Tag Archives: LGBTI

A Dialogue for Women’s and LGBTQ Rights

Recently, MADRE and IGLHRC co-hosted an event as part of a two-week convening of activists for women’s rights from all over the world.

The event, “A Dialogue Between Movements: Women’s Rights and LGBT Activists Share Anti-Violence Strategies,” brought activists from the women’s rights movement and the LGBTQ movement together. We sought to break down barriers between our work and to share strategies for working against the gender oppression that affects us all.

MADRE Executive Director, Yifat Susskind, explains why these two movements have sometimes been separated in the past, and why MADRE and our partner organizations are committed to bringing them together moving forward:

The intersectionality of oppressions is central to MADRE, founded by activists working at the intersections of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, class, and ethnicity.

Panelists represented a diverse range of geographic and activist backgrounds: Rose Cunningham, founder and director of Wangki Tangni in Nicaragua, which works for the rights and resources of Indigenous women; Azusa Yamashit, co-director and editor of Gay Japan News, mediator of a national women’s network of tsunami survivors, and LGBTQ researcher and activist; Thilaga Sulathireh, LGBTQ community organizer and co-founder of Justice for Sisters, which provides legal support for trans* women in Malaysia; and Charlot Jeudy, president of KOURAJ, a Haitian grassroots organization that works to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Panel moderator and MADRE board member Blaine Bookey asked panelists to share successes, challenges, and lessons learned in their work against violence towards their communities. She also asked them to discuss the overlap between movements and what we can learn from one another.

Panelists discussed violence and discrimination they experienced, and—regardless of the population or the geographic location—the experiences were strikingly similar. They shared stories of violence based on a person’s perceived gender identity or sexual expression.

Some ongoing challenges were also common between movements: Mr. Jeudy and Ms. Sulathireh shared that travel and distance were key deterrents keeping activists from reaching their communities. Ms. Cunningham and Ms. Yamashirta both shared that a lesson learned from their work was the importance of building trust in relationships with allies.

Finally, panelists discussed the importance of recognizing overlap between their communities as a bridge to working together more closely. Ms. Sulathireh pointed out that many people are active and already working together, in more than one community, citing the labor movement in addition to rights for women and LGBTQ communities. Ms. Cunningham affirmed the need to include one another, stating that ignoring a community is another way of perpetuating violence against it.

Several activists from around the world were listening in the audience and affirmed Ms. Cunningham’s key take away from the panel “when we come to this space, we feel like we are with you and you are with us.” Our movements are linked by common experiences and common goals. Coming together in spaces like MADRE’s event reminds us all about the community we share.

MADRE Welcomes President Obama’s Support for Same-Sex Marriage

Yesterday, US President Obama affirmed in a television interview his support for same-sex marriage. MADRE applauds this announcement, coming on the heels of similar statements from members of his Administration.

Polls show that US public opinion is shifting to support marriage rights for all. However, MADRE also underscores that the right to marry is an internationally-recognized human right that must be upheld. We call on the President to advance policies that put his words into action.

Adrienne Rich: Presente!

MADRE joins many in mourning the death of Adrienne Rich, a pioneering feminist poet and activist famed for her socially conscious writing. A MADRE supporter and an advocate of women’s rights, her poetry explored racism, sexuality, the oppression of women and economic justice.

Widely read and considered one of the most influential writers of the feminist movement, she received several prestigious literary awards and honors, including the MacArthur “genius” fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships and the Bollingen Prize, Brandeis Creative Arts Medal, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and the Wallace Stevens Award. Throughout her career, she published 30 books and wrote over two dozen volumes of poetry.

In 1997, she declined the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by United States government. In a letter addressed to then-President Clinton, she wrote: “The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate. A president cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.”

She died on Tuesday, March 27 at age 82 from long-term rheumatoid arthritis. MADRE celebrates the life of Adrienne Rich, a champion of women’s rights.

Additional Resources:

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012): Alice Walker & Frances Goldin on the Life of Legendary Poet & Activist

A Poet of Unswerving Vision at the Forefront of Feminism

Poet Adrienne Rich, 82, has died

Adrienne Rich, 1929 – 2012

MADRE Condemns Killings of Gay Men and Emo Youth in Iraq

MADRE and our partner group, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), denounce the recent killings of gay men and youth who are part of the “emo” subculture in Iraq.

Since February 6, dozens of gay men and young people have been brutally murdered in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, their mutilated bodies strewn in public as a warning to others.

Our partners in Iraq report that the names of people targeted for murder are posted publicly by Islamist militias. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has condemned “emo” youth as satanic. Gay men and lesbians have, for years, faced death threats by Islamist militias. Scores of young people in Baghdad and other cities are in urgent need of shelter and relocation.

OWFI activists are working tirelessly to provide emergency transport and shelter to those most at risk. They have expanded their network of underground shelters, originally established with MADRE for women escaping honor killing, to accommodate targeted gay men and youth.

In recent weeks, OWFI has opened two new safe houses in Baghdad, sheltering 15 young gay men. OWFI activists in Samarra are opening another safe house there for three youth who are threatened. Human rights activists in Tikrit have also asked OFWI to establish a shelter there.

Local activists in Iraq are best positioned to respond to these brutal killings. MADRE will continue to work with OWFI to protect those whose lives are in danger and to press the Iraqi government to enforce an end to the violence.

Click on the links below for more information on these recent attacks:

VIDEO: ‘Emo’ youth targeted in Iraq (Al-Jazeera), features OWFI Director Yanar Mohammed

Iraq: Investigate ‘Emo’ Attacks (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission)

Threats to Ugandan LGBTI Community and Defenders Continue

In 2009 an anti-homosexuality bill was introduced in Uganda calling for the criminalization of homosexuality. Citizens were required to report homosexual activity to the police or else risk imprisonment. Gay people faced the threat of convictions resulting in sentences of life imprisonment–or even the death penalty. Following overwhelming international opposition, the legislation was shelved.

But attacks on the LGBTI community have continued. In January 2011, leading gay rights activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death. Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), has been routinely threatened and harassed.

After failing to be adopted in 2011, the bill was once again  re-introduced this month by David Bahati, its author.

Just one week later, Uganda’s State Minister of Ethics shut down a human rights workshop. It was organized by  Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), an organization that combats discrimination against the Ugandan LGBTI community. He claimed the workshop was illegal and raided the hotel in which it was being held. He also ordered the arrest of FARUG’s Executive Director, Kashsa Jacqueline Nabagesera.

These are just some of the appalling consequences of the bill. It not only promotes hatred and discrimination, but legalizes it. It reinforces and institutionalizes violence against the LGBTI community and human rights defenders.

MADRE stands in solidarity with Women Living Under Muslim Laws/Violence Is Not Our Culture (WLUML/VNC) and other human rights groups in condemning Nabagesera’s recent arrest and the shut down of the human rights workshop. MADRE calls on the Ugandan government to protect its citizens–including LGBTI persons and LGBTI rights defenders–and reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill once and for all.

For more information about the anti-homosexuality bill, click here. More information about the Violence Is Not Our Culture (VNC) campaign can be found here.