U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
- 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
- 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
- The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
“Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)
“The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)
“Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)
New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
- The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
- The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
- Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
“Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)
“New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)
“Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)
South Korean soldier convicted of same-sex sexual activity
- South Korea’s military court sentenced him to a six-month suspended prison sentence under the Military Criminal Act, which will lead to a dishonorable discharge.
- While same-sex relations are not illegal for civilians, the South Korean military code criminalizes homosexual activity by military personnel, among which all able-bodied men must serve for two years.
- Human rights organizations have reported that military leaders have ordered the revelation and tracking of gay military members, though the army has denied the allegations.
“South Korean military court hands army captain suspended prison sentence for having gay sex with fellow soldier” (The Independent | May 2017)
“Korean soldier convicted of gay sex” (The Korea Times | May 2017)
“South Korean soldier given suspended jail term for gay sex” (BBC News | May 2017)
More than 100 arrested and 2 publicly flogged as Indonesian authorities target gay men
- Jakarta police confirmed that 141 men had been rounded up at a sauna party and jailed, subject to pornography charges.
- In the conservative province of Aceh, two men, aged 20 and 23, were subject to public whippings after having been caught having sex, a new application of religious provincial law in a country that does not officially criminalize same-sex relations.
- Increased anti-gay sentiment in the country is seen as part of a rising wave of hardline Islamism in the country, which has in recent years been praised for its secular, relatively liberal social gains.
“Indonesian police arrest more than 140 men at alleged gay sauna party” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Two men publicly caned in Indonesia for having gay sex” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Indonesian men caned for gay sex in Aceh” (BBC News | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via BBC News)
Russia begins investigation into abduction, torture, and massacre of gay men in Chechnya
- Government officials reportedly launched an investigation as international pressure increased following reports from human rights organizations about the rounding up of gay men into camps.
- Gay Chechens have allegedly been held in extrajudicial detention and subjected to physical and psychological abuse including beatings, electroshock torture, outing to family, and murder.
- President Vladimir Putin was reportedly briefed by the country’s human rights ombudswoman and is set up for a showdown with Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of the republic.
“Russia investigates ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Chechnya’s anti-gay pogrom: Too much even for the Kremlin?” (The Christian Science Monitor | May 2017)
“‘They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me’” (Human Rights Watch | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Arden Arkman/AP, via The Christian Science Monitor)
High court opens door to marriage equality in Taiwan
- The Council of Grand Justices ruled that the section of the Taiwanese Civil Code banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
- The decision compels the government to revise the Code in accordance with the ruling, though it leaves open the question as to how that will be done.
- Once legally enshrined, the ruling will make Taiwan the first Asian country to secure marriage equality for its LGBT citizens.
“Same-sex Marriage: Marriage restrictions ‘unconstitutional’” (The Taipei Times | May 2017)
“Taiwan Is Set To Become The First Asian Country To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)
“Court Ruling Could Make Taiwan First Place in Asia to Legalize Gay Marriage” (The New York Times | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Tyrone Siu/Reuters, via The New York Times)
Scores of gay men reportedly sent to concentration camps in Chechnya
- According to reports from human rights organizations, more than 100 men have been imprisoned in camps the Russian republic of Chechnya where they have been tortured.
- The abducted men have ranged in age from 16 to 50, some having been lured via social media and with three among them having reportedly been killed.
- The abductions began as an LGBT advocacy group began applying for permits to hold parades in provincial cities around the country, although the group avoided applications in much of the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region given the volatile climate.
“Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says” (The New York Times | April 2017)
“Chechen police ‘have rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men’” (The Guardian | April 2017)
“More than 100 gay men ‘sent to prison camps’ in Chechnya” (The Independent | April 2017)
(Image Credit: Musa Sadulayev/AP, via The Guardian)