Sex workers protest social restrictions and police violence in Malawi capital
The Female Sex Worker Association (FSWA) took to the streets of Lilongwe, petitioning the government to address police brutality and the economic effects of new COVID prevention measures.
Protesters claim police have targeted sex workers in the wake of new restrictions on nightlife and socializing, showing up at their homes and physically assaulting them.
As COVID cases and deaths in the country have spiked in the new year, the FSWA has argued that the unequal treatment of social activities has endangered their already fragile livelihoods and access to critical health resources.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia
Commemorating the day when homosexuality was de-pathologized by the World Health Organization in 1990, the 13th-annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) stands as an occasion for global mobilization towards LGBT visibility and security. The day, like many global celebrations, is also one many governments choose to speak out on global human rights and minority security, announcing initiatives to support their LGBT citizens and international projects.
Even today, ongoing disagreements between nations over LGBT rights have prompted diplomatic rows and roadblocks to international cooperation, including the recent objection of 51 Muslim countries to the participation of LGBT groups in a U.N. AIDS forum in June. The push to extinguish homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at all geographic levels remains important to the global mobility of LGBT people worldwide.
LGBT Nigerians have continued wrestling with conflicting legal messages, with the recent passage of the landmark HIV Anti-Discrimination Act doing little to undo the effects of a 2014 anti-homosexuality law.
The Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organized events for IDAHOT in Bulawayo, focusing on mental health as ongoing social and healthcare difficulties plague the community.
Though homosexuality remains criminalized in Tunisia, activists have achieved increased visibility and pushed for legal reform amidst ongoing discrimination.
Israel reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT Israelis, announcing funding to support an emergency shelter for LGBT youth and a hostel for trans people who have recently undergone gender confirmation surgery.
Days before IDAHOT, activists staged a sit-in outside of a Beirut gendarmerie, protesting Lebanon‘s anti-homosexuality legal holdovers from French occupation. Similarly, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) issued an appeal to the Lebanese government to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing for recognition of homosexuality’s presence within the natural variation of human sexuality.
Across Latin America, important gains in same-sex partnership and family rights and gender identity healthcare and legal protections have heartened LGBT Latin Americans, but the region continues to have some of the highest reported rates of violence against the LGBT community in the world.
LGBT organizations held cultural and political events throughout Argentina to highlight conditions facing the Argentine LGBT community, call for an anti-discrimination law, and press for federal recognition of the International Day Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, as the day is known.
Cuba celebrated the day fresh off Pride events in Havana, where Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raúl Castro, led a parade of thousands through the city streets.
In China, a study conducted by the U.N. Development Programme, Peking University, and the Beijing LGBT Center, the largest of its kind to date, was released revealing that only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are fully out at school and work, but also showed encouraging levels of acceptance of LGBTI people among China’s youth. The head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission expressed support for anti-discrimination legislation at IDAHOT festivities in the city.
In Fiji, former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined festivities at the French Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the island’s LGBTQI community.
A tug-of-war over LGBT rights between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-diversity moderates in Indonesia has led to mixed messages about LGBT security in the nation, spurring anti-discrimination protests.
A recent Human Rights Watch report on anti-LGBT bullying in Japan served as a reminder of the purpose of the day, highlighting rampant anti-LGBT sentiment even as the government has initiated broad efforts to combat bullying in schools.
The divergent prospects for LGBTI people across Europe, from Western Europe’s distinctive commitment to the protection of gender diversity to ongoing persecution in the East, was further confirmed through a UNESCO report highlighting anti-LGBT violence in schools released as global education ministers met in Paris.
In Gibraltar, organizers canceled event plans in support of action on marriage equality legislation currently under consideration, arguing that holding a rally in front of the Parliament as uncertainty prevails would undermine pressure on MPs.
Kosovo‘s first Pride march brought out hundreds from the LGBT community to Pristina, including the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.
Organizations in Luxembourg planned a silent march to call attention to the plight of LGBTI individuals worldwide and call for increased international protections (including asylum).
Organizers in Serbia took the day to announce the date of this year’s Pride parade (September 18) and address concerns of homophobia as right-wing parliamentary representation has increased.
After advocates scrapped plans for IDAHOT activities in Georgia due to security concerns, a group of activists were arrested for painting pro-LGBT graffiti on administrative buildings. A “Family Day” protest against LGBT rights and visibility, the third such anti-LGBT demonstration, brought together members of Georgia’s conservative Orthodox community and international religious groups.
In the U.K., London’s new mayor promised to make the city a more just place for its LGBT residents as a rainbow flag flew over the Mayor’s Office.
The Hunted Albinism Community of East and Southern Africa
People with albinism, a condition affecting body pigmentation and sunlight sensitivity, have faced ongoing persecution throughout East and Southern Africa, attacked and trafficked by those who believe their body parts hold magical powers. With albinism found to occur more frequently in certain African regions like East Africa than elsewhere in the world, the higher visibility has led to increased discrimination and prejudice. Children in particular have faced heightened vulnerability to kidnapping and violence, leading some families and governments to respond by segregating children with albinism into Temporary Holding Centers (THCs).
Recent years have seen increased attention to the insecurity of the albinism community in countries like Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania. Police have worked to crack down on kidnapping and murders while civil organizations have cropped up to provide education, resources, and support to the community. Nevertheless, ongoing black markets and trafficking networks have endangered the community in ways observers worry may be irreversible without aggressive government and community interventions.
Mozambicans flee to Malawi as political violence spreads in their country
Since December, more than 11,500 have fled Mozambique to Malawi as RENAMO, Mozambique’s major opposition party, clashed with the ruling FRELIMO government.
Congested conditions have pushed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to look at relocation options for the Mozambican refugees, but the Malawi and Mozambique governments have clashed over refugee support.
RENAMO’s militarization has threatened to reignite violent conflict in Mozambique, which languished under a civil war from 1977 to 1992.
Malawi program promotes girls’ sexual and reproductive rights by stepping up health education
The Unite for Body Rights program was launched as a coalition of sexual rights organizations under the Center for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education in three districts (Dedza, Mangochi, and Chikhwawa).
Promoting family planning, re-enrollment for dropouts, and the reporting of sexual and domestic abuse, the program works to combat child marriage and educational disengagement among girls.
Thousands of peer educators along with teachers, church leaders, and health service providers have been targeted and trained in the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive education, with gains tentatively seen in implemented districts.