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New Study Finds High Levels Of Anti-LGBTQ+ Discrimination In Buddhism

We tend to think of Buddhism as a religion devoid of commandments, and therefore generally more accepting than others. The author, an Australian researcher — and "genderqueer, non-binary Buddhist" themself — suggests that it is far from being the case.

More than half of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ Buddhists feel reluctant to “come out” to their Buddhist communities and nearly one in six have been told directly that being LGBTQIA+ isn’t in keeping with the Buddha’s teachings.

These are some of the findings from my research looking at the experiences of LGBTQIA+ Buddhists in Australia.

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I’m a genderqueer, non-binary Buddhist myself and I was curious about others’ experiences in Australia since there has been no research done on our community before. So, in 2020, I surveyed 82 LGBTQIA+ Buddhists and have since followed this up with 29 face-to-face interviews.

Some people may think Buddhism would be quite accepting of LGBTQIA+ people. There are, after all, no religious laws, commandments or punishments in Buddhism. My research indicates, however, this is not always true.

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Anti-Gay Law Leaves Nowhere To Turn For Uganda’s LGBTQ+

Disowned by their families, evicted by their landlords, and persecuted by the state, LGBTQ Ugandans have fewer and fewer places to turn.

KAMPALA — Just two days after the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in March, Sam received a call. Her landlord asked her to leave the house she had been renting for almost two years in Kyebando-Kanyanya village, about 4 miles from Kampala.

When Sam, a lesbian who prefers to be identified by one name for fear of stigmatization, asked why she was being evicted, her landlord asked to meet her the following day in the presence of the local chairman (a village leader). She declined, asking for a one-on-one meeting. At the meeting, Sam’s landlord told her that her son, a human rights lawyer, warned her the new law would punish landlords who rent rooms to “homosexuals.”

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The "Magical Towns" Of Mexico, A Tourism Trap Paid By Marginalized Locals

The Patio de la Estrella neighborhood being hailed as a "magical" place in Córdoba, Mexico is a perfect example of "touristification," where the most vulnerable residents suffer the consequences.

CÓRDOBA — In this city in the central Mexican state of Veracruz stands the El Patio de la Estrella neighborhood, which has long been inhabited by a variety of marginalized populations, including people of African descent, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Since 2016, locals in Patio have been resisting forced eviction attempts as part of an ongoing gentrification process. But recently, the pressure has multiplied, after Mexico's Ministry of Tourism has named Córdoba as a “magical town.”

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The resident of the neighborhood face harassment from both the police on the street, and the Córdoba City Council, which has been trying to get them to leave to build a shopping center.

“We know that with their gentrification policies they are going to destroy this space," says Lx Santx, a resident of Patio de la Estrella. "This is my home, my safe port, the place where a large part of my personal, family, and community identity has been built.”

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How I Learned To Call You 'Son' — A Mother's Awakening To A Non-Binary World

Journalist Daniela Pastrana thought she knew how to be a mother — until her child came out as non-binary. Pastrana's journey to acceptance took her through Mexican history and deep into herself and her own prejudices.

MEXICO — While Gen Z is generally more aware that biology and gender identity are not necessarily connected, their families have a long way to go to learn — or unlearn — old habits and a new language to communicate with.

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Journalist Daniela Pastrana took us into the privacy of her own home, as she travels to the ancestral roots of Mexico and talks with experts in search of answers on how to be a non-binary mother.

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Eduardo Robaina

A Hostel Hides Spain's Dark Past: Franco's LGBTQ Prison Colony

The Canary island of Fuerteventura is a popular seaside tourist destination, but further inland are the remains of Spain's dark past of LGBTQ+ persecution.

TEFÍA — The Tefía Penitentiary Agricultural Colony on the island of Fuerteventura, in Spain's Canary Islands, was used to imprison homosexuals and others accused by the Vagrancy and Loitering Law. The law — and the accompanying labor camps like Tefía — were used by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco to "rehabilitate" social outcasts.

