2011 International LGBT Roundup: Backlash and Repression

I’m rounding up the year in a series of posts, in which no doubt I’ve missed something, so please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments!

Backlash and repression

A whole new country, South Sudan, was born with a sodomy law and exclusion of LGBT from rights supposedly promised to ‘all.’

Turkish LGBT groups suffer repeated attempts to legally shut them down and to block their websites.

The increasingly visible LGBT organizing in Malaysia suffered a backlash, including law change proposals in two states and the banning of events.

An attempt to use gay rights as a ‘wedge’ issue failed in Zambia as the opposition leader Michael Sata was elected President. Gay rights was also used as a ‘wedge’ in Zimbabwe, most awfully to divide the Anglican Church leading to Church resources like orphanages closing and children going hungry.

Malawi criminalized lesbians. This was an issue, but a minor issue, in a subsequent aid reduction by the country’s biggest donor, the UK. It was mainly the Malawian government’s other walk-backs on human rights and a diplomatic spat which caused the UK’s change of approach on aid, but it was played up by them as a wedge issue against the opposition with protests against the state of the economy and human rights abuses called ‘gay rallies’ in state media.

The so-called ‘Kill the Gays’ bill failed to pass at the end of Uganda’s parliament in May, probably more by luck than design. It has been reintroduced into the current parliament. The bill provoked the biggest international petition drive for LGBT rights ever, with well over two million people supporting different efforts. Activists pleaded for such support to be offered in the context of the general human rights problems in the country, but most solidarity work continued to single out the gay issue from the bigger crisis. Protests against the bill raised, again, the use of development aid redirection from governments and other government-to-government ‘leverage’ by Western countries in front of and behind the scenes. The atmosphere generated by the bill led to increased government and societal repression of Ugandan LGBT, highlighted by the murder of leader David Kato in January. Three brave Ugandan activists won international human rights awards, including one described as the most important after the Nobel Peace Prize.

There were a series of arrests of gays in Cameroon, followed by convictions including some based solely on people’s appearance, not their acts. There was violent rhetoric, organized hunts for gay people using entrapment and the government ended the year proposing a ‘tightening’ of the anti-gay law.

Anti-gay rhetoric in Ghana’s media and agitation by religious leaders over the past few years produced a proposed witch-hunt by a state leader – and subsequent international attention. In the ensuing fallout, local human rights and civil society groups failed to defend LGBT people. The year ended with proposals in parliament for further criminalization of gay people.

Nigeria reintroduced anti-gay legislation which was then extended in the parliament to attack any pro-LGBT human rights organizing, potentially fatally undermining HIV/Aids work, among other impacts.

There were sporadic reports of death sentences for homosexual offenses in Iran but little follow-up on these reports by either media, human rights or LGBT groups due, in part, to issues with verification and dangers to sources in Iran.

Honduras finally acted on the large number of unsolved murders of LGBT people in that country, after US prompting. The rate of murders of LGBT elsewhere in Latin America — particularly in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela — drew little international attention. As did the failure of the international community to support devastated local LGBT in Haiti following the earthquake, though the UN finally pledged a response.

Anti-gay laws were passed or proposed in Russia and in Ukraine. Pro-gay demonstrations in Russia, and in Belarus, were banned and violently broken up — whilst vicious anti-gay ones were permitted, though Russians finally won a European Court of Human Rights ruling that the ban on Moscow’s gay pride march was illegal.

There were reports of arrests of gay men in Tanzania, Kurdish Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The Serbian gay pride march was banned, reportedly for political reasons. The gay pride march in Split, Croatia was attacked, video of which ensured worldwide attention but in the capital, Zagreb, pride went ahead with no problems — and little attention. In Montenegro, the government publicly backed LGBT rights.

The fake ‘Syrian lesbian blogger’ scandal in June created a huge international storm, outraging real activists participating in the revolution there. Local LGBT in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region report mixed feelings about the potential outcomes of the ‘Arab Spring’ for them — in Syria, gays are reportedly divided on participation in that country’s revolt. The devastating impact of the Iraq war on LGBT continued to be felt. A new project documented those who have fled to Jordan, but the year went by with almost no media attention to these ‘forgotten people.’

A criminalization attempt in the DRC (Congo) parliament was started then put on hold.

