Robin Hammond

online, Syria

A screen grab from an online news website's report about the murder of a gay man by ISIS. While many countries around the world are legally recognising same-sex relationships, individuals in nearly 80 countries face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression is even more widespread. Across Africa Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Inter-sex (LGBTQI) individuals are being increasingly criminalised. More than two thirds of African countries have laws criminalising consensual same-sex acts. In some, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Nigeria new homophobic laws introduced in 2013 led to a dramatic increase in attacks. Under Sharia Law, homosexuality is punishable by death, up to 50 lashes and six months in prison for women; for men elsewhere, up to 14 years in prison. Same sex acts are illegal in Uganda. A discriminatory law was passed then struck down and homophobic attacks rose tenfold after the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Cameroon it is also illegal. More cases against suspected homosexuals are brought here than any other African country. In stark contrast with the rest of the continent, same sex relationships are legal in South Africa. The country has the most liberal laws toward gays and lesbians on the continent, with a constitution guaranteeing LBGTQI rights. Because of this, LGBTQI Africans from all over the continent fleeing persecution have come to South Africa. Despite these laws, many lesbians have been victims of 'corrective rape' and homosexuals have been murdered for their sexuality. Homophobia is by no means just an African problem. In Russia, politicians spread intolerance. In June 2013 the country passed a law making 'propaganda' about 'non-traditional sexual relationships' a crime. Attacks against gays rose. Videos of gay men being tortured have been posted online. In predominantly Muslim Malaysia, the law currently provides for whipping and up to a 20 year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. Increasingly conservative interpretations of Islam in the Middle East is making life more dangerous for gay men there, as evidenced by ISIS's recent murders of homosexual men. While homophobic discrimination is widespread in Lebanon, life is much safer there than Iran, Iraq, and Syria from which refugees are fleeing due to homophobic persecution.

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Robin Hammond
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online
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Syria
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