LGBT rights in Europe- does religion influence gay rights policy?

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Recently I came accross this map by ILGA-Europe:

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The percentages you see on each country represent an aggregated score calculated by ILGA; 0% would mean the lowest score for LGBT rights and 100% the highest.

The East-West divide seems striking, but why is it so?

Freedom House’s Zselyke Csaky discusses  the idea that it may have to do with religion:

“A somewhat more plausible explanation emphasises the conservative-religious component in many of the region’s countries. Religion definitely plays a role in Poland’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, which has been in effect since 1997 and is strongly supported by the Roman Catholic Church. Support from the church was essential to the success of Croatia’s referendum as well, with Catholic bishops urging Croatians to vote “yes” to the amendment outlawing gay marriage. In Romania, an Orthodox priest running on an antigay platform collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to stand as an independent candidate in the European Parliament elections in May. And Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been forging a conservative image for a country that had previously been the first in the region to allow the registration of same-sex partnerships, in 2007.”

Fair does, but let’s try to analyse the data a bit more closely:

So,the most gay-friendly countries: Continue reading

Media literacy: we’ve got a piece of info, now what? (and some data/thoughts on terrorism)

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Media literacy (the art of how to consume media smartly and responsibly) is something that I’ve been meaning to write about for ages: and now since I’m back to blogging after a pretty long hiatus seems to be as good of a time as ever.

So, let’s take something that caught my eye today: a tweet from Nigel Farage; because he is, in the great words of Stewart Lee, “a character”.

Riiight…. So we got a simple, straightforward, piece of information: there’s this guy who’s a law enforcement chief (so he should know his stuff) and he’s saying that about 5000 EU nationals are deemed to present a risk of engaging in terrorist acts. Now, what do we make of this? What is it supposed to mean to us? Presented, as it is, by Mr. Farage in a series of anti-EU tweets, it is presumably supposed to mean: “The EU is a scary place full of terrorists, vote for me so I can get you out”.

Yet somehow I’m reminded of an old joke: “The overwhelming majority of adult deaths happen in bed- so keep out of it!”

Continue reading

Report: Plan International finds 1 in 3 girls said they never speak up in front of boys

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In their latest report, “Hear Our Voices: Do Adolescent Girls really Matter?”, Plan International spoke directly with over 7,000 adolescent girls and boys (aged 12-16) in 11 countries across four regions; namely Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan), Latin America (Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay), Eastern/Southern Africa (Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and West Africa (Benin, Cameroon and Liberia).

This is one of the largest studies of adolescent girls’ rights and empowerment that any organisation in the development sector has ever undertaken and the results bring an amazing insight into what it means to be a teenage girl in the developing world.
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They found that girls feel encouraged and empowered to succeed in school (including- or perhaps especially the girls whose mothers have been denied education while they were young); 70% of the interviewed girls and 69% of boys report that adolescent girls ‘always’ or ‘often’ participate in class as often as boys; although, particularly in Asia, social norms around gender and seniority still prevent young female students from directly addressing the mostly male teachers.

Obvious progress is being made (due to changing social norms and mentalities, civil society programmes) as far as ensuring girls themselves, their parents and communities value the idea of girls achieving academically and professionally.

On the other hand, the burden of housework still falls almost exclusively with girls and women; and household work takes time away from studying

More worrying, over half of the girls in the study feel that becoming pregnant is never or seldom their decision; and only 38% feel that they have decisional power over getting married. Girls in Latin America and Southern/Eastern Africa feel the most empowered in relation to decisions about marriage: 53% feel that it is always or often their decision whether and when they get married.In contrast, in Asia, 69% of girls said they ‘never’ or ‘seldom’ control decisions about their marriage.

Girls feel even less empowered about pregnancy: 71 per cent of girls in West Africa, 55 per cent of girls in Asia, 48 per cent of girls in East and Southern Africa , and 42 per cent of girls in Central and South America reported they ‘never’ or‘seldom’ decide if they get pregnant. Girls across all regions said they are not educated about safe sex nor do they know how to prevent pregnancy Continue reading

More data on US Muslims and attitudes to terrorism

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Right as I was posting yesterday’s Monday Graph, Libby Anne of Love, Joy Feminism was writing about US Muslims and attitudes towards violence against civilians as well; in response to the infamous “Why I Absolutely Am Islamophobic”, an article by a pastor named Gary Cass calling for nothing short of genocide against American Muslims.

Libby Anne is looking at data from a 2011 Pew Report study, and the results are consistent with the ones in the 2010 Gallup poll I was talking about:

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(Via)

We can also see that the attitudes of Muslims in Pakistan concur with those of American Muslims; and if we look at the Gallup poll again, we can also see Muslims in Indonesia and Turkey not being more likely than most American religious groups to believe actions by individuals/small groups hurting or killing civilians to be at least sometimes justified.

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Looking at the responses of Muslims in Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon may paint a more worrisome picture; however, let’s look at the Gallup poll again:

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It looks like Muslims in Lebanon and Egypt are no more likely to believe suicide bombing and other actions against civilians are justified to defend Islam than American protestants are to believe that at least sometimes military action targeting and killing civilians is justified.

Monday graph: US Muslims more likely than any other group to believe violence against civilians “never justified”.

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313744_v1Found this image on Cracked.com, courtesy of Michael Voli; and the source appears to be this 2010 Gallup poll.

Here are the original graphs with less frills:

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This is very obviously quite useful for debunking the “Muslims in the Western world support terrorism” scare rhetoric. What I find particularly interesting, on the other hand, is that Muslim Americans are the religious group with the least discrepancy between opinions on whether a small group is ever justified in violence against civilians and whether the military is ever justified in killing non-combatants.

This may be quite telling of how Muslims in general being associated with terrorism in public discourse is, in turn, shaping their own opinions and reactions: on the one hand, they may feel a need to disassociate themselves from the very idea of terrorism, in a way that -say- Christians or the non-religious do not; on the other hand, if military action in the name of “the war on terror” is to harm and kill innocent civilians, it may be that they fear more than any other group that it would be their own people.