LGBulleTIn #69 – The week in LGBTI news
December 15-22, 2016
Thursday, December 15
Philippines: anti-discrimination bill reaches Senate plenary
In a historic first, a bill specifically addressing discrimination against rainbow communities has reached the Senate plenary in the Philippines. According to CNN, it is currently on second reading.
The Anti-Discrimination bill, Outrage Mag reports, seeks to “introduce to Philippine legislation the concept of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity and expression’” and to “ensure that discrimination, stigma, and hate will not hinder anyone from access to education, healthcare, employment, and other fundamental rights.”
It is estimated that over 160 crimes against LGBT people have taken place in the country since 1996. However, Senator Risa Hontiveros noted, “the numbers may be higher, since the country lacks a clear policy on determining what classifies as a hate crime.”
Friday, December 16
Chad votes to criminalise same-sex sexual activity
Earlier this week, the parliament of Chad adopted a reform of its penal code which includes a provision to criminalise same-sex sexual activity.
The ban, NewNowNext reports, was initially proposed in 2014, but as a felony punishable by 15 to 20 years in prison. The new regulation, however, categorizes same-sex sexual activity as a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine or a suspended prison sentence. President Idriss Déby is expected to soon sign the legislation into law.
“Homosexuality is condemned by all religions. We do not have to forgive something that God himself rejects because Westerners have said this or that…,” former PM Delwa Kassiré Coumakoye was quoted as claiming. He also added that current provisions would be “a fair balance between conservative public opinion and an uncompromising international community on the protection of minorities.”
Monday, December 19
UN Committee Against Torture to investigate Australia and United States on their obligations towards intersex people
Based on interACT submitted report US now has to answer to UN Committee Against Torture re medically-unnecessary #intersex interventions!
— interACT (@interACT_adv) December 20, 2016
The UN Committee Against Torture has published advanced, unedited lists of issues ahead of the sixth periodic report of Australia and the United States. In these documents, the Committee formally poses questions to both States on their obligations towards intersex people, and others who also experience involuntary or coerced sterilization.
In particular, Australia was asked to “provide information on the efforts made towards prohibiting the use of sterilisation without the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned,” and to “clarify whether non-urgent and irreversible medical or surgical treatment aimed at determining the sex of a child is permitted and performed on children and how does the State party guarantee that full, free and informed consent of the persons concerned is ensured.”
The United States was asked to “comment on the reports of premature surgery and other medical treatment to which intersex children would be subjected,” and to “indicate the number of intersex children who have undergone sex assignment surgery during the reporting period.”
As StopIGM.org clarifies, “the Committee is acting on NGO reports submitted by intersex advocacy organisations InterACT and OII Australia,” and both State parties are expected to provide written responses to the Committee in 2017.
Monday, December 19
New attempt to block United Nations mandate on sexual orientation and gender identity proves unsuccessful
— ILGA (@ILGAWORLD) December 19, 2016
Yet another attempt to block the United Nations mandate of the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity was halted at the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly plenary.
In a tight vote, States refused to support an attempt to “defer consideration of and action on” the new expert position – a move that had targeted the SOGI Independent Expert by preposterously claiming that there would be no legal basis for it.
The mandate was created last June by the UN Human Rights Council: Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn was appointed for the role in September, and commenced work as of 1st November 2016.
However, attempts to block his work began almost immediately. In November, a group of African States tabled a resolution at the Third Committee to “allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis” of the mandate. Almost 900 organizations from 157 countries mobilised to support the mandate, leading the hostile initiative to a failure. Nevertheless, only a few weeks later, a further attempt was tabled at the General Assembly plenary – again, to no extent.
“The Independent Expert has already begun his important work,” commented Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-Secretaries General at ILGA. “All we ask for is that this mandate be safeguarded and Professor Muntarbhorn is left to continue his work without worrying that his mandate may be under attack.”
Monday, December 19
United Kingdom: “Number of young LGBT people who are homeless” is increasing, charities warn
— London Friend (@lgbtfriend) December 20, 2016
Two charities operating in the United Kingdom are witnessing a “dramatic increase” in young lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people being forced into homelessness by parental hostility.
The Albert Kennedy Trust said that, in the past three years, it had seen a 20 per cent increase in the numbers of young LGBT people seeking its help. “In most cases young people have been driven out of their family homes because of parental rejection, abuse from within the family, and aggression or violence,” the trust’s Chief Executive told The Independent.
A research by the Trust found that 83 per cent of homeless young LGBT people reported their situation having a negative impact on their physical or mental health.
These figures were echoed by Stonewall Housing, which reported noticing, in the past few years, a 30 per cent increase in calls from LGBT persons aged 16 to 25 seeking help.
Tuesday, December 20
Chile: civil society organisations join voices in calling for approval of Gender Identity Law
— Fundación Iguales (@IgualesChile) December 21, 2016
Six civil society organisations from Chile have issued a joint statement to urge the approval of the Gender Identity Law, whose bill is currently being debated in the Senate.
“The discussion on this law has gone on for more than three years,” the organisations argue, “losing sight of an urgent reality: a segment of the population still does not enjoy the right to see their identities recognised. As a consequence of not having this fundamental right, our community is exposed to discrimination, exclusion and even death.”
According to the six organisations, “the focus of the trans communities will always be to achieve a Gender Identity Law that does NOT pathologise, that guarantees the recognition of gender identity for all people regardless of their age, and that is in accordance with the highest international standards in matters of human rights.”
Such a law “will not solve all economic, social and cultural gaps, but it is the first step for the effective protection of our human rights.”
Is that all? More news bites
In La Cisterna, Chile, a man was killed in his house, in front of his partner, by a mob who had shouted homophobic insults at them.
Two women have filed a complaint before the Instituto Nacional contra la Discriminación, la Xenofobia y el Racismo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after they were expelled from the metropolitan police as a photo portraying them kissing went viral.
In New Zealand, the Human Rights Commission has welcomed the news that the government is considering pardoning those who were convicted of now-abolished same-sex sexual conduct offences.
In the State of Victoria, Australia, concerns are being raised over the government’s recent decision to overhaul the Safe Schools program and bring it into its Education department.
For the first time, a Hong Kong court has heard a case asking to accord equal treatment to people who entered into lawful same-sex marriages overseas.
In Israel, a center to offer “legal advice and assistance to individual victims of hate and incitement crimes” has been named in memory of Shira Banki, the 16-year-old girl who was stabbed to death during the Jerusalem Pride march in 2015.
According to a report published in the United States, internet users who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are far more likely than their heterosexual peers to have experienced threats, or have been victims of ‘revenge porn.’
In North Carolina, United States, the State’s Senate voted down the promised repeal of H.B. 2, a law that bans trans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and prevents local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people.
The government of Catalunya has expressed concern over a “discriminatory” book with “homophobic content” that an organisation has massively sent to schools all over Spain.
ILGA-Europe and COC Netherlands have welcomed the recent adoption of the latest Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, in which the European Parliament expresses deep concern “about the increase in violence and discrimination against LGBTI people.”
Two young men who were arrested in a street in Sousse, Tunisia, allegedly on the grounds of their perceived sexual orientation, will face trial in the first days of January. One of them reported being “slapped, insulted and forced to sign [a statement]” while at the police station, before being forced to undergo an anal examination.
Police arrested three men in Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch, Morocco, or reported charges of ‘homosexuality’ and wearing “clothes that resemble those of women.”