Global Roundup: Delhi’s First Trans Representative, Afro-Latina Film, Mexican Nonprofit for LGBTQ+ Community, Zoteria App to Fight LGBTQ+ Violence, Queer African Twitter
Curated by FG Contributor Inaara Merani
Bobi, sometimes known as Bobi ‘Darling’, throws a peace symbol after her win. (Getty). Photo via PinkNews.
A trans woman just made history in Delhi, India after winning a major election in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Bobi Kinnar is the first trans person to hold office in the MCD, which is the civic body governing most of Delhi. Her success comes at a crucial time in India after the Indian Supreme Court just heard two petitions to legalize same-sex marriage.
I faced insults all my life, but it never stopped me from dreaming that transgender people like me will get value and respect in society one day. – Bobi Kinnar
Kinnar is a member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). She is a longtime social worker, as well as a community leader who has historically advocated for underrepresented groups. Throughout her career, Kinnar has worked to improve education for women, children, and people with disabilities. She has also advocated for more social mobility and for the need to fight corruption within the MCD.
Implementing proper sanitation for citizens in Delhi, including constructing public washrooms for the trans community, is also one of Kinnar’s priorities. The trans community in Delhi has continuously struggled to have full and equal access to their rights, but Kinnar is paving the way for the trans community and the wider LGBTQ+ community in the region.
Although Kinnar’s win is a win for the entire Indian LGBTQ+ community, it is important to recognize how other queer politicians face barriers to running in elections due to heightened homophobia. Queer candidates face voter bias, and this bias is only amplified when the candidate is trans. The fight for queer rights in India will be long and lengthy; however, the Supreme Court hearings and Kinnar’s work are a step in the right direction.
I know that transgender and queer people are still looked down upon and do not get equal opportunities…A lot has to be done, but this is the first step. – Bobi Kinnar
Daughter of the Sea is a short film created by filmmaker, writer, and producer Alexis Garcia. The 20-minute film, shot in Puerto Rico, captures the perseverance of all women, through the eyes of a Latina. Daughter of the Sea is now eligible to be nominated for Best Short Film at the Academy Awards this year.
Garcia, a Puerto Rican native, is an award-winning director whose work has typically focused on Latine audience development and storytelling. Her most recent film strives to tell the stories of women through rich cinematography. Daughter of the Sea brings to light the demands that society places upon women, especially women of colour, around the world. Simultaneously, the film is a homage to the beauty of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture.
The short film almost entirely consists of individual photographs with limited dialogue. Garcia intends to take viewers on an emotional adventure with the film’s main character who embarks on a spiritual awakening after her grandfather passes away. The main character returns home to Puerto Rico and navigates through the many struggles that Latina women encounter in their daily lives.
Daughter of the Sea encourages viewers to understand the struggles of women of colour, but the film also serves as a testament to the strength that women find within themselves and amongst other women.
Photo via El Pais.
Casa Frida is a Mexican nonprofit organisation that helps LGBTQ+ Mexicans and asylum seekers obtain the documents needed to apply to and work in secure jobs free from discrimination. The organization is also a shelter, which in 2020 was recognized for offering refuge to the LGBTQ+ community during the pandemic. To this day, Casa Frida continues to offer shelter to those who need it, but the organization is also engaged in important work to ensure Mexico’s LGBTQ+ community has equal access to work.
The Mexican organization has a program, Contrata LGBTIQ (Hire LGBTIQ), in which jobs with labour protections (such as social security, end-of-year bonuses, or internal policies to protect queer people) are posted. The program launched a year ago in December 2021; at the time, 100 companies agreed to collaborate with Casa Frida to fill more than 200 positions. Alongside Contrata LGBTIQ, Casa Frida supports queer Mexicans and asylum seekers with legal support and other services that are necessary to enter the workforce.
For me, dignified work is one with benefits (and) flexibility, where my pronouns and my body are respected, and I am free from any violence,– Sashe, an 18-year old trans woman
From January to October 2022, Mexico received around 98,000 asylum requests from individuals mainly from Central and South America. Two-thirds of asylum seekers were those who identified themselves as vulnerable people, such as women, children, and queer people.
