Back in May, when the streaming platform Twitch announced the release of more than 350 new “identity tags” that could be used to sort streams into distinctive categories, Jess Bolden was excited.
The 25-year-old FACEIT Games Esports analyst, who lives between France and Italy with her female partner, streams the game Rainbow Six Siege, a largely male-dominated pursuit. Bolden was once Samsung team head coach for the game, which she streams under the name JessGOAT.
She figured she could use the new “lesbian” tag to show other lesbian gamers that her stream was a safe space for them. But, Bolden says, she felt conflicted. “I would look at the tag for that extra second, to question myself, and I’m usually confident in everything that I do,” Bolden says. “So there’s obviously a problem.”
Bolden’s hesitancy was justifiable. Twitch has been widely criticized for an ongoing scandal involving “hate raids” aimed mostly at its BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ users. These attacks are carried out by bots programmed to spam streamers’ chats with offensive messages. The conditions became so bad that Twitch users started a campaign — #TwitchDoBetter — to push for change, and at one point arranged a digital “protest” where streamers boycotted the platform in solidarity with hate raid victims.
In response, Twitch last month filed a lawsuit against two users allegedly behind many hate raids and, more recently, introduced chat verification.
While hate against streamers is common, lesbians feel they are the subject of both sexism and a specific kind of sexualization. “We get multiple DMs, like ‘I could turn you straight’ or ‘You haven’t found the right guy,’” says Baeu, an 18-year-old lesbian streamer from Florida who broadcasts to followers under the name Spoink. Baeu is a member of Lilac Lesbians, a Minecraft Championship team hoping to increase lesbian representation in gaming. (Input is withholding the last names of most of the streamers in this piece out of concern for their safety.)
“Even when I was underage, they’d still message me inappropriate stuff,” Baeu adds. “Twitch’s solution was pretty much: ‘Oh, well you have your messages open.’” She adds that multiple reports she’s submitted to the company about harassment have not resulted in any action against offending users.
The “lesbian” tag has only increased harassment, according to Bolden. “‘I hate gays’ is probably the most common [comment],” she says. “Or people complaining that I’m a lesbian.” All of the streamers interviewed agreed that they had seen abuse aimed specifically at lesbians, ranging from statements like “of course you’re a lesbian — you’re fat” to assertions that the lesbian streamers were “going to hell” because of their sexuality.
A man in France is on trial for allegedly raping and torturing his lesbian sister and her girlfriends. Samy M reportedly lured his sister and her friends to the river Drôme, where he sexually abused and tortured the women. He is said to have used a razor to cut a ‘permanent smile’ on his sister’s girlfriend’s face. Her scars are still evident and will likely disfigure the victim for life.
Samy M has been on trial since Monday, September 27, at the Drôme Regional Court in Valence for the December 2018 crimes. As mentioned, he abducted and raped his then 24-year-old sister, who had left the family home in Bourg-de-Péage a month earlier, Les Observateurs reported. The man attacked his sibling after finding out she was having an intimate relationship with a woman, thereby going against the doctrine of Islam. Samy M was armed and hooded when he forced the victims to a deserted place, beat them, forced them to kneel down, and subsequently carved deep cuts on both cheeks of his sister’s girlfriend with a razor. “I will make you smile forever,” he allegedly told them, per the victims’ testimony in court.
Once again, lesbians at Kakuma camp in Kenya at Block 13, along with the other refugees, are in danger, as they have suffered a fourth arson attack this year.
On August 16, the block was awakened by what sounded like gunshots. When they arose, they were met with the smell of petrol fumes all over their compound and they noticed huge amounts of it all around the shelter where the children sleep.
Police were called. They refused to come out to investigate before daylight. Thankfully the children were moved.
The police told them to leave the petrol containers as they were evidence. It turns out the petrol wasn’t just around the children’s shelter.
An hour later, the entire block was alight. From the time this was all reported, it took two-and-a-half hours for the police to show up. The station is five minutes away.
Every single bit of shelter they had left there burned to the ground, as did everything inside them and near to them.
They, quite literally, have nothing left. Twenty-five children and their mothers are now without any shelter.
There is absolutely nothing to protect them from the burning African sun, or the torrential downpours when they come.
They have no food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, or any other essentials to survive even at night.
All of their documentation and IDs as well as any personal belongings are gone. They have been left with only the clothing on their backs.
The intent of these violent crimes is clearly to kill and injure the LGB&T community in Kakuma.
A refugee because of homophobia and violence in Mozambique, Lara was assaulted and saw friends being killed and raped for their sexuality. Since 2013, she has lived with her wife and child in São Paulo. … “He punched me in the face, I’ll never forget it,” recalls 37-year-old businesswoman Lara Lopes, referring to one of her memories of life in Mozambique, Southeast Africa, when she was attacked by a man in the street for being a lesbian. Another vivid memory was the day her own family excluded her from dinner. “I never forget the day I went to dinner at my aunt’s house with my cousins. They excluded me, put me in a corner by myself and forbade their women to talk to me”. Both episodes were based on the same reason: homophobia. … Her father, who was very involved in sport, heard other people talking about Lara and left the family because of his daughter’s sexuality. “He always heard something, but he never came to talk about it. One day he left the house, he didn’t tell anyone and when my mother tried to find out why, he said that I was using drugs, but I never did that in my life. I soon understood what was happening”, she says.
