The week in LGBTI news
November 9-15, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #136 provides the week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Number of reported killings of trans and gender-diverse people on the rise, research shows
At least 369 trans and gender-diverse persons were reported killed between October 2017 and September 2018, with an increase of 43 cases compared to the previous period.
The chilling figures were revealed in the latest Trans Murder Monitoring research project update, released ahead of this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Most of the murders occurred in Brazil (167), Mexico (71), the United States (28), and Colombia (21), adding up to a total of 2,982 reported cases in 72 countries worldwide between January 2008 and September 2018.
As the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT) team pointed out, data show that violence against trans and gender-diverse people frequently overlaps with other axes of oppression prevalent in society, such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and anti-sex worker sentiment and discrimination.
More news of the world
The Equal Rights Coalition has welcomed the September 2018 ruling decriminalising consensual same-sex relations between adults in India, and called on governments that have not yet pursued decriminalisation to "undertake legal reforms".
Latin America and Caribbean
Highest Caribbean Court strikes down Guyana’s ‘cross-dressing’ law
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has unanimously ruled that the law of Guyana sanctioning ‘cross-dressing’ violates the Constitution, and is therefore void.
The provision dated back to 1893, and made it a criminal offence for a man or a woman to appear in public while dressed in clothing traditionally associated with a different gender for ‘an improper purpose’.
The judgement clearly stated that the law’s vagueness gave police virtually unlimited discretion in applying it, leaving trans persons “in great uncertainty as to what is and is not allowed”.
“No one should have his or her dignity trampled on, or human rights denied, merely on account of a difference, especially one that poses no threat to public safety or public order,” it added.
The case was brought by four trans women who were arrested and convicted under the provision in 2009. After spending three nights at the police station and being exposed to derogatory comments by the magistrate during the trial, they pleaded guilty and paid a fine because - as the President of the CCJ pointed out - “it was more convenient and less expensive to do so than to retain counsel to dispute the charges”.
One year later, the four women and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) challenged the ruling, starting a legal battle that lasted almost eight years. According to the legal team, the judgement “will be acknowledged as a significant contribution to Caribbean jurisprudence, especially because of its insistence on the need to give due respect to everyone’s humanity.”
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
The Supreme Court of Costa Rica released its ruling that deemed the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman as unconstitutional. The Legislative Assembly has now 18 months to amend its laws to allow marriage equality.
Human rights defenders are reporting that dozens of LGBT asylum seekers are facing verbal abuse and threats on social media, as they arrived from Central America at the border between Mexico and the United States.
In a move described as a “monumental victory” for inclusive education, Scotland has announced that it will embed the teaching of LGBTI rights in state school curricula.
“All state schools will be supported to teach LGBTI equality and inclusion across different age groups and subjects, grouped under various themes,” the government explained. “The themes will include LGBTI terminology and identities; tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia; prejudice in relation to the LGBTI community; and promoting awareness of the history of LGBTI equalities and movements.”
According to reports, Scotland is the first country in the world to embed LGBTI-inclusive education in such a comprehensive manner.
The move was announced after the government accepted in full all 33 recommendations made by the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group, and work to implement them will start immediately.
More news from Europe
In Latvia, the Ombudsman office released an historic opinion calling on the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament to introduce a framework to recognise and protect rainbow families.
The government of France has reportedly postponed discussions about opening assisted reproduction techniques to lesbians and single women until after the European elections, in the summer of 2019.
Sri Lanka: President’s homophobic comments spark outrage
Amidst an ongoing political crisis, the president of Sri Lanka sparked outrage for his derogatory remarks against his opponent during a public speech.
According to reports, Maithripala Sirisena attacked the prime minister accusing him of rejecting national values for a “butterfly life,” and claimed that his decisions were led by a “butterfly caucus” – using a term alluding to sexual minorities.
Such comments are bound to negatively impact our communities, Equal Ground president Rosanna Flamer-Caldera noted: "In a country which has a stigma of high level towards the LGBTQ community, such comments made by the country’s highest office only helps to escalate (it) further".
Groups and campaigners in the region staged protests in the capital city of Colombo and, reclaiming the derogatory term, joined together to issue a statement as the Butterflies for Democracy coalition.
