Two weeks in LGBTI news
March 23 – April 5
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #117 provides two weeks in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Tuesday, March 27
Cabo Verde becomes first African state to join Equal Rights Coalition
Iceland, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Cabo Verde are the latest states who have joined the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC), the first intergovernmental network formed to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTI people around the world.
More than 30 countries have joined the coalition since its launch in July 2016 at the Global LGBTI Human Rights Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Cabo Verde is the first African state to formally become a member.
"Cabo Verde has been invited to be part of this coalition that essentially acts at the diplomatic level, promoting inclusive development through joint actions and in collaboration with civil society and multilateral organizations," the government said in a statement.
The four governments formally joined the coalition as the second coordination committee meeting of the ERC took place in Washington DC, United States.
Sunday, March 29
Indonesia: 3 men and a trans woman arrested under local ordinance criminalising same-sex activity
Amidst the ongoing crackdown against rainbow communities in Indonesia, two college students have been arrested by Sharia police in Banda Aceh for allegedly engaging in same-sex activity. According to reports, they were turned in by a group of vigilantes who forcibly entered the private house they were in. The Sharia police seized condoms, cell phones, and a mattress as evidence of their alleged ‘crime.’
Just a few days earlier, a similar raid in the Aceh province led to the arrest of a man and a trans woman working in a hair salon. The Sharia police claim to have found ‘evidence’ of same-sex conduct, including condoms and ‘transaction money’.
The four persons are currently in detention. Under Aceh’s Criminal Code, they face up to 100 lashes in public – a punishment amounting to torture under international human rights law.
According to Human Rights Watch, “these raids and the risk of punishment involving torture highlight the nexus between the vigilantes and Aceh’s Sharia police in discriminating against suspected LGBT people.”
Sunday, March 29
Historic intersex declaration in Latin America and the Caribbean released
In March 2018, intersex human rights defenders gathered together in Costa Rica for the first regional conference of intersex persons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The conference served as a space to recognise the political work of intersex human rights defenders, and to denounce “all the ways in which our experiences have been historically and repeatedly colonised, from the invasion of our lands to the invasion of our bodies.”
The result of the historic gathering has recently been made public with the Declaración de San José de Costa Rica - a statement reaffirming the unanimous support for the Malta declaration of the Third International Intersex Forum, and addressing key priorities for the community.
Among the calls featured in the document, defenders urged States to "immediately prohibit any practice that modifies a person’s sex characteristics without reliable medical reasons and without the full informed consent of this person,” and called on national and regional human rights institutions to “investigate the systematic violations of our human rights”.
Defenders also urged funders to “increase the support to our movements,” and called on allies to “recognise the specificity of our needs as a population and the issues that affect us.”
Thursday, March 29
#ChechnyaOneYearOn: still no investigations as persecution continues
It has been one year since the first reports of state-sponsored persecution against rainbow communities in Chechnya began to emerge. To mark the anniversary, the Russian LGBT Network has reiterated its call on Russian authorities to start a proper investigation into the arbitrary arrests, tortures and murders, and to support survivors.
From the very beginning, the organisation has helped the victims of this unprecedented state-sponsored campaign. “We evacuated 119 people from Chechnya, 98 people have already found sanctuary abroad,” they reported. “But we want justice for all the people unlawfully detained, tortured and killed in Chechnya just for being LGBT!”
According to reports, at least 41 among the persons who could flee the region had been detained and tortured. Seven others were threatened by their own relatives, and three gay men were abducted by their relatives: one of them is believed to be dead.
Chechen authorities continue to deny the persecutions to date, and the investigation that federal authorities authorised in May 2017 has still not taken place despite numerous testimonies from survivors.
Tuesday, April 3
New Zealand passes law to wipe historical convictions for same-sex activity
The Parliament in New Zealand unanimously passed a bill in its final reading to expunge convictions for same-sex activity that took place before the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 came into force.
As the New Zealand Herald explains, the bill allows those who were convicted of consensual same-sex conduct, or the families of those among them who have since died, to apply to have their conviction wiped from the record.
The Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced last year by former Justice Minister Amy Adams, at the same time the Parliament unanimously supported an apology from the House.
Current Justice Minister Andrew Little also added his own apology as the bill was being discussed: “On behalf of this House and all members who have passed through it since it was established, sorry to those men who have carried the stigma and the shame of doing nothing other than expressing their love for the person that they did love.”
Wednesday, April 4
United States: “No medically valid reason” to exclude trans people from serving in the military, medical organisation tells Pentagon
There is “no medically valid reason” to exclude trans people from serving in the military, the largest medical organisation in the United States told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in a letter obtained by Politico.
In a memorandum filed in March, President Trump stated that "persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria (…) are disqualified from military service except under limited circumstances." As Buzzfeed reports, the move follows a sudden announcement in the summer of 2017 that trans troops would be banned from serving ‘in any capacity’, which was then followed by temporary injunctions issued by four federal courts to block parts of the ban.
Five days after the implementation plan was released, two civil rights groups argued before a federal district court that the ban should be blocked permanently. The letter by the American Medical Association, then, further slammed the provision – including the suggestion that the cost of providing medical care to trans troops should be a reason to keep them out of the military.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
Inter-American, African and UN human rights experts have held a three-day dialogue on standards, best practices and challenges to protect the human rights of LGBTI persons.
Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on LGBTI human rights to be included in the agenda of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and on 37 Commonwealth countries to decriminalise same-sex activity.
Government in South Africa has begun distributing PrEP to sex workers for free.
A group of activists in Swaziland are working to hold the country’s inaugural Pride march and festival in June.
During the presidential elections in Costa Rica, voters chose the candidate of the ruling party over an evangelical pastor who had spoken up against sex education, access to abortion and the human rights of rainbow communities. “Human rights, inclusion and diversity won over hatred, exclusion, repression and discrimination”, ILGALAC commented.
Women and LGBTI human rights defender Maria Guadalupe Hernandez Flores was found dead in the Guanajuato state municipality of Coroneo, Mexico.
A research report has cast a light on the extent of discrimination and violence faced by lesbians, bisexual women and trans persons in Timor Leste.
ILGA Asia is organizing a training on human rights advocacy and UN mechanisms for LGBTI activists in East Asia from May 21-25 in Seoul, South Korea.
The government of Victoria, Australia has announced legislation to scrap the ‘forced divorce’ precondition for trans persons to see their gender legally recognised.
A new survey has been announced by Rainbow Families in Australia to outline issues that LGBTI parents encounter when interacting with federal government services.
Campaigners for marriage equality in Northern Ireland handed in a petition signed by more than 46,000 people to Downing Street, while bills on the same issue were introduced in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
A man was arrested after he stabbed a 15-year-old on the grounds of his perceived sexual orientation in Yerevan, Armenia.
Police in Toronto, Canada have withdrawn their application to participate in the city’s Pride Parade, after they were asked to do so by Pride Toronto and other LGBT groups.
In the United States, the governor of Washington State signed legislation protecting minors from so-called ‘conversion’ therapy. Similar provisions have recently advanced also in Maryland and in the city of Milwaukee, WI.
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