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.
If their economic benefits are so underwhelming, why do countries jump at the chance to organize the Olympics?
‘I’ve never won a gift. The first gift I ever had, I had to buy. It was an old bicycle with a chain that broke every day, and I had to fix it. And today, people we don’t even know have given me the greatest gift a president could wish for: to host the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.’ It was with tears in his eyes that Brazilian president Lula da Silva accepted the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to send the Olympic Games to South America for the first time.
The city, he added, deserved the honour of hosting because it had ‘suffered’ in the past. ‘This victory is a restitution for a people who often appear only in a negative light in the press,’ he said. ‘Those who think Brazil can’t afford to host the Games will be surprised.’
The Rio Olympics recently welcomed the world’s finest athletes and provided a stage for Herculean feats of physical achievement, but the event’s host city stood as a backdrop of stark inequality. From the forced eviction of the community of Vila Autódromo to give way to the Olympic Park to deplorable working conditions, myriad rights violations underlay the spectacle.
It might have been easy for these abuses to be swept under the rug as the media’s light shone on medals and pageantry, but activists harnessed the power of new technology to compile and share evidence of the cost of Rio 2016.
CrowdVoice.by is a new tool that enables activists and grassroots organizations to collaboratively curate media related to their causes. It streamlines the task of collecting and disseminating evidence, drawing in content from multiple sources for distribution across many different platforms. It encourages users to harness the power of their networks to work faster and smarter.
As refugees take the Olympic stage, the wars that sent them running for their lives continue apace.
It was after midnight when the small refugee Olympic team strode into the stadium in Rio, the very last before host country Brazil’s huge contingent danced in to the samba-driven opening ceremonies. Ten amazing athletes, originally from four separate countries but sharing their status as unable to return home, marching under the Olympic flag.
It was an extraordinary sight — moving and powerful far beyond the cheering for the national teams.
Some of them — the young Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini in particular — had become familiar to many, her story told and retold in the run up to the games. It was an amazing story indeed. She and her sister, both top swimmers in their native Syria, had been forced by the brutality of the civil war to flee. Like so many hundreds of thousands before and after them, they managed to find places on an overcrowded rubber dinghy for the last leg from the Turkish coast to safety in Greece.
Every few years, the Olympics bring in a ton of money, but not for athletes. According to this investigation, the executives who run the Olympics get rich , but Olympians are paid paltry sums. One javelin thrower said the most he’s ever made in a year is $3,000.
Every state requires people in certain jobs to report suspected child sexual abuse — USA Gymnastics routinely fails to do so. In one case, USAG received a sexual misconduct complaint about a coach five years before he was arrested for molesting three gymnasts.
Discoveries of drug cheating by some of Kazakhstan’s sporting heroes have injected a dispiriting note into preparations for the upcoming Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The euphoria inspired by the record medal haul of the 2012 London Games is long gone and expectations for these Games are modest. Disappointment for Kazakhstan would be doubly crushing, as success in sport is intended not just to foster patriotism, but is also a core part of the state project to boost the nation’s standing overseas. The country recently made a strong bid for Almaty to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, only to lose out in a narrow vote to Beijing.
Zahra Nemati is a unique person in many ways. The first Iranian woman who won a gold medal at either the Olympic or Paralympic Games, she owns 5 gold, 4 silver and 7 bronze Paralympic medals. She set a number of records, including the best shooting accuracy at the Paralympic Games.
Now, she is to become the first flag bearer in the history for both the Olympic and Paralympic Iranian teams at the opening of Rio 2016.
In 2004, Zahra was injured in car accident, which left her with spinal injuries and paralysis of both legs.
“After that tragedy, I tried not to lose heart and continued to live for my family,” she said. “Moreover, I did not leave sports. But it cost me a tremendous effort. My family was very worried about me, seeing how I suffered. It took two years to look for something that could put me on my feet. I’ve tried everything, but in the end, came to terms with my new conditions of life.”
Police Killings Persist as Summer Olympics Approach
Rio de Janeiro state promised improvements in public security in preparation for the Olympics, but it has not done enough to address extrajudicial executions by police, a central obstacle to more effective law enforcement, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 109-page report, “‘Good Cops Are Afraid’: The Toll of Unchecked Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro,” documents how unlawful police killings have contributed to the unraveling of the state’s ambitious efforts to improve public security.
Rio police have killed more than 8,000 people in the past decade, including at least 645 in 2015. Many police killings were most likely the result of the legitimate use of force, but many others were extrajudicial executions, Human Rights Watch found.