Publications

38 publications

Transgender at Work: Livelihoods for Transgender People in Vietnam

Authors: Hoang, T-A; Oosterhoff, P
Institute of Development Studies, February 2016
IDS Evidence Report
  • The laws in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam promote equality for all citizens and refer to ‘persons’ rather than ‘men’ or ‘women’. However, because of traditional gender norms, transgender people in Vietnam are facing severe stigma and discrimination in public, in schools, at home and in the workplace.
  • Before 1975, homosexuality and transgenderism were considered ‘social diseases’, ‘social evils’, and were targets for elimination in government health and public policies; after 1975, there was a higher emphasis on this as the public saw them as remnants of American neo-colonialism.
  • Transgender people have difficulty accessing services and rights as they cannot change their personal identification card, which is an obstacle to obtaining social services, housing and work. 
  • Gender roles and norms affect the employment practices, options and preferences of transmen and transwomen differently. 

This study, undertaken by the Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS), hopes to gain more insights into both the opportunities and the obstacles that trans people face and to understand how they could be supported to increase their livelihood options.

The report highlights that a lack of legal framework that recognises transgender people as a specific category contributes to preventing transgender people from accessing employment opportunities, partly because of the lack of suitable identity documents. The same problems prevent them from accessing loan schemes for helping them establish their own business. To date, Vietnam does not have any law or policy that protects workers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The report provides a number of recommendations for organisations and groups supporting transgender people, to the government and to the private sector/chamber of commerce.

Countries: Vietnam

Living on the Periphery: The Khawaja Siras of Pakistan

Authors: Majeedullah, A.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), January 2016
Evidence Report (IDS)
  • The gender-identity programme has given Khawaja Siras a way to feel safe and secure.
  • The programme could, if it chooses, to grow in the way this study identifies, possibly make long-term impacts on the way the heteronormative society of Pakistan conceptualises gender and sexual minorities.

‘Heterosexuality is normalized, naturalized, and privileged in societies of the global South, in the international development field, and in colonial and post/neo-colonial narratives of the so-called Third World or global South’ (Lind 2010: 7). Thus, people with non-conforming gender and sexual identities living in poverty are rendered invisible in development. In an attempt to counter this invisibility, this report investigates the experiences of exclusion encountered by Khawaja Siras, a gender and sexual minority in Pakistan. It also investigates the role of a gender identity-based programme in bringing about changes in their experience of exclusion.

Countries: Pakistan

Religion, Gender and Sexuality Workshop Report: 1–5 June 2015, Garden Court Hotel, Eastgate, Johannesburg

Authors: Marks, B; Charles, T; Mills, E; McEwen, H
Institute of Development Studies, November 2015
Evidence Report (IDS)
  • This report came out of a Religion, Gender and Sexuality workshop, hosted by Sonke Gender Justice, MenEngage Africa, Institute of Development Studies and Wits Centre for Diversity Studies in Johannesburg, South Africa. 
  • Religious doctrine shapes and informs decision-making at the individual and collective levels, and sexuality and gender rights advocates must therefore work with faith-based organisations and religious activists to challenge harmful and discriminatory sexuality and gender norms and practices. 

This report came out of a Religion, Gender and Sexuality workshop, hosted by Sonke Gender Justice, MenEngage Africa, Institute of Development Studies and Wits Centre for Diversity Studies in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event provided a space for faith leaders and those engaging with faith institutions across Africa to discuss successes, challenges and learning around sexual diversity and gender justice. In sharing their knowledge and experience, and through a range of facilitated discussions on the themes discussed in this report, the participants were able to collectively build on their knowledge, skills and awareness linked to gender and sexuality. Given the rise of religious activism in civil society, the political arena and in law- and policymaking, the report argues that it has become imperative to offer training to organisations and individuals who work in the religious/faith-based sector on issues of gender and human rights-based approaches.

Sexuality, Development and Non-conforming Desire in the Arab World: The Case of Lebanon and Egypt

Authors: Mohamed, M.S.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), October 2015
Evidence Report (IDS)
  • Neither Egypt nor Lebanon can be said to offer social or legal environments that are supportive of sexual and gender nonconformists (SGNs) – at least not at the present time.
  • Lebanese police and judiciary continue to target SGNs, particularly those from the most disadvantaged parts of society. However, some of Lebanon’s SGNs can now count on the social and legal backing of a steadily growing pro-SGN circle.
  • Egypt still retains its colonial-era laws regulating sex.
  • Although Egypt’s Constitution does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the state’s harassment of SGNs clearly contradicts Articles 58 and 57 of the current constitution.

This report argues that neither Egypt nor Lebanon can be said to offer social or legal environments that are supportive of sexual and gender nonconformists (SGNs) – at least not at the present time. With the exception of restricted local efforts, there are no signs of an imminent change to the social or legal standing of SGNs in Egypt. In Lebanon, the emergence of pro-LGBT organisations has been a crucial step in their fight for social and legal rights and can be said to have led to a shift in attitudes towards some SGNs. This shift is interpreted as a product of socio-political factors that have been favourable to the introduction and emergence of new subjectivities in Lebanon. The discrimination experienced by SGNs in both countries has proven detrimental to the wellbeing of the individuals concerned and the broader societies in which they live. But promoting safety and freedom for SGNs that relies on their conflation with SGNs in the West – or representing SGN behaviour as antithetical to long-established cultural and religious values – is likely to give an inaccurate representation of SGNs in the region and their struggles. This, in turn, overshadows the harms caused by discriminating against SGNs and further alienates them from society. The report argues that it is important to invalidate the hierarchical view of development, which obscures the close links between sexuality and other, more popular issues. 

Countries: Egypt, Lebanon

'Leave No One Behind': Gender, Sexuality and the Sustainable Development Goals

Authors: Mills, E.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), October 2015
Evidence Report (IDS)

To work towards inclusive development that addresses social exclusion, development actors need to shape and implement development policies that ensure:

  • That all people irrespective of their sexuality and gender identity are actively protected against social, economic and political forms of discrimination.
  • That health, education, and social protection resources that contribute towards individual wellbeing and overall socioeconomic development are made available to all those in need, leaving no one behind. 

