LGBulleTIn #169 – Two weeks in LGBTI news (4-17 September 2020)


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The week in LGBTI news
4-17 september 2020

Written by Maddalena Tomassini
Edited by Daniele Paletta


This is a very special week for our communities, as we celebrate our bisexual+ siblings all around the world! While we celebrate, our work towards equality continues inside and outside the UN: the 45th Human Rights Council has just started, and we’re there to make sure our voices are heard. 

In Europe, the European Commission seemed to listen to our struggles as its president defined Polish so-called LGBT-free zones “humanity-free zones”. Our voices don't waver even when disregarded, as our communities strongly criticised Philippines’ president’s decision to pardon the US marine who had killed a trans woman, six years ago. Our queer family is taking a stand also in Tunisia, where a rights group started a campaign, demanding for our communities to be seen. 

These past weeks also marked some victories.  In Aotearoa New Zealand, new guidelines will help to make schools a safer space for LGBTI youth. In Argentina, a presidential decree ensured that 1% of the public jobs will be set aside for trans people. In the Caribbean, while the Cayman Islands approved a law to recognise same-sex civil partnerships, Barbados announced plans to move towards a similar provision, while activists continue to call on the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relationships between adults.


Read these two weeks' news from...


The image has a red background, and reads Asia in white colour

The image has a orange background, and reads North America in white colour

The image has a yellow background, and reads Africa in white colour

The image has a green background, and reads Latin America and Caribbean in white colour

The image has a blue background, and reads Oceania in white colour

The image has a purple background, and reads Europe and Central Asia in white colour



Europe and Central Asia

LGBTQI-free zones are humanity-free zones, claims European Commission head following complaints from LGBTI groups and people

“LGBTQI-free zones are humanity-free zones and they have no place in the Union,” claimed Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission during her speech to the European Parliament this week. The speech came the day after ILGA-Europe, alongside Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Fundacja Równości (The Equality Foundation) announced in a joint statement to have submitted a legal complaint to the European Commission about Poland’s so-called “Family Charters” and “LGBT-Free Zones”, which over 100 local governments have adopted over the last two years.

“Our legal analysis of the texts of the Family Charter clearly dismantles their discriminatory nature”, the organisations wrote. “The European Commission is duty-bound to (...) clearly reject(ing) the argument of ‘defending Polish families’ and addressing the real harm that is being perpetrated on LGBTI people in Poland. EU law is being violated and the European Commission needs to start infringement procedures.”

Members of the Polish LGBTI community have begun to write to the European Commission themselves, complaining about the stigmatisation and hate they face. Over 400 individual complaints have been sent, expressing LGBTI people’s fears for their employment, health and lives.

The European Commission appeared willing to answer such fears, as Von der Leyen also envisioned a future “strategy to strengthen LGBT+ rights” that could also allow mutual recognition of family relations in the EU.

Alongside, 32 European parliamentarians also decided to visibly show solidarity with our communities in Poland by staging an action in which they dressed in the different colours of the Pride flag, as Polish members of the Parliament had done ahead of President Duda’s inauguration speech. 

More support came from a joint Pride parade, as some 2,000 demonstrators marched at the border between Germany and Poland. 


More news from Europe and Central Asia

In Italy, a young woman died this week when her brother pushed off her vehicle where she was with her partner, Ciro, a trans man. The attacker also beat him, resulting in his hospitalisation. Activists denounced the "structural violence" in the country, while also criticising Italian national TV and media for misgendering and deadnaming Ciro, and for describing their relationship with inappropriate terms.

In Northern Ireland, ministers of the three major parties have agreed to move forward a ban to ‘conversion therapy’.

An employment tribunal in the United Kingdom has ruled that the Equality Act - which protects people from discrimination - includes also non-binary and gender-fluid persons. Meanwhile, over 130 companies have called on the British government to ‘make progress for the trans community’. Among them, 70 have also written directly to British Prime Minister asking to protect trans rights and reform the Gender Recognition Act.

Schools in Russia could be surveilling students' social media profiles, searching for signs for “LGBT propaganda” and reporting them to authorities, human rights groups warned.

After a three-year legal battle, two men have become the first same-sex couple in Croatia to become foster parents for two children, activists said. 

(Trigger warning: violence) A video circulating on Russian social media showcased Chechnya's brutality against opposers and LGBT persons.

Starting from this month, England implemented some new guidelines that made LGBTQ-inclusive sex education mandatory in all high schools.




“It sends a message that a Filipino trans woman’s life does not matter”: activists condemn Jennifer Laude’s murderer pardon

President Duterte’s decision to pardon the US marine convicted for Jennifer Laude’s murder “sends out a loud and clear message that a Filipino trans woman’s life does not matter”, over 30 Filipino LGBTI groups denounced in a joint statement.

