Michael Knaapen

Human Rights Report: LGBT Highlights, Part 3

Filed By Michael Knaapen | March 20, 2014 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Greece, human rights, Human Rights Watch, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, UK

The LGBT community is a global community, and Bilerico constantly strives to cover the ever-more-common international news about our community. In that spirit, we continue our project of unpacking the various LGBT mentions in the 2014 Human Rights Watch World Report. The annual report, released in January, focuses on human rights issues across the globe.

So far, we have encountered victories and obstacles in various nations across Africa, North and South America, and in Australia. I have so enjoyed this project because it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge a common community while respecting the unique circumstances different groups come from and encounter depending on their ethnic identities, location, and other factors. It's my hope that we can develop awareness, empathy, and solutions by expanding our perspective.

Today, we're looking at a wide geographical sweep, from Southeast Asia all the way to Northwest Europe. Check it out, apr├Ęs le break.

Malaysia persisted in anti-LGBT discrimination last year, carrying on the tradition of officials and policymakers making bigoted remarks. Additionally, Malaysia led efforts to remove LGBT protections from the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Law enforcement officers harass, arrest, and abuse transgender people for violating Sharia law. Out-of-date anti-sodomy laws and sexist rape laws remain in place. (p. 354/368)

Nepal, regarded in recent years a regional leader on LGBT issues, has slipped. There are increased reports of violence against LGBT rights activists and harassment of LGBT organizations. Arbitrary arrests have been made against transgender Nepalese. (p. 358/372)

Swing-and-a-miss in Singapore, where that nation's High Court dismissed a challenge to the anti-sodomy law on the books. Public officials also dismissed efforts to repeal the law. Last summer, the Singaporean government banned content "advocating homosexuality or lesbianism" on news websites. However, international forces coalesced in August for a pro-LGBT demonstration that attracted 20,000 people. (p. 383/397)

In Armenia, things are basically as bad as they can be. One local advocacy group there explains that LGBT people face "employment discrimination, obstacles to health care, and physical and psychological abuse in the army, in public, and in families." Government officials condone the negligence and violence of law enforcement. (p. 410/424)

The Belarus authorities, in response to a failed attempt by the local LGBT rights group to register, launched a campaign against the LGBT community involving harassment by law enforcement. (p. 422/436)

Bosnia and Herzegovina, though a hotbed of ethnic bigotry against Jews and Roma, has made some progress for LGBT rights. An amendment adding sexual orientation and gender identity was proposed in a major civil society coalition; though it failed, its proposal was significant nonetheless. A local LGBT advocacy organization which tracks anti-LGBT hate crimes was able to facilitate a training for law enforcement. The European Commission proposes that BiH pass laws to protect its LGBT citizens. (p. 428/442)

Throughout the EU, reports are mixed but mainly show great progress. Anti-LGBT violence is on the rise in Greece, whereas Italy extended hate crimes protections to LGBT people. The UK and France, of course, passed marriage equality last year, but France also experienced an increase in anti-LGBT violence in the fall of 2013. (p. 443/447, 438/452, 440/454, 447/461, 449/463, 452/466)

That does it for this installment of our series on LGBT human rights issues from around the world as reported by the Human Rights Watch. Next time, we will take a look at several regions plagued by discriminatory laws, government apathy, and social complicity that threatens the dignity and even the lives of LGBT people.

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