Soginews: Archived Content
This legacy website has been restored and archived as supplemental reading material accompanying Gene Robbin's course on internet advocacy. Dr. Robbin has worked as a successful advocate and fundraiser for a number of causes including sexual equality & gender rights, climate change, animal welfare, and police reform, including efforts to improve criminal law enforcement. He received both acolades and notoriety for his efforts to combat lax police enforcement. In the examples he used, he does not hesitate to name names. He tells of an elderly woman in NYC who lost over $65,000 to a con man named George Binakis who had gained her trust and sympathy - with stories of a heart ailment requiring a pacemaker and regular cardio exams. The con worked perfectly, and when he vanished with her money, she was convinced he had died or was gravely ill. But when she went to the 24th precinct to report a financial crime, PA Marshall told her they would not investigate and that they considered it a civil matter, to be handled by civil court. This is exactly what Dr. Robbin was fighting against - the disregard of criminal behavior enabling con artists to get away unscathed. Students will hear first hand accounts of a number of advocacy positions he as supported and acted upon. The complete reading list and syllabus are available from Dr. Robbin's office and from the university website.
Soginews.com was part of the project LGBT Voices financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
The website was run by The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL). RFSL is a non-profit organisation working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. It is non-partisan and not affiliated with any religious organization.
When the site's domain registration expired, ther new owner chose to keep an edited version of the site's content, providing a glimpse of what Soginews.com offered its readership.
Content is from the site's 2013 -2015 archived pages.
Soginews keeps you updated on issues on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). We give you the latest information on decisions made in the UN, updates on global events, testimonies by activists from all over the world, news on regional matters and in depth feature articles.
23 Mar 2014
The world is changing. For us working in the field of sexual orientation and gender identities the movement from local activism to global networks and global issues has been quite significant over the last decade.
Issues concerning sexual orientation or gender identities can no longer only be handled within the local context. What happens in one place of the world affects people and communities at the other end of the map. Not only because politics, laws and religious beliefs travel across borders, but the community itself has proven to be more mobile than ever. Through personal connections and online conversations, LGBTI activists are in a constant state of dialogue with one another.
Queers live in diaspora, because they have been forced to migrate, because they met the love of their life, because of work, access to health care and thousands of other reasons. Ideas and practices travel geographically on Internet, via airports, text messages or radio and television.
At the same time, high level institutions are starting to discuss sexual orientation and gender identities as an integrated part of human rights.
Soginews.com aims to keep you updated on global events, on decisions and discussions within the UN and other global and regional institutions. It can be a platform for professionals seeking information important to their work or activism. But Soginews.com is also a source of information for students, teachers and other people interested in the field.
Soginews.com will also provide portraits of activists from all over the world, columns, and in depth stories.
If you have a topic or story to share, if you have ideas or perspectives to be discussed, please let us know.
By: Hans Eriksson
LGBTI rights Activists applaud BanKi-moon
30 Sep 2015
LGBTI rights activists and human rights defenders across the world have applauded UN Secretary General Ban Ki -moon for declaring his unwavering commitment towards the respect of the human rights of LGBTI people.
Activists interviewed by Sogi news had this to say:
– I really think Ban-Ki moon is a trends setter where respect for all human rights is concerned, he is making history not only by talking but by walking the talk.He is a man who has shown the world that tolerance is productive and is not afraid to speak out against homophobia and transphobia. MK Ghana
– The fact that we have such a figure, denouncing violence against vulnerable groups such as LGBTI communities, is a great step and an achievement towards advancing respect for all human rights. It is up to states to take a leaf from his words of wisdom, because he is man who is dedicated to the human rights cause , many leaders would learn a lot from him. Diane Colombia
– If the UN is serious about the goal of leaving no one behind, then they should ensure that words are transformed into action, Ban Ki-moon’s words give hope to us activists working in hostile environments that someone is not only watching, but they are listening and they are doing something about it.I hope the homophobic bigots are listening that they will not get away with human rights violations.. Helena Serbia
– I have much respect for Ban-Ki moon for standing out and speaking out against human rights violations of LGBT people. He is a genuine human rights ambassador, our African leaders such as Mugabe should feel ashamed because of their intolerance. I hope Ban Ki moon will do more to make sure that those who violate human rights especially vulnerable groups are brought to book. Tatenda Zimbabwe.