This report argues that to work towards inclusive development that addresses social exclusion, development actors need to shape and implement development policies that ensure: (i) that all people irrespective of their sexuality and gender identity are actively protected against social, economic and political forms of discrimination; and (ii) that health, education, and social protection resources that contribute towards individual wellbeing and overall socioeconomic development are made available to all those in need, leaving no one behind. It highlights that the post-2015 era presents an opportunity for learning how past frameworks have excluded marginalised groups, deepening rather than alleviating poverty. As such, the SDGs can and should be used to build a world that prioritises inclusive development; a world where the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ translates into practical actions to ‘do development’ better. This includes visionary and collaborative work across international, national and local development actors that (i) translates the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ into the practice of inclusive development at a national level, and (ii) ensures that those creating and implementing development programmes are held accountable at a local level, to increase transparency and accountability and to address the deepening of poverty among those already marginalised on the basis of their gender and sexuality. Generating inclusive strategies to address inequality for all population groups, including people who identify as queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, is not only about taking human rights seriously, but very much about recognising that this has positive social and economic outcomes for countries that take poverty alleviation seriously for everyone.

Developing More Effective Strategies for Sex Work, Law and Poverty

Authors: Overs, C
Institute of Development Studies, September 2015
IDS Policy Briefing
  • Decriminalisation of sex work remains a priority
  • Evaluation needed of Economic Empowerment Programmes (EEP)
  • Legal recognition is a cost-effective and politically realistic intervention to improve lives of sex workers
  • Resources needed to research the efficacy of Biomedical HIV prevention and care

The welfare of female sex workers in low-income countries has attracted significant attention in recent years. In line with human rights and development goals, advocacy focuses on decriminalisation of sex work, attaining economic rights, ending violence and improving sexual and reproductive health. Recent studies by the IDS Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme have highlighted many of these issues and placed them within the wider context and discussion around sexuality and development. This report calls for further research and action in three key areas, where evidence is needed to drive feasible, effective and measurable initiatives that benefit sex workers, even in unfavourable legal, economic and social conditions.

Countries: Ethiopia

Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice: What's Law Got to Do with It?

Authors: Lalor, K; Mills, E; Sánchez García, A; Haste, P
Institute of Development Studies, September 2015
Other
  • Edited Collection from an international symposium organised by the Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme. Many of those involved in this publication are directly involved in and affected by the issues to which the Edited Collection’s title speaks.
  • It explores different processes by which activists and other actors have worked for change, interrogates what we mean when we talk about ‘solidarity’, and questions the usefulness and place of law.
  • This Collection offers multiple routes to sexuality and gender justice and numerous suggestions of what sexuality and gender justice could be in a plurality of contexts. 
  • It suggests that there are many potential pitfalls and barriers to justice or progress.

This Edited Collection came out of an international symposium organised by the Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme. Many of those involved in this publication are directly involved in and affected by the issues to which the Edited Collection’s title speaks. From activists working with women in Assam’s tea gardens in India or young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders in Vietnam, to lawyers fighting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda or the criminalisation of cross-dressing in Malaysia, to academics carefully re-reading Islamic Sharia or researchers assessing HIV prevention programmes in South Africa, the contributors to this Collection have first-hand knowledge and experience of the complexities of gender, sexuality and social justice.

The increased legalisation of processes by which sexual, sexuality and gender justice is sought requires interrogation and careful scrutiny and, as the contributions in this collection show, the law is often an imperfect tool for achieving meaningful justice. Yet it is in these important and complex conversations that the scope for future action becomes tangible. In exploring different processes by which activists and other actors have worked for change, in interrogating what we mean when we talk about ‘solidarity’, and in questioning the usefulness and place of law, a picture of a complex but vibrant field of action for sexuality and gender justice begins to emerge. This Collection offers multiple routes to sexuality and gender justice and numerous suggestions of what sexuality and gender justice could be in a plurality of contexts. It also suggests that there are many potential pitfalls and barriers to justice or progress.

Sexuality and Social Justice: What’s Law Got to Do with It? International Symposium Workshop Report

Authors: Lalor, K; Haste, P; Vaast, C
Institute of Development Studies, September 2015
Evidence Report (IDS)
  • There is a need for a more careful unpacking of the power dynamics of different relationships, including global-local, South-South and within movements.
  • Recognition of the problematic power dynamics of global-local interactions must be followed by the implementation of strategies to address these dynamics. 
  • There is an urgent need to close the gap between progressive law and its implementation and to ensure that sound, evidence-based policy is fully realised in practice. 
  • Research capacity in institutions and universities in the global South should be supported and developed in order to promote effective research and to develop a strong evidence base for activism and ownership of research output.
  • The lived experience of marginalisation and poverty perpetuates vulnerability and further marginalises. A more nuanced and intersectional approach to engaging with and acknowledging lived experiences is required.
  • In order to respond to the challenges of social injustices, recognition and creation of spaces for alliances and dialogues that move beyond, or do not fit neatly into a ‘human rights’ or an ‘LGBT’ framework are required.
  • International support for training and funding is key.

In March 2015, the Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme at the Institute of Development Studies brought together over 60 activists, lawyers, researchers and international advocates to critically assess the scope of law and legal activism for achieving social justice for those marginalised because of their sexual or gender non-conformity. Participants shared their experiences of working within this fast developing area of domestic and international law. Discussions also addressed the wider social and theoretical aspects of recent legal developments, contributing to our understanding of the complex relationship between research, knowledge exchange, activism and law.

In the course of these discussions, a number of key themes and questions emerged: The space and role of law, dialogues and the use of language within international forums, terminology such as ‘LGBT’ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) limits our understanding of the lived experiences of individuals’ lives, power dynamics, politics and the state, resources and solidarity and representation.

