LGBulleTIn 91 – The week in LGBTI news
June 16-22, 2017
Friday, June 16
First Treaty Bodies decision on legal gender recognition issued on a case involving an Australian citizen
— ILGA (@ILGAWORLD) June 19, 2017
The United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a decision stating that Australian laws barring married trans people from changing the sex on their birth certificate are in violation of international human rights law.
The ruling comes about a case involving a trans woman from Australia, whose request to have her gender marker amended on her birth certificate was rejected multiple times on the grounds that “a person must be unmarried at the time of their application to register a change of sex.”
That precondition, the UN Human Rights Committee now ruled, “constitutes arbitrary or unlawful interference with her privacy and family.” In what is the first Treaty Bodies decision on legal gender recognition, it is also made clear that “the differential treatment between married and unmarried persons who have undergone a sex affirmation procedure and request to amend their sex on their birth certificate is not based on reasonable and objective criteria, and therefore constitutes discrimination.”
Friday, June 16
United States: Oregon becomes first State to allow third gender marker on IDs
— Militia Etheridge (@MaryEmilyOHara) June 16, 2017
Oregon has become the first U.S. state to allow residents to mark their gender as “not specified” on applications for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and identity cards.
Under the new rule approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission, taking effect at the beginning of July, residents who select the new option will have an “X” appear instead of “M” or “F” on those documents.
The change, NPR reports, follows a ruling last year by an Oregon judge that allowed Jamie Shupe, an Army veteran, to legally identify as non-binary, in a decision that was believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.
Since then, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) convened an advisory group to inform a proposal for a third gender marker. A recommendation was finalised in spring, and then two public hearings were hosted to receive feedback on an X gender marker.
Oregon DMV officials were quoted by The Oregonian saying they received little opposition to the change, which they first announced plans to carry out last summer. Of 83 comments, both written and oral, only 12 people spoke against it.
Friday, June 16
South Africa launches LGBTI-specific national plan for HIV response
— FeatherAwardsSA (@FeathersSA) June 20, 2017
A national HIV plan to address the specific needs of the LGBTI community has recently been launched during the 8th South African AIDS Conference in Durban.
According to Africa News Agency, the plan “has five objectives and targets in the areas of health, empowerment, psychosocial support, human rights and evaluation,” including “reducing HIV by 63 percent, TB by 30 percent and increasing the detection of STIs by 70 percent over five years.”
The plan also acknowledges that societal stigma and discrimination still affect LGBTI people heavily, as our communities “find barriers to accessing public services, including health, and avoid seeking services fearing discrimination, judgment and a lack of confidentiality.” “There is an urgent need for services designed for their needs,” claimed the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) in its presentation.
As Chairperson of the SANAC Civil Society Forum Steve Letsike told Mambaonline, “we now have a document that we can hold the government accountable to” in their provision of services to LGBTI people.
Tuesday, June 20
Russia’s “promotion” law breaches human rights, the European Court of Human Rights rules
— ECHR Press (@ECHR_Press) June 21, 2017
In a landmark judgment by six votes to one, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a Russian law banning the “propaganda of non‑traditional sexual relations aimed at minors” breached European treaty rules.
Three human rights defenders had filed complaints on the matter in 2009 and 2012, alleging that the law violated their right to freedom of expression and was discriminatory.
The Court has now ruled in their favour, clearly stating that legislation does “… not serve to advance the legitimate aim of the protection of morals, and that such measures are likely to be counterproductive.”
“Above all,” the ruling reads, “by adopting such laws the authorities reinforce stigma and prejudice and encourage homophobia, which is incompatible with the notions of equality, pluralism and tolerance inherent in a democratic society.”
“The message from Strasbourg is loud and clear. LGBTI people deserve equality, are not a threat, and cannot be forced to hide away,” ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis commented. “This is a vital decision (…): it sends a key message to activists in other countries who are pushing back against similarly restrictive legislative proposals.”
The decision is binding for Russia, but the government has already pledged to appeal the ruling within three months.
