Two weeks in LGBTI news
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #133 provides two weeks in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Researched and edited by Zineb Oulmakki
ILGA board members gather in Costa Rica, meet President and civil society
Intersex, lesbian, bisexual, trans and gay activists from all over the world gathered together in Costa Rica, as the ILGA board meeting was taking place.
During an intense week of planning and strategising, ILGA board and staff members coming from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Saint Lucia, Samoa, South Africa and the USA had the opportunity to hold meetings with President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and the Presidential Commissioner on LGBTIQ+ issues, as well as with local Costa Rican civil society.
Alvarado Quesada confirmed his strong commitment to LGBTI rights and delivered a message of hope to our communities: "Stay strong, move forward, be corageous".
In August 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica ruled that the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional, and gave the Legislative Assembly 18 months to amend its laws to allow marriage equality.
The decision arrived only a few months after the historic opinion issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which indicated that States must recognise the right of trans people to change gender markers and names in their official documents without pathologizing requirements, and that all couples must be guaranteed the same legal protections and rights, including the right to marriage.
Costa Rica was also among the countries leading the process towards the approval of the SOGI resolution at the United Nations in 2016 - resulting in the appointment of the first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity - and vowed to support the renewal of the mandate.
More news of the world
A majority of practicing Catholics in eight countries worldwide believes that their Church should reconsider its current teaching on LGBT issues, new poll results have shown.
Australia: ‘religious freedom’ review enshrines discrimination in education settings
Religious schools in Australia would be guaranteed the right to turn away students and teachers on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, under changes to federal anti-discrimination laws recommended by the government’s ‘religious freedom’ review.
The content of the review, which has yet to be officially released, was made public by Fairfax Media. The report caused serious concerns among rainbow communities in the country and drew several political reactions. As the media company pointed out, “Commonwealth law already contains some provisions to permit discrimination against gay students and teachers. However, the report said any further amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act should only apply to new enrolments”, and schools would also need to have a publicly available policy outlining their positions.
The ‘religious freedom’ review was commissioned in the wake of last year’s introduction of marriage equality, and received more than 15,000 submissions. Since the report has been leaked, the government vowed to “release [its] response after it has gone through a proper cabinet process.”
As The Guardian reports, PM Scott Morrison then promised discrimination law amendments to make clear no student at a private or religious school should be expelled on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but the public debate is still ongoing.
More news from Oceania
The government of New Zealand will reportedly update its policy limiting the number of gender-affirming surgeries for trans patients.
An awareness campaign in Samoa – created by the Samoa Fa’afafine Association together with the National Health System – is encouraging persons to know their HIV status and get tested.
Voters in Romania boycott referendum aimed to restrict definition of family
A referendum in Romania asking voters to restrict the constitutional definition of family failed to reach the required 30% turnout target.
As ILGA-Europe pointed out, people were voting on whether they wanted to amend the current neutral wording of Article 48.1 of the Constitution to a narrower definition that would have excluded many families in Romania – including single parents, multi-generational families, unmarried couples and rainbow families.
Grassroots human rights organisations had campaigned asking citizens to boycott the referendum – a call that clearly resonated in the country. “Together we showed that we, as citizens, want a Romania based upon democratic values, a country where respect, equality and common sense guides society”, commented ILGA member organisation Accept Association. “Today we have shown that we cannot be fooled by a political agenda that urges us to hate and polarise society. We have shown that most of us believe that human rights are not to be voted at a referendum.”
A few days after the referendum, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved a resolution declaring it “crucial and urgent” that European States overcome the discrimination experienced by both adults and children in rainbow families.
More news from Europe
Many pieces of transphobic commentary made their way into British media, as the public consultation process over the United Kingdom’s Gender Recognition Act nears its end date.
Hundreds of activists gathered in Paris for the 22nd edition of Existrans, a march calling on France to respect the rights of trans and intersex people.
Competing referenda on marriage and education set to happen in Taiwan
Local elections will take place in Taiwan on November 24, with voters expected to cast their preferences in as many as 9 referendums.
