Three weeks in LGBTI news
June 29 – July 19, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #126 provides three week in LGBTI news of the world
to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Saturday, June 30
eSwatini holds its first-ever Pride parade
In a historic celebration, the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) held its first-ever Pride parade.
Despite reports of threats and the most prominent human rights organisation in the country speaking up against the event, hundreds of people marched down the streets of the capital Mbabane, waving rainbow flags and holding signs calling to ‘Turn hate into love’.
“It was such a success,” Melusi Simelane of the organising NGO Rock of Hope told OkayAfrica. “For the first time in Swaziland, holding pride, and for it to be such a success. We had important people marching with us, and the numbers were so amazing.”
It was a “beautiful, colourful parade that was literally exploding with joy”, but organisers are conscious that the road for rainbow communities in the country towards seeing their rights fully respected is still a long one.
“I'm filled with such anxiety because people are here having fun, but what's gonna happen to them afterwards? Are they gonna get home safe and when they wake up tomorrow, what's the world going to be like for them?”, said Simelane. “Which says to me, 'more work to be done’.”
Friday, July 6
United States: Maine governor vetoes bill banning ‘conversion’ therapy
The governor of Maine, Paul LePage, has vetoed a bill that would have banned psychologists and counsellors from administering so-called ‘conversion’ therapy to minors, calling it “bad public policy” and “a threat to an individual’s religious liberty.”
According to Newsweek, the state’s president also claimed that there was no evidence that ‘conversion’ therapy is currently being practiced in Maine.
Human Rights Campaign highlighted that LePage is the first governor in the United States to veto such critically important protections, and called on the Maine legislature to override the president’s veto. Shamefully, the veto was upheld.
A recent study by the Williams Institute has shown that approximately 698,000 LGBT adults in the U.S have received ‘conversion’ therapy at some point in their lives.
Tuesday, July 10
India: Supreme Court hears arguments challenging Section 377
The Supreme Court of India heard arguments challenging Section 377 of the penal code, which criminalises ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’.
As Orinam reports, six new petitions against the provision had been filed while the curative petitions following the Supreme Court’s Koushal judgement in 2013 were pending. The Supreme Court, then, grouped them together, and a 5-member constitutional bench was formed to hear these petitions.
After the many years it took to reach this stage in the fight against the criminalising provision, hearings happened in the relatively short time span of three days in court. As activist Vikram Doctor pointed out, “in the restricted time give to them (during the hearings), counsel after counsel laid out the problems that LGBT people face, all deriving from criminalisation.” A decision is expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the government of India has declined to take a position on the issue, as senior government lawyer Tushar Mehta claimed the decision rests with the "wisdom of the court". As Bloomberg reports, however, Mehta urged the court not to expand the scope of the case.
As ILGA's State-Sponsored Homophobia points out, Section 377 was given a more limited interpretation by the Delhi High Court in 2009, lifting the ban on same-sex sexual activity among consenting adult men in private. However, on 11 December 2013, in Koushal v. Naz Foundation, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld Section 377 as constitutional.
Thursday, July 12
Portugal adopts law to protect the rights of trans and intersex persons
The Parliament of Portugal has adopted a law establishing the right to self-determination of trans persons aged 18 and more in the legal recognition of their gender identity, and has taken an important step towards outlawing medically unnecessary treatments on intersex kids.
The first version of the law approved in April was vetoed by the President of the Republic and sent back to Parliament for further consideration. Unlike the first text, the law now foresees that a person between 16 -18 years old will need parental consent and a report from a doctor to access legal gender recognition.
Although the law was seen as a positive development for trans communities, the additional barriers placed for minors were criticised. “Those younger than 16 years have no chance to get legal recognition,” commented Richard Köhler, Senior Policy Officer of TGEU. They are told to simply sit it out, even if legal gender recognition could make a big difference to their lives.”
