Posts

Not Another Death Threat: Queer and Trans Muslim Realities in America

By Almas Haider

There should be a name for the particular depression of living as a queer trans Muslim of color in America. A specific PTSD of walking the streets in constant fear of being racialized as Muslim and have your gender and sexual orientation questioned. The pleasure of not just having one day a year, September 11th, to expect extra harassment, but surprise holidays like “Punish a Muslim Day.” The joy of calling your mother and father, asking them their plans for the day, and telling them to “be mindful, keep your phone charged, and go home and call me if you don’t feel safe outside today.” Because to be a queer trans Muslim of color in America means to live in a state of anticipation of what hate violence we can expect next.

In the past two years since Trump’s campaign and subsequent election, there has been a surge in anti-immigrant legislation and hate violence. According to a study conducted by South Asians Americans Leading Together (SAALT), from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017 there have been “302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the United States.” 82% of these incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment, a “45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11th.” [SAALT]

This rapidly escalating level of hate violence was not created in a vacuum. This cycle of violence is directly tied to the racist and xenophobic legislation and systems of the United States. The latest manifestation of this has been the Muslim Travel Ban which will be heard by the Supreme Court on April 25th. The executive order, “bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspends the entry of all refugees for at least 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely,” creating yet another form of institutionalized Islamophobia in the U.S. [ACLU].

In response, on March 26th the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and seven LGBT South Asian and API groups submitted an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Donald Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban. The brief showed how the ban has a direct impact on the lives of LGBTQIA people and tears families apart.

This brief is in part a direct response to an attempt to pinkwash the Muslim Travel Ban. Language included in the Ban says it will protect Americans by barring entry to “those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation” [Human Rights First]. This insinuates that people living in Muslim-majority countries are queerphobic and transphobic, a marketing and political tool most infamously being used by Israel to justify Palestinian genocide.

How quintessentially American: the Ban would bar queer and trans immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from seeking a complicated form of “safety” in the U.S., while claiming that the ban will help keep queer and trans people safe. This will in turn further the narrative of queerphobic and transphobic tyrants reigning in Muslim majority countries, justifying ongoing U.S. imperialism and intervention in the Middle East and creating more refugees. And the amount of physical and verbal violence queer and trans Muslims of color experience within the U.S. will continue to increase.

As the policies of the state become normalized in our everyday lives, the next turn in this cycle of queer, trans, and gendered islamophobia is the increase in hate crimes against our communities. For queer and trans Muslims of color, these attacks target multiple identities that we hold. According to the 2016 FBI Hate Crimes Statistic report, hate crimes against racial and ethnic minorities drastically increased in 2016. 25% of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim bias alongside 18% anti-queer and anti-trans bias incidents. This makes queer and trans Muslims of color disproportionately likely to be victims. [FBI report]

Through our organizing as queer and trans Muslims, we aim to change that.

For the last two years, on September 11th, we have been crafting actions across the U.S. The purpose of these actions has been to educate, empower, and hold our community who experience the nuances of being profiled as queer Muslims of color. Our actions, drawing inspiration from Black Lives Matter and the movement for Palestinian liberation, have ranged from mock “security” checkpoints to guerilla performance art.

We are questioned and detained not just because of the languages we speak, our ancestral homes, and places of worship and communal gathering, but also because of how we express our gender and sexual identity through our appearance and the political movements we align with. Through these actions we have focused on the ways that Islamophobia and transphobia reinforce each other, how Black Muslims are particularly impacted by queer and gendered islamophobia, and building solidarity internally within our LGBTQIA community.

On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, we spearheaded 20 local organizations to create “checkpoints” in high-traffic areas of Washington, D.C. The Washington Post showed how we aimed to replicate various “checkpoints” and experiences that Muslim Americans and those perceived to be Muslims have to go through every day, including being stopped by the Transportation Security Administration, being verbally and physically harassed in businesses, and routinely called terrorists.

In 2017, after a year of direct and blatant attacks on our communities by the Trump administration, we focused on creating spaces of not only resistance, but also of healing and safety. We named the Muslim Travel Ban and other forms of state violence as the root cause of queerphobic, transphobic, and Islamophobic hate crimes. We drew connections between queerphobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia. We questioned how we show up for one another. And we committed and successfully created spaces for all of our communities to mourn both the lives and the safety that has been taken from us since the election.

