March 01, 2016
Premium stories from Worldcrunch's own network of multi-lingual journalists in over 30 countries.
Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — a topic that you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!
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Spain’s Council of Ministers approved a bill on June 27, which — if passed through parliament — will allow anyone over 16 to legally change their name and gender on their identity documents through a system of self-determination. If approved, the draft law would allow the changes without judicial, medical, or psychological limitations, including the use of hormonal treatment. The same bill would require those between 14 and 16 to have parental or guardian consent to change gender, while children between 12 and 14 would require authorization from a judge.
According to La Razón, the legislation emphasizes issues of awareness and training, and would include sexual and gender diversity topics in the educational curriculum, as well as teacher training in this area. The new law will also allow for self-determination by trans migrants on their documents issued in Spain, if they can prove that they would not be able to transition in their country of origin.
Demonstrators at New York City Pride addressed the Roe v. Wade reversal.
The historic June 24 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade ended the right to abortion that has existed since 1973 — and yes, it is major issue for the LGBTQ+ community, writes Pride media, of the many who are "furious about this decision and afraid of what it means.” It impacts those in the LGBTQ+ community who can get pregnant and their partners (certain cisgender women, transgender men, and non-binary individuals, among others).
Activists have called to donate, protest and vote, as tools to express their discontent and Pride events in the U. S. placed abortion rights front and center. New York City Pride expressed on its website: “This dangerous decision puts millions in harm's way, gives government control over our individual freedom to choose, and sets a disturbing precedent that puts many other constitutional rights and freedoms in jeopardy.”
LGBT+ media took the decision as a “reminder that in state and local penal codes are the never-repealed laws banning same-sex marriage & sodomy which are now a ticking time bomb”. As reported by LGBTQ Nation, dozens of states still have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage and 15 still have sodomy laws waiting to be revived.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that the high court could review other precedents that may be deemed “demonstrably erroneous,” in which case he would defend the defunct sodomy law, struck down by Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, said The Washington Post .
Pride protesters in Oslo, Norway held a rally Monday and, in doing so, defied police recommendations that Pride celebrations be cancelled after a shooting took place outside a gay club in Oslo on Saturday. According to the BBC, law enforcement had requested the events be postponed because Pride remained a target for violence. Some activists have criticized the police’s response to cancel the event, arguing they shouldn’t cave to the wishes of extremists.
The shooting on Saturday left two people dead and at least 19 more injured. It happened around London Pub, a popular LGBTQ+ venue. According to local news outlet NRK, London Pub has called itself the “gay headquarters since 1979.” Norway is well known for its support of LGBTQ+ rights.
A suspect has been taken into custody, and the attack is being described as “an act of Islamist terrorism” by Norway’s domestic intelligence service. A memorial service was held at Oslo Cathedral on Sunday to honor the victims, with Norway’s prime minister and members of the royal family in attendance.
Sarajevo's third Pride March celebrated "family gatherings".
Bosnian capital Sarajevo hosted its third Pride March on June 25. This year, the organizers have chosen a special theme: “Family gathering” aimed at bringing families and the LGBTQ+ members together. “Family gatherings are something that belong to all of us, but some of us don’t have a chance to be who we truly are,” declared a member of the Sarajevo Pride organization committee.
Security has been increased in this third edition as the previous LGBTQ+ events held in the country have ended in unrest, due to opposition groups disrupting them.
As Bosnian-language news outlet Detektor notes, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, “LGBT people are not yet legally equal, and a law on same-sex partnerships needs to be enacted, and the issue of transition for trans people needs to be regulated.”
The criminal trial for U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is set to begin on today in Russia. The Olympic Gold medalist was arrested at the airport on Feb. 17 for carrying vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo International Airport. She now faces charges for “large-scale transportation of drugs” and risks up to 10 years in prison. Griner’s pretrial detention has been extended three times and she is not set for release until a further 6 months.
Griner came out as lesbian early in her career and is widely recognized as an LGBTQ+ icon. Her wife Cherelle Griner has expressed concern about Griner being held as a “political pawn.”