Sex Workers, Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation in Ethiopia

Authors: Overs, C.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), June 2015
  • Although the criminal law against adult sex work is not enforced, it does exacerbate poverty by depriving sex workers of the civil rights and access to services they need. 
  • To remove structural determinants of poverty the law should be removed to make way for sex workers to claim rights under labour and other administrative legal provisions and to benefit from antidiscrimination and other human rights law. 
  • The inclusion of sex workers in Ethiopia’s Social Protection Policy should be recognised and applauded. 
  • All adult women born in Ethiopia who sell sex so should be able obtain an ID card regardless of their location, background or other status.

This case study explores economic, legal and social issues that affect sex workers, with a particular focus on the role of poverty in sex workers' lives and the potential for poverty alleviation policies and programmes to help lift as many sex workers as possible out of poverty in order to reduce the exploitation, illness and violence associated with their work.

In surveys, sex workers overwhelmingly indicate they would like another occupation, particularly in very poor countries. This has been taken to mean that relieving the poverty of individual sex workers will lead them to stop or reduce sex work. On this analysis, reduced poverty will mean that the number of women entering the sex industry, or staying in it, will be reduced and/or that the harm associated with sex work would be diminished because the numbers of partners or of unprotected sexual contacts would reduce. However, the validity of this logic and the benefits, costs and consequences (intended and unintended) of poverty alleviation in the context of sex work have not been tested or even well documented.

Countries: Ethiopia

BOOSHTEE! Survival and Resilience in Ethiopia

Authors: Overs, C.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), June 2015
IDS Evidence Report
  • Homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia, same-sex behaviour is not prosecuted because the government views it as a low law enforcement priority 
  • The illegality of same-sex relations continues to drive and justify social and economic exclusion and human rights abuses of same-sex attracted people

As the only country in the region that was never fully colonised, Ethiopia has a unique religious, cultural and political history. Famously the site of historical conflicts and humanitarian crises, contemporary Ethiopia enjoys a strong geopolitical position as the base of the African Union and one of Africa’s most successful economies. It is against this background that powerful interests within the country sustain high levels of persecution and discrimination that force Ethiopian men who are sexually attracted to men (gay men) to make difficult choices to sustain themselves in extremely difficult circumstances.

Recommendations focus on ways that governments and international agencies can influence development programming and law and policy reform in ways that reduce the exclusionary impact of hatred of homosexuality and those who practise it. In particular, the report urges international agencies to find ways to help strengthen the nascent Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) community by supporting research and information sharing and establishing links with international HIV and human rights organisations, diaspora communities and African and international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movements. 

Countries: Ethiopia

Case Study: Sexuality, Poverty and Politics in Rwanda

Authors: Haste, P and Gatete, T.K.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), April 2015
IDS Evidence Report
  • Homosexuality has never been criminalised and sexual orientation has been designated a 'private matter' by government
  • Civil society organisations have some freedom to work on LGBT issues as long as they are aligned with the government's agenda

This study explores Rwanda’s relatively progressive position on LGBT-related issues and its implications for Rwandan civil society. It examines the strategies employed by national as well as international actors to advance LGBT rights and to address social and economic marginalisation.

Compared with the situation in neighbouring countries, state-sponsored homophobia appears negligible in Rwanda, and violent attacks are minimal. Rwanda has never criminalised same-sex sexual conduct and is an outlier to the apparent ‘trend’ of homophobia and of discriminatory legislation in the continent. Despite negative reports of Rwanda’s human rights record in areas such as civil and political rights, when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity, human rights observers consistently report that there is no need for concern. In the international arena, Rwanda has emerged as an unlikely champion for LGBT rights, and domestically has designated sexual orientation as a ‘private matter’.

Countries: Rwanda

Rescue, and Real Love: Same-sex Desire in International Development

Authors: Gosine, A.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), March 2015
  • The most critical demand one can make of development actors engaged in pursuit of sexual rights at this juncture is for more complexity.
  • All sexual desires are complex, unwieldy, messy and shifting. 
  • While the arrival of homosexual/queer/LGBT subjects in international development has offered up more categories of sexual identity, it has not begun to grapple with the messiness of desire itself.

This publication examines the rise of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) rights within development and asks how the terms of debate have shifted so much that the industry’s most powerful multilateral institution and champion of neoliberal capitalism, the World Bank, is advocating protection rights for sexual minorities. The author focuses upon the growth in interest and financial resources towards the rescue of non-heterosexual people from homophobia in Global South countries and the problematic rise in homonationalism. More encouragingly, he also explores how communities within developing country contexts have challenged rigid heteronormative conceptions of love, desire and affection.

Case Study: How Filipino LBTs Cope with Economic Disadvantage

Authors: GALANG Philippines, Inc
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), February 2015
IDS Evidence Report
  • SOGIE rights should advocates challenge the ‘victim’ discourse in migration and highlight the impact of increased financial independence on the exercise of SOGIE rights.
  • Policymakers, development actors and researchers investigate the links among SOGIE, labour and migration, and conduct further studies that can measure the impact of financial independence on the exercise of SOGIE rights
  • The Philippine government should immediately enact an anti-discrimination law that covers workplace discrimination based on SOGIE, and penalises the imposition of genderconformity criteria such as uniforms, hair length, etc.

In this case study, feminist human rights organisation GALANG seeks to identify strategies in which Filipino lesbians, bisexual women and trans men (LBTs) cope with workplace discrimination and the severe lack of gainful employment opportunities in the country.

GALANG argues that Filipino LBTs are more likely to be tolerated by their respective families when they make a substantial financial contribution. Because SOGIE-based biases make finding gainful employment especially challenging for sexual minorities, many LBTs have turned to creative livelihood sources to empower themselves economically and contribute to family coffers in order to gain acceptance.

Additionally, this case study examines the motivations, aspirations and personal lives of LBT Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong. It tackles the links between and among financial independence, economic empowerment, family acceptance, migration and sexuality, specifically in the context of Filipino LBTs. Homosexuality and lesbianism are often described as ‘social costs’ of migration. This research goes against the grain of this argument. It seeks to illustrate how financial independence sets the stage for lesbians to better come to terms with their sexuality.