Through this work we as queer and trans Muslims of color have recognized and grown our power in a country that seeks to alienate, imprison, and murder us within and outside its borders. And as we wait in anticipation for the the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Muslim Ban, we begin our plans for an annualized and formal nationwide series of actions on September 11th. We now look to September 11th and every day, not with fear, but with the resolve and strengthened ability to create a different world. And ask our accomplices to be ready to join us.

Almas Haider is the Racial Justice and Immigrants’ Rights Committee Chair of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and Community Partnerships Manager at South Asian Americans Leading Together.

You can learn more about and get involved with the work of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance to combat Islamophobia, transphobia and queerphobia at www.nqapia.org.

Tell Cyberbullies: #LaterHaters

In the last 20 years, bullying—using greater strength or power to enforce one’s will on another—has moved from the playground to the Internet. Instead of physical strength and power, “cyberbullying” employs anonymity and emotional abuse to intimidate and threaten.

This pernicious and growing problem can occur over any form of electronic communications and via a variety of platforms. Computers, cell phones, gaming consoles, Twitter, Facebook—all can be used by children to terrorize and coerce peers and classmates.

With 34% of middle schoolers reporting they have experienced cyberbullying, it is essential that students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement have the tools needed to keep kids safe from bullying online.

LGBTQ a Focus of Cyberbullying

Those who are “different” are often the target of cyberbullying. This is especially the case for the LGBTQ community—and even more especially for LGBTQ individuals of color. Nearly half (49%) of LGBTQ students have experienced cyberbullying, and 55% of LGBTQ students do not feel safe at school because of their sexual orientation.

The mixture of racism and homophobia—and other biases—is particularly toxic. Like LGBTQ individuals of all non-white races and ethnicities, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students can and are targeted more often for cyberbullying not only because of their sexual identity, but also because of their racial and ethnic heritage.

Especially now, when hate and vigilantism are so pervasive—both online and off—LGBTQ AAPI youth need to be able to effectively manage and protect their digital identities and have strategies at their fingertips to effectively counteract cyberbullying.

Personal Information Management Tools

A good place to start are phone and Internet provider personal information management apps, such as AT&T’s Digital You, which helps Web denizens of all ages protect their privacy and stay safe online.

Created in partnership with Common Sense Media, Digital You provides tutorials and resources on everything from reputation management, oversharing, and digital parenting to senior safety, privacy and security, and cyberbullying. Parents, caregivers, kids, and teachers can all use these resources to lessen the impact of cyberbullying.

Another way to use technology to fight against cyberbullying is engaging with the #laterhaters campaign, which not only provides tools and advice on how to deal with cyberbullying, but also gives victims a community to back them up.

LGBTQ AAPI Youth—Get Help When You Need It

Are you an LGBTQ AAPI youth who has experienced cyberbullying because of your race, sexuality, and/or your gender identity? If so, we encourage you to use the tools and information linked to above to help fight back, stay safe online, and involve a trusted grown-up when necessary. You don’t have to go through this alone.

If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

韓裔同志社區組織與盟友們共同譴責鄭勝振之恐懼非異性戀者的言論

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2016
Media Contact: Mark Ro Beyersdorf, dariproject@gmail.com, (347) 669-2584
Organizational representatives are available for interviews

韓裔同志社區組織與盟友們共同譴責鄭勝振之恐懼非異性戀者的言論

針對州參議員參選人與韓裔社區領袖鄭勝振於8月29日刊登於紐約每日日報歧視非異性戀者的(同性戀者、雙性戀者、跨性別者、性別認同疑惑者, 英文簡稱LGBTQ)言論,韓裔同志社區組織、韓裔盟友們、以及亞太裔同志社區組織的共同聲明如下:

「鄭勝振對非異性戀族群的守舊看法,對於充滿各色各樣、非異性戀移民族群色彩的皇后區而言是落伍的。
身為韓裔非異性戀組織與其同盟,看見一位對韓裔社區有如此重大貢獻的人物發表對於非異性戀社群、婚姻以及公共教育的偏歧言論,我們深感失望。其從教科書中刪去非異性戀者存在的有害訴求,抹煞了尋求同為非異性戀者和韓裔身份認同的我們和我們家人的存在一樣。

