This week featuring:
- Exiled transgender Qatari royal
- Switzerland struggling with “gay conversion therapy”
- U.S. signs “Respect For Marriage Act” into Constitution
- … and more
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TW: This content may address topics and include references to violence that some may find distressing.
🇶🇦🇬🇧 Leaks Show How A Transgender Qatari Royal Found Asylum In UK
Leaked documents obtained by The Sunday Times reveal that an unnamed “trans princess” belonging to Qatar’s Al-Thani royal family escaped during a family trip to London in 2015, fearing persecution in their home country. They were then granted asylum by Britain.
As reported in the documents, the member of the royal family told the UK Home Office that “growing up in Qatar has been the most difficult thing” they ever had to do. In Qatar, transgender people can be detained for "violating public morality", which requires no trial or official charge. Recently, a Qatari transgender woman has spoken out about her fear and the dangers she faces being transgender in a country with very strict laws against it. "I am very afraid, but I just want people to know that we do exist," she says.
⚽️ World Cup Update: Homophobic Slurs, France Voices Support, Snapchat Filters
Inside a soccer stadium in Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Koreanet / Wikimedia Commons
Although the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is drawing to a close, there’s been no shortage of controversy as human rights remain a hot topic in the infamously conservative host country. Here’s an update on LGBTQ+ related World Cup events:
• FIFA to investigate homophobic chants by Mexican supporters
Mexican fans were asked not to use their notorious anti-gay “puto” chant, but it became a ritual for the country’s fans during goal kicks by goalies of opposing teams. Now, as Mexico is eliminated from the competition, FIFA has opened an investigation into the chanting and will ultimately look to bar fans from future matches hosted by Mexico.
• LGBTQ+ friendly journalist Grant Wahl dies
Tributes have been pouring in after celebrated U.S. sports journalist Grant Wahl died in Qatar. Wahl reportedly died after suffering an aortic aneurysm, according to his wife, and no foul play is suspected. His passing came just days after the journalist made the news for wearing a Pride shirt to a match in Qatar in a display of support for the LGBTQ+ community. A second sports journalist has since also died suddenly while covering matches in Qatar.
• France speaks out, at last
Though players have refrained from wearing the “One Love” armbands in support of the LGBTQ+ community, world diplomats and executives around the world are showing support in other ways. The Sports Minister for France, Amélie Oudéa-Castera, wore a sweater to the France-England match last week with rainbows on its sleeves.
Additionally, French player Antoine Griezmann has voiced his support for the community once again. Asked about his past positions and possible embarrassment at the idea of playing a World Cup in Qatar he said, "A little embarrassed? Yes and no. No matter where I am in the world, they know they will always have my support. But I'm a footballer, that's my profession. My country calls me to play a game, I come with pride. They have my full support, all my respect," he insisted.
• An LGBTQ+ Snapchat filter
World leaders from LGBTQ+-friendly countries such as Germany, Great Britain, and Denmark have found a way to help show support for the community with an initiative using a Snapchat filter that enables World Cup fans to post virtual Pride rainbows from Qatar despite its harsh anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
• Irish model Vogue Williams slams lack of UK support
After refusing her invitation to Qatar in support of her gay sister, Irish model and TV presenter Vogue Williams has criticized David Beckham for not speaking out in support of the LGBTQ+ community, calling on him to donate some of his earnings to LGBTQ+ charities in Qatar to provide “much-needed safety to those living in terror”.
🇷🇺 Russia's First Queer Museum Closes After Only 5 Days
On the eve of the law banning LGBTQ+ propaganda, Russian activist Peter Voskresensky opened a Queer Museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and aesthetics in St. Petersburg.
"Opening the museum is a political gesture because now Russia is passing a law that will not only make LGBT people invisible but will call their existence into question," says the museum's founder.
But just a couple of days later, the museum was closed — but not before an estimated 200 people had a chance to visit it. Among the visitors was a priest from the Association of Christian Eucharistic Communities. "My congregation is mostly LGBT parishioners; I'm afraid many will have to go underground," the priest commented.
🇬🇭 Ghana Offers Trauma Counseling After Hate Speech Boom Since Musk’s Twitter Takeover
Anti-LGBTQ+ hate has spiked on Twitter since Elon Musk took over the company. Human rights organizations in Africa worry that online hate will drive the LGBTQ+ community away from the site — or even translate to offline harassment and violence.
In response, campaigners in Ghana have even started offering online safety training and trauma counseling to their communities.
🇰🇷 South Korea Rejects Plea To Recognize Trans Soldier’s Death As “On Duty”
A military committee decided last week to classify the death of Byun Hee-soo, South Korea’s first transgender soldier who was found dead a year after being forcibly discharged from service, as "general death". Her family and LGBTQ+ rights activists had called for the Army to categorize her death as “on-duty”, but the panel rejected the claim, arguing that Byun's death had no "significant causal connection" with her military service.
