Global Roundup: Queer Latinx voters in the US Election, Taiwan Pride, Feminists at Thai Protests, Maori Foreign Minister, Trans Rights in India

Compiled and written by Inaara Merani

Photo courtesy of votajota.learningandliberation.org via BeLatina

The results of today’s election will change the social and political atmosphere for years to come. It is more important than EVER to get to the polls and exercise your right to vote!! Living in Canada, we have it easy; it is extremely easy to vote! In the BC elections last week, I spent a total of about 3 minutes parking my car, voting, and walking back to my car. However for millions in the US, voting does not come that easy. If Donald Trump is reelected as President, many vulnerable groups will be at further risk. Undocumented citizens, BIPOC, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and more, will face continued discrimination, oppression and possibly persecution. 

Organizations such as Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Mijente and The Center for Cultural Power have joined forces and launched a digital campaign featuring undocumented activists and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The campaign “Vota Jota” is encouraging members of these communities to exercise their right to vote.

Jota is the equivalent of ‘queer’ in Spanish, and we’re reclaiming that word… 9 million of LGBTQ+ citizens are eligible to vote, but 20% of them are not registered to vote - queer and undocumented filmmaker Armando Ibañez,

Vota Jota has showcased the intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ immigrant community and organizers are hopeful that these individuals will take to the polls and vote the dummy out! 

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An Elephant God is among revellers at Taiwan's annual pride, which attracted 130,000 people.Louise Watt / for NBC News

On Saturday, Taiwan hosted the biggest post-Covid, in-person, LGBTQ+ pride event with about 130,000 people in attendance. The nation has now gone over 200 days without a locally transmitted case of Covid-19. That is incredible!! Taiwan stands tall as a beacon for change in Asia. In May of last year, the nation became the first and only Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Since its legalization, more than 4000 same-sex couples have gotten married.

We first reached the milestone, and we can help others to march forward and take the next step, and make more people in Asia care about this aspect of human rights - Liu Chun-chieh

Taiwan is one of the few countries worldwide which successfully managed the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and a few others. While many countries are still struggling to contain the virus, Taiwan’s progress should be commended. 

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Anti-government demonstrators hold up signs at a protest site in Bangkok on September 19, 2020. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Karnt Thassanaphak

Large numbers of young Thai women are calling publicly for change, emboldened by widespread demonstrations to demand the departure of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms to the powerful monarchy. The protests began as political but have expanded to cover everything from corruption in the military to women’s rights.

At protest sites throughout the country, people are being asked to sign petitions calling for abortion and prostitution to be decriminalised. Women for Freedom and Democracy, a pressure group that formed in August, distributes sanitary pads and has also developed an online system to report sexual harassment.

The group’s organised “pussy painting” - colouring in an image of a vagina - that has garnered the most attention.

People are excited because normally we don’t talk about the vagina in public,..As time goes by, people are getting better at colouring and they feel empowered that their sexual organ is mentioned in a protest site - Kornkanok Khumta,

Chumaporn Taengkliang, who co-founded Women for Freedom and Democracy, wants them to add one more demand - that impunity for domestic or sexual violence should end.

The monarchy is an important role model for the country, and if they have impunity when it comes to domestic or sexual violence, it is not surprising that a husband or father has impunity when they use violence among family members…In a society in which people of all levels are oppressed, women are oppressed even more. They can’t stand it any more - Chumaporn Taengkliang

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Nanaia Mahuta introduces Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea James Marape to guests at Parliament on February 24, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand via CNN

Nanaia Mahuta was just appointed as New Zealand’s first Indigenous female foreign minister. That is HUGE! She will join others in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s distinctive Cabinet.

The first face that people see at an international level is someone who speaks, looks and sounds like a Māori…The face of New Zealand is Indigenous - Rukuwai Tipene-Allen, a political journalist for Māori Television

Four years ago, Mahuta also became the country's first female member of parliament to wear a moko kauae, a traditional tattoo on her chin. 

Wearing the markings of her ancestors shows people that there are no boundaries to Māori and where they can go - Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

The PM’s incoming parliament is one of the most diverse in the world with women making up about half of New Zealand’s lawmakers and around 10% of the incoming parliament are openly LGBTQ . New Zealand is frequently commended for its willingness to embrace diversity, and this is exactly why. The nation continues to stand out against other countries with its strong leadership and intersectional outlook. In this fucked-up world that we live in, it is inspiring to see women stepping up and resisting the patriarchal fuckery. 

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Members of the transgender community hold placards during a protest against the passing of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, in New Delhi, India, December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The northeastern Indian state of Assam has become the first state in India to allow trans people to register for the civil service exam. In India, individuals wishing to work in government must complete this exam if they wish to procure jobs such as administrative officials or police officers. Spearheaded by the Assam Transgender Welfare Board, this decision is historic. 

trans woman who filled out the state application form said sitting the entry examination could change her life, adding that she hoped to join the local police force.

It's a matter of pride and self respect to have a category where we can boldly mention ourselves as transgender…I want to change the system and do away with discrimination faced by the transgender community.

India is home to around two million trans individuals. Earlier this year, the nation implemented a law calling on all government departments to modify recruitment forms to include transgender as a separate gender category. While it might seem great on the outside, the reality is that in order to self-determine their gender, trans people are required to obtain an identity certificate from a local office declaring that they are transgender. Additionally, if individuals wish to identify as “male” or “female”, they must provide proof of having undergone sex reassignment surgery.

If India truly wishes to be progressive and support the trans community, trans people cannot be reduced to a piece of paper. Their identities must be accepted and recognized on their own, without a certificate telling them who they are. While India as a whole still has more strides to be made in this area, Assam’s decision to allow trans people to write the civil service exam is extraordinary.

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Inaara Merani (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa studying International Development and Globalization with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is a Muslim Canadian who is passionate about human rights, social justice and feminism. She is deeply interested in destroying the patriarchy and ensuring that all women have safe and equal access to all their rights. She hopes to pursue a career in law so she can fight for women’s rights! She also enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her beautiful cat.