LGBulleTIn #51 - The week in LGBTI news
June 10-16, 2016
Sunday, June 12
United States: tragic shooting at an Orlando gay club claims lives of 49 persons
Forty-nine persons lost their lives in an attack on “Pulse”, a gay club in Orlando, Florida which is known for its community programs. 53 more persons were injured in the assault.
A gunman named as Omar Mateen entered the club at 2 AM, while a Latinx night was taking place, and started shooting: after a standoff of about three hours, police crashed into the building and killed the gunman.
It was the worst mass shooting in US history, and an act of hate directly targeting members of the LGBTIQ community and their allies, “a dreadful reminder of the price far too many LGBTIQ persons, all around the world, have to pay simply for being who they are.” “It is impossible not to note that the attack took place in a gay club, and right in the middle of Pride month,” ILGA co-Secretaries General Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy said in a statement. “This hate crime hurts even more, as it hits the LGBTIQ community in a time of joy and celebration. […] We are calling for the whole community to respond to this crime by staying united. Hate must have no place in our society and our struggle will continue until all are safe and equal.”
The shooter, an US citizen of Afghan origin, called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to Isis, CNN reports. While Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack, US officials say there’s no immediate evidence linking the militant group to the massacre.
President Barack Obama described the attack as "an act of terror and an act of hate": “This is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. [...]The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub, it is a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and advocate for their civil rights."
Vigils in solidarity with the victims of the attack were held in hundreds of cities worldwide.
ILGA joins the global community in mourning for the victims. Our hearts are with their families, their friends and the entire community.
Monday, June 13
Colombia: at least 89 cases of violence against LGBTI persons reported in 2016, says Ombudsman’s office
The Ombudsman’s office of Colombia has expressed concern over new reported cases of violence and discrimination against members of the LGBTI community. During the last week only, according to the government agency, six trans persons and a gay man received death threats in the department of Arauca, adding to the 89 cases that have already been reported since January 2016.
“It is worth noting,” a press release reads, “that during 2015 the office received 92 reports of violence” against LGBTI persons, and “25% of them were from victims of the armed conflict who had experienced sexual violence and displacement.”
Read more on El Espectador
Monday, June 13
32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council begins in Geneva
For the very first time, all 193 member states are present at the 32nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council that began in Geneva this week. During his opening speech, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein condemned “with the greatest possible force the outrageous attacks by violent extremists on innocent people, chosen at random, or because of their presumed beliefs, or opinions, or – as we saw yesterday – their sexual orientation”, he said referring to the Orlando shooting.
“This is a period of powerful lessons – if we choose to learn from them,” Zeid said. “We can build societies in which disputes can be peacefully resolved by impartial and effective institutions, and where people's right to development and other fundamental rights are respected. […] Every individual must be clear in the knowledge that regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, opinions, belief, caste, age or sexual orientation, their equal rights are fully acknowledged. Trust can only accrue if government is transparent and accountable.”
During this session, which marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Council, a group of Latin American countries is expected to propose creating a new position at the United Nations devoted to investigating human rights violations against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Several civil society organisations, including ILGA, are calling on the Council to create the SOGI independent expert: click here to find out more and to join the call (en español también).
Tuesday, June 14
China: gay man sues psychiatric hospital over ‘sexuality correction therapy’
A 32-year old gay man from China is suing a psychiatric hospital he alleges attempted to “cure” him of his sexual orientation with drugs, confinement and beatings.
His partner told The Guardian that he had been forcibly admitted to a hospital in Henan province after family members, including his wife, discovered he was gay. The man claims he was held there against his will, and forced to undergo what doctors called “sexuality correction therapy.” Chinese media report that, during his confinement, the 32-year old would have “received coerced treatment, including medication and needle injections, as well as physical and verbal abuse.”
It was only after 19 days of confinement that he managed to reach for the police and escape the hospital. A local court has now agreed to hear his case. Accusing the hospital of violating his personal freedom, the 32-year old has demanded an apology and compensation. “The personal freedom of Chinese citizens is protected by law and cannot be infringed upon by hospitals or one’s family members,” said the man’s lawyer.
