The week in LGBTI news
June 15-21, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #124 provides a week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Friday, June 15
Tunisia: presidential committee recommends decriminalising same-sex activity
A presidential commission comprised of legislators, professors and human rights advocates has recommended the president of Tunisia to decriminalise same-sex activity, NBC News reports.
“Some laws pose an assault on the sanctity of individuals’ privacy, including their sexual relations,” a recently-released report published by the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee (COLIBE) states. The report specifically cited article 230 of the country’s penal code, which criminalises same-sex sexual activity.
As ILGA’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report points out, same-sex activity is punishable in the country by three years imprisonment, and the law applies to women as well as men.
In the report, the committee also mentioned abolishing the death penalty, advancing women's rights and dismantling patrilineal citizenship and inheritance among the recommendations.
Friday, June 15
Canada: Supreme Court rules against proposed law school over its discriminatory code of conduct
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of denying accreditation to an evangelical Christian law school, whose students would have been bound to a code of conduct that included abstaining from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
The court had been asked whether the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario were within their rights when they voted not to give licenses to graduates of Trinity Western University’s proposed law school.
The majority of justices ruled they were, and decided that they have the power to refuse accreditation based on Trinity Western University's so-called ‘community covenant.’
As human rights organisation Egale had previously pointed out, "the fundamental question (...) is how to strike a proportionate balance between religious freedom and equality rights in the context of access to legal education".
The court was quoted as saying in its ruling that it is “proportionate and reasonable” to limit religious rights in order to ensure open access for students from rainbow communities, and that the covenant would deter them from attending the proposed law school.
“Limiting access to membership in the legal profession on the basis of personal characteristics, unrelated to merit, is inherently inimical to the integrity of the legal profession,” five of the seven judges in the majority wrote.
Sunday, June 17
New Zealand: national TV airs expose on ‘conversion’ therapy
A state-owned television network in New Zealand has aired an expose on ‘conversion’ therapy, after being threatened with legal action in case it released the story.
Running for more than 20 minutes, the story (available here: trigger warning) showed how ‘surprisingly easy’ it is to find people offering this harmful service, and how such discredited therapies still affect those who survived it.
The investigation exposed a church organisation representative, a school teacher and a trainee counsellor as they talked to an undercover journalist offering or describing such treatments. When they were formally approached, however, all of them denied that what they were offering was in fact ‘conversion’ therapy.
The recent report of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI points out that such practices “are harmful to patients and may cause severe pain and suffering and lead to depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation”, and calls on states to ban them along with “other coercive medical procedures imposed on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender non-conforming persons.”
Monday, June 18
World Health Organization rules that being a trans or gender diverse person does not mean to suffer a mental disorder, misses chance to stop pathologising intersex persons
In a historic move, the World Health Organization (WHO) has removed all trans-related categories from the International Classifications of Diseases’ chapter on mental and behavioural disorders.
“WHO rules that being a trans or gender diverse person does not mean to suffer a mental disorder,” organisations worldwide commented. “Today, a shameful history of pathologisation, institutionalisation, ‘conversion’ and sterilisation begins to come to a close.”
The announcement marks the beginning of a new phase for the ICD-11 process, focused on implementation and assessment at the country level. The new ICD version will be presented for final approval at World Health Assembly in May 2019.
While trans-related categories have been deleted from the mental disorders chapters, new categories (Gender Incongruence of Adolescence and Adulthood and Gender Incongruence of Childhood) were introduced under a chapter on ‘conditions related to sexual health’.
"Gender Incongruence must be reviewed and replaced as soon as possible with a category that is both able to retain its utility while removing normative or othering content, and Gender Incongruence of Childhood must be removed from ICD-11,” human rights organisations commented.
While historic changes were brought about for trans communities, WHO “has let the chance pass to depathologise intersex people,” despite intersex persons working with WHO in the ICD-11 process. As OII-Europe co-chair and ILGA Intersex Secretariat representative Miriam van der Have noted, “WHO has stated in two majors publications that so-called ‘sex normalising procedures’ are often undertaken to make intersex infants and children conform to gendered physical norms. Diagnosing a person with a variation of sex characteristics as ‘malformed’ or ‘disordered’ feeds immensely into this malpractice.”
Monday, June 18
Argentina: historic sentence in the case of Diana Sacayán’s murder
An historic sentence has been delivered in Argentina: the murder of human rights defender Diana Sacayán has been considered as a hate crime and an act of gender-based violence. The court has sentenced a 25-year-old man to life imprisonment for the crime.