Countries: Philippines

Same-Sex Sexualities, Gender Variance, Economy and Livelihood in Nepal: Exclusions, Subjectivity and Development

Authors: Coyle, D and Boyce, P.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), February 2015
IDS Evidence Report
  • The poverty and poor socioeconomic conditions in which many sexual and gender minority peoples live should be addressed through holistic initiatives that extend beyond skills training 
  • Initiatives addressing discrimination and socioeconomic marginalisation should be mainstreamed within pre-existing development projects
  • Specifically within the context of Nepal, avenues for people of sexual and gender minority experience to receive formal recognition and certification of their education, skills and qualifications is imperative for chances to obtain employment

This case study explores the relationship between socioeconomic opportunity and exclusion in relation to minority gender and sexualities in Nepal. The study, a component of a wider programme on Sexuality, Poverty and Law supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) and undertaken at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), aims to advance empirically grounded insights and recommendations to address the socioeconomic conditions of sexuality and gender minority peoples, in respect of varied aspects of life experience, subjectivity, self-identity and livelihood. Based on fieldwork conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal, between November 2013 and June 2014 the case study recounts experiences of socioeconomic marginalisation and opportunity as encountered and created by people who experience themselves as being different from socially normative conventions of sexuality and gender; in respect of the present research this has specifically entailed focusing on the experiences of transgender people and people who practise same-sex sexualities (and in respect of an understanding that such genders and sexualities are experienced differently by different people and do not represent uniform or singular categorisations). Many of the people who participated in the research evidence a multifaceted array of livelihood strategies as being connected to sexuality and gender difference. Some of these strategies were found to have been taken forward in the context of community-based support projects (for example, associated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for sexual and gender minorities) while others were conceived as independent life choices, or experienced as arising out of lack of choice or economic opportunity. In each of these often interconnected circumstances, the relationship between sexuality, gender, economy and livelihood emerges as complex and ambivalent.

Countries: Nepal

Case Study: Livelihood, Exclusion and Opportunity: Socioeconomic Welfare among Gender and Sexuality Non-normative People in India

Authors: Dhall, P. and Boyce, P.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), February 2015
IDS Evidence Report
  • Facilitate awareness-generation sessions on psycho-social, medical and legal processes involved in feminisation/masculinisation (gender identity change, sexual reassignment surgery, hormonal therapy) for transgender people
  • Facilitate continuing initiatives that train and handhold people in negotiating the rules and regulations (paperwork) in applying for and accessing social security schemes, including timely follow-up
  • Support community discourse42 on issues of gender, sexuality and human rights to generate awareness and address self-stigma among people with non-normative genders and sexualities through community meetings/events/other forums

This case study explores the socioeconomic experiences of gender and sexuality minority peoples in India, especially in respect of ways in which sexual and gender ‘difference’ may be correlated to economic hardship and restricted opportunities for livelihood in the context of Indian socioeconomic ‘modernity’. Growth of economic opportunity through neoliberal models of economic expansion is typically achieved via the extension of economic opportunity for some people amidst the endurance of ongoing socioeconomic precarity for most others.

The report considers these issues in the context of livelihood, poverty, economic opportunity and restraint in the lives of gender and sexuality non-conforming people in India, with a specific focus on the eastern Indian states of Odisha and Manipur. These sites were chosen because in the last five years they have been among the states that have witnessed a number of community, government, non-governmental organisation and donor-backed initiatives undertaken on economic inclusion for people with non-normative genders and sexualities.

Countries: India

Policy Audit: Sexuality and Disability in Policies Affecting Chinese People with Disabilities

Authors: Li, Z. and Xiaopei, H.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), December 2014
IDS Evidence Report
  • Law-makers and policymakers at the national level should involve people with disabilities and grass-roots organisations in the consultation processes, to guarantee their needs and desires are represented and reflected in the policies and laws that are relevant to them
  • Local and regional ministries that are responsible for implementing national policies should integrate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights across national policies and provide better access to sexual health resources for people with disabilities
  • NGOs and the civil society sector working on disability issues need to work across fields with NGOs working on sexuality issues to reach a better understanding of disability and sexuality issues

This policy audit examines the cultural, political and economic spheres in China from the perspective of people with disabilities. Through a series of case studies we argue that the heteronormative assumptions that underpin disability policies do not recognise the sexual desires and sexual needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, laws, families and society at large treat sexual behaviours among people with disabilities as abnormal, and the disabled as people who need to be arrested, invisible and even criminalised. Not only do the current laws and regulations fail to recognise people with disabilities as sexual beings and as having sexual needs, they also give power to guardians to have complete authority to control the sexuality of people with disabilities, all in the name of care, responsibility and law. These omissions in law result in lack of sex education, services and opportunities for people with disabilities, and leave little space for them to fulfil their sexual needs and desires, but too many chances to get infected with sexually transmitted diseases and/or HIV, and experience sexual frustration and devastation.

Countries: China

Research Methods and Visualisation Tools for Online LGBT Communities

Authors: Oosterhoff, P.
Institute of Development Studies (IDS), August 2014
IDS Evidence Report
  • Online research methods and tools are particularly interesting instruments for researchers and activists who work with LGBT communities.
  • In countries where same-sex relations are criminal, such as in the Middle East and North Africa region, online communities can be the only way for LGBT people to relate to peers. 
  • Even in countries where access to social media and publishing on the internet is legally restricted, LGBT people have large online communities.

This methodology brief outlines the main steps and considerations for choosing research methods and data visualisation among LGBT individuals in resource-poor settings. Although this report focuses on LGBT, online data collection and data visualisation have broader relevance for thinktanks, whose targeted audiences increasingly function in complex digital environments.

Field research among geographically dispersed communities is time-consuming and costly. When people are stigmatised, field research has additional ethical and logistical problems. In many countries lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are both geographically dispersed and stigmatised. Online research methods and tools are therefore particularly interesting instruments for researchers and activists who work with LGBT communities. In countries where same-sex relations are criminal, such as in the Middle East and North Africa region, online communities can be the only way for LGBT people to relate to peers (ILGA 2014). Even in countries where access to social media and publishing on the internet is legally restricted, LGBT people have large online communities (Oosterhoff, Hoang and Quach 2014). This methodology brief outlines the main steps and considerations for choosing research methods and data visualisation among LGBT individuals in resource-poor settings. Although this report focuses on LGBT, online data collection and data visualisation have broader relevance for thinktanks, whose targeted audiences increasingly function in complex digital environments.

