LGBulleTIn #79 - The week in LGBTI news
March 3-9, 2017
Friday, March 3
Intersex human rights defenders from Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand issue statement of priorities after historic retreat
More than 20 intersex human rights defenders from Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand have come together for an historic retreat in Darlington, Sydney. The event led to issuing a statement that addresses key priorities for the community, and that advocates consider to be “the basis of much of our work over the coming years.”
“Current forms of oversight of medical interventions affecting people born with variations of sex characteristics have proven to be inadequate,” the Darlington statement reads. The document also addresses legal reform to recognise bodily autonomy, access to affirmative health care, effective rights-based oversight of clinical decisions and the importance of peer support.
“I am incredibly proud of the strength of our diverse intersex community coming together,” said Tony Briffa, co-executive director of OII Australia. “The intersex movement in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand has come of age and will no longer tolerate being silenced.”
Saturday, March 4
China: same-sex attraction is “a complete normal phenomenon,” new sex-education textbook explains
The Beijing Normal University has published a new series of sex education textbooks, aimed at primary school students, which describes “same-sex attraction as a complete normal phenomenon.”
On one page of the book, students are portrayed asking their teacher about their female neighbours who live together as a couple. The teacher replies: “The majority of people are heterosexual, but there are some people who feel attracted to the same sex. This is a completely normal phenomenon. We can’t discriminate against them.”
These books have been met with mixed reactions in the country: according to reports, several people took to social media to express discontent at the publication over its “graphic illustrations.”
The Beijing Normal University Publishing Group, however, told China News Agency that the materials involved underwent strict scrutiny before being published. "We believe that a frank and rigorous research will enrich everyone's understanding of sex education," it added in a statement.
Saturday, March 4
Brazil: trans woman lynched to death in Fortaleza
Her name was Dandara dos Santos. She was a trans woman, and her life brutally ended a few weeks ago, when she was assaulted and lynched to death by a mob in the streets of Fortaleza, Brazil.
The horrific incident made headlines worldwide, as a cellphone video documenting her abuse began circulating on social media this week. The clip shows her sitting on the ground, being insulted, kicked and beaten up, and then forced into a wheelbarrow. According to the authorities, her attackers had later taken her to a nearby street, where they shot her.
It is thanks to this clip that six of her assailants were identified: police have arrested three teenagers and two men in connection with the torture and killing, but at least one more person is still on the run.
The government of the state of Ceará released a statement condemning the killing, and warning that attackers will be punished.
According to Rede Trans Brasil, at least 25 trans persons were reported murdered in Brazil since the beginning of 2017. This week only, at least four trans persons - one of whom has not been identified yet - were reported murdered in the country.
Monday, March 6
United States: Supreme Court sends landmark trans human rights case back to lower court
The Supreme Court of the United States announced it will not hear the case of a trans teenager denied the right to use facilities at school comporting with his gender identity.
The case involving 17-year-old Gavin Grimm had been scheduled for oral argument in the end of March; instead, it will now be sent back to Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. This means, as the Washington Post points out, that a decision on whether federal laws that forbid discrimination on the basis of sex also extend to gender identity may be delayed until at least next term.
The announcement came only a few weeks after the Department of Justice and Department of Education decided to withdraw and rescind guidance directing schools to treat trans students according to their gender identity.
“This case will not be resolved until after I graduate,” Gavin wrote in a powerful opinion piece for the New York Times. “But this fight is bigger than me. (…) This fight is for other trans youth in my high school. It is for other trans youth in Virginia. It is for all trans youth who are in school or one day will be. It is for the friends and loved ones of these youth, who want these children to be happy and healthy, rather than at risk and in danger as so many trans people are.”
Tuesday, March 7
South Africa: Johannesburg High Court hears homophobic hate speech case
The South Gauteng High Court has begun to hear the case of Jon Qwelane, a journalist and a political figure, for an article titled “Call me names, but gay is not okay.” The column, published in 2008, compared same-sex attraction with bestiality, and praised Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe for his “unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals.”
As OUT recalls, “the public outcry around the homophobic and prejudicial contents of the article resulted in the South African Human Rights Commission approaching the Equality Court to seek a public apology and damages from Mr Qwelane on the grounds that the contents of his article constitute prohibited hate speech” under the Equality Act.