Tuesday, June 14
United Kingdom: Government to review 12-month deferral period for MSM donating blood
The Department of Health has announced it will review the law imposing a 12-month deferral period on blood donations for gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men. “Donor deferral for men who have sex with men was changed from lifetime to 12 months in 2011, but five years later it is time to look again at the question,” a spokesman told BBC Newsbeat. “Our expert advisory committee is currently undertaking a review on whether the rules should change and we will base any decisions on their expert advice."
Only a few days before the announcement, the issue of blood donation bans had sparked a heated debate in the wake of the Orlando shooting: in the USA, as in the United Kingdom, a federal ban prohibits men from donating blood for a year after their last sexual contact with another man.
Wednesday, June 15
Australia: Victorian AIDS Council calls for political party quotas for LGBTI candidates
The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has called for all major Australian political parties to introduce quotas for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex candidates in winnable seats to “ensure sufficient attention is paid to issues affecting our community.”
“The increased presence of LGBTI lawmakers,” reads a position paper released by VAC this week, “will provide much needed advocacy for this community, regardless of political party. It will help curb the extreme rhetoric about LGBTI people that has become commonplace in the public sphere and balance those extreme viewpoints in the party room. […] If the interests and the wellbeing of LGBTI communities are to be protected, it is critical that advocacy come from positions of influence within the major political parties.”
Read more on Star Observer
Thursday, June 16
Kenya: court upholds forced anal examinations
The Mombasa High Court in Kenya has ruled that forced anal examinations and forced HIV and Hepatitis B tests of men suspected of same-sex sexual conduct are constitutional, in a decision that would allow the government to use the test results as “evidence” in criminal prosecutions.
The case was brought by two men who, soon after being arrested, were ordered to submit to forced medical examinations.
“The court,” the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) and Human Rights Watch said, ‘accepted the argument put forward by government respondents in the case that the medical examinations were reasonable and were performed in accordance with the law. The court also ruled that the two men consented to the examinations through the lawyer who represented them at the time. Petitioners maintain that they had no idea what ‘medical examinations’ they were meant to undergo until they arrived at the hospital, and that they signed consent forms only under duress while in police custody.”
Their lawyer has already announced they will appeal against the decision. “This ruling is a devastating precedent that has now heightened the risk and fear of similar anal testing on many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons in Kenya,” said Eric Gitari, executive director of NGLHRC. “Suspecting someone of being gay should not be grounds for stripping them of their dignity and their fundamental rights.”
Read more on Buzzfeed
Is that all? More news bites
Two more trans women have been reported murdered, including in the United States and Colombia, while in Belgium a trans man of Tunisian origin was stabbed by a gang whose members had already threatened him in his homeland.
In the United States, a man has been charged with felony weapons violations after authorities say he was found with three assault rifles and explosive chemicals in his car, while he was on his way to the Los Angeles Pride parade.
An Oregon court ruled that a 52- year old resident could legally change their gender from female to non-binary, in what is believed to be the first known ruling of its kind in the United States.
Jamaica's attorney general has sparked criticism after saying it was “disrespectful” to the country’s law for the US embassy to fly a rainbow flag following the Orlando shooting. She later claimed her tweet had been “misconstrued.”
In Costa Rica, State’s Social Security Fund has agreed to grant survivor's pension rights to same-sex couples.
The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions has published a guide to promote and protect human rights on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
In Pakistan, a trans woman was shot after three armed men broke into her home and tried to rape her.
More than 50 Muslims and Islamic organisations in Australia have reached out to LBGTI members of their faith calling for “deeper compassion for each other” following the Orlando shooting.
The International Federation on Ageing 13th Global Conference, set to take place next week in Brisbane, Australia, will reportedly host panels on LGBTI ageing.
In Ukraine, around 1,000 persons marched in the biggest ever Kyiv Pride parade. Despite threats from far-right groups, the event was held without major incidents.
After the European Parliament has approved a regulation on EU-wide acceptance of public documents, MEPs are calling on the Commission to "work on further legislation to ensure the mutual recognition of the effects of public documents related to civil status.”
31 human rights groups have joined forces in demanding investigations on a series of attacks on non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders in Uganda.
Over 20 students, accused of engaging in same-sex activity, were reportedly suspended from a high school in Uganda.
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