當一個社區領袖,如鄭勝振,發表歧視同志以及跨性別(恐同、恐跨)的言論時,這無疑地將重創社區裡正在掙扎著出櫃的年輕人。身為一位社區領袖,鄭勝振有道德責任為這些年輕非異性戀族群發聲,而不是擴大守舊的偏見。

我們呼籲鄭先生徹底反省其言辭中的有害影響,重新評估他的立場,並與簽署此聲明的組織會面。」

此聲明及通信僅提供教育用途使用,並無黨派立場。不可作為支持或反對任何參選人或其辦公室的資料。

簽署者:

  • API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC (ARP PFLAG NYC)
  • Asian Pride Project
  • Dari Project
  • Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
  • Korean Americans for Political Advancement (KAPA)
  • Korean American Rainbow Parents (KARP)
  • National Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
  • Q-WAVE

###

[연대성명] 정승진 후보의 성소수자 차별 발언을 규탄한다

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2016
Media Contact: Mark Ro Beyersdorf, dariproject@gmail.com, (347) 669-2584
Organizational representatives are available for interviews

[연대성명] 정승진 후보의 성소수자 차별 발언을 규탄한다

지난 8월 29일 뉴욕 데일리 뉴스는 뉴욕 주 상원의원 후보이자 한인사회 리더인 정승진 후보의 반동성애적 발언에 대해 보도했다. 이에 한국계 성소수자 단체들, 이들을 지지하는 한인들, 그리고 아시안계 성소수자 단체들은 다음과 같이 성명을 발표한다:

“성소수자에 대해 정승진 후보가 보이는 시대착오적 시각은 성소수자인 이민자들이 활발한 공동체를 이루고 살아가는 퀸즈라는 공간의 특징을 완전히 거스르고 있다. 그간 한인 사회에 크게 기여해온 정치인이 성소수자 커뮤니티, 결혼 제도, 그리고 공교육에 관하여 이토록 편협한 입장을 드러냈다는 데, 우리 성소수자 한인과 지지자들은 참담한 심정을 금할 길 없다. 교과서에서 성소수자의 존재를 삭제해야 한다는 그의 주장은 몹시 위험하다. 성소수자이자 한인으로서 일상을 살아가는 당사자들과 이들의 가족이 지금 여기 퀸즈에 존재한다는 사실을 부정하는 것이기 때문이다.

정승진 후보와 같은 지역 사회의 정치인이 동성애 혐오와 트랜스젠더 혐오를 보이면 이는 해당 지역 사회에서 자신의 성소수자 정체성을 어떻게 드러내면 좋을지 고민하는 청소년과 청년들에게 무척 해롭다. 미국 전역에서도 다양한 문화가 공존하는 지역으로 손꼽히는 퀸즈의 정치인으로서, 정 후보는 구시대적 편견을 버리고 청소년 및 청년 성소수자들을 대변해야 할 도덕적 책무가 있다.

우리는 정 후보가 자신의 발언이 얼마나 유해한지 깊이 성찰하고, 본인이 기존에 견지해 온 성소수자 차별적 입장을 재검토하기를 요청한다. 나아가 본 성명서에 연대 서명한 단체들과 만나 대화하기를 권고한다.”

해당 문건과 관련 소통은 교육적 목적만을 지니며 철저히 비당파적이고 초정파적이다.
특정 공직 후보를 지지하거나 반대할 목적으로 작성된 문건이 아님을 밝혀둔다.

