Lesbians in the news
12/04/2015 – 18/04/2015
Violent Crimes against Lesbians:
- Following publicity surrounding Victoria Brownworth’s article on Mary Kristene Chapa’s recovery and fundraising after the 2012 hate crime that left her seriously insured and her girlfriend Molly Olgin dead, the funding campaign to support Mary Kristene Chapa’s medical needs has now raised almost $16,000.
Please donate and share to support this young women who was the victim of a horrific hate crime.
- The five Chinese feminists, including lesbian feminist activist Li Tingting, detained just before International Women’s Day have now been freed on conditional release.
Laws, Politics and Policies:
- Leading child welfare organisations and the Humans Rights Campaign jointly denounced a Florida anti-LGBTI adoption bill and religious freedom bills across to country on the ground of the harm they could do to children, both in terms of promoting homophobic messages and in the withholding of vital services.
- Although the children conceived to married heterosexual couples using assisted reproduction and donor sperm are automatically recognised as children of the husband, this is not the case for married lesbian couples. A married lesbian couple is challenging the state of Utah to force them to automatically recognise the female partner to be recognised as the parent of children born in this circumstance, as is the case in other parts of the world.
- Continuing the worsening state of LGBT safety and protection in Egpyt, the state has now been granted the right to ban or deport LBGT foreigners. It’s not entirely clear how this measure will be applied across the LBGT community. Egyptian lesbians face additional barriers including silencing and invisibility, as well as the rampant sexual violence against women, which would also affect lesbians visiting Egypt.
- A French court has permitted 4 lesbians to adopt children born to their wives and conceived through artificial insemination in other countries. Lesbians have sought artificial insemination overseas because under French law only heterosexual couples can access assisted reproduction services.
- In Italy, a woman’s relationship ties to the children born during her relationship have been recognised in a court case that granted shared custody, which is significant in a country with a lack of legal protection for the relationship between children and their non-biological lesbian co-mother.
- Fears over custody and ongoing family context in case of accidents underpin desires to protect our families from the problems posed by our relationships with each other and our children not being recognised.
- Living in a country that recognises your relationship but a state that does not – the tax headaches for LGB Americans may have a disproportionately high effect on lesbians.
- Freedom Indiana, the organisation that fought the state ban on same-sex marriage, will focus on helping cities and town implement anti-discrimination measures, following the backlash over the religious freedom laws. At the same time, Indiana hires a PR firm to repair its tarnished image. Perhaps state-wide discrimination laws would be more convincing than more spin?
- After originally denying a Cameroonian woman’s claim for asylum on the basis of sexuality, rejecting her fear of being jailed for her publicly known sexuality, Spain has granted Christelle Nangou asylum. Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, punishable by 5 years in jail. Spain’s laws have explicitly included asylum protection on the grounds of sexuality-based persecution since 2009.
- The Florida Senate approves a bill which removes the unconstitutional ban on lesbians and gays adopting children.
- Officials debate same sex marriage in Guam as the attorney general and acting director or the Department of Public Health and Social Services issue contradictory messages after a lesbian couple approached the US District Court for the right to marry after having been denied a marriage license.
- A South African discrimination case has been settled with the owners apologising for the consequences of their refusing accommodation to a gay couple. It was acknowledged that the matter was small compared to the violent homophobia may LGBT South Africans face but that it was a part of the broader picture of addressing dehumanising treatment of lesbian, bisexual and gay South Africans.
- Lesbian suicide is a neglected issue in India with a toxic combination of blatant lesbophobia in Bollywood and minimal representation, with reporting of lesbian suicides not including supporting information or openly reporting the facts of stories. A country of over 1.25 billion people, India seems to have only 5 organisations supporting lesbian and bisexual women, reflecting their lack of visibility.
- Organisations representing lesbians in the tech field work to support women who are significantly less satisfied with their jobs on average and receive lower pays. This support includes mentor programs.
- Apple’s Siri appears to have been programmed to be homophobic in Russian, although it’s now apparently been fixed, in a measure reflecting the increasing homophobia and persecution in the country.
- LBGT history at the university of Chicago is being shared in the “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles” exhibition.