There is more than one reason for considering the verdict as historic: “The murder of a travesti person had never led to a trial where the victim’s gender identity was recognised among the grounds for the crime,” the plaintiff told Clarín. “There also are only a few cases of murders of travesti persons that have reached the trial stage, and a sentence was delivered just in four of such cases.” According to reports, this is also the first time in all Latin America that the term travesticidio has ever been used in courts.
“This is a shift in paradigm. It is the best outcome we could have had. It is the first time that justice is done to a travesti person,” Sasha Sacayán of Movimento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación told Presentes.
Diana was only 39 years old when, in 2015, she was killed in her apartment. Back then, she was representing the alternate Trans Secretariat on the board of ILGA, as a member of Movimento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación. Her long, passionate engagement in the trans movement in Latin America, and her personal commitment for the approval of a law for trans quotas in public workplaces in the province of Buenos Aires, had gained her the respect and recognition of LGBTI activists worldwide.
Wednesday, June 20
Hong Kong: children’s books about rainbow families disappear from public library shelves
Ten children’s books telling stories of rainbow families have been moved to the ‘closed stacks’ of Hong Kong’s public libraries, following a campaign by a pressure group.
According to Hong Kong Free Press, the Home Affairs Bureau said the books were evaluated and moved to the closed stacks – a storage section where books can be retrieved on demand - to “ensure children receive proper guidance when reading them.” As The Educator Online reports, seven of those ten books were taken away from shelves even if the Home Affairs Bureau thought they were “neutral, without promoting homosexual or single-sex marriage”, leaving many to wonder what the reason of their removal could actually have been.
In response to the disappearance of those books, human rights organisations launched the #FreeMyLibrary campaign, asking the “global rainbow family community to share their solidarity and the importance and impact LGBTIQ books have in their life or in the life of children”. More information about the campaign can be found here.
Thursday, June 21
Same-sex couples and single women will be able to access IVF in Malta
Same-sex couples and single women in Malta will be able to access IVF treatment domestically for the first time, as the country’s president signed the Embryo Protection (Amendment) Act.
The legislation had already been passed in a parliamentary vote (34 in favour, 27 opposed), but it still required presidential assent.
According to reports, so-called ‘pro-life’ groups had mobilized against the bill, arguing that it could have breached the country’s constitution. The Health Ministry, however, confirmed that had been advised by the Attorney General that there were no grounds to block the Bill on such grounds.
As ILGA-Europe reports, local LGBTI activists expect that the commencement orders will be signed by the minister for Health in the coming days, bringing the provisions into force.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The UN Independent Expert on SOGI Victor Madrigal-Borloz presented his first report during the first day of the 38th Human Rights Council. In his opening speech, the High Commissioner for Human Rights deplored “the openly voiced refusal of a number of States” to cooperate with the mandate.
ILGA-Europe have launched their latest position paper on the rights of LGBTI sex workers, outlining key steps to be taken to ensure the rights of sex workers are protected.
The Prime Minister of Ireland has issued an apology to thousands of “unknown heroes” who were historically criminalised for consensual same-sex activities.
Three LGBTI activists were shot to death, their bodies left along a highway, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
In Peru, the Constitutional Court has heard its first-ever marriage equality case, and it is set to rule on it in 30 days' time.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines heard oral arguments on a petition seeking to allow marriage equality in the country.
New data presented at a national dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand showed the extent of the inequality, violence and discrimination that LGBTI persons still face in the country.
Caster Semenya, the two-time Olympic champion from South Africa, announced that she would legally challenge IAAF eligibility regulations that draw from the idea that women with high testosterone have a performance advantage over women with lower levels.
Over 600 persons attended the first Pride festival at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. After the event, however, threatening messages were spread across the camp, asking LGBTI refugees to leave.
After more than two years of advocacy for the right to registration, Union Feministe Libre (UFL) has become the first NGO working on gender and sexuality to be officially recognised in Morocco.
The Press Council of Australia has found that an online news outlet "failed to (…) ensure factual material was accurate and not misleading” when reporting on a protest that happened in Brisbane during the 2017 marriage equality postal survey.
Sporting clubs and organisations across the country gathered together in Melbourne, Australia for the inaugural Australian Pride in Sport Awards.
A court in Alberta, Canada is hearing challenges to a law barring schools from telling parents if their children join a gay-straight alliance.
LGBTI human rights groups across the United States have criticised the country's decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council.
In Canada, the Federal Court Judge has approved the settlement for the LGBTQ2 Purge class action lawsuit.
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