LGBulleTIn #84 – Two weeks in LGBTI news
April 7-20, 2017
Friday, April 7
Tunisia: Medical Order calls for doctors to stop forced anal and genital examinations
— Neela Ghoshal (@NeelaGhoshal) April 12, 2017
The National Council of the Medical Order in Tunisia has recently issued a statement to “strongly condemn any medical examination which is unjustified and/or touches the dignity, or the physical and mental integrity of the person examined.”
The statement openly refers to forced anal and genital examinations as a “testing” for evidence of same-sex conduct, describing such practices as exams “breaching the dignity of the person.” It also clarifies that doctors must inform people that they have the right to refuse the exam.
While welcoming the statement, Human Rights Watch claimed that, unfortunately, it also leaves open “the possibility that someone accused of same-sex conduct might ‘consent’ to an anal exam under pressure from police, because they believe their refusal will be held against them, or because they believe it will prove their innocence.”
In its concluding observations on the third periodic report of Tunisia, the United Nations Committee against Torture said that the State should “prohibit intrusive medical examinations that have no medical justification and cannot be performed with the free and informed consent of the persons subjected to them.”
Friday, April 7
Honduras: LGBTI human rights defender killed
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) April 12, 2017
Honduran medical investigators confirmed that Sherlyn Montoya, an LGBTI human rights defender and a trans woman from Honduras, was killed in Tegucigalpa.
According to FrontLine Defenders, she went missing on April 2. She was last seen near a gas station, near the place where her body was found, wrapped in gunny sacks and showing signs of torture.
Sherlyn Montoya was a member of Asociación LGBT Arcoíris, an organisation which works on equality and justice for rainbow communities in Honduras. She was also a member of the Grupo de Mujeres Transexuales – Muñecas de Arcoíris, which is dedicated to promoting dialogue and advocacy for issues concerning trans women.
Human rights organisations have called on the Honduran government to conduct a thorough investigation “to assure that this crime will not go unpunished.” According to Muñecas de Arcoíris, since 1994 there have been 269 killings of LGBTI people in Honduras, 97 of which were of trans people.
Wednesday, April 12
Indonesia: two men face 100 lashes in public for same-sex conduct
— Phelim Kine 林海 (@PhelimKine) April 10, 2017
Two men are currently detained in the Aceh province of Indonesia under a local ordinance that criminalizes same-sex conduct.
They were arrested after they were found by unidentified vigilantes, who forcibly entered the home they were in and brought them to the police for allegedly having same-sex relations. A video showing the raid was filmed with a cell phone, and has since then circulated widely on social media.
As ILGA’s State Sponsored Homophobia points out, “a Provincial Ordinance on criminal offenses under Syariah law […] stipulates a punishment of 100 lashes and/or up to approximately eight years in prison” for same-sex activity.
Only a few days after the two men were arrested, a Constitutional Court ruling was approved, depriving the central government of the power to abolish local Sharia ordinances adopted in the country in case they did not comply with Indonesia’s secular constitution.
Friday, April 14
Chechnya: authorities continue to ignore human rights abuses against gay and bisexual men
— ILGA (@ILGAWORLD) April 13, 2017
In the face of growing international concern about reported detentions and killings of gay men and bisexual men in Chechnya, the Russian president’s spokesman said the Kremlin does not have confirmed information on the targeted violence.
This declaration arrived just a few hours after five United Nations human rights experts urged local authorities “to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual.” Human rights organizations including ILGA submitted the urgent appeal to the UN experts and others have also urgently appealed for an intervention by the United Nations’ Secretary-General over the situation.
During a recent official meeting with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov strongly denied all allegations. Despite these claims, though, human rights violations haven’t stopped even after news broke about at least 100 men having been arrested “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation,” taken to unofficial prisons and tortured. At least three murders have been confirmed so far by the Russian LGBT Network, which is continuing to receive requests for emergency assistance.
As ILGA-Europe reports, it is believed that a second suspected prison at Tsotsi-Yurt does exist. Survivors have also expressed fears that the social media accounts of the victims are being targeted, hacked and used to contact other men who have not yet been arrested.
Meanwhile, the journalist who broke the story on Novaya Gazeta has claimed she had to flee her home in Moscow after receiving threats. The newspaper also issued a statement that warned religious leaders in Chechnya were attempting to incite people against journalists, promising that “retribution will overtake the true instigators.”
