Written by Maddalena Tomassini Edited by Daniele Paletta
Every week, the world is provided with evidence on how our communities are still facing human rights violations. Our friends at ILGALAC published a new book about hate crimes against LGBTI persons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Another report, issued by the Human Rights Commission of New Zealand highlighted how discrimination is still a reality for many - especially those living at an intersection of identities, and an OECD study has shown that, although significant improvements have been made over the last decades. countries are only halfway to full legal inclusion of LGBTI people.
This has also been a week of fighting back. In Poland, our communities - who have been defined as “not people” by some politicians during the recent presidential campaign - are standing their ground with a powerful video raising their queer, human voices. In the United States, over 680,000 people are backing an online petition to demand justice for a Black trans woman, whose death was initially deemed a suicide by police.
And as we keep on with our fight, we need to rejoice for the good news giving us hope for the future. An Indian high court ruled that, even if same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry in the country, they can live together. In Gabon, the lower house has voted to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations.
We have come a long way, and a long way we still have to go. Let’s celebrate our small and big victories, remember the ones we lost - and until we may all march safely in the streets again, we hope to see you at Global Pride: we will be there for you, as always.
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This is a brief selection of news showing how Covid-19 is affecting LGBTI communities worldwide. Share more stories at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alongside ILGALAC’s co-Chair Ari Vera Morales and Executive Director Pedro Paradiso Sottile, some distinguished human rights personalities spoke during the online event, including United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, UN Independent Expert SOGI Victor Madrigal-Borloz, Rapporteur on LGBTI rights at Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos Flavia Piovesan and Raul Zaffaroni,a judge at Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos.
“We believe that the book is important as a way of disarming LGBTIphobia through education, schools and universities, in order to put an end to the fundamentalism that is backed up by the complicit silence of the States and other powers,” said Paradiso Sottile during the presentation.
The publishing of the book comes as another LGBTI person has been killed in the region. Elizabeth Montano, a trans woman who worked at the Mexican Social Security Institute, was found dead near the town of Tres Marias.
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
A couple of Cuban lesbian women obtained to be both registered as mothers in their son’s birth certificate issued by the Ministry of Justice.
After three months of legal challenges, two Mexican lesbian women succeeded to be both recognised as parents of their child.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Senate rejected an amendment to the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to apply for protection.
Human Rights Commission issues report on “rainbow” human rights in Aotearoa New Zealand
People of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC) continue to face discrimination in New Zealand, as a recent report issued by the Human Rights Commission highlighted. The “Prism” report detailed issues concerning six human rights: right to freedom from discrimination, information, recognition before the law, the highest attainable level of health, education and work.
To collect data for the report, analysis was conducted through the voices and experiences of SOGIESC-diverse people – including trans detainees and people with disabilities – who attended the Human Rights Commission’s consultant hui in 2018 in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
The report also noted that, while people of diverse sexual orientations have rapidly gained social acceptance, this did not happen for people of diverse gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics.
Depending on intersecting factors - including ethnicity, age, disability, and geographic location - the obstacles to the full enjoyment of human rights have shown to be widely different between our communities. In particular, the report notes, the negative impact of colonisation on sexual and gender fluidity - accepted in traditional Māori society - continues to have dramatic consequences, including loss of acceptance within their own societies and communities.
“Significant change can be brought about through public policy, law reform, access to justice and administrative actions,” said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt. “With many international examples of good practice to benefit from, I urge the New Zealand government to work with local SOGIESC-diverse communities, organisations, individuals and the Human Rights Commission to address these issues in a principled and evidence-based way.”
More news from Oceania
According to a report issued by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, Tasmania’s new legal gender recognition law has had a beneficial impact since they were enacted over a year ago. The Institute also recommended criminalising non-consensual surgery on intersex children and providing compensation for those who have been harmed by it.
ILGA World Co-Secretary General Tuisina Ymania Brown spoke at the closing plenary of the Virtual Progress 2020 conference, Australia’s largest social change conference convening, calling for “a new humanity based on feminist principles”.
In the Northern Territory, Chansey Paech has become the first openly gay Indigenous speaker of an Australian parliament. With him, Ngaree Ah Kit was also elected as the new deputy speaker: reportedly for the first time in history, two Aboriginal people will hold these positions.
Europe and Central Asia
“I’m LGBT, I’m Human”: the Polish queer community responds to homophobic electoral campaign
“I’m LGBT, I’m Human”: in a video published by LGBT rights group KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia), nearly five hundred Polish LGBTpersons are pushing back against the wave of hatred and homophobia that spiked during these past weeks.
Since the start of the month, as KPH points out, Polish LGBT people have been subject to “dehumanizing propaganda” amidst the presidential election campaign. Accused to be a “threat” to the Christian foundations of the Polish state and even of being “not people”, the queer community is fighting back with their own voices and faces, to remind voters they are persons, not “an ideology”.
LGBT activists are not alone in condemning the homophobic campaign. Over 25 lawyers and legal scholars have signed an open appeal to presidential candidates to combat hate crimes on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. “We are outraged by the homophobic statements which, as part of the election campaign, have been made by representatives of state authorities,” they wrote. ”That is why we are appealing to you today to make a specific commitment during the presidential campaign. A commitment that – if you are elected President of the Republic of Poland – you will undertake a legislative initiative that will amend the provisions of Polish law which offer protection against hate crimes, including hate speech.”
