Program Officer, Freedom in the World & Freedom of the Press
May 2, 2014
Freedom House yesterday released its annual Freedom of the Press report. The findings paint a grim picture of the state of global media freedom, with just 14 percent of the world’s population enjoying a vibrant press with diverse views and minimal state intrusion.
Freedom House strongly condemns a proposal by Kuwait’s government, which if passed, would bar lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals from entering the country. This proposal represents another troubling means of discriminating against and persecution of the LGBT community in the Gulf region.
Government backlash against social media is becoming more common worldwide. In their efforts to control the new platforms, despotic leaders—in the Arab states to Turkey’s south especially—have tried throwing users behind bars, legislating what can be said online, and even arguing that social media should be banned on religious grounds.
As support for the human rights of LGBTI people expands globally, advocacy groups and individuals have faced pushback in the form of increased violence and stigmatization. Just last Friday in Russia, Vladislav Tornovoi was tortured and killed after coming out as gay. In Kuwait, authorities recently trumpeted the arrest of 215 gay men and lesbians. And in Uganda, the notorious Bahati Bill, which has teetered on the verge of passage in parliament, has now been reframed to outlaw the “promotion” of homosexuality. Today, on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, Freedom House stands in solidarity with all human rights defenders, including those who identify as LGBTI, as we commit ourselves to the pursuit of a world in which human diversity is honored and valued, and human rights are enjoyed equally by everyone.