According to Mambaonline, a court ruled in 2011 that the article “propagates hatred and harm against homosexuals” and ordered Qwelane to pay a fine and issue an apology to rainbow communities. The ruling, however, was rescinded on a technicality, but the charges were filed again. In 2013, then, also Qwelane filed a new case that questioned the constitutionality of the Equality Act: according to Times Live, the Johannesburg High Court is dealing with both these matters.
During the hearing, a woman testified to have been victim of several attacks on the grounds of her sexual orientation, and explained why articles filled with hate speech are parts of the problem: "The words of this man (Qwelane) are hurtful, and create a perception to people who hate us to treat us like non entities," she said.
Wednesday, March 8
Global celebrations and protests mark International Women’s Day
An unprecedented outpouring of events, celebrations and protests marked this year’s International Women's Day, raising awareness of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women every day.
In more than 50 countries and over 400 cities worldwide, women went on strike from paid and unpaid labour. "We demand that our lives and labour be treated with dignity for they form the basis of this society," the platform of the International Women's Strike reads, calling for “full reproductive justice for all women, cis and trans" and "complete autonomy over our bodies and full reproductive freedom.”
"Every year on International Women’s Day we are reminded that we still live in a world where most women are left behind. This is especially true for lesbian and bisexual women as well as trans and intersex people," reads a comment by Jessica Stern, Executive Director at Outright Action International. "When we have leaders who incite fear instead of inclusion, (...) we must stand up for our rights and for human rights for all. To combat this we must truly stand up to ensure that no one continues to face persecution and violence at any level."
Wednesday, March 8
Italy: court recognises overseas adoptions by two gay couples
In a landmark ruling for rainbow families in Italy, a court in Florence has recognized the overseas adoptions of children by two same-sex couples.
The first case involves a gay couple, both Italian citizens, who adopted two children in the United Kingdom, where they currently live: the court ordered the adoption be recorded in Italy as well, granting the citizenship of the parents to be passed onto the children.
A similar ruling, issued by the same court, involves another gay couple and the daughter they adopted in the United States: their adoption will be now registered in Italy as well, recognising the two men as the fathers of their daughter, and granting her a double citizenship.
According to human rights organisations, these cases marked the first time an Italian court recognized the adoption of non-biological children by gay couples.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
ILGA is among the organisations supporting "Pride and Prejudice," a global conference organised by The Economist Events on March 23 to debate on how companies can be catalysts for change towards diversity and inclusion. Registration is open!
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has published its concluding observations on the countries examined during its 66th session. CEDAW called out both Ireland and Germany on unnecessary medical procedures performed on intersex children, and expressed concern over increasing cases of violence against LBTI women in El Salvador. The Committee also recommended Ukraine "provide necessary protection against discrimination and violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender women," and urged Sri Lanka to consider including sexual orientation and gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
According to reports, 38 girls at a school in Mdantsane, South Africa were forced them to disclose their sexual orientation in front of parents, guardians and teachers, after the principal had seen two of them kissing.
In Algeria, a writer is being investigated over blasphemy allegations for his latest book. The novelist had been a target of threats for speaking in favour of rainbow communities and for advocating against the use of religion to restrict people's rights.
Despite admitting that investigations on the case are ongoing, Saudi Arabia has denied claims that two trans women from Pakistan were beaten to death while in police custody after being arrested in the country.
An online survey of more than 15,000 persons in Japan showed that more than half of them suffered from bullying at school on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In almost 7 in 10 cases, they said that teachers failed to help them.
In Peru, the Ministry of Education announced that a gender equality approach in the country's new school curriculum will be kept, despite marches in the country protesting against its supposed "gender ideology."
A court ordered the Penitentiary Service of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina create a separate unity for trans women, and to treat them respecting their gender identity.
A Senate Committee in Texas, United States began to hear testimony on Senate Bill 6, a bill that would ban trans people from using public facilities comporting with their gender identity.
Lawmakers in Utah, United States have passed a bill repealing a law forbidding discussion of LGBTI issues in classrooms.
A number of flyers prepared by groups campaigning against the Safe Schools coalition program have reportedly been sent to tens of thousands of homes in Perth, Australia.
According to reports, the Ministry of Health of New Zealand decided to cut funding for a landmark HIV prevention study among men who have sex with men, despite an internal report outlining the dangers of discontinuing the research.
Human rights defenders in Northern Ireland have joined forces to call for a firm commitment to deliver marriage equality legislation "before any new Executive is formed."
A roundtable on protecting the rights of LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees in the reform of the Common European Asylum System was held at the European Parliament.
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