The pardon arrived shortly after a local court granted the US marine an early release. The convicted was sentenced to a 10-years prison term in 2014. He also referred to her with derogatory terms while confessing to the murder.

Such acts done by the President at this time confirm how his government has been using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to promote and kowtow to foreign interests which have caused profound suffering, indignity, and injustice to the Filipino people,” wrote the organisations. “Contrary to propagandists’ claims that Duterte is the president who has done the most for the LGBTQI community, – activists continued – all he has done is to use the LGBTQI community to further his popularity”.

Bishop Reuel Norma O. Marigza, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines joined activists in criticising the President’s move. “The granting of absolute pardon to US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton has shown how little the President values the life of a transgender and a Filipino,” he said. “It is like they killed Jennifer again and deeply wounded her family and loved ones anew. It also belittles the rights and dignity of our LGBT community that are pushing for justice and equality and our sovereignty as a nation,” Marigza added.


More news from Asia

In Indonesia, 56 men who were attending a private gathering at a hotel have been arrested in a raid for partecipating to a “gay party”. Most of them were subsequently released, but nine face charges for “facilitating obscene acts” and violating the country's pornography law. Various rights organisations have called for investigations on the incident, claiming that these “crimes” are used to persecute the LGBT community.

A recent report conducted among 230 Iranian LGBTI persons revealed some worrying results, as more than 42% of them claimed to have been victims of sexual violence in public spaces.

Pakistan has blocked five dating apps, including gay dating apps, on the grounds that they allegedly hosted ‘immoral and indecent content’. 

The city of Hirosaki, Japan, will introduce a partnership oath scheme, certifying adult same-sex relationships as equivalent to marriages. The municipality follows other 57 local governments in implementing a similar scheme, but it will be the first to do so in the Tohoku region.



“We exist”: queer activists in Tunisia ask to be heard in a new campaign

“Queer Riot” is the latest campaign Tunisian LGBT organisation Mawjoudin (We Exist) has launched these past days, calling for queer people to be seen in a society that “shunned them”. The campaign consists of some pictures of people holding signs in both Arabic and English. 

“I stand in the corners where you can see me but cannot perceive me for who I am. I speak your tongue and you hear me but you don’t listen to what I have to say. We blur the same Tunisian slang, we stand in the same classrooms and salute the same flag but I doubt we ever carry the same sentiment of belonging,” the group wrote on Facebook and Instagram.

“I dared to see myself in the places that shunned me, in the minds that pushed me away, in the system that oppressed me, in the language that refused to recognize me, in the society that violated me, and I dared to fuel a riot inside of me that ended up spreading like wildfires”, continued the post. “So now, I exist, and we exist, in all the places where you’d want us to disappear, but we are not going to, instead, we’re rioting”.

Mawjoudin concluded with an appeal to scrap article 230 of the Tunisian penal code, which as reported in ILGA World’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report, punishes consensual same-sex relations between adults with up to three years in prison. In July, two men were sentenced to two years in prison under this provision.  The sentence was later upheld and reduced to one year by the court of appeal.


More news from Africa

Two Nigerian filmmakers could risk up to 14 years of imprisonment, authorities warned them, should they decide to release Ife, a movie featuring a love story between two women. 

A new report based on research conducted in South Africa between 2018 and 2019 among over 400 respondents from LGBT communities showed that they still face discrimination when accessing public healthcare services.

The Ugandan group Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum launched its new permanent home, citing security as one of the main reasons to establish new offices. 

The Uganda Aids Commission staff warned that “problematic laws against key populations” could hinder the results of the country’s five-year plan to reduce HIV infections.

Activists from North Africa have announced the creation of a new organisation,  the North Africa Center for Strategic Partnerships, which aims to respond to the region's unique challenges for our communities.



The new guidelines are being called the “first meaningful change” since 2002.

Posted by Express Magazine on Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Aotearoa New Zealand introduces new guidelines to foster inclusion and diversity in schools

The ministry of Education of Aotearoa New Zealand has released new guidelines aimed to foster inclusion and diversity at school, including by using names and pronouns that best match students’ gender identity.

The guidelines hadn’t been updated since 2002, and have been split between primary and secondary school documents. According to them, schools at all levels should encourage questioning “gender stereotypes and assumptions about sexuality, including gender norms, gender binaries, gender stereotypes and sex norms, for example, the assumption that sex characteristics at birth are always male or female”. Students should also be allowed to use the toilets and changing rooms that match their identity.

“It’s important that young people are able to see themselves reflected in what they’re learning at school,” Pooja Submaranian, spokesperson for Rainbow Youth, told The Guardian. According to her, this new policy was “long overdue”, as many LGBTI students are bullied and fear discrimination at school.


