Good things that happened in the world during 2019

Sweden

The Swedish government announced that it will appoint a truth commission in dialogue with the Sami Parliament. The truth commission will highlight historical abuses and human rights violations, such as the forced dislocation and racial biology research against the Sami people. The Swedish state’s policy has in many cases led to the Sami not being recognised their rights as an indigenous people. This has affected the relationship between the Sami people and the state, as well as between different Sami groups. Read more here and here (in Swedish).

Burma

In December 2019, Aung San Suu Kyi attended hearings at the International Court of Justice to answer to genocide allegations against Burma. The country and its leadership also face a legal process in the International Criminal Court and a case under universal jurisdiction filed by Argentina. After a long history of violence and discrimination towards the Muslim minority, the Rohingya, the process to justice and accountability has finally begun – a process in which our partner organisations have been engaging tirelessly. Read more here.

Kenya

In August 2019, Kenya became the first country in Africa to add a third gender to the census form. The recognition of people who identify their gender as intersex is a positive step towards accommodating differences in identity, as well as safeguarding the rights and interests of intersex people.

Sudan

In September 2019, after years of repressions, months of protests, and long negotiations between the military council and opposition alliance, Sudan was finally able to form a transitional government and take steps towards stability and democracy.

Western Balkans

2019 was a landmark year for the LGBTI+ community in the Western Balkans. Pride marches have successfully been held in each of the region’s capitals as Skopje and Sarajevo joined the Pride family this year.

Sarajevo Pride with flag
Sarajevo Pride 2019.

Serbia

In September 2019, spectacularly, Belgrade was awarded the opportunity to host Europride in 2022 – the first time the biggest pan-European Pride event will be held outside the European Economic Area.

Belgrade Pride
Belgrade Pride 2019.

Russia

In September 2019, Queerfest Russia was held in St. Petersburg for the eleventh time. This is another successful year for Queerfest as the event has been spared from any major disruptions. More than a thousand guests gathered in St. Petersburg to take part in one of the largest LGBTI+ events in the country. Read more here.

Photo: Alba
Opening ceremony of Queerfest 2019. Photo: Alba

In June 2019, Chechen human rights defender Oyub Titiev was released earlier than expected, although the reasons for his imprisonment were highly contentious in the first place. Titiev was released in June this year, following 19 months in detention. The 61-year-old is the head of civil rights group Memorial in Chechnya and an outspoken activist; often targeted by the regime in attempts to stifle Memorial’s critical position as a human rights watchdog. Read more here.

In early January this year, Oyub Titiev, Memorial’s director in the Chechen capital Grozny, was arrested on his way to work. Photo: Civil Rights Defenders.

Colombia

In October 2019, Claudia López, who is openly lesbian, was elected the new mayor of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. She is the first woman to be elected to the position in Bogotá.

Cuba

In November 2019, The European Parliament approved a resolution on Cuban political prisoners. The resolution concerns the case of the Cuban democracy activist and political prisoner, José Daniel Ferrer, and calls on the Cuban authorities to immediately release him and all other political prisoners in the country. This indicates that the EU is not entirely oblivious to the Cuban government’s human rights violations. Read more here.

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