한국계 성소수자와 지지 단체의 연대 성명 명단:

  • PFLAG NYC 아시아-태평양 무지개 부모모임 (ARP PFLAG NYC)
  • 아시안 프라이드 프로젝트
  • 다리 프로젝트
  • 뉴욕 아시아-태평양 게이 남성모임 (GAPIMNY)
  • 한인 정치 발전회 (KAPA)
  • 한국계 미국인 무지개 부모모임 (KARP)
  • 미주 아시아-태평양 퀴어 연대 (NQAPIA)
  • Q-WAVE

###

LGBTQ Korean American Groups and Allies Condemn S.J. Jung’s Remarks on LGBTQ Communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2016
Media Contact: Mark Ro Beyersdorf, dariproject@gmail.com, (347) 669-2584
Organizational representatives are available for interviews

LGBTQ Korean American Groups and Allies Condemn S.J. Jung’s Remarks on LGBTQ Communities

Following the New York Daily News’ report of homophobic remarks made by S.J. Jung, a candidate for the New York State Senate and Korean American community leader, LGBTQ Korean American organizations, joined by allied Korean American and LGBTQ Asian American & Pacific Islander organizations, have issued the following statement:

“S.J. Jung’s backwards remarks about LGBTQ people are out of sync with a place as diverse as Queens, which has a vibrant LGBTQ immigrant community. As LGBTQ Korean Americans, their family members and their allies, we are deeply disappointed to see a man who has done such important work in Korean American communities express such bigotry around LGBTQ communities, marriage and public education. His harmful wish to literally erase LGBTQ people from school text books ignores the existence of people like us and our families, who live every day at the intersection of LGBTQ and Korean identities.

“When community leaders like Jung make homophobic and transphobic remarks, it is absolutely devastating to young people in their communities who are struggling to come out. As a community leader, Jung has a moral responsibility to be a voice for these LGBTQ young people–not a megaphone for outdated bigotry.

“We urge Jung to think long and hard about the damaging impact of his words, reevaluate the positions he has taken, and meet with the organizations that have signed onto this statement.”

Organizations that have signed this statement are listed below:

  • Dari Project
  • Korean Americans United for Equality (KUE)
  • Korean American Rainbow Parents (KARP)
  • Korean Americans for Political Advancement (KAPA)
  • Asian Pacific Islander Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC
  • National Queer Asian American and Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
  • Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY)
  • Q-WAVE
  • Asian Pride Project

This statement and correspondence is for educational purposes only and is strictly nonpartisan. It should in no way be construed to oppose or support any candidate for elected office.

###

Against Islamophobia: LGBT & MASA Letter to Administration, Candidates & Policymakers

TO:
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Hillary Clinton, Candidate for President of the United States
Donald Trump, Candidate for President of the United States
Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives
Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives
Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the US Senate
Harry Reid, Minority Leader of the US Senate
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

As organizations representing diverse LGBT communities and Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities, we write to express our deep concern regarding the divisive rhetoric and reactionary public policy objectives that have emerged since the mass shooting in Orlando. Our communities are still in mourning after forty-nine, mostly LGBTQ Latinx lives were lost and dozens more were injured. At the same time, many of our organizations have come together through words and actions to express our unity and solidarity.

At this moment, as we collectively attempt to respond to the massacre in Orlando, it is vital that our political leaders set the right tone and example for the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, in the 48 hours since the tragedy, many political leaders have resorted to divisive and inflammatory rhetoric by characterizing the Orlando massacre as an act of terror, and by calling for policies and actions that would disproportionately target those who are Muslim or come from South Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

We ask that the President, presidential candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, Congressional leaders, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security set the right tone: send strong and frequent public messages about the importance of coming together rather than giving into backlash; refrain from dangerous anti-Muslim sentiment; and resist enacting policies that will harm our communities in the name of national security.

We ask that you affirmatively recognize the homophobia and transphobia that motivated this violence, and refrain from defining the shooting as an act of international terrorism—a term reserved in public discourse for acts committed by Muslims. Instead, we ask that you call it what it is: a hate crime against the LGBT community and an act of gun violence.

Although we recognize the tragic nature of the shooting, and the immense fear the shooter caused, the word “terrorist” becomes the norm only when the shooter is Muslim, or perceived as such. As a result, in the wake of 9/11, we have seen devastating hatred towards Muslim, South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. Those of us who are queer and trans* have been especially vulnerable to violence and backlash. This characterization has resulted in broken noses and bruised bodies. It has blamed and held entire communities responsible for every action associated with those words.

