Austria’s highest court recognizes same-sex marriage rights
- The Constitutional Court of Austria ruled that the country’s law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
- The law in question, introduced in 2009, allowed for registered partnerships but not full marriage for same-sex couples, creating discriminatory sex-based classes of partnership.
- The decision paves the way for same-sex couples in Austria to begin marrying in 2019, becoming the 16th European country to recognize same-sex marriage rights.
“Austria’s supreme court paves way for same-sex marriage from 2019” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Austrian Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage” (BBC News | December 2017)
“Austrian court rules same-sex couples can marry from 2019” (CNN | December 2017)
Egypt expands crackdown on LGBT community
- Dozens of LGBT Egyptians have been arrested , including raids on cafés and detentions following a concert by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila (fronted by a gay man).
- As citizens continue to be subjected to invasive medical examinations and entrapment via social media and mobile apps, Egypt’s media regulatory body issued a statement condemning homosexuality as a “sickness” and barring the presence or representation of gay people in the media.
- In addition to political and law enforcement assaults, LGBT Egyptians have recently been the targets of cultural campaigns by the media and conservative religious and academic leaders.
“Brutal crackdown has gay and transgender Egyptians asking: Is it time to leave?” (The Los Angeles Times | October 2017)
“Egypt’s latest crackdown on gays creates fear in LGBT community” (USA Today | October 2017)
“Unofficial Translation of Statement by Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation” (Human Rights Watch | October 2017)
The Expanding Insecurity of Kyrgyzstan’s LGBT Community
Bishkek, long viewed as a relatively liberal haven not only in Kyrgyzstan but within the largely conservative Central Asia region, has seen an increase in political and social hostility towards its LGBT community. As in other parts of Eurasia, Kyrgyzstan has witnessed a resurgence in far-right ultra-nationalism and an attendant conflation of LGBT rights with Western encroachment on Kyrgyz culture, leading to increased attacks on the Kyrgyz LGBT community. Similar to other Eurasian nations, legislation has been proposed to limit information access about the LGBT community, and the shuttering of Bishek’s last remaining gay club has left the LGBT Kyrgyzstanis with few opportunities for safe communal socializing.
“‘All of us will be victims at some point’: why Bishkek’s only gay club closed” (The Guardian | October 2017)
“Curtain Falls On Bishkek’s Lone LGBT Club Amid Worsening Atmosphere” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | June 2017)
Azerbaijan launches offensive against LGBT citizens
- Dozens were arrested and charged with “resisting police orders” in September according to community activists in the country.
- A state spokesman denied the raids targeted sexual minorities but rather those who “show a lack of respect”, “annoy citizens,” and whom authorities believe to be carriers of infectious diseases.
- The government has framed targeting the LGBT community as protecting community health and defending the “traditional” and “moral” values of Azerbaijan against Western attack, tying the LGBT community to Western encroachment.
“Outcry as Azerbaijan police launch crackdown on LGBT community” (The Guardian | October 2017)
“Azerbaijan: Scale of LGBT Persecution Is Rising – Lawyer” (EurasiaNet | September 2017)
“Gay men and trans women were suddenly rounded up in Azerbaijan. Here’s why.” (The Washington Post | October 2017)
Tajikistan launches register of LGBT citizens
- A state publication indicated 319 gay men and 48 lesbians had been identified following research into the Tajikistani LGBT community as a part of operations called “Morality” and “Purge.”
- One police source indicated that the register could be used to gather medical records under the pretense that the state is looking to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Same-sex relations are not illegal in Tajikistan, although activists have in the past pointed to discrimination and persecution in the conservative country.
“Tajikistan authorities draw up list of gay and lesbian citizens” (Agence France-Presse via The Guardian | October 2017)
“Tajikistan: LGBT Registry Sparks Outrage” (EurasiaNet | October 2017)
“There’s a rising global tide of crackdowns on LGBT communities” (The Washington Post | October 2017)
German parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage
- The lower house voted to ratify marriage equality 393-296-4 in a year that has seen Germany attempting to redress historical injustices against its LGBT community.
- The vote followed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s softening of her party’s position and allowance of a conscience vote, permitting members of her party to break ranks and vote in favor of marriage equality.
- The vote extends full marriage rights to LGBT citizens, including adoption rights.
“German lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in landmark vote” (Reuters | June 2017)
“German Parliament Approves Same-Sex Marriage” (The New York Times | June 2017)
“German parliament votes to legalise same-sex marriage” (The Guardian | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)
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)