Furthermore, the majority of Polish people don’t seem to be convinced by the “LGBT ideology” threat: according to an IPSOS survey, most respondents didn’t agree with “the opinion that LGBT is a dangerous ideology against which Poland must be defended”.
More news from Europe and Central Asia
In Russia, the St. Petersburg City Court has ruled in favor of a trans woman, who had been fired from her job after changing the gender marker in her documents.
Italian so-called “Family Day” groups announced they will take to the streets to protest the proposed law against anti-LGBT discrimination, claiming it would “kill freedom of speech”.
Over 680,000 people ask justice for Tete Gulley, as more murders of trans people are reported in the United States
Over 680,000 people signed an online petition demanding answers around the death of Tete Gulley, a Black trans woman who was found hanged near a homeless campsite in Portland, Oregon. Her death was initially deemed a suicide, but her family and community reject the hypothesis. Portland Police have since opened an investigation into Gulley’s death, after the victim’s family collected and presented evidence that there may have been foul play involved.
The promoters of the petition are alleging that the Portland Police Bureau failed to investigate critical evidence of witnesses and key suspects, and demand for it to be held accountable. Apparently, Tete’s family found out about her through Facebook, as it is reported that the police never contacted them.
Her family insists that Tete was not suicidal. The day she died, Tete had been shopping with her mother. “I know he [her mother knew Tete as “Otis”, who was comfortable expressing her fluidity with her family] did not commit suicide, no doubt about that. For them to say that he committed suicide, it’s just hard to believe because he was just so full of joy regardless of what was going on around him.”
The United States is seeing an increasing number of trans people being killed, the Human Rights Campaign recently reported. According to the group, Selena Reyes-Hernandez is believed to be the 16th trans or gender non-conforming person whose murder was reported in the country this year. Half of the cases occurred just between May 3rd and June 9th.
More news from North America
One of the biggest networks of “conversion therapists” in the United States is shutting down after several “tumultuous” years.
According to reports, two persons with anti-LGBTI ties and history have been appointed to the U.S. Agency for Global Media board.
After being accused of censoring LGBT content to religious visitors, six members of the executive team of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg signed an apology letter, and the museum's CEO and president has resigned.
The Uttarakhand High Court recently made significant remarks with respect to the rights of adult homosexual couples to choose their life partner and to live with each other, without any pressure from their parents or the society. https://t.co/c0YKV9fMce
Living with your same-sex partner is not a crime, Indian court states
Same-sex couples in India may not be granted equal marriage, but they can live together, as article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees it. That’s what the Uttarakhand high court, in Northern India, has observed in a recent judgment, claiming that consensual cohabitation between two adults of the same sex is neither illegal nor a crime.
In its 12 June ruling, the court spoke of “acceptance of plurality and diversity of the culture”. “Intimacy of marriage, including the choice of partner which individuals make, on whether or not to marry, and whom to marry are the aspects which exclusively lie outside the control of the state or the society.”
The ruling is a response to a petition filed by a woman complaining that her partner was being wrongfully held by her mother and brother. The court, however, rejected the petition as her partner affirmed that she wasn’t “under pressure or a wrongful confinement” by her family.
More news from Asia
As Israel sets the record for openly queer members in its parliament, the municipality of Tel Aviv announced that it will establish a registry for same-sex partners living in the city to grant them benefits already provided to married couples.
A total of 900 LGBT couples have been recognized in Japan - 496 of which in fiscal 2019 alone - since a few local governments started issuing partnership certificates in 2015.
A step forward: Gabon’s lower house votes to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations
Gabon has moved towards decriminalising consensual same-sexual relations, in a surprise move that comes less than a year after the new penal code banned them. The bill was voted by the lower house of the parliament 48 to 24 (25 abstained) and must now pass in the upper house of the Senate.
Last year's change had gone largely unnoticed by international media and human rights defenders until ILGA World released its State-Sponsored Homophobia report in December. Currently, the law establishes a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine for those found guilty “of sexual relations with a person of the same sex”.
Prime Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale, who initiated the bill, applauded the parliament’s decision. “I have religious convictions. I am tolerant and I respect human life. As I am against the death penalty, I am also against the stigmatisation of homosexuals”, he tweeted. “Congratulations to the parliamentarians for having changed mentalities and being able to adapt to the times”.
A university professor, who wrote under anonymity, affirmed that the bill “is more in line with the spirit and tradition of tolerance that prevails in Gabon. Discriminating a person on the basis of his or her sexual orientation is as despicable as discriminating on the basis of skin colour.Those who fight racism should also fight the criminalization of homosexuality.”
The civil division of the Ugandan High Court ruled in favour of the 19 LGBTI youths who had been denied access to their legal representation by prisons’ authorities while detained, stating that the refusal violated the non-derogable right to a fair hearing and the right to liberty.
The Supreme Court of Mauritius has given the green light to four young LGBT activists to challenge the constitutionality of Section 250(1) of the penal code, which criminalises consensual same-sex relations.
After several weeks of controversy, Gambian authorities declared having no intention of decriminalising consensual same-sex relations.
Video of the week
“We, LGBTI refugees, continue to resist from where we are, each of us according to their own capacity.” On June 20th we celebrated World Refugee Day, with our hearts and minds set on the people of our communities that have been forced to flee their countries. In this video interview, Andrea Ayala, a lesbian feminist refugee, helped us to understand how we can dismantle preconceptions against refugees together.
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