Tuesday, June 20
Commonwealth officially accredits LGBTI organisation for the first time
— CommonwealthEquality (@CWEquality) June 20, 2017
The Commonwealth approved the accreditation of the Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN), making it the first LGBTI-focused organisation to be officially accredited by the association of states. The decision was made earlier this month, during the Board of Governors Meeting at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.
As the organisation notes, being accredited means that “activists will benefit from increased access to, participation in and information about Commonwealth matters” and “it also sends a strong signal that the voices and needs of LGBTI people are legitimate and LGBTI activists have a vital role in civil society.”
“Considering the process it takes, it is a small wonder and a great victory for TCEN to have been given accreditation as a Commonwealth organisation,” commented Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Chair of TCEN and Executive Director of Equal Ground – Sri Lanka. “I look forward to the day when all countries within the Commonwealth adhere to the principles of human rights and equality enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter, safeguarding LGBTI rights and upholding freedom and equality for all.”
Wednesday, June 21
Restrictions on partnership registration for same-sex couples to be lifted in Taiwan
The Ministry of the Interior of Taiwan has urged local governments to lift restrictions based on residence for same-sex couples who want to register their partnership before marriage equality becomes law.
According to Focus Taiwan, a number of cities have started issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples since 2015, but a few exceptions are still in place: the ministry has now asked cities and county governments to receive applications from other areas, in order to serve also couples living in cities where they can’t register their unions yet. The service will start as of July 3.
In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court found that the current provision in the Civil Code stating that only a man and a woman can marry violated constitutional guarantees. The Council of Grand Justices said the legislature has two years to amend the existing civil code or create a new law allowing marriage equality.
Thursday, June 22
47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States comes to an end in Mexico
— CoalicionLGBTTI (@CoalicionLGBTTI) June 21, 2017
During the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States, representatives of 34 member states approved a resolution on the protection of human rights, after what has been described as a heated debate around SOGIESC issues.
The text of the resolution, Agencia Presentes reports, proposed “to condemn all forms of discrimination and acts of violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and intersex characteristics” and called for the adoption of consequent public policies. A few delegations, however, opposed the wording of the document, especially on the part regarding intersex, and also suggested that the words “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression” be replaced with a general reference to “equality and non-discrimination”. In the end, Siete24 reports, an agreement was found to include the same wording of the resolution passed one year ago, which the Organisation of the American States finally approved.
“We do not criticize the rejection of a terminology considered by this assembly as unilateral or non-existent in international agreements,” intersex human rights defenders commented in a joint statement. “We criticize the lack of commitment of the assembly to dialogue, recognize, propose and assume not only a terminology, but a stronger stance for the protection of the rights of intersex people.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
Registration, scholarship applications and session proposals are now open for the 7th ILGA Asia Regional Conference, which will take place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 4-8 December 2017.
Posters advocating respect for LGBTI persons were posted on the walls of several streets in Baghdad, Iraq, reading “I am equal to you. Difference is the basis of life.”
The Samoa Fa’afafine Association has donated the proceeds of their recent variety show to an elderly care charity in Samoa.
According to reports, at least 40 persons were granted refugee status in New Zealand in the past five years on the grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
An LGBTI human rights defender in Kenya reported being attacked in the home he had turned into a safe housing space by one of the persons he was hosting.
Q-zine has opened a call for contributions to its upcoming issue, focusing on new developments in African visual arts from a queer perspective.
In the United States, a government agency has backtracked on the proposal to scrap a question pertaining to sexual orientation in the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants.
The governor of Texas, United States signed into law a bill that ensures that child welfare agencies discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or religion beliefs will still receive government support.
In the past few months, two trans men in Lithuania have successfully defended their right to legal gender recognition, prompting more persons to seek assistance on similar cases.
An intersex human rights organisation has organised a number of nonviolent protests on the occasion of an upcoming medical congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, to denounce harmful intersex genital mutilations.
New commissioners for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights were elected during the assembly in Cancún, Mexico: together with other human rights organisations, ILGALAC had expressed concerns over the human rights record of one of the candidates, who ended up not being elected.
Almost three million people marched in the Pride parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, under the theme “Independent of our beliefs, no religion is law! All for a secular State.”