Global Roundup: Thailand Pride Parade, Argentina Femicide March, Zambia’s LGBTQIA+ Activists, Indigenous Dolls, Trans Indigenous Scholar & Influencer
Curated by FG contributor Samiha Hossain
Metinee Kingphayom, a Thai actor and model, attends the Rainbow Runway for Equality at Central World Mall in Bangkok, Thailand. Photograph: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images via The Guardian
The LGBT community in Thailand is optimistic as Pride parades return to Bangkok for the first time in many years. Bangkok Naruemit Pride this Sunday – believed to be the first official Pride parade in the Silom area of Thailand’s capital for more than 15 years – comes as the city appoints its new governor, Chadchart Sittipunt, an independent politician who has been vocal in his support for LGBT rights.
Activists argue that the LGBT community still lacks basic rights, despite the country having a reputation for being welcoming. Thailand does not have marriage equality, nor a gender recognition law, which campaigners say affects anything from access to loans to the ability to travel or adopt children. Trans students are forced to dress according to the sex they were assigned at birth in school, including by cutting their hair to the length deemed appropriate for either boys or girls, says Ratanon, who is non-binary.
If we say Thailand is the heaven of the LGBT community, I would say no. It’s not true, because Thailand still doesn’t have a law or the policy that proves that we exist. - Ratanon Kuiyoksuy, activist involved in organizing Pride events in Bangkok
Chadchart, who began his term as Bangkok governor this week after a landslide victory, has promised to tackle some of the challenges the LGBT community faces. For example, he has pledged to stop local government staff from being forced to wear uniforms based on their sex assigned at birth, to give training to officials to improve understanding of gender equality, and to implement policies aimed at preventing sexual harassment and assault. However, at a national level, reforms have been thwarted by political upheavals that have stifled democracy, including two military coups in the past 20 years.
LGBT activists were at the forefront of a recent youth-led pro-democracy movement that called for reforms to the monarchy and for the resignation of the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first came to power in a coup. Young campaigners have described such political demands as aligned with calls for LGBT and gender equality, and protest groups have voiced support for same-sex marriage. The student rights groups Bad Students has also highlighted cases of discrimination against LGBT students in schools, and shared guidance with young people on what to do if they encounter bullying or unfair treatment.
Alongside the main Pride parade, a Youth Pride event will also be held for students, says Akekawat Pimsawan, co-founder of Queer Riot, who is helping organizing events. As a teenager, they were forced to leave home because their parents did not accept that they were non-binary, and instead encouraged them to undergo so-called “gay therapy.” They believe there has been progress since then, though “it feels more like tolerance, but not acceptance.”
[Pride] will make our community become stronger, and we will have motivation to fight and move forward…It’s like a bridge that connects us. - Akekawat Pimsawan
A woman of the movement "Not one (woman) less" wears a mask during a march to the Congress to protest against femicides and gender violence, in Buenos Aires, Argentina June 3, 2022. The mask reads: "We want us alive." REUTERS/Mariana Nedelcu
Thousands of people marched against femicide and gender violence in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Friday, as part of a movement now in its seventh year called Ni Una Menos, or "Not One Woman Less." The march was held in the center of the capital, culminating at the National Congress, where protesters lit candles to remember victims of gender-based violence. Marchers held banners that read "We want to stay alive" while others featured photographs of femicide victims. By evening, the lights illuminating the Argentine parliament lit up in pink in solidarity.
Many women who ended up murdered had (made claims) with the police and had lodged previous complaints in the Ministry (for Women). They still ended up murdered…There is still no immediate answer to the violence. - Marina Perez, 50-year-old railway worker
According to the Women's Office of the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice, an average of one femicide was recorded every 35 hours in the country last year, with 81% of those killed classified as victims of domestic violence.
58-year-old Alejandra Lume also participated in the march and carried a sign that read "Old women are also killed." She was surrounded by women singing and the beat of drums.
What happens to us here is that justice is slow and it's patriarchal. Despite the many complaints they make, women are often not listened to, they are not cared for and in general those who die, die after having made many complaints. - Alejandra Lume
Luakam Anambe, of Brazil’s Anambé indigenous group, who is at the helm of a small, burgeoning business selling handmade indigenous dolls poses for a photo in her sewing workshop at her home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Luakam Anambé, an Indigenous woman in Brazil, produces Indigenous dolls from her home for a growing clientele. Anambé wanted her newborn granddaughter to have a doll – something she'd never owned as a child working in slave-like conditions in Brazil's Amazon rainforest. But she wanted the doll to share their Indigenous features, and there was nothing like that in stores. While Indigenous dolls can be found elsewhere in Latin America, they remain mostly absent in Brazil, home to nearly 900,000 people identifying as Indigenous.
Before, only white dolls existed, then came the Black ones, but Indigenous ones didn’t appear. When Indigenous women see the dolls, they sometimes cry. - Luakam Anambé
Since 2013, Anambé has sold more than 5,000 dolls at local fairs and through social media, mailing them across the country, and she is fundraising to attend a German fair with the aim of exporting to Europe.