In addition to her father’s abandonment, prejudice, according to her, is part of a society strongly influenced by Christian religions, predominantly evangelical ones. “They cursed and yelled in the street, I sometimes heard it, without even knowing where the person was. Sometimes the person would throw something from the top of a building on our heads – there were people who would throw water”.
Other than that, Lara saw even more violent forms of homophobia in the country where it was a crime to be gay until July 2015. “In the south they do a lot. Two friends of mine who couldn’t stand the verbal abuse were murdered. I sometimes ask myself: if I were still in Mozambique wouldn’t that be me?”, she asks.
One of the cases she remembers was the day when a man attacked her at the end of a football game. “It was in a public field in the center of the city, called Campo do Estrela. It’s normal for men to hint, but there are people who swallow it, my friends don’t. The guy wanted to start a fight with us, he went for it completely, cursed us with a lot of names, he punched me in the face. And I’m absolutely sure that if he sees me today, he’ll remember it very well”, she says, disgusted. “These are things you can’t forget, they’re kept there in a little drawer”, she laments.
State violence Homophobia is a legacy of colonialism that prevails to this day in at least 30 African countries which retain the criminalisation of same-sex relationships, or otherwise restrict non-heteronormative sexual practices, according to information from the 2019 State-Sponsored Homophobia report, produced by International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
Mozambique, which was a Portuguese colony, broke away from its Penal Code that penalised LGBT people in 2015, but no protection was granted in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, says the report, which also pointed to the Mozambican state’s refusal to register the NGO Lambda Moçambique, which deals with LGBT rights”.
Lambda has been in a legal battle for more than 10 years to be legally recognized by the Mozambican government, despite being the first association for the defense of sexual minorities in the country. The entity’s performance was also part of Lara’s life. “Despite being dangerous, I have always lived with LGBT people, I was part of the direction of Lambda, which is still not accepted by the government. It is not an easy task. Religion influences so much, especially the evangelicals. They think they are the owners of the truth and position themselves as God. My wife’s mother is an extreme evangelical, for example.”
Refugiada por causa da LGBTfobia e da violência do Estado de Moçambique, Lara foi agredida e viu amigas sendo mortas e estupradas por sua sexualidade. Desde 2013, ela vive com a esposa e um filho em São Paulo … “Ele me deu um soco na cara, nunca vou esquecer isso”, lembra a empresária de 37 anos, Lara Lopes, ao se referir a uma das memórias de sua vida em Moçambique, sudeste da África – ela foi agredida por um homem na rua por ser lésbica. Outra recordação viva em sua mente foi o dia em que a própria família a excluiu de um jantar. “Nunca esqueço o dia que eu fui jantar na casa da minha tia, entre primos, eles me excluíram, me colocaram num canto sozinha e proibiram suas mulheres de conversarem comigo”. Ambos os episódios têm o mesmo motivo: LGBTfobia. … O pai, que frequentava muito o meio do esporte, ouvia outras pessoas falando de Lara e abandonou a família por conta da orientação sexual da filha. “Ele ouvia sempre alguma coisa, mas nunca chegou para conversar a respeito. Um dia ele saiu de casa, não falou para ninguém e quando a minha mãe procurou saber o porquê, ele falou que eu estava consumindo drogas, mas eu nunca consumi na minha vida. Logo entendi o que estava acontecendo”, conta.
Além do abandono do pai, o preconceito, segundo ela, faz parte da sociedade influenciada fortemente por religiões cristãs, predominantemente as evangélicas. “Xingavam e gritavam na rua, eu ouvia às vezes, sem nem saber onde é que a pessoa estava. Às vezes a pessoa jogava alguma coisa do alto de um prédio na nossa cabeça, tinha gente que jogava água”.
Fora isso, Lara viu formas ainda mais violentas de LGBTfobia no país em que era crime ser homossexual até julho de 2015. “Chamam a pratica de estupro em pessoas LGBTs de ‘violação cura’, ou ‘violação correctiva’, que agora na África do Sul eles fazem muito. Duas amigas minhas que não aguentavam os desaforos foram assassinadas. Eu às vezes me pergunto: será que se eu estivesse em Moçambique não estaria nessa estatística delas duas?”, questiona.
Um dos casos lembrados por ela foi o dia em que um homem a agrediu ao final de um jogo de futebol. “Foi em um campo público que fica no centro da cidade, chama-se Campo do Estrela. É normal os homens mandarem indiretas, só que tem gente que engole, minhas amigas não. O cara estava com vontade de criar briga com a gente, ele foi pra cima, com tudo mesmo, xingou a gente um monte de nome, ele me deu um soco na cara. E eu tenho a certeza absoluta que se ele me ver hoje, ele vai se lembrar muito bem disso”, conta, revoltada. “São coisas que não tem como você esquecer, está lá guardado numa gavetinha”, lamenta.
Violência do Estado A LGBTfobia é uma herança do colonialismo que impera até hoje em ao menos 30 países africanos que persistem em manter como crime as relações entre pessoas do mesmo sexo ou em restringir práticas sexuais não heteronormativas, segundo informações do relatório Homofobia Patrocinada pelo Estado 2019, produzido pela Associação Internacional de Gays e Lésbicas (ILGA).
