The ICJ hosted live interviews with human rights defenders from Asia, Africa and Latin America to mark Pride Month, which is celebrated during the month of June in various parts of the world. The interviews took place from 22 June to 3 July 2020.
In total, 13 human rights defenders from 11 countries spanning three continents, who are working to uphold the human rights of of lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) individuals, were interviewed.
The interviews discussed existing legal systems that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) and the impacts of COVID-19 on existing activism, .
The interviews aimed to provide quick snapshots of different country and regional contexts and a platform for LGBT activist voices on the varied and devastating impacts of COVID-19 on LGBT people.
Debunking cultural myths
In many countries around the world where people are criminalized or stigmatized as a result of harmful steretypes and prejudice on the grounds of their real or imputed SOGIE, public discourse tend to cast LGBT relationships and identities as threats to culture, religion or beliefs and the future of the nation. These interviews endeavoured to interrogate and debunk cultural and regional myths surrounding SOGIE identities as ‘Western’ constructs.
In a response to homosexuality being said to be ‘unAfrican’, Kutlwano Pearl Magashula, executive officer for program functions at the Other Foundation from Botswana, said:
“Utterances that suggest that homosexuality is unAfrican enforce stigma and violence and serve to carve deep roots in the consciousness of people around the world that breed discrimination and treating people differently.”
Devastating impacts of COVID-19 on LGBT people
Important impacts of COVID-19 on LGBT people were highlighted by different speakers, ranging from a loss of livelihood, vulnerability to violence at home and in public spaces, as well as challenges in accessing healthcare.
“There is violence against transgender women sex workers. The police arrest them, yell at them and shoot at them with rubber bullets. This is a recent episode here in Colombia and it is terrible. If they don’t work, they don’t have money to buy food and pay the rent. It is a difficult scenario,” Dejusticia researcher Santiago Carvajal Casas from Columbia said.
Pre-existing inequalities and landmark wins
Personal experiences of ‘life after’ important wins from around the world were shared. Some important gains from the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relationships in Botswana and India, as well as the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan must be celebrated. However, many of these wins may remain illusory for people who have been discriminated against on the basis of class, caste and other status inequality, or are without social support, especially in the face of COVID-19.
“What we really need is social protection, we need a safety-net for all those who are close to the poverty line and who are likely to go below the poverty line because of disasters like the COVID-19 epidemic or catastrophic out of pocket healthcare expenditures. We definitely need accessible healthcare for everyone and livelihood.” – Dr. L Ramakrishnan, public health professional and Vice-President of SAATHII, India
Watch the Facebook lives below:
Kutlwano Pearl Magashula, Executive Officer for Program Functions at the Other Foundation, on the board of LEGABIBO as the vice-chairperson and co-founder of the autonomous feminist collective Black Queer DocX (Botswana)
Busisiwe Deyi, Commissioner of CGE/ Lecturer of Jurisprudence (South Africa)
Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, lawyer activist and podcaster (South Africa)
Lini Zurlia, advocacy officer at ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASEAN/Indonesia)
Yee Shan, member of Diversity Malaysia (Malaysia)
Sirasak Chaited, human rights campaigner, LGBT+ and sex worker rights activist (Thailand)
Santiago Carvajal Casas, Dejusticia researcher (Colombia)
Sih-Cheng (Sean) Du, Director of Policy Advocacy at Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ+) Hotline Association (Taiwan)
Neeli Rana, transgender activist (Pakistan)
Riska Carolina, The Indonesian Plan Parenthood Association (IPPA) member (Indonesia)
Hla Myat Tun, Deputy Director from Colors Rainbow and Co-Director at &PROUD (Myanmar)
Dr. L Ramakrishnan, Vice President Saathii, activist, public health professional (India)
Nigel Mpemba Patel, Associate editor at the South African Journal on Human Rights and research consultant at ILGA World (Malawi)
Cover photo by Violaine Biex-Colors Rainbow, Myanmar.NewsWeb stories