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Namibia High Court Overturns Law That Banned Gay Relations 

A high court in Namibia has overturned a law that previously criminalized gay sex in what is being hailed as a victory for LGBTQ+ campaigners after their continuous, and difficult, fight for human rights in African countries. 

In 1990, Namibia adopted a law after gaining independence from South Africa that banned “sodomy” and “unnatural offenses” relating to the LGBTQ+ people. 

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“I feel elated. I’m so happy. This really is a landmark judgment, not just for me, but for our democracy,” said Friedel Dausab, the Namibian LGBTQ+ activist who brought the case.

“I’m sitting next to my mum and we’re hoping that this message filters through to all families, so that kids are no longer estranged.”

“What threat does a gay man pose to society, and who must be protected against him?” the judgment said. 

“We are of the firm view that the enforcement of private moral views of a section of a community (even if they form the majority of that community), which are based to a large extent on nothing more than prejudice, cannot qualify as such a legitimate purpose.”

UNAids, the UN agency that advocates for global action on HIV and Aids, said “the law had fuelled discrimination against LGBTQ+ Namibians in healthcare facilities and that the ruling would encourage more people to come forward for HIV testing and treatment.”

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“By decriminalizing same-sex relationships, Namibia creates a safer environment for LGBTQ+ communities,” said Anne Githuku-Shongwe, UNAids’ regional director for east and southern Africa.

According to the Human Dignity Trust, a UK legal charity, it revealed that of the 64 countries around the world that criminalize relationships between same-sex couples, 31 of them are in Africa. 

“In a pan-African survey of 34 countries conducted between 2019 and 2021, Namibia ranked as the third most tolerant on the question of how people felt about having gay neighbors, with 64% of respondents saying either that they would like it or not care about it,” wrote Rachel Savage for the Guardian

“The picture on progress in LGBTQ+ rights across Africa is mixed. Gay sex bans were lifted in Namibia’s neighbours Angola and Botswana, in 2021 and 2019 respectively. However, Uganda strengthened its anti-LGBTQ+ legislation last year, imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes gay sex with a disabled person or someone over the age of 75,” Savage concluded

pride

Far-Right 4channers Launch Attack on the Trevor Project’s Suicide Hotline

The far-right website 4chan launched a coordinated attack against The Trevor Project—a nonprofit organization focusing on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.

A post on the website called for users to inundate The Trevor Project’s hotlines with false phone calls for help and inaccurate location information. In a collective effort to use up as many of the organization’s resources as possible, users aimed to prevent at-risk LGBTQ youth from receiving assistance in their most critical moments.

The Trevor Project’s website lists grim statistics on suicide rates among LGBTQ youth. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-24. At least one young person in the LGBTQ community attempts suicide every 45 seconds.

“The Trevor Project’s 2022 Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.”

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 4chan began as a messaging board in 2003 and quickly became known for its population of internet “trolls.” In recent years, the “alt-right” movement has taken over the website. The original post to mobilize was made on its most active board, “/pol/,” which stands for politically incorrect. In 2022 “/pol/” was the most active board on the website, serving as a primary platform for far-right extremists.

Real-world violence has been linked to the board. Racist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ commentary riddles its front page. In April, the gunman who shot four people in Washington D.C. posted a video of the shooting on 4chan. The perpetrator of the mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket in May released a 180-page manifesto with language lifted directly from the website’s boards.

Users of the board referred to The Trevor Project as an organization of “groomers,” a term frequently used by the far right to equate the LGBTQ community and their advocacy with pedophilia.

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Due to the influx of calls, the nonprofit had to place a banner atop its website that listed there would be delayed wait times as they struggled to maintain the demand for assistance.

In a statement to The Daily Dot, the nonprofit spoke on the morality of this coordinated attack.

“The act of attacking a crisis services line intended to prevent suicide among young people is egregious. Our crisis counselors work around the clock to be there for LGBTQ youth who feel like they have nowhere to turn, and it’s harrowing that anybody would attempt to compromise our lifeline or encourage suicide.”

The Trevor Project intends to continue its advocacy work despite the attacks, vowing to protect its counselors and people seeking its service. It is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis organization for LGBTQ youth.

Same Sex Marriage

Japan Courts Say Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Is Constitutional 

A Japanese court ruled this week that a ban on same-sex marriage is not considered unconstitutional, marking a major setback to LGBTQ rights in the only Group Of Seven nations that does not allow same-sex marriages. 

Three same-sex couples filed the original suit in a district court in Osaka. The courts rejected the claim that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, as well as rejected the couples demands for 1 million yen ($7,600) in damages. Machi Sakata, who was able to marry her partner legally in the US, spoke to the media about the ruling. 

“I actually wonder if the legal system in this country is really working. I think there’s the possibility this ruling may really corner us in the community.”

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Japan’s constitution defines marriage as “being based on the mutual consent of both sexes.” There’s been a major rise in LGBTQ advocacy throughout Japan as of late, leaving many citizens hopeful that this court case would rule in favor of the community.

However, the Osaka court ruled that “marriage is defined as being only between opposite genders,” and not enough debating has occurred within Japan to make a proper ruling over same-sex marriage. 

“We emphasized in this case that we wanted same-sex couples to have access to the same things as regular couples,” said lawyer Akiyoshi Miwa, who also claimed they would be appealing the court’s decision. 

While Japanese law in general is considered to be fairly liberal when compared to other Asian law standards, Taiwan is the only country to have legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in the continent. 

The current law in Japan states that same-sex couples cannot get legally married, are not allowed to inherit each other’s assets, and cannot gain parental rights over each other’s children. 

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Partnership certificates in the country allow same-sex couples to rent property together and have hospital visitation rights, but it doesn’t compare to the full legal rights granted to heterosexual couples in the nation.

The Tokyo prefectural government made some strides in protecting LGBTQ rights last week when they passed a bill that would recognize same-sex partnership agreements. This means more than half of the population in Japan will have the ability to gain recognition for their partnerships from local governments. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida claimed that the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage needs to be carefully considered, however, his party has made no set plans to review the matter or propose new legislation. 

Masa Yanagisawa is the head of prime services at Goldman Sachs and a board member for the LGBTQ activist group “Marriage For All Japan,” who stated that legalizing same-sex marriage would have “far-reaching implications both socially and economically, as well as help attract foreign firms to the world’s third biggest economy.” 

“International firms are reviewing their Asian strategy and LGBTQ inclusivity is becoming a topic. International businesses don’t want to invest in a location that isn’t LGBTQ-friendly,” Yanagisawa stated before the verdict this week.