At only 7 years old, Anambé lived and worked at a plantation. She remembers being rebuked after asking the owner's wife for a doll. Anambé said she was 15 when the plantation owner forced her to marry his friend, a man two decades her senior, with whom she had a daughter. Anambé soon fled her violent husband, leaving her baby with family.
[Indigenous people are] fighters, in a fight to survive. [Before colonization] there were millions of Indigenous people in Brazil. Today, there are far fewer. And every passing day, less and less. - Luakam Anambé
Anambé and her daughter Atyna Porã have expanded their portfolio to include dolls bearing face and body paints of five other Indigenous groups. Each is handsewn, dressed in traditional clothes and carefully painted with a sharpened branch from a tree in their backyard, following Indigenous custom.
It’s like a mirror. Through the doll, we see ourselves, and we have to break down the taboo behind it, because we have always been very discriminated against. - Atyna Porã
Anambé named her first doll after Atyna’s daughter, Anaty, which became her company's name. And 20% of proceeds go to her nonprofit, Maria Vicentina, named for her mother and grandmother. Based in Para, it will provide seamstress training to women under duress, growing the Anaty doll operation while helping provide them financial independence.
11 June 2020: Anold Mulaisho, an asylum seeker from Zambia and an LGBTQIA+ refugee activist. (Photograph by Ihsaan Haffejee) via New Frame
LGBTQIA+ activists in Zambia have had to resort to working underground and relying on networks, as homophobic laws and discrimination are pervasive in the country.
Anold Mulaisho, 27, was forced to flee Zambia in 2017 because of his sexual orientation. At the time, there were no gay rights organizations to support him. Now, Mulaisho is providing shelter to a fellow queer refugee from Zambia who recently arrived in South Africa.
I knew of [human rights activist] Paul Kasonkomona, who spoke about queer rights in Zambia at the time when some of my friends were being arrested. But he was arrested [in 2013] after he appeared on television speaking on queer rights. After that, everyone went so much into hiding, including myself. In essence, we feared that once you speak up you’ll be arrested. - Anold Mulaisho
According to a report released in December, Zambia’s queer rights movement has made little progress in the decade since Kasonkomona’s arrest. The report was written by the trans and intersex rights organization Transbantu Association Zambia and the Southern African Litigation Centre. It highlights how LGBTI+ organizations cannot easily register as NGOs and at times, have to decrease their activities and operate clandestinely due to government persecution.
Zambia’s penal code, inherited from British colonial laws, carries a sentence of 15 years to life imprisonment for those found guilty of same-sex sexual activity. However, the law also affects many trans and intersex people regardless of their sexual orientation.
The laws of the country do not recognize the existence of intersex persons. It is very silent. Only the binaries of male and female are recognized. And even when it talks about discrimination on the basis of this or that, it doesn’t talk about sex characteristics. So basically, the law does not recognize intersex persons. - Sakala, Founder of Intersex Society of Zambia
Many activists say that organizations have no choice but to operate in a discreet and underground manner. David Mulenga (not his real name), head of one of Zambia’s queer rights organizations, says it is largely through networking that his organization is able to provide some of the services needed. He also needs to take considerations to ensure the organization’s staff and the people it assists are safe. Mulenga believes there is still a lot of unlearning that needs to be done before queer activists will be able to come out and stand tall.
For now, the only thing we hope for is for queer activists to continue working underground, like where we all are. So it will be a very, very long road. It’s something that is going to take probably years and years before the queer activists in Zambia can stand up and speak without being persecuted, without being taken to jail just for speaking. - David Mulenga
NBC News; Courtesy of Amber B. Scott
Navajo Nation citizen Charlie Amáyá Scott, 27, is a transgender social media influencer, scholar and advocate. She leverages her platform to highlight issues affecting the queer Indigenous community.
In one of her most recent Instagram videos, Scott shares “trans joy” with a story involving her grandmother who saw her dressed in traditional clothing worn by Navajo and Diné women for the first time. Scott had not previously shared with her grandmother that she is transgender.
My tagline is “inspiring joy and justice,” and that is the most important thing I want to share, is that when people see my videos, they feel inspired and motivated to change the world. But I also want them to smile. I want them to have an amazing day. It’s those moments of joy that I think are the most impactful for movements of justice and refusal. - Charlie Amáyá Scott
Scott is also a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Denver. Her dissertation will be a blend of using photography and letter writing to get Native undergraduate students to describe or portray what settler colonialism is. Scott also discusses dealing with settler colonialism as well as experiences of trans misogyny, both from her own community and those outside her community.
So I guess one of the challenges is really trying to get people to realize that trans misogyny, anti-trans rhetoric and anti-queerness are really rooted in the violence of settler colonialism [and] heteropatriarchy. - Charlie Amáyá Scott
When asked what allies and the media can do to highlight queer Indigenous people, Scott says it is important that they “don’t look away” or avoid the discomfort that comes with recognizing the violence queer Indigenous people face. For Scott, Pride is both a movement and a celebration.
But we’re still here, and there’s so much beauty and brilliance to honor and to celebrate, and there’s so much joy. And all of that encompasses our demands for justice and our acts of resistance, resilience and refusal. So that is what Pride means to me. - Charlie Amáyá Scott
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.
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