Showing posts with label LGBTQ Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LGBTQ Rights. Show all posts

December 29, 2018

Facebook Must Take Responsibility for Its Impact on The Strike Down of International LGBT Rights

                                                    Image result for facebook and strikedown of LGBT

If like me you’re a progressive who believes in the march of global human rights, it’s been a bit of a depressing time since 2016. Vote after vote just hasn’t gone our way. 
We’ve all had to get uncomfortably familiar with bitter disappointment. From Brazil’s far-right crackdown on LGBT+ rights, with their new leader calling himself a “proud homophobe” to Poland’s Supreme Court being attacked for serving “the ideology of homosexual activists.” And most recently it was Taiwan’s turn to cause upset and anguish – its recent referendum on marriage equality after a 2017 court ruling to introduce same-sex marriage ended in a devastating defeat for equality.
The common thread running through so many of these votes is fake news on Facebook.
In Taiwan, the vote itself was organised by Christian groups; organisations that make up only 5 per cent of the country’s population. And by now it’s clear that online campaigning tactics fuelled and funded by Christian organisations and the Chinese disseminated fake news materials across Taiwanese social networks. The aim appeared to be to confuse and convince people ahead of the vote on marriage equality. This material described LGBT+ people as perverted and claimed that Taiwan’s universal healthcare system would become overrun with foreign HIV-positive homosexuals, who would marry Taiwanese men to access HIV/Aids treatment.

These sorts of fear tactics are nothing new in any political election. But as we’ve seen repeated across all recent public votes across the world, votes and referendums seem to now be won where the public are most connected – social media. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie has claimed that the now defunct political consulting firm could even utilise Facebook data on people's fashion tastes to encourage them to vote for Donald Trump during the 2016 US election.

Only this week we’ve again been reminded of the dangers of fake news on Facebook, with new research suggesting adverts on the platform have ignited anti-refugee attacks in Germany.
The core problem is that, through its algorithm, Facebook separates us from moderating voices or authority figures, and herds us into ever smaller like-minded groups, encouraging us to consume content that engages our base emotions.
It’s in this light that Taiwan’s decision to put marriage equality to a vote could be seen as a big mistake. Although in some cases these types of votes are won – as in Ireland and Australia – the risks now are too great. In an age of fake news and unregulated social media, wherever possible, human rights should not be put to a public vote. Lies and misinformation which used to be on the fringes of political discourse are now too easily seeping into the mainstream.

Arguably any organisation can now open an advertising account on Facebook, and can begin targeting individuals based on salary, job, interest, location and even association with any of these factors. But too many regressive organisations, who would like nothing more than to rollback hard won rights, have absolutely no qualms about abusing – rather than just using – smart social profiling techniques. They seem happy to lie, cheat and misinform to get what they want, posing a real threat to the ongoing move to equal rights and equality across the globe.
During the Out4Marriage campaign that I helped found in 2013 to support changing the law to allow same sex couples to marry, digital profiling didn’t exist in the same detail as today. What won the campaign for us was the power of progressive, personal and positive storytelling – empowering celebrities, MPs and members of the public to create their own short video content and post it online explaining why they we’re “coming out for marriage.” What wins marriage equality campaigns is the same thing which wins any campaign fighting for better human rights: empathy, compassion and relatability – particularly viewable by an audience who disagrees and needs convincing.

But shift forward to 2018, and using Facebook to reach an audience that disagrees with your opinion is near enough impossible. Imagine what could be done now if you add the power of personalisation on social media, adapting the messages to someone’s ambitions, aspirations and desires.
On the issue of gay rights there is still much work to be done. Equal marriage is still the exception around the world. And let’s not forget, it’s still illegal to be gay in 70 countries. In 10 of those countries the punishment is death. And in many cases, progress has not just stalled, it’s going backwards. Campaigners have their work cut out.
It’s time for companies like Facebook to step up and give the LGBT+ community a helping hand. First, they need to start taking misinformation seriously. As the fight for equal rights shows, there are real life impacts to the sort of fake news polluting the platform; from the thousands of gay people in Taiwan who will not be able to get married to the individual gay or trans people attacked in places like Brazil because of Facebook posts that demonise and vilify their identity. 
But they need to change their all-important algorithm. How are campaigners ever going to engage with and change the minds of those who disagree with LGBT+ rights if those people are stuck in an echo chamber that fails to expose them to different views? Without social media which proactively engages us with all different attitudes and points of view, we won’t be able to see the views that we need to change.
This change will require a big overhaul of social media sites’ profit models, but they need to take responsibility for the damage they have caused, and acknowledge the reality that this type of fake news disproportionately attacks LGBT+ people. Given how effective the tactic has been in mobilising the far right in recent elections, we can expect more in the near future. Facebook can either be a dark cloud on the horizon, or a ray of light. This coming year it needs to choose which one it wants to be. 
Mike Buonaiuto is the executive director of Shape History and co-founder of Out4Marriage campaign

