-sex marriage by state assembly vote.
In response to a challenge to Law No. 6160/2018, which defines “family” as a union between a man and a woman through marriage or common-law marriage, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that no language in the Civil Code can be used to discriminate against same-sex couples.
The report from the European Social Survey informed that homophobia has increased in European countries that do not legally recognize same-sex relationships, while acceptance of gays and lesbians has increased in states where homosexual marriage is permitted.
In Kosovo, the National Court of Appeals approved a request for a transgender citizen to change their name and gender in civil records.
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
On September 18, the feminist news outlet AzMina published an article entitled “How a safe abortion is performed”, providing information about the pharmacological procedure recommended by the World Health Organization. Damares Alves, the Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights called for an investigation. See our compilation.
The revision of the country penal code based on Dutch colonial law was frustrated society’s expectation. The reform adopted more conservative views of Sharia law and included proposals that threaten human rights, including the absolute criminalization of abortion and “lewd acts”.
On September 9th, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest in defense of journalist Hajar Raissouni of the independent daily Akhbar Al-Yaoum, who was arrested in August on charges of “late abortion”. The case had high visibility in the media and was the subject of HRW campaigns. On October 2nd, Raissouni was sentenced to a year in prison.
In its investigation against terrorism, the Turkish Security Department issued an order requiring health professionals to reveal the names of women who had abortions performed, between 2017 and 2019.
The controversy over the sexual conduct of US Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh was extensively examined by the New York Times.
October, November and December
Latin America: Politics in Trance
Latin America has been the scene of three simultaneous elections – in Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay. And also the scene of major political eruptions in Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia. We shared a very extensive compilation of articles on election results, rebellions, and crises and, more particularly, analyzed by our partners, whom we thanked for their collaboration: the Wambra community communication project analyzed the protests in Ecuador; Jaime Barrientos wrote on the Chilean insurgency; and Santiago Puyol discussed the worrying results of the first round of the Uruguayan elections.
# The rapist is you – An outbreaking emanation of the Latin American political upheavals was the street performance “Un violador en tu camino“ conceived by the Chilean feminist collective Lastesis, which directly linked personal sexual violence and patriarachl state repression. Presented for the first time in Valparaíso on November 25th to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, it quickly spread around the world, including in Turkey where female MPs who oppose the Erdogan regime chanted the song inside the Parliament.
#In defense of Jacqueline Pitanguy — In early December, Brazilian sociologist Jacqueline Pitanguy was attacked by Minister Damares Alves for supporting the right to abortion. The case sparked outrage and condemnation against the agression and solidarity to Pitanguy, whose history in feminism is globally recognized. Learn more.
# Brazil in the HRC – Despite a national and international campaign against Brazil’s having a seat at the next cycle of UN Human Rights Council, the country was reelected alongside with Venezuela. Right before the voting, another letter in support of Brazil’ candidacy was published that was signed by 869 organizations. Intriguingly enough more than 750 signatures were from Mexico.
# IACHR – At the 174th Session of the Inter-American Commission in Quito, Ecuador on November 11th, it included a public hearing on antigender and human rights violations in Latin America called by progressive protestant organizations. SPW contributed to the elaboration of the overview document than presented (read in Spanish).
# ICPD 25 – The Nairobi Summit was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Action Program of the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994). In the occasion, the Brazilian government has once again stated it position on the “right to life since conception”. Brazilian civil society and academic associations issued a critical response.
# SPW in Europe – Sonia Corrêa participated in three events on gender, sexuality, and politics in Europe. The first was the panel “Gender Disorder, Chaos in the Nation?” held at the Festival des Libertés in Brussels. At the 30-year Sophia Network Conference, also held in Brussels, she debated the attacks on gender as knowledge production. Finally, at the CES of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, Corrêa spoke about “Antigender Policies and Democratization in Latin America – Exploring Connections with Southern Europe”.
AROUND THE WORLD
Gender: Threats to academic freedom
The 2019 edition of the Scholars at Risk report Free to Think was launched that includes cases related to gender scholarship, including Brazil.
The “Stop Pedophilia” bill, drafted by Conservative PiS congressmen, was introduced. This proposes that the understanding of the promotion of pedophilia be broadened in the Penal Code to include the promotion of sex education, providing for three-year prison sentences. The move was widely rejected by society, which took to the streets in front of Parliament. A briefing on the Polish situation and a petition circulated by Gender International.
In the city of Dallas, a case of child custody litigation between ex-husband and wife has taken on national proportions because the father is opposed to the process of his seven-year-old daughter’s gender readjustment. A defamatory campaign titled “It’s Gone Too Far” has been launched by the religious right.
CPAC 2019 –The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), one of the oldest US far right formations, was held in São Paulo. It gathered a wide range of Brazilian and North American politicians and influencers. Minister Damares Alves virulent blatant anti-gender and anti-feminist speech at the event made the headlines (in Portuguese).
The Independent Rapporteurs of the Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Independent Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to the Highest Standard of Mental and Physical Health, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions published a joint letter recommending that Member States ensure access to safe and legal abortion. The text argues that comprehensive health care includes the right to abortion and it repudiates the conservative wave that seeks to impose regressions on sexual and reproductive rights.
