Japan court issues first ruling on same-sex marriage rights
- The Sapporo District Court found the government’s failure to recognize same-sex marriage violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law.
- Six plaintiffs had also sought damages for the lack of extension of marriage rights, which the court did not grant.
- While homosexuality has been decriminalized in Japan since the late 19th century, the country remains the only Group of Seven nation that has not recognized full marriage equality.
“In landmark ruling, Japan court says it is ‘unconstitutional’ to bar same-sex marriage” (Reuters | March 2021)
“Japan court says same-sex marriage should be allowed” (The Associated Press | March 2021)
“Japan court finds same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional” (BBC News | March 2021)
Government of Denmark proposes bill further limiting residential concentration of “non-Western” people
- Reducing the allowable concentration of residents of “non-Western” descent in neighborhoods to 30% and the availability of public housing in designated neighborhoods to 40%, Interior Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek claims the measure is intended to avoid the emergence of “religious and cultural parallel societies.”
- The current version of the bill removes the controversial term “ghetto,” the legal classification for a neighborhood of more than 1,000 residents in which more than half were of “non-Western” origin and exhibiting other indicators of disadvantage (such as high unemployment or crime rates).
- Fifteen neighborhoods currently fall into that classification, where crimes carry stiffer punishments and parents are required to enroll children over the age of one in day care or face loss of public financial support.
“Denmark plans to limit ‘non-western’ residents in disadvantaged areas” (The Guardian | March 2021)
“Denmark’s ‘Ghetto List’ down drastically from last year” (The Copenhagen Post | December 2020)
“Facing Eviction, Residents Of Denmark’s ‘Ghettos’ Are Suing The Government” (NPR | August 2020)
LGBTQ+ center in Accra closes after police raid, public outrage
- A community center opened by LGBT+ Rights Ghana was temporarily shut down following a police raid and outcry and harassment from religious leaders, government officials, and anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.
- Opened in January, the center provided paralegal services, counseling, and education to the queer community in Ghana, despite homosexuality still being criminalized in the country.
- The attendance of Danish and Australian ambassadors at a fundraising event led authorities to accuse the center of being a front for European intervention and an imposition of non-Ghanaian values and beliefs.
“Anti-gay uproar after Ghana opens its first LGBT+ community centre” (Reuters | February 2021)
“Ghanaian LGBTQ+ centre closes after threats and abuse” (The Guardian | February 2021)
“Ghana security forces shut down LGBTQ office: Rights group” (Al Jazeera + Agence-France Presse | February 2021)
Azerbaijan capital hosts virtual festivals showcasing LGBTQ+ artists and filmmakers
- The two-week Queer Art Festival brought together local artists over the theme “Queer x Azerbaijan – My Body, My Identity, My Heritage,” exploring queer and feminist issues in a landscape historically inhospitable to both.
- In-Visible presents international queer films and educational workshops organized by Salaam Cinema, an independent cultural space in Baku and community for Azerbaijani artists and filmmakers.
- Locked out of the government-funded arts system, queer artists in Azerbaijan depend on a network of activist organizations as well as the support of international organizations and foreign embassies.
“Two festivals bring queer art to Azerbaijani audiences” (Eurasanet | February 2021)
Moving In—Moving On (Trans Europe Halles | 2020)
“Azerbaijani artists win fight to save a prayer house-turned-cinema from demolition” (Global Voices | July 2019)
Queer Art Festival Baku 2020
Salaam Cinema Baku
Canadian government assigns terrorist designation to far-right groups
- The Proud Boys and the Atomwaffen Group join a list of dozens of organizations—primarily Islamist groups—that the Canadian government has classified as “terrorist entities” in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
- The designation enables seizure of the assets of the group and its members, movement restrictions, and the criminalization of material support, which civil liberties groups criticize as governmental overreach and, ironically, facilitating harm against religious and racial minorities.
- In the wake of the January 6th events, Canadian Proud Boys chapters have seen their online presence evaporate, with webpages and social media platforms where they were active—such as Parler—shuttered.
