News in brief: Some bright spots, some trouble ahead

News items in this recap mostly were excerpted with slight modifications from two published round-ups of the world’s LGBTI-related news– UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes and ILGA’s LGBulleTIn.

Trouble ahead: Brunei, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia

The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah

Human rights activists in Brunei have expressed their concern over reports that the government is committed to implementing the second phase of the Syariah Penal Code by June 2017. This phase, reads a statement released on The Brunei Project’s Facebook page, “will include the amputation of limbs for those found guilty of theft, while the proposed third phase will include the punishment of death by stoning for those found guilty of adultery or sexual intercourse between two males.” The Sultan of Brunei recently expressed concern about delays in imposing  Syariah law enforcement in the country.

Lawmakers in Indonesia are in discussions to draft legislation to restrict LGBT rights, according to several members of the country’s legislature who spoke to BuzzFeed News last month. LGBT content on the Internet is the chief concern of these lawmakers. The Jakarta Post reported that the government’s Communication Ministry would begin work on its own proposal to rein in online content in response. Lawmakers pledged to begin work after the country’s historically moderate Islamic organization declared that “LGBT activities should be prohibited and categorized as crimes.”

Reports indicate that authorities in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are about to draft a law that would enhance penalties for people who are coming out online, or who post anything which may be perceived as “gay propaganda.” On paper, at least, punishments for those engaging in same-sex sexual behaviour in the kingdom can include whipping and death by stoning.

Activism at a discount

Une réunion en 2012 de l'Association internationale des lesbiennes, gay, bisexuel, transexuels et intersexués (ILGA). À droite: Dominique Menoga. À gauche, Yves Yomb, directeur exécutif d'Alternatives Cameroun.
Activists from Cameroon at the meeting of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Sweden in 2012.

Scholarship applications and session proposals are now being accepted for the 28th  ILGA World Conference, which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand from November 28 to December 2, 2016.

Harassment: Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Pakistan, Syria, Russia

A man in Saudi Arabia has been arrested by the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice after he had raised a rainbow flag above his home in Jeddah.  According to CNN, he said to have bought the flag online after one of his children found the colours “pretty,” and to have been completely unaware of its LGBTI symbolism. The man has been bailed after an investigation, and agreed to remove the flag.

A man in Kenya was reportedly arrested after sending text messages to another man and allegedly flirting with him.

In Pakistan a transgender person with a gunshot wound was left unattended by hospital staff for over three hours.

In Turkey, LGBT refugees from Syria spoke out against the persecution they suffered under ISIS and their struggle to ‘blend in’ with straight Syrian exiles. From the Netherlands, gay Syrian refugees spoke about their surprise at facing abuse from other refugees within Dutch camps.

In Russia, reporter Katerina Patin explores how state-run news media spreads homophobia and fear through extreme misinformation. Meanwhile Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law ensures that no opposing information is presented.

Signs of progress: Trinidad, Cook Islands

In Trinidad and Tobago, the Equal Opportunity Commission has urged the government to take action and include sexual orientation as a status ground for protection against discrimination.

Contestants in last month's Mizz Jewel contest. (Photo courtesy of
Contestants in last month’s Mizz Jewel contest. (Photo courtesy of

After a ten-year break, the Cook Islands revived Mizz Jewel, a popular trans beauty pageant, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the community’s issues and to decriminalise homosexuality in that Pacific island  country.

Arrest, execution: Syria, Egypt

In Syria, ISIS executed a 15-year-old boy who was accused of being sexually engaged with a prominent ISIS officer. The officer was expelled to Iraq.

A man in Egypt has reportedly been arrested on the accusation of “practicing homosexual activity.”


Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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