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Global struggles for LGBTQ+ rights: Latest news from the front lines

News in brief from Nigeria, Uganda, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Egypt.

 

Hesham and Nour Selim appeared together in their first televised interview last week. (Photo courtesy of albawaba.com)

Egypt: Hesham Selim, a well-known Egyptian actor, spoke on television about having a 26-year-old transgender son, Nour. In a rare public show of support for LBGT+ rights in the conservative Muslim country. Selim, 62, made the revelation on a television talk show in which he spoke of the difficulty his son had faced. “One day … she came and told me, ‘I’m living in a body that’s not mine’,” Selim said on the show, using the feminine pronoun that went with his offspring’s former life as a biological girl, Noura, before switching to the “he” that Nour now uses. “As his father, I have to help him to be able to live the life that he wants.” Selim said Egyptian society made it difficult for those who struggled with their gender identity.

Uganda: HIV-positive health worker Simon Peter Bukenya volunteered to bike over 80 kilometres (50 miles) every day to deliver HIV medications to those in the community unable to travel to health centers due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Sexual health activist Olumide Makanjuola is concerned about the effects of a long lockdown on persons "who are living with HIV in communities like LGBTIQ, sex workers and Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) whose access to health is mostly through niche, non-governmental organisations." (Photo courtesy of The Guardian of Nigeria)
Sexual health activist Olumide Makanjuola is concerned about the effects of a long lockdown on persons “who are living with HIV in communities like LGBTIQ, sex workers and Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) whose access to health is mostly through niche, non-governmental organisations.” (Photo courtesy of The Guardian of Nigeria)

Nigeria: LGBTIQ people living with HIV worry they will be unable to refill their medications during the lockdown. Olumide Makanjuola, a sexual health and rights activist, noted that, because of criminalization and stigma, LGBTIQ people, sex workers, and injecting drug users access their healthcare and obtain medications through “niche, non-governmental organisations” whose operations are restricted at this time.

Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan: Community organizations in those countries were creating new strategies to coordinate access to HIV treatment despite lack of public transportation, curfews, and checkpoints. However, many in these countries fear that using the services will result in stigma and discrimination as their HIV status is exposed.

Indonesia: Forced exorcisms are still touted as a “cure” for LGBT Indonesians, as Agence France-Presse reports. This fantasy-based religious torture has long been wielded against LGBT people in Indonesia and Chechnya. The ritual could become mandatory for Indonesia’s LGBT community if a controversial new law is passed.  Treatments range from being bombarded with Quranic verses while trapped in a locked room for days, to being doused with freezing water by an imam promising to purge the “gender disease”.

Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and  Uganda: The international social justice organization Arcus Foundation and South Africa-based Iranti published a report examining violence and crimes against LGBTIQ people in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and  Uganda. The report evaluates the existence of NGOs to address anti-LGBTI violence, available government and criminal justice support, and the strength of data collection on these issues.

Thanks for information from ILGA’s LGBulleTin, UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes, Alturi.org and others.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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