The week in LGBTI news
Written by Maddalena Tomassini
Edited by Daniele Paletta
On Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) we honour the trans and gender-diverse siblings whose lives were taken away from us. Every day, we are forced to address the violence and discrimination that affects the lives of people with diverse gender identities and expressions, and those of all peoples in our communities.
A recent report from the FBI showed that hate crimes in the United States targeting trans and gender non-conforming people have been growing in the past year. In Argentina, a Court has rejected an appeal to review the ruling that had removed hatred on the grounds of gender identity among the aggravating factors in the murder of trans activist Diana Sacayán.
In Samoa, the fa’afafine community’s competency and eligibility to run for public office was questioned during a televised debate, stirring criticism. A city in Hungary has issued an ordinance to ban “LGBTQ propaganda“ - using a fairy tale book as a pretext.
Our fight continues as we keep pushing for equality, marking some steps forward. In Japan, firms are questioning outdated norms that require job applicants to identify their gender in their resumé. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that deporting a gay person to the Gambia would breach human rights law.
Read this week's news from...
North America and the Caribbean
United States: hate crimes reach record high, FBI report shows
Hate crimes and murders of LGBT people reached record high last year, a new FBI report claims.
The FBI’s 2019 Hate Crime Statistics report documented 7,314 criminal incidents - an increase of about 3 percent from 2018 - and 8,559 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.
In particular, hate crimes targeting trans and gender-diverse people have been escalating: while the proportion of crimes targeting persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation remained the same compared to 2018, those based on the offenders’ gender identity bias increased from 2,2 to 2,7 percent of the total.
According to activists, the document only goes as far as scratching the surface of anti-LGBT hate in the country, as it only reflects data that law enforcement agencies voluntarily submitted to the FBI.
“Yet another year with alarming levels of bias-motivated crimes underscores just how urgent it is to address this hate crimes epidemic,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said. “This year , we saw a tragic new record of fatal violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people in this country, particularly against Black and brown transgender women. These alarming statistics represent real trauma for individuals and families across this country who have to bear the brunt of these hate crimes.”
More news from North America and the Caribbean
In Canada, a parent sued doctors to stop her 17-years-old child from undergoing gender-affirming surgery arguing that minors would allegedly not be “mature enough”. Trans activists rejected the claim, reporting that the region’s medical protocols for such treatments met the highest international standards.
In the United States, a study showed that American Indian and Alaskan Native LGBT youth were 2,5 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than their LGBT peers.
In response to a lawsuit, the state of New York in the United States announced it will allow residents to identify as non-binary on their driver license.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Argentina: the Court of Cassation rejects appeal on Diana Sacayán case
After failing to recognise the murder of activist Diana Sacayán as a hate crime in October, the Court of Cassation in Argentina has rejected an appeal to ask the Supreme Court to review the ruling and reintroduce hatred on the grounds of gender identity as an aggravating factor.
While confirming the lifetime prison sentence for the man who killed the activist, the Court argued that the plaintiffs hadn’t “shown what specific harm the change in legal classification would cause them”. The decision to overturn an historic aspect of the 2018 ruling, which had considered the crime as an act of gender-based violence and had listed hatred on the grounds of gender identity among its aggravating factors, had shocked many in the country.
Diana Sacayán, the travesti activist who was among the driving forces behind the law to establish workplace quotas in the public sector for trans persons, was murdered in October 2015: she was only 39 years old. At the time, she was a member of the Movimiento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación (M.A.L.) and alternate representative of the then-Trans Secretariat on the Board of ILGA World.
Three years later, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime. The ruling had been considered historic: “The murder of a travesti person had never led to a trial where the victim’s gender identity was recognised among the grounds for the crime,” the plaintiff had explained. “There also are only a few cases of murders of travesti persons that have reached the trial stage, and