"Every single insult and attack against us is an encouragement for us to continue our struggle," the coalition wrote. "This is a reminder to (the president) that he cannot use homophobia as armour to protect himself, and that he and every other public representative and political party should act to pave way for the Sri Lankan LGBTIQ+ community to live with dignity, respect, and equality of law and justice."
More news from Asia
LGBTI human rights defenders from across South and South-East Asia gathered together in Thailand for a training on UN mechanisms, co-hosted by five organisations (including ILGA Asia).
More reports about regional authorities planning regulations designed to further curtail LGBT rights are emerging from Indonesia ahead of next year's elections.
Tanzania: ten men arrested in Zanzibar released on bail
Ten men arrested for allegedly being involved in same-sex activity in Zanzibar were released on bail, said a senior police official and their lawyer, adding that the incident was still being investigated and the men could be charged in the future.
Their arrest had made headlines worldwide, as it came only a few hours after the Foreign Ministry of Tanzania had backtracked on Dar es Salaam governor's plans to form a task force to identify and arrest people suspected of being 'homosexuals', saying it didn’t reflect the official government position.
According to reports, the ten men were arrested after police received a ‘tip-off’ about an alleged same-sex marriage taking place. No evidence of ‘unlawful acts’ was found, but ongoing investigations could mean that their ordeal might be far from over.
While government officials reiterated their stance against sexual minorities, as the Minister of Home Affairs claimed that “Tanzania is not the right place for such acts”, reactions from across the world included the World Bank suspending its visiting missions, and Denmark considering to withhold aid money due to concerns over human rights abuses.
More news from Africa
The UN Independent Expert on SOGI announced his next country visit to Mozambique from December 3-10, and launched a call for inputs.
Parliamentary discussions over a bill aimed to make same-sex marriage a criminal offense in Liberia are stirring homophobic attitudes around the country, human rights defenders have reported.
After an horrific video of the assault faced by a trans woman went viral on social media in Botswana, LeGaBiBo called for urgent investigations on the incident, and urged cultural and religious leaders to speak up: "Humiliating a human being (...) is not good behaviour, it’s not botho, it’s not godly, it’s not cultural and it’s definitely illegal!”
Aotearoa/New Zealand announces results of public consultation on sexual orientation data collection
In April 2018, Aotearoa/New Zealand’s data agency began collecting feedback on its proposed framework to gather, organise, and report information and statistics regarding sexual orientation and identity.
After almost seven months of analysis, Stats NZ announced the results of its public consultation: the agency received 924 submissions received from across Aotearoa/New Zealand, with many of them focusing on expanding the questions’ inclusivity.
“Our job is to ensure that data reflects society, and we are seeing a strong demand to record and present data on sexual identity,” Stats NZ said. “The numbers just go to show how important it is that all New Zealanders can see themselves in the data we collect.”
The feedback received will now guide “the development of a sexual orientation framework and a statistical standard for sexual identity,” which will be released in February 2019.
Stats NZ is also working on a project to make recommendations on the way information on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation is collected in all its household surveys.
More news from Oceania
In Aotearoa/New Zealand, Auckland Pride decided to welcome police officers to the 2019 Pride Parade, provided that they do not march in uniform. A special community hui has been convened to talk about the decision.
In Australia, a Senate inquiry was announced to investigate the discrimination faced by LGBTI students and staff in education settings.
United States: hate crimes on the rise, FBI report shows
In 2017, the United States witnesses a dramatic rise in reported hate crimes: data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reveal a disturbing 17 percent increase from the previous year.
Among the 7,175 criminal incidents reported, 1,130 were based on sexual orientation bias (a 5 percent increase compared to 2016), while 119 happened on the grounds of gender identity. However, as Human Rights Campaign points out, these figures are likely to underestimate the reality on the ground as reporting hate crimes is not mandatory: thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country did not submit any data.
LGBTQ persons were not the only ones to be targeted, as bias-motivated crimes based on race, religion, disability and gender all increased. Violence also hit at the intersection of identities: the FBI also recorded 69 multiple-bias hate crime incidents involving 335 victims.
More news from North America
Nearly 180 major companies in the United States have signed onto a letter affirming their opposition to "any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender or gender non-binary, or who are intersex."
The public school system in Washington D.C., United States will soon allow families to select 'non-binary' — rather than 'male' or 'female' — when indicating the gender of their child on enrolment forms.
Krysten Sinema has become the first out bisexual woman to be elected senator in the United States.
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