The week in LGBTI news
March 2-8, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #114 provides a week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
Friday, March 2
Brazil: trans community welcomes landmark court rulings
In a historic day for trans communities in Brazil, courts delivered two landmark rulings that have been described as “a liberating moment for one of the most marginalised, stigmatised and discriminated groups in society.”
The Superior Electoral Court authorised trans candidates to compete in the elections using their social name, and to be considered in quotas comporting with their gender identity.
Only a few hours later, another landmark decision came from the Supreme Court, as it ruled that trans persons have the right to change their name and gender marker in the civil registry without any surgical requirement nor litigation processes. Judges expressed different views during the process, but the ruling ended up being delivered with an unanimous agreement.
As trans human rights defenders were celebrating in the country, they noted that work still needs to be done: "We have only now guaranteed a minimum of citizenship to transgender people with both of these rulings but there are still a lot of challenges to overcome,” ANTRA president Keila Simpson was quoted as saying. “It is important to say that for a marginalised community like ours that comes from having no rights, no nothing, being able to decide our name is a lot, but we are yet to conquer our right to safe living.”
Friday, March 2
United States: cable and broadcast TV news spent less than 40 minutes covering anti-LGBTQ violence in 2017, report shows
39 minutes and 36 seconds was the total coverage of violence against LGBTQ persons obtained from cable and broadcast TV news in 2017 in the United States, according to a report released by Media Matters.
Such little media attention came during a year when a total of 52 reported anti-LGBTQ homicides were reported in the country, an 86% increase in single incident reports from 2016.
While other media sources were well aware of the ongoing crisis of violence against our communities, the majority of the coverage from cable and broadcast TV was about two specific stories and came on just four days. Beyond that, “networks rarely noted the trend of increasing anti-LGBTQ violence nationwide,” discussing the issue only 22 times in a year across seven networks.
Saturday, March 3
40 years of Mardi Gras celebrated in Australia
An estimated 300,000 people took part in the annual Sydney Mardi Gras Parade, under the banner of ’40 years of evolution’.
This edition, in fact, marked the 40th anniversary of the original parade held in 1978, when one night of celebration became a political protest marred by police brutality. 53 persons were arrested that night, and outed through a newspaper later that week.
The protests that erupted following those incidents were instrumental in bringing about change: as the BBC points out, the Summary Offences Act was repealed in May 1979, and same-sex sexual conduct was decriminalised in New South Wales in 1984. It wasn’t until 2016, however, that activists finally received an official apology over the 1978 violence.
Even if rainbow communities have come a long way since those days, Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow called on everyone to remember that lots still needs to be done, especially in fighting discrimination faced by trans, gender diverse and intersex people. “It is increasingly clear that we need to do more to protect the human rights of people with intersex variations in Australia," he said, adding that "addressing the burden of discrimination experienced by LGBTI people in so many areas of everyday life remains a critical issue."
Tuesday, March 6
South Africa: battle over Inxeba continues as X-rating is lifted
Debate and court challenges around Inxeba, a movie depicting a relation between two men in the context of a Xhosa initiation ritual, are still ongoing in South Africa.
The High Court in Pretoria agreed to temporarily remove the X18-rating for the film, allowing the movie screenings not to be only limited to ‘designated adult premises’ while keeping an age 18 restriction. Previously, the movie had been banned from playing at mainstream cinemas – a decision that was widely criticised by activists and civil society.
“We believe (the ‘X18’ rating) to be a violation of freedom of expression and amounts to a form of homophobic censorship that has no place in a progressive and free society,” read a statement endorsed by NGOs and filmmakers amongst others. “Subjective morality-based assessments are not the guiding principles in making decisions such as this; the constitution and the Bill of Rights are.”
As Times Live points out, Inxeba had previously been assigned an age 16 restriction in South Africa. Protests erupted as the film opened, forcing cinemas to cancel scheduled screenings; at the same time, formal complaints prompted an appeals court to increase the age limit, which was later modified once again by the recent High Court decision.
The matter is now set to be discussed on March 28, when the court will hear arguments. Until then, groups opposing the film have declared that they “cannot guarantee that there will be no protests.’
Wednesday, March 7
Pakistan: Senate approves bill aimed to protect trans persons’ rights
The Senate in Pakistan approved the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2017, aimed to protect the rights of trans persons and prohibit discrimination against them.
The vote arrived a few weeks after a Senate committee approved proposed amendments to the bill, establishing that a person will not need to appear before a medical board to determine their gender.
As Dawn reports, the bill says that a trans person shall see their gender identity recognised, and that they will have to be registered with that identity with all government departments, including the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
Amongst its provisions, the proposed law reportedly includes measures to sanction discrimination on the grounds of a person's gender identity in health and education settings, and urges the government to take steps to ensure that trans persons can fully participate in society – including ensuring the rights to vote and to inherit property.
Wednesday, March 7
Latvia: parliament rejects petition for partnership legislation
The Mandate, Ethics and Submissions Committee of the Saeima (parliament) of Latvia rejected a petition to introduce partnership legislation which would recognise all unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.
As ILGA-Europe reports, this is the second time the Saeima rejected such an initiative. Following the vote by neighbouring Estonia to support cohabitation laws for all couples in 2015, a call to pass similar legislation also gained strength in Latvia. After a first initiative was rejected by parliament, a petition in support of the partnership law collected more than 10,000 signatures, thus requiring parliament to consider the initiative. However, the petition’s journey ended with the recent 2-5 vote - with two abstentions.
“We are truly disappointed this initiative was rejected before it even reached the relevant Parliament committee,” said Kristine Garina from MOZAIKA. “Parliament just sent a clear message that not everyone is equal and thousands of families do not belong in this country. […] We should be ashamed.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
This year’s International Women's Day was marked worldwide with strikes, marches and celebrations of women (s)heroes.
A study analysing stereotyping of bisexual women in the United States suggests that such stereotypes are not learned, but rather deduced from shared assumptions about sexuality and reinforced by lack of visibility in the public eye.
In Idaho, United States, a district court judge ordered officials to issue birth certificates to trans people that can reflect their gender identity.
After organisers had filed a federal lawsuit, officials in Starkville, MS, United States reversed their earlier decision to deny the permit to organise a Pride parade in town.
In Belize, the Catholic Church has withdrawn as an interested party in the appeal to the ruling that decriminalised same-sex sexual conduct.
A hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has recently taken place to address the human rights situation of trans people in Argentina.
A new report by the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association has outlined the obstacles preventing LGBTI individuals to be fully protected by law in the state, and proposed four improvement plans.
In the Philippines, the Supreme Court announced it will hear oral arguments on June 19 regarding a petition seeking to allow marriage equality.
Private companies managing asylum accommodation in the United Kingdom are being urged to step up protections for LGBTI individuals, after reports emerged documenting cases of physical and sexual assaults in shared homes.
In Switzerland, around 50 companies and institutions have committed themselves to trans-inclusive workplaces after the launch of a dedicated antidiscrimination campaign.
Plans have been made for Queensland, Australia to introduce legislation and scrap the ‘forced divorce’ precondition for trans persons to see their gender legally recognised.
In New Zealand, the Human Rights Commission has hosted open forum consultations for people with diverse or minority sexual orientations, gender identities, and sex characteristics.
The court case addressing criminalisation of same-sex sexual activity is set to be heard in Botswana on May 31 - the same day when the 4th Pan Africa ILGA conference will open in the capital city.
The Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration (CTDC) has released a policy brief on defending the rights of LGBTQ people in the MENA region.
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