The UK’s foreign aid policy relationship to LGBT human rights became the focus of a major backlash following an anti-aid story in a right-wing British newspaper, particularly in Africa and including from some LGBT activists. In a messy PR foul up, the UK was forced to clarify it wasn’t planning to remove aid but redirect it.

The so-called ‘curing’ of LGBT people continued to spread worldwide from its US origins with a backlash in Ecuador leading to closure of some ‘clinics’ and the discovery of supposed ‘conversion therapy’ being paid for by Hong Kong’s government. In the US itself, ‘cure the gay’ drew both ridicule and outrage, the latter in particular highlighted by a media expose about the suicide of some gay people forced when they were children to go through it and the discovery that a Republican presidential candidate’s camp husband was selling ‘conversion’ therapy.

Related stories:

Obama Admin to ‘Leverage’ Foreign Aid for LGBT Rights

3 International LGBT Causes to Support at Christmas

‘Ex-Gay’ Myth Hits Caribbean: Newspaper Ad Declares “Truth” About Gays

Image via Wikipedia: Manifestação contra Homofobia, Brasilia


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogersabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogersabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Tom Pearce
Tom Pearce6 years ago

Lois E. Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

In other words its none of your business who loves who and what they do together! Oh by the way! Do you want to explain what you mean by degrading lifestyle?

peggy p.
peggy p6 years ago

i am not hetero, homo, or bi; i am human and of the ALMIGHTY. when i read of people or governments feeling the need to condem, indeed, kill, anyone who is "different", i have big news folks--"different" is all of us..yet by GRACE we are the same. if the need is felt to go forth and spew the foul word of condemnation, please feel most free...to serial killers, abusers, and the like. anyone who feels their doctrine insists he/she bombast another for their general lifestyle, there is sorry news for you....if heaven were full of the saintly, none of us would probably get there. .."Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion--several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven....The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste." mark twain (sc)
- "The Lowest Animal"

Dawn F.
Dawn F6 years ago

Why does it bother anyone who another person loves? I just don't get how it seems to effect them... LGBT people are NOT child molesters... So why does anyone have the right to tell anyone who they may LOVE?

Everyone just should keep their ignorant opinions to themselves. Did't their mothers teach them - "If you have nothing nice to say, SAY NOTHING AT ALL" . Such a waste of energy. HATE is taught. Prejudice accomplishes nothing. Ignorance is intolerable.

LGBT= love. Judgement= HATE. Why would you care who someone else sleeps with ?

Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago

Lois E., never in my life have I read such an intolerant, bigoted rambling. First off, the bible says many things and another one of those is "judge not lest he be judged". The problem is people of faith use their religion to justify their hatred and bigotry of those they declare to be sinners. Guess what? All of us are sinners in some shape form or fashion, none of us are perfect, but many Christians walk around with their noses in the air and sure act like it. It's not up to anyone to pass judgement on anybody else since we are all mere mortals and all the same in the eyes of God. Who are you to decide that you're automatically right and better than others just because you're passionate about your religious beliefs? Gay people do not try to push their lifestyles on anybody, they just want the same rights and considerations that are given to any other human being. They know people disagree with their sexual preference but they're against the way that disagreement is manifested (discrimination, violence, hate crimes, homophobic legislation, etc.) They are not demanding anybody accept their lifestyle, but accept them as equals, as living, breathing, thinking, feeling, multi-dimensional human beings and to not discriminate against them. Why is that so hard to understand?

Jane H.
Jane H6 years ago

The Gay Liberation Movement seems to be world wide now and that is a good thing.....US took the lead and is making gains despite religiousness because it is the truth that gay people are just people and not the boogyman.

Lois Edwards
Lois E6 years ago

Warren: "Homophobia is the same as racism and should be opposed as such."

Homophobia? racism? Really?! That is just a silly word the homosexuals made up to make Christians, and others who disapprove with their lifestyle, look bad, and label them as prejudice. There is no such word!

Homosexuals don't like those who disagree with their lifestyle because we stand for what is right, and the practice of the homosexual lifestyle is "an enormous sin" according to God's Word, the Bible.

Christians are not against homosexuals, but against their degrading lifestyle, and their agenda to push their lifestyle at our children in public schools, plus a dozen other things they are doing to push their agenda in our faces.

They demand that we accept their lifestyle as acceptable, honest, and good, but the Holy Bible tells us it is anything but! (forgive the pun lol). You know what they say the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Mandi A.
Amanda A6 years ago


Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

May 2012 be better!