The facilities are in perfect condition, and the area is well-maintained as it now serves as a hostel. New buildings have been constructed around it, but the main one remains the same.

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"This solemn and beloved isolated land of Fuerteventura is a desert," wrote Miguel de Unamuno during his exile on the island in 1924. He was sent there by Primo de Rivera due to his continuous attacks on him and the king. Almost a century later, the landscape depicted by the writer through his words remains unchanged.

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Bao Bao

A Dark Journey Into Hong Kong's World Of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

As advocates in Hong Kong work to spread the word that being LGBTQ+ is not an illness, conversion therapy centers like New Creation continue to harm and traumatize those who want to get "out of the gay life." Members of the LGBTQ+ community struggle to reconcile their faith and their orientation in a society that continues to be institutionally homophobic.

HONG KONG — Alvin Zhang has kept a diary for 18 years.

Flipping through the pages, he sees where he wrote, in large letters, "Weak emotion vs strong reason" at the top of the page. "There are two of me; one of me is actually so evil," he writes on one page. "I hate this 'me', I have to deal with this 'me'", "I am so hurt inside," he continues.

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Horacio Convertini

Born Intersex, Mutilated To Become "Normal"

María Candelaria Schamun's body tells a dramatic, brutal story. The pages of her heartbreaking new book hold the memory of her pain, her scars, of the screams she muffled and finally let rip.

"Within my mutilated body lives another being. An erased being. A disappeared being. My body is a plural one, a shelved ID card, a court file, the loneliness of a hospital room. I inhabit a body that was baptized as Esteban, the name of the first martyr of Catholicism. I am Candelaria. I am Esteban. I am both," writes Schamun in Ese que fui, expediente de una rebelión corporal, or "The one I was, the record of a corporeal rebellion."

At 41, after having worked in visual and TV journalism with great talent and passion, Schamun now lives in a Buenos Aires town with 1,000 inhabitants, surrounded by dogs, horses and chickens.

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Her life with her partner, the vegetable garden and a quiet rhythm of routine has perhaps been as healing as the testimony she has finally been able to put into words after almost a lifetime of silences.

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In The News

Worldcrunch Magazine #42 — Beyond Sexile

July 17 - July 23, 2023

This is the latest edition of Worldcrunch Magazine, a selection of our best articles of the week from the best international journalists, produced exclusively in English for Worldcrunch readers.


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Esther Peñas

Beyond Sexile: A Happier LGBTQ+ Reality Takes Root In Rural Spain

In contrast to the "sexile" of the past, LGBTQ+ people are living increasingly rural areas. Although everything is far from idyllic in the countryside, huge strides of progress have been made.

BURGOS — Villages and small towns are no longer what it used to be for LGBTQ+ people. A few decades ago, LGBTQ+ people could only move to a big city if they wanted to live openly or connect with other people like them. 'Sexile' refers to a person who has to leave the place where they live when the degree of persecution, harassment or discomfort is too much.

According to the Andalusian Observatory against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the main problems that plague LGBTQ+ people in Spain's small towns are the constraints of heterosexuality and heteronormativity, societal control (gossip, denigrating nicknames, mockery...), a degree of overprotection because they are considered fragile or weak, internalized LGBTQ+ phobia, and self-esteem issues.

Paulino D., from rural Spain, is 75 years old and example of someone who suffered because of his sexuality.

"All my life I have lived in a village of about 500 inhabitants near Burgos, hiding the fact that I liked men," he said. "When I did my military service, they threw boiling oil on my back to make me a man. I had to go to the dive bars in Aranda to meet men, most of the time it was just quick kisses and the occasional fondling."

Paulino says life for a gay man in the countryside has left him with "the feeling of having been something foul, a pervert. That's why I decided to come to a nursing home, where at least I am taken care of."

But luckily, new stories are also being written in rural Spain.

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Maria Korcz

Catholic, Pride, Capitalism? How LGBTQ+ Branding Plays In Conservative Poland

More businesses are advertising with rainbow flags, but has this made any real difference or prompted social change in conservative-Catholic Poland?

