Michael Knaapen

Human Rights Report Highlights LGBT Issues Worldwide

Filed By Michael Knaapen | February 24, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Argentina, human rights, Liberia, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe

UnitedNationsFlags.jpgThe Human Rights Watch, a preeminent human rights watchdog group with a global purview, published its annual survey last month. The "World Report 2014," which covers events of 2013 through November of that year, "summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide." HRW rightly includes explicit mention of LGBT issues.

I thought this report offered an excellent resource in developing a global perspective on LGBT issues, so I will break it down into a short series with each entry covering a handful of surveyed nations at a time. This approach simplifies the findings which makes for speedier reading but also necessarily excludes important details. I hope you will use this series as a jumping-off point rather than a landing pad in your study of global LGBT issues.

We'll get started after the jump.

Liberia passed a bill in 2012 criminalizing marriage equality and was pursuing legislation to further criminalize same-sex "practices" (presumably of a sexual nature). (p. 138/152)

Nigeria is a notorious offender of LGBT rights, as we've noted many times here at Bilerico. At the time of publication, Nigeria was in process of passing legislation to criminalize cohabitation of same-sex persons and outlawing LGBT people themselves. This bill has since become law, as regular readers already know. Some northern states subject to Sharia law permit even harsher punishments including torture and death to convicted "offenders." (p. 152/166)

South Africa gets an "incomplete" for this semester. Passage of hate crimes legislation in 2011 created a blue-ribbon panel to address violence against LGBTI people that has since done zilch to address the problem. Some rearranging of the commission last year suggests a positive turn of events, but only time will tell. (p. 170/184)

Uganda makes an unsurprising appearance in the report for the (in)famous "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" which imposes lifetime prison sentences to perpetrators of so-called "aggravated homosexuality." This bill became law today with the signature of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. (p. 192/206)

Zimbabwe saw an increase in violence toward LGBTI people -- perpetrated by citizen and state agents alike. Additionally, Zimbabwe's vehemently homophobic president, Robert Mugabe, was reelected last year and included his usual vitriol against LGBT people in his inaugural speech. (p. 200/214)

Argentina provides a model for other nations. Not only did Argentina pass marriage equality in 2010, it made extensive provisions for gender identity in 2012, including the right to revise official documents without medical or judicial approval. Surgical and hormonal confirmation procedures for gender identity purposes are covered by insurance.

I'm not sure why HRW chose to mention these awesome but untimely steps, since the report purports to cover only those events of 2013 through November, but maybe they figured good news deserves a second go-around. (p. 209/223)

I'll bring you the next batch of nations soon. Stay tuned!

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