LGBulleTIn #83 – The week in LGBTI news
March 31 – April 6, 2017
Friday, March 31
LGBTI political leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean meet in the Dominican Republic
— Darío Arias (@FuerzaCristina) April 3, 2017
More than 300 activists from across Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic, to attend a conference which aimed to “provide for a space for reflection, dialogue, skill-building and exchange of experiences for LGBTI leaders.”
Organised by Diversidad Dominicana, Caribe Afirmativo and the Victory Institute, the conference has now reached its third edition, and focused on enhancing the skills of LGBTI leaders and elected officials to participate in the democratic process as a pathway towards equality.
“We know that our community’s voices are not often at the table and they’re not often heard,” Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute President Aisha Moodie-Mills was quoted as saying at the conference opening. “When we are not there having conversations in the public policy context then what happens is that (…) people start legislating around us, and they start making decisions about our lives and about issues that affect us.”
April 1, 2017
Chechnya: human rights violations on gay and bisexual men happening on a mass scale
Attacks against LGBT people in Chechnya: claims must be investigated immediately and victims protected
“No one… https://t.co/5MNbvm8wOE
— Russian LGBT Network (@rulgbtnet) April 5, 2017
In the past few weeks, at least 100 men were arrested in Chechnya “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” Novaya Gazeta reported.
According to local sources, dozens of men were arbitrary detained in unofficial prisons, where they were tortured by electric current, cruelly beaten, and forced to disclose personal contacts of other gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.
The Russian LGBT Network can confirm at least 3 murders so far – out of a reported 20 murders – and has activated a 24-hour confidential hotline to collect further data, reach victims and arrange evacuation support for them.
There have been reports of violence and persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya in the past, but never on the scale that was recently reported. Statements released by officials have only added fuel to fire. “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist (here),” a spokesman of the Republic’s leader told Interfax News Agency. “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
ILGA-Europe has called for an immediate halt to the violence against the LGBTI community in the region, and has urged the international community to use any means it has to defend victims of detentions.
Monday, April 3
India: government issues guidance to allow trans persons use “public facilities of their choice”
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation of India has issued guidelines, directed to all states, to allow trans persons “to use the facility of their choice in community or public toilets.”
The circular, addressing gender issues in sanitation, reads: “In many communities, the third-gender may often be dissociated from the mainstream. SBM-G (the Swachh Bharat Mission – Grameen programme) should make a conscious effort that they are recognised as equal citizens and users of toilets. They should be allowed to use the facility of their choice in community or public toilets.”
The guidelines also aim to recognize the role of trans persons as public educators in the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) programme: “There are also examples from around the country, where people belonging to the third gender have (…) played a huge role in taking the message of Swachhta to households in the community. Where suitable, their support can be enlisted in engaging communities, and their efforts duly recognised and honoured to break any stigma around them, and to also enable them to use facilities without any embarrassment.”
Tuesday, April 4
United States: federal Court rules employers can’t fire people on the grounds of their sexual orientation
— Dawn Ennis (@lifeafterdawn) April 7, 2017
In a groundbreaking, 8-3 decision, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates federal civil rights law.
According to the ruling, such discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Lambda Legal explains, this decision makes the Seventh Circuit the highest federal court to reach this conclusion and could change the national landscape of employment law for rainbow communities.
The case stems from a lawsuit filed by an Indiana teacher, Kimberly Hively, who claimed that Ivy Tech Community College denied her full-time employment and promotions after she had been seen kissing her then-girlfriend in the parking lot of the school. The trial court dismissed her complaint, but the Court of Appeals has now reversed the decision.
As Associated Press points out, the ruling is likely to lead to a battle before the Supreme Court over the interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Thursday, April 6
Ghana: two men arrested for blackmailing a gay man
Police in Accra, the capital of Ghana, arrested two men for blackmailing a man whom one of them met on an online dating platform. They threatened their victim to publish naked photos of him online in case he did not pay them.
According to reports, one of the suspects contacted his victim, and invited him over to his house. Soon after they met, a group of five men stormed in the house: not only they stripped their victim and took pictures to blackmail him, but they also robbed him.
After more than four hours trapped with his assailants, the man immediately went to the police to report the blackmail attempt: a few hours later, officials arrested two men who apparently went to the drop-off location to get the victim’s money.
Thursday, April 6
Australia: gender-diverse students on youth allowance risk experiencing troubles in payments over technical glitches
Non-binary and gender-diverse students who receive the youth allowance may risk experiencing troubles in payments because of technical glitches. As The Guardian reports, Monash University’s student form advises that “making a change [in gender marker] at the university may have unexpected negative consequences. For example, Centrelink payments of student support may be interrupted if university records no longer match your records with Centrelink.”
Reports claim that the disruption occurs when university enrolment forms – which commonly provide a third option such as “unspecified” – come up against Centrelink services. According to the Australian Department of Human Services, in fact, “our personal records system only allows us to record your gender as male or female. If you identify as a non-binary gender, we can only add a note to your personal record.”
The general manager of the Department of Human Services said Centrelink was committed to the government’s guidelines that were released in 2013, and that suggest that departments collecting information on sex and/or gender should provide individuals “the option to select M (male), F (female) or X (Indeterminate/Intersex/Unspecified).”
He added, however, that the agency’s work is still in progress: “Changes are being made progressively as part of a multi-year project,” he said. “A person’s eligibility for social security payments is not conditional on their gender.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The European Court of Human found that the sterilisation requirement in legal gender recognition violates human rights. The decision sets a legal precedent, and will force the remaining 22 European countries using the infertility requirement to change their laws.
In Spain, the parliament of Valencia passed the Ley Integral de Identidad de Genero, which guarantees the self-determination of gender identity for those who identify with a gender different to the one assigned at birth.
Gilbert Baker – the artist who created the Rainbow Flag, giving our community a powerful symbol of pride – has passed away in New York, United States.
While holding their meeting in Canada, ILGA Board members met with Randy Boissonnault, Canadian PM’s Special Advisor on LGBTQ2S issues, and called on him to include Intersex in his work.
Hundreds of people joined a demonstration in Lima, Peru urging the parliament not to repeal an article in a legislative decree including also discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex among aggravating factors for hate crimes.
Two police officers accused of beating a trans activist will face trial in El Salvador. Last year, other two officers were convicted for the same case.
Osaka has become the first city in Japan to officially recognise a same-sex couple as foster parents of a teenage boy.
A five-member Board will be formed in Nepal to identify the issues and problems faced by local rainbow communities, and make the necessary recommendations to the government for a draft bill aimed at protecting the rights of LGBTI people.
A panel focusing on LGBTI youth homelessness was held in Australia on the occasion of the Youth Homelessness Matters Day.
In New Zealand, an All Blacks rugby player is facing a formal employment proceeding after making a homophobic comment on social media. He has since apologised for his remark.
There are fears that a young lesbian woman may have been the victim of a hate crime, after a burnt out body was discovered in Kroonstad, South Africa.
An activist and videographer in Uganda has been awarded for his work on a documentary project about LGBTI people in the country.
Transgender Day of Visibility was celebrated by LGBTI communities and allies from across the world on March 31.
Dutch politicians, both in the Netherlands and in missions and embassies around the world, walked holding hands in solidarity with a gay couple who were attacked while walking home together.