Human Rights Watch Country Profiles: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The following country profiles are derived in part from sections of the Human Rights Watch 2019 World Report that relate to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Opening statement and global update of human rights concerns by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at 38th session of the Human Rights Council

As this is my last global update to the Human Rights Council in a regular session – and before I turn, once again, to the important matter of access and cooperation – I wish to draw on some final reflections.

Morocco: Why Lack of Surveillance of Sexually Transmitted Infections in MENA Still Exists

There is limited to no data on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) estimates in the MENA region. However, several studies have attempted to estimate the numbers. The lack of data could be due to the limited access to STI services, stigma, national laws, cultural and religious factors.

Most countries score an F on our LGBT human rights report card

June is Gay Pride Month, but the sobering reality is that most countries, including the U.S., do not protect sexual minorities.

Netherlands: Gay Refugees Face Death Threats, Abuse In Netherlands

The Dutch parliament is calling on the country’s government to offer emergency housing for gay refugees, who for months have been subject to death threats, intimidation and other forms of harassment at temporary shelters, LGBT activists say.

Members of parliament voted in favor of a motion earlier this week, requesting that the government “provide the possibility of separate and safe housing for LGBT and other vulnerable groups, if noted that their security can’t be guaranteed."

Philip Tijsma, public affairs manager at an LGBT rights organization called COC Netherlands, called the motion a breakthrough. It calls for exactly what the refugees facing abuse asked for: a safe place: “What’s the use of having a roof over your head if you’re too afraid to leave your room because of all the bullying and harassment?”

Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the violence gay refugees face as they seek safety in the Netherlands. Read more via Vocativ 

Austria: Government issues cartoons, behavior guides to ‘explain’ gay people to refugees

The Austrian government is issuing a cartoon guide to refugees to explain Western views of homosexuality and consent. The country’s interior ministry started drawing up the leaflets following mass sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, over the New Year.

Amid allegations that some of the men involved in the attacks were refugees, the country has drawn up the leaflets to introduce ‘Western values’ to those fleeing the Syrian conflict. A cartoon graphic from the leaflets features two men kissing and two women kissing with a big green tick. A picture of a man groping a woman has a red cross through it.  Read more via PinkNews 

Netherlands: Gay Syrian refugee's hope of new life tested by Dutch camps

Omar had long dreamt of escaping discrimination in Syria, and drawn by exuberant images of the Gay Pride march in Amsterdam he hoped to find a new life in the Dutch city after fleeing war at home. But four months after arriving in the Netherlands, the 20-year-old was shocked to find himself the victim of insults, taunts and intimidation from his fellow travelling companions.

"Coming to the Netherlands, which is the country of freedom and expressing yourself, and being bullied there as a gay person, it was completely crazy," he said.

He is among more than 54,000 refugees who made it to the Netherlands in 2015, crossing by boat to Greece and then flying to Holland in September on a fake Spanish passport. "It was surprising that those people, after making a long journey, tiring journey, after they get there, they’re still capable of bullying and harassing me," he said.

Omar's experience has not been unique, as gay refugees have found themselves caught between the conservative cultural outlook of refugee families, and the more tolerant Dutch attitude.  Read more via AFP