Byun Hee-soo had voluntarily enlisted as male in 2017 and served as a tank gunner at an armored unit in Gyeonggi Province. In 2019, she underwent sex reassignment surgery in Thailand and expressed her desire to continue serving as a female soldier. The army discharged her in January 2020 saying the surgery rendered her mentally and physically unfit to be on active duty. She had filed a suit over this decision but died in an apparent suicide in February 2021 before any hearing in her case. The "general death" categorisation is, however, a recognition of her death as a soldier and not just a citizen.
🇮🇹 Right-Wing Italian Mayor Says “Si” To Gender-Neutral Toilets
Mario Conte, the mayor of Treviso and a Northern League Right Wing party member, backed gender-neutral toilets in the Mazzotti Technical Tourist Institute of the Venetian city. This was surprising due to the possible repercussions of this position inside the Party. The city of Treviso last June formally allowed the change of gender of a trans student on the diploma of the city's art school.
Conte explains that the request came from the students and for this reason it is legitimate and must be accepted "to avoid wrong attitudes towards the students who have made their will clear".
🇨🇭Switzerland At A Loss On How To Deal With “Gay Conversion Therapy”
How do you deal with “gay conversion therapy” that doesn’t call itself that? Swiss parliamentarians are wondering how to regulate the practice (which can range from everything from talking, to extreme practices like electroshock) when the very groups that do it avoid the label.
As more European countries put bans into place (Greece, Germany, France, and Malta already, potentially soon joined by Spain and Belgium), Switzerland fears that bans in those countries will bring more practitioners and “patients” to the country.
🇺🇸 Joe Biden Signs “Respect For Marriage Act” Into Constitution
U.S. President Joe Biden
Just a quarter of a century after U.S. Congress defined marriage exclusively as the “union between a man and a woman,” U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law a landmark legislation protecting same-sex marriage in the Constitution after it was approved by Congress.
This legislation, called Respect for Marriage Act, asks for states and federal governments to acknowledge the validity of same-sex marriage as well as interracial marriages, even when it has been performed in another state. House speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked the lawmakers and advocates who helped the legislation. “Not only are we on the right side of history, we’re on the right side of the future: expanding freedom in America,” she said.
🇲🇽 Man Prosecuted For Femicide Against A Trans Woman For First Time In Mexico
Transfemicide doesn't exist as a crime in Mexico’s penal code, so the first prosecution of a man for femicide against a trans woman sets a precedent. Testimonies collected indicate that the man, whose name was not released, attacked the victim with an object after an argument.
According to official figures, until May 2021 there were 25 investigation folders on violent deaths of trans women in Mexico’s capital.
🇧🇧 Caribbean Islands Approve Same-Sex Marriage, Barbados Decriminalizes Gay Sex
The joint Court of Justice of the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba has ruled in favor of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. According to the Curaçao Chronicle, “The court has come to the conclusion that excluding same-sex marriage is in violation of the prohibition of discrimination and incompatible with state regulations.”
Meanwhile, Barbados Téa Braun, chief executive of the human rights organization Human Dignity Trust, said that “what people choose to do with their private relationships is not the business of the law.”
🇮🇩 Indonesia’s New Ban On Sex Outside Marriage Is Huge Threat For LGBTQ+ Community
Indonesia lawmakers unanimously passed a new criminal code that outlaws sex outside of marriage. This new ban will also apply to foreigners and tourists and forbid cohabitation for people who are not married. “It’s another nail in the coffin for LGBTQ+ people,” Dede Oetomo, an activist with the LGBTQ+ rights group GAYa NUSANTARA, told AFP.
Indonesia has seen a surge of religious conservatism emerge in recent years around the country that is strongly affecting the LGBTQ+ community — for example, in the semi-autonomous Anteh province, public flogging of homosexuals still take place.
• Through photographs, narratives, paintings, videos or performances, the Habibi, The Revolutions Of Love exhibition which lasts through Feb. 19 at Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe explores queer identities and their place in countries where the LGBTQ+ community often faces discriminations or legal sanctions. 76crimes focuses on Em Abed, a pioneering Lebanese trans woman in the 1990, and how she’s featured in the exhibition.
• For Pink News, Ukrainians Irene and Hanna reflect back on their heartbreaking decision to flee to neighboring Poland shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February for fear of being targeted as a lesbian couple.
• Nkululeko means “freedom” in Zulu — and it’s the name of South Africa’s first all-black, all-queer music compilation.
• From Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Rosa Diaz to Yuri from the anime Yuri On Ice, Gaysi pays tribute to the Fictional Characters That Made Me Come To Terms With My Queerness (And Sometimes Question It).