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 Western media there has been justifiable outrage over the reports of concentration camps being established in Chechnya. Naturally such a move should be condemned and pressure need to be put on the Russian government to either stop the persecution or permit the safe passage of those under threat out of Chechnya. However, this doesn’t require any substantive political analysis as even those who do not especially care about LGBT rights would oppose the establishment of concentration camps. The subject of this piece is concerning the discourse around this news story, particularly the view that seeks to link this new development with Chechnya’s status as a Muslim-majority area.
London has been rocked by a terrorist incident that took place close to the Palace of Westminster. The Metropolitan Police have closed the roads surrounding of the Palace and are treating the situation as the scene of two terrorist incidents. The House of Commons was sitting at the time and Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle suspended the session and ordered that the Commons Chamber was locked down. Prime Minister Theresa May was evacuated and Downing Street later confirmed that she was unharmed. The session of the Scottish Parliament has also been suspended following the news out of London.
Malaysia has decided to adopt incredibly antiquated and oppressive views to sexual minorities by endorsing gay conversion therapy. Federal authorities claimed in a video that a person’s sexual orientation can be ‘cured’. Ironically, the video in question was an attempt by the Malaysian government to prevent people in the country’s Muslim communities to be hostile towards LGBT people. Indeed, the video says at one point: “the fact is, there are those among Muslims that have non-heterosexual orientation but remain steadfast on the path of Islam”. The video may have been intended to reduce discrimination towards the LGBT community, but the language used reveals just how far equality campaigners have yet to go.
According to current opinion polls, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) will be the largest party in the House of Representatives. However, even if the opinion polls hold steady and the PVV are the largest party, I remain firm in my conviction that Geert Wilders will not be the next Dutch prime minister. In a piece about that very subject, I argued that the current political culture of the Netherlands is such that cooperation between the PVV and mainstream parties would be unthinkable. It appears that Wilders has himself acknowledged that I was correct and the only way for him to become the PM would be to get the support of other parties. These advances must be rejected.
One of the first things that Donald Trump did after being inaugurated as US President was sign an Executive Order banning the migration of people from seven Muslim-majority countries, namely Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. As well as revealing a massive conflict of interest between Trump’s business interests and US foreign policy, the ban violated the US Constitution. However, it’s not just me who is saying it. A federal judge in Seattle has issued a nation-wide halt on the ban, deeming the measure unconstitutional, and this move will provide temporary relief for people across the world. The political optics of this situation are important to recognise and celebrate so people can successfully resist Trump’s agenda.
When talking about the forefront of the struggle for LGBT equality, many people will think about the horrific treatment of LGBT people in the Middle East. This is perception is warranted, as in many countries in the region face social stigmatisation and legal persecution. However news out of the Middle East in the last 24 hours offers a glimmer of hope. A judge in Lebanon has ruled that homosexual acts are not punishable under the Lebanese legal system. This is an important step forward for Lebanon and the Middle East in a number of different ways.