September 10, 2018

Singapore's LGBT Community Wants The Country To Go The Way of India's Landmark Decision

Singapore’s LGBT community wants the country to end a ban on gay sex after India scrapped the same law a few days ago. India’s landmark ruling on Thursday axed the law, which was reinstated five years ago and punishable by up to 10 years in jail. ‘Thanks to all that fought for this, braving the worst sort of prejudice. 

                             Supporters attend the annual "Pink Dot" event in a public show of support for the LGBT community at Hong Lim Park in Singapore on July 1, 2017. Thousands of Singaporeans took part in the gay-rights rally on July 1. / AFP PHOTO / Roslan RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

This is a good day for human rights,’ one activist said. Singapore has campaigned for some time for the gay sex law to be axed (Picture: AFP PHOTO / Roslan RAHMAN) Now, the gay community in Singapore is mounting pressure on its government to do the same. It has flooded Twitter and Facebook with messages. ‘There are many strong moral and economic arguments,’ said one woman. ‘The heterosexual community need to stop staying silent and playing dumb, and actually advocate and stand up for the rights,’ said another Facebook user. ‘It’s a horrible law that discriminates. It should really go very soon,’ wrote one man.

 Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has encouraged the country’s LGBT community to put pressure on the government Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore, himself took to Facebook. The veteran politician wrote: ‘I would encourage our gay community to bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A.’ Under section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code, a man found to have committed an act of ‘gross indecency’ with another man. 

Professor Koh was reminded on Facebook how previous attempts to end the 2014 law failed, to which he wrote ‘try again’. MORE: WORLD North Korea leaves nuclear missiles out of huge 70th military parade British man dies after emergency medical treatment on flight to Ibiza Woman, 92, left for 25 hours in hospital chair with painful kidney infection The law in Singapore does not apply to homosexual acts between women. Chief of government communications in the country Janadas Devan supported Professor Koh. ‘Speaking personally, I support Tommy’s position. 377A is a bad law; it is bad law. ‘Sooner or later, it will go. Pray sooner rather than later,’ he wrote.

August 3, 2018

LGBTQ Dare to Rally in South Korea for Their Rights, 'Cojones' is Never Been on Empty For This Community

Heezy Yang, 28, is on a mission to advocate LGBTQ issues and rights through artistic activism. A quaint conceit? Hardly. In South Korea, being gay can still get you thrown in prison.
“I’ve seen a lot of people saying there are no gays in Korea,” says Yang, who felt obliged to conceal his homosexuality most of his life. While homosexuality is not illegal, it’s taboo in a conservative country where Christianity remains the dominant faith. So, in some extreme cases, young men who serve their compulsory military services are imprisoned or undergo investigation when they’re allegedly caught having same-sex intercourse.
While conservative Christian detractors in South Korea see homosexuality as a threat, Yang sees it as an opportunity to express himself through art and raise awareness about a community that is so often ostracized and voiceless. After dropping out of university in 2013, Yang dedicated himself to art projects, illustrations, photography and performances — all focusing on LGBTQ issues and sexual minorities. He’s also the founder of the LGBTQIA+ And Allies in Korea group and Seoul Drag Parade. 
“Some people are not as lucky as I am,” says Yang, who came out to his supportive family five years ago. “Which is why I carry out fundraisers and charity events for organizations that help other LGBT people and vulnerable people.” Specifically? Kids who’ve been expelled from their homes for being gay.
Which is not surprising if you consider that more than 200,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the “lewd” Seoul Queer Parade be canceled.   
But Yang seems unfazed. In fact, he sees positive change. “200,000 is actually small compared to the number of people in this country.” And while coming out was impossible in his teens, Yang sees the visibility of the LGBTQ community on the rise. “The Pride Parade has grown over the years, while protester numbers have decreased.”
And Heezy Yang just might be right. This year’s event, which was notably not canceled, saw a record number of attendees — 120,000, according to organizers — making it the biggest pro-LGBTQ event in South Korean history. 

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