LGBulleTIn #76 – The week in LGBTI news
February 10-16, 2017
Friday, February 10
The Gambia: homosexuality is ‘not an issue,’ President says
For the first time since becoming the President of Gambia, Adama Barrow made public references to rainbow communities. According to reports, during a meeting with European Union delegates he said that ‘homosexuality is not an issue’ in the country, and that there would be ‘economic and other social issues that are more of a priority.’
In the country, however, laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity are still in place: as ILGA’s State Sponsored Homophobia points out, Gambia’s Criminal Code states that a “person who has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is punishable by a fourteen-year prison term, while ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is punished with imprisonment for life.
Saturday, February 11
Peru: dozens of persons hold kissathon for equal rights
— SinEtiquetas (@sinetiquetasorg) February 12, 2017
Dozens of members of the LGBTI community and allies staged a kissathon in Lima, a peaceful demonstration held to demand “a Peru where everyone can enjoy the recognition of their rights.”
Such events have been held every year on the anniversary of a similar demonstration held in 2011, when the kissathon was violently disrupted by police. Incidents took place also in 2016, when armoured police trucks stood in the activists’ way, and sprayed them with water and kerosene. This year, luckily, no such incidents were reported, although police barred marchers from reaching the square where the event was supposed to take place.
“Every year we return to the streets to remind authorities, media and bystanders that the city is a space where we all have the right to fully develop ourselves and where we can celebrate our diversity,” organisers wrote. “The expression of our affection is not an insult or provocation to anyone.”
A few days later, a draft bill on marriage equality was presented for the first time in Congress. The proposal, backed by 11 MPs, seeks to amend Article 234 of the Civil Code using gender-neutral terms to define marriage.
Saturday, February 11
United States: LGBT+ community centres vandalised in Los Angeles and Milwaukee
Two LGBT+ community centres in Los Angeles and Milwaukee were vandalised with homophobic and transphobic slurs.
Insults were covering the entire side of one wall of a Los Angeles LGBT Center facility in Hollywood: according to their blog, this was the worst case of vandalism targeting the Center in recent history.
During this past week, something very similar happened also in another part of the country: vandals spray-painted slurs on the storefront of Milwaukee’s Diverse & Resilient center. “This is unfortunately the third time in two months that our building has been vandalized,” Gerald Coon, president of Diverse & Resilient, told NBC News. “We can’t be certain of the motives behind the vandalism or if the incidents are related, but we are aware that such attacks have increased across the country since the election. We remain undeterred and will continue our work.”
Monday, February 13
Malaysia: government body endorses ‘conversion therapy’
The Islamic Development Department Malaysia (Jakim), a body established by the country’s government, has published a video which alleges that sexual orientation can be changed.
According to Malay Mail Online, the clip was meant to explain how to interact with members of the LGBTI community. However, the mark seems to be missed, as the video compares sexual orientation with horse-riding, claiming that when someone wishes to change their orientation, they should receive extensive training and guidance.
The practice of ‘conversion therapy’ has been legally challenged or banned in several countries around the world. “Such therapies”, reads a report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “have been found to be unethical, unscientific and ineffective and, in some instances, tantamount to torture.”
Tuesday, February 14
European Parliament votes in favour of LGBTI-specific mental health supports
— ILGA-Europe (@ILGAEurope) February 14, 2017
In a key vote on gender equality in mental health, members of the European Parliament adopted a report containing multiple recommendations relevant to the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people.
The document acknowledges that “in particular lesbian and bisexual women, as well as transgender and intersex persons, face specific mental health issues arising from minority stress […] as well as medicalisation and pathologisation,” and that “LGBTI people may face specific mental health and wellbeing challenges which must be taken into account in any mental health strategy.”
The report also calls on the European Commission and member States “to ensure that prevention strategies specifically target women who are at risk of intersectional discrimination,” including “lesbians and bisexual women.”
Specific references are made also to human rights violations faced by trans and intersex persons, as the document urges member states to “prevent, ban and prosecute” forced sterilisation and “genital mutilation affecting intersex persons.”
Wednesday, February 15
Australia: Senate committee releases report on the government’s marriage equality bill
— Tiernan Brady (@Tiernanbrady) February 15, 2017
A cross-party Senate committee has released a consensus report on the government’s draft marriage equality bill. Such a document was hailed as “a significant step forward” and as a sign that politicians have started to “open the door to equality becoming the law of the land in 2017.”
The draft bill, proposed in October last year, contained exemptions to discrimination law for ministers of religion, civil celebrants and religious businesses who did not want to participate in same-sex unions. Now, the Senate committee expressed concern on these provisions, as “such grounds would explicitly discriminate against same-sex couples” despite the Marriage Act already providing “the broadest and strongest protection of religious freedom for ministers of religion.”
In the report, the committee has also shown support for the use of ‘2 people’ as the appropriate definition to broaden access to marriage. As the document reads, “an Explanatory Memorandum should be used to confirm the intention that this definition is to include transgender and intersex persons.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
NNID and ILGA announced that the 4th International Intersex Forum will be taking place in Amsterdam from the 20 to 23 April 2017.
In Kenya, a court ruled that the refusal by the Registrar of Persons to amend the identification cards of five trans persons and record their changed names amounts to failure to perform the duties of the bestowed in the office.
In South Africa, two lecturers are formally being investigated after a student reported being verbally abused and kicked out of class on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
In Zagreb, Croatia, at least two persons were injured as an unknown attacker threw tear gas in a club where an LGBTIQ-themed party was taking place. Two days later, over 1,000 protesters took to the streets to condemn the attack.
In Poland, authorities have been ordered to collect information about the number of same-sex couples who got married abroad and want to register their union in their homeland.
The Court of Appeals of Antofagasta, Chile upheld an appeal for protection filed by three trans women, who suffered harassment and mistreatment while in detention.
In Mexico, the National Commission to Prevent Discrimination is reviewing the case of a trans woman who alleges that the university she was attending discriminated her on the grounds of her gender identity, and barred her from completing her studies.
A series of images portraying the first gay- and trans-inclusive rugby team ever established in Toronto, Canada is among those awarded at the World Press Photo 2017.
A State Department spokesperson in the United States announced that Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry will continue “in his role under the current administration.”
In New Zealand, a research showed that LGBTI people are more than twice as likely than non-LGBTI peers to feel less comfortable with an act as simple as holding their partner’s hands in public.
In Australia, the Queensland AIDS Council and the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council have joined forces and launched a campaign to reverse federal funding cuts to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health programs.
In Nepal, as many as 651 trans persons applied for a civil service job in 2016: it was the first time that members of the community could apply for such positions.
In Taiwan, the Constitutional Court announced it will review two marriage equality lawsuits on March 24. The discussions will be broadcast live.