Written by Maddalena Tomassini Edited by Daniele Paletta
This week has seen worrisome pushbacks for LGBTI people’s rights, especially concerning the safety and wellbeing of trans people. In Europe, Kazakhstan is trying to increase the age limit for trans youth to access legal gender recognition and gender-affirming care. At the same time, as athletes and advocacy groups in the United States are calling on the NCAA to actively show solidarity with trans and intersex athletes, Tennessee is seeking to follow the discriminatory footsteps of a recent hostile law that was passed in Idaho. Worrisome reports also come from Kuwait, where a trans woman denounced having suffered abuse and rape at the hands of police.
Meanwhile, an NGO that’s been struggling for years to be officially registered in Kenya will have to wait some more, as the Supreme Court postponed the hearing.
To a brighter note, a university in Australia has created the first Indigenous Queer Studies unit. Historic news arrive also from Chile, where a couple of lesbian mothers were both recognised filial rights to their child.
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This is a brief selection of news showing how Covid-19 is affecting LGBTI communities worldwide. Share more stories at [email protected]
ILGA Europe, TGEU and IGLYO call on Kazakhstan to protect trans people’s rights
In a joint statement, ILGA Europe, TGEU and IGLYO have called on Kazakhstan to remove an amendment to the newly drafted “Code on the health of the people and the healthcare system”, which seeks to impose new restrictions to gender-affirming care and legal gender recognition for trans people.
With this proposal, the age limit to access legal gender recognition and trans-specific healthcare would increase from 18 to 21 years, and restrictions would apply to trans people with “behavioural disorders” of all ages.
The three rights groups condemned the proposed amendment and asked for Kazakhstan to uphold recognition and other fundamental human rights set out in international human rights treaties it ratified. They also expressed regret for civil society and expert organisations not being included in the decision process.
“This amendment is against the main principle of equal protection of the law and equality before the law guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan,” the statement reads. “The proposed change leads to the discrimination of the group of Kazakhstani citizens based on their identity as it singles out trans people in recognition of their legal age by the state.”
More news from Europe and Central Asia
Switzerland took important steps towards equality: the National Council has voted to approve equal marriage for all, alongside access to sperm donations and recognition of parenthood from birth. The bill now goes to the other chamber, the Council of States - which, meanwhile, has passed a bill to facilitate legal gender recognition, although it backtracked on the right to self-determination for trans minors.
The day after Italian bishops argued that an anti-LGBT discrimination law would jeopardize freedom of speech, a draft published by media has shown that the bill would only sanction incitement to violence and acts of discrimination, without punishing ‘propaganda’ against our communities.
As Poland’s President Andrzej Duda signed the Family Charter - where he commits to fight equal marriage and adoption of children by same-sex couples - and justice ministry sponsored homophobic articles comparing LGBT rights campaigns to Soviet-era persecution of Christians, a television commercial made history by showing an intimate gay couple.
The European Court Of Human Rights found that Iceland acted in compliance with the Convention by convicting and fining an author of homophobic comments.
Over 100,000 people in the United Kingdom have signed an online petition calling on the government to ban “conversion therapies”.
Idaho’s #HB509 is another attempt to discriminate against the transgender and gender non-conforming community. We will continue to fight against this legislation and similar bills. https://t.co/SohrNJAzct
Signed into law on the eve of Trans Day of Visibility, the provision bars trans and intersex women and girls from participating in high school athletics divisions consistent with their gender.
According to the law, no female athletic college and public school team should be “open to students of the male sex”. It also puts any student whose sex is “disputed” at risk of invasive testing of “reproductive anatomy, [...] levels of testosterone, [...] or genetic makeup.”
Previously, the NCAA had spoken up against the bill, but it hasn’t yet indicated whether it would move sports events from Idaho over enactment of House Bill 500.
“Transgender athletes deserve the same dignity and respect entitled to all NCAA athletes. Because of HB 500, that simply isn’t possible in Idaho,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for policy and action with the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We applaud the NCAA for speaking out against HB 500 and now encourage them to back up their words with action.”
But as athletes and activists condemn Idaho, another State is following his steps. The Tennessee House of Representatives passed HB 1689 with an overwhelming majority of 73 to 13 votes. Exactly as Idaho’s HB 500, this bill would prohibit schools from allowing students to play in sports according to their gender identity, and exposes them to having to ‘prove’ their “respective sex before participating in the sport event.”
More news from North America
After being elected to the Wheeling City Council, Rosemary Ketchum has become the first openly trans person elected to office in West Virginia, United States.
While Black Lives Matter protests keep their momentum across the United States and there are more reports of violence from law enforcements - including against LGBTI spaces - Chicago’s and Seattle’s first openly lesbians mayors have taken stands against police brutality.
#Kuwaiti authorities arbitrarily detained & abused a #trans woman, Maha al-Mutairi, who exposed in a video how police allegedly raped & beat her. Maha’s speaking out sparked an international wave of solidarity. #JusticeforMaha#Abolish198
Kuwaiti trans woman denounces police’s abuse and violence
A 39-year-old Kuwaiti trans woman has denounced in a viral video that police raped and beat her while she was detained in a male prison for seven months in 2019 for “imitating the opposite sex”. The woman filmed the video as she headed to the police station, where she was summoned for the fourth time this year with the same charge.
