The week in LGBTI news
April 6-12, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
7 days in LGBTI news from around the world available in a single read
Friday, April 6
United States: 2020 Census will ask about same-sex relationships, yet will still leave many behind
The U.S. Census Bureau revealed in a congressional report that it will create a clear distinction on the 2020 Census between opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners.
As NPR reports, the new response categories for the relationship question come after Census Bureau researchers found that using the terms 'same-sex' and 'opposite-sex' could help the government improve estimates of how many same-sex couples are living in the United States.
The move, however, was met with mixed feelings: “This is moving the needle in the direction, but we must continue to ensure the entire LGBTQI community is represented,” representatives of the North America region of ILGA told The Independent. “The 2020 census suggestions continue to marginalize and exclude members of the community who are not recognised in these categories.”
Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity made a brief appearance on a 2020 Census proposal last March but, as the Associated Press reported, the Census Bureau quickly withdrew them, saying that they had “inadvertently” been listed in the document.
Saturday, April 7
South Africa: national engagement report on the promotion and protection of the human rights of intersex people released
On the occasion of World Health Day, organisations in South Africa have released a report addressing national engagement in promoting and protecting the human rights of intersex people.
The report reflects some of the conversations that took place in December 2017, when a meeting on the same issue was co-hosted by Intersex South Africa, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Foundation for Human Rights and Iranti.
According to the conclusions in the report, “addressing the needs of intersex South Africans means recognising diversity, understanding the history of medical gatekeeping particularly with its relationship to Apartheid notions of race and class, and advancing legislation to address IGM and indeed the murders and death of intersex infants”.
“It is clear to us that #HealthForAll cannot be achieved while human rights violations continue to take place in medical settings,” a release reads. “We release this report in the hope that it will increase awareness of issues facing the intersex community, and stimulate civil society, parents, and other actors to urgently address violations with the urgency they deserve, working hand in hand with intersex activists to co-create solutions.”
Tuesday, April 10
United Kingdom: police logs nearly 800 reports of domestic violence within Greater Manchester's LGBT community in one year
Greater Manchester police is believed to be the first and only force in the United Kingdom to specifically record cases of domestic abuse in the LGBT community, as it began to officially log such cases under a separate code in April 2017.
775 cases were recorded in the first twelve months since the reporting has officially started, accounting for about 2% of the total domestic abuse recorded by police in the region.
According to Joanne Simpson, the director of the domestic abuse charity Independent Choices, this model could be replicated across the country: “When you highlight a problem, it means you have to address it. (…) I think if we don’t look for problems then we can pretend they’re not there – it’s easier for the state to ignore that there is an issue with LGBT domestic abuse.”
Detective Sergeant Sarah Harris, the GMP officer leading the scheme, echoed that view, and urged others to also adopt the protocol. “I’m unsure exactly what other forces are doing,” she told The Guardian. “However, from a Greater Manchester point of view, I know we understand the community more, we’ve got better links to the community, and we can work with our partners to make sure we keep encouraging those links.”
Tuesday, April 10
India: government amends rules to include ‘transgender’ option in PAN cards
The central government of India has amended Income Tax rules that will now allow trans people to be recognised as an independent category of applicants for obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN) for their tax-related transactions.
In a notification issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Minister of Finance indicated that individuals will be able to choose among ‘male’, ‘female’ and ‘transgender’ when indicating their gender on the form to apply for the PAN.
The Permanent Account Number (PAN) is a code that acts as an identification for individuals, families and corporates, and is mandatory for a majority of financial transactions. It is different from the Aadhaar, which a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data.
“Individuals from the transgender community were facing hassles in obtaining a PAN card, and this problem was further magnified as Aadhaar had the third gender category but not PAN,” a senior official was quoted as saying by The Hindu. “Hence, they were not able to link their PAN with their Aadhaar due to this anomaly."
Tuesday, April 10
Intersex human rights defenders in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand share call to affirm Darlington statement
Intersex human rights defenders from around Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand have gathered together for a two-day retreat in Erskineville, New South Wales, in a follow-up event to the 2017 retreat that led to the Darlington Statement.
That document - a joint consensus statement by Australian and Aotearoa/New Zealand intersex organisations and independent advocates - addressed key priorities for the community, and is considered by advocates to be “the basis of much of our work over the coming years.”
One year after that historic meeting, intersex advocates gathered together again, and two affirmations were agreed on after the retreat.
As Intersex Human Rights Australia reported, these statements are a way for both intersex people and their allies to “affirm the Darlington Statement and commit to working alongside intersex-led organisations and advocates to pursue the objectives and demands in the Statement.” Follow this link to affirm the Darlington Statement.
Thursday, April 12
Trinidad and Tobago: Court declares provisions criminalising same-sex sexual activity ‘unconstitutional’
In a historic day for rainbow communities in Trinidad and Tobago, the High Court ruled that provisions criminalising consensual same-sex sexual activity are unconstitutional.
The case was brought by activist Jason Jones, who argued that Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offices Act violated his rights, denied him privacy and the right to form a family, and treated him unequally in an irrational manner.
In a 58-page ruling, Justice Devendra Rampersad supported these claims, declaring that those sections are “unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and are of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults”. A final ruling will be handed down in three months, but this decision may already set an important precedent for removing similar laws in countries across the region.
While the rainbow community and allies gathered together outside the Court to celebrate, the government announced it will appeal the ruling. Celebrations were also met with hostility by part of the population: according to Newsday, “there have been at least four reported instances of pro LGBTQI activists being physically assaulted by assailants after their demonstration on the steps of the High Court”.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
After the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released its historic opinion recognising the right to legal gender recognition and same-sex couples’ right to marriage, more than 100 persons have enlisted for a gender and name change on their ID cards in Costa Rica.
Following the detention of former president Lula Da Silva, and the murder of councillor and human rights defender Marielle Franco, ILGALAC has expressed its “concern over the serious political situation in Brazil.”
Lawmakers in Uganda approved a motion to pay tribute to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga for “standing firm against homosexuality” at the recent Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Geneva.
A court in South Africa ruled in favour of a man who had taken his ex-wife to court after she had barred him from seeing their children, out of concern that he would “promot(e) his way of living to the children.”
A coalition of religious, women's, youth groups and local chiefs have started a petition to declare their opposition to marriage equality in Vanuatu, after rumours spread that lawmakers were planning to introduce a bill on the issue.
Human rights defenders have issued an open letter to Israel Folau, a renowned rugby union player of Tongan descent whose recent homophobic statements made headlines worldwide.
A young gay men has been assaulted in the streets by an extreme-right wing mob in Rome, Italy. A few days later, another young gay men reported being attacked in a pub in Parma.
After a petition for Cohabitation legislation was dismissed in Latvia, members of the European Parliament's LGBTI Intergroup have issued an open letter to the government, asking what it plans to do in order to make sure all families are protected and respected.
Voters in Anchorage, AK, United States rejected Proposition 1. The ballot measure sought to eliminate existing municipal non-discrimination protections for trans people, and would have forced them to use facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity.
Police in Toronto, Canada are reviewing homicide cold cases dating back as far as 1975 - the majority of those victims reportedly being gay men - as they continue the investigation into a man accused of murdering at least seven people.
A trans woman in Malaysia reported a restaurant chain to the national human rights commission, alleging she was offered a job on the proviso she changed her gender expression.
A school offering technical education to people in the trans community is set to soon open its doors in Lahore, Pakistan.
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