The U.S. Department of State has established that the basketball player was indeed “wrongfully detained” and has mobilized the help of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens. California Congressman John Garamendi said her chances for release could be strained by the nonexistent diplomatic relationships between the U.S. and Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, as well as Russia’s harsh “LGBT rules and laws”.
“Leave gays alone,” says Freddie Blay, chairman of Ghana’s current ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). With the remarks, Blay has defended the country’s LGBTQ+ citizens in the face of a bill labeled as “the worst anti-LGBTQ bill ever,” writes the news site Erasing 76 Crimes, an online resource for anti-LGBTQ+ laws around the world.
Blay’s comments supporting and encouraging LGBTQ+ rights in Ghana come while human rights activists have sued the Ghanaian police and attorney general over the arrests of human rights activists on homosexuality charges last year. Billboards promoting tolerance in the country have also been torn down. Another public figure, popular Ghanaian singer Reggie Rockstone, has spoken out to his fans to treat the LGBTQ+ community with respect.
Filmmaker Richard Finn Gregory spent four years filming Imam Muhsim Hendricks, a former clothing designer from Cape Town, South Africa, who became the world’s first openly gay imam when he came out in 1996. The resulting documentary, The Radical, is premiering at The Encounters International Documentary Film Festival, held in Cape Town and Johannesburg between June 23 and July 3.
The film explores the difficulties faced by queer South African Muslims as they are exposed to a conservative culture and history. Imam Muhsim is also seen meeting with queer Muslim activists in East African countries, where belonging to the LGBTQ+ community is outlawed. Mushim preaches tolerance and uses a “care-frontational” approach towards those who do not accept him. It is certain that The Radical will encourage dialogue: The film has caused both praise and outrage after its first screenings.
A one-of-a-kind LGBTQ+ archive Berlin is still missing the majority of its “legendary collection”. The collection was part of the Institute for Sexual Science, set up by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (the “Einstein of sex”, as German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung calls him) and Li Shiu Tong in 1919. They performed early gender confirmation surgeries, collected data on sexualities, and advocated for equal rights.
In the 1940s, it was looted by the Nazis. The library held thousands of books on same-sex relationships, erotica, and gender. Volunteers have been searching for the archive across the globe. So far, they’ve found 35 items out of the original 10,000 volumes.
Today, the small library attracts researchers, students, and anyone else who is interested in LGBTQ+ history. A few volunteers ensure that it keeps running. The society hopes to merge with Berlin’s lesbian and feminist library and archives to form “an umbrella queer archive with broad research access and communal spaces.” But to do that, they’ll need 10 million euros to reconstruct the building and hire a professional staff.
Police forces block people from going to Istiklal Street during Istanbul's Pride March.
On June 26, Istanbul police cracked down on Pride celebrations, with at least 360 people arrested, including an AFP photographer. This was justified by a ban on organizing LGBTQ+ events for “health reasons” "for security reasons' ' and "to prevent crime."
The fact is that Istanbul Pride has been banned since 2014. Regardless of the bans in place, Turkish LGBTQ + activists took the streets in a peaceful march to chant “Discrimination is a crime, the rainbow is not" and “The future is queer. We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere”, as reported by Pink News.
According to the organizers of the event, Turkish police released all of the protesters and journalists detained during the march by Monday. Even though homosexuality is legal in the country, according to Pink News, public opinion regarding the LGBTQ + community has become increasingly conservative.
The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has expressed fear that the upcoming Pride events in Amsterdam and other cities may lead to a “more intensive spread” of the monkeypox virus, according to Dutch daily Het Parool. The Netherlands’ most famous Pride event, Amsterdam Pride, will take place from July 30 to August 7.
A spokesperson for Amsterdam Pride sees no reason to take extra measures at this time. He also warns about stigmatization: “The RIVM is talking about men who have sex with men, but the Pride community is much broader than that.” He added that “"You don't go to Pride to exchange contacts with as many people as possible, but to speak out for equal rights and to be who you want."
