The week in LGBTI news
November 24-30, 2017
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Lara Goodwin
Friday, November 24
Turkey: Istanbul district bans LGBTI+ events
The Beyoğlu district governorship in Istanbul banned a series of LGBTI+ themed events the day before they were due to start, citing risks to public safety.
The governor’s office also claimed that “the events may be contrary to the Constitutional order or general morality,” and that applications for the events had not been submitted.
The announcement came only a week after the Turkish capital, Ankara indefinitely banned “activities of LGBTT-LGBTI organizations such as film screenings, cinevision, theatre plays, panels, talks, exhibitions which include certain social sensitivities and sensibilities.”
Two LGBTI organisations, Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat, have filed a lawsuit against the decision of the governorship of Ankara, with two separate demands for the ban to be lifted.
"Although the governorship decision does not formally seem like it bans the activities of the associations working for LGBTI rights, the consequences of the decision essentially ban these activities in their entirety", the attorney representing Kaos GL Association stated. "In short: the governorship is telling associations that they can remain open and that it does not concern their legal entity status, but that they should not step out of their buildings and should not reach out to people other than their members and activists."
Friday, November 24
India: government has failed trans, intersex and gender-variant citizens on the TG Bill
The Government of India “has failed the trans, intersex, and gender variant citizens in-spite of making grand promises,” human rights defenders have claimed.
The remarks came after news broke that the government rejected the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s Recommendations on Transgender Persons [Protection of Rights] Bill 2016.
If tabled in its current form, the Sampoorna Working Group explained, the bill “does not uphold the right to self-identify gender, proposes physical screenings (…), offers token measures in the name of anti-discrimination, and refuses to recognize the distinct, even though sometimes overlapping, concerns of trans and gender variant individuals from intersex persons.”
In its current form, the bill also criminalises begging – further putting “trans and intersex women who beg on the streets (…) at grave risk of further police and state violence” – while being “silent on any alternate livelihood schemes.”
“India will be stepping backwards in immeasurable ways, if this bill is passed,” the Sampoorna Working Group warned. An international appeal has been launched to oppose such regressive steps.
Monday, November 27
Chile: Congress begins debate over marriage equality
The Congress in Chile began its debate over the marriage equality bill, three months after President Michelle Bachelet signed the bill and introduced it.
Among the provisions that the bill seeks to introduce, according to Cooperativa.cl, there is an amendment to article 102 of the Civil Code, that would read, "marriage is the union between two persons". Adoption by rainbow families would also be made possible. While the debate is ongoing, the Government has launched a website to answer the questions of its citizens about the bill.
Two days before the beginning of the debate in Congress, almost 100,000 persons took to the streets in Santiago, demanding that marriage equality be made a reality in the country. The march also raised awareness of the necessity to urgently approve the Gender Identity Law.
Tuesday, November 28
Zimbabwe: Supreme Court overturns ruling denying permission to hold sex workers’ rights march
The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe overturned a ruling in which the High Court did not grant permission to hold a peaceful demonstration to raise awareness of violence and abuse faced by sex workers.
As the Southern Africa Litigation Center and the Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) reported, in 2015 the police commissioner of Bulawayo rejected the request by the SRC to hold a march to observe the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. The decision was later confirmed by the High Court, until the recent overturn by the Supreme Court.
The Sexual Rights Centre welcomed the decision, highlighting how sex workers and other marginalised persons are extremely vulnerable to violence, stigma and abuse. “The decision (…) has opened for the door for the SRC to hold a peaceful march to commemorate the upcoming the International Day on 17 December 2017,” said SRC Executive Director Humphrey Ndondo.
Tuesday, November 28
Canada: prime minister delivers apology to rainbow communities
The Canadian Prime Minister delivered a historic apology to rainbow communities in the country: speaking in the House of Commons, Justin Trudeau said sorry for decades of “state-sponsored, systematic oppression and rejection.”
On this occasion, the Government of Canada introduced legislation – Bill C-66, the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act – that would “put into place a process to permanently destroy the records of convictions for offences involving consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners that would be lawful today.”
