Sexuality Policy Watch

The Sexual Politics in September and early October 2016


Last month a large number of events took place across the globe to mark September 28th as the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal abortion. Of particular relevance was the massive women’s strike in Poland to protest against a new bill aimed at completely banning abortion. Its immediate effect was the rejection of the law provision at the Parliament. We use this opportunity to share the SPW 2007 e-book SexPolitics: Reports from the Front Lines’ chapter on abortion in Poland as one possible source for those who would like to have additional information on the history and debates on pregnancy termination in the country.

In what concerns abortion politics, recent developments in Brazil must also be highlighted. Another woman has died of a botched abortion in Rio de Janeiro and the conservative restoration underway continues posing threats and risks for sexual and reproductive rights.

At the UN level, two events must be reported. The Human Rights Council, after debates that had been evolving for some years, has appointed professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, who was the co-chair of the elaboration of the Yogyakarta Principles, as the new Independent Expert on Human Rights in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. To have additional information on this process see the Arc report UN SOGI Expert: Process, Results and Implications as well as a previous SPW posting.

Also at the Human Rights Council,  a Resolution on Preventable Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and Human Rights was approved. Despite problems observed in the negotiations and resulting exclusions of language from the final text,  the resolution is an important step forward in terms of women’s sexual and reproductive health. It identifies unsafe abortion, poverty, lack of access to services, discrimination against women, gender inequality and gender-based stereotypes as factors underlying maternal mortality and morbidity. Check the Sexual Rights Initiative statement.

We also want to call attention to the rich debates of the AWID International Forum, in Brazil, whose theme was  “Feminist Futures: Building Collective Power for Rights and Justice”. SPW’s presence in the Forum was very diverse.  Its co-chair, Sonia Corrêa facilitated the first plenary and participated in key sessions on abortion and criminalization of sexuality. The  SPW session on Emerging Powers, Sexuality, and Human Rights — aimed at sharing the insights of the project developed on the subject between 2012 and  2015 — was the stage of a livable conversation on the current geopolitical scenario and its implication for gender and sexuality. Mariana Rodrigues Meriqui reports.

Lastly,  as this announcement was being finalized,  the NO prevailed in the referendum about the peace agreement signed between the state and FARC in Colombia. This result is extremely relevant for Latin American politics at large and, most principally, is not unconnected with sexual politics. This intersection was, in fact, examined by Franklin Gil Hernandez in the article Sexual Justice and political culture in Colombia published by SPW in July and updated in August. It was also addressed by Brendan O’Boyle in Americas Quarterly’s article Did an Anti-LGBT Panic Help Defeat Colombia’s Peace Deal?  Given the relevance of this fact we also suggest the reading of articles on the subject published by The Nation and the New Yorker. SPW  will continue attentive to the political situation in Colombia.


We deeply lament the very early departure of the Indian trans activist Agniva Lahiri, who participated in the SPW Rio Training in 2013 and with whom many of us have had previous encounters in key international debates. As a tribute to Agniva’s life and work we share a collection of articles and, most principally, the video by the young Chinese activist Tingting Wei who met Agniva in the Rio training and later visited India and documented the countries’ queer politics.

We recommend

Papers and articles

Mark Gevisser‘s insightful commentary on the meeting held by SPW in Durban, South Africa, in July, 2016, to discuss our new project on Global Trends and Tensions in Contemporary Global Politics. We dearly thank Mark for his collaboration.

Why gender and sexuality are central to China’s relationships with the Global South – Susie Jolly – Ford Foundation

The situation of the intersex community in Mexico, by Laura Inter on Brújula Intersexual

The Contradictions, Resilience, and Creativity of Black Feminism in South Africa, by Maneo Mohale on Bitch Media

In Plainspeak september issue: Migration and Sexuality

The child now: new issue of GLQ journal

Africa, homophobia and Western hypocrisy, by Mathias Søgaard on Pambazuka

Subverting Love Stories, by Clare Coultas on London School of Economics and Political Science

Classifying bodies, denying freedoms, by openDemocracy 

To build feminist futures, suspend judgment!, by Srilatha Batliwala, Geetanjali Misra and Nafisa Ferdous on openDemocracy

Abortion in Tunisia: a right that is under pressure, by Inkyfada

Germany’s Retrograde Record on Gay RightsNew York Times

Publications and resources

Empower newsletter: Women and LGBT voices from Nigeria, by Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative (WHER)

No Turning Back, Examining Sex Worker-Led Programs That Protect Health and Rights in Africa and Central Asia, by Open Society

The Uruguayan experience on preventing unsafe abortionsInternational Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics

2015 Report on sex work activism, by International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)

Check it out

Call for Applications: HIV, TB and Human Rights in Southern and East Africa

Sexuality and Art

Space to abort: by Mujeres Creando

Desacralizing: Paula Rego’s Abortion Pastels

Proudly trans in Turkey: a Gabrielle Le Roux Project

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