LGBTI activists providing support to survivors in the region have appealed for continued international solidarity, and many demonstrations have already taken place all over the world. Here is what you can do.
Tuesday, April 18
Australia: “systemic transphobic bullying” reported on campus at a Sydney university
Trans students living on campus at a Sydney university have claimed to have received intimidation and death threats from other fellow students on the grounds of their gender identity.
The story was reported in the student newspaper W’SUP, with a number of students speaking of “systemic transphobic bullying on the campus.”
One student said to leave in fear of leaving his house, after receiving verbal abuse from another student: “I had a threat against me, going ‘we should burn you, we should kill you’,” he said. “You live in a 300 metre radius from these people, it’s not something you can get away from.”
Another student reported being harassed both online and in real life, and to allegedly have people bashing at their window one night – an incident no one was seriously disciplined over.
As W’SUP reports, the university said that they have policies in place for responding to any allegations of bullying and harassment, and that allegations of physical threats would likely “constitute a criminal matter.” The university is also developing a 3-year LGBTI inclusion strategic plan, as part of the LGBTI Benchmarking and Accreditation Project.
Tuesday, April 18
United States: Idaho sued over state’s legal gender recognition policy
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) April 18, 2017
F. V., a trans woman identified only by her initials, has filed a lawsuit against the State of Idaho for enforcing a policy that does not allow trans people to amend the gender on their birth certificates.
The complaint, which Lambda Legal has shared, alleges that “Idaho’s refusal to issue such birth certificates erects a barrier to the full recognition, participation, and inclusion of transgender people in society and subjects them to discrimination, privacy invasions, harassment, humiliation, stigma, and even violence.”
The lawsuit claims that F. V. has been exposed to hostility and harassment herself because of the incorrect gender on her birth certificate, to the point of being humiliated and called derogatory terms in a federal social security office.
The ban “is an archaic policy that defies logic,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said. “In fact, government officials in Idaho know this, given that they allow transgender people to change the gender on their drivers’ licenses.”
“I hope that Idaho will give me the dignity of deciding when complete strangers get to know deeply private information about my life,” F. V. said. “It costs Idaho nothing to correct this piece of paper and recognize me as the woman that I am.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The 4th International Intersex Forum is taking place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, bringing together 40 intersex activists from all over the world.
Mass arrests have reportedly taken place both in Iran and Nigeria. In the former case, 30 men were allegedly arrested at a party and charged with ‘sodomy’; while on the latter 53 persons were held for allegedly celebrating a wedding between two men, and charged with “belonging to a gang of unlawful society.”
In India, a bill was passed unanimously in Parliament to prohibit discrimination against people living with HIV in healthcare, housing, employment and workplace settings.
The Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that using homophobic slurs to insult people has to be considered an act of discrimination towards them.
The Attorney General of Barbados was quoted as claiming that people are not persecuted in the country on the grounds of their sexual orientation, despite a law saying that “Any person who commits buggery […] is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life.”
An internal investigation has reportedly started over the case of a school principal in South Africa: she allegedly forced 38 girls to disclose their sexual orientation in front of parents, guardians and teachers, after two of them were found kissing.
Human rights groups and academics have denounced the arrest of Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a researcher focusing on the study of sexuality, health, education, and gender in Uganda. Her arrest was described as “a way to terrify (…) her community of supporters who are largely drawn from Uganda’s human rights, women’s and LGBTI movements.”
In Fiji, the Health Ministry said it is seeking legal advice on its policies after a man was reportedly prevented from donating blood on the grounds of his perceived sexual orientation.
In Australia, the Tasmanian Parliament passed a bill which expunged historic criminal records for same-sex activity, and the government apologised “to the LGBTI members of our community and their families who were hurt and negatively affected by convictions.”
In the United States, two appeals court judges issued a memo comparing Gavin Grimm – a trans teenager who filed suit against his school after being denied the right to use facilities comporting with his gender identity – to civil rights icons throughout history who “refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them.”
In Ireland, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has started a national consultation process to develop a National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy.
There are only a few days left (until April) 24 to apply for an ILGA-Europe’s re-granting programme open to LGBTI organisations from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey, supporting LGBTI community organising work.