Elliot’s Dispatches: International Roundup Week II

Nick Clegg argued that holocaust memorial should be built for LGBT+ people persecuted in Nazi Germany. Credits: Igor Schawrzmann

Nick Clegg argued that holocaust memorial should be built for LGBT+ people persecuted in Nazi Germany. Credits: Igor Schawrzmann

Nick Clegg and David Cameron pay tribute to gay people during the holocaust.

On Tuesday, Holocaust Memorial Day, Nick Clegg demanded gay victims of the holocaust be remembered in the Holocaust memorial. He noted the evolution of the pink triangle from “a badge of shame” to an “international symbol of freedom and pride”. Clegg also stated that “any memorial remembering the Holocaust should recognise the persecution of non-Jewish victims whilst maintaining the centrality of the six million murdered Jews”. This was furthered by David Cameron’s remembrance later on during the day.

If we only promote and celebrate symbols without a commitment to remembrance, the reality of the hardship of these people becomes lost. It is particularly important to remember LGBT+ history, since it does not yet have the same exposure in schools or the public as other social movements, and many achievements by or injustices against LGBT+ people have been swept under the carpet.

Around 50,000 people were imprisoned for being convicted as homosexual, 5,000-15,000 of whom were placed in concentration camps. Gay people were kept on the “sex offenders” list by the allies and were refused state pensions. The Allied Military Government of Germany re-imprisoned gay people regardless of whether they were put in concentration camps or not. The German government did not apologise to the LGBT+ community until 2002.

Click here to see all the gay holocaust memorials around the world.

Chinese courts have seen the first ever anti-discrimination lawsuit against an LGBT+ person in the workplace. Apparently the plaintiff’s sexuality was revealed in an online viral video, and shortly after this he was fired for being gay. The case was brought last week to the Nanshan District People’s Court. Liu Xiaohu, the lawyer representing the plaintiff has stated that they are “very optimistic”; he believes this will “definitely have an impact” on perception of gay rights in China.

China decriminalised the 1997 act on ‘hooliganism’, which had been used to ban private, consensual gay sex. Homosexuality was removed from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders in 2001. The government’s attitude falls into the “Three nos”: no approval, no disapproval, and no promotion, and polls show the public’s attitude towards gay people in China is mixed. However in 2009 the first gay pride in China was held in Shanghai. In the same year, police took a harsher stance against gay people using meeting places in Guangzhou and around one hundred gay rights activists consequently protested. Human Rights Watch labeled the protest itself as “a milestone” in LGBT+ rights in China.

Chile’s same-sex civil union bill received final approval and passed through congress (28th Jan). It was approved by The Chilean Senate 25-6 with three abstentions and this then moved through the House of Representatives by a much larger margin of 78-9. Liberation, a Chilean LGBT+ organisation, stated, “we are closing a new chapter in the fight for equality, but we are certainly opening new pages and challenges”. LGBT+ rights in Latin America vary greatly, from great progress with same-sex marriage in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil being passed into law in the last few years, to life imprisonment for homosexual acts (although not enforced) in Guyana. Chile, traditionally seen as conservative, passed a law in 2012 to stop ‘arbitrary discrimination’ on the basis of sexual orientation, not including gender identity. Trans people have been allowed to change their assigned sex and name since 2007. Despite it not having achieved the progress of other Latin American countries there could be hope for the future; it is thought that 54.9% of people support same-sex marriage (according to Radio Cooperativa e Imaginacción) with support from 70% of young people (National Youth Institute of Chile).

 Elliot Fitzgerald

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