By Liz Waterhouse
Listening2lesbians has a mission of reporting on violence and discrimination against lesbians globally.
While this sounds like a simple task, assessing what we have been able to find in the last few years indicates that accessing news about crimes against lesbians is far from simple, with multiple barriers preventing us from being able to present a comprehensive picture of global lesbian experiences.
WHAT IS REPORTED OR PUBLISHED?
There is very little information being published about what is happening to lesbians around the world if we compare what is reported on an ongoing basis with what is found by those writers analysing the situation in depth.
Even for the countries with the most information available, invariably white dominated English speaking countries (the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada), the information is limited and piecemeal. Based on the news we see, and the patterns of how it is reported, the communities who face significant additional problems due to overlapping axes of oppression, such as lesbians of colour and lesbians with a disability, are additionally disregarded by the authorities and/or the media.
This is no surprise because we know that many lesbians do not or cannot report violence or harassment for cultural, social and legal reasons. It is not safe for many lesbians to report their experiences, and around the world, reporting their experiences will open lesbians up to harassment and persecution.
When violence and harassment does get reported to authorities and it makes its way to the media, the following filters seem to apply:
- Much violence and harassment against lesbians is not readily identifiable as such and many victims may play down or hide their sexuality in reporting to authorities even if it is a dominant factor in the crime, including under pressure from families.
- Violence and harassment against lesbians is seemingly under reported by local media AS a crime against lesbans, unless it is salacious, extreme or backs up an existing widespread (often lesbophobic, also racial) bias.
- Crimes against lesbians are often reported by the midia in ways which do not allow us to readily identify their sexuality and the extent to which sexuality is relevant to the crime.
- Where lesbian news is reported locally it isn’t often picked up by international news sites unless it is (again) salacious, extreme or backs up an existing widespread (including lesbophobic, also racial) bias.
- LGBT media sites show little or no interest in lesbian news, again unless it is salacious, extreme or backs up an existing widespread bias.
Across the world there are some countries for which there is significant reporting (such as South Africa), which reflects both their rampant crime rate against lesbians (and women more generally) and the wide spread use of English in their media.
That leaves 135 out of 209 countries and territories for which we have not yet found a single news article in real time by December 2018.
We know that the absence of news reports does not indicate an absence of persecution of lesbians because homosexuality is illegal or defacto illegal in 47 of those countries.
This means we know that there are many communities of lesbians who are entirely silenced, whose experiences we know far too little about but whose experiences we need to be listening to because they remain persecuted.
AVAILABLE NEWS SOURCES
To try to find every available article on violence against lesbians, Listening2lesbians scans every news item from the following news sources, every day:
Google searches for:
- Gender and sexuality diverse
- Gay woman
- Gay women
- Gender non conforming
- Gender nonconformity
- SASOD (Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination)
- SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)
- Violence against women
News articles and blogs on Feedly including:
- Big Boo Butch
- Curve fee
- Epochalips – smart lesbian commentary
- Erasing 76 Crimes
- Fridae Asia
- FUSE magazine
- Gay Star News
- Gay City News
- Gay/Lesbian News
- Gay Iceland
- Gay NZ
- GLAAD blog
- Georgia Voice – Gay and LGBT Atlanta News
- Huffington Post
- Human Rights Watch News
- Lesbian News
- Lesbians Over Everything
- LGBT Germany
- LGBTQ Nation
- Mamba Online
- One More Lesbian
- Out Japan
- Outlook Ohio Magazine
- Outsmart Magazine
- Pink Armenia
- Pink news
- Pride USA
- Queer Voices
- Rights Africa – Equal Rights, Once Voice
- SF Gay and Lesbian
- Star Observer
- Straight Universe
- The Gaily Grind
- The Independent
- The Guardian World news
- The Rainbow Times
- The Seattle Lesbian
- Towleroad Gay News
- What Wegan Did Next
- Women and Words
- Xtra (DailyXtra)
We also watch the news on facebook across groups, news sites, pages and friends’ walls.
As we find new sources they are added to the list of sites we search and follow.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – ENGLISH
English speaking western countries dominate the news.
News from lesbians in english speaking western countries also dominates the lesbian news.
Listening2lesbians works hard to counter that domination by dedicating our efforts to finding news on marginalised and invisibilized communities of lesbians.
That domination is emphasised by the prevalence of English speaking news for the english speaking audience.
We are aware that our work to find and share information about lesbian communities around the world is limited by searching in English.
While we do have plans to reach out to communities, activists and representative organisations more directly in future, this is limited by the current size and scale of Listening2lesbians and will rolled out in a way that prioritises the sustainability of the project over speed of expansion.
(ANOTHER) ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: WESTERN FRAMEWORKS
The framework we are using to focus on the experiences of lesbians around the world may not cleanly fit the cultural framework of all communities. We are mindful of not imposing western values or terminology on the communities we are trying to reach.
We do know that women in same sex relationships around the world are persecuted, subject to violence and discrimination, however they are labeled and identified, and it is this reality we are looking to report on.
OUR REQUEST TO YOU
We know we have many readers who represent communities around the world and who speak languages other than English.
Your experiences and the experiences of lesbians in your community matter.
If you see news articles about violence and harassment against lesbians in your community, and it is a story we are unlikely to find for language or other reasons, please send it to us at:
We also welcome contact from activists, journalists, researchers and organisations representing, researching or supporting lesbians around the world.