Hivos International

Sexual Rights and Diversity

Pride Month should not be calendar month but a living reality

June is often celebrated as Pride Month – a time to celebrate- the diversity of sexualities and gender identities. Most importantly, it is a time to share stories and experiences of persons who identify as Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ).

While on a flight from Washington DC to Copenhagen, I sat next to a charming middle aged African American lady who just started working as an event planner for a large tech company in San Francisco. During the conversation, I mentioned I was coming back from a conference where I presented a report on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTI+) Workplace diversity and inclusion. Initially, she feigned interest but her body language and facial expressions betrayed her. Her smile and charm faded in an instant. I thought to myself, “Girl, San Francisco, is the ‘most’ gay place in the world.

 

Puede leer este blog en español aquí.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines phobia as “an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation”.

During the week of 8 March - International women's Day - Hivos is sharing stories of some of the amazing and powerful women we support worldwide. This year's theme is: “Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

The Samburu tribe is a proud cattle-keeping community in Kenya widely known for their colourful dress and cultural traditions. ‘Samburu’ means butterfly in English. Yet this fancy-free creature also describes a community where the women mostly stay at home, raise children and depend on their husband’s income to run the household.

In 2014, I was struck by a CNN interview with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then Nigeria’s finance minister, in which she was asked about her country’s new draconian anti-LGBT law which had been signed just two months before. The “Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act”  criminalized public displays of affection between same-sex couples and restricted the work of LGBTI organizations.

Two of the most controversial issues in Latin America have resurfaced recently due to the decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) that recognises same-sex marriage and the right for Trans people to choose their gender identity as inherent rights.

World AIDS day on December 1 is always a global opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV. Back in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. As Hivos, we acknowledge our support and respect for people living with HIV and remember the many people we have worked with and those who have needlessly passed away. 

Accents from all corners of Latin America could be heard in a small city in Costa Rica on 20 and 21 November, when Heredia hosted the “High-Level Dialogue on Women, Human Rights and HIV”. The meeting was organised by ICW Latina and Hivos Latin America, with the financial support of the The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and drew more than 150 activists and policymakers from the region, many of them women, to discuss the demands of women living with HIV.

In a digital society, friends and enemies are made all over the world via social sites and relationships are solidified or broken by 'hashtags' or 'selfies'. While online media has served many well, there has been a tragic global increase of its misuse through online victimization and gender targeted attacks. Perpetrators no longer need to look in the eyes of their victims as they spew violent, emotionally and sexually charged speech.

By Fauzia Mohammed

The question as to whether it is a permissive society, a blind eye by the community, an ill-bred culture or weak policies at institution level that has prompted sexual harassment incidences to sky rocketing numbers remains unanswered. Regrettably, sexually inappropriate remarks towards women at work places, educational centers and society at large have been normalized while the general public dismisses it as “men will always be men”.

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