Archive for August, 2016

When The U.S. Backs Gay And Lesbian Rights In Africa, Is There A Backlash?

Uganda 2014 Pride

Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

Repost from NPR

Everyone knew President Obama would say something about gay rights when he made his visit to Kenya last summer. Many American activists were pressing him to publicly condemn Kenya’s colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime.

But Kenyan gays and lesbians were wary. In the weeks leading up to Obama’s visit, Kenyan politicians took to the airwaves to assert their anti-gay bona fides. Deputy President William Ruto gave a guest sermon in a church to announce that Kenya “had no room” for homosexuality. As the vitriol increased, so did the incidents of violence, from assaults to rape.

“That was the most tense [period] in our life, before Obama came,” says John Mathenge, the director of a community center and health clinic in Nairobi called HOYMAS — Health Options for Young Men with HIV/AIDS and STIs. His clinic usually averages 50 visitors a day; in the weeks before Obama’s arrival there were no more than 2 or 3. “People weren’t even coming to collect their ARVs [anti-retroviral medication] because they feared they were going to be attacked.”

It wasn’t just Kenyans who were worried. OutRight Action International, a New York-based not-for-profit that advocates for LGBT rights around the world, took the position that President Obama should not mention gay rights when he visited Kenya.

“LGBTI rights have become a political lightning rod,” explained OutRight director Jessica Stern. Though the organization is devoted to pressing for gay rights overseas, she urged the U.S. government to push for “substance over symbolism” — that is, working behind the scenes to improve the legal and social climate for LGBT people rather than issuing too many public pronouncements that could be seen as finger-wagging and that could compromise the efforts of local activists. “We know it’s very easy for LGBTI Africans to be discredited as Western,” she said. (The acronym is a version of LGBT and stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.”)

Over the last four years, the American government has engaged in an ambitious campaign to defend the rights of gay and lesbian people overseas, especially in Africa, where the majority of countries outlaw homosexuality and anti-gay sentiment remains strong. But African activists struggle with the double-edged sword of American support. While they say that U.S. attention has given a needed boost to their movement, the protection of an outsider can complicate the path to true acceptance. Continue Reading at NPR

House LGBT Caucus Remembers Slain Turkish Transgender Activist Hande Kader

Press Statement – Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus
Washington, D.C. – The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus mourned the senseless murder of 22-year-old Turkish transgender activist Hande Kader and called on the Turkish government to take steps to protect the LGBT community from hate crimes.
“Last year I met gay and trans activists while on a fact-finding mission in Turkey and was inspired by their courage, so my heart breaks for Hande Kader’s friends and loved ones in the aftermath of this unspeakable tragedy,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18).  “The Turkish government must take strong action to ensure that LGBT Turks are protected, safe, and able to live their lives openly and freely. Violence against transgender people is a global crisis, and lawmakers and government officials all across the world, including in the United States, need to confront this epidemic before more lives are lost.”
Hande Kader’s murder reflects the deteriorating environment for Turkey’s LGBT community.  Turkey has some of the highest numbers of transgender murder within Europe according to the human rights group Transgender Europe.  This past June, authorities banned Istanbul Pride celebrations and used tear gas against activists who attempted to celebrate.  Rep. Maloney has previously led on letters to the Turkish Ambassador to the United States protesting crackdowns on the 2015 and 2016 Istanbul Pride Parades.
“The horrific and senseless murder of activist Hande Kader is a sobering reminder about the daily violence faced by transgender people across the world,” said Transgender Equality Task Force Chair Rep. Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley).  “No one should be intimidated, discriminated against, brutalized or murdered for openly expressing their gender identity. I call on the authorities to vigorously prosecute those involved, and I stand with all people who support justice for Hande.”
This past November, the Transgender Equality Task Force hosted a landmark forum violence against the transgender community, seeking to raise awareness about the epidemic against transgender people.
The mission of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus is to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. The bi-partisan LGBT Equality Caucus is strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the U.S. and around the world. By serving as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBT issues, the Caucus works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and wellbeing for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Stay Informed

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 220 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Categories