On October 27, the Frente de Todos Coalition won the presidential elections in its first round. The central theme of these elections was the economic crisis, even so the right to abortion was made very visible in a presidential campaign. After being elected Fernández confirmed his commitment to abortion attending the lauching of the the book Somos Belén in November. Right after, the new presidente declared that as soon as possible he wouls re-table at Congress the Voluntary Pregnancy Interruption Act. On December 13th, the new Minister of Health Ginés González García published an updated version of the Protocol on Acess to Abortion in the cases permitted by law.
On October 21st, British lawmakers passed a new law overturning the almost total ban on abortion in Northern Ireland, which had been established since 1861 with the only exception being in case of risk to life.
Gabon passed a law that criminalizes consensual same-sex relations with a fine and prison up to six months in a Penal Code reform at the begining of 2019, that failed to circulate previously as The Independent reports.
For the first time, a Prostitution Pride Day was celebrated on September 14th. The celebration occurred around the globe and was accompanied by several online support campaigns. See a compilation.
A high profile case of gang rape against a 26 years old veterinarian in Hyderabad on November 27th has reached global headlines, which was followed by a similar case on December 2nd in Buxar province. A few days later, police officers led four men accused of the rape and murder to the crime scene and shot them. SPW offered a compilation of articles on this tragic and terrifying events.
And, as tragically as it could get, more anguishing news came from India after a law granting citizenship to “persecuted” Hindus and other religious was approved, prompting outrage and fear over its anti-Muslim meaning. The approval has trigged mass rallies across the country, and we offer a couple of news and analysis on this ongoing crisis.
Mexico City hosted the 24th World Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS), in which the WAS Declaration of Sexual Pleasure was launched. SPW co-coordinator Richard Parker spoke at the plenary on Global Pleasures and Danger Policies: Fights for Sexual Rights and Sexual Health in the 21st Century, and SPW partners held a panel on Anti-gender Politics in Europe and Latin America. We also recommend plenary Intervention made by GATE director Mauro Cabral in another plenary session.
Papers and articles
Gender, feminism and women’s rights
African Feminisms: Cartographies for the Twenty-First Century – Meridians – feminism, race and transnationalism – issue 2/Volume 17 –
Essential Readings: Gender and Empire – Jadaliyya
Lidia Kurasinca´s article Men in Europe must stop blaming migrants for ‘importing’ gender violence, in openDemocracy
Jeffry J. Iovannone’s article We need to talk about gay toxic masculinity, in Medium
Why are Afghan women’s concerns being ignored? – sister-hood
Feminist solidarity with Palestine – Jadaliyya
Feminism, Gender Politics and Resistance in Indian Democracy – Pluto Press – The Wire
Rebecca Clay writes on Decriminalizing homosexuality in India for the American Psychological Association Journal
Arvind Narrain writes about gender norms in the 2018 Report of the Independent Expert on SOGI – ARC International
RHM published three articles on changing abortion law at federal and provincial levels in Argentina
How to confront the Courts – Dissent magazine
Kristina Hänel: “Everyone is concerned when it comes to abortions” – Feministeerium
Talking trafficking with Jamaican sex workers – openDemocracy
Publications and Resources
Gender, feminism and women’s rights
A series of briefing papers on Intersex Rights – Intersex Human Rights Australia
Trump’s Judicial Assault on LGBT Rights – Lambda Legal
Amnesty International has released a new report highlighting the routine use of rape, violence and torture by police to punish cis and trans women sex workers in the Dominican Republic and the faulty access to justice they face
Sexual and reproductive rights
Centralizing Reproductive Justice – Kohl Journal
Sexual Orientation Laws in the World map – ILGA World
Podcast: Imagine Otherwise – Ideas on Fire: Manuela Speaks on Indigenous Futures
Talking with Lucille Chute – Pacific Feminist Forum
Argentina abortion laws: Legal abortions obstructed – Al Jazeera
Planetary Utopias with Angela Davis, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Nikita Dhawan – Radical Philosophy
Sexuality & Art
January and February:
Masha Geschen writed in the New Yorker, about Robin Hammond´s series of “uncomfortably beautiful” photographs titled “Where Love Is Illegal”, currently on display at the Bronx Documentary Center
Tracey Emin paints brutal portraits of female pain
Joshua Allen photographs Sex Dreams: The beauty of queer and trans desires
In times of incessant pessimistic news and attacks on our rights, SPW featured the work of choreographer Elizabeth Streb Art, risk and deconstruction, in the hopes of evoking the fearlessness of resisting.
May and June
SPW featured the works of Chilean artist Katia Sepúlveda, also used in our assessment on the JMB Administration, for her transfeminist perspective that challenges antigender forces’ wish to domesticate or erase the dissidents.
Because it was International Safe Abortion Day, SPW features the work of Brazilian artist Aleta Valente ‘Ex-Miss Febem‘.
October, November and December
SPW revisited the work of Colombian artist Doris Salcedo, who recently won one of the most prestigious contemporary art awards, the Nomura Art Award. Salcedo explores aspects of violence and pain based upon his experience in the armed conflict in Colombia.