Lesbians in the news
22/03/2015 – 28/03/2015
Lesbians in China – #FreeTheFive:
Li Maizi, formally known as Li Tingting, was arrested for “causing arguments in the street” in the leadup to International Women’s Day. Her girlfriend, pictured with her above, is calling for help through All Out:
My name is Xiao La, and I live in China. Two weeks ago, Maizi was organizing a peaceful protest with four friends to denounce harassment at work. They were making pro-equality stickers and planning to hand them out. And just for that, Chinese authorities put my girlfriend in jail.
My birthday is today. Maizi and I had planned to spend the day together doing romantic things. My birthday wish is to have Maizi back. Alone, I won’t be heard. But if thousands around the world join us, the global outcry could get her out of jail.
Can you sign my petition to help free my girlfriend and her friends? go.allout.org/en/a/freethefive/
Maizi and I were taken by the police together, but I was freed the following day. Authorities can now hold her for up to 37 days before deciding whether to even charge her. The authorities confiscated her computer and her phone. The worst part? It happened the night before International Women’s Day.
News articles on the detention:
- Detained Feminists Highlight China’s Crackdown On Dissent
- Lesbians stand up for Chinese women
- China detains feminists ahead of International Women’s Day
Violent Crimes against Lesbians:
- The Brutality of Corrective Rape – South Africa’s progressive laws give no indication of the deep homophobia still dominant within the country, according to this New York Times article. The endemic violence against women couples with the homophobia to result in virulent lesbophobia and, more specifically, corrective rape. Whether it is based on male sexual entitlement or a so called desire to change their sexuality, these South African women talk of being subjected to socially sanctioned and repeated rape. Women are murdered and women have resulting children withheld because of their sexuality.
- A violent attack on two lesbians in Vancouver is deemed not a hate crime.
- Homophobia fears keep violence victims quiet – the multiple silencing of same sex domestic violence that prevents victims seeking or receiving help. What can we do as a community to better address the needs of victims? (Note: this story has some Australian DV assistance links).
Conversion therapy and social homophobia:
- “Dehomosexualisation” centres in Ecuador – these abusive clinics are practically unregulated, and their practices extend to “the use of restraints, tranquilizers, beatings, withholding food, solitary confinement, water bucketing, and other forms of degrading treatment.” Victims are tricked or forced there by families and may be there “until they change”.
- In the UK, conversion therapy is also not yet a thing of the past...
- An Irish survey on incidence of homosexuality raises questions about how to research issues for the community in the absence of safety to answer freely.
Laws and Policies:
- The UN now provides benefits to married same sex spouses of its employees, regardless of the laws in their home country. This move, which Saw UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon call on countries to reject homophobia, was opposed by Russia and 43 other countries. This highlights the varied legal rights of lesbians around the world.
- Australia’s private member’s bill proposing same sex marriage was put on hold in response to an unchanging party-political landscape.
- Two key questions to be addressed by the US Supreme Court as it considers same sex marriage next month.
- In Indiana, it is now legal for individuals, businesses and organisations to disciminate on religious grounds.
- Victoria Brownworth’s new novel Ordinary Mayhem is released, focussing on violence against women. Victoria Brownworth’s next book Lesbian Erasure: Silencing Lesbians will be released in late 2015. She says of the novel:”For the past several years I have been increasingly concerned by the obliteration of lesbians as a group by mainstream culture, mainstream feminism and regrettably, even by our own community,” she said. “Major online publications like Slate and Salon conflate lesbian into gay, as if lesbians and gay men don’t have separate identities. And increasingly there is also a revision of butch lesbians as trans men when that is rarely the case—that makes both butch lesbians and trans men invisible. Not all trans men were lesbians, not all butch lesbians are closet trans men. Let each have their distinct identities.””Corrective rape was invented specifically to teach lesbians a lesson about heterosexual normatively. While it’s most common in South Africa, India and Jamaica, it also happen in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. There are 78 countries where it is illegal to be lesbian or gay—specifically. Lesbians are the victims of honor killings in a dozen countries. The forced marriages of lesbians to men happens in several dozen countries. These are some of the things I write about in Erasure.”
- NSW, Australia – election candidates answer LGBTI questions – watch the footage here.
- Herstory: same sex marriage 200 years ago – busting the myth of tradition?
- Heather has Two Mommies – kids book about same sex families is now updated with same sex marriage
- The so-called ‘pink dollar’ or ‘gay-by boom’ – local economies see the benefit in appealing to LGBT tourism. I wonder though, does this actually result in better protections and social conditions for local communities?
Social and Health Issues:
Victoria, Australia held its first Lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s Conference.
Keynote speaker Dr Ruth McNair (from the Australian Lesbian Medical Association) argued that “a conference focusing specifically on women’s health in the community is needed in part because of a history of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health being overlooked in funding, policy and LGBTI community services.”
The ALICE study on Alcohol and Lesbian/bisexual women: Insights into Culture and Emotions reported high levels of depression and anxiety, with social stressors (oppression, discrimination and homophobia) closely linked to depression and anxiety rates, drinking levels and self harm and suicidal thoughts.
Other social and health issue stories:
- South Africa – sexism and homophobia persist despite legal changes.
- 23% of lesbians live below the poverty line in Illinois. This figure is no doubt worse in other countries, with LGBT people most victimised by poverty, according to the Acting USAID head.
- Lesbians drink more but no more likely to be alcoholic than straight women, according to a UK study. Significant social stressors, including familial homophobia, were identified as commonalities but more research is needed to better demonstrate the etiology. An Australian study also found that lesbians were smoking and drinking to excess, resulting in funding to address smoking rates.
- The Atlanta Pride School will open this summer – the first specifically LGBTI school in a state with “no statewide anti-bullying or nondiscrimination laws that protect LGBT students”. Should we really have to do this? Is this the best use of small amounts of funding or could we instead be agitating for legal protections for the thousands of children who cannot access this school? Thoughts?
***If I have missed an important news story, please either post a link in the comments section here or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.