The week in LGBTI news
October 19-25, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #134 provides a week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Researched and prepared by Zineb Oulmakki
Edited by Daniele Paletta
Leaked memo reveals Trump administration plans to rolls back protections for transgender, gender-non-conforming, and intersex people
The Trump administration in the United States is planning to introduce national level definition of gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth”, the New York Times has reported.
Those plans reportedly include to root the legal sex of a persons in “biology”, offering only “male” and “female” options, and restricting the possibility to change one’s legal gender after this is “clarified using genetic testing”.
Although this plan has not been confirmed yet, putting it into practice would severely jeopardize trans and intersex people’s lives, and in essence seeks to erase them. Moreover, if enacted, this move would clash with decades of legal precedents from federal courts in the U.S. where ‘sex’ has been interpreted broadly where it comes to anti-discrimination laws - including by prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.
The potential move has sparked wide criticism worldwide, and ILGA has joined voices that have strongly condemned it, urging the government to uphold the principles of self-determination and self-identification for all its people - including trans and intersex persons.
More news from North America
The mayor of San Francisco issued an executive order instructing all city agencies and departments that collect demographic data to update their forms to include the option of non-binary in addition to male and female when asking about gender.
The new North American trade agreement would reportedly include a requirement that the United States, Canada and Mexico take steps to protect workers against discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
Latin America and Caribbean
Uruguay passes comprehensive law expanding transgender people’s rights
Uruguay's Congress has passed a law that massively expands the rights of transgender people in the country. The measure, which had already been approved by the Senate, was voted into law by the lower house on Thursday October 19.
The new law defines gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy as a right, and ensures those treatments will be paid for by the Uruguayan state.
The law also mandates that 1 percent of government jobs be reserved for trans people, and establishes a fund to compensate those in the community who were persecuted during Uruguay’s military dictatorship.
According to ILGALAC board member Natasha Jiménez Mata, the law "is not only a great advance in the full guarantee of human rights for trans people, but it gives hope to others countries of the region.”
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
In Argentina, a team of activists launched Ruta Trans, an application designed to warn trans people about potentially hostile areas and to help them locate safe places.
Several LGBT persons from Honduras and El Salvador are fleeing violence and persecution by joining thousands of migrants in a caravan and walking towards the United States to seek asylum.
Kenyan High Court sets ruling date for case seeking to decriminalize same-sex relations
The Kenya High Court in Nairobi has set February 22nd, 2019 as the day it will deliver its verdict in a case challenging sections of the Kenyan Penal Code that make consensual same sex acts between adults punishable with up to 14 years of imprisonment.
The case before the High Court in Nairobi was brought forward by the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, an independent human rights body that provides free legal aid services to LGBT persons.
Like many former British colonies, Kenya retains anti-buggery laws that make vague reference to “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and “gross indecency” inherited from the colonial era. The NGLHRC has argued that these sections of the Penal Code are used to justify violence against LGBT persons by criminalizing their identities.
In a statement, Executive Director of NGLHRC, Njeri Gateru explained that “[t]hese colonial legacy laws undermine LGBT people’s fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution and ostracise them from society, causing misery and isolation, and devastating their lives.”
More news from Africa
The Initiative Sankofa d’Afrique de l’Ouest launched a call for proposals for LGBTQI-led and -focused organisations in nine West African countries.
The Queer Shorts Showcase festival in Gaborone, Botswana has been postponed after the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports, and Culture Development abruptly decided it would not host queer events "on government property."
Netherlands issues first gender neutral passport
On Friday, October 19, the Netherlands issued the first ever gender-neutral passport in the country’s history to 57 year-old Leonne Zeegers, BBC reported. Zeegers, who is intersex, has been given a passport with the gender marker “X” instead of M or V for male or female after a long legal battle.
In May 2018, a court ruled in favour of changing Zeegers’ birth certificate to reflect a gender-neutral option. The court stated that not being able to register as gender-neutral amounted to a violation of privacy, self-determination, and personal autonomy.
Dutch LGBTI rights organizations welcomed the decision, describing it as “a personal victory for Leonne.” Nonetheless, they also called on the government to amend legislation to allow other Dutch citizens who did not identify with either “male” or “female” to obtain gender-neutral legal documents and passports. Read more via ILGA’s Intersex Secretariat NNID
More news from Europe
Over 3000 people attended a rally in Paris, France to denounce assaults on LGBT people and demand urgent action from the government.
MPs have overwhelmingly approved an amendment that would force the UK government to monitor human rights compliance in Northern Ireland over same-sex marriage and abortion access.
Malaysia: activists condemn opposition leader for blaming LGBTI people for natural disaster
Malaysian opposition leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed during a remark in Parliament that the recent earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Indonesia were “god’s punishment” against LGBT people, Malay Mail reported.
Politicians, activists, and LGBTI groups in Malaysia have vehemently denounced the outrageous comments. Indonesian officials also slammed Zahid’s remarks, with the mayor of Palu calling them thoughtless and lacking common sense.
These statements come amidst a worsening climate for Malaysian rainbow communities, as anti-LGBTI comments and attacks by political leaders have become an increasingly common occurrence.
More news from Asia
Two men in Bandung, Indonesia were arrested for allegedly running an LGBT Facebook page.
The movie “5 Weddings,” which was set to open on October 26 in 15 countries, has been banned in Kuwait over the inclusion of hijra characters.
Australia: Sydney Anglican church votes to ban same-sex weddings from facilities
The Sydney Anglican Diocese voted in favour of a policy that will prevent same-sex marriages and events that might advocate "expressions of human sexuality contrary to [the church’s] doctrine of marriage" on about a thousand church-owned properties, ABC News reported.
Joel Hollier, a Former Anglican pastor and co-chair of Christian LGBTIQ group Equal Voices condemned the policy saying it was designed to exclude."There are so many LGBT Anglican people within our churches that long to have a place within the church. We are faithful, deeply engaged and seeking to be a part of our church communities,” he added.
A previous version of the policy also set out to ban the promotion of “transgender ideology,” among other restrictions. After strong opposition, clauses were added to the policy to clarify that it should not "prevent discussion and debate about contentious issues on church property."
The church also backed down from a proposed ban on indigenous smoking ceremonies, acknowledging that it had not properly consulted with indigenous communities and elders.
More news from Oceania
Tasmania’s parliament is debating amendments that would remove the requirement to list a gender on birth certificates altogether.
Marks Park has been set as the site of a memorial to the victims of the gay hate crimes which plagued Sydney, Australia from the 1970s to the 1990s.
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