For a number of years Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been seeking to gather political support for the idea of amending the Japanese constitution. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is a commanding position in the Diet with significant majorities in both the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives, but the process of constitutional amendment requires, in the first instance, a two-third majority in both Houses. Although the LDP has the numbers to pass a bill mandating a constitutional change, such a vote would be on a knife-edge in the House of Representatives and as such Abe will seek to get the support of other parties.
The Chinese government have correctly been praised from people around the world for its rapid expansion of renewable energy capacity, especially in regards to solar power. However increasing the amount of electricity generated from sustainable sources is not enough to slow down the impacts of climate change and reduce pollution. One of the other aspects of this issue is afforestation as this reduces the aggregate amount of carbon dioxide filtered out of the atmosphere. Thankfully it appears that China will act on this issue as well because the government has announced that it will plant enough trees to cover an area around the size of the Republic of Ireland.
The Indian Supreme Court is to announce the result of its review of Section 377 of the Penal Code which criminalises homosexual sex. The announcement of the Court will be made no later than October 2018. In early 2016 the Court announced that they would be renewing the provision, giving hope to LGBT activists that the infamous section, a hangover from British colonial rule, would be struck down. In August 2017 the Court ruled that the right to privacy was “intrinsic” and “fundamental” which galvanised the LGBT rights movement in India. India is more tolerant of LGBT people than in other parts of Asia but it is by no means a country that is welcoming to sexual and gender minorities.
In many ways 2018 could be a titanic year for LGBT rights and knowing where advances could be made can be a cause for spurring on activists on the ground and increasing the international attention paid to these struggles. In the first article on this subject, I looked at four countries that could see significant progress made in the coming year. These four were examples of nation-states where I would be actively surprised if something substantial didn’t happen in the next 12 months. The four countries at the focus of this article are still noteworthy, but would require a bigger push by campaigners and activists. This distinction in no way means that the follow countries are out of reach in 2018 as anti-LGBT attitudes are softening and the prospects for equality have never been better. In each instance there is either increasing public support for LGBT equality but an absence of political or new policy-makers are coming to the fore that would be sympathetic to a pro-equality agenda. Sustained international pressure could both force legislators into action and provide much needed solidarity to those activists on the ground. Continue reading →
Despite some alarming trends of world politics in the last year or so, such as ongoing religious extremism and the rise of the far-right, there is some cause of optimism going into the next 12 months. The LGBT rights movement around the world went from strength to strength in 2017 and 2018 has the potential to be another landmark year in the struggle for liberation. Activists across the globe have been agitating for a number of years and the fruits of their labour are close to be being realised in the weeks and months ahead. But what is especially noteworthy about the political contexts of their potential success is that many are in less developed countries and/or are quite quite socially conservative in other areas. 2018 could therefore be the year when social conservatives in all corners of the world are markedly less hostile to LGBT people. In this first article, I’ll be looking at countries where I believe the cause of equality is almost certain to gain ground.
The United Nations General Assembly has convened an emergency session in New York to, among other things, vote on a motion tabled by Yemen and Egypt to condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The result was expected to be overwhelming and so it was. The vote was 128 in favour, 9 in opposition and 35 abstentions. The 9 opposed were Guatemala, Israel, Nauru, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Togo, Honduras and the US. Countries that abstained included Argentina, Australia, Canada, Mexico and Poland. The vote matches the overwhelming vote of the UN Security Council on Monday that was vetoed by the United States. The fallout will be one to watch.
In September the Kurdish people held a peaceful vote on independence and the result was an overwhelming majority in favour of creating a new nation-state. The final vote was 92.7 in favour of secession and 7.3% opposed. The independence vote was not legally permitted by the Iraqi government but due to the country’s current security situation Baghdad was unable to prevent the vote from taking place. Since this vote an economic blockade has been imposed by Iran and Turkey and flights into Kurdistan have been diverted to other parts of Iraq. Amid these tensions the government in Erbil has said that they are seeking to negotiate with Baghdad about Kurdistan’s future, and they have reiterated this stance in the face of continued pressure.