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Sweden detains two activists en route to human rights conference

Ugandan asylees detained for more than two hours

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psychiatric disorders, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo by Håkan Dahlström via Flickr)

Swedish immigration officials on Friday detained two activists from Uganda who were en route to a human rights conference.

LGBT+ Danmark, a Danish advocacy group, in a statement said Swedish authorities “detained for more than two hours two activists originally from Uganda” at the border between Sweden and Denmark. LGBT+ Danmark notes Germany granted “legal asylum status” to the activists and they were “both carrying German identification papers accordingly.”

The activists were on one of three buses that were bringing WorldPride 2021 attendees from Copenhagen, the Danish capital, to a summit on LGBTQ refugees in the Swedish city of Malmö that was part of the WorldPride 2021 Human Rights Conference. The city is 20 miles from Copenhagen.

The conference was the largest in-person LGBTQ rights gathering since the pandemic began.

The LGBT+ Danmark statement that Copenhagen (Pride) 2021, Malmö Pride, the RFSL (the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Rights) All Out, Fundación AMAL Argentina, Udada Imara in Kenya and the Eagle Wings Youth Initiative in Tanzania signed says they “are aware of the challenges and often discriminatory practices that refugees and Black and indigenous migrants and migrants of color experience in cross-border situations.”

“Furthermore, Copenhagen 2021, LGBT+ Danmark, and co-signatories are painfully aware of the emotional implications unwarranted detention has on members of the LGBTIQ+ community with refugee status,” it adds.

The statement further notes the “Malmö team of Copenhagen 2021 is working with Swedish authorities to find out what happened and to ensure that it does not happen again.”

“Copenhagen 2021, LGBT+ Danmark and co-signatories call on all European border patrol authorities to review border patrol practices in order to systematically address and prevent instances of unwarranted detention and racial profiling,” it says. “Copenhagen 2021, LGBT+ Danmark and co-signatories call on all European authorities to ensure that the rights of refugees and Black and indigenous migrants and migrants of color are being observed — especially pertaining to freedom of movement within the EU and the Schengen area.”

The Washington Blade has reached out the Swedish government for comment.

WorldPride 2021 Director of Human Rights Aron Le Fevre on Wednesday told the Blade his organization is in “contact with the Swedish police.” Le Fevre also said WorldPride 2021 will also “schedule a conversation with the two activists that got into this situation to sort out which documents they were using.”

“We are going to talk with the police in-depth as well also because we think they should have never detained people,” said Le Fevre. “It was unnecessary and I think it was excessive, especially because they knew what was going on in Malmö.”

Le Fevre told the Blade that WorldPride 2021 has also spoken with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ rights, about the incident.

“We are on top of it,” said Le Fevre. “We are going to follow up because we take this extremely seriously. It should have been handled differently than it was been handled now.”

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Hong Kong activist dismisses calls to boycott Gay Games

WTA suspended China tournaments after tennis player disappeared

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Hong Kong Marriage Equality Co-founder Gigi Chao (Photo courtesy of OutRight Action International)

An LGBTQ activist in Hong Kong on Tuesday dismissed calls to boycott the 2023 Gay Games over China’s human rights record.

“In Hong Kong, the team behind Gay Games has really worked tirelessly to bring it to Hong Kong and it will be a very good opportunity to showcase diversity and people working together and the human spirit at its best,” Gigi Chao told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from Hong Kong. “So, if it all gets rather political and if you twist the sentiments of what they want China to be, it will just really not work.”

Chao is the co-founder of Hong Kong Marriage Equality, a group that seeks to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the former British colony. Chao also founded the Faith in Love Foundation, a group that seeks to increase awareness of LGBTQ issues in Hong Kong.  

Chao is a member of the OutRight Action International board of directors. Chao is slated to speak in the group’s annual summit that will take place virtually this week.

“All eyes are peeled on the events of next year: The Beijing Olympics, the relationship between Beijing and the U.S. as relationships either improve or sour over the course of the next 12 months and also trade and the global economic situation … it’s not a rosy picture by all means,” Chao told the Blade. “Everybody is bracing for the worst in terms of how the world recovers from COVID, but LGBTIQ rights continue.”

Chao said Dennis Philipse, a Hong Kong resident who co-chairs Gay Games Hong Kong, and his colleagues “want the Gay Games to be a celebration of the human spirit in terms of sport.”

“In Hong Kong, there’s certainly no shortage of people engaged in sport and enjoying sports,” said Chao.

Gay Games Hong Kong in September announced the postponement of the quadrennial event until 2023 because of the pandemic. The Federation of Gay Games, which oversees the Gay Games, awarded the games to Hong Kong over D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Hong Kong was a British colony until China regained control of it in 1997.

Upwards of 2 million people took part in pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong in 2019.

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which, according to human rights activists, makes it easier for authorities to punish anyone who challenges the Chinese government, took effect in 2020. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is closely aligned with the Chinese government, supports the statute.

The Women’s Tennis Association last week announced the suspension of tournaments in Hong Kong and throughout China in response to the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, after she publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. The Biden administration on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics that are slated to take place in Beijing in February.

“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding COVID-19, the National Security Law and all other aspects that affect the safety and security of our event,” Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Blade in a statement after the Women’s Tennis Association announced it had suspended all of its tournaments in China. “We are committed to hosting Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”

Chao acknowledged Gay Games organizers are “facing a lot of opposition from all directions.” Chao also noted Hong Kong’s government is “not actually positively promoting it.”

“If we can get really high-profile athletes to participate, I think that’s going to be a huge call for everybody to participate,” said Chao.

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World

Canadian Senate approves bill to ban conversion therapy

Measure will become law once it receives royal assent

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health disparities, gay news, Washington Blade
(Public domain photo)

The Canadian Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy in the country.

Attorney General David Lametti and Women and Gender Equality and Youth Minister Marci Ien last week introduced the measure that would amend Canada’s Criminal Code to ban the widely discredited practice. The Canadian House of Commons on Dec. 1 unanimously approved the bill.

“Our government’s legislation to ban conversion therapy in Canada is one step closer to becoming law,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. “To everyone who has made this possible, thank you. Let’s keep building a country where everyone is free to be who they are and love who they love.”

Lametti in his own tweet noted the bill will become law once it receives royal assent.

Canada would join Malta and a handful of countries that ban conversion therapy once the law takes effect.

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Chile marriage equality bill receives final approval

South American country legalized civil unions in 2015

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Chile, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile received final approval on Tuesday.

The Chilean Senate and the Chilean House of Representatives approved the marriage equality bill that passed in the lower house of the country’s Congress on Nov. 23. That vote took place two days after the first round of the country’s presidential election took place.

A final vote on the bill was expected to have taken place last week, but senators unexpectedly opposed it.

A commission with members of both houses of the Chilean congress approved the bill on Monday.

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