Queer Notes, Jan.-Feb. 2014

From the January-February 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Queer Notes

by Dee Perkins

Russia’s renewed oppression of LGBT people continues to be met with opposition at home and abroad, calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well as protests at the games themselves. A draconian anti-propaganda law passed in June criminalizes the promotion of “nontraditional marital relations” to minors, threatening foreign game participants and attendees with arrest and deportation. With unintended irony Russia underscored its general crackdown on civil society, targeting activists and journalists especially, by assuring the International Olympic Committee that the crackdown is not anti-LGBT since it prohibits all speech promoting “nontraditional” sexual relations. Many countries have stated that high-ranking officials will not attend. President Obama announced a U.S. delegation that includes Lesbian and Gay athletes Hall of Famer Billie Jean King and Olympian medalists Caitlin Cohow and Brian Boitano.

* * *

India’s Supreme Court ruled in December that only Parliament had the power to repeal the 1861 British colonial-era anti-sodomy law. The decision reverses the 2009 ruling deeming Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional and, as the Human Rights Campaign put it, “recriminalizes love.” Sapna Pandya of KhushDC, an advocacy group for LGBTQ peoples of South Asian descent, declared, “We stand in solidarity with the brave activists of South Asia and worldwide…and know they will continue the fight for equality in spite of the disappointment…” Importantly, U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power stated, “To criticize the criminalization of LGBT status is not cultural imperialism. To deny Gays and Lesbians the right to live freely and to threaten them with discrimination and even death is not a form of moral or religious Puritanism. It’s in fact barbarism.”

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