– I commend secretary general is emphasising the importance of respect for human rights in development, many leaders fail to see LGBT people as individuals who contribute to nation building, by violating our rights they are not only causing harm to individuals but the nation as a whole. Sam Kenya
The activist comments follows Ban-Ki moon’s remarks at the high level LGBT event”Leaving, no one behind:Equality and inclusion in the post 2015 Development agenda where he reiterated that ending marginalisation and exclusion of LGBT people is a human rights priority – and a development imperative.
-…Our Charter reaffirms the fundamental human rights, dignity and worth of every single person. Leaders from around the world have just adopted a new vision for sustainable development. There are 17 sustainable development goals all based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind. We will only realise this vision if we reach all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, reads Ban-Ki moon’s statement.
He added that too many countries, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are among the poorest, most marginalised members of society.
– We need more data to get a clear picture – but we already know that gay affluence is largely a myth. Studies show that gay and lesbian people suffer disproportionate discrimination and abuse. They are rejected by their families… kicked out of their homes … and pushed out of school. Too many of our LGBT brothers and sisters are jobless, homeless and struggling to survive.
The situation of transgender people is even worse overall. They have higher rates of homelessness, poverty and hunger. For individuals and their families, this is a personal tragedy. And for society, it is a shameful waste of human talent, ingenuity and economic potential.
The Secretary General emphasised on the importance of inclusion and equality of LGBT people to ensure their full and productive contribution to common economic progress.
– We are here together to break down the barriers that prevent LGBT people from exercising their full human rights. .. The investments we make in eliminating intolerance and hate will bring huge benefits across the global agenda.
– We can create a world where all people are Free&Equal, as our campaign is called. We can show future generations that the best way to advance our shared goals is to embrace all members of our human family – regardless of who they are or whom they love.
Added Ban-Ki moon:
-……I stand with the gay teen who is bullied… the transgender woman denied work … the lesbian subjected to vicious sexual assault. When the human rights of LGBT people are abused, all of us are diminished. Every human life is precious – none is worth more than another.
– This United Nations I lead will never shirk in the fight against discrimination. We will never shy away from protecting the most marginalised and vulnerable people. This is not just a personal commitment – it is an institutional one..
By:Miles Tanhira journalist soginews
How Malawi Marriage Act Impacts LGBTI Community
07 Ar 2015
This year during the parliamentary seating on the 12th February in Malawi, the Marriage, Divorce and Family relations bill was passed. The bill awaits the state president to subscribe to it.
While Gender activists have hailed the law for raising the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18, the bill, regarded as victory for women, girls and gender equality in Malawi, sadly discriminates against non-heterosexual marriages and relationships
Impact on same sex relationships
While the bill tackles very significant matters surrounding women and girls, there is still gap in addressing same sex relations’ position within it. I am critically looking at the constitutional provisions protecting Malawian citizenry equally and of course other freedoms provident within the law of the land. It’s not a core pillar of rights activism to address or endorse same sex marriages in Malawi, but the bill remarkably stands in the way looking at how it sternly stipulates that marriage in Malawi remains hetero. I quote: “[T]wo persons of the opposite sexwho are both not below the age 18 years, and are of sound mind, may enter into marriage with each other”. Same sex conduct between men is punishable with up to 14 years in jail. Women face 5 years if convicted on the same charge, but within the same bill, there’s full recognition of marriages conducted under laws of other countries and therefore its validity here in Malawi; is this inclusive of same sex marriages, if any, conducted elsewhere?
Homosexual people are human beings, citizens and therefore have relationships. The efforts exerted to dialogue and repeal the penal codes and other punitive laws criminalizing same sex relationships will go down the drain let alone impede the sweat to address health challenges including access to treatment and support for fear of visibility. This bill therefore deprives same sex relationships of their human rights and absolutely bars them space to claim any within the constitution and other laws of the land.
Although the bill defines marriage as between two opposite sex persons, one of the bill’s provisions states that a court can grant divorce if one partner is caught having sexual relations with someone of their own sex. It also defines sex as the one at birth. Thus this legislation discriminates against sex which is a ground for protection under Malawian law.
From my personal view and with a little knowledge on the law and what has been employed in the bill, I really feel the need to request cautiously that the bill be re-looked at and come up with a refined version that won’t bring confusion to the public. I trust that our president before assenting to this bill will carefully consult on the permeable clauses and ensure same sex relations and issues are properly addressed, else we’ll be moving in circles on the laws that we can clean up now.
