The week in LGBTI news
September 14-20, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #130 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
Trinidad and Tobago: High Court confirms decriminalisation of consensual same-sex activity
In a historic moment, the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago has confirmed that consensual same-sex sexual activity is no longer criminalised.
The decision follows the verdict delivered in April 2018 in the case of Jason Jones v the Attorney General, which challenged Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act as unconstitutional.
As Loop reports, the ruling ensures that consenting adults will not be liable to criminal charges, although the legislation was not struck out completely.
As CAISO points out in an extensive Q&A on the ruling, both Section 13 and 16 had broad wording that criminalised both consensual and non-consensual activity. The former provision has now been amended to introduce the words ‘without consent’ to describe the offence of ‘buggery’, while the latter – dealing with the offence of ‘serious indecency’ – now no longer applies to consenting ‘persons’ (it previously referred to ‘a male person and a female person’).
The Government, whose request for the judgment not to take immediate effect was rejected, has now announced the intention to appeal to the Court of Appeal. However, the decision is set to remain in effect during the appeal process.
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
In Cuba, President Miguel Díaz-Canel publicly stated that he is in favour of recognising "marriage between people without any restrictions".
An airline in Mexico has issued an apology after its employees refused to transfer the dead body of a person who was HIV-positive.
United States: Court rules in favour of intersex and non-binary person who was denied passport
A District Court has ruled that the State Department exceeded its authority when it denied a passport to Dana Zzyym, a U.S. citizen and activist who is intersex and identifies as non-binary. The State Department denied Dana’s passport application because Dana could not accurately choose between either male or female on the passport application form, and the form does not provide any other gender marker designation.
“I find that the Department failed to show that its decision-making process regarding the policy was rationale,” the judge wrote in the ruling. “The authority to issue passports and prescribe rules for the issuance of passports (…) does not include the authority to deny an applicant on grounds pertinent to basic identity.”
As Lambda Legal reports, this is the second time Zzyym has won against the U.S. State Department for denying them a passport. In November, 2016, the same district court had already ordered the department to reconsider its binary-only gender policy.
“It’s been nearly four years since the State Department first denied me a critical identity document that I need to do my job and advocate for the rights of intersex people both in the United States and abroad,” Zzyym said after the ruling. “I’m not going to lie on my passport application, I shouldn’t have to, and the judge here, twice, has agreed with me.”
More news from North America
A study conducted in Massachusetts, United States found that the state’s public accommodations non-discrimination laws that include gender identity do not affect the number or frequency of criminal incidents in restrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms.
A District Court in California, United States rejected the federal administration’s latest attempt to implement its discriminatory ban on trans persons to join the military.
Romania to hold referendum that could violate the rights of families
Romania will soon hold a referendum asking citizens whether or not to amend the existing definition of family, and replace it with text that limits the constitutional protection of marriage to different-sex couples only.
If successful, the initiative would exclude from constitutional protection not only rainbow families, but also all other forms of families.
The final decision arrived as the Constitutional Court approved the proposal to hold the consultation with a 7-2 vote, despite human rights organisations expressing concerns that amending the Constitution could lead to a breach of international human rights standards and increase discrimination.
This is the final stage of a process that started in 2015, where a coalition of 23 NGOs that supposedly support family values started collecting signatures to amend the constitutional definition of family. The initiative to hold a referendum was then supported by the Senate, first with an approval from its legal committee and then with an overwhelming 107-13 vote in the plenary.
“This referendum is essentially asking people to approve discriminating against their neighbours, colleagues, friends and family members,” commented Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director of ILGA-Europe.
More news from Europe
Malta has launched its second LGBTIQ Equality Strategy and Action Plan, setting out how the government intends to continue their work to mainstream LGBTIQ equality in all areas of policy.
After derogatory stickers and billboards were put up in Liverpool, United Kingdom, the city's council has unanimously approved a motion in support of trans people, stating that "trans women are women" and that “there is no place in our city for hatred and bigotry.”
Senegal: activists report wave of arrests against sexual minorities
Two women and two men were arrested in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, for ‘acts against the order of nature’. According to reports, videos portraying the couples having sex had begun circulating in their neighbourhood.
Grassroots activists have pointed out how a new wave of arrests has grown as presidential elections are approaching.
“The hunt for sexual minorities begins,” wrote Arc en Ciel Senegal, “because the government is preparing to answer those who call them ‘pro-homosexual’ as was the case in the 2016 referendum. Young people really need training and support to deal with these threats.”
More news from Africa
The case challenging the provisions criminalising same-sex activity in Kenya is moving forward: judges issued orders for a mention to be held on September 27th. This is when a date will be set for the ruling.
In Kenya, the ban against Rafiki - a movie telling a love story about two women - has been lifted for 7 days.
Australia: Parliamentary enquiry established into 40 years of hate crimes in New South Wales
The New South Wales (NSW) Legislative Council has moved to establish a parliamentary inquiry into hate crimes committed against people from sexual and gender minorities communities between 1970 and 2010, the Star Observer has reported.
The inquiry will be conducted by the NSW upper house social issues committee: it will investigate how police handled almost 90 cases of hate crimes, and why the state’s justice system may not have protected the community or delayed justice for them and their families.
“This inquiry will not only look at the violent crimes committed against the LGBTIQ community, but will also review current policies around hate crimes to determine if any shortcomings have been addressed,” Government MP and committee chair Shayne Mallard said in a statement.
An extensive review of 88 suspicious deaths in Sydney between 1976 and 2000 has recently revealed that almost a third were the result of crimes involving suspected or confirmed homophobic bias. The Strike Force Parrabell determined that 27 cases had evidence or suspected evidence of bias crime, and five among them still remain unsolved.
More news from Oceania
In Samoa, an inquiry revealed the alarming extent of domestic violence experienced especially by women and girls, and recommended the government to set up a Family Violence Prevention Office.
Several LGBTI organisations in Victoria, Australia have created a booklet outlining the priorities to be addressed by any future government, ahead of the State elections that will be held in November 2018.
Hong Kong to allow dependent visa for same-sex couples
The government of Hong Kong announced a policy revision to recognise same-sex partnerships when granting dependent visa.
The announcement came more than two months after 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 policy allows those who are able to provide care and financial support to their dependents to sponsor their non-local dependants to come to reside in Hong Kong,” the government said.
According to Reuters, the revision has taken immediate effect.
More news from Asia
A tech company in India has sacked one of his executives, after an internal investigation confirmed allegations that she had verbally abused an employee on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
The Lahore High Court in Pakistan ruled that public hospitals in the Punjab province must provide separate facilities for their trans patients.
More news from the world
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The report to the UN General Assembly of Independent Expert on SOGI Victor Madrigal-Borloz has just been released, and it is available in all six UN official languages.
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