Some of them are of particular interest to our communities, and were put forth by both supporters and opponents of marriage equality: citizens will vote on proposals asking the government to introduce equal rights to marriage, and on another one asking to create civil unions for same-sex couples instead.
The Central Election Commission has also approved holding a referendum on whether ‘gender equity education’ should be taught at all stages of the national curriculum, and whether it should touch upon “sex education and gay and lesbian education (sic)”.
In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court declared as unconstitutional the definition of marriage as being “between a man and a woman.” Lawmakers were given two years to amend existing laws or pass new legislation to include marriage equality.
More news from Asia
In Japan, the municipal government of Tokyo passed a bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and committed to conduct public education actions on LGBT rights.
(trigger warning) Two men were killed in Iraq on the grounds of their sexual orientation in the space of three days, a human rights organisation has reported.
Uganda: plans for opening LGBT community centre deemed ‘criminal’
Plans to create a community centre for LGBT persons in Uganda were met with stark public opposition from the country’s Ethics and Integrity minister, who compared the project to a criminal act.
“They can’t open a centre of LGBT activity here. Homosexuality is not allowed and completely unacceptable in Uganda,” Simon Lokodo was quoted as saying. “We don’t and can’t allow it. LGBT activities are already banned and criminalised in this country. So popularising it is only committing a crime.”
The project was created by Rainbow Riots, an organisation based in Uganda and Sweden which aimed to open the centre in 2019.
More news from Africa
LGBTQI+ people in Algeria celebrated their national day with allies from across the world by lighting candles and posting images on social media.
(trigger warning) A trans woman in Mali survived two violent attacks by a mob in the street of Bamako. The gangs filmed their assaults, and four different videos went viral on social media in the country.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity conference held in Belize
More than 50 women’s rights defenders from 18 countries across the Caribbean, the Global South and the diaspora gathered together in Belize, exploring opportunities to fill existing gaps in research on lesbian, bisexual and trans people’s lived realities.
Hosted by PETAL and the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), the sixth edition of the Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity conference focused on the need for more data to inform advocacy for LBT persons, while expanding the network of people working to advance the conversation on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in the region.
After five days of intense work – touching upon issues as diverse as mental health, privilege and sub-community oppression, the importance of Pride and many more – it was announced that the 2019 edition of the conference will be held in Jamaica.
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
A historic march calling on an end to violence against trans women and travesti persons was held in Trelew, Argentina as more than 50,000 people gathered together for the 33rd National Women’s Meeting (ENM).
An Afro-Brazilian trans woman and activist has made history as she was elected to State Congress in São Paulo, Brazil.
Canada: petition calls for national ‘conversion’ therapy ban
Thousands of Canadian citizens and residents have joined forces to demand that the federal government ban ‘conversion’ therapy to minors in the country.
The petition, soon to be presented at the House of Commons, also calls upon the government to “enact legislation prohibiting transporting minors outside of the country” to have them undergo such harmful treatment, and to “have ‘conversion’ therapy included in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.”
While the appeal has been joined by more than 8,000 persons, another similar petition launched by It Gets Better Canada has reached almost 54,000 online signatories.
As CBC News points out, Ontario was the first province in Canada to pass legislation banning the discredited practice, followed by Alberta and Nova Scotia.
‘Conversion’ therapy remains pervasive in countries from across the world. A recent report from Australia has cast a light on the experiences of people who have struggled to reconcile their sexual orientation and gender identity with the beliefs of their religious community: the document provides a comprehensive history of the practice of ‘conversion’ therapy in the country, while also offering legal analysis and recommendations for law reform.
More news from North America
In the United States, the city of New York passed a law allowing an ‘X’ third gender marker in addition to the current options of ‘M’ and ‘F’ on birth certificates.
Four trans individuals and a trans rights organisation in Kansas, United States have filed a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on updating birth certificates to correctly reflect a person's gender identity.
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