"Over our history, laws, policies enacted by the government led to the legitimization of much more than inequality – they legitimized hatred and violence, and brought shame to those targeted," Trudeau said. "The state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around LGBTQ2 communities. And in doing so, destroyed people’s lives."
"It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated," he added. "And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long – many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that, we are truly sorry."
The road towards the apology “has been a long, painful journey for many," commented Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada and co-secretary general of ILGA. "It is my hope that the apology will reach beyond the surface and into the hearts of all LGBTQI2S community members in Canada."
Wednesday, November 29
Australia: Senate votes “yes” to marriage equality
The Australian Senate voted “yes” to marriage equality; the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill, set to amend the Marriage Act, passed 43-12 following days of debate. The cross-party bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where a final vote is expected to take place next week.
The vote was celebrated as an historic victory for rainbow communities in the country; “It says to so many Australians: this Parliament, this country, accept you for who you are,” Senator Penny Wong said. “Your love is not lesser and nor are you. It says you are one of us.”
The days before the vote, as the Human Rights Law Centre reported, saw “a raft of amendments which would have wound back existing discrimination protections for LGBTI Australians.”
However, the Bill passed largely unchanged. This means, as News.com.au notes, that the provision creating a new class of 'religious marriage celebrants' remains: they will be able to refuse to conduct marriages for all those couples whose relationship will now be legally recognized.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A group of international human rights experts released the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10, which supplement the original 29 principles with nine additional principles and 111 additional State obligations.
In the past few weeks, ILGA released two new publications: the SOGIESC UPR Advocacy Toolkit (available in English and Spanish) and the latest annual report on Treaty Bodies references to SOGIESC for 2016. We hope they will be useful tools for activists who wish to engage with these UN mechanisms. Both ILGA-Europe and ILGALAC held their regional conferences, and the ILGA Asia one will kick off next week. We also have a brand new website live at ilga.org!
Ruling on the case of Re Kelvin, a 16-year-old trans young man, the Family Court in Australia decided that access to hormone treatment would no longer require Court authorisation.
A project to tackle self-harm and suicide among LGBQTI members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is soon set to kick off in Australia, offering them micro-grants to host community events.
Amidst the ongoing crackdown against rainbow communities in Egypt, 16 men were found guilty of "inciting debauchery" and "abnormal sexual relations". They were reportedly freed on bail, each pending an appeal.
Decriminalisation of same-sex relations "is not so far a matter on the agenda", the president of Ghana said in an interview, adding that it would be eventually "bound to happen" when "a strong coalition to have an impact on public opinion" would emerge, leading to a demand for change.
The 20th anniversary of the decriminalisation of same-sex consensual activity was celebrated in Ecuador.
An open letter was published at the end of the ILGALAC regional conference in Guatemala, where human rights defenders express concern about "the rise of conservative and fundamentalist sectors that incite hatred through what they call ‘gender ideology'."
OII-Europe has announced its second community event, set to be hosted by Copenhagen Pride and Intersex Denmark during Copenhagen Winter Pride in February 2018.
In Estonia, a court overturned a ruling which stated that a U.S. citizen married to an Estonian woman should have seen her residence permit granted. The couple announced they will turn to the Supreme Court.
A new report cast a light on the situation of rainbow families in Cambodia, highlighting the lack of understanding that the majority of rainbow couples have regarding their own legal rights.
“The government is committed to ensuring that no provision in the law would be applied to persons of the LGBTIQ community in a discriminatory manner,” the Deputy solicitor of Sri Lanka was reported as saying in response to the recent UPR of the country.
The 9th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights has taken place this week: it included sessions on 'Religion, Politics and Transgender: The Picture of the LGBT issue in Bireuen District, Aceh, Indonesia', 'Sexual Health from the Perspective of LGBT Communities'; and youth sessions on SOGIESC.
A new Canadian guideline outlined how new biomedical strategies to prevent HIV infection can best be used in high-risk populations both before and after exposure to the virus.
In the United States, the Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case dealing with a company’s refusal to print t-shirts for organizers of a Pride parade.
Any other LGBTI news that you would like to share with us?
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