A week in LGBTI news of the world
June 22-28, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #125 provides a week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Friday, June 22
Czech Republic: government supports marriage equality bill
The Czech government has expressed support for a marriage equality bill, sponsored by 46 members of parliament from across the political spectrum.
This backing comes at a crucial time, as a few days earlier 37 other lawmakers had presented a bill to change the Constitution to include a provision limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
As Human Rights Watch reports, both bills and the government’s opinion will soon be discussed in the lower house of parliament. Starting from there, the bill will then have to advance to the Senate and to the country's president, who can either approve or veto it.
Local activists have vowed to continue building support for the bill: “The proposed constitutional ban is an obstacle, but it also helped mobilise a lot of people”, commented Adela Horakova, Advocacy Director of the Czech marriage equality coalition ‘We Are Fair’.
As ILGA’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report points out, civil unions have been a reality in the country since 2006, but the Registered Partnership Act does not confer adoption rights to same-sex partners.
Monday, June 25
United States: Supreme Court sends discrimination case back to lower courts
On the heels of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision in the case of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, the U.S. Supreme Court has sent a similar dispute back to lower courts.
This case involves a florist who, back in 2013, cited her Christian beliefs as she turned away two men who asked her to create flower arrangements for their marriage. Four years later, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in favour of the couple, but now their decision will have to be re-examined.
“To be clear, the court made no indication the lower courts ruled incorrectly and made no decision on the case’s merits," said James Esseks, director of ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project. "We are confident that the Washington State Supreme Court will rule once again in favour of the couple, and reaffirm its decision that no business has a right to discriminate."
In more news from the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, effective end of July. As Buzzfeed pointed out, Kennedy's legacy on the court had appeared to have been set in 2015, when the court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that brought marriage equality to the US.
He also leaves the court with open questions, such as “on the issue of whether religious opposition to same-sex couples’ marriages should exempt people and businesses from following public accommodation non-discrimination laws generally applicable to all.”
Tuesday, June 26
Report highlights workplace discrimination faced by LGBTI people in China, the Philippines and Thailand
A joint study by UNDP and ILO has indicated that over 1 in 5 LGBTI persons in China, Thailand and the Philippines have experienced being harassed, bullied or discriminated against in the workplace on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.
Some 10 percent of respondents in the study in China, 21 percent in the Philippines and 28 percent in Thailand believed that they were denied a job due to their SOGIESC, and more than two-thirds of all respondents said they had seen advertisements where job requirements explicitly excluded their SOGIE.
According to the authors, however, “evidence shows that the few workplaces that have LGBTI-inclusive policies have seen positive impacts”, with a higher number of protective policies correlating with less experience of workplace discrimination and higher levels of reported job satisfaction among LGBTI people.
“Access to decent work forms an essential part of LGBTI people’s lives and is deeply intertwined with their socio-economic empowerment and ability to participate in the public sphere,” said Jaco Cilliers, Chief Policy and Programme Support at UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. “Discrimination towards LGBTI people in the workplace also represents a fundamental challenge to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s commitment to ‘leave no one behind’.”
Tuesday, June 26
Australia: police review casts light on historic homophobic hate crimes in Sydney
An extensive review of 88 suspicious deaths in Sydney between 1976 and 2000 has revealed almost a third were the result of crimes involving suspected or confirmed homophobic bias, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
The Strike Force Parrabell determined that 27 cases had evidence or suspected evidence of bias crime, and five among them still remain unsolved.
“It’s an ugly part of our history,” a police spokesperson said. “It needs to be acknowledged and we need to do everything we can to make sure no one is ever again fearful for their life because of who they are.” The report also featured twelve recommendations, including organising continued training on LGBTI issues for all NSW Police officers.
According to reports, researchers found no evidence of institutional homophobic police bias in their reviews, while human rights organisations highlighted the need for an independent enquiry on the murder cases. They also demanded police to issue a formal apology to the LGBTI community for inadequate responses to violence throughout the period covered in the investigation – a possibility that police are reportedly considering.
Wednesday, June 27
Report highlights healthcare discrimination faced by sexual and gender minorities in Uganda
Sexual and gender minorities in Uganda continue to experience widespread human rights violations when seeking health care services, a new report by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has revealed.
The document is titled Even if they spit at you, don’t be surprised to reflect the reaction of an official at the Ministry of Health who was presented with testimonies of abuse: a sobering portrayal of the institutionalised stigma that, as SMUG points out, “forces Uganda’s sexual and gender minorities to experience higher rates of HIV, mental health concerns, and everything from denial of services to violent attacks.”
“The moment you open up a health worker about your sexual orientation, you are immediately frowned upon, asked if you are a Christian and in some instances threatened with arrest or denied services,” said SMUG executive director Dr Frank Mugisha.
Although space for dialogue with health policy makers exists, “the practice and implementation remain poor and gagged by prejudice and ignorance of health caregivers about the sexual and gender minority healthcare needs,” SMUG programmes director Pepe Julian Onziema pointed out.
The report includes recommendations to the government and civil society, and also demands police to investigate all the cases of human rights violations reported in the document.
Thursday, June 28
Caribbean Court of Justice reserves ruling in McEwan et al. case
Four trans women from Guyana have appeared before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) seeking to strike down an 1893 vagrancy provision which criminalises the wearing of ‘female attire’ by a man and the wearing of ‘male attire’ by a woman in public for any ‘improper purpose’.
As Newsday has reported, the four women were among the seven persons convicted and fined under this provision in a 2009 crackdown. One year later, according to U-Rap, they joined forces with the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) to claim that, among other things, the law was inconsistent with the Guyana Constitution of 1980. They also argued that the 1893 vagrancy law is very vague, violated their right to freedom of expression and failed to “give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited.”
Both the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2017 did not accept these arguments, and SASOD was struck out as applicant in the case. The issue was then taken to the Caribbean Court of Justice, which has reportedly reserved the ruling after a long hearing yesterday. Read more about the case.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
In Angola, an LGBT organisation has recently seen its registration accepted by the Ministry of Justice after five years of waiting.
The Refugee Coalition of East Africa (RefCEA) was launched in Kenya, serving as a community-based organisation led for and by LGBTI migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.
With 33 votes in favour and one abstention, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has adopted a comprehensive report on the widespread human rights abuses inflicted on rainbow communities in Chechnya.
The High Court has sided with the government of the United Kingdom in its refusal to issue passports with a gender marker outside the binary options.
Nearly half of LGBTQ people in the United States remain closeted at their workplaces, a new study has revealed. The rate has remained largely the same over the past decade.
A court in Canada has dismissed an application for an injunction that sought to block a law of Alberta that bars schools from telling parents when their children join a gay-straight alliance.
A survey documenting lived realities of rainbow communities in Iraq found that 96% of respondents have faced some form of verbal or physical violence in their lifetime.
For two weeks, a pop-up library in New Delhi, India will host a bisexual collective's collection of almost 100 books, many of which are about bisexuality.
Two women are challenging the government of the Cayman Islands for its decision to reject their marriage application.
The Rapporteurship on LGBTI persons’ rights of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights initiated a public consultation process to receive information on measures adopted by States related to the economic, social and cultural rights of trans persons.
Results of a survey conducted among staff of two medical schools in New Zealand indicate that more than half of students received no specific training on LGBTI healthcare.
A bill to protect minorities - including LGBTI people - from vilification has been approved in New South Wales, Australia.
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The LGBulleTIn will return on July 20