Global Roundup: Singapore Pink Dot LGBTQ Rally, Sudan Women’s Organizations, Turkey Defying Ban to March, Brazil All-Women Sambistas, Los Angeles HoochieCon
Curated by FG Contributor Samiha Hossain
People attend an LGBTQ rally at Hong Lim Park in Singapore on Saturday. | AFP-JIJI
I’m celebrating today because it’s been a really long fight. And you know, it’s great that love wins and the government understands that. -Ernest Seah, 58-year-old artist and teacher
Singapore’s parliament last year repealed a British colonial-era law that penalized sex between men with up to two years in jail, although the statute was not actively enforced. But at the same time lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment bolstering the existing definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The amendment essentially closed the door on any future legal challenges that could establish equal marital rights for LGBTQ people.
Pink Dot’s spokesperson Clement Tan said it was a “relief” to hold the rally with the law no longer on the books. He declined to specify what Pink Dot, one of Singapore’s leading LGBTQ advocacy groups, would focus on next, saying they “need a moment to breathe.”
Our goal has always been about slowly progressing, and LGBTQ equality, whatever form that looks like. So repeal was something that was important to us, but it’s by no means the end of the work that needs to happen. There’s a much longer road ahead of us. -Clement Tan
The theme for Saturday’s rally — “A Singapore for All Families” — sought to push back against pressure from conservative groups who fear decriminalizing same-sex relations will erode “family values.” Later in the night, participants waved pink torches and formed the word “family” using multicolored umbrellas as a performer sang Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally.”
Photo: UNEP Sudan
Amidst the chaos and destruction, women, girls and people of all genders are facing another, often less visible threat: heightened sexual and gender-based violence. Conflict drives sexual violence in multiple ways. Rape and other sexual abuses may be directly perpetrated by armed forces, while heightened economic and societal instability provide the conditions for increased sexual exploitation, trafficking, and other forms of sexual abuse. At the same time, the breakdown of justice, healthcare and other systems makes support even harder for survivors to access.
As of June 9, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) had received credible reports of twelve incidents of conflict-related sexual violence against at least 37 women in Sudan, with at least three incidents involving young girls. Activists on the ground confirm the severity of the situation.
Unfortunately, due to challenging circumstances, comprehensive medical support cannot be fully provided to the affected women. - Barkhado (not her real name), activist
In the face of insufficient support systems, women’s groups are increasingly stepping up to provide crucial services. Facilitated by the UN Women Sudan office, activists have joined together to form the Peace for Sudan Platform, a network that includes more than 49 women-led initiatives and organizations from across the country. The Platform’s wide-ranging list of priorities include providing protection and psychological support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as broader goals like increasing women’s participation in the creation of a sustainable peace.
UN Women has also established situation rooms within local humanitarian initiatives to document, monitor and raise awareness about conflict-related sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence; as well as implementing a referral system for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and gender-based violence and providing a range of survivor services, including clinical, psychological, and legal support and information.
We refuse the exploitation of women's bodies and the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. -Axado (not her real name), advocate involved with multiple women-led peace and humanitarian initiatives
More than 60 people have been detained at Istanbul Pride after thousands turned up to march in the face of a government ban. Despite the ban, a group of activists marched in Şişli district on June 25, 2023 in Istanbul, Türkiye. (Hakan Akgun/ dia images via Getty Images)
More than 60 people were detained at Istanbul Pride on Sunday where thousands turned up to march amid targeted celebration bans. In Türkiye, since 2015, Pride events have been systematically banned in the country, with events such as picnics and film screenings even being targeted with bans during Pride Month. The arrests follow Amnesty International warning of the “brazen and deepening crackdown” LGBTQ+ people face in Türkiye.
On Twitter, participants of the Pride event spoke out about attending the march in the face of oppression. One post read: The governor of Istanbul said that ‘any activity that threatens the institution of the family’ would not be allowed, and the police closed Taksim. But LGBTI+s found a way around and did not give up on the march!
Prior to the arrests, activists gathered in Mıstık Park in Nişantaşı and hung a huge rainbow flag on a multi-storey carpark opposite the green. Passionate speeches were made demanding equality for LGBTQ+ people in the country.
We carry the anger of the queers who have been subjected to torture by the state and its law enforcement agencies, and we declare that our anger will burn you. We will not leave our spaces; you will get used to us. -Activist
The speech went on to condemn President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s victory speech following his re-election in May, in which he stated the LGBTI people go against “the institution of the family.”
