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LGBTI rights

`Amanzi Ngawethu' (water is ours); Health and environmental victories for South African activists

On September 2 and 3, 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa will hear the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging Johannesburg's discriminatory prepaid water meter system. Their six-year legal battle would reaffirm the constitutional right to water for all South Africans.

Low-income communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water resources and do not receive the same water services as residents in wealthier, often white, suburbs. Yet, the Bill of Rights of South Africa guarantees everyone's right to have access to sufficient water.

`The only fight we lose is the one we abandon’: Mexico’s first openly lesbian MP on LGBTI rights and people’s power

Patria Jiménez. Photo by Rachel Evans.

By Rachel Evans

May 21, 2009 -- Coyacan, Mexico -- I interviewed Patria Jiménez in Coyacan’s normally bustling markets. The onset of the swine flu crisis had emptied the streets and enforced a stiffness into Mexico’s normally effusive greetings tradition. No kissing hello or shaking hands was encouraged. Jiménez ignored swine-flu protocol and greeted me warmly.

In 1997, Jiménez made history by being elected the first openly lesbian member of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies. Representing an alliance that included the the Workers Revolutionary Party (PRT) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Jiménez was also the first openly lesbian candidate to be elected in Latin America. She is standing again within a coalition, Salvemos a México (We Will Save Mexico), for the July 2009 federal elections.

International Day against Homophobia celebrated in Cuba -- three reports from Havana

Havana, 16 May, 2009 -- Prensa Latina -- International Day against Homophobia was observed here today, with the participation of a diverse, largely youthful public.

In the early hours of the morning, the day's activities began at the headquarters of the Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC) and the Pabellón Cuba, in the central district of El Vedado.

Mariela Castro Espín, the director of the National Center of Sex Education (CENESEX), presided over the inauguration of the day's events with a parade and the opening of the panel on "Sexual diversity in the Cuban family."

Socialist feminist revival spearheaded by Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions

By Reihana Mohideen

May 4, 2009 -- There is a revival of socialist feminism in Latin America, spearheaded by the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions.

I have just returned from a workshop on gender-based violence organised by the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Venezuela and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Speakers included Maria Leon, Venezuela's minister of women's affairs, and Nora Casteneda, president of Banmujer (Bank for the Development of Women). The two women explained the gains made by women as a result of Bolivarian socialist revolution in Venezuela. Truly amazing attempts in empowering women towards achieving gender equality were reported candidly by both women, who also outlined the challenges women in Venezuela have as yet to overcome.

Venezuela's Bolivarian constitution is the first in the South (and possibly the world) to recognise women's housework as a legitimate economic activity producing wealth and contributing to the social welfare of the population: "The State will recognise household chores as an economic activity that creates added value, produces wealth and social welfare. Housewives have the right to social security according to the law" (Article 88). As Maria Leon explained, in Article 88 "the work of all previous generations of women are also recognised and valued".

Nepal's Blue Diamond Society: Hopes high for LGBTI rights

A Blue Diamond Society pride march in Kathmandu.

March 17, 2009 -- Kathmandu -- Lal Salam's Ben Peterson interviewed Subash Pokharel, coordinator of Nepal's Blue Diamond Society. The Blue Diamond Society is the largest LGBTI (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender and intergender people) rights organisation in Nepal. The interview, slightly abridged, is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

* * *

Ben Peterson: I have read a lot about Nepal and it is clear that Hinduism, and in particular an orthodox form of Hinduism, plays a big role in society here. Is that something that has been of a concern for people of sexual minorities?

The future of socialism and LGBTI rights in Cuba -- Interview with Mariela Castro Espín

January 1, 2009 -- In Havana, Mariela Castro Espín speaks to Anastasia Haydulina of Russia Today Television. Mariela Castro is director of CENESEX –- the National Center for Sexual Education -- and a leading authority and proponent of LGBT freedoms in Cuba and globally. She addresses how Cuban society is dealing with changing perceptions of sexuality and concrete measures benefiting LGBTs. Castro also reflects on new legislation, transsexualism, same-sex unions, gay rights, AIDS, her father President Raúl Castro, her mother Vilma Espín, founder and President of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), the woes caused by the US economic blockade of Cuba and her views on US President-elect Barack Obama, as well as the history of the revolution. Sections of the interview have been translated and transcribed below.

Socialists in the Australian women's liberation movement

By Margaret Allan

To understand the development of feminism in Australia, it is useful to briefly recap the political situation that gave rise not only to the women's liberation movement, but to the whole range of social movements that sprang up in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

During the Second World War, women were drawn into many non-traditional areas of work, such as making ammunition and ships. These were much higher paid jobs than women were used to, and many women who did not previously work for pay experienced life as working mothers for the first time. There was some public child-care provision, and the ideology that women were incapable of metal work and similar trades conveniently disappeared as everyone was urged to “do their bit for the war effort and the boys at the front”.

When men began returning from the war in large numbers in 1945, women were forced to give up these jobs. It was the start of the “baby boom”: women were encouraged to have babies to repopulate. This was also the start of the economic boom of the 1950s.

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