Global LGBT Community Faces Wave of Hate Crimes

Intolerance runs rampant even in countries where homosexuality isn’t punishable by death

A defiant fist is raised at a vigil for the shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub on June 13, 2016. David McNew/Getty Images

LGBT rights have made tremendous gains in recent years in the U.S. and several other countries, but in many parts of the world people risk their lives fighting for LGBT rights.

On May 11, the Irish Independent reported an Irish man was brutally murdered in Morocco for being gay after he hit on another man.

In a current trial being heard in Indonesia, prosecutors are pushing for a sentence of 80 lashes each for two men who “confessed” in court to being in a homosexual relationship after they were filmed and reported by other Indonesians. If found guilty, the two men would be the first in the country to be caned for gay sex, a tenet of sharia law implemented in the Aceh province of the country two years ago to appease separatists.

On May 12, the United Nations Human Rights Office urged El Salvador to protect transgender human rights defender Karla Avelar and others. Since the beginning of the year, at least seven transgender people have been killed in hate crimes in El Salvador. Hate crimes against transgenders are also on the rise in the U.S; 2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the U.S. With 27 murders recorded so far in 2017, the murder rate does not appear to be declining.

In March 2017, the New York Times reported a brutal murder of a transgender woman who was beaten, tortured, and then bashed in the head to death with a big stone. The murder shocked the country, leading some to address the issue of violence and discrimination toward transgender people.

For the past several months in the Russian Republic of Chechnya, homosexuals have been rounded up into detention centers and executed. The Russian government has denied the reports, but they detained five people on May 11 for trying to submit a petition to the Russian government signed by two million people to end the persecution of gay men and to demand a proper investigation.

Among the persecutions in Chechnya, the Independent recently reported a 17-year old was pushed off a nine story balcony to his death by his uncle for being gay. Vice News spoke with a man who was detained and tortured in Chechnya. “They used electricity to torture. It is very painful when they attach pegs to your hands or other parts of your body, and they start spinning this machine with a handle that starts producing electricity. For many people, the tips of their fingers were bursting because the electricity was coming out of the bodies that way,” said the man, who was kept anonymous for protection. Though homosexuality was legalized in Russia in 1993, human rights abuses and discrimination are still rampant in the country.

The Washington Post reported in 2016 that homosexuality is an offense punishable by death in Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. In ISIS-controlled areas of Syria and Iraq, the terrorist organization has released several videos executing homosexuals. The Independent reported that LGBT relationships are prohibited in 74 countries around the world, and 40 countries include laws that individuals can invoke a gay clause, citing that their victim is gay as a defense for a crime.

There is still a lot of progress that needs to be made for LGBT rights even in the United States. The West Virginia Court of Appeals ruled on May 12 that anti-gay assaults are not covered under the state’s hate crime laws in response to a case where a man got out of his vehicle and assaulted two gay men he saw kissing. In Mississippi, for the first time ever a federal judge will grant a sentence this week on federal hate crime charges to a man who plead guilty of murdering a transgender teenager in 2015.

Gay rights are under attack around the world. The United Nations voted in June 2016 to appoint an expert to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity around the world. In November 2016, the United Nations voted to keep the position after several nations tried to push back arguing the “legal basis” for the mandate that created the position should be debated. The vote illuminates the deep international divisions that exist on LGBT rights. Progress needs to be made both in countries deeply lagging behind and in those that have traditionally led the way in fighting for the LGBT community.

Global LGBT Community Faces Wave of Hate Crimes