LGBulleTIn #95 – The week in LGBTI news
July 14-20, 2017
Friday, July 14
Australia: new data on health and wellbeing of lesbian, bisexual and queer women released
— LBQWHC (@lbqwhc) July 14, 2017
Lesbian, bisexual and queer women in Australia are experiencing increasing rates of abuse and harassment, the most recent findings of a recurring survey into the health and wellbeing of LBQ women have shown.
According to the latest Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey, “forty percent of women had experienced some form of abuse or harassment” in the past twelve months, marking an increase on previous years. “The most common experience was verbal abuse or harassment,” the research adds, “and it is this type of abuse that has increased markedly (10%) since 2014.”
Researchers surveyed 623 participants aged between 16 and 74 years old, covering issues ranging from sexual and mental health, violence, tobacco and drug use, alcohol consumption, cancer screening behaviours and more.
“The difference between LBQ women’s health and that of the broader community is primarily influenced by social contexts and behaviours – how often the marginalisation and stigmatisation of our communities impacts our health,” ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price commented. “Many programs and services targeting women in the wider population have failed to resonate with LBQ women, and information gathered by (this research) provides a vital means by which specific messaging can be developed that reaches and connects with them.”
Friday, July 14
Honduras: LGBTI human right defender attacked in his home
An LGBTI human rights defender has reported being brutally attacked inside his home earlier this week in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. David Valle, a member of the Centro para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (CDC), had just returned home when he heard somebody ringing his doorbell. As he opened the door, a man attacked him and chased him through his home with a “knife-like weapon.”
As Criterio reports, the assailant beat Valle for more than ten minutes, before robbing him of his cell phone, home and car keys. The defender was rescued by his flatmate three hours later, when he arrived home.
He was treated at the Honduran Institute of Social Security before being transferred to a private hospital the next day. Speaking to the Washington Blade, Honduran human rights defenders said Valle suffered serious injuries, and was brought to a safe house after the hospital discharged him.
According to reports, he recently received threats because of his advocacy work, and petitioned authorities asking for protection.
Friday, July 14
Chechen leader denies persecution against gay and bisexual men in chilling interview
— Real Sports (@RealSportsHBO) July 18, 2017
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied all allegations about the persecution against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, to the point of even denying their existence.
“We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada,” he said during a chilling interview to HBO. “Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them. […] They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people.”
Such statements shocked international audiences, even if the Kremlin’s spokesman quickly told journalists that “nothing out of the ordinary has been said.”
The arbitrary detention of hundreds of men facing torture, inhumane and degrading treatment continued for weeks in Chechnya earlier this year, and recent reports by the Russian LGBT Network have made clear that the persecution has started again after a brief stop.
“If Russia’s international interlocutors (…) are not willing to tolerate Kadyrov’s vile threats, they cannot afford to let the matter drop,” Human Rights Watch commented. “They should make clear to Russia’s leadership that Kadyrov’s latest repellent remarks cannot be written off as ‘nothing out of the ordinary’.”
Saturday, July 15
“Beyond the rainbow”: two-day convening held in Botswana
Dozens of persons gathered together in Gaborone to take part in “Beyond the rainbow”, a two-day convening held by LeGaBiBo where several issues pertaining the LGBTI community were addresses in a number of panel discussions. During the meeting, topics ranged from relationships to experiences in the business and work environment, from ageism to how artists deal with discrimination when in the public eye.
One day before the event began, LeGaBiBo also launched its Drop-in Centre. According to the organisation, the centre aims to “increase demand for and uptake of targeted comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for LGBTI people, MSM and WSW and raise awareness on sexual and reproductive health rights services”, but also to “establish safe spaces” that can “enable movement building.”
Wednesday, July 19
United States: teacher comes out as bisexual, then loses his job
Nicholas Breiner was a middle school chorus teacher in Kentucky, and he had recently come out on Instagram as bisexual in an attempt to lend comfort to some of his LGBTI students who had been suicidal. “I felt that they needed to know there was someone in the room that understood and supported them, regardless of who they were,” he wrote.