By Solum Mtogolo LGBTI rights activist and Human rights defender
“You can’t go wrong if your heart is in the rights place”;PhilippinoActivist
20 Jul 2015
“You can’t go wrong if your heart is in the right place so keep it there”, says Anne Lim; a Philippino activist leading GALANG, a feminist human rights organisation. Anne says the organisation strives to empower disadvantaged LGBT persons through intensive capacity building, policy advocacy, research, institutional development and sustainability as well as networking at both local and national levels. For more about GALANG read on.
What is the situation for LGBT community in Philippines?
The Philippines has no national law that explicitly protects its citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression (SOGIE). Since 1999, advocates have been lobbying for the passage of anti-discrimination bills (ADBs) that cover not only discrimination in the workplace but also in education, in access to goods and services, accommodation and the military. Proponents of ADBs invoke the Philippine Constitution’s Bill of Rights, specifically the equal protection clause, as well as the social justice provisions of the Fundamental Law. But the bills have been stalled due to intense opposition from the Roman Catholic hierarchy and other religious groups in the Philippines, which have consistently campaigned against them as a precursor to marriage equality, which they also oppose. As a result, Filipino activists have turned to a more ‘piece-meal’, territorial approach to anti-discrimination legislation. As of January 2015, two out of 81 provinces, eight out of 1,637 cities and municipalities, and three out of 42,028 barangays (villages) have enacted local anti-discrimination ordinances that include SOGIE among their protected categories.
GALANG Philippines’ urban poor LBT partners face challenges such as access to daily subsistence for food, access to gainful employment or any source of income, discrimination in the community and the workplace on the basis of their SOGIE, and poor self-esteem related to their disadvantaged economic condition. However, sexual minorities are predominantly excluded from the heteronormative development goals of the country. When sexuality issues are included in the development reports, these are focused on the areas of health risks (i.e. maternal mortality ratio, HIV/AIDS cases) and victimisation (i.e. violence against women). Presently, the Philippines is one of nine countries worldwide with growing cases of HIV/AIDS.
What are the challenges faced by activists? How do you overcome them?
For a small organisation with big dreams, GALANG Philippines has come a long way. Our efforts have been rewarded by recognition from both local and international bodies and this recognition challenges us to continuously improve our working model. GALANG Philippines first won acclaim in January 2010 when it was chosen by ARC International and Mulabi as one of fifteen Best Practices for Advancing Human Rights based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression. In October 2014, the European Parliament Intergroup for LGBT Rights bestowed GALANG Philippines with the GO (Get Organised) and Visible Award. In December 2014, the Quezon City Pride Council recognised GALANG with the LGBT Rainbow Award in the community-based organisation category.
Like many groups working on SOGIE rights in the Global South, GALANG Philippines struggles with the consequences of lack of access to long-term funding for LGBT rights work. For example, we have experienced a high staff turnover rate because it has become increasingly difficult to compete with the job security and compensation packages offered in more lucrative fields. Nevertheless, GALANG Philippines continues to work effectively and efficiently by maintaining a core of dedicated staff and volunteers, and by leveraging our limited resources to intensify collaborative efforts with key partners.
What are the priority areas for the LGBT community right now?
Inclusive development is the collective goal of LGBTs in the Philippines. Presently, our priority legislative agenda is the passage of a national anti-discrimination law.
May you share about your study on poverty briefly and how this will benefit the LGBT community?
In 2013, GALANG Philippines with support from our UK-based partner, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), published a report entitled ‘Policy Audit: Social Protection Policies and Urban Poor LBTs in the Philippines’, adding to the growing literature about gaps in government plans, policies, and programs that disenfranchise sexual minorities and their respective families. In 2014, we decided that it was time to train the spotlight on how lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBTs) have themselves used their meagre resources to cope with workplace discrimination and the severe lack of gainful employment opportunities in the country. This decision to produce a case study on Filipino LBTs’ innovative means of battling with structural inequality led to our 2015 report entitled ‘How Filipino LBTs Cope with Economic Disadvantage’ also produced in collaboration with the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme.