People are gathering to celebrate Pride in Nigeria in an act of defiance against laws which have criminalized being gay in the country. A 2014 law introduced punishments of up to 14 years in prison for public displays of same-sex affection, or membership in LGBTQ+ groups.
In recent years, LGBTQ+ community members and activists have been kidnapped, incarcerated, and killed, while their aggressors act with impunity. Despite the dangers of publicly being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria, organizing and support groups are surviving by moving online to organize private pride celebrations, including art events and a drag competition in Lagos this year.
Weddings took place ahead of Mexico City Pride.
Hundreds of couples part of the LGBTQ+ community married in Mexico City before Pride, Mexico-based, Spanish-language outlet NMás reports. The ceremony, funded by the local government and aimed at providing an affordable marriage had been canceled for two years due to the pandemic. Mexico City legalized LGBTQIA+ marriages in 2010, and 27 out of 32 states have also decriminalized it.
Two women were arrested by the police in Sri Lanka's city of Akkaraipattu for “abnormal relationship.” The lesbian couple — a 24-year old from India and a 33-year-old woman from Sri Lanka — had revealed their desire to get married to their families, and the father of the Sri Lankan woman lodged a complaint to the Akkaraipattu police.
Their case has then been transferred to a Court, where the women said they would commit suicide if not allowed to leave the country and to go to India. Sri Lanka’s law is restrictive vis-à-vis LGBTQ+ rights and does not recognize same-sex marriages or same-sex civil unions.
When asked about the world’s governing body on swimming’s recent decision to ban trans women from competing in swimming competitions, Johnson said that he sees “no reason to dissent.” Johnson was also asked on Sunday if somebody can be a woman if she was born with a penis, to which he replied: “Not without being a man.”
Johnson had set “a very clear line” on the issue of trans women in sports, saying that women’s sports leagues should be reserved for people born of the female sex. In addition to sports inclusion, the prime minister also lists the appropriate age of transition and safe spaces for women (implicitly those born of the female sex) as main concerns of his regarding trans rights.
• From Lima to Mexico City, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ Latin Americans took to the streets, united in their struggle against LGBTQ+ related restrictions across Latin America.
• Meet Dr. K. David Harrison, a gay anthropologist and linguist who hopes to use his work to increase “visibility for LGBTQ+ explorers, like 19th-century geographer Alexander von Humboldt and the late astronaut Sally Ride.”
• As Pride month comes to a close, check out these books of poetry by LGBTQ+ authors.
• Discover the works of Leilah Barbirye, the U.S.-based Ugandan queer artist “taking over the art world” with her sculptures.
• Police raided a gay sauna in El Alto, Bolivia. The police's actions — and the following media storm – were violent in more ways than one. Read the full piece in Bolivian-based magazine Muy Waso, translated from Spanish by Worldcrunch.
A young American takes in the most personal and political moments of her life far from home. What will it feel like when she lands back in Idaho?
Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.
Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.
Then there is Mariupol, under siege and symbol of Putin’s cruelty. In the largest city on the Azov Sea, with a population of half a million people, Ukrainians make up slightly less than half of the city's population, and Mariupol's second-largest national ethnicity is Russians. As of 2001, when the last census was conducted, 89.5% of the city's population identified Russian as their mother tongue.
Between 2018 and 2019, I spent several months in Mariupol. It is a rugged but beautiful city dotted with Soviet-era architecture, featuring wide avenues and hillside parks, and an extensive industrial zone stretching along the shoreline. There was a vibrant youth culture and art scene, with students developing projects to turn their city into a regional cultural center with an international photography festival.
There were also many offices of international NGOs and human rights organizations, a consequence of the fact that Mariupol was the last major city before entering the occupied zone of Donbas. Many natives of the contested regions of Luhansk and Donetsk had moved there, taking jobs in restaurants and hospitals. I had fond memories of the welcoming from locals who were quicker to smile than in some other parts of Ukraine. All of this is gone.
Putin is bombing the very people he has claimed to want to rescue.
According to the latest data from the local authorities, 80% of the port city has been destroyed by Russian bombs, artillery fire and missile attacks, with particularly egregious targeting of civilians, including a maternity hospital, a theater where more than 1,000 people had taken shelter and a school where some 400 others were hiding.
