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9 Countries With Extremely Absurd LGBTQ+ Laws That’ll Make You Go “What The…”!

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By Amrita Singh for Cake:

It takes no compromise to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”

Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in the US, made this statement in 1978, but today, almost 40 years later, there are still 76 nations where non-cisgender heterosexual people are deemed delusional, in dire need of treatment, imprisonment and, in extreme cases, punished with death.

The world has witnessed progress in finance, health, infrastructure and everything else in leaps and bounds, but there is still a long way to go where destigmatising the queer population is concerned. Countries that time and again claim to provide a safe and just environment for all often neglect the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Here are 9 such countries that pride themselves on being liberal but have laws regarding the LGBT+ community that range from absurd to atrocious:

India 

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a 153-year-old law, criminalises all acts of carnal intercourse involving penetration other than penile-vaginal intercourse, regardless of consent. It not only debars all male homosexual acts but affects heterosexuals and female homosexuals by criminalising oral and anal sex. This section contradicts a number of rights guaranteed by the country’s own Constitution (namely Article 14, 15, 19 and 21).

In 2009, the section was declared unconstitutional by the Delhi High Court, but in 2013, the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, which refused to change a law for a minuscule minority. Cases of tormenting, harassment, rapes of the queer population of India have since increased.

In 2014, official state recognition of ‘the third gender’ was a silver lining, but the sun will only rise when Section 377 is repealed. So, on 2nd February 2016, a curative plea to decriminalise homosexual sex was filed by Naz Foundation, and has been referred to a five-judge bench.

Australia

One of the few countries which successfully provides a positive environment for the LGBT community, Australia is taking steps backward in its movement for equal rights. Gay asylum seekers who flee to Australia, escaping the atrocities of their own countries, are removed to detention centers in Nauru or Papua New Guinea, where homosexuality is illegal.

A few MPs and other leaders have openly spoken against homosexuality, including former PM, Tony Abbott, who said that “There is no doubt that (homosexuality) challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things…I probably feel a bit threatened, as so many people do. It’s a fact of life.”

In spite of having the support of 59% of its population, Australia hasn’t been able to pass the Same-Sex Marriages Bill in parliament on account of conservatives in the ruling party and politicisation of the Bill.

Even a groundbreaking LGBT anti-bullying program, ‘Safe Schools’ – which aims to educate students and destigmatise homosexuality with mandatory open classroom activities – has been restricted to optional one-on-one counselling sessions.

28/50 States of USA

In red: US States with no explicit laws against LGBT discrimination in the workplace, housing, and so on

Marriage equality may be legal in all 50 states of USA but one can’t ignore that 28 of these states do not have any Anti-Discrimination Laws. With its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, states like Mississippi, Arizona, and others protect those who discriminate against the LGBT community under the guise of religious freedom by depriving them of jobs, housing facilities, even education, amongst other things. Eight states have a ‘No Promo Homo’ policy which prohibits teachers from even discussing issues related to homosexuality, including sexual health and HIV/AIDS awareness.

According to Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 115 anti-LGBT bills were proposed in 2015, the same year same-sex marriages were legalised nationwide. The fate of these states depends on the next president and sadly, half of these candidates are openly homophobic.

Singapore

Another offshoot of British colonialism, Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code was amended in 2007 to penalise sexual activities only between male homosexuals. While this minimised the overall effect, it highlighted the country’s patriarchal definition of masculinity. Due to no official recognition of same-sex marriages, women in same-sex relationships have no access to IVF or any form of treatment assisting childbirth (this also applies to single women in the country). Though Singapore has always had a somewhat ultra-conservative lifestyle, its high literacy rate, well-informed and liberal youth means comparatively lesser cases of violence towards the LGBT+ community. The country’s equal rights advocates continue their fight with the support of organisations like ‘People Like Us’, ‘Men After Work’, ‘Pelangi Pride Centre’, and might just be on the verge of repealing the law.

Russia

Source: Reuters

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993 and the country’s President claims to provide equal opportunities to all regardless of sexual orientation. But with the unanimous passing of the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors” law, under which anyone merely discussing or ‘promoting’ or even supporting homosexuality can be charged. Adoption of the propaganda law encouraged discrimination against the LGBT community. A Pew Research Survey showed that in 2013 74% of the population even supported the law. Along with innumerable bans on LGBT parades, websites and groups, the country has validated its status of having state-sponsored homophobia.

Turkey

Even though Turkey legalised homosexuality in 1923, the rights of LGBT+ people in the country are shrinking as regular hate crimes and anti-gay dialogue are on the rise. Military service is mandatory for all Turkish men – they will only be exempted if they are ill, disabled or homosexual because homosexuality is still considered an illness by Turkish military hospitals. Earlier, there were tests to prove a man is a ‘passive’ homosexual with the help of explicit pictures. This idea of determining ‘passive and active partner’ in itself is appalling as it again implies the innate need for people in the army to have so-called masculine features. The law has now been changed to involve doctors examining behaviors of gay men – even though there is no scientific way determine sexual orientation – and requires an open declaration of sexual orientation, which only increases cases of tormenting and discrimination.