    Sex work and economic empowerment programmes in Ethiopia

    Authors: Overs, C.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), June 2014
    • Prostitution is not explicitly criminalised and sex work is wide-spread and conducted with relative openness.
    • The vast majority of sex workers are 'undocumented' which means they do not have access to basic services like healthcare and education, land rights and water, and the right to vote, open a bank account, or register a marriage or birth.

    This case study explores economic, legal and social issues that affect sex workers, with a particular focus on the role of poverty in sex workers' lives and the potential for poverty alleviation policies and programmes to help lift as many sex workers as possible out of poverty in order to reduce the exploitation, illness and violence associated with their work.

    In surveys, sex workers overwhelmingly indicate they would like another occupation, particularly in very poor countries. This has been taken to mean that relieving the poverty of individual sex workers will lead them to stop or reduce sex work. On this analysis, reduced poverty will mean that the number of women entering the sex industry, or staying in it, will be reduced and/or that the harm associated with sex work would be diminished because the numbers of partners or of unprotected sexual contacts would reduce. However, the validity of this logic and the benefits, costs and consequences (intended and unintended) of poverty alleviation in the context of sex work have not been tested or even well documented.

    Countries: Ethiopia

    Negotiating Public and Legal Spaces: The Emergence of an LGBT Movement in Vietnam

    Authors: Oosterhoff, P, Hoang, T-A and Quach, T-T
    Institute of Development Studies, June 2014
    • Over the past five years there has been a big increase in the public visibility of LGBT persons and civil society organisations. The first LGBT Pride event was held in 2012 in spite of legal restrictions on peaceful assembly.
    • Laws regarding family and marriage are selectively enforced. While same-sex marriage is prohibited by law, some couples are able to hold unofficial wedding ceremonies without being fined.

    Vietnam’s laws, policies and decrees do not explicitly discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals but their rights are not legally protected and they are socially marginalised.

    The state promotes a model of a married heterosexual couple with two children in the media and through its public policy campaigns. Families that comply are able to obtain membership of the Communist Party and run for office; women are eligible for micro-credit programmes. Same-sex couples cannot marry and are thus ineligible for the benefits that married couples enjoy. Family laws, with regard to child custody, inheritance and property, do not protect same-sex couples.

    In order to understand how LGBT civil society organisations can affect legal and social change with regard to the laws that regulate sexual norms and unions, this empirical study explores the following two examples of collective action in Vietnam: 1. The mobilisation strategies of civil society organisations to hold gay pride events. 2. Collective action to legalise same-sex ceremonies and marriages.

    Countries: Vietnam

    A Critical Analysis of Public Policies on Education and LGBT Rights in Brazil

    Authors: Mountian, I.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), March 2014
    • A clearly supported strategy is needed against homophobia and sexism in educational policies and the national curriculum.
    • There is a need to articulate and strengthen the intersectionality between educational policies against homophobia with other public policies, such as poverty reduction, work, health and others.
    • Long-term policies against homophobia should be developed.
    • There is a need to acknowledge and develop strategies to tackle local resistance to policy implementation.
    • Resources are required to support staff promoting equality (information, workshops, protection from abuse, permanent forums).

    This audit analyses key aspects of public policies in education and sexuality in Brazil, which have been designed as part of the wider programme Brazil Without Homophobia (BWH – Programa Brasil sem Homofobia), launched in 2004.

    This report presents an analysis of public education policies and considers where these policies intersect with programmes aimed at preventing and reducing discrimination and violence against LGBT people. The first part of the report details the current Brazilian social context focusing on: levels of inequality and poverty; educational indicators; data on homophobic violence; and an assessment of dogmatic religious discourses that are increasingly affecting policymaking and implementation in areas pertaining to sexuality. The report then considers the intersection of education policies with sexuality, and examines this intersection in relation to national policy measures aimed at tackling homophobia.

    Countries: Brazil

    Education policies in Brazil

    Authors: Mountian, I.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), March 2014
    • Research indicates that many trans young people, and poor trans youth in particular, drop out of education or under perform due to bullying and violence in Brazilian schools.
    • Religious moral conservatism has played a big part in the failure of the 2004 'Brazil without Homophobia' programme to achieve its objectives of combating discrimination and supporting sexual diversity in the education system.

    This audit analyses key aspects of public policies in education and sexuality in Brazil, which have been designed as part of the wider programme Brazil Without Homophobia (BWH – Programa Brasil sem Homofobia), launched in 2004.

    Tackling homophobia and its cultural and social effects has been highlighted by a number of authors as an important policy strategy. This is because it contributes to the elimination of discrimination and exclusion experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) people and curtails the negative effects of homophobia on poverty levels and on people’s access to basic needs (SIDA and Jolly 2010; Armas 2007).

    This report presents an analysis of public education policies and considers where these policies intersect with programmes aimed at preventing and reducing discrimination and violence against LGBT people. The first part of the report details the current Brazilian social context focusing on: levels of inequality and poverty; educational indicators; data on homophobic violence; and an assessment of dogmatic religious discourses that are increasingly affecting policymaking and implementation in areas pertaining to sexuality. The report then considers the intersection of education policies with sexuality, and examines this intersection in relation to national policy measures aimed at tackling homophobia.

    Countries: Brazil

    Literature Review on Sexuality and Poverty

    Authors: Oosterhoff, P., Waldman, L. and Olerenshaw, D.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), February 2014
    Series paper (IDS)
    • Considerable work has now developed the case for sexuality as an appropriate concept for a development agenda. 
    • The arguments for including sexuality within the development agenda are linked to the acknowledgement of sexuality as a social and political process.

