LGBTI news in brief from Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore and Uganda — all of them countries that have anti-LGBTI policies or have considered adopting them. These items are excerpted with slight modifications from UNAIDS Equal Eyes recaps of the world’s LGBTI-related news:
The UK’s Human Dignity Trust and the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association warned that the criminalization of same-sex relationships worsens the HIV epidemic in Commonwealth countries, noting that the Commonwealth “accounts for over 60% of HIV cases worldwide even though it only covers 30% of the world’s population.”
HIV advocate Sarah Nakimbowa explored how Uganda‘s anti-gay bill has contributed to HIV prevalence in the region, speaking to local doctors, peer educators, and gay and transgender people.
As LGBTI people continue to seek refuge from oppressive governments, reporter Lester Feder profiled one man who sold his kidney to escape Iran, only to enter an overburdened refugee system in Turkey:
There was only one way Danial could think of to get out of Iran: He would have to sell his kidney. Danial risked his life to get to Turkey, trusting that the refugee system would look after him when he got there. Instead, it was just the beginning of his problems.
His situation felt hopeless. His mother had confronted him about being gay one December morning in 2013. By noon he had fled the family home, taking nothing but the clothes on his back and 50,000 rials — about $2 — in his pocket.
“I had no way forward, no way backwards — I just wanted to escape from that place,” Danial said. For most Iranians, getting to Turkey would be as simple as buying a plane ticket, which can cost less than $200; a few hundred LGBT Iranians make this trip every year because it’s an easy jumping-off point to a new life in the West. Iranian passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Turkey, and the United Nations fast-tracks LGBT refugees for resettlement because it considers them especially vulnerable.
And reporter Emmanuel Igunza investigated the experiences of LGBT Ugandans in Kenya who are facing violence, extortion, and harassment.
The East African Court of Justice has ruled that UNAIDS may act as amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court’ in a case charging the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 of violating the good governance and rule of law principles of the East African Treaty. In this role UNAIDS will be allowed to provide expertise to the court.
In Kenya two men are suing the government for forcing them to undergo invasive anal examinations to prove their sexuality, calling the procedures ‘non-consensual, degrading, and therefore unconstitutional.’
In Iraq, ISIS members posted photos online showing them murdering another two men accused of being gay. A Dutch citizen and self-described fighter for the Islamic State in Syria hosted a Q&A on his blog in which he joked about throwing gay men from buildings and taking women as ‘spoils of war.’ The New York Times called the exchange a ‘fascinating glimpse into the thinking of a Western-educated jihadist.’
From Nigeria, correspondent Nick Schifrin presented a week-long series on the abuse and extortion LGBT Nigerians face from ‘state-sponsored vigilantes, police, and public mobs.‘
From the Ukraine, author Nikolas Kozloff captured the frustrations of the LGBT community who participated in the revolution of 2014, overthrowing President Yanukovych, only to be abandoned by the new government. As one activist states ‘Look, you are not important right now. We cannot discuss gay issues. It’s all about the war.’
Gay Iraqi refugee Amir Ashour, founder of the first organization for Iraqi LGBT rights, argues that Iraq is excusing the human rights violations perpetrated on LGBT people because “it is fighting terrorism and it is ‘normal’ for a country in that situation to have such violations.”
In a report to the UN, the Singapore Government defended its decision to continue to criminalize same-sex intimacies between men, noting the issue is culturally sensitive and that the government must ‘accommodate’ segments of society that ‘continue to hold strong views against homosexuality.’ Raising the LGBT issue in its human-rights report to the UN for the first time, Singapore said its decision to retain anti-LGBTI Section 377A was a “carefully considered and finely balanced decision.” It said that the law is not proactively enforced, and all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, are free to lead their lives and pursue their activities in their private space without fear or violence or personal insecurity.