The 2015 report is an excellent resource for advocates seeking to influence policy makers on the issue of SOGIE rights as it cites concrete examples of the economic implications of exclusion and discrimination. In GALANG Philippines’ collaborative efforts with partner government agencies, this report will serve as a concrete basis to explore and discuss the creation or enhancement of plans, policies, and programs that may directly or indirectly impact and benefit the development plans of our community-based partner LBT people’s organisations.
The report also calls upon donor agencies and other potential partners and allies to increase financial support for SOGIE rights advocacy groups. Increased support for this kind of work will ultimately benefit the LGBT sector as SOGIE rights groups would be able to optimise their participation in policy advocacy surrounding social justice legislation, including laws on labor and migration.
One of the key findings of the report was that some LBTs tend to come to better terms with their sexuality when they become financially independent. Their respective families also tend to be more tolerant if their LBT family member is able to make substantial financial contributions. While far from being ideal, these findings can guide Filipino sexual minorities in improving their lives. If nothing else, GALANG Philippines hopes that by publishing this report, Filipino LBTs will be inspired by the true stories of perseverance and fortitude that were featured in the report.
What is your hope regarding LGBT rights in Philippines?
To see the day when LGBTs in the Philippines are able to exercise their full range of human rights regardless of SOGIE.
What advise can you share with other activists?
Don’t get overwhelmed by macro goals. Celebrate small victories. Sometimes persistence is the key.
Share briefly about yourself
I am a lesbian rights activist in the Philippines. I am blessed with a supportive family that includes a pack of ten dogs aged between three months and 10 years. I am in a good place in my life right now, both personally and professionally, but like in all things that matter, it was a struggle to get here.
How do you relax?
When I need to escape the city and there is time to do so, I relax by going on road trips to the beach as the sights and sounds of the ocean calm me. I also spend quality time playing with our dogs. Of late, another guilty pleasure of mine is reading lesbian fiction.
Any inspirational quote from you?
You must be the change you want to see in the world’, Mahatma Gandhi, I believe that in everything that we do, it is more important to ‘walk the walk’ than to just ‘talk the talk’.
By:Miles Tanhira journalist soginews
Acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People Increasing in Nigeria
30 Jun 2015 by sharon
New poll finds familiarity helps build understanding and acceptance of LGBT people
LAGOS – A new poll conducted by NOI Polls in partnership with Bisi Alimi Foundation and The Initiative for Equal Rights in Nigeria, has mapped awareness, perception, and acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual, people and same-sex relationships among the Nigerian population. While considerable opposition remains for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and their relationships, the poll found that acceptance has grown over previous polls. The findings also suggest that many Nigerians are unwilling to reject lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in their families.
Findings from the survey reveal that:
- A large majority of adult Nigerians (87%) expressed support for the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law.” While that number is very high, it is decreasing. In 2010, 96% were in opposition of relationships between same-sex couples, and in 2013, 92% supported the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.”
- Only 17% of adult Nigerians know someone who is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The percentage is even lower among respondents over 46 years of age. However, younger adults, ages 18-25 are more likely (30%) to be familiar with someone who is lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
- An overwhelming majority of Nigerians (90%) do not think people are born gay, lesbian, or bisexual, insinuating that most respondents believe sexual orientation is a quality that is acquired through life’s experiences.
- While only 11% of Nigerians stated they were willing to accept a family member who was lesbian, gay, or bisexual, over half (52%) of respondents who believe people are born lesbian, gay, or bisexual know someone in their family, a friend, or someone in their locality who is.
- 30% of Nigerians agree that LGBT people should have access to healthcare, housing, and education.
“It is good to see that 30% of Nigerians think that access to healthcare, housing and education is a right that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people should have,” said Bibi Bakare-Yusef, Publisher at Cassava Republic Press. “That’s a significant number that already recognizes the inalienable rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to social protections. We must continue to push for social acceptance and legislative justice for all, including sexual minorities.”
“This poll tells us that Nigerians are not inherently homophobic, but that in the absence of accurate information around gender and sexuality, people are left to believe myths and misinformation,” said Bisi Alimi, founder of the Bisi Alimi Foundation. “The trend in this survey has shown that with a conducive environment to provide unrestrictive and unbiased information about gender and sexuality in Nigeria, we will be able to create a platform for discussion and dialogue where views can be shared and opinions expressed without fear.”
