2016 nail-biter of a year for LGBT rights

On Dec 29, 2016 The Bay Area Reported published this article: It was a year of dramatic changes with unforeseen twists that even the best novelist couldn’t have dreamed up for LGBT rights around the world.

The year saw many firsts, particularly with appointments of LGBT experts in Canada, the United Nations, and the World Bank. Canada also established the world’s first-ever trans chair – Aaron Devor, an expert in gender and sex – and transgender studies department at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

However, the biggest shockers of the year were the election of Republican Donald Trump in November, the massacre at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida in June; and the brutal murder of the Bangladeshi gay rights activists Xulhaz Mannan and a friend, Tanay “Tonoy” Mojumdar, in May.

This year, the LGBT community also will say goodbye to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was a key advocate for LGBT rights during his tenure, and welcome Antonio Guterres of Portugal, who some advocates are unsure of.

Bangladesh’s LGBT community hasn’t recovered from the murders of the prominent gay rights advocates in May. Rather, LGBT people who could get out of the country have left and those who have stayed have gone deep underground, activists have told the media. Arrests of two suspects connected to terrorist organizations haven’t alleviated the situation in the country, especially for its transgender community.

Other LGBT rights activists who died this year included prominent Guatemalan trans activist Evelyn Zulma Alegria Robles; Honduras gay rights activist Rene Martinez, who was a rising political leader; Mexican transgender beauty queen Paulett Gonzalez; and gay Syrian refugee Muhammed Wisam Sankari, among many others.

Maite Oronoz Rodriguez became the first lesbian chief justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court when she was sworn in February 23. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. Rodriguez has been a member of the high court since 2014.

That same month, Canada appointed its first transgender judge, Kael McKenzie, who took a seat at the Winnipeg Law Courts as provincial court judge in Manitoba.

Ireland elected its first-ever lesbian member of the lower house of parliament, Katherine Zappone, in March.

While other countries progressed, the United States regressed with the election of Trump, and his subsequent nominees for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Trump’s election and political appointments have inspired LGBT opponents. On International Human Rights Day this month Brian Brown, president of the World Congress of Families, announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family to promote conservative family and religious rights.

Gambia and Uganda also held presidential elections this year. Uganda’s anti-gay President Yoweri Museveni won his fifth term in February. Gambia’s anti-gay President Yahya Jammeh lost the election to opponent Adama Barrow December 1, however, Jammeh rejected the election results and demanded a new election nine days later.

Ugandan authorities twice raided a Pride event. Indonesia cracked down on its LGBT community.

Anti-gay countries didn’t pay much attention in the spring to the World Psychiatric Association’s recommendation for global decriminalization of homosexuality in the spring.

Read more at The Bay Area Reporter Online | 2016 nail-biter of a year for LGBT rights

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