We call on you, our leaders, to remind the public that we must not scapegoat Muslim, South Asian, and Arab communities for the act of one person. Whatever warped justification the shooter may have claimed, his actions are a hate crime. Every religious tradition explicitly condemns the killing of innocent people, but murder knows no faith. We do not want to see our communities live through another surge of harmful policies as a result of the massacre in Orlando. Our LGBT communities will not be used as a justification for Islamophobia, which impacts so many of us.

Alongside dangerous rhetoric, reactionary public policies that trade individual liberties for a façade of security based on fear have led to devastating consequences for Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities in the 15 years since the 9/11 attacks. These communities, and especially our queer and trans* community members, have borne the brunt of laws and policies such as the Patriot Act, special registration or NSEERS, arbitrary interrogations, unlawful watch lists, unprecedented rates of detentions and deportations, inappropriate profiling, and surveillance by federal and local law enforcement authorities of mosques, Muslim student associations, restaurants, and cricket and soccer games.

15 years later, we do not want to live through the “spirit of 9/12” yet again. We call on you to curtail policies such as:

  • The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, including intelligence gathering from the Internet and social media, which targets Muslims and has been shown to be ineffective. We are particularly concerned about H.R. 5471, the Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act
  • Expansion of FBI access to a range of revealing and personal details about individuals’ online communications, or Electronic Communications Transactional Records (ECTR)
  • Immigration enforcement that disproportionately profile our communities, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Priority Enforcement Program (PEP)

We ask you to:

  • Roll back existing Countering Violent Extremism programs, especially the “Don’t Be a Puppet” program that asks young people to criminalize each other
  • Issue a guidance from the Department of Homeland Security banning legalized profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity without exemption, including in national security and immigration enforcement. Community organizations have been in conversation with DHS about this guidance for months, but we have not seen a result
  • Promote common sense legislation to keep guns out of dangerous hands, without further criminalizing Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and people with mental health struggles

We request a meeting with you to further discuss these matters. This is a time when we need our leaders to stand with us to denounce prejudice, violence, and policies that inflict harm on any community. Our strength is our unity. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)
Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sacramento Coalition
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Brown Boi Project
Collaboryst
Emerge USA
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Freedom Inc
GALA, Inc. (Guam)
Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago
Juntos
KhushDC
KmB: Pro-People Youth
MASALA
Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
NAPAFASA
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
National CAPACD
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
National LGBTQ Task Force
Pride ASIA
PRIDE Marianas
PrYSM
Q-WAVE
Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
Trikone
Trikone NW
Trikone-Chicago
UMD AASU
UTOPIA Seattle
Veterans For Peace
Veterans For Peace, Milwaukee Chapt. 102
Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC)
VietLEAD
We Belong Together
Witness to Mass Incarceration
18MillionRising.org

Resources after the Orlando Tragedy

NQAPIA Mourns Orlando Shooting Victims, Warns Against Islamophobic Rhetoric & Violence

NQAPIA MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release: Sunday, June 12, 2016
For More Information, Contact: Sasha W., 909-343-2219, sasha@nqapia.org

NQAPIA Mourns Orlando Shooting Victims, Warns Against Islamophobic Rhetoric

We are heartbroken. We send love to the countless people affected by the tragedy in Orlando.

At a time when we are proudly celebrating our LGBTQ identities and community, we woke this morning to the horrifying news that at least fifty queer and trans people, including many people of color, were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. This is just one in a very long line of tragedies involving gun violence in the U.S. These shootings cannot be the new normal, and we must demand our lawmakers enact commonsense measures to end the bloodshed.

As we mourn the lives that were lost and hold our loved ones tighter, we are also questioning yet again what safety means to us.

From the Stonewall riots to the HIV crisis to police brutality, queer people have long lived in terror in the U.S., largely at the hands of the state. And now, as many of us who are Muslim or South Asian—or perceived as such—brace for a backlash that is already underway, we recommit to creating safety outside of that state, for all of our LGBTQ family.

We urge our community and allies to refrain from rhetoric that lays responsibility on any one community. The acts of an individual are not representative of any one ethnicity, race, or faith. With Islamophobia in our country growing to greater and more dangerous levels, it is ever more important to be intentional about what narratives we choose to lift up. Furthering such rhetoric will only lead to more policies that normalize surveillance of and violence against APIs and other communities of color. NQAPIA advocates firmly against policies that profile and instill fear in our communities, and that tear families apart. Just last month, we held a #RedefineSecurity Week of Action to denounce such policies.