“Canada declares the Proud Boys a terrorist group” (The Washington Post | February 2021)
“Terror list a ‘problematic’ way to fight white supremacists, civil society groups say” (The Canadian Press via CTV News | February 2021)
“Canadian Proud Boys in ‘panic’ as platforms go offline and government talks of terror listing” (Global News | January 2021)
Listed terrorist entities (Government of Canada)
Demands for government to deal with far-right extremism grow in Australia
- Groups such as the now-defunct United Patriot Front and the Lads Society and the current National Socialist Network have created space for White nationalists in Australia to organize both online and offline.
- All 27 currently listed terrorist organizations are extremist Islamist groups, despite the fact that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (AISO) reported that far-right terror accounted for 40% of its caseload; in the two decades since membership in a terrorist organization was criminalized in response to the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., no far-right group in Australia has been classified as a proscribed organization.
- The increasingly transnational dimensions of far-right organizing have posed a particularly difficult challenge, including the influence of the mainstreaming of far-right politics in the U.S. and fallout from the 2019 Christchurch massacre in which an Australian national killed 51 in an attack on the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre.
“How Australia’s anti-terror regime has failed to rein in far-right extremists” (The Guardian | January 2021)
“‘Peddlers of hate’: Australia’s growing legion of far-right extremists hail US Capitol invaders” (The New Daily | January 2021)
“Neo-Nazis go bush: Grampians gathering highlights rise of Australia’s far right” (The Sydney Morning Herald | January 2021)
Listed terrorist organizations (Government of Australia)
Australian Security Environment and Outlook (Australian Security Intelligence Organization)
Recent anti-Asian violence in U.S. extends pandemic trend
- Metro areas from coast to coast have seen an explosion in anti-Asian hate incidents since the beginning of the pandemic, including cities such as Oakland, San Jose, and New York.
- Between 1,800 and 2,500 incidents of anti-Asian harassment, discrimination, and violence were reported through August 2020, ranging from vandalism and verbal abuse to physical attacks and homicide.
- President Joe Biden recently signed a memorandum condemning anti-Asian bias and discrimination, pledging support from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and other executive agencies.
“String of attacks against older Asians leaves big city Chinatowns on edge” (NBC News | February 2021)
“The US Is Seeing a Massive Spike in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes” (The Cut | February 2021)
“Anti-Asian hate crime jumps 1,900 percent” (Queens Chronicle | September 2020)
Stop AAPI Hate Reports
Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States (The White House | January 2021)
U.N. document on anti-Asian incidents in the U.S. (August 2020)
Revelations of surveillance regimes in China detail wide range of repressive projects
- An investigation of a database used by the Ürümqi City Public Security Bureau and the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau reveals elements of the internment regime, the use of informants, and the monitoring of phone, financial, medical, and online records of Uyghur residents.
- The investigation follows recent revelations of the development of facial recognition technologies designed to identify ethnicity and flag individuals for authorities.
- Officials routinely detain Uyghur individuals as “preventative” security measures, often using trumped up accusations of religious extremism that effectively criminalize religious activities and other cultural practices.
“Revealed: Massive Chinese Police Database” (The Intercept | January 2021)
Patenting Uyghur Tracking – Huawei, Megvii, More (IPVM | January 2021)
“Huawei tested AI software that could recognize Uighur minorities and alert police, report says” (The Washington Post | December 2020)
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.
“Sex workers in protest march in Lilongwe: ‘We provide essential services’” (Nyasa Times | January 2021)
“Malawi sex workers protest at ‘targeted police brutality’ after Covid-19 curfew” (The Guardian | January 2021)
“Malawi sex workers to hold demos” (Malawi24 | January 2021)
Internet blockages and hunger strike mark continuing conflict between Indian farmers and government
- Tensions between farmers and the government have continued as encampments of tens of thousands, tractor parades, clashes with police, and a recently organized hunger strike have unfolded across the country, from New Delhi to Ghazipur.
- The interior ministry announced that internet services on the outskirts of New Delhi had been temporarily suspended as protesting farmers continued to flock to the capital from around the country.
- After a Sikh protester unfurled a religious flag during Republic Day clashes, pro-government media seized on the spectacle to deride the protests, and anti-Sikh sentiment has begun to disrupt—at least in part—popular support for the protesters.
- Since November, the farmers’ movement has been protesting economic reforms that they argue benefit large agribusiness firms and private buyers over smaller producers, endangering their already precarious livelihoods.
