World news in 2011

Published: December 28, 2011

There was a lot of push and pull, as everything happened from Belgium getting its first gay prime minister to U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s historic pro-LGBT speech to the anti-gay actions of several African nations:

—Leader killed: David Kato, an openly gay human-rights activist and advocacy officer at Sexual Minorities Uganda, was attacked in his home in Mukono, Uganda, on Jan. 26, and died on his way to the hospital. Sidney Nsubuga Enoch was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison Nov. 10.

—Violence on the rise: A report, "The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People," asserted that violence and discrimination against LGBT people has increased since the January 2010 earthquake. Perhaps most shocking, conservative religious leaders in Haiti blamed LGBT people for the earthquake, leading to increased stigma and violence.

—Happy anniversary: This year marked the 10th anniversary that the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to let same-sex couples marry. Now same-sex marriage is legal in 12 nations, and the Netherlands has seen nearly 15,000 same-sex marriages.

—Uganda’s bill: Uganda considered an anti-gay measure that would inflict the death penalty on those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality." After much global outrage, Parliament adjourned in May 2011 without voting on the bill. The government voted to reopen debate on the bill later in the year.

—Showing Pride: Dozens of people ( including Chicago gay-rights activist Andy Thayer ) were arrested for participating in a banned gay-pride event in Moscow. As authorities arrested individuals, things became even more chaotic as an ultra-Orthodox group, described as skinheads, gathered in anticipation of the event and attacked the activists.

—I declare: The United Nations issued a declaration on HIV and AIDS. The declaration was the first General Assembly statement on AIDS to explicitly include men who have sex with men, breaking a pervasive silence about this population.

—And then there’s fraud: Many followed the "saga" of the Syrian woman behind the blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus," who was supposedly kidnapped—but it turned out that it was all a fraud. Tom MacMaster—a 40-year-old U.S. man from Georgia working on his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland—had been writing the blog for years under the pseudonym "Amina Arraf." He later apologized on the blog.

—Do the rights thing: In a groundbreaking achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution, presented by South Africa along with Brazil and 39 additional co-sponsors from all regions of the world, was passed by a vote of 23 in favor, 19 against and three abstentions.

—Bad boy, what you gonna do?: Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton—whom gay-rights groups have vilified because of his anti-gay songs—was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in a Florida cocaine deal. Banton is mostly known among gay-rights groups for his song "Boom Bye Bye," the lyrics for which are apparently a fantasy of murdering LGBT people. In 2006, Banton was acquitted on charges that he had participated in the assault of gay men in Jamaica.

—Pulling back: The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organization ( aka IGLYO ) on July 28 canceled plans to hold its December annual conference in Israel after being criticized by Palestinian LGBT activists and some of its own member groups.

—He’s a survivor: Rudolf Brazda, believed to be the oldest known gay survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, died Aug. 3 at the age of 98. Brazda was one of thousands of gay men deported to concentration camps during World War II. The Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler viewed homosexuality as an aberration and a threat to the Aryan race. More than 50,000 homosexuals were convicted as criminals during the Nazi reign.

—Rescue me: In Norway, married lesbian couple Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen helped rescue 40 people during Anders Breivik’s recent shooting rampage at a youth camp on Utoya Island. Dalen and Hansen drove the boat to the island, picked up individuals from the water and transported them to the opposite shore to the mainland.

—Layton passes: In Canada, the Right Honourable Jack Layton, MP, died of cancer at age 61. An ally of the LGBT community, Layton—who guided the New Democrat party tinto being Parliament’s dominant opposiion party—was a vigorous supporter of HIV/AIDS activism in the early years of the pandemic. In 2005, many credited Layton for the success of Canada’s national same-sex marriage bill when he was the only party leader to request supporting votes.

—Taking a break: The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico voted to cut ties with the U.S. Presbyterian Church over the issue of gay ministers. Despite a 139-year history and a network of ministries spanning the United States-Mexico border, the Mexican denomination made the decision after the U.S. church voted in May to allow the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.

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