The week in LGBTI news
September 7-13, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #129 provides a week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Latin America and the Caribbean
Chile: Congress passes ‘historic’ gender identity law
After more than five years of tireless campaigning from human rights defenders across the country, the Congress of Chile has passed a gender identity law allowing trans persons over 14 years old to change their name and gender marker in official documents.
The 95-46 vote in the Chamber of Deputies took place only a week after the Senate had passed the provision. President Sebastian Pinera has now 30 days to sign the bill into law.
According to the law, people over 18 who are not married and reside in the country can see their documents changed through an administrative process, while people aged between 14 and 18 can change their documents through a family court trial, and will need the authorisation of one of their parents or of a legal guardian.
While celebrating the bill, human rights defenders regretted that it excluded those under 14 years of age, and that it included an abusive divorce precondition for married trans persons who wish to see their gender legally recognised.
These issues have already been raised at the international level, while those who opposed the law announced that they will request the Constitutional Court to review it.
“Chile became a better country yesterday,” commented human rights group Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD). “In a year’s time, trans people will be able to change their name and gender marker without cumbersome, pathologizing and humiliating procedures. The questioning of our identity, which is the main cause of discrimination that we experience in every space we live in, was undone yesterday. We hope that this law will help save lives, in honour of those who are no longer with us.”
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
An appeals court in Ecuador has overturned a recent ruling in favour of a same-sex couple’s right to marriage, saying that it should be up to lawmakers, rather than courts, to deal with the issue of marriage equality.
A final decision on whether provisions criminalising same-sex conduct should be struck down in Trinidad and Tobago is set to be delivered on September 20. In April, the High Court declared such provisions as 'unconstitutional'.
South Korea: ‘religious’ groups physically attack participants of queer festival
At least 1,000 members and supporters of so-called ‘religious’ groups violently confronted the participants of the first queer festival held in the South Korean city of Incheon, turning the event into what organisers described as “a complete pandemonium”.
Since the night before the events, protesters had attempted to forestall the festival and the parade: according to reports, they first occupied the public space where the parade was meant to start from, and then thwarted for hours any effort to set up the stage.
The situation got worse as the festival was officially opened. Police locked down the surroundings, isolating participants who had already arrived and further exposing those who wanted to join the event to the violent assaults of almost 1,000 opponents who had gathered around the area. Anti-LGBTI groups went as far as flattening the tyres of the parade truck to immobilise it, and assaulting those who, despite all the threats, had joined the parade. At multiple times, police failed to intervene.
“Religion, the local government, and the law enforcement made it clear that they were not on our side and even worse, that they would rather stand with bigotry,” organisers said in a statement, joined by numerous human rights organisations. “We will not idly sit by, waiting for the society to progress on its own. We won’t be denied of our safety and freedom.”
More news from Asia
The decriminalisation of same-sex activity in India is starting to make waves across Asia: a citizen of Singapore has filed a court challenge against Section 377A - the provision banning consensual same-sex relations in the city-state. Meanwhile, an online petition challenging the same law has almost reached 40,000 signatories.
A new report exploring the consequences of SOGIE-based violence in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka has highlighted how men who have sex with men and trans women face higher HIV and health risks as well as negative impacts on their mental health.
Romania moves towards referedum on the definition of family
In an overwhelming 107-13 vote (with seven abstentions), Romanian senators have overwhelmingly backed a referendum that could be used to change the country’s Constitution to replace the current neutral definition of family with a version that recognises only married different-sex couples as the basis of a family.
The popular consultation, which is likely to be held in October, follows the launch of a petition which was signed by three million citizens in 2016, which demanded that the definition of marriage be changed.
“The proposed redefinition of the family in the Constitution, which has been on the agenda of the Parliament for 2 years, is taken out of the closet at a convenient time to distract the Romanian citizens from the imminent disaster in the economy, justice and agriculture,” said Florin Buhuceanu, Executive Chairman of ACCEPT. “We encourage all citizens not to legitimize a political manoeuvre to divert public attention and to promote hatred.”
The referendum, on which the Government will likely spend over 20 million euros, will probably raise further issues. "The Constitutional Court has already recognized that family life exists for couples of same-sex married couples outside the country, (..) so the amendment of Article 48 would contradict the principles set out by the Court of Justice of the European Union," said human rights lawyer Iustina Ionescu.
More news from Europe
Vanessa Campos, a trans and migrant sex worker of Peruvian descent, was killed in Paris, France in August 2018. Organisations from across Europe and beyond are now joining an international day of action to honour Vanessa's memory on September 21.
A new law protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics in the workplace has come into effect this week in Iceland.
Study reveals alarming rates of suicide attempts among trans adolescents
A recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has revealed alarming levels of attempted suicide among trans youth - with the highest rates among trans boys and non-binary youth.
Data collected over a three-year period showed that nearly 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt. However, according to the report, “disparities by gender identity” were found: trans male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by non-binary adolescents (41.8%), and trans female adolescents (29.9%).”
Studies have repeatedly pointed out how mental health factors and experiences of harassment, discrimination, violence and rejection may interact to produce a marked vulnerability to suicidal behaviour in trans and gender non-conforming individuals.
Earlier this year, the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act was passed in the United States, calling upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to determine the feasibility of designating a three-digit phone number that U.S. citizens can dial to reach national suicide prevention and mental health services.
More news from North America
Starting January 1, 2019, people born in New York City, United States will be granted the possibility to select 'X' as a gender marker on their birth certificates.
Nova Scotia, Canada has introduced a law that bars people 'in positions of trust or authority' from practicing 'conversion' therapy on youth under 16.
Western Australia passes expungement bill for historical same-sex activity convictions
Western Australia (WA) has passed a law allowing those with historical convictions for same-sex activity to have the charges removed from their criminal records. As of October 1, they will be able to request the expungement with an application through the WA Department of Justice website.
“While it is a shame that Western Australia was one of the last jurisdictions to consider a scheme for the expungement of historical homosexual convictions, the Government has moved swiftly to implement this important reform," WA Attorney General John Quigley said in a statement. "We recognised that many members of our community continue to carry the stigma of a criminal record for consensual acts that are no longer considered a crime in WA. People convicted under these laws will no longer need to have a criminal record hanging over their head for offences that are not illegal today.”
More news from Oceania
In New Zealand, MP Louisa Wall has spoken out about her experiences of facing death threats and online abuse for supporting LGBTIQ persons’ rights.
After the new prime minister of Australia pledged to introduce laws to "protect religious freedom", LGBTI advocates said they will seek to have the Senate blocking any new law that waters down existing discrimination protections.
First workplace equality index launched in South Africa
The South African LGBT+ Management Forum has launched an index to measure how companies in South Africa are faring when it comes to the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities in the workplace.
According to reports, the South African Workplace Equality Index (SAWEI) is the first such initiative to be launched in the region, and 17 companies - representing six different sectors and employing over 30,000 people – chose to participate in the analysis.
Results showed that nearly all participating companies have policies in place prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation along with other elements such as race, language and gender. Very few, however, have provisions protecting employers against discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression.
All participants reported having a member of staff working on diversity and inclusion, and a variety of routes open for employees to report harassment cases. Click here to download the full report.
More news from Africa
Following a recent campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, a sportswear company has released a new inspiring ad featuring South African athlete Caster Semenya. The video has already been seen by millions of persons worldwide.
In Kenya, the director of Rafiki - a movie banned in her home country for telling a love story about two women - has filed a lawsuit against the Kenya Films Classification Board, seeking to lift the ban so that the film can be considered as the country’s Oscars entry.
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