Moçambique, que foi colônia portuguesa, se desvencilhou de seu Código Penal que penalizava pessoas LGBT em 2015, mas nenhuma proteção foi concedida em relação à orientação sexual ou identidade de gênero, diz o relatório, que também apontou a negação do Estado moçambicano em registar a ONG Lambda Moçambique, que trata dos direitos LGBTs “.
Lambda está há mais de 10 anos em uma batalha jurídica para ser reconhecida legalmente pelo governo moçambicano, apesar de ser a primeira associação de defesa de minorias sexuais no país. A atuação da entidade também fez parte da vida de Lara. “Apesar de ser perigoso, eu sempre convivi com pessoas LGBTs, fiz parte da direção da Lambda, que até agora não é assumida pelo governo, não é uma tarefa fácil. A religião influencia ainda mais, principalmente na parte dos evangélicos, eles se acham os donos da verdade e se colocam na posição de Deus. A mãe da minha esposa é evangélica extremista, por exemplo”.
As women, lesbians will be subjected to the brutal sex based oppression imposed on them by the Taliban, as well as being subjected to the brutal penalties for homosexuality, worsening the already dire position of lesbians in Afghanistan.
Those who concern me most, as a journalist who reported on the last takeover by the Taliban, are the women, girls and LGBT+ people of Afghanistan. It would be impossible to overstate the terrors they each face, now, simply by the mere fact of their existence in a male-dominated, cis-het society in which they have no real place and in which they are at best second-class citizens with no autonomy. Reporters in Afghanistan are already detailing the threat. And if they weren’t, the Taliban leadership has itself been succinct: Sharia law — Islamic law, religious law — will define everything in Afghanistan going forward. Within that construct there is no room for female, queer or trans autonomy. Imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality has been classified as judicial murder of gay and lesbian people; a form of genocide. Yet it is, according to Afghans and human rights advocates, imminent. On August 16, Nemat Sadat, the first gay Afghan to come out publicly, tweeted: “It’s not hyperbole to say that the Taliban will do what Nazis did to homosexuals: weed them out and exterminate them from Afghan society. Please help.” Last month, Gul Rahim, a Taliban judge, told the German newspaper Bild that, “There are only two penalties for gays: either stoning or they have to stand behind a wall that falls on them. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 meters [about 10 feet] high.” I have reported on “corrective rape” and honor killings of lesbians for various publications. I reported on lesbian asylum seekers fleeing Sharia law to the U.K. and stringent new asylum laws here in the U.S. NGOs have reported for years that gay men and lesbians have been raped as punishment–which the U.S. government knows. “[Gays and lesbians] continued to face arrest by security forces and discrimination, assault, and rape,” said the U.S. State Department’s country report on Afghanistan in 2020.
On 1 August 2021 Listening2Lesbians provided submissions in response to the following from the Commission on the Status of Women:
“Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing information relating to alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world. The Commission on the Status of Women considers such communications as part of its annual programme of work in order to identify emerging trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality.”
Information was provided to the UN on incidents dating back approximately 2.5 years across the 57 countries we have reported on in that time.
Legal, social and familial punishment of lesbians for failing to conform with the expectations imposed on women illuminates the status of women around the world. Homosexuality is understood to be a breach of sex-based expectations. Strictly enforced sex roles are accompanied by increased consequences for those who break them, individually or collectively. Lesbians, or women read as lesbians, are doubly punishable for their non-conformity, both overt and inferred.
Listening2Lesbians is not an expert on these countries and provided this information to augment and support the information provided by women from individual communities. We can only provide information on cases we have been able to locate and based our submissions solely around the available facts. Please note that we welcome corrections and updates.
We are painfully aware of the many communities not represented.
Anyone with information on missing communities is invited to contact us with information on reporting violence and discrimination against lesbians in their community.
Natalí fears for her life and that of her mother. They live together in an apartment in the northern area [of La Florida] and she is certain that her neighbors want to evict them for her being lesbian. She has reported them for harassment and threats in court. For a month she has had a panic button that, she says, she has used on several occasions. “They physically and verbally assaulted us. They tell us that they want the apartment and that we must leave here,” she said.
Her 64-year-old mother was one of the first residents of the La Florida monoblock apartments and Natalí has lived there since she was born 35 years ago. According to her, in 2019 the harassment began. The final straw which resulted in her seeking justice was a neighbour threatening her with a firearm. “I got to my house and a neighbor came out, verbally abused me and told me I had to go. He pulled a gun from his waistband and put it to my head. My mum heard noises and opened the door. I took advantage of his distraction to escape and enter my house,” she recalled.
Natalí teme por su vida y la de su madre. Viven juntas en un departamento de zona norte y asegura que sus vecinos las quieren echar por lesbiana. Los denunció por hostigamiento y amenazas en la Justicia y desde hace un mes tiene un botón antipánico que, asegura, usó en varias oportunidades. “Nos agredieron física y verbalmente. Nos dicen que quieren el departamento y que nos vayamos de acá”, contó.
Su madre, de 64 años, fue una de las primeras adjudicatarias de los departamentos del monoblock de La Florida y Natalí vive ahí desde que nació, hace 35 años. Según contó, en 2019 empezaron los hostigamientos. El límite que la llevó a la Justicia fue la amenaza con un arma de fuego de parte de un vecino. “Llegué a mi casa y un vecino salió, me insultó y me dijo me tenía que ir. Saco un arma de su cintura y me la puso en la cabeza. Mi mamá escuchó ruidos y abrió la puerta. Yo aproveché su distracción para escapar y entrar”, recordó.
