Uganda’s Anti-Gay Act Signed into Law
Jesse Bachir, Durham University
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed the now infamous anti-gay bill into law this week amidst great protest from human rights groups and western countries. Since then, many countries have announced reviews of their aid policies regarding Uganda. Notably, the Netherlands will stop sending $9.6 million in aid to assist with Uganda’s courts, while Norway and Denmark will be giving a combined $17 million to NGOs and human rights organizations operating in Uganda, rather than as aid directly to the country. The US has also announced that it will be reviewing its diplomatic relations with Uganda, including a review of its aid policies, which amount to $400 million per year.
The law criminalises gay sex and same-sex marriage and provides for life imprisonment for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality’, which is defined as any sexual relations with someone of the same sex more than once, with a child, with a disabled person, or where one individual is HIV positive.
The European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called the legislation “draconian” and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concerns that the law would produce institutionalized discrimination and could encourage harassment and violence against gays. Such a situation has already been seen in Russia, following the passage of their anti-gay propaganda bill.
According to the BBC, the provisions allowing for up to 14 years imprisonment for first-time offenders and criminalizing individuals who fail report homosexual have been removed. However, the law now also criminalises “propaganda” and includes lesbians.
‘Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters’ – Barneys Spring/Summer 2014 transgender campaign
Ellen Jepson, Durham University
Barneys, the all American luxury designer retailer, has made a daring and unparalleled move by unveiling their spring/summer 2014 campaign which has been cast wholly with seventeen trans* models. The campaign named ‘Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters’ consists of both models and non-professionals from the whole trans* spectrum ranging from those identifying as genderqueer to participants who have completed a surgical transition to their acquired gender.
Barney’s creative director, Dennis Freedman, felt the campaign was an important step in helping the trans* movement progress. Freedman maintains that the trans* movement is lagging behind the development of lesbian, gay, bisexual campaigns and rights which has witnessed a radical overhaul throughout the past decade. One of the trans* models featured in the campaign, Edie Charles, concurs with Freedman’s scrutiny and in an online interview with the fashion magazine Elle, Charles said:
“I hope that a campaign featuring a variety of transgender people will aid in the acceptance of transgender identity, and by extension, further the progress towards transgender equality and the fight for trans rights.”
Barneys photos are accompanied by short interviews and videos with the stars of the campaign which will further publicise the trans* community. In addition to the exposure for the trans* movement, Barneys are donating 10% of their sales from February 11th to the National Centre for Transgender Equality and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Centre both of whom are partners to the campaign. This is also an important opportunity for the trans* models to accelerate their careers in the tough modelling industry.
Another Canadian Women Goes Missing
Gita Keshava, Durham University
Loretta Saunders, a 26 year old pregnant Inuk woman from Labrador was reported as missing on February 13. Ms. Saunders, a sociology student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was last seen in the city of Halifax, near her apartment complex. She was in the process of writing her thesis on the high number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada, and aspired to go to law school. The police, family, and friends have issued a national plea to anyone that has any information about Ms. Saunders.
Her disappearance is part of over 600 Aboriginal women who have gone missing. It illustrates the horrifying reality that these disappearances are common and that they have an impact of all of our communities. It emphasises the ongoing fear that is faced by all women no matter our age or educational background. It shows, once again, that this is an imminent issue. It is incomprehensible that a country that prides itself on its diversity, inclusivity, and standard of human rights can allow this to continue.
Since writing, Loretta has been found dead. A response by her supervisor can be found here.