LGBulleTIn 103 – The week in LGBTI news
September 22-28, 2017
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Lara Goodwin
Friday, September 22
Colombia: minors can update gender marker in civil registry, Supreme Court rules
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Colombia ruled that a person under 18 years old can update their gender marker on official documents under certain circumstances.
The ruling came as the court examined the case of Manuel, a 17-year-old trans boy from Colombia who now lives in the United States. His parents filed a complaint to seek permission to see his gender marker updated in the Civil Registry of Birth before he turned 18, as he was applying for US citizenship.
According to El Heraldo, the Registrar admitted the possibility only under requirements that the Court saw as “a heavy and additional administrative burden”, and “a disproportionate limitation of the rights to the free development of Manuel’s personality and gender identity.”
Monday, September 25
Aotearoa New Zealand: Ministry of Education releases LGBTIQA+ students guide
— RainbowYOUTH (@RainbowYOUTH) September 26, 2017
The Ministry of Education in Aotearoa New Zealand has released a set of guides with strategies and suggestions to help school leaders and teachers support LGBTIQA+ students and “build a school culture where all students are included, visible and valued.”
The handbooks, exPress reports, were created after consulting with a range of organisations including 2019 ILGA World Conference co-host RainbowYOUTH and InsideOUT. Four key areas are covered: “Understanding sex, gender, and sexuality diversity”; “Creating inclusive school-wide systems and processes”; “Addressing immediate environmental, physical, and social needs”; and “Developing an inclusive classroom and curriculum”.
“Often tasks like addressing a cultural shift in a school to a more accepting environment for any diverse group can be seen as too hard for schools which are often under-resourced and understaffed”, RainbowYOUTH’s Toni Duder was quoted as saying, adding, “A guide like this helps remind schools that addressing the needs of rainbow students is crucial to their well-being and academic performance.”
Monday, September 25
Hong Kong: expatriate woman secures spousal visa through her wife
In a landmark decision, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal ruled against the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s refusal to grant a woman a spousal visa through her wife.
In their 68-page ruling, the three appeal court judges said the department failed to demonstrate the visa scheme had been put in place “rationally”, which amounted to indirect discrimination.
According to the South China Morning Post, the unanimous ruling means that the woman, identified only as QT, will be given a dependant visa through her partner who works in Hong Kong – an immigration status previously granted only to heterosexual couples.
Twelve leading financial institutions had filed a supportive brief in the case, arguing that the policy against visas for same-sex spouses prevented quality foreign employees from immigrating. Their submission, however, was turned down.
“Excluding the foreign worker’s lawfully married [although same-sex] spouse or civil partner under a civil partnership lawfully entered into in a foreign country from coming to Hong Kong to join the worker is, quite obviously, counter-productive to attracting the worker to come to or remain in Hong Kong to work in the first place,” chief High Court judge Andrew Cheung Kui-nung wrote.
Tuesday, September 26
Tunisia and Kenya move towards ending forced anal examinations
— Neela Ghoshal (@NeelaGhoshal) September 26, 2017
Two African countries have taken steps towards ending the abusive practice of forced anal examinations to ‘prove’ a person’s sexual orientation.
During the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Tunisia formally accepted a Universal Periodic Review recommendation to end the practice. “These exams can no longer be imposed by force, physical or moral, or without the consent of the person concerned”, the State’s minister for Human Rights Mehdi Ben Gharbia told AFP.
In a statement delivered during the adoption of the country’s UPR outcomes, the Tunisian Coalition for LGBTI+ Rights, supported by ILGA and COC, recognised the efforts made by the government, and reiterated the call “to cease the practices of anal examinations as accepted in the recommendation.”
Moves towards ending the discredited practice of forced anal examinations were also made in Kenya this week, as the Kenya Medical Association took a public stance against them. The National Governing Council of the association resolved to “condemn and discourage any form of forced examination of clients, even in the guise of discovering crimes, and to advise practitioners to always conduct consenting procedures for all clients they examine.”
In a statement, it also vowed to “organise a forum to address the health needs and rights of members of the LGBTIQ community.”
“Kenya and Tunisia offer a ray of hope to victims of forced anal examinations across the continent and beyond,” commented Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But it’s not all good news: some countries still use them to lock up men accused of homosexual conduct and others, like Tanzania, have recently used these outdated exams for the first time.”
