The LGBTQ+ news round-up: 27 March 2016

From Myanmar to North Carolina, Tom Ana returns for the second global round-up of LGBTQ+ news stories from the past seven days.

Australian campaigners protested against government plans to cut the country’s safe-schools programme. The project currently runs in schools across the country and helps teach a number of anti-bullying and acceptance based topics, but has been attacked as inappropriate for children by conservative elements of the Australian government.

American campaigners have called for Hollywood studios and national corporations to boycott the state of Georgia if a proposed anti-gay law is passed. Leading LGBTQ+ group the Human Rights Campaign called on executives and filmmakers to ‘abandon Georgia’ in response to a so-called ‘religious freedoms’ act, which could allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against sexual minorities on the grounds of personal choice.

Criticism from Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, of Ghana’s discriminatory anti-gay laws is believed to have led to a backlash against the country’s local LGBTQ+ community. Sturgeon spoke last week against Ghanaian President John Mahama’s stance on homosexuality after calls for her to take action were raised during an official visit by the head of state.

The World Psychiatric Association has condemned the practice of so-called conversion therapies, branding them as harmful and immoral. The group, who are the largest collection of professional psychology professionals in the world, called upon world leaders to ban the practice, which they view as unscientific and potentially dangerous to young LGBTQ+ individuals.

Scientists at CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider, have this week reported ongoing incidents of homophobic bullying within the leading scientific institute. Members of LGBT CERN claim that posters for the group were defaced and that several incidents of anti-queer behaviour have been witnessed. In response to the claims, CERN stated that disciplinary action and an investigation were currently underway.

A report published by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network has claimed that Irish LGBTQ+ youths are at a significantly higher risk of depression and self harm than their straight peers. The report states that over half of 14 to 18-year-olds surveyed had self-harmed while at least 70% had considered suicide.

LGBTQ+ campaigners in Glasgow blockaded a Home Office building in protest against the planned deportation of Namibian asylum-seeker Beverly Kanjii and her teenage son. Kanjii, who faces violent prosecution in her native country, is a member of the local group LGBT Unity and was arrested in a raid earlier this week. Kanjii has lived in Scotland for over three years and also has a partner in the city.

In Dakar, Senegal, angry protestors attacked a university building in what has been described as a ‘lynch mob’ targeted towards an unknown young man believed to be gay. The group damaged and set fire to several buildings at the Cheikh Anita Diop University after a student reportedly made sexual advances towards another man in a dressing room. The event marks the seventh time anti-gay violence has been seen at the university in recent years.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has branded some human rights as ‘heresy’. Although no specific rights were mentioned, the Patriarch called upon Orthodox Christians to reject laws that contradicted ‘God’s word’. Patriarch Kirill, considered the most-senior figure in Orthodox Christianity, has previously been a vocal advocate for homophobic and transphobic discrimination.

Antarctica has been named as the world’s first and only ‘LGBT-friendly continent’ by a group of American campaigners. Planting Peace, who previously gained fame for their attack against the Westboro Baptist Church, visited the continent to raise awareness of the ongoing situation for LGBTQ+ rights across the globe.

Austrian families and campaigners have joined together to fight their country’s same-sex marriage ban. Protests were held at a high court hearing by local LGBTQ+ rights group Rechtskomitee Lambda to pressure the government into addressing the situation. After legislative changes in 2015, Austria is now the only country in the world to allow same-sex adoption that does not have full marriage equality.

In Myanmar, the third annual ‘And Proud’ photo competition opened for submissions. The competition is a part of the ‘And Proud’ festival which will be held on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17. The local event hopes to encourage local people to look at LGBTQ+ individuals in a new light.

Members of Jerusalem’s Jewish LGBTQ+ community held a pro-equality Purim celebration this Thursday. The annual event is marked by Jews during the spring and was this year attended by families and individuals from various Israeli LGBTQ+ groups.

In the United States, the North Carolina state Legislature passed a pro-discrimination law that prevents local authorities from extending legal protection to LGBTQ+ individuals. Many Americans, as well as large businesses and companies, greeted the laws with widespread outrage. Under the new legislation, to be implemented in April, attempts to pass anti-discrimination laws on sexual orientation or gender identity will be automatically blocked at the state level.

A Zimbabwean asylum seeker in the UK has reported that she was asked to ‘prove’ her sexuality by sharing naked images of herself with immigration authorities. Skhumbuzo Khumalo fled her home country in 2014 in fear of violent persecution. Khumalo’s ordeal was shared during an online interview for the charity, Fixers.

The Armenian Ministry of Health has denied claims that an LGBTQ+ activist was mistreated by hospital staff following a homophobic attack in February. According to officials, there was not enough evidence to support claims that the unnamed individual was mocked and assaulted after seeking treatment following an assault on members of local campaign group, Pink Armenia. Mamikon Hovsepyan, the group’s director, told journalists that he believed the Ministry’s actions were an attempt to cover-up incidents of homophobia within the country.

The American Department of Justice has passed new guidelines that prohibit trans prisoners from being assigned living arrangements based on their ‘birth anatomy’. The new guidelines now enforce prisons and other areas of the justice system to assign placement for prisoners by their gender identity. The changes will be brought into practice later this year in order to tackle violence towards trans prisoners within the American prison system.

Leaders of Malawi’s Catholic Church have called upon their government to resume criminal prosecution for homosexuals during an Episcopal Conference held earlier this week. Bishops of the Church signed an open letter addressed to the government that denounced the decriminalistion of individuals who committed ‘homosexual acts’. Following increased pressure to reform human rights, the Malawian government ended the prosecution of gay men in 2015 and is currently taking steps to fully legalise same-sex relationships. The decision has angered many conservative Malawians and was denounced as bowing to foreign pressure by the local Catholic Church.

Follow Tom on Twitter (@tom_ana_)



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