    The literature review finds that considerable work has now developed the case for sexuality as an appropriate concept for a development agenda. Critiques of the focus in development – on two fixed gender categories and on heterosexual sex relations – include firstly, that it privileges heterosexuality. Secondly, it projects a sexual identity onto men and women, which essentialises, reifies – and often racialises – notions of sexuality. And third, while identifying and privileging categories of sexual identity such as lesbian, gay, queer, it fails to address the fluidity of these identities and the ways in which identity is understood in diverse contexts. This, in turn, can result in understandings of men and women, often aligned to gender stereotypes, in which men cannot be vulnerable and women are seldom powerful or sexual. Social and political norms about sexuality thus affect people’s ability to choose between different ways of living that they value and this is therefore relevant to discussions on poverty and development.

    The arguments for including sexuality within the development agenda are linked to the acknowledgement of sexuality as a social and political process. Failing to address sexuality thus undermines broader attempts to ensure human rights and to facilitate empowerment, including participatory development approaches. The failure to recognise the ways in which assumptions about sexuality shape political processes and development interventions can result in undermining local activities, essentialising identities, and further stigmatising those already marginalised. A core reason for examining the role of sexuality is that it raises awareness of assumptions about the kinds of relationships that the beneficiaries of development engage in. Addressing sexuality may also help shed new light on seemingly intractable issues related to gender and development. While mainstream gender and development work often fails to acknowledge trans people and, despite decades of work, still frequently overlooks men, a sexuality lens sheds light on non-normative gender expression and provides lessons for people interested in gender issues as well as the rights of all other people. By focusing on sexuality, it is possible to move away from understanding women as passive and vulnerable and to recognise that men too are often vulnerable in relation to sexuality.

    Sexuality and Poverty Synthesis Report

    Authors: Hawkins, K., Wood, S., Charles, T., He, X., Li, Z., Lim, A., Mountian, I, and Sharma, J.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), February 2014
    IDS Evidence Report
    • Development and poverty-alleviation policies remain unable to fulfil their aim to raise the greatest number of people out of economic and social marginalisation because they fail to recognise and address ground-level realities.
    • Sexuality is directly related to physical, social and economic wellbeing, political participation and socioeconomic inclusion and the realisation of human rights, particularly for the poor and most marginalised.

    This report synthesises learning from these audits and is part of a larger project that focuses on understanding the links between sexuality, gender plurality and poverty with the aim of improving socioeconomic policy and programming to support people marginalised because of their sexuality.

    Development and poverty-alleviation policies remain unable to fulfil their aim to raise the greatest number of people out of economic and social marginalisation because they fail to recognise and address ground-level realities.

    The report presents common recommendations for activists, policymakers and practitioners centred around 1.) The need to deepen and replicate the policy audits, 2.) Opening up and furthering discussions about sexuality and poverty, 3.) Capitalising on the synergies between different movements and thematic areas concerned with sexual rights, 4.) Further investigation of the influence of religion on sexuality and poverty and 5.) A better understanding of those groups acting against sexual rights.

    Sexuality and the Law: Case Studies from Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal and South Africa

    Authors: Waldman, Linda; Overs, Cheryl
    Institute of Development Studies, January 2014
    IDS Evidence Report
    • Engaging with the law and seeking policy reform is potentially a dangerous activity especially in countries which do uphold the rule of law or where laws are in rapid flux and have little correspondence to lived social realities.
    • Sexuality is significant in relation to law and development
    • Sexuality should be explored as a broad concept and not to be confined by specific forms of categorisation of sexualities but identities and constructs can also provide entry points and modalities for legal recognition, funding for essential services and other advantages.
    • Even when the rule of law is strong, this does not ensure that the law and legal processes are appropriate or accessible.

    This paper provides a synthesis of five case studies on the relationship between sexuality and law. It concludes that engaging with the law and seeking policy reform is potentially a dangerous activity especially in countries which do uphold the rule of law or where laws are in rapid flux and have little correspondence to lived social realities. When done on limited resources, with low levels of education and with little capacity, this is additionally challenging and difficult.

    The report highlights the significance of sexuality in relation to law and development: In all the case studies, people with marginal sexualities are under pressure to conform to expectations of how men and women should behave and to idealised forms of citizenship. It also demonstrates the need to explore sexuality as a broad concept and not to be confined by specific forms of categorisation of sexualities. But, the report also points out that identities and constructs can also provide entry points and modalities for legal recognition, funding for essential services and other advantages. Thus the terms are both useful and problematic simultaneously and the power – for donors – lies both in providing opportunities to draw on international LGBT discourse, but also recognising times when this language is appropriate for voicing in-country claims and activism. The report argues for the importance of the inclusion of sexuality within broader development initiatives, warning that while well-intentioned development initiatives, such as HIV-specific funding, can open up space for activism and change, they can also have the unintended effect of closing down grassroots initiatives by tying opportunities for advocacy to service delivery and limiting the policy space available for local organisations. Dependency on foreign donors can lead to the professionalisation of advocacy and other development work and can crowd out issues of sexuality. Finally the report highlights that even when the rule of law is strong, this does not ensure that the law and legal processes are appropriate or accessible. In addition, legal activism requires skills, capacity and resources that are not always forthcoming to poor  and vulnerable communities.

    Countries: Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, South Africa

    Policy Audit: A heteronormativity audit of RMSA - a higher education programme in Indian schools

    Authors: Nirantar
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), December 2013
    • Fears about sexuality are a key reason for parents withdrawing girls from secondary education. This includes fears about girls' expressing their desires as well as fears about sexual violence.
    • The only place where sexuality is addressed in the examinable curriculum is through human reproduction in science textbooks. Evidence suggests that this is often taught inadequately as teachers feel inhibited and lack the skills to deliver the content appropriately.

    This report shares the findings of a sexuality and gender audit of a national government programme to strengthen secondary school education in India (ie the last four years of schooling).

    The programme is titled the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), a scheme for universalisation of access to and improvement of quality at the secondary stage. Since universalisation of elementary education has become a constitutional mandate, the goal of the RMSA scheme is to achieve universal secondary education.

    Its vision is to make quality education available and affordable to all young persons aged 14–18. RMSA aims to enhance access, quality and equity as they relate to secondary education, with a focus on marginalised young people such as girls, Dalits, Muslims and those who have disabilities.