Family, friends and members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Limpopo have been left reeling by the brutal rape and murder of a young lesbian community health worker, in what is suspected to be a hate crime.
A young lesbian community health worker was raped, stabbed multiple times and dumped alongside the road next to Helen Franz Hospital in the rural Senwabarwana area of Limpopo last week.
Thapelo Constance Sehata (23), of Desmond Park in Senwabarwana, was found on Wednesday (28 July 2021) unconscious and bleeding from severe stab wounds, just a short distance from the hospital.
She later succumbed to her injuries, following what her family and fellow members of the LGBTIQ+ community described as a hate crime motivated by her sexual identity. Police have confirmed the incident.
Sehata was a mother of a nine-year-old girl and worked as peer educator at the non-governmental organisation (NPO) Centre for Positive Care (CPC).
Her distraught older sister, Pretty Sehata (31), told Health-e News this week that the whole family, including their 63-year-old mother, was hurt beyond words.
“Thapelo was open about being lesbian and we accepted and loved her as our own in the family. Of course, there were some residents who would mock, insult and ridicule her for what she was. And here we are in pain today, mourning her brutal killing. She was raped, killed and dumped along the road as if she was not human,” said Pretty.
Nino, a 25-year-old lesbian from Georgia, no longer feels at ease when she leaves the house. Since violence forced a Pride march to be cancelled earlier this month, she is afraid of being verbally abused or chased in the street.
Reports of hate crimes have risen in the wake of the violence of July 5, when anti-Pride protesters assaulted journalists and stormed activists’ offices, and some LGBT+ Georgians say they are now living in fear.
“Things have changed. Life is no longer as simple as it once was,” Nino, 25, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said from the home she shares with her partner in the capital, Tbilisi.
“You’re more afraid that someone on the street will chase you and hurl abuse at you. You can no longer be so cheerful. You have an inner fear. It’s as if some tragedy is coming to you,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The homophobic violence that halted a planned “March for Dignity” has also raised political tensions in the former Soviet country as it prepares for an October local election – sparking protest rallies and scuffles in parliament.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has rejected calls to resign from rights activists and opposition parties, who have accused his government of emboldening hate groups and failing to protect journalists and LGBT+ supporters.
In the run-up to the Pride events, Garibashvili said holding the LGBT+ march was “not reasonable” because most Georgians opposed it, and has since described the cancelled event as a “provocation” organised by the opposition.
Over the weekend, posters depicting opposition figures and the head of Tbilisi Pride under a rainbow splattered with blood sprang up across the capital.
The owner of the popular nightclub Nordic Bar said he is investigating claims that its bouncers kicked out and beat two women for sharing a kiss.
“We are carrying out our own investigations on the matter as well as collaborating with the police. This is a very serious matter,” the owner told Times of Malta adding that he would not be saying more until investigations are concluded.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) first flagged the issue after a woman recounted her “horrendous experience” at the bar on a Facebook group on Monday evening.
The woman said that once she and her partner were at the bar, they were asked to sit by the table due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We shared a kiss and soon enough one of the bouncers came to our table to kick us out,” the woman said. She said that as she and her partner were not sure why they were being thrown out, they both resisted and asked for a reason.
But the bouncer threw both of them to the ground and kicked them as he held them down, she said.
She added that she was “disgusted” by the way they were treated and that she had never experienced such homophobic abuse before.
In a survey, MGRM had found that half of the LGBTQ+ community find Paceville unsafe, and that many have experienced aggression from bouncers.
“At this point we advice the community not to go to this venue unless action is taken that guarantees our safety,” MGRM said in a Facebook post. The NGO said it will accompany anyone to a police station if they have been victims of abuse and will also offer free legal service and follow-ups.
Claudia had to leave El Salvador because her life was at risk. There she was in danger as a woman and as a lesbian – dual reasons to die she says. For this reason, she is now taking refuge in a country that constantly feels alien to her, although it protects her human rights. She is free, but she feels lonely. Given that, she hopes that in El Salvador LGBT people will not always have to give up something, everything, just to live without fear.
Claudia, who for security reasons prefers to remain anonymous, is an activist and human rights defender. In this interview, she talks about the implications of being an LGBT person in a country like El Salvador, where, among other things, hatred, violence and impunity reign. In addition, she explains how the actions of governments which, far from progressing, insist on going backwards, affect the LGBT community. And she explains what it means to live in a place where human rights aren’t an aspiration but a fact. That place, of course, is far, far from being El Salvador. …
What does it mean to belong to the LGBT + community in a country like El Salvador?
Death. That is what it means to be part of the LGTB community in El Salvador. …
Did your departure from the country have to do with your being a rights defender or your sexual orientation?
It was both. I can’t reveal many details, but it was the violence in El Salvador that forced me to leave. I’d continue the fight, but what would that cost? Perhaps my life? Saying: “No, enough is enough” was a super difficult decision, but it was because of crime, the lack of rights and, above all, because of the violence experienced by the LGBT community. There is a horrible widespread violence, in all aspects and in all sectors of the population.
Would you return to El Salvador?
