Belize (WWF) – The discovery of a new shark species in Belize waters comes as a reminder of the need to protect the waters around the Central American country, home to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve system, the longest barrier…
In contrast to 2015’s largely upbeat report on the state of LGBTQ equality worldwide, the news in 2016 was more somber. While there were significant advances, such as the advent of marriage equality in Colombia and the creation of senior LGBTQ watchdog positions at the United Nations and the World Bank, the disturbing persistence of violence targeting vulnerable LGBTQ people around the world was a continuing cause for serious concern. Growing political backlash against LGBTQ rights in Latin America and Southeast Asia, a resurgence in the activities of American exporters of hate and the stunning November victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections were other developments that could bode ill for global LGBTQ rights as we move into 2017.
2016 saw major legal momentum on achieving LGBTQ equal rights and protections. The number of countries that continue to criminalize consenting adult same-sex relations fell from 75 to 72. Three countries – Belize in Central America, Nauru in Oceania and Seychelles in East Africa – decriminalized same-sex acts in the span of just four months. The case of Belize was especially remarkable as noted activist Caleb Orozco fought in court for six years to overturn the country’s antiquated sodomy law. The march towards marriage equality continued in 2016, albeit at a slower rate than before. Colombia achieved marriage equality in April through a court decision, making it the twentieth country in the world with full marriage equality. Efforts continue elsewhere to achieve marriage equality, most notably in Australia, Chile and Taiwan. Transgender people also saw incremental progress in many parts of the world and a progressive gender identity law was enacted in Bolivia in September.
Criminalization sets a context in which the range of human rights violations experienced by sex workers is validated. Cross-movement collaboration on decriminalizing sex work is needed, now, more than ever.
In mid-November, I attended a RedTraSex meeting to review “Advances, challenges and strategies of the RedTraSex: strengthening sustainability and advancing the recognition of our rights.” RedTraSex is the Red de Mujeres Trabajadoras Sexuales de Latinamérica y el Caribe (Network of Sex Workers of Latin America and the Caribbean.) RedTraSex, on the cusp of celebrating its 20th anniversary, is made up of organizations from fifteen countries – Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Dominican Republic.