When Will Russia and the Former Soviet Union Stop Instituting Homophobic Policies?

Gay rights activists march in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images).

Gay rights activists march in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images).

The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia has been controversial for a while, compliments of host country’s president Vladimir Putin.

His homophobic policies have lead to widespread boycott calls, but have not sparked official outrage in the former Soviet Union.

On the contrary. This week, Armenia’s state police posted online a legislative proposal to fine up to $4,000 for promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors. It swiftly took down the proposal from the website after some protest, citing lack of priority and shortcomings. The police credited “several dozen intellectuals” for prompting the legislation in the first place.

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As the World Celebrates IDAHO, Homophobia in Russia is on the Rise

Russian LGBTI activists. The LGBT community faces increasingly repressive legislation in Russia (Photo Credit: Charles Meacham/Demotix).

Russian LGBTI activists. The LGBT community faces increasingly repressive legislation in Russia (Photo Credit: Charles Meacham/Demotix).

Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals and activists around the world will recognize the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). Exactly twenty-three years after the World Health Organization’s landmark decision to declassify ‘homosexuality’ as a mental disorder, LGBTI people and allies continue their work to ensure that the full spectrum of their human rights is respected and upheld.

Just last week, news out of the Russian Federation served as a tragic reminder of just how critical that work is.

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Get Ready to Celebrate LGBT Pride Month!

amnesty_activistsBy Emily McGranachan, Member of Amnesty International USA’s LGBT Human Rights Coordinating Group

It’s almost time to get out your boa, rainbow sunglasses, and camera, and download Amnesty International USA’s 2013 Pride Tool Kit for activists! Pride season will soon be upon us in June. Whether you prefer to celebrate at home with an informative documentary or by marching through the streets completely covered in body paint, it is an excellent opportunity to reflect on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights. That’s the beauty of LGBT Pride Month. It is a time to celebrate who you are, ally or activist, homebody or exhibitionist.

Pride events are primarily a place where LGBT communities celebrate who they are and create positive visibility for a community that has suffered greatly under a cloak of invisibility. Some events feature over-the-top parade floats, drag costumes, dance, music and great festivities.

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#Remember #Noxolo, Murdered in South Africa Without Justice

A group of people from the gay, lesbian and transgender community in South Africa demonstrate outside the Parliament in Cape Town (Photo Credit: Rodger Bosch/AFP/GettyImages).

A group of people from the gay, lesbian and transgender community in South Africa demonstrate outside the Parliament in Cape Town (Photo Credit: Rodger Bosch/AFP/ GettyImages).

We often hear the egregious acts of violence perpetrated against women in South Africa. Yet the headlines often forget to mention the violence carried out against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. Violence directed at individuals perceived to be LGBTI has steadily increased, yet there has been a consistent failure of police authorities to address these acts of targeted violence.

April 24, 2013 marks the two year anniversary of the brutal death of Noxolo Nogwaza. The 24-year-old was raped, repeatedly beaten and stabbed, apparently because of her sexual orientation. Two years after her death, no progress has been made into the investigation of her murder and her killer(s) remain at large.

To mark the two year anniversary, Amnesty International, together with Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC), a local community-based organization, are organizing a Day of Commemoration in honor of all LGBTI individuals murdered due to their sexual orientation. A short memorial service will be held and participants will be given the opportunity to write messages of hope/condolence which will remain at the site as a memorial.

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