The week in LGBTI news of the world
March 16-22, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
7 days in LGBTI news from around the world available in a single read
Sunday March 18
“I am a lesbian”: schoolgirls in India forced to ‘confess’ their sexual orientation in writing
At least ten students in a girl school in Kolkata, India have been forced to ‘confess’ their sexual orientation in writing and to admit they had indulged in ‘indecent behaviour’, The Indian Express reported.
After the incident was made public by the girls’ parents and made nation-wide headlines, the school administration readily denied such claims. According to Scroll.in, however, the acting headmistress reportedly claimed that the action was meant to “bring the girls on the right course”, after fellow students complained that the girls had indulged in “such behaviour”.
The State’s Minister of Education ordered an investigation into the incident but, adding further fuel to fire, he was reported claiming that “lesbianism is against the ethos” of West Bengal. Although he denied having said such words, adding that his objections were “against any kind of sexual activity within the school premises”, his statement prompted further outrage. “What the Education Minister has said is simply appalling. He needs to apologise for the statement and withdraw it,” co-founder of Sappho for Equality Malobika told eNewsroom. "A culture, where freedom of expression and right to choice is curbed or imposing a certain ideology, definitely is not that of Bengal.”
Monday, March 19
Call for compensation for people convicted of historical same-sex crimes growing in New Zealand
Activists are calling on the New Zealand government to reconsider compensation for people whose lives were “wrecked” by their historical convictions for same-sex sexual activity, The Guardian has reported.
In 2017, the House unanimously passed a motion apologising to gay and bisexual men convicted of consensual same-sex conduct before the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 came into force. The government is now working towards expunging the criminal records of those convicted of such historical crimes, but has ruled out financial compensation.
Both politicians and activists are calling for such a decision to be reconsidered, and to look at the recent examples of Germany and Canada, both setting aside money to compensate people for the unjust convictions that they suffered.
"These laws ruined lives and we need to do more than apologise: we need to give something back to them," Young Labour's Alka Ahirao told Stuff in December 2017, as three separate submitters to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee raised the subject of compensation. Such a call is still echoed today: “People’s lives have been wrecked by an injustice that was done to them by the law and it is really the least they can expect to have some kind of recompense in their old age,” activist Bill Logan said.
Wednesday, March 21
Sweden: Parliament decides to pay compensation for forced sterilisation of trans people
In a worldwide first, the Parliament of Sweden has decided to pay compensation to trans people who were forcibly sterilised starting from 1972.
The requirement of sterilisation to change one’s legal gender was abolished in 2013. Following that decision, 160 individuals who had been forcibly sterilised submitted a claim for compensation, and in April 2016 the Swedish Government announced that such a measure would be put forward.
It is estimated that around 600-700 people will be eligible for a compensation of about 22,500 euros. "Money can’t undo the harm of unwillingly losing your reproductive abilities, but the monetary compensation is an important step for the state to make amends to all those subjected to this treatment," said Emelie Mire Åsell, the trans and intersex spokesperson of RFSL.
The organisation now hopes that the government will also officially apologise to the whole trans community for the harm done, while both ILGA-Europe and TGEU have called on other European countries to follow Sweden’s example.
Wednesday, March 21
Human rights of bisexual persons addressed at the UN Human Rights Council
Human rights defenders from five different countries came together at the UN Human Rights Council to raise awareness of the often-ignored specific challenges and needs of bisexual persons.
During a side event organised by ILGA and Bolivian NGO Manodiversa, activists discussed challenges and opportunities in the promotion and protection of human rights of bisexual persons, and shared recommendations with States.
“Bisexual people are very much invisible to the world, but we are here to help you understand,” said Frank Evelio Arteaga. “We ask States to include our perspectives in their action plans to combat human rights violations”.
On the occasion of this side event (whose livetweet thread is available here), the Bisexual Secretariat of ILGA has also launched a document looking at both the global and regional situation for the bisexual community: you can download it here.
Wednesday, March 21
Report outlines extent of discrimination against rainbow communities in Eastern Caribbean countries
Laws prohibiting same-sex sexual conduct legitimise discrimination and hostility towards rainbow communities. Unfortunately, these laws still are a reality in many parts of the world, and a new report by Human Rights Watch has shown the extent of the violations they cause in Eastern Caribbean countries.