    This report contributes to a new and emerging area of knowledge – and demonstrates how development policy and programme audits through the lens of sexuality and gender can be undertaken. This is an important and challenging area because, as we see in the case of RMSA, development policies and programmes tend not even to mention the word 'sexuality', while being replete with constructions of sexuality and with implicit or explicit messages about the need to be disciplined and to control one's desires. Such messages conflict with ground-level realities and have grave implications for the lives of those who are seen to break sexual and gender norms.

    Countries: India

    Case Study: The legal status of the Anti Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

    Authors: Jjuuko, A, Tumwesige, F
    • The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda contains a number of provisions that, for legal reasons, are nearly impossible to implement. Two examples include:
      1. The difficulty of collecting evidence as there is no 'complainant' for sex between consenting adults;
      2. The punishment is 'disproportionate' under criminal law as there is no vicitm of the 'crime' of homosexuality between consenting adults.

    Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 (AHB or the bill) was controversial right from the time of its inception, and its tabling in Uganda’s parliament in October 2009 was both welcomed and vehemently opposed. 

    The provisions of the bill pose a threat to the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons in Uganda regardless of their sexual orientation, but far more so for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons.

    Beyond the violations of human rights that are envisaged if the bill becomes law, the bill also poses unique questions for lawyers and the legal system as regards its implementation and how it impacts on established principles of law and criminal justice.

    This paper analyses the implications of the bill on Uganda’s legal system. It discusses the contents of the AHB, traces its background as well as its current status, analyses the legal issues that are likely to arise if it becomes law, discusses the legal issues that are already arising with the bill still a bill, and finally discusses some of the positive aspects of the bill.

    Countries: Uganda

    Policy Audit: 'Marriage Above All Else': The Push for Heterosexual, Nuclear Families in the Making of South Africa's White Paper on Families

    Authors: Charles, T.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), November 2013
    • South Africa is the only country in Africa where same-sex marriage is legal.
    • Despite a progressive constitution which outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, non-heterosexual families continue to be excluded from the benefits of the South African welfare system

    This report comments on the policymaking processes that led to the development of the White Paper on Families as it exists in its current iteration (November 2013).

    The report highlights the power dynamics that have led to the inclusion and exclusion of specific content and language, particularly around the notion of what constitutes a family in contemporary South Africa. It considers the diverse roles played in the drafting of this document by civil society representatives, government representatives and the general public.

    On the basis of interviews with these actors and a close reading of the white paper, this report points to two worrying trends in the making of policies and laws in South Africa: (1) public policy in South Africa is becoming increasingly conservative as a result of religious and cultural doctrines which do not recognise sexual diversity or support the engendering of human rights in society; (2) the South African government and its representatives are promoting a heteronormative value system in its policy and programming, despite resistance from civil society.

    Most significantly, this paper illustrates that the cabinet's approval of this policy could mean that access to resources will be determined by the extent to which one's family fits the narrow, heterosexist definition of a family being promoted in the white paper.

    Countries: South Africa

    From Sex Work to Entertainment and Trafficking: Implications of a Paradigm Shift for Sexuality, Law and Activism in Cambodia

    Authors: Overs, C.
    • Under Cambodian Law sexual exploitation refers only to women
    • Because of the 'Palermo Protocol', Cambodia lacks the autonomy to make its own law/policy decisions about responses to sex work.

    At the behest of the US government, policy and legislation were introduced in Cambodia in 2008–9 that made virtually all activities associated with commercial sex illegal.

    The law confirmed the illegality of human trafficking and procuring for prostitution through the use of force or coercion and extended it to criminalising all third party involvement in sex work. In the wake of this new law, most brothels were closed, street prostitution was dramatically reduced and commercial sex shifted to restaurants, entertainment and massage venues.

    The law and its enforcement was criticised by sex workers’ networks, human rights organisations and health agencies who said it violated human rights, would fail to capture perpetrators of abuse and contribute to the spread of HIV and STIs.

    This case study describes and examines the impact of the changes brought about by the law focusing particularly on conditions in the entertainment venues; the role of the many national and international policies and institutions that aim to help sex workers and the opportunities for sex workers to develop, articulate and advance demands.

    It concludes with ideas about ways in which sex workers might participate in and influence process in which specific, self-identified outcomes can be attained. It argues that re-configuration of the institutions and networks that represent sex workers and victims of trafficking in Cambodia is needed; that grants from international donors should be made to local, member-driven organisations; and recommends that the government revise its definition of trafficking and sexual exploitation

    Countries: Cambodia

    Policy Audit: Social Protection Policies and Urban Poor LBTs in the Philippines

    Authors: GALANG
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), August 2013
    • Philippine law does not criminalize consensual same-sex acts and the principle of equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in the Constitution.
    • However, homosexuality continues to be policed in other ways such as arbitrary arrest by rogue enforcement officers, discrimination in social protection policies and bullying within the education system.

    LGBT discourses worldwide have tended to focus on marriage equality at the expense of other equally pressing but sometimes ‘less sexy’ concerns such as gender-based discrimination and violence, and poverty among sexual minorities.

    GALANG’s work with lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBTs) living in urban slums indicates that while marriage is of course an important issue, it is hardly foremost in the minds of many Filipino LBTs who are systematically deprived of decent jobs, humane housing conditions, and adequate health care.

    Today, although Philippine law does not criminalise consensual same-sex acts and the principles of equality and non-discrimination are enshrined in the Constitution, homosexuality is policed by various social institutions, including the nuclear family and the Roman Catholic Church, which often eschew any sexual behaviour that takes place outside the context of marriage and family life.

    This policy audit seeks to: (1) identify and analyse the sexuality content of the selected social protection policies; (2) voice the concerns and experiences of LBTs living in GALANG’s partner urban poor communities in Quezon City; (3) share and communicate the findings of this audit with an eye towards influencing the conduct of donors and national and sub-national decision-makers, including mainstream activist organisations focusing on sexuality, social justice and feminism; (4) draw cross-cutting policy lessons that can inform future advocacy and policy development; and (5) stimulate others to replicate this analysis in their own settings.

