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)
Irish governing party elects first out gay, Indian-descendent PM
- The Fine Gael voted Leo Varadkar its new leader, a gay, half-Indian man set to become the youngest PM in Irish history.
- Varadkhar, 38, was born to an Indian immigrant father and an Irish mother and has become a polarizing conservative firebrand in Irish politics since his first election in 2007.
- The election has been lauded as a monumental moment for the predominantly Catholic country that in 2015 became the first in the world to codify marriage equality into law through referendum.
“Varadkar becomes Irish PM-in-waiting in social, generational shift” (Reuters | June 2017)
“Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland set to install first openly gay Prime Minister” (The Independent | June 2017)
“From Enda (66) to Leo (38): Ireland set to replace oldest EU leader with youngest” (The Irish Times | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli facilities win increased visitation rights following hunger strike
- Incarcerated Palestinians were granted a second visitation day per month following a 41-day hunger strike in the lead up to Ramadan and the 50th anniversary of Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- Nearly 1,000 protesters took part in the strike, which ended following a deal struck by Israeli prison officials, the Palestinian Authority, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- More than 6,000 Palestinians are incarcerated in Israeli prisons for offenses ranging from throwing stones to murder.
“Mass Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails ends after visitation deal” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike in Israel After 40 Days” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike, Israel says it met none of their demands” (The Times of Israel | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters, via The New York Times)
Paris mayor backtracks after threatening to ban Afro-feminist festival
- Mayor Anne Hidalgo originally threatened to prohibit the Nyansapo Festival, alert police, and sue for discrimination, repeating far-right accusations that the event was “prohibited to white people” despite no such language appearing in the organizers’ materials.
- Festival organizers, part of the Mwasi Collective, planned to reserve certain events for black women, others for black people of all genders, others for women of color in general, and others still for the general populace in an attempt to provide open discussion spaces free of judgment for minority participants.
- The mayor eventually backtracked, although she and right-wing activists claimed victory for having “established a solution” as a rest of Hidalgo’s “firm intervention.”
“Paris mayor vows to halt black feminist festival, then backtracks” (France 24 | May 2017)
“Aux origines de la polémique sur le festival afroféministe Nyansapo” (Libération, in French | May 2017)
“Comme au Nyansapo Fest, pourquoi certaines associations prônent la non-mixité” (Huffington Post, in French | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via Libération)
New NGO law severely curtails capabilities of rights organizations and charities in Egypt
- President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a law limiting NGO work to developmental and social work activities and subjecting them to government regulation, with violators facing to up to five years of jail time.
- NGOs will have one year to come into compliance with the law or be dissolved.
- Human rights organizations accused the government of attempting to quell dissent, with officials long having accused NGOs of taking foreign money to destabilize national security.
“Egypt issues controversial NGO law, cracking down on dissent” (Reuters | May 2017)
“The Latest: Egypt’s president ratifies law restricting NGOs” (The Associated Press via ABC News | May 2017)
“Egypt’s NGO law aims to ‘erase civil society’” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via Reuters)
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)