equality

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Turkish court refuses to ban Gay rights groups

"Homosexuals are free to found associations like all other people." Judge Mursel Ermis

ANKARA (AFP) A Turkish court Friday rejected a demand to ban a group campaigning for gay rights, marking another victory for the fledgling movement in the mainly Muslim country, Anatolia new agency reported.

"Homosexuals are free to found associations like all other people," judge Mursel Ermis said as he announced the ruling at a court in the western city of Izmir, Anatolia reported.

The dissolution of the association, Siyah Pembe Ucgen (Black Pink Triangle), was sought by the Izmir governor's office on grounds its statute was in breach of "Turkish family structure and general morality."

Turkey's two leading homosexual groups have been targeted in similar cases initiated by government authorities.

Last year, the Appeals Court quashed a ruling to dissolve Lambda Istanbul, and in 2005 prosecutors threw out an application to outlaw the Ankara-based KAOS-GL.

Same-sex relationships have never been criminalized in EU-hopeful Turkey as elsewhere in the Muslim world, but there are no laws protecting homosexual rights and prejudice against gays and lesbians remains strong in daily life.

Family affairs minister Selma Aliye Kavaf sparked a wave of criticism in March when she described homosexuality as a "biological disorder, a disease" that should be cured.

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Father Knows Best in Banning the Burqa?

Belgium stands to become the first nation to ban the wearing of the burqa and niqab -- a head-to-toe covering and a facial scarf, respectively --at the end of this month.  From

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    Call for applications to the CSBR Sexuality Institute

    Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR)

    III. CSBR Sexuality Institute 2010

    18-25 September 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia

    ***Deadline for Applications: May 21, 2010***

    The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) is pleased to announce the 3rd CSBR Sexuality Institute 2010 to be held between September 18th and 25th 2010 in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Designed as a comprehensive curriculum on sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and rights with an in depth discussion on the linkages between research and practice, the CSBR Sexuality Institute offers a holistic interdisciplinary program combining history, theory, research and politics of sexuality with applications of advocacy, and fieldwork.
     
    The CSBR Sexuality Institute brings together leading leading sexual and reproductive rights activists, academics and researchers. Held previously in Malaysia (2008) and Turkey (2009) with participants from 19 countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the institutes include lectures, group work, roundtables, panels, site visits and film screenings, as well as a methodology to engage participants’ own experiences around sexuality.

    Background

    “I would summarize the experience I had at the CSBR Institute in one word - that is: LIBERATING. The novelty of this [CSBR’s] discourse in our socio-cultural context is certainly one important aspect, but more importantly, the silence that our society harbors around sexuality has become so “normal” that we often forget how integral it is to our existence and well-being.”  (Mahrukh Mouhiddin, BRAC University – Bangladesh, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2008).
     
    “In one sentence; the Institute has shown me that sexuality is not only about problems, ill-being and repercussion; it is also about pleasure, happiness, well being and CHANGE” (Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls – Pakistan, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2009).

    The realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights is an integral part of gender equality, development and social justice. However, sexuality continues to be a contested site of political struggles both in Muslim societies and across the globe. Increasing global militarism, conservatism, and nationalism over the last decades provoked a serious backlash on sexual and reproductive health and rights, both at national and global levels. Given the current polarizations, it is more pertinent than ever to strengthen critical insight, further research, enhance knowledge and capacity on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and build an inclusive and affirmative discourse on sexuality.
     
    Aim

    In the above mentioned context, the aims of the CSBR Sexuality Institute are:

    To further knowledge on the multi-dimensional and intersecting aspects of sexuality, health and rights;

    To develop a deeper theoretical understanding of sexuality through a historical overview and analysis of current debates and research at the global level;

    To  provide a comprehensive and holistic understanding of sexuality in Muslim societies through a discussion of the history, legal frameworks, research, and current discourses;

    To enhance participants’ sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy skills on national and international levels;

    To increase participants’ capacity as leading advocates, practitioners and researchers on sexuality issues at national, regional and international levels.

    “In face of the rise of the so called fundamentalism or hard line Islamic revivalism, the Institute gave me the basic paradigm to see and analyze how we take position in order to challange the repression.” (Dwi Ayu, Komnas Perempuan – Indonesia, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2008).

    “I have never been to anything this exhaustive and detailed. It shed light on the intersections between religion, sexuality, health, the terminology and bodily rights. I learned more about the international arena and how to use it to advance your case. It was very instrumental for me both at the personal and professional level, basically shaping the way I will address my work.”  (Joelle Hatem, MEEM – Lebanon, CSBR Sexuality Institute 2009).