Because in El Salvador we are light years away from changing our mentality. We have nothing there. I don’t have a future in El Salvador. And I would not return to lose the freedom that I now have. I am a refugee woman. Two months after I arrived here, my brother was murdered in El Salvador. El Salvador hurt me a lot. I am proud to be a Salvadoran lesbian woman, very proud to tell everyone that I am from El Salvador. However, the living conditions that I have in this country I would not have there as an LGBT woman. I cannot do anything. And it is a very difficult situation because I love my country. I would like to be in my country and not here where I am, but there I have no guarantees of anything. (Translated)
Claudia tuvo que salir de El Salvador porque su vida estaba en riesgo. Aquí, corría peligro por ser mujer y por ser lesbiana. Eso le valdría, dice, estar muerta dos veces. Por eso, ahora se refugia en un país que, aunque le garantiza derechos humanos, no deja de parecerle ajeno. Es libre, pero se siente sola. Y, ante eso, anhela que en El Salvador las personas de la población LGBT+ no tengan que renunciar a algo, a todo, para poder vivir sin miedo.
Claudia, quien por seguridad prefiere mantener el anonimato, es activista y defensora de derechos humanos. En esta entrevista, habla de las implicaciones de ser población LGBT+ en un país como El Salvador, en el que, entre otras cosas, reinan el odio, la violencia y la impunidad. Además, explica cómo afectan a la comunidad LGBT+ las acciones de los gobiernos que, lejos de avanzar, se empeñan en retroceder. Y cuenta cómo se vive en un lugar en el que los derechos humanos dejan de ser una aspiración y se convierten en un hecho. Ese lugar, claro, está lejos, muy lejos de El Salvador….
¿Qué significa pertenecer a la comunidad LGBT+ en un país como El Salvador?
Muerte. Eso significa ser parte de la comunidad LGTB+ en El Salvador. …
¿Su salida del país tuvo que ver con que usted es defensora de derechos o con su orientación sexual?
Fueron las dos cosas. No puedo revelar muchos detalles, pero fue la violencia en El Salvador la que me sacó de ahí. Yo estaría en pie de lucha, ¿pero cuál sería el costo de eso? A lo mejor sería mi vida. Decir: “No, basta ya”, fue una decisión súper difícil, pero fue por la delincuencia, la falta de derechos y, sobre todo, por la violencia que se vive para la comunidad LGBT+. Hay una violencia generalizada horrible, en todos los aspectos y en todos los sectores de la población.
¿Regresaría a El Salvador?
¿Por qué no?
Porque en El Salvador estamos a años luz de cambiar de mentalidad. No tenemos nada en ese país. Yo no tengo un futuro en El Salvador. Y no regresaría a perder la libertad que ahora tengo. Soy una mujer refugiada, y a los dos meses de haber llegado acá, en El Salvador asesinaron a mi hermano. El Salvador me duele mucho. Yo estoy orgullosa de ser una mujer lesbiana salvadoreña, pero orgullosísima de decirle a todo el mundo que soy de El Salvador. Sin embargo, las condiciones de vida que tengo en este país no las podría tener allá siendo una mujer LGBT+. No puedo hacer nada. Y es una situación bien difícil porque yo amo mi país. Quisiera estar en mi país y no aquí donde estoy, pero allá no tengo garantías de nada.
Many homophobic people in Cameroon believe that LGBTI community centers aren’t merely meeting places for LGBTI people, but are used to promote homosexuality. Same-sex sexual relations are against the law in Cameroon.
The latest victim of this mistaken belief is the Association for the Advancement of Women (AVAF), an organization in Yaoundé, Cameroon, that defends lesbians’ rights.
AVAF reported that “on the night of July 11 to 12, 2021 (Sunday to Monday), unidentified individuals broke into the premises by smashing [into] the office of the Administrative and Financial Director.”
The vandals set a fire in that office and burned financial and activity reports. Various documents were stolen along with financial securities of as-yet unknown value.
AVAF staff and community members are worried because private contact information and perhaps compromising documents have been taken. They fear that their identity will be published.
Requests for a memorial token to commemorate lesbian prisoners in the former Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp have been submitted as far back as 2012. Now the management of the Ravensbrück Memorial and the Board of Directors of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation have finally approved the installation, as announced by the foundation in a press release on July 14th.
The memorial is to be in the shape of a ceramic ball which will be permanently placed on the new memorial area on the former camp wall in spring 2022, as part of the observance of the 77th anniversary of the camp’s liberation. The inscription reads: “In memory of all lesbian women and girls in the Ravensbrück and Uckermark women’s concentration camps. They were persecuted, imprisoned and even murdered. You are not forgotten.”
Heated Debate: Have Lesbians Been Persecuted?
This decision was preceded by a decade-long dispute over recognition of a lesbian memorial. Applications for a memorial had been rejected by the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation for a long time on the grounds that, according to the criminal law of the Nazi state, only men were criminalized for homosexual acts and brought to the concentration camp for this. There was no comparable persecution of lesbian women under criminal law in Germany. The LSVD spokesman at the time, Alexander Zinn, therefore claimed that a memorial sign for lesbian women would create the “myth of lesbian persecution”.
As Marion Lüttig, head of the Lesbenring, explained in a press release today, how lesbian women and girls were considered “because of their independence they were considered to be ‘degenerate’ and anti-social during the Nazi era. They were psychiatricized, forced into prostitution in camps and imprisoned.” Lesbian acts were also punishable in the camps. The suffering and persecution of lesbian women under National Socialism have only been dealt with in part, to this day. This is also due to the difficulty of getting such research projects funded at all, as historian Claudia Schoppmann told our sister magazine Victory Column in 2018.