For those of us who are LGBTQ and Muslim, we wait to see which of our identities we will be more fearful of disclosing in a world that questions our existence and intentions daily. We have found no contradiction in being both queer and Muslim, and reject the popular narrative that Islam or the Muslim community as a whole is homophobic and transphobic. We are proud to be both queer and Muslim, and cherish both of our communities. We encourage you to read this statement from our member organization the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

In the next few weeks, we must resist the inevitable, racist attempts to divide and conquer us. We ask that our allies refuse to use this moment to undermine the safety of people of color. We ask that people come together in this difficult time to heal, and that we intentionally create systems and spaces where all members of our community feel secure, safe, and able to be their full selves.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a nationwide federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPI groups, develop leadership, and expand collaborations to better challenge homophobia and racism.

# # #

LGBTQ Indians Pressure Apple, Google, and Facebook to #ChallengeModi this Weekend on Homophobic Law

[NQAPIA is hosting this statement in support of Queers for Justice in India. For any press inquiries, please contact Tara Gonsalves (press@challengemodi.com).]
Apple Facebook Google

 

LGBTQ Indians Pressure Apple, Google, and Facebook to #ChallengeModi this Weekend on Homophobic Law

LGBTQ Indian Americans and their allies are calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to challenge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to overturn India’s homophobic Victorian-era law when Modi visits Silicon Valley this weekend. A petition asking these CEOs, previously vocal supporters of LGBTQ rights in the United States, to #ChallengeModi on his institutionalized homophobia has gathered nearly one thousand signatures. On the afternoon of Sunday September 27, over one thousand people are expected to protest Modi’s human rights record in San Jose, California.

Facebook, Apple, and Google claim to be LGBTQ-friendly. Cook, a global LGBTQ role model, said he would challenge anti-LGBTQ legislation “wherever it emerges.” Zuckerberg describes Facebook as “a proud supporter of Pride,” and sports a rainbow-colored profile photo. All three companies have challenged DOMA, supported marriage equality, and provided benefits for LGBTQ employees before they were legally mandated to do so.

However, these same CEOs are now turning their backs on LGBTQ Indians, as well as their own LGBTQ employees and allies, by welcoming the controversial Indian politician, previously banned from the United States for complicity with genocide, and now refusing to take a position on Section 377, the homophobic 1860 law imposed on India by British colonizers.

Repressive laws take a toll on individuals. Sundar, a gay Indian man working in Silicon Valley, says that “due to progressive workplace policies in the valley I can be my authentic self at work. Back home in India, in contrast, the specter of 377 looms over me, my friends, and my family. We constantly fear the threat of harassment, blackmail and extortion. I hope that Silicon Valley stands up for the rights of their Indian LGBTQ employees and that PM Modi takes a stand to end the Victorian-era British law that criminalizes tens of millions of LGBTQ Indians.”

“India’s Penal Code 377 provides an avenue for harassment, extortion, and abuse of LGBTQ Indians,” says Monica Davis, Queer South Asian activist and former Trikone Chairwoman, the San Francisco Bay Area’s South Asian LGBTQ advocacy group. “If Google, Facebook, and Apple were supportive of LGBTQ rights during San Francisco Pride, they should also demonstrate support now.” Adds Suhas, Outreach Director at Trikone, “I would like to appeal to Prime Minister Modi to follow Nepal’s footsteps in including LGBTQ rights in the constitution.”

When human rights violators come to visit, we call on the CEOs of Apple, Google, and Facebook, who wield enormous influence in the global political economy, to take a stand for global LGBTQ rights. To sign the petition, visit www.ChallengeModi.com.

#No377 #ChallengeModi

###

IDAHOT Lifts Up International LGBT Issues- NQAPIA Statement

  May 17 is recognized around the world as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Today, as advocates and our allies in countries across the globe continue their important work day-to-day addressing life-threatening issues of violence and discrimination against LGBT people, NQAPIA takes this opportunity to join the global chorus of voices calling for […]