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    Chilean Custody Decision Violated Lesbian Judge's Rights

    By Daniela Estrada

    SANTIAGO, Apr 9, 2010 (IPS) - The attorneys representing Chilean Judge Karen Atala, a lesbian who brought her case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights claiming discrimination in the loss of custody of her three daughters, accused the Chilean state of sending out "unequivocal" signals of a lack of will to implement the regional body's recommendations.

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a Washington-based Organisation of American States (OAS) body, found that "the Chilean state violated Karen Atala's right to live free from discrimination," and issued recommendations.

    But Supreme Court chief magistrate Milton Juica said Thursday that he would not join the working group proposed by the government to comply with the suggestions issued in February.

    "The courts do not discriminate in any way," Juica said, referring to the case. "We are not going to take part in any working group."

    Although the government of right-wing President Sebastián Piñera said it accepted the IACHR's recommendations, Juica's remarks are "an unequivocal signal of the state's lack of will" to live up to them, said Jorge Contesse, director of the private Diego Portales University's (UDP) human rights centre.

    In a May 2004 decision, the Supreme Court stripped Atala of custody of her three daughters because she was living with her lesbian partner, Emma de Ramón, a history professor.

    In so doing, the Court overturned the rulings of two lower courts that had granted her custody after she separated from her husband, who is also a judge.

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    Sex Workers Rights in Macedonia: You Must Know About Me - Excerpts [video]

    By: Violeta Krasnic

    In Macedonia, as throughout the world, sex workers are pushed to the margins of society by a combination of prejudice, discrimination, and violence.  Yet, the fact that a person sells sexual services cannot be used as justification for the denial of their fundamental rights, to which all human beings are entitled.

    “You Must Know About Me” is a first-hand account of sex workers’ experiences and aspirations off and on the streets.  While dealing with harassment and violence from clients, pimps, and the police, sex workers strive to counter hostile public attitudes by speaking out and fighting for their rights.  The video calls for zero tolerance of violence against sex workers and the coordinated response of institutions to the actual needs of sex workers.

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    Organisation Intersex International Position Statement on Genital Cutting

    Organisation Intersex International Position Statement on Genital Cutting

    Intersex refers to atypical internal and/or external anatomical sexual characteristics, where features usually regarded as male or female may be mixed to some degree. This is a naturally occurring variation in humans. From the late 1950's onwards, starting in the USA, intersex infants and children were increasingly subject to cosmetic surgeries intended to ensure that their genital appearance and internal gonads conformed to that usually expected for their assigned gender. This also tended to entail hormone treatments aimed at conforming them to those associated with being "male" or "female."

    From the early 1990’s to the present day, hundreds of intersex adults have come forward to say that they regard these medical practices as being extremely harmful to them, both physically and psychologically. Despite this high level of dissatisfaction, there has been little follow-up of adults who were treated this way as children, so without any clear understanding of outcomes, there is no real evidence upon which to justify this approach. On the contrary, the little evidence there is suggests that physiologically, functional outcome is poor. A study conducted in England of intersex people who electively chose to undergo such surgery as adults revealed that the large majority were dissatisfied; treatments resulted in physical pain and diminished sexual response, and were not able to provide them with the sense of normalcy which they hoped for.

    There is no evidence that intersex variations alone will negatively impact the quality of life of the individuals who have them, nor that "normalizing" medical treatments are a solution. What evidence there is suggests the opposite; intersex adults who have not received unnecessary medical intervention have said they feel lucky to have "escaped" such treatments. They lack the psychological trauma from treatments imposed on others, and report satisfaction with their sexual response and their unique physical attributes. Such treatment is often justified from the assumption that intersex children and/or adults will be subjected to discriminatory behaviour because of their bodily differences; however, this is not necessarily correct, because their differences are sometimes only evident when naked, or not evident visually at all. Where differences are visible, this is no different than the situation of people from other minority groups. The solution to such challenges is not to alter the characteristics themselves, but to combat the prejudicial attitudes that stigmatise.

    Cosmetic surgery on intersex genitals appears to harm intersex infants, children, and even adults, yet it still persists. As with male circumcision, it is often driven by parental desire to provide their children with bodies that conform to certain beliefs about how genitals should be. Also, the presumption that atypical sex anatomy will result in atypical sexual orientation and/or gender identity, homophobia and a fear of atypical gender presentation are seen by some intersex people as the motivation driving these surgeries. In many societies today, gender expression and sexual orientation are seen as a human right, and this is recognised by the UN. Performing unnecessary surgeries on infants and children in order to influence adult sexual orientation and/or gender identity outcomes should be seen as a human rights abuse. There is no evidence that sexual orientation or gender identity are affected by genital surgery one way or the other.