Lesbian Ring: “Undignified debate has finally come to an end”
LesbenRing board member Marion Lüttig was delighted with the decision: “We are relieved that the unworthy debate about whether lesbians have ever been persecuted and the years of rejection of a memorial sign are finally over. With the decision of the foundation to install the memorial orb, over three quarters of a century after the liberation of the camp, the suffering of lesbian women and girls is finally made visible. “
The LesbenRing criticizes the fact that lesbian history is hardly present in the historiography of mainstream society. The persecution and murder of lesbian women during the Nazi era was and is still denied. “To this day, the massive hostility towards homosexuality, in the context of which the traditional testimonies are shaped, determines the politics of rememberance and research.” (Translated)
Bereits seit 2012 liegen Anträge für ein Gedenkzeichen vor, das an lesbische Häftlinge des ehemaligen Frauen-Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück erinnern soll. Nun haben die Leitung der Gedenkstätte Ravensbrück und der Vorstand der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten einem entsprechenden Antrag doch noch zugestimmt. Das gab die Stiftung in einer Pressemitteilung vom 14. Juli bekannt.
Das Gedenkzeichen soll die Form einer aus Keramik gestalteten Kugel haben und im Frühjahr 2022, im Rahmen der Feierlichkeiten zum 77. Jahrestag der Befreiung, auf dem neuen Gedenkareal an der ehemaligen Lagermauer dauerhaft niedergelegt werden. Die Inschrift lautet: „In Gedenken aller lesbischer Frauen und Mädchen im Frauen-KZ Ravensbrück und Uckermark. Sie wurden verfolgt, inhaftiert, auch ermordet. Ihr seid nicht vergessen.“
Hitzige Debatte: Wurden Lesben verfolgt?
Vorangegangen war ein jahrzehntelanger Streit um die Anerkennung lesbischen Gedenkens. Anträge für ein Gedenkzeichen waren von der Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten lange abgelehnt worden – mit der Begründung, dass nach dem Strafrecht des NS-Staats allein Männer aufgrund homosexueller Handlungen kriminalisiert und dafür ins KZ gebracht wurden. Eine vergleichbare Verfolgung lesbischer Frauen nach dem Strafrecht gab es in Deutschland nicht. Der damlige Sprecher des LSVD, Alexander Zinn, behauptete deswegen, mit einem Gedenkzeichen für lesbische Frauen würde die „Legende einer Lesbenverfolgung“ geschaffen.
Wie Marion Lüttig, Vorständin des Lesbenrings, heute in einer Pressemitteilung ausführte, galten lesbische Frauen und Mädchen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus allerdings „durch ihre Unabhängigkeit als ,entartet` und asozial. Sie wurden psychiatrisiert, zur Prostitution in Lagern gezwungen und inhaftiert.“ Auch standen in den Lagern lesbische Handlungen unter Strafe. Das Leid und die Verfolgung lesbischer Frauen im Nationalsozialismus sind bis heute nur lückenhaft aufgearbeitet. Auch aufgrund der Schwierigkeit, entsprechende Forschungsprojekte überhaupt finanziert zu bekommen, wie die Historikerin Claudia Schoppmann 2018 unserem Schwestermagazin Siegessäule erzählte.
LesbenRing: „Unwürdige Debatte hat endlich ein Ende“
LesbenRing-Vorständin Marion Lüttig freute sich sehr über die Entscheidung: „Wir sind erleichtert, dass die unwürdige Debatte, ob Lesben je verfolgt worden seien, und die jahrelange Ablehnung eines Gedenkzeichens endlich ein Ende haben. Mit der Entscheidung der Stiftung für die Gedenkkugel wird das Leid von lesbischen Frauen und Mädchen über ein dreiviertel Jahrhundert nach der Befreiung des Konzentrationslagers endlich sichtbar gemacht.“
Der LesbenRing kritisiert, das lesbische Geschichte in der Geschichtsschreibung der Mehrheitsgesellschaft kaum präsent sei. So wurde und werde die Verfolgung und Ermordung lesbischer Frauen in der NS-Zeit geleugnet. „Bis heute bestimmt die massive Homosexuellenfeindlichkeit, von der die Mehrheit der überlieferten Zeugnisse geprägt ist, Erinnerungspolitik und Forschung.“
Yulia Tsvetkova is a young Russian artist and activist from Komsomolsk on the Amur (a city in the extreme east of Russia), who has suffered a homophobic and sexist campaign since March 2019, for defending the rights of women and LGBTI people.
She is accused of committing a crime of “production and dissemination of pornographic material” as a result of drawings of real women which she posted on social media as part of her activism. The criminal trial began on April 12 and she faces up to six years in prison. Given the desperate situation in which she finds herself, Yulia announced that she was on hunger strike on May 1, demanding that the process be sped up, the appointment of a public defender and the opening up of the trial, the hearings of which are held behind closed doors with all media excluded.
Unfortunately, since the process began, Yulia has been the target of homophobic attacks from various people, and of harassment and threats over the phone, on social media and by mail. In addition, she suffered harassment by the Russian police for more than a year, including arbitrary detention, searches at her home and workplace, an enforced psychiatric examination, and almost 4 months of house arrest during which time she could not get necessary medical care.