The official civilian death toll of Mariupol is estimated at more than 3,000. There are no language or ethnic-based statistics of the victims, but it’s likely the majority were Russian speakers.
So let’s be clear, Putin is bombing the very people he has claimed to want to rescue.
Putin’s Public Enemy No. 1, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is a mother-tongue Russian speaker who’d made a successful acting and comedy career in Russian-language broadcasting, having extensively toured Russian cities for years.
Rescuers carry a person injured during a shelling by Russian troops of Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.
Yes, the official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian, and a 2019 law aimed to ensure that it is used in public discourse, but no one has ever sought to abolish the Russian language in everyday life. In none of the cities that are now being bombed by the Russian army to supposedly liberate them has the Russian language been suppressed or have the Russian-speaking population been discriminated against.
Sociologist Mikhail Mishchenko explains that studies have found that the vast majority of Ukrainians don’t consider language a political issue. For reasons of history, culture and the similarities of the two languages, Ukraine is effectively a bilingual nation.
"The overwhelming majority of the population speaks both languages, Russian and Ukrainian,” Mishchenko explains. “Those who say they understand Russian poorly and have difficulty communicating in it are just over 4% percent. Approximately the same number of people say the same about Ukrainian.”
In general, there is no problem of communication and understanding. Often there will be conversations where one person speaks Ukrainian, and the other responds in Russian. Geographically, the Russian language is more dominant in the eastern and central parts of Ukraine, and Ukrainian in the west.
Like most central Ukrainians I am perfectly bilingual: for me, Ukrainian and Russian are both native languages that I have used since childhood in Kyiv. My generation grew up on Russian rock, post-Soviet cinema, and translations of foreign literature into Russian. I communicate in Russian with my sister, and with my mother and daughter in Ukrainian. I write professionally in three languages: Ukrainian, Russian and English, and can also speak Polish, French, and a bit Japanese. My mother taught me that the more languages I know the more human I am.
At the same time, I am not Russian — nor British or Polish. I am Ukrainian. Ours is a nation with a long history and culture of its own, which has always included a multi-ethnic population: Russians, Belarusians, Moldovans, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians, Poles, Jews, Greeks. We all, they all, have found our place on Ukrainian soil. We speak different languages, pray in different churches, we have different traditions, clothes, and cuisine.
My mother taught me that the more languages I know the more human I am.
Like in other countries, these differences have been the source of conflict in our past. But it is who we are and will always be, and real progress has been made over the past three decades to embrace our multitudes. Our Jewish, Russian-speaking president is the most visible proof of that — and is in fact part of what our soldiers are fighting for.
Many in Moscow were convinced that Russian troops would be welcomed in Ukraine as liberating heroes by Russian speakers. Instead, young soldiers are forced to shoot at people who scream in their native language.
Starving people ina street of Kharkiv in 1933, during the famine
Putin has tried to rally the troops by warning that in Ukraine a “genocide” of ethnic Russians is being carried out by a government that must be “de-nazified.”
These are, of course, words with specific definitions that carry the full weight of history. The Ukrainian people know what genocide is not from books. In my hometown of Kyiv, German soldiers massacred Jews en masse. My grandfather survived the Buchenwald concentration camp, liberated by the U.S. army. My great-grandmother, who died at the age of 95, survived the 1932-33 famine when the Red Army carried out the genocide of the Ukrainian middle class, and her sister disappeared in the camps of Siberia, convicted for defying rationing to try to feed her children during the famine.
On Tuesday, came a notable report of one of the latest civilian deaths in the besieged Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv: a 96-year-old had been killed when shelling hit his apartment building. The victim’s name was Boris Romanchenko; he had survived Buchenwald and two other Nazi concentration camps during World War II. As President Zelensky noted: Hitler didn’t manage to kill him, but Putin did.
Genocide has returned to Ukraine, from Kharkiv to Kherson to Mariupol, as Vladimir Putin had warned. But it is his own genocide against the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.