Wednesday, September 27
Azerbaijan: rainbow communities targeted in massive police raids
— NefesLGBT_Azerbaycan (@LGBT_Azerbaycan) September 22, 2017
At least 50 members of the LGBTI community have been detained following police raids that have taken place throughout the second half of September in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
According to human rights defenders working in the region, detainees were subjected to beatings, verbal abuse, and forced medical examinations. Alarmingly, there are also reports of trans women seeing their heads forcibly shaved. Many persons were released only after being forced to reveal contacts of other members of the LGBTI community. Other detainees reported being arrested during the day or at their workplace.
A spokesman to the Ministry of International Affairs explained that raids were triggered after citizens’ complaints that “people of non-traditional sexual orientation” were engaged in sex work and violated public order, but also claimed that “sexual minorities have never been persecuted” in the country.
“Attempts by the authorities in Azerbaijan to downplay these detentions are not convincing,” commented Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director. “There is no justification for this indiscriminate targeting of people perceived to be members of the LGBTI community. It is a clear and serious breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.” ILGA-Europe have called for the immediate release of anyone still in detention, and urged intergovernmental institutions to “use all mechanisms available under their respective human right mandates to condemn the situation in Azerbaijan.”
Wednesday, September 27
Harassment and discrimination cases against LGBTI students reported in US education settings
— GSA ONW (@gsa_onw) September 22, 2017
At least two cases of harassment and discrimination against LGBTI students were reported taking place in the school environment in the past few days.
Two trans students from South Glens Falls High School in New York, aged 16 and 15, were reportedly forced to get off their school bus when they refused to move to the to the side that the driver had designated for girls. After being kicked out, the students stayed in the school parking lot, and contacted an administrator who got in touch with their parents.
Both the school district and fellow students stood on the side of the two boys. “The students politely refused and remained in their seats, with every right to do so,” the district said in a statement, while the boys’ peers recorded the incident and posted it to social media, where it quickly went viral.
In another incident – this time at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas – students in the Gender-Sexuality Alliance club reported being subjected to harassment when they marched in the school’s homecoming parade. According to a parent and several students, chants of “Make America straight again” were heard and objects were thrown at the group. A string of derogatory social media posts against them followed.
In a statement sent to NBC News, a spokesperson for Olathe Public Schools said the incident is being investigated.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The 36th Human Rights Council ends this week. Several statements were made on different issues including development, a range of human rights issues in different countries around the world and the UPR adoptions of Tunisia, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa, Finland and Poland.
The United Nations Human Rights Office has developed five Standards of Conduct to support the business community in tackling discrimination against LGBTI people.
Here is a map of countries where events were held on the occasion of Celebrate Bisexuality Day, according to Bi Visibility Day.
According to reports, an intersex teenager has been attacked and beaten up by a mob in Nigeria. A video showing the violent incident has circulated widely on social media.
The body of a 17-year-old trans teenager named Ally Steinfeld was found dead in a rural area in Houston, Mo., United States. Three people have been charged with first-degree murder, and a fourth is accused of abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
In Canada, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced it will introduce legislation to allow individuals to change their designation on a birth certificate to female, male or non-binary.
Over 150 healthcare providers, government representatives, academics, national human rights institutions, development partners, and trans community members from 15 countries gathered together in Bangkok, Thailand for a regional conference on trans health in Asia.
The Observatorio Regional de Educación Inclusiva organised a 4-day virtual seminar on gender equality in education settings in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Sao Paulo, Brazil to protest the decision that overruled a 1999 resolution prohibiting psychologists in the country from offering ‘conversion’ therapy.
An online platform connecting LGBTI NGOs and police forces in EU countries, aiming to encourage reporting and tackle LGBTI hate crime and online hate speech, has been launched in an event at the European Parliament.
At least 400 lesbian women and allies from 43 countries will take part in the European Lesbian* Conference, starting on October 5 in Vienna, Austria.
An ever-growing number of hate incidents – including swastikas painted on houses decorated with rainbow flags, and an attack against a 16-old trans person during a debate – have been reported as the postal survey on marriage equality is taking place in Australia.
A 3-day capacity building training for key populations is underway in Tonga. HIV testing and counselling services are also being made available during the event.