His coming out, however, sparked immediate reactions: according to reports, he was pulled from the class on the very next day, only to be cautioned against being open about his sexual orientation. At the end of school year, then, his contract was not renewed.
At the end of June, immediately after the news spread, dozens of people protested outside the county courthouse, reportedly convinced that his contact was terminated on the grounds of his sexual orientation. Breiner seemed to confirm this as he spoke to Gay Star News this week: “It becomes more and more clear to me (that my coming out) was a deciding factor,” he was quoted as saying. The Montgomery County Superintendent, however, claimed that the decision “was not in part, or in whole, because of his sexual orientation.”
What happened in Kentucky might not be an isolated case: this week, a university instructor in Idaho was reported claiming that she was fired after refusing to retract a Facebook post where she affirmed her support of rainbow communities.
Wednesday, July 19
India: debate on the right to privacy may impact criminalisation of same-sex relations
A 9-judge bench of the Supreme Court in India has given indications that if it found that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, then the court’s decision in 2013 to uphold Section 377 ‘falls’.
According to News18, in a case challenging India’s Aadhaar program (a programme giving an identity number to all Indian residents based on their personal data), the bench made some preliminary observations that it considered sexual orientation was a matter of privacy and, if the court were to hold privacy as a fundamental right, then the 2013 judgment upholding Section 377 of the Penal Code would be susceptible to a renewed legal challenge. These observations may or may not be a part of the court’s final ruling.
As ILGA’s State-Sponsored Homophobia points out, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was given a more limited interpretation by the Delhi High Court in 2009, lifting the ban on same-sex sexual activity among consenting adult men, partly on the grounds of privacy. In 2013 however, in Koushal v. Naz Foundation, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld Section 377 as constitutional, rejecting the privacy argument. The judgment also said that the legislature should decide on this issue.
A curative petition against this 2013 ruling filed by Naz Foundation, raised afresh the issue of the right to privacy, Hindustan Times recalls. In February 2016, the country’s Supreme Court said it would review its 2013 judgement, referring the curative petition against Section 377 to a 5-judge bench. The 5-judge bench is yet, however, to deliberate on this.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A Gender Identity Bill was approved in the state of Michoacán, Mexico, allowing trans people to amend their birth certificate without abusive preconditions.
In the United States, Texas lawmakers gathered for a 30-day special legislative session, during which bills to regulate trans people’s access to public facilities will be discussed.
In Canada, a woman was reportedly forced to resign from her job at a religious communities’ organisation after she attended her gay son’s wedding.
A group of elderly lesbian women in the state of Victoria, Australia are planning a mass holding of hands on a tram ride to commemorate the arrest of two women who were convicted because of the same gesture in 1976.
Both police and the Human Rights and Anti‑Discrimination Commission are investigating a case of an assault that took place in a nightclub in Suva, Fiji, where members of the LGBTI community were allegedly attacked and verbally abused by a bouncer.
Around 80 women and LGBTI human rights defenders gathered in Belgrade, Serbia to protest the escalating violence against women and domestic violence in the country. Similar protests were also held in other Serbian towns.
IGLYO has held its Activist Academy in Berlin, Germany: a five-day intensive skills-based training programme for young people in Europe working to defend LGBTIQ rights.
The Being LGBTI in Asia programme has released a new study analysing news media coverage of SOGIESC issues across media platforms in Thailand.
The government in Israel opposed a petition submitted by the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers requesting that common-law and same-sex couples be allowed to adopt. During protests that followed the decision, at least ten persons were reportedly arrested.
In Uganda, the Ethics Minister has backed a legislator’s call to bring back the Anti Homosexuality Bill, sparking criticism from human rights organisations.
An award-winning documentary featuring Cape Verde’s trans women community has premiered in Cameroon, reportedly marking its first time in a major African film festival.