WARSAW — June is not only Pride month, but also the season of rainbow marketing, when businesses unveil LGBTQ-friendly logos, write press releases promising solidarity or offer special discounts.

On one hand, this is a gesture of solidarity from businesses. But on the other, it can also be seen as appropriation of an important symbol of the queer community, or shallow support in pursuit of profit — "pinkwashing," or "Rainbow capitalism." It's a relatively new phenomenon in Poland, and these questions are particularly pressing in the often conservative, Catholic country, where the LGBTQ+ community faces a lack of legal protections and social acceptance.

Pride Month is marked in June to recognize the Stonewall Inn Uprising in New York City in June 1969 — events which in many ways marked the beginning of the contemporary LGBTQ+ rights movement, in the U.S. and worldwide.

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Poland's first pride march took place more than 20 years ago, in Warsaw in 2001. Today, pride parades are held in several cities in Poland.

With each passing Pride Month, more businesses join the celebrations. Many have noticed that it pays to be an ally — or more specifically, that supporting LGBTQ+ Poles can bring a company successful PR, and more earnings as a result.

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Guadalupe Rivero

"They Thought Sofia Was Copying Me" — The World's First Trans Twins Share Their Story

Identical twins Mayla and Sofia were 19 when they became the first twins to transition together. Now, two years later, and living separately, the two Brazilian trans women talk with Argentine daily Clarín about how family support and their love for each other have helped them through hard times.

BUENOS AIRES — A lot has been said about the special bonds that exist between twins. In the case of Mayla and Sofia, 21-year-old twins born in Brazil, the two have also made history together. They are the first twins in the world to undergo gender-affirming surgery (GAS), and the youngest Brazilians so far to have done it.

A documentary made about them depicts the challenges, joys and grief they faced along the way, though never alone. In 2021, at the age of 19, the sisters had surgery in a clinic in the city of Blumenau in southern Brazil. It wasn't simple or affordable, and their grandfather sold his home to pay for it. Today, Mayla lives in Buenos Aires where she studies medicine and Sofia lives in São Paulo studying engineering.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

According to statistics from Brazil's ANTRA, a trans advocacy organization, 151 members of the collective were murdered in Brazil in 2022. The NGO, which provides help and advice to the community, also reports high levels of violence and bullying against transgender children and teenagers at school. The twins were no exception in that respect. Every school day, including playtime activities where they should have been able to make friends, became challenging, a setting for mindless hostility. Luckily, they say, they were together.

As children, they found adults to have "closed minds and preconceptions," which meant there was little help or advice available to them. Teachers had no particular gender perspective or sense of diversity. One schoolmistress said the school should have separate bathrooms for trans women, Sofia recalls.

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Sreemanti Sengupta

Being LGBTQ+ In India, Fashion Can Be A Glamorous Way To Save Your Life

The hyper-inclusive queer world of fashion challenges the view that gayness is a "curable" tendency.

KOLKATA — “Beauty gives me hope,” says Luna.

When Suruj Pankaj Rajkhowa, popularly known as Glorious Luna (They/He/She), presented as a boy with visible effeminate tendencies, they were picked on by peers and relatives for their mannerisms and for the single blue shirt they used to wear almost all of the time. Without many options, Luna would borrow a chunni, or scarf, from a cousin and pair it with their favorite blue shirt. When the tongues still wagged, they would fire back, “There’s no satisfying you lot!”

Today, Luna is a non-binary, gay model, drag queen and make-up artist. They have worked with renowned designers and international labels and their portfolio includes Vogue India and Femina covers.

For Luna and others like them, fashion is much more than an assemblage of clothes and accessories: “As a queer person, fashion is more than a profession – it is a survival skill. My language of rebellion is not asking people for acceptance, but about showing them that I am queer, and so is my fashion.”

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

In India, the world of fashion seems to be one of the most welcoming professional options for the LGBTQ+ community. Though bias and prejudice often make trans and non-binary models merely token characters in an entourage, it also affords them the freedom of expression that is stigmatized in day-to-day life while giving them employment.

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