News briefs: Archbishop pushes for LGBTI equality
An Anglican archbishop in the Caribbean calls for justice for LGBTI people. An annual LGBTQ film festival is held for the fifth time in Botswana. Tanzania backs off a proposal to publish the names of gay Tanzanians. Those items and other less encouraging news come from the latest edition of UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes recap of the world’s LGBTI news.
These are the Equal Eyes news briefs that pertain to the 77+ countries with anti-gay laws:
In Barbados, the Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies Dr. John Holder held a press conference during which he said that churches that speak against homosexuality “seem to be misreading and misinterpreting the Bible” and emphasized that all people should be supported and treated equally as children of God.
Church leaders in Zambia are opposing a proposed change to the Football Association of Zambia constitution which will include a clause that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Botswana hosted the fifth annual Batho Ba Lorato Film Festival celebrating LGBTIQ films with this year’s theme ‘Breaking Down the Walls’. Among the highlights was American film Moonlight about an African American gay man growing up in Miami. Moonlight won three Oscars—Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali (the first Muslim-American actor to win an award), and the top prize of Best Picture.
Tanzania‘s Ministry of Health issued a statement declaring the government’s intention to close drop in centers that provide HIV testing and counseling and other services, after a special governmental task force accused them of encouraging homosexuality. The Minister also announced that health workers are undergoing training to learn how to positively work with special communities, including men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, the Deputy Health Minister announced they no longer plan to “publish a list of gay people”.
The International Commission of Jurists, an NGO comprised of senior judges, attorneys, and academics, published “Unnatural Offences”: Obstacles to Justice in India Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The report examines how LGBTI people in India navigate the police, courts, and both local and international human rights law.
Also in India, the Health Ministry launched a new program that will train 165,000 adolescent peer educators called “Saathiya”. The peer educators are being trained in various health issues including sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and safe sex. Additionally, the training dispels gender stereotypes and calls same-sex attraction natural.
In Pakistan, members of the trans community rallied to protest the murder of a 25-year-old in her own home—the second murder in 15 days.
The Guardian took a look back at the “national hysteria” in Indonesia against the LGBT community throughout 2016 despite a trend from regional neighbors the Philippines, Thailand, and China who released statements supporting non-discrimination.
Also in Indonesia, journalist Febriana Firdaus was awarded the inaugural Oktovianus Pogau Award for her reporting on human rights, including anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia. The award is presented in honor of human rights journalist Oktovianus Pogau who passed away at the age of 23.
In Malaysia, the government’s Islamic Development Department released a new video explaining how to approach the LGBT community. The video has garnered mixed reactions—although it emphasizes that sexual orientation can be changed and encourages individuals to subdue desires, some have praised the video for speaking without hatred.
MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA
The Guardian Global Development Professionals Network highlighted the work of nine “hero” LGBT rights activists who have made significant contributions to LGBT equality. The featured activists come from South Africa, Syria, Brazil, Pakistan, Turkey, the US, the UK, Jordan, and Canada.
Homophobia in Jamaica: Time to end the cowardice