“This survey reflects a massive gap in knowledge about sexuality and human rights,” said Olumide Makanjuola, Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights. “This lack of knowledge explains why LGBT people continue to experiences human rights violations. We therefore need to provide holistic education and information on sexuality and human rights. This must be a joint effort between the Nigerian government and the civil society organizations in Nigeria.”
Nigeria passed the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act” late 2013 which was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan on January 7th, 2014. The law, which condemns same-sex couples who marry to 14 years imprisonment, was widely supported by members of the general public in Nigeria. Opponents of the law have complained that the law allows members of law enforcement agencies to trample on the human rights of alleged culprits before found guilty.
In April and May of 2015,NOI Polls contacted a randomly selected population of 1,000 telephone-owning Nigerians across the six geo-political zones, who were 18 years and above conducted a poll to assess Nigerians’ awareness and perception of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the country.
About the Bisi Alimi Foundation: The Bisi Alimi Foundation is a non for profit organization to provide unbiased information, education, training and development projects with a focus on sexuality and gender in Nigeria. The aim of the foundation is to build a wealth of knowledge through education, training and community engagement as a means of reducing homophobia in Nigeria.
About The Initiative for Equal Rights: The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) is a Nigeria-based registered non-profit organization that works to protect and promote the human rights of sexual minorities nationally and regionally. It was founded in 2005 as a response to the discrimination and marginalization of sexual minorities observed in HIV prevention and human rights work.
About GLAAD: As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural acceptance. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. GLAAD’s Global Voices program partners with international LGBT advocates to advance acceptance for LGBT people globally. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
12 UN Agencies Issue Unprecedented Joint Statement on Rights of LGBTI People
29 Sep 2015 by miles
In an unprecedented joint initiative, 12 UN agencies* today issued a powerful joint call to action on ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) adults, adolescents and children.
“This is the first time that so many members of the UN family have joined forces in defence of the basic rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” said the UN Human Rights Office’s Chief of Global Issues, Charles Radcliffe. “It’s both an expression of commitment on the part of UN agencies, and a powerful call to action for Governments around the world to do more to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and abuses against intersex people.”
The statement highlights the link between human rights abuses against LGBTI people and ill health, family break-up, social and economic exclusion and lost opportunities for development and economic growth. It sets out specific steps that Governments, in particular, should take to curb violence and protect individuals from discrimination – including measures to improve the investigation and reporting of hate crimes, torture and ill-treatment, prohibit discrimination, and review and repeal all laws used to arrest, punish or discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“Violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and biological sex characteristics violate their human rights and impoverish whole communities. That is why United Nations agencies working across such a wide range of areas – from human rights to health, education, employment, development, children’s rights, gender equality, food security and refugees – have come together to push for change,” Radcliffe said. “While the symbolism of this is important, the practical recommendations we are putting forward are more important. We hope this statement can provide a blueprint to Governments, as well as to UN teams on the ground in countries around the world.”
The joint UN statement on “Ending Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People” has been endorsed by 12 UN entities: the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Secretariat, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Women, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Strasbourg Court: Sterilisation Requirement is a Violation of Privacy
Thursday, 12 March 2015
Tuesday, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the requirement of permanent infertility to undergo gender reassignment surgery is a violation of the right to privacy, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case ended on the Court’s plate after Turkish authorities refused to grant authorisation for gender reassignment surgery because the applicant requesting it was not permanently unable to procreate.
Article 40 of Turkey’s Civil Code stipulates that persons undergoing gender reassignment surgery need to be permanently infertile, which the person in question was not.
However, according to the Court, the Turkish state breached the person’s right to respect for his private life by denying the person to undergo the operation. It added that making infertility mandatory for such treatment is a violation of the Convention.
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, reacted: “I strongly welcome this ruling by the Court, which will have a positive impact on the lives of transsexual people in Turkey and beyond.”
“It is very encouraging the Court emphasises the increased social acceptance and legal recognition of transsexual people in the world.”
Dennis de Jong MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, continued: “By tackling sterilisation as a requirement for gender reassignment surgery this ruling presents an important move in the right direction: full abolishment of sterilisation as a requirement for legal gender recognition.”
“21 countries in Europe, including 13 EU Member States still require sterilisation before trans people can have their true gender recognised. This ruling should encourage Member States to start working to end this forced sterilisation.”
Read the Press Release by the European Court of Human Rights
Read the full judgment in Y.Y. v Turkey