“Farmers protest: Here are the top developments of the day” (The Indian Express | January 2021)
“Indian farmers begin hunger strike amid fury against Modi” (The Associated Press | January 2021)
“In Delhi, public support for protesting farmers is giving way to anti-Sikh prejudice” (Scroll.in | January 2021)
“Farm bills: Are India’s new reforms a ‘death warrant’ for farmers?” (BBC News | September 2020)
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (PRS Legislative Research)
Israel’s hailed COVID–19 vaccination campaign continues to exclude Palestinians
- While the Israeli government has received significant praise for having vaccinated nearly a quarter of citizens, millions of Palestinians have been excluded from its vaccination campaign.
- Israeli and Palestinian officials have pointed to different international agreements that render one or the other responsible for public health, but regardless of responsibility, the starkly unequal global distribution of vaccines has significantly inhibited Palestinian authorities’ access to vaccine doses (as Israel is significantly richer and more influential).
- The Palestinian Authority is expected to receive vaccines in the coming months through COVAX, a WHO-coordinated humanitarian program.
“At UN, PA slams Israel for not giving COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians” (The Times of Israel | January 2021)
“‘Vaccination apartheid’: Gaza struggling with Covid-19 infections while Israel rolls out jab” (Middle East Eye | January 2021)
“‘Vaccine apartheid’: Palestinians left behind as Israel sprints ahead with COVID vaccinations” (euronews | January 2021)
“Vaccination rates highlight stark differences between Israelis and Palestinians — amid row over responsibility” (CNN | January 2021)
Bolsonaro referred to Hague tribunal for ecocide and crimes against humanity
- A Paris-based lawyer submitted a request for a preliminary tribunal on behalf of two prominent Indigenous leaders in Brazil, alleging environmental crimes and anti-Indigenous actions.
- Under Bolsonaro, the Indigenous affairs agency has been stripped of land-oversight powers, incursions and raids on reserved land have more than doubled in the last two years, and poor COVID–19 response has left Indigenous people, already disproportionately affected by the disease, especially vulnerable.
- On the environmental front, deforestation has accelerated to levels not seen in more than a decade, key environmental protections have been rolled back, and fines for environmental crimes have decreased by nearly 50%.
“Brazil’s Indigenous Leaders Sue President Jair Bolsonaro For Crimes Against Humanity” (The Huffington Post | January 2021)
“Jair Bolsonaro could face charges in The Hague over Amazon rainforest” (The Guardian | January 2021)
“Brazil’s collapsing health service, new COVID variant, raise Indigenous risk” (Mongabay | January 2021)
“Pushing the whole lot through”: The second year of environmental havoc under Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro (Observatório do Clima | January 2021)
Israeli forces demolish homes of Palestinian Bedouin community in one of the largest operations in years
- Israeli military forces demolished most of Humsa Al Bqai’a, a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank.
- As international attention focused on the U.S. presidential election, the Israeli operation rendered more than 70 (including 41 children) homeless.
- Despite being in violation of international law, nearly 700 Palestinian structures have been destroyed to date in 2020, resulting in homelessness for 869 Palestinians.
West Bank witnesses largest demolition in years (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs | November 2020)
“Israel razes most of Palestinian Bedouin village in West Bank on U.S. election day” (Reuters | November 2020)
“Israel Demolishes Tents, Shacks Housing 74 Palestinians, Drawing International Rebuke” (Haaretz | November 2020)
“Israel makes 41 Palestinian children homeless as world watches US election” (Middle East Eye | November 2020)
People of African descent in Guangzhou face heightened discrimination amid COVID crisis
- Afro-descendant residents of Guangzhou, home to one of the largest Black populations in China, have reportedly been evicted and rendered homeless, had businesses targeted, been profiled by police, and subject to other discriminatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As the country has reported an overall decline in COVID-19 transmission, anti-Black discrimination has been tied to increased fears about the reintroduction of the virus from foreigners driven by misinformation.
- The situation has ignited a diplomatic firestorm, with African political leaders expressing outrage on social media and the U.S. Consulate General cautioning Black Americans against travel to Guangzhou.
“Africans in Guangzhou are on edge, after many are left homeless amid rising xenophobia as China fights a second wave of coronavirus” (CNN | April 2020)
“How foreigners, especially black people, became unwelcome in parts of China amid COVID crisis” (ABC News | April 2020)
“China fails to stop racism against Africans over Covid-19” (The Guardian | April 2020)