- More reflections on poor lesbian representation as yet another lesbian relationship on TV succumbs to the mad, bad, sad or dead cliché. This may look like an unimportant issue to those who have thousands of (diverse) examples representing them, but this is far from the case for lesbians. Movies are no better, with only 17.5% having any LGB representation, mostly minor or token roles.
- South African photographer Zanele Muholi sees the role of her exhibition to be to bear witness, saying “Looking at where we’re at right now in the struggle [against homophobic violence], there’s nothing to laugh at, there’s nothing to enjoy except when one is intimate with her lover. I ask my sitters to think about the situation, think about being black, being a lesbian, being a woman.”
- Heteronormativity in the Australian curriculum and school setting has been criticised for its effects on Australian youth and its perpetuation of homophobia.
- UK clothing company Matalan advertises their clothing using lesbian and gay couples, and the media writes an article about it. The photos and the increased representation are positive, but the fact that articles are written about our representation indicates just how unusual it still is.
- Night Fliers is a film by Sara St. Martin Lynne which can be watched here. Sara St Martin Lynne says of the film: “My friends and I saw very few reflections of ourselves and our friendships and romantic interests in the media. Night Fliers is free because it should be seen by the young people for whom it was made, regardless of an ability to pay a rental fee. In 2015, 60% profits for this film will be donated to organizations and projects that directly impact and empower girls.”
Social and Health Issues:
- President Obama uses his time in Jamaica to highlight to work of a young lesbian activist, Angeline Jackson, in a country which still outlaws gay male sex and has persistent anti-lesbian and gay violence. In common with much violence against women around the world, it often occurs in a personal setting and is both less visible and normalised.
- Bullying remains a significant issue for LGBT youth with a CDC study finding that 12-28% of LGBT students had been threatened or injured at school in the previous year, and a 2011 study showing that 82% had reported problems with bullying overall. A recent study found that peers were most likely to intervene in homophobic bullying based on “the values of altruism, leadership, courage, having LGBT friends, and beliefs in justice.”
- The Day of Silence followed by the Night of Noise – one Maine school’s attempt to draw attention to perceptions and sterotypes of their LGBT community, including lesbians.
- A New York mobile breast scanner will offer scans at a local LGBTI centre in response to increased rates of breast cancer among lesbians.
Remembering our sisters:
- In sad news, well known lesbian feminist Sidney Abbott has died in a house fire. Among her other achievements, Sidney Abbott was known as the co-author of “Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism”.
- Chicago historian and activist Melvyna Gaynor is calling for respondents for her new history project on the Black LGBT community in Chicago from 1970 to the present.
- A new book Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women explores the forgotten victims of Ravensbrook which notably included lesbians in the Nazi concentration camp built specifically for women.
- From 1985 Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence was a book that highlighted the history and experience of cloistered lesbian relationships.
- An Iranian Ayatollah has blamed homosexuality on bizarre causes including a man thinking of a woman other than his wife when she conceives and women not wearing the hijab correctly. Iran remains a dangerous country in which to be lesbian, with four counts of sex between women being punishable by death.
- The US Mennonite Church licences a lesbian pastor and refuses to remove her despite calls to from this congregation that has now left the church. Some Mennonite churches have also performed same sex weddings. Meanwhile the Alleghne Mennonite Conference, covering 27 churches in Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, welcomed the LGBT-welcoming Hyattsville Mennonite church back, agreeing to disagree with them on lesbians and gays in the church.
- In line with other sections of Irish society, including the technology sector and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Irish theologian Prof Linda Hogan argues that there is a a theological case for same sex marriage. While this isn’t very compelling for the non-Christians among us, it may be relevant for the fight for marriage equality in the overwhelmingly Christian country. The question not being asked, though, is why we are focussing on a fight for rights to an institution so hopelessly rooted in misogyny and oppression of women instead of (also) fighting for equal legal rights, irrespective of marital status, to protect our families from the problems posed by our relationships with each other and our children not being recognised.
- A female Norwegian bishop is refusing to ordain lesbian Hanne Marie Pederson-Erikson, although other Lutheran Bishops disagree with her stance and may ordain Pedersen-Erikson in a situation that reflects the changing position of some churches on homosexuality.
***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.