Her video quickly became viral, sparking an international wave of solidarity towards her and trans people in Kuwait. She was released after three days of detention, during which she endured verbal and sexual abuse by police officers. “Police had told her: ‘people all over Kuwait are rallying against you,” Human Rights Watch researcher Rasha Younes wrote. “They couldn’t have been more wrong”.
Since 2007, when an amendment to Article 198 of the penal code has criminalised “imitating the opposite sex”, many trans women have been reporting multiple forms of abuse at the hands of police.
More news from Asia
Mie Prefecture in Japan announced a provision that will make it illegal to reveal a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their permission.
According to activists’ reports, Saudi authorities arrested and tortured a blogger, trying to force him to “confess” being gay, after he stated in a video that “everyone has rights and should be able to practice them freely, including gay people.”
In a recent survey, trans and non-binary adolescents in China reported high rates of abuse, neglect, and bullying at home and in school, and high rates of symptoms associated with poor mental health.
Despite the much anticipation we had, The Supreme Court hearing challenging the registration of NGLHRC has been postponed to a later date, that we are yet to confirm. As we wait for further communications from the Supreme Court, we are very grateful for the support. pic.twitter.com/gIqMPxTi8Z
Kenyan Supreme Court postpones hearing for official recognition of an LGBT NGO
A 7 year-old battle for legal recognition is still not over: a Kenyan LGBT NGO seeking official registration through Court will have to keep waiting, as the Supreme Court postponed the hearing to a later date yet to be defined.
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) had seen their request to register rejected by the NGO Coordination Board, according to media due of to the words “lesbian” and “gay” in its name, which the Board deemed “unacceptable” as Kenya criminalises “gay and lesbian intimacy”.
Previously, both the High Court and Court of Appeal had found that the board’s refusal to register the NGLHRC violated the freedom of association as provided by the Constitution. The Supreme Court was supposed to heart NGLHRC’s case this week, and still hasn’t determined when the hearing will take place. “As we wait for further communications from the Supreme Court, we are very grateful for the support,” the group stated on Twitter.
In South Africa, the City of Cape Town has displayed a banner for Pride Month claiming that “the City proudly stands with our LGBTQIA+ community”.
A paper focusing on Nigerian writer Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater argues how African queer literature could disrupt traditional, heterosexist readings of the world.
A recent study highlighted how LGBT adolescents in Ghana are twice as likely as their straight, cisgender peers to engage in self-harm behaviours. Authors highlight “the need for families, school staff, social and healthcare professionals to show positive attitudes and be supportive of LGBT adolescents”.
Macquarie University created Australia’s first Indigenous Queer Studies unit
“While generally treated as separate fields of research, Indigenous Studies and Queer Studies share many empirical, political, and theoretical considerations,” Andrew explained. “This event will explore the need for a better understanding of Indigenous queer identities and the specific challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ people continue to endure.”
For the first time, Macquarie will be joining a program of Pride Month events in collaboration with other Australian universities to commemorate and celebrate LGBTIQ+ rights and milestones and acknowledge the work that is still to be done, as part of the recently created NSW/ACT Higher Education Pride Network.
More news from Oceania
LGBTI advocate Anthony Venn-Brown received the Order of Australia Medal as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for his long work within Christian churches to advocate for acceptance and respect for LGBTI Australians of faith.
In Australia, the innocent LGBTQI event promoter who had his shoulder ripped from its socket during the 2019 botched raid at a Melbourn queer bookstore announced he is suing the Victoria Police, seeking damages for “assault, battery and false imprisonment.”
Chile: for the first time, Court recognises two lesbian women as legal mothers of their child
With a historic sentence, the Second Family Court of Santiago in Chile recognised filial rights to two women. “The duty of the Chilean State – the judge wrote – is to grant protection, without discrimination, to all forms of family that exist, and to strive to integrate them into national life”. It’s the first time in Chile that a Court orders the Civil Registry to register a child on his birth certificate as the son of two women.
In December 2017, the Civil Registry only registered the child as the son of the woman who underwent the assisted reproduction procedure, refusing to do so for the other. The couple sued the agency, but both the Court of Appeals and later the Supreme Court had ruled against them. That was when the lawyer leading the strategy, Juan Enrique Pi, director and former president of Fundación Iguales, decided for the unregistered mother to file a demand for recognition of the child that both women had sought.
“This is a historic triumph for diverse families, it is a further step in their recognition and protection,” claimed Pi. “With this ruling, the State has ratified that same-sex couples are family, and both the couple and their children deserve the same protection under the law.”
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
Activists in the Caribbean are calling on an end to violence against our communities, after multiple videos were recently posted online showing attacks on gay men and gender non-conforming woman by both police and the public.
In Argentina, a 27-year-old gay man reported having been beaten and assaulted by homophobic officers from the sixth police station in Santa Cruz province.
Video of the week
Many LGBT people flee their countries to escape persecution and move to Europe to seek protection and a new life. Instead, they found themselves stuck in an unfair system that doesn’t recognize them. The SOGICA project aims to highlight their stories.
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