Istanbul Pride has been celebrated since 2003, but from 2015, it has been banned by Turkish authorities. Despite this, activists in different cities across the country – including Mersin, Adana, Ankara and Eskisehir – plan to go ahead with Pride events.
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Samba Que Elas Querem: ‘It is a political job, it’s a feminist job, like it or not.’ Photograph: Priscilla Haefeli
The all-women group Samba Que Elas Querem in Brazil drew widespread attention in 2018 after singing a feminist rewrite of the samba hit Mulheres (Women) – an ode of sorts to the many women in a man’s life, originally performed in 1995 by the cherished sambista Martinho da Vila. The empowering lyrics of the rewrite, penned by Duffrayer and fellow singer Doralyce challenge the original’s faintly misogynistic stereotyping of women and raise a middle finger to the patriarchy.
This feminist version was an instant success. But its fans have been outraged by the recent news that the composer of the original, Toninho Geraes, has requested that the song be taken down from music-streaming platforms for rights reasons. Duffrayer and Doralyce said they thought the issue had been resolved last year after they agreed to give up any royalties from their feminist rewrite. Behind the legal tussle, many simply see the composer’s attitude as illustrative of the old-fashioned machismo that still pervades samba.
While all-women samba groups are not the rarity they once were, they remain a minority, struggling to deconstruct gender stereotypes perpetuated by the very music they play.
Samba speaks about our society … its lyrics speak about what we live, what we breathe, and consequently, samba is a snapshot of a sexist society. -Ana Priscila da Silva, percussionist and founding member of Moça Prosa, an all-women samba band born in Rio in 2012
The gender stereotypes and sexism directly link to the increased violence women face. The state of Rio saw a record number of femicides last year, with one woman killed every three days on average because of her gender, according to the state’s public security institute. Across Brazil, a woman was murdered every six hours in 2022.
We still have a long way to go, we cannot think that samba stands apart in a world in which femicides happen daily. It’s a big responsibility, being an all-female samba group at this moment. [It] is a political job, it’s a feminist job, like it or not. -Duffrayer
Event creater and curator Zorine Truly dances at the HoochieCon party on Saturday in Glendale. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
HoochieCon is a group exhibit in Los Angeles featuring mixed-media art and music honoring Black women pioneers at the center of hoochie culture. Zorine Truly, 37, is the creator and curator – a self-anointed Hoochie Historian who translates her research on hoochie culture into bite-sized videos. Interspersed with glimpses into her personal life and adventures around Los Angeles, Truly’s posts range from celebrations of prominent women and rituals in hoochie culture and their undeniable impact on fashion, beauty, art and pop culture to thoughtful deep dives that contextualize significant cultural moments, like Brandy and Monica’s ’90s smash hit “The Boy Is Mine.”
These women may not have an abundance of money, but they draw on their unique flair, swagger and innovation as a tool to show up authentically and claim space in a society that tells them they should shrink. Truly knows these women — often classified as hoochies — have always been more than a punchline in a movie or a mood-board fixture divorced from their humanity. Hoochies flip narrow, misogynoir-fueled ideas of what a good or respectable or fashionable woman can look like and look damn good while doing it.
The exhibit included a panel discussion moderated by Truly, a dance party and an outdoor market featuring Black vendors. The intention at the heart of HoochieCon resonated with a range of Angelenos on their own journey of discovering and embracing their authentic self and sexual agency, including Earyn McGee, 28.
I am the oldest daughter in a Black family and definitely felt like I had to perform a certain way of being and show up physically a certain way. Even with my outfit for today, I was a little bit nervous but I was just like, ‘I’m trying to be in theme. This was an idea that I had and I’m just gonna go with it.’ I’m trying to do all the things that would’ve made kid-me happy. -Earyn McGee
As Truly takes in the fruits of her labor, and the community that has formed around her first HoochieCon, she’s mindful to acknowledge the importance of giving respect and reverence to women who have pioneered and “touched popular culture for so long” without reaping the benefits or even receiving credit. She reflects on the impact she hopes HoochieCon will leave for generations to come.
I hope they take away from HoochieCon the importance of being yourself, no matter what people might judge you by…I want people, especially Black women, to take away that they can be fully themselves no matter what that looks like and still be worthy of all the good things. -Zorine Truly
Samiha Hossain (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa. She has experience working with survivors of sexual violence in her community, as well as conducting research on gender-based violence. A lot of her time is spent learning about and critically engaging with intersectional feminism, transformative justice and disability justice.
Samiha firmly believes in the power of connecting with people and listening to their stories to create solidarity and heal as a community. She refuses to let anyone thwart her imagination when it comes to envisioning a radically different future full of care webs, nurturance and collective liberation.