Malaysia

Malaysia’s stance on homosexuality has been the same since 1998 when the then Deputy Prime Minister was removed from his position on account of sodomy. Malaysia bans homosexuality as it isn’t ‘in keeping’ with Islam and has been compared to ISIS by its PM.

The Government has been obstructing events held during Seksualiti Merdeka, an annual sexuality rights festival held in Kuala Lumpur, since 2011. Due to the Government’s staunch opposition, it’s rather difficult to advocate for equal rights in Malaysia, which has led to increasing violence against the LGBT+ population. Malaysia has retained a colonial-era law, similar to India and Singapore – with punishments including fines, imprisonment or even corporal punishment, regardless of consent and extending to activities practiced in private.

Iran

Forget equal rights, for queer people in Iran being accepted by their own loved ones is a far-fetched dream. Torture and harassment is usually initiated at home – by families and friends. But the government plays a big role too. The punishment for consensual sex between two men ranges from 100 lashes to capital punishment depending on marital status. Sexual activities between women are punishable by flogging. The Iranian Government bans deviant or homosexual hairstyles, has shut down eight publications in the past that ‘promoted’ homosexuality and even forced gender reassignment surgeries.

Saudi Arabia

Echoes of Iran’s anti-LGBT+ laws resonate in its neighbouring states as well – Saudi Arabia being the harshest of them all. It once fined an international school for having rainbow colours painted on its building and bans “tomboys and gays” from taking admission in public schools. As the Islamic country doesn’t have a codified Penal Law, it adheres strictly to the Sharia Law. People belonging to the LGBT+ community are punished with flogging, lashings, imprisonment and death penalty – even though the Sharia Law doesn’t prescribe the death penalty for same-sex relationships.

Uganda

 

Ugandas-anti-gay-bill-has-008The torture of those suspected of being gay is a regular affair. In 2013, when the LGBT+ movement was finally gaining visibility worldwide, the Parliament of Uganda adopted an anti-homosexuality act which made so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ punishable with life imprisonment. In the original bill, the charge for committing the “offence of aggravated homosexuality” was the death penalty. Within a year, the law was annulled by the Constitutional Court, not for humanitarian reasons but due to international pressure and because the parliament lacked a required quorum (minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly) when the law was approved.

Ironically, Uganda is one of the top viewing nations of gay-porn worldwide, which implies how suppression of sexuality might be both a cause and effect of homophobia in the country. A new law criminalising homosexuality is in its formative stages currently but even without one, Uganda stands to be one of the most dangerous places for the LGBT+ community or even those who support it.

The laws in these countries have diminished the quality of the lives of their LGBT+ citizens. ‘Coming out’ to one’s family is often met with oppression – confiscation of laptops, phones and anything else that they think might encourage the child down the ‘wrong’ path – thereby pushing them into depression and to adopt means of destruction. Social conditioning can be blamed for such a reaction, but, as humans, we owe it to humanity to think logically and with an open mind. And to initiate this, we need authorities to set precedents for all citizens by adopting unequivocal laws, as they are the ones that shape public opinion, that instill a sense of equality in all, irrespective of gender, sex, and sexuality.

This article was originally published here on Cake.

You must be to comment.
  1. The Hulk

    Just as necrophilia, paedophilia, incest are based on how people “feel” sexually, so is homosexuality. Just because you “feel” attracted towards the same sex doesn’t make it right. Some people try to justify homosexuality by stating that it is found among animals. Well, so is a lot of deranged behaviour, including eating young ones. By the same token cannibalism must also be correct.

    *YKA requested not to delete comments that hold a differing opinion.

  2. Sigmund

    Go Saudis!

  3. Sjou

    The laws that are manipulated don’t then make the acts legal. The story of the “Lord of the Flies” shows how
    the countries eventually fail. Those who take serious the laws of God find that disease and certain pains are
    because of disobedience, and the US is one of the sickest nations in the world. It is a cause that one should
    consider, as well as the costs. One should at least ponder on the facts. Much harm has been done to this
    country and the First Amendment is actually about not any one religion being in charge, as there was no
    separation of government and religion, but the idea of not having one religion rule, but all that followed the
    bible could be in government. Just some facts from reading that American’s should know to make decisions

  4. Reiko Diana

    I support these 10 countries. This ‘LGBT love wins’ movement is just plain ridiculous. Human laws will always be flawed. You can bend it, turn it to make it work for you. So, if you’re fighting for your LGBT rights, what’s next? Incest? This is nothing but to satisfy everybody’s lust for everything. Go figure.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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