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.
Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring and has so far been the only affected country not to crush those demanding change, reverted back to authoritarian government, or become a failed state. The values of human rights, equality before the law and democratic elections were the promise of the Arab Spring and whilst human rights and democratic elections have been enshrined in the country’s new constitution, equal treatment for different groups of people has been harder to come by. However this appears to be changing for the better.
In the never-ending scramble of resources, governments around the world are turning over every stone so that demand and be satisfied. This demand is driving governments and corporations to do irreversible damage to our planet but the people that are increasingly on the front-line are indigenous populations. In the United States it was the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock who loudly opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline. In Australia aboriginal communities have protested attempts by the both the government and private companies to mine their lands for precious resources including uranium. It appears that this trend is also affecting the indigenous people of Peru and they need people to stand up to support their cause.
Tunisia is often portrayed as the poster-child of the Arab Spring as the revolution was peaceful and a relatively open democracy has been formed by the Tunisian people. As with many countries in North Africa, a key problem that has dogged their societies has been how women have been treated by regressively-minded citizens and conservative figures of authority. However a democracy can only truly function if all members in that society are free to express themselves without fear of repercussions. This requires a raft of civil liberties that are inalienable and defended by the judiciary and so long as women are subject to coercion and prejudice, Tunisia will not represent the views of all its citizens. Thankfully action has been taken.
Nigeria is a significant power in West Africa and what happens in the country is noted by people in other parts of the region, especially when it comes to Nigerian culture. But an area where Nigeria is similar to other parts of Africa is in its society’s anti-LGBT attitudes. Christian and Islamic conservatism in Nigeria has largely been peddled because of fundamentalists traveling to the country to reinforce existing anti-LGBT views with theological justifications. In Nigeria it is socially acceptable to persecute LGBT people and this is illustrated by the news coming out of Lagos state this week when 42 men were arrested for having homosexual sex.