LGBulleTIn #77 – The week in LGBTI news
February 17-23, 2017
Friday, February 17
Finland: parliament votes down bid to repeal marriage equality
Great news from Finland: marriage equality law to come into force on March 1 after a bid to repeal it was voted down https://t.co/v9CmX6nTWN
— ILGA (@ILGAWORLD) February 20, 2017
The parliament of Finland voted down a petition demanding the repeal of the marriage equality law. The citizen’s initiative, which had collected more than 100,000 signatures, was met with a strong opposition in the parliament: as well as 120 parliamentarians voted against it, while only 48 MPs voted in support. The marriage equality law was approved in the country in December 2014: now that this hostile initiative to repeal it has been defeated, the law is set to come into force on March 1 this year.
Meanwhile, another European country has made progress towards marriage equality this week: during a meeting in Malta, Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli announced that a Marriage Equality Bill is in the process of being drafted.
This week, also the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, spoke in favour of granting same-sex couples legal recognition for their relationships, calling it “a matter of equality before the law” and raising awareness of specific problems faced by rainbow families when they are not recognised.
Saturday, February 18
Tanzania threatens to publish “list of gay people,” shuts down HIV/AIDS service facilities over “homosexuality” claims
The ongoing crackdown against rainbow communities in Tanzania continues to expand, as a government official tweeted that the state would be investigating an alleged “homosexuality syndicate.”
According to Deutsche Welle, the Deputy Minister of Health threatened to “publish a list of gay people who sell their bodies online.” He went further, adding: “Those who think this campaign is a joke, are wrong. The government has long arms and it will quietly arrest all those involved. Once arrested, they will help us find others.”
These threats were aired only a few days after the government announced that it “has suspended the provision of HIV/AIDS services in at least 40 drop-in centres operated by NGOs countrywide”, on the grounds that these health facilities were allegedly “encouraging homosexuality.”
Monday, February 20
India: same-sex attraction is normal, new Health Ministry resources kit explains
— UNFPA India (@UNFPAIndia) February 20, 2017
“Yes, adolescents frequently fall in love. They can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex. It is important for adolescents to understand that such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect.”
These words are included in a resources kit that has just been released by the Health Ministry in India: it has been shared with thousands of adolescents, who will be trained by the Health department to act as peer educators on health issues to thousands of youth across the country.
The document, named “Saathiya Resource Kit”, not only addresses same-sex attraction, but also offers information about gender-based violence, reproductive health and contraception, while also debunking gender-based stereotypes.
“Despite the expansion of media, there are many unanswered questions in the minds of young people in villages. Saathiya will address these questions,” Health secretary C. K. Mishra was quoted as saying. “We are also talking about behavioural change and a change in thinking.”
Tuesday, February 21
El Salvador: three trans women murdered in less than 72 hours
In less than three days, three trans women were reported murdered in the El Salvador department of La Paz.
The bodies of the first two victims, aged 29 and 22 respectively, were found on Sunday morning in San Luis Talpa. According to police, they died after unknown attackers fired gunshots at them from a car. Two days later, the body of a third trans woman was found in Zacatecoluca: according to reports, she had disappeared soon after attending the funeral of the first two victims.
Sadly, these were not the only incidents targeting trans women this week. Three human rights defenders were violently assaulted in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina by a group of people who pretended to be police officers. According to Presentes, a dozen of men stood in their way as they were driving down a street and beat them out of the car, shouted transphobic insults and robbed them, while a number of bystanders filmed the scene with their mobile phones instead of seeking for help.
In the Umarzai province of Pakistan, then, three trans women reported being raped by a gang: according to Trans Action Pakistan, officials said they had arrested the suspects, even if none of them were seen in the police lockup.
Wednesday, February 22
United States: administration withdraws federal guidelines protecting trans students
Teachers, tomorrow your trans students will need you. Be there for them. Stand up for them.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) February 23, 2017
The Department of Justice and Department of Education have decided to withdraw and rescind guidance, issued during the Obama administration, directing schools to treat trans students according to their gender identity.
The decision, which ignores a letter by more than 1,000 parents of trans youth asking the administration to uphold the policy, was made “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”
The previous guidance allowed students to use facilities comporting with their gender identity, instructed teachers to use students’ chosen names and pronouns, and recommended steps to limit access to trans students’ school records. These protections, MotherJones reports, are no longer in place, even if a joint letter from the departments claims that rescinding them “does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”
Human rights groups seem to think otherwise: “This Administration’s action sends a harmful message to transgender young people—that their government does not support them, and that it is fine to single out those who are different,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “That message is sure to empower bullies. But it does not change the legal and moral duty of schools to support all students.”
A number of states and local officials have already announced they will keep implementing anti-discrimination provisions in schools, pointing out they could enforce federal, local, and school district civil rights laws on their own.
Thursday, February 23
Australia: soccer club fined, supporters suspended over homophobic banner
A soccer club has been fined 20,000 Australian dollars after some members of a supporter group unfurled a homophobic banner during the A-league derby in Sydney.
“Football Federation Australia (FFA) has today found the Western Sydney Wanderers FC guilty of bringing the game into disrepute,” a statement reads. “The actions of the team spectators responsible for displaying the banner and the ensuing celebration of the banner on social media were completely unacceptable,” the Head of the A-League commented. Those identified will be put through the federation’s banning process.
Meanwhile, also the club had decided to ban from games 14 members of their supporter group for the next 18 months. Those involved in unfurling the homophobic banner will also have to undertake a social inclusion program approved by the club before they will be allowed to attend any further matches.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
In Barbados, the Archbishop of the West Indies publicly stated that every human being should be treated “as a child of God, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” and admonished people of faith who ridicule members of rainbow communities.
Last Sunday, trans citizens of Ecuador were able to vote for the first time using identity cards reflecting their gender identity.
Four teenagers have been arrested in Canberra, Australia and charged with targeting gay men through online dating apps to then blackmail them.
A number of civil society organisations have publicly presented a report, prepared for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Tunisia, on the human rights violations faced by LGBTIQ people in the country.
The new draft constitution of the Football Association of Zambia, which would prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, has reportedly sparked outrage in the country.
The World OutGames Miami Global LGBTQI Human Rights Conference is still accepting abstracts: click here to find out more.
Three more residents of California, United States received legal recognition as non-binary.
Dozens of representatives of EU institutions, national governments and civil society organisations from all over Europe gathered in Malta for a High-level Ministerial Conference on LGBTIQ Equality Mainstreaming.
Human rights defenders from Germany met with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, raising concerns on the ongoing inhuman treatment and harmful medical practices faced by intersex people in the country.
During the CEDAW review of Sri Lanka, human rights defenders highlighted how the criminalisation of same-sex activity prevents lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex women from accessing justice for violence and discrimination.