    We seek recognition that all humans have the right to autonomy over their own bodies, including their genitals etc. Because infants and children are too young to assert their autonomy, they should not be subjected to unnecessary surgeries which may irrevocably harm them, and which they may not have chosen as adults. We recognise that cases requiring medical treatment for the maintenance of health or preservation of life should be managed as with any other situation where a child needs treatment. Intersex infants and children should be raised without cosmetic surgery and/or steroidal hormones until they are old enough to decide for themselves whether they wish to undergo these procedures and treatments or not.

    We recommend avoidance of genital cutting, where possible, until a child can fully participate in decision making. This would be worked towards through communication between parents of intersex children, the children themselves, intersex adults, support groups, and clinicians who are sensitive to the needs of the child. Counselling should be available for those affected by the situation, to ensure they are fully informed and equipped to make the best decisions. Wider education about intersex as a human variation is also necessary; the cultural anxiety and social pressure that encourage surgery, hormone therapy and physical conformity need to be addressed. Through a process that includes education, communication, and counselling, then public shame will decrease, along with a reduction of cultural anxiety and social pressure, ultimately allowing people the liberty to maintain autonomy over their own bodies.

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    NUESTRAS VOCES / OUR VOICES: Wise Latin@s en la lucha - Nov. 1-2, 2010

    Arte Sana National Conference
    November 1-2, 2010


    Westin Dallas Fort Worth Airport Hotel
    4545 W. John Carpenter Freeway
    Irving, Texas

    Arte Sana is pleased to announce "NUESTRAS VOCES / OUR VOICES: Wise Latin@s en la lucha" a national gathering of Latin@ victim advocates, prevention specialists, survivors, and allies promoting the engagement of Latin@s as agents of change in addressing gender-based violence, celebrating our collective wisdom & leadership en los movimientos.


    The conference ends at 5:30pm on both days.

    Please join Latina victim advocates and allies from across the nation to share, learn, and be inspired!

    Attendees are invited to participate in a collective art installation:
    un altar para el Día de los Muertos
    Poema y arte:

    Click HERE to register now and take advantage of the Early Bird registration of $195 until April 30, 2010 (Standard rate: $245).
    Group rates are also available.

    TOPICS and PRESENTERS

    Keynote: The Pornographic Mirror: Facing the Ugly Realities of Patriarchy and White Supremacy
    Robert Jensen - Journalism professor – The University of Texas at Austin

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    Meet Salwa, a new mascot in the fight against sexual harassment.

    The folks at League of Independent Activists – IndyACT have come up with a new campaign to fight sexual harassment.  Meet Salwa.

    Salwa is the mascot and the image of the Anti-Harassment Campaign launched by a group of young feminists who have had enough of the sexual harassment (verbal and physical) women face on the streets, in public transportation, in homes, schools and jobs.

    Salwa is an average Lebanese woman who is sick of sexual harassment that has become part of her daily life and decided to take matters into her own hands. Her superpower lies in her bag.


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    What will be the next violation of human rights in Indonesia?

    First there was the Aceh Legislative Council that passed the Qanun Jinayat punishing adultery and homosexual conduct with stoning to death and caning. Then there was the Constitutional Court decision upholding the Anti-Pornograhy law that criminalizes homosexuality, and leaves room to criminalize sensuality violating especially cultural minorities’ freedom of expression. Finally there came the mobs attacking the ILGA Asia Conference participants in broad daylight of Surabaya.

    On March 23rd the Indonesian police cancelled the regional Asia Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) that was to be held in Surabaya through 26 – 28 March and was to be attended by more than 150 activists representing 100 organizations from 16 Asian countries. It is claimed that the police cancelled the conference due to pressures and threat of attacks from conservative Muslim groups, though in fact the duty of the police was to deter such attacks. As theinability of a state and its law enforcement units to protect the freedom of expression and association can only reflect institutional discrimination and systematic intimidation against human rights advocates.

    On March 26th these groups did indeed attack the Conference participants in the Oval Hotel where they were trapped, having arrived in Surabaya unaware of the last minute cancelation, and unable to leave the city.

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    The New Mythos Project: "tk" & Mia Mingus

    "tk" Karakashian Tunchez sits down in a fun looking diner with Mia Mingus on the New Mythos Tour. 

    If you like the sound of the New Mythos Projet, visit their blog.  You can find Mia Mingus' blog here.

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