Previously, in December 2019, she was found guilty of committing an administrative offense, for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations between minors”, and was fined 50,000 rubles (780 US dollars) for being the administrator of two LGBTI communities online in the Russian social network VKontakte.
In January 2020 a new administrative action was initiated against her for publishing his drawing on social networks “Family is where love is. Support LGBTI Families”, which represents two same-sex couples with sons and daughters. For this, Yulia was found guilty in July 2020, and was fined again. In parallel, that same month, administrative proceedings for the same type of offense were initiated for the third time. (Translated)
Yulia Tsvetkova es una joven artista y activista rusa de Komsomolsk del Amur (ciudad del extremo oriental de Rusia), que desde marzo de 2019 sufre una campaña homófoba y machista por defender los derechos de las mujeres y las personas LGBTI. Está acusada de cometer un delito de “producción y difusión de material pornográfico” a raíz de unos dibujos de mujeres reales que publicó en las redes sociales como parte de su activismo. El juicio penal comenzó el pasado 12 de abril y se enfrenta a hasta seis años de cárcel. Ante la desesperada situación en la que se encuentra, Yulia anunció el 1 de mayo una huelga de hambre, exigiendo celeridad en su proceso, la personación de un defensor público y la apertura del juicio, ya que actualmente las vistas se celebran a puerta cerrada (tampoco hay prensa).
Lamentablemente, desde que se inició el proceso Yulia ha sido objeto de ataques homófobos de distintas personas, y de acoso y amenazas por teléfono, en redes sociales y por correo. Además, sufrió acoso por parte de la policía rusa durante más de un año, incluyendo una detención arbitraria, registros en su domicilio y su lugar de trabajo, sometimiento a un examen psiquiátrico, y un arresto domiciliario de casi cuatro meses durante el que no pudo recibir la atención médica que necesitaba.
Con anterioridad, en diciembre de 2019 fue declarada culpable de cometer una infracción administrativa, por “propaganda de relaciones sexuales no tradicionales entre menores”, y fue multada con 50.000 rublos (780 dólares estadounidenses) por ser administradora de dos comunidades LGBTI en línea en la red social rusa VKontakte.
Y en enero de 2020 se inició una nueva actuación administrativa en su contra por publicar en las redes sociales su dibujo “La familia es donde está el amor. Apoye a las familias LGBTI”, que representa a dos parejas del mismo sexo con hijos e hijas. Por este hecho, Yulia fue declarada culpable en julio de 2020, siendo de nuevo multada. En paralelo, ese mismo mes, se iniciaron por tercera vez actuaciones administrativas por el mismo tipo de infracción. (Original)
Part two of this extract, the first part of which the Mail & Guardian published last week, lists the names of black lesbians who were murdered between 2007 and 2018, allegedly because of their sexual orientation.
This is an edited extract from the book Femicide in South Africa (Kwela) by Nechama Brodie.
In 1990, the year that Nelson Mandela was released, Johannesburg held the very first Gay and Lesbian Pride march, at which Simon Nkoli, Beverly Ditsie and Justice Edwin Cameron were among the speakers. The marchers chanted, “Out of the closet and into the streets.”
It was a significant moment, even though it would take several more years before gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) individuals would be granted similar rights and protections as hetero- and cis-sexual South Africans, first under an interim and then a final constitution that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
Between 1994 and 2005 a number of legal amendments were made and new laws introduced that formalised rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals. The criminalisation of sodomy was declared unconstitutional. Same-sex partners were granted similar rights in terms of immigration and financial benefits as those granted to different-sex spouses or partners. Trans and intersex individuals were allowed to change their legally recognised sex. Same-sex couples were allowed to jointly adopt children or adopt each other’s children. Lesbian couples were allowed to be registered as the natural, legitimate parents of a child that one of them had born.
There were also challenges to the constitutionality of the Marriage Act, which did not then allow for same-sex unions to be recognised as marriages. By late 2005, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Marriage Act was unconstitutional and gave parliament one year in which to remedy the matter.
But being “out of the closet” also meant that LGBTI individuals were more openly targeted for hate, harassment, victimisation and violence — even as these new laws were passed supposedly protecting their rights. Although this text focuses on violence against black lesbians, it is important to note that the growth in hate crimes was experienced by all members of the LGBTI community, with transgender individuals experiencing even higher levels of violence, as a group, than lesbians or gay men.
Black lesbians face double jeopardy This is also a good place to discuss why this is about “black lesbians” and not just lesbians, and also what the concept of “black lesbians” represents as a group, even though it is quite obviously made up of individual black women who are by no means homogenous because of their sexual preference.
In Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Jane Bennett, Vasu Reddy and Relebohile Moletsane’s book The Country We Want to Live In: Hate Crimes and Homophobia in the Lives of Black Lesbian South Africans (HSRC Press, 2010), they note that, although there were risks to “singling out a particular group of people as targets of gender-based violence”, black lesbians were “doubly vulnerable”.
This was because, firstly, although all women in South Africa were vulnerable to violence, there was a correlation between increased poverty and increased vulnerability and, in South Africa, being black meant there was a greater association with being poor or having less access to resources. Not only did black women live in environments in which, just as other black women, they were vulnerable to attack, they also lived in places in which cultures were often deeply homophobic and in which sexual violence had become a “popular weapon”.