    Countries: Philippines

    Development, Discourse and Law: Transgender and Same-Sex Sexualities in Nepal

    Authors: Boyce, P and Coyle, D
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), July 2013
    • In 2011, Nepal became the first country in the world to add a third category in addition to male and female in the national population and housing census. Since 2013, the state have begun to issue citizenship documents listing a third gender.
    • While this affirms the equal citizenship rights of third gender people in Nepal, they continue to experience explicit prejudice, lack of economic opportunity and familial rejection. 

    This report presents research conducted in Nepal between November 2012 and January 2013 aimed at exploring the legal, social and economic context pertaining to sexual and gender minority rights.

    The research explored recent legal reform in Nepal, the wider socioeconomic and social context of legal reform, and included work with sexual and gender minority persons, aimed at understanding their life experiences.

    Findings of the research emphasise complex connections between law, social context and sexual subjectivity. There is dissonance in Nepal between a progressive legislative environment in respect of gender and sexual minority issues and everyday sociocultural ambivalence toward such sexual and gender minority persons. Such persons may suffer from explicit prejudice, lack of economic opportunity and familial rejection. Other forms of marginalisation may be more tacit, but nonetheless profoundly significant.

    Countries: Nepal

    Politically Motivated Sexual Assault and the Law in Violent Transitions: A Case Study from Egypt

    Authors: Tadros, M.
    Institute of Development Studies, June 2013
    • The current legal system does not recognise men as victims of sexual assault.

    This case study is about the use of sexual violence against women and men in order to deter the opposition from engaging in protests and demonstrations in a context of a country in transition, Egypt.

    The paper advances a number of arguments. First, politically motivated sexual violence has a number of distinguishing features from the socially motivated sexual harassment that is generally prevalent in society. While they both contribute to discouraging women from assuming an active public role, they have different implications vis-a-vis who to hold accountable. Second, men have also been the targets of sexual assault, though their narratives have rarely been documented or recognised, and the law does not offer possibilities for redress. Third, due to a number of historical and contextual factors associated with Egypt – which has been in the throes of revolutionary activism – there has been a strong call for the perpetrators to be tried and the government to be held accountable for complicity. This has, in turn, reactivated calls for the revision of the criminal code to be more effective as a tool for addressing sexual violence.

    Countries: Egypt

    Case Study: A Progressive Constitution Meets Lived Reality: Sexuality and the Law in South Africa

    Authors: Lewin, T., Williams,K. and Thomas, K.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), June 2013
    • In the South African legal context, hate crimes are not yet recognised as a specific category, despite high levels of physical and sexual assault based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • Homophobia, conservatism and a weak rule of law have made it difficult for gay, lesbian and transgender people to realise their rights as enshrined in the South African Consitution.   

    This paper examines two cases of homophobic hate crime in post-apartheid South Africa. It illuminates how activists have used the legal system to address the violence faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LGBTQI) South Africans.

    Drawing on court transcripts, the experience of the lawyer in one of the cases and on interviews conducted with activists in South Africa, the article also draws attention to some of the challenges faced by those seeking to secure justice for LGBTQI people.

    The authors argue that recognising forms of violence motivated by prejudice as ‘hate crimes’ can serve as a powerful legal tool. The article provides a brief overview of the use of the term ‘hate crime’ in the South African context and offers concise accounts of the case studies and observations drawn from them.

    It also provides a series of recommendations regarding sexuality, violence and the law for state actors (ranging from police officers to judges and policymakers), for LGBTQI activists and educators and for donors.

    Countries: South Africa

    Case Study: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Women Living with HIV in South Africa

    Authors: Muller, A. and MacGregor, H.
    Institute of Development Studies (IDS), May 2013
    IDS Evidence Report
    • This case study presents five examples of the violation of sexual and reproductive health rights of women living with HIV, and explores the underlying causes and dynamics. 
    • The review presents a number of key recommendations for South African activists, the South African government, and international donors such as measures to harmonise existing policies to fit the needs of women living with HIV
    • Establish and institutionalise rights-based training for health care workers and to institute redress mechanisms for women whose rights have been violated

    This case study presents five examples of the violation of sexual and reproductive health rights of women living with HIV, and explores the underlying causes and dynamics. The misalignment between the national cervical cancer screening policy and recommendations on cervical cancer screening in HIV management highlights the need to harmonise existing policies and take into account the specific needs of women living with HIV. Access to fertility treatment (and information about childbearing options) as well as to contraception, (including abortions), is limited for women in general, but even more so for women living with HIV.

    The review presents a number of key recommendations for South African activists, the South African government, and international donors. These recommendations suggest measures to harmonise existing policies to fit the needs of women living with HIV; to establish and institutionalise rights-based training for health care workers; to institute redress mechanisms for women whose rights have been violated; and to strengthen the capacity of civil society to support affected women and adopt appropriate advocacy strategies.

    Countries: South Africa

    US & Latin America: Our families: LGBT Latino stories

    Our families: LGBT Latino stories

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      Kuwait: An interview with Dr Ibtihal Alkhatib

      Dr Ibtihal Alkhatib, an outspoken Kuwaiti academic and women’s rights activist, is interviewed about democracy and personal freedom in Kuwait and the Arab world.

      Dg-Hy6DIfNs

        Countries: Kuwait

        Pakistan & US: Gay Muslims

        Through the stories of three men, the struggle of gay Muslims is revealed

        Act of Faith

          Countries: Pakistan, United States

          South Africa: Paul's story

          As an out, gay, HIV+ minister, Paul constantly stands up against stigma and discrimination. His journey began at a young age, when he and his peers challenged the apartheid regime's Group Areas Act to visit gay bars in Johannesburg.

          Paul's Story

            Countries: South Africa

            Sexuality and disability in China

            • There is no mention of sexuality in the more than 50 laws, policies and regulations relating to disabled people in China.
            • A lack of legal framework and ongoing stigma attached to disability means that disabled people lack sexual autonomy and some may even face criminal prosecution for consensual sex with another disabled person.
            Countries: China