The 107-page report covers Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - countries where buggery and gross indecency laws, relics of British colonialism, are still in place. 41 members of rainbow communities were interviewed, and all of them described being harassed by family members at some point in their lives on the ground of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
“LGBT citizens contribute to the economic development, create homes, family, and safe spaces in home countries that hold on to colonial laws which discriminate against them and make their lives difficult,” said Kenita Placide, executive director of ECADE. “Fear of isolation, violence, and homelessness are the root causes of misery for many LGBT people living in the closet in the Caribbean.”
Wednesday, March 21
United States: HHS removed lesbian and bisexual health content from women’s health website
Entire pages and documents related to lesbian and bisexual health were removed from the website of the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) last fall, a new report has shown.
The page contained substantial information for lesbian and bisexual populations, and answered questions regarding challenges facing LB women in the health care system.
A spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told Politico that "the outdated lesbian and bisexual health pages were removed and the content was integrated into the relevant health topics pages across the website.” The Sunlight Foundation, which authored the report, has dismissed such claims.
The report shows that pages and links related breast cancer, men’s health, interpersonal and domestic violence, and health topics relevant to the elderly have also been removed.
Thursday, March 22
Kenya: forced anal examinations ruled unlawful
In a major victory for human rights in Kenya, the Court of Appeals has ruled that the use of forced anal examination is unlawful.
The decision came in a case appealing the State’s cruel and degrading treatment of two Kenyan men. In 2015, they were arrested in Kwale county, on allegations that they were gay. While in custody, they were subjected to anal examinations and to HIV testing, to ‘prove’ they had engaged in sexual activity.
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) has represented the two men in court, arguing that such tests are a violation of the rights to privacy and dignity and amount to torture.
"The humiliation and pain caused by these useless anal examinations will follow our clients for the rest of their lives," said Njeri Gateru, Head of Legal Affairs at NGLHRC. "However, we are emboldened to see our constitution at work, ensuring that all Kenyans have the right to dignity."
According to NGLHRC, threats of forced anal examinations made by police officers against men accused of same-sex sexual conduct are on the rise. In September 2017, however, the Kenya Medical Association took a strong stance against this harmful practice.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
Tens of thousands of people across the world are demanding justice for councillor and human rights defender Marielle Franco, who was shot dead together with her driver in an apparent targeted attack. Franco, a black feminist woman who was part of the rainbow community, was a prominent voice against authoritarianism and violence in Brazil.
A trans-friendly job fair is set to take place in Bangkok, Thailand to mark the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
As a result of its 71st Pre-Sessional Working Group, CEDAW asked Nepal about measures being taken to address forced IGM and discrimination against intersex persons, and about the situation of LBT women. Read a complete report on the CEDAW 69th Session and 71st Pre-Sessional Working Group.
Over 200 human and women’s rights groups from across the globe, including the ILGA European region, called on Poland’s Parliament to reject a regressive legislative proposal that would erode reproductive rights.
Government ministers, MPs, civil society and rainbow families gathered together in Lisbon, Portugal for a conference titled “We Should Speak Out: LGBTI and Family Rights”.
A new charity, GiveOut, raising funds for LGBTQI causes worldwide has recently been established in the United Kingdom.
“Keep calm. We can share the nation” is the message that the leading LGBTI+ advocacy group in Trinidad and Tobago is sending to opponents and constituents, as the country braces itself for a ruling on the case challenging provisions that criminalise private, consensual sex.
According to a report by Movilh, 484 complaints of hate crimes and human rights violations towards rainbow communities were filed in Chile in 2017, reaching a 15-year high.
A new study conducted in the United States has suggested that teenagers who conceal their sexual orientation are at higher risk for suicidal behaviours compared to their peers.
A psychiatrist in Toronto, Canada who promoted 'conversion' therapy has been found guilty by Ontario’s medical regulator of sexually abusing two of his patients. Although he denied the allegations, his licence was suspended pending a hearing.
In South Africa, a bill seeking to prevent hate crimes and hate speech has been approved by Cabinet and will soon be introduced to Parliament.
In Nigeria, WHER Initiative has launched a book serving as a resource addressing human rights challenges and violations facing women in the country.
In Australia, the Prime Minister announced that the panel involved in the so-called 'religious freedom' review is not expected to report until May, postponing the previous March 31 deadline.
The second Pacific Human Rights Conference on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression, and Sex Characteristics is set to be held from May 28 – June 1 in Nadi, Fiji.
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The LGBulleTIn will return on April 6, 2018.