In the 1980s, the country’s ongoing rape crisis had started to take on chilling new aspects, including gang rapes that became known as “jackrolling”. Jackrolling initially involved the selection and abduction of a victim, usually a woman who (her attackers believed) presented herself as if she was “better than them” and “out of reach”. There were echoes of these sentiments in the growing number of stories that began to emerge during the 1990s of black lesbian women being targeted, being beaten and raped by men, supposedly as a means of “teaching them how to be proper women”.
This gradually became referred to as “curative” or “corrective” rape, and involved three distinct aspects: one was punishment of the woman, for her choice of sexual identity and her lifestyle; a second was the humiliation of the victim — as with jackrolling, this was often achieved through gang rapes; the third was the repulsive misnomer of “transforming” lesbians into heterosexual women through violent penetration.
Even as newspapers carried the occasional story about black lesbians’ struggles for acceptance individually or within their communities in the context of the changing legislative landscape, almost every single one of these women’s accounts also included incidents of violence, most frequently rape. Sometimes these women were even raped with the knowledge of their family members, who either actively encouraged the assault in the hope of ridding the young woman of her homosexuality, or tacitly accepted such attacks as what should happen to “girls like that”.
The alleged public shaming of several lesbian women by shaving their heads has sparked outrage in the Philippines during Pride Month and prompted an investigation by the national human rights ombudsman.
LGBTQ acceptance has expanded in the Philippines over the years, illustrated in part by the success of some members of the community in politics, media and entertainment industries. But rights groups say gender-based discrimination and violence are still a major problem.
The independent Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said last week it is investigating reports of forced head shaving of women in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines.
Videos and photos of the alleged punishment went viral on Facebook and were picked up by local news outlets, where reports said an estimated six women were targeted. Although the video was taken down, it triggered condemnation and calls for action.
A provincial officer who condemned the punishment was quoted as saying that members of the local community suggested it.
The CHR said a local news outlet claimed the public head shaving was carried out because the Muslim-majority town was opposed to same-sex relationships.
Sexual advances from a love-sick man led to 18 months in prison for Roro and Gold, a lesbian couple who had been in a close, untroubled relationship for four years.
Until then, they had a peaceful life. Roro, 22, lived with one of her aunts. Gold, 26, rented a small room in a corner of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. She lived away from her family, who had rejected her because of her sexual orientation.
Gold ran a small “Call Box” firm — a common type of business in Cameroon at which customers pay to use the company’s mobile phones for calls and money transfers. Roro was a waitress in a dance bar.
A horny patron of the bar spotted Roro while she was working there and told her how he felt. She quickly rejected his advances, telling him she was not at all interested in a relationship with him.
But he didn’t give up. Instead, he became a regular at the dance bar, hoping he could eventually win her heart. As he hung around at the bar, he noticed that Gold often showed up to meet Roro at closing time. Eventually he confronted Roro and insulted Gold. A fight broke out.
Scorned once again, he went to the police and denounced them as lesbians. Police arrested Roro and Gold on homosexuality charges.
Police offered to release them if they paid a bribe, but they didn’t have money to pay it, so they were put on trial. On Dec. 23, 2019, they were sentenced to 18 months in prison plus fines and court costs totaling 400,600 CFA francs (about US $730).
Because they couldn’t pay that amount, when the 18 months was over they would need to remain in prison for an additional four months to work off the fine.
DURBAN – THE MEC for Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal is calling on residents to rally around the LGBTI+ community following the gruesome murder of a 22-year-old woman.
MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said KwaMakhutha resident Anele Bhengu’s body was found dumped in the Durban south township.
She was raped and stabbed repeatedly. Her throat and abdomen was also slit.
“The brutal murder of this child is symptomatic of the challenges we have in the society. We are left in shock and fear by the killing of our children in this province,” she said.
Khoza said communities had a responsibility to end these violent crimes in the province.
“We need to get to the bottom of this as to why people have so much hatred towards the LGBTQIA+ community. We call on all citizens to work with the law enforcement agencies, government and different bodies to end such cruelty,” Khoza said.
She said although the government and different activities continue to fight the scourge of these murders, some communities continue to discriminate against some people based on their sexual orientation.
May 2021: An aspiring young chef is the latest LGBTIQ+ South African murdered in the heartbreaking wave of hate crime violence gripping the country.
On Monday, MambaOnline received initial reports that a lesbian woman had been killed in Cape Town. On Tuesday, the Daily Sun confirmed the news and stated that the victim was 24-year-old Phelokazi Mqathana.
She was stabbed to death in Khayelitsha, allegedly after she rejected the advances of a man while she was out socialising near her home.
“We heard that the man was touching her bum. When she told him to stop, he stabbed her,” Lelethu Ngalo, a family member told the Daily Sun.
The young woman had recently finished a chef course and was described by Ngalo as a “go-getter who had plans to take this family to another level…”
Lwethu Kala, Chairperson of Free Gender, told MambaOnline that Phelokazi had previously attended various workshops hosted by the organisation which speaks out for black queer women.
“She had very big plans, she was the best sushi chef at her school. She was going places,” said Kala.
Phelokazi’s murder is the eighth known LGBTIQ+ killing in a period of less than three months; a wave of hate that has shocked and terrified South Africa’s queer community.