More news from Oceania

ILGA Oceania will host its 4th Conference next month, in an event that will be held virtually due to COVID-19.

While a report shows that elder queer people in Australia are neglected in aged care system, some plans for a LGBTI care facility were fast tracked in the state of Victoria.



Latin America and the Caribbean

Argentina’s public sector reserves 1% of jobs to trans people

Argentina’s public sector is now required to set aside 1% of jobs for trans people, a presidential decree signed at the beginning of the month stated. 

“Every trans person has a right to decent and productive work, in equitable and satisfactory working conditions and with protections against unemployment, without discrimination based on gender identity or expression”, the decree says. It also states that trans people don’t need to amend their gender markers on their document to qualify for one of the positions and that one place might be reserved while they complete their education. The decree also established an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Unit within the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity, also tasked with planning the implementation of the quota and guaranteeing the mechanisms and procedures necessary for its fulfilment. 

“We celebrate the achievement that this decree represents for the whole LGBTI community, as it allows trans people to access jobs within the national public administration,” the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina wrote on Facebook.

“It is up to Parliament to recognise all labour rights in private and public spheres with a law, to offer trans people reparation to the damage caused by the absence and omissions by the State for decades,” concluded the group.


More news from Latin America and the Caribbean

After two years, the Mexico City Council has still not taken a decision on whether to allow 18 trans minors to change their birth certificate to match with their gender. 

Activists around Latina America have raised concerns around the increasing numbers of hate crimes against LGBTI communities. In Argentina, there have been 69 reported episodes of violence against queer people in the first six months of 2020 - one every three days. In Colombia, at least 62 LGBTI persons were killed in the first eight months of 2020. Recently, Caribe Afirmativo released a new report on LGBTI victims in Colombia’s armed conflict.

Brazil’s Supreme Court published a book to collect excerpts of past decisions and rulings on LGBTI rights  

The murder of two trans women in Northern Mexico has caused concerns among the local trans community. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on authorities to investigate the killing of the first victim, an LGBT rights activist.

Peru’s Permanent Commission on Access to Justice of the Judiciary presented a draft judicial protocol to address cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Aiming to reduce the discrimination faced by trans people deprived of freedom, Paraguayan ministry of Justice will set up a pavilion which will house exclusively trans persons. 



North America and the Caribbean

Barbados announces plans to introduce civil partnerships

Barbados could soon recognise “a form of civil unions for couples of the same gender”, Governor General Dame Sanda Mason announced this week during the formal speech which set out the agenda for the government. No date or plan was yet set for the envisioned changes. 

Claiming that the country can’t accept being “blacklisted” on the grounds of its human rights violations, Mason announced that Barbados will also hold a referendum on the issue. As ILGA World’s State-Sponsored Homophobia points out Barbados has the harshest penalty in the Western Hemisphere, criminalising consensual same-sex relations between adults with life imprisonment. The “Sexual Offences Act” is already facing legal challenges, as some LGBT persons have filed a legal petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The governor’s speech has been met with lukewarm reactions from activists

Michael Rapley, head of LGBTI group Equals, said he was optimistic about recognition of civil unions but warned against a public vote on marriage equality. “The speech has left me unimpressed,” trans activists Alexa Hoffmann added. “A nod is being given to civil unions but yet anything that relates to the LGBT community physically being able to practice that relationship is still criminalized and completely forbidden.” 

“There is a long way to go to achieve equality for LGBTIQ people,” said Neish Mclean, Caribbean program officer for OutRight Action International, pointing out that addressing discrimination and decriminalizing sexual relations laws would require a lot of struggle.

Barbados has recently approved an anti-discrimination law that failed to include discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression.


More news from North America and the Caribbean

Same-sex civil partnerships have just become legal in the Cayman Islands after the Governor approved the law last week. Previously, a bill following a Court ruling demanding the legislative assembly to provide a leegal status equivalent to marriage had been voted down by lawmarkers. Legislators were given 21 days to prepare the legal framework and start processing applications;

Trans people are moving their way upward in the United States’ political landscape. In Delaware, trans activist and Human Rights Campaign press secretary Sarah McBride won the Democratic primary for State Senate in the state’s First District. Meanwhile, Geo Neptune, a two-spirit educator and member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, was elected to public office in Maine, when they were voted onto the school board.

In the United States, California lawmakers approved a bill that, if enacted, would apply the state’s sexual offense laws equally for every person regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

According to a recently released data by Statistics Canada, people with diverse sexual orientations are three times more likely than their heterosexual peers to have experienced sexual or physical  assaults. 



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Happy Bisexual Awareness Week!
Bi+ persons are an essential part of the LGBTIQ global family: let's celebrate them, and work together to educate others and accelerate acceptance and recognition – even within our communities!


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