Criticisms were also brought forward by intersex human rights defenders, as the law does not ban all deferrable surgeries and other medical interventions on intersex minors – even if it establishes some protections for them. According to OII-Europe, the law is “highly contradictory”, and “very clear implementation directives” will be needed to “establish a framework that fully respects the fundamental rights to autonomy and bodily integrity.”
Friday, July 13
Australia: Church allows freedom of choice on marriage
Same-sex couples will be able to get married in the Uniting Church of Australia after the denomination's national body agreed to alternative new wording in its statement of beliefs.
Under the new proposal, which “acknowledges the diversity of religious beliefs and ethical understandings within the Church”, the Assembly resolved to allow its ministers the freedom to either conduct or refuse to conduct marriages of same-sex couples.
A new additional statement was adopted, saying that “marriage is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life.” This new wording adds to the already existing one, which refers to marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman, thus allowing the Church “to hold two equal and distinct views” on the issue.
The proposal came after “many years of reflection” among Church members and a report published on ‘marriage and same-gender relationships’.
Wednesday, July 18
Costa Rica to soon rule on marriage equality, issue decree to improve legal gender recognition
The Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica has announced that it will soon issue a resolution on actions of unconstitutionality against articles of the Family Code that describe marriage and de-facto unions as happening ‘between a man and a woman’.
The ruling is expected to come in the first two weeks of August.
As EFE reports, the Congress of Costa Rica has long tried and started initiatives of laws for civil unions for same-sex couples, but little progress could be made in the face of opposition of conservative groups and parties. In January, then, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognised same-sex couples’ right to marriage and the right to legal gender recognition, in an opinion issued before a consultation of Costa Rica. Although met with great opposition, the country’s Attorney General made clear that the court's opinions are binding – a matter of fact that the same court has recently reiterated.
Meanwhile, President Carlos Alvarado signed an Executive Decree demanding all state institutions to improve legal gender recognition for trans people by modifying documentation, procedures and internal registries to avoid contradictions on name, photos and gender markers among a person’s ID and other documents.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A district court of appeal in Lebanon issued a ground-breaking ruling stating that consensual same-sex activity is not unlawful. The ruling follows four similar judgments from lower courts between 2007 and 2017.
In Hong Kong, the Court of Final Appeal ruled in favour of a lesbian woman, requiring immigration authorities to grant same-sex partners spousal visas previously available only to heterosexual couples.
The Constitutional Court of Romania has ruled that the State must recognise same-sex marriages contracted in other EU countries, in order to ensure the right to free movement within the European Union. Effects of the recent ECJ ruling in the Coman case where seen also in Bulgaria, where a court has granted the Australian spouse of a French citizen the right to reside in the country as part of their freedom of movement rights.
Access to legal gender recognition in Ireland - subject to parental consent - should be available to children of all ages: the recommendation was included in a Government-backed report, also stating that people who identify as neither exclusively male nor female should also be recognised in law.
In Australia, the state of Tasmania is reportedly reviewing its abusive surgery pre-condition for legal gender recognition.
A coalition of LGBTI advocates have started a petition calling on nations in the Pacific Islands Forum ‘to support full inclusivity, equity and equality for all people of the Pacific’.
Zimbabwe is set to open five new health centres, backed by the country’s National Aids Council, dedicated to the needs of men who have sex with men.
UN Independent Expert Victor Madrigal-Borloz sat down with Pan Africa ILGA for an interview where he discussed his mandate, the importance of international consensus on the rights of LGBTIQ+ people, and the role of interfaith dialogue within the movement.
Nineteen human rights defenders from Latin America and the Caribbean gathered together in Mexico for a training on digital security, organised by ILGA with the support of ProtectDefenders.eu.
The Family Court of Ecuador ruled that the country’s ban on marriage equality is illegal, and that two lesbian couples must be allowed to “immediately” marry.
In Canada, the province of Ontario has cancelled a 2015 sex education curriculum that taught children about SOGI issues, consent and social media.
Several organisations have spoken up against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, expressing concerns that this choice could lead to a backtrack on LGBTQ, sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Is there any other LGBTI news
that you would like to share with us?
Let us know!