Banning Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria - A Major Step Forward

Last week, as word spread about girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last year returning to their communities having been raped and impregnated, the Nigerian Senate passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill, which seeks to prohibit multiple forms of gender-based violence including economic abuse, female genital mutilation, and depriving persons of their liberty among others.

Globally, 35 percent of women have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence against women and girls is a worldwide problem that crosses cultures, religions, and regions. It is not only a gross human rights violation, it is a public health epidemic and a major impediment to global development efforts to reduce poverty.

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UN Secretary-General Reiterates Commitment to Equality for LGBT People in Video and Blog Post

Submitted by Saurav Jung Thapa, Associate Director of Research, HRC Global

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched a video yesterday to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).  The video is part of the United Nations Free & Equal campaign, which seeks to combat homophobia and transphobia.

Faces: can you see past the label?” is a unique two-minute video that shows real people from all over the world, who just happen to be LGBT, going about their daily lives as doctors, athletes, teachers, and other professionals.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a prominent world leader and straight ally, joins everyone at the end of the video.

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In The Face of Fear: the Criminalization of HIV Transmission

Submitted by Marvell L. Terry II, HRC Foundation HIV/AIDS Fellow

I am HIV positive.  Every time I type or say those words, I reflect on my diagnosis and how hard it is to tell someone that I have HIV.  Each time I say these words – whether to myself or to someone else – it’s like I am receiving the diagnosis all over again.  Even as I work locally, regionally and nationally speaking openly about my status to remove stigma and advocate for persons living with HIV, it is still hard when I have to say, “I am HIV positive.”

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News Release: Zambia High Court Confirms Aquittal of HIV activist, Paul Kasankomona

Lusaka, 15 May 2015 – Today, Justice Judy Mulongoti confirmed the 2014 ruling of His Worship Lameck Ng’ambi in which he acquitted human rights activist, Paul Kasonkomona.

In April 2013, Kasonkomona was arrested after he appeared on a MuviTV programme where he spoke about the need to recognise the rights of vulnerable groups such as LGBT persons and sex workers in order to comprehensively address the HIV pandemic. Kasonkomona was charged under section 178(g) of the Penal Code with the idle and disorderly offence of soliciting in a public place for immoral purposes. This offence dates back to the English Vagrancy Act of 1898 and had never before been used to curb the right to freedom of expression.

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Banning gay sex is not just wrong in Africa, it leads to more HIV

HIV expert Lucy Maroncha says the laws in Kenya are only leading to an increase of HIV cases

In Kenya, stigma and discrimination against sexual minorities, particularly men who have sex with men and transgender people, is putting them at increased risk of HIV.

On 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, activists around the world will call on policymakers and opinion leaders to help bring an end to the violence and discrimination experienced by those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms. Public opinion plays a major role in influencing the attitude towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) in many African countries since same-sex sexual relationships are considered repugnant and against the culture.

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