The week in LGBTI news
November 23-29, 2018
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #138 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
Researched and edited by Zineb Oulmakki
Latin America and Caribbean
Chile: President signs Gender Identity Law
The President of Chile has signed into law a bill allowing people over the age of 14 to change their name and gender in official records, in a historic day for our communities in Chile.
Lawmakers approved the Gender Identity Law in September 2018, after more than five years of tireless campaigning from human rights defenders across the country.
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 the new law awaits to be implemented, trans communities in the country witnessed one more victory, as the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a person’s request to see their name and gender legally recognised. “We hope this will be the last time that a trans person is subjected to legal implications to exercise their right to identity.”
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
In Bermuda, the Court of Appeal has affirmed marriage equality and rejected the government's request for a delay on the ruling to take effect.
The Supreme Court of Mexico has ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to have access to assisted reproduction techniques in order to have children.
Russia has violated LGBT persons’ rights to freedom of assembly, European Court rules
The European Court of Human Rights found that Russia violated the rights of LGBT persons to hold peaceful assemblies, and has therefore discriminated against them.
The case, which brought together 51 applications from seven applicants, concerned the continued refusal by Russian authorities to approve organisers’ requests to hold LGBT rallies in various regions between 2009 and 2014.
The court also referred to a similar judgement in 2010, where it found that Moscow authorities’ decision to ban our communities’ rally could not be justified by concerns over public disorder and amounted to discrimination.
The latest ruling, however, went further by reiterating the ‘binding’ force of its judgments, and calling for ‘sustained and long-term efforts in the adoption of general measures, particularly if Russia was to overcome issues relating to freedom of assembly and prohibition of discrimination.’
More news from Europe
The Senate of Switzerland voted to criminalise hate speech and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, but refused to do the same for gender identity.
The European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties has passed a resolution urging the European Commission and member states to put measures forward for protecting and promoting the rights of intersex people in the EU.
Voters in Taiwan pass referenda seeking to delay marriage equality and inclusive education
Called to vote on competing referenda on marriage equality and inclusive education, citizens of Taiwan overwhelmingly supported those seeking to roll back equal rights and protections.
The consultation came after a historic ruling by the Constitutional Court, which ruled in May 2017 that the definition of marriage as ‘between a man and a woman’ was unconstitutional, leaving parliament two years to legislate on the issue. When conservative groups started rallying against the change, however, the government announced a referendum on the issue.
The result, however, is not the end of the road: Judicial Yuan Secretary-General has already clarified that referendums cannot override decisions of the Constitutional Court.
More news from Asia
Thousands marched through Delhi's streets in the first Pride parade since the historic ruling decriminalising consensual same-sex activity in India.
A Hong Kong resident, legally married to his husband in Canada, is suing the government for having denied him a public housing flat on the grounds of his relationship status.
South Africa: Civil Union Amendment Bill adopted by parliamentary committee
A parliamentary committee in South Africa has adopted a bill seeking to impede Home Affairs officials from refusing to marry same-sex couples on the grounds of their ‘conscience, religion [or] belief’. According to the government department, only 111 out of its 412 branches have officers willing to marry same-sex couples.
As Mambaonline points out, the bill was introduced in January 2018, as more and more couples reported being turned away from Home Affairs offices when they attempted to marry.
After calls for written submissions on the matter, the committee unanimously approved the bill. Two additional provisions, however, were included to allow those officials who had opted out of celebrating marriages to continue do so for two years.
The bill will now be sent to the National Assembly for debate.
More news from Africa
Civil society organisations strongly condemned action by the government of Uganda, whose minister of Ethics instructed organisers to bar key populations from directly describing their work during an HIV Prevention Symposium.
A trans woman in South Africa, currently serving a 15-year sentence in a prison for men, has sued the Correctional Services Department to seek recognition for her right to gender expression while in custody.
Australia approves its first HIV home testing kit for sale
Ahead of this year's World AIDS Day, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Australia's first HIV home testing kit for sale.
As the Department of Health explained, “the test is a single-use rapid finger stick test for the detection of antibodies to HIV and will enable people to test for HIV in their own home. This will make testing accessible and convenient especially for people that need to test frequently or do not test at all.”
While approving the introduction of the home testing kit, organisations in Australia said they will push for the device to be sold not only online, but in pharmacies as well, to further remove barriers to access.
“Sadly, stigma and embarrassment still prevents many people testing for HIV,” said Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations CEO Darryl O’Donnell. “The arrival of this self-testing device is a critical step in removing a barrier to people knowing their status.”
As the latest UNAIDS report points out, HIV-related stigma and discrimination are still major factors disempowering people from seeking the services they need. Violence also plays a part, as it ‘is also linked to legal contexts in which members of key populations may be arrested or otherwise targeted for drug use, sex work, same-sex sexual acts or changing their gender. Criminalization of these behaviours can be a powerful deterrent to seeking HIV testing and treatment.’
More news from Oceania
A medical college has dedicated a special issue of its magazine to the healthcare needs of people in the LGBTI community in Australia and Aotearoa / New Zealand.
More than 3,000 couples got married in the first six months after marriage equality became a reality in Australia, new data has shown.
Trans asylum seeker dies in custody, organisations mobilise to seek justice
Her name was Roxsana Hernandez, and she was a trans woman. She fled her native Honduras to seek asylum in the United States, but she died in May 2018, two weeks after presenting herself to U.S. border officers and growing increasingly ill while being held in custody.
A recent, independent autopsy on the woman’s body revealed that she was likely beaten while in custody, and died after several days of severe, untreated dehydration.
While the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) disputed the results of the exam, other sources claim that the agency hasn’t released a report on the case yet, despite human rights organisations demanding it for months.
Organisations have now launched legal actions to hold the government accountable for the woman’s death. “We will continue to uplift Roxsana’s story and to continue to hold immigration enforcement accountable for her death,” said Jennicet Gutierrez, community organizer and advocate with Familia. ‘We will continue to organize to protect the lives of all trans and queer migrants because what our community needs is asylum not detention.”
More news from North America
The federal administration of the United States has reportedly asked the Supreme Court to fast-track a ruling on the Pentagon’s policy of restricting military service by trans people.
In the United States, a man who spent more than 40 years with his late husband saw his request for survivor benefits rejected, because the couple was only able to legally marry seven months before the man's death.
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