A number of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in Mexico lack important official documents such as birth certificates and national IDs which reflect the individual’s preferred names and gender identities. Upon fleeing their homes, many people have also left behind school diplomas and other certificates which could advocate for their skill sets. Casa Frida works with queer people who have lost these documents to regain access so that these individuals can enter the workforce, with the hopes that they can reenter the workforce in spaces free of discrimination.
Vodafone Foundation just launched a new app, Zoteria, which will help the LGBTQ+ community in the UK to report hate crimes and access supports from local charities. This app was developed in partnership with Stonewall and Galop, two LGBTQ+ charities. Galop will assist in reaching out to victims to provide a safe space to talk.
Galop has been supporting LGBTQ+ victims of hate crime for decades, and we know that the official figures only represent a small proportion of what our community experiences on a daily basis in the UK. – Leni Morris, CEO of Galop
Anonymized data will also be available so that authorities can better understand the violence that the queer community might be experiencing. This data will also shed light on how violence against queer people differentiates based on peoples’ ethnicities. Zoteria was launched just shortly after the UK government announced that hate crimes in England and Wales had reached a new high in 2022, with a total of 155,841 hate crimes reported by police ending in March 2022.
Zoteria is free to download in the UK using the various app stores available to users.
Hate crime against LGBTQ+ people is rising sharply in many countries around the world. For years, Stonewall has worked on tackling hate crime by building systems to gather evidence to advocate for change and to support survivors in over 15 countries... Zoteria is a leading example of how corporates can use their technology and networks to advance LGBTQ+ rights, and we are immensely proud to partner with Vodafone and Galop on this innovative app that will take us one step closer to a world where all LGBTQ+ people are safe and free to be ourselves. – Nancy Kelly, Chief Executive at Stonewall
Activists stage a protest outside of the Commonwealth Headquarters against discrimination and criminalization of LGBTQ people across Commonwealth member countries in London on April 19, 2018. WIKTOR SZYMANOWICZ/BARCROFT MEDIA VIA GETTY IMAGES. Photo via Foreign Policy.
Over the years, Twitter has become a safe space, as well as a place to congregate for queer people. It has allowed numerous communities to come together to discuss issues and ways forward for the LGBTQ+ community. In particular, Twitter has been used by queer Africans as a forum to congregate, speak their truth, and gain support from the wider queer community. This space may soon be at risk due to the recent changes in Twitter’s governance.
Elon Musk recently purchased and took control of Twitter. Since the takeover, he has been pushing for individuals to exercise their right to free speech, as well as to expose corruption throughout the government on the app. Over the weekend, he released a series of tweets that were interpreted as targeting the queer community, which in turn led to an increase in the number of homophobic, transphobic, and overall hateful tweets in which individuals face no consequences. Queer people have been outed, vilified, blackmailed, and some have received death threats. Although his new leadership position has furthered the divide on the app, queer people around the world, and in African countries, in particular, refuse to back down and give in to his hate.
LGBTQ+ rights groups across the African continent are now offering online safety and trauma counselling to users after witnessing a rise in hate speech since Musk’s Twitter takeover. Many activists in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, and other countries, fear that the increase in homophobic tweets will drive queer Africans off this social media site.
Twitter has become a really important forum for the LGBTQ community in many African countries. Even with all the increasing hate, we simply can't stop using it…It has become a place where we have a voice, where we can speak our truth and get support from the wider world. That's why it's important to find ways to keep our community safe. – Danny Bediako, founder of Rightify Ghana, an LGBTQ+ rights group
Compared to previous months, homophobic tweets more than doubled just in the month of November and have remained at these frightening levels. The counselling and training that African LGBTQ+ organizations are offering to queer Africans is more important than ever.
Inaara Merani (she/her) recently completed her Masters degree at the University of Western Ontario, studying Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies with a specialization in Transitional Justice. In the upcoming years, she hopes to attend law school, focusing her career in human rights law.
Inaara is deeply passionate about dismantling patriarchal institutions to ensure women and other marginalized populations have safe and equal access to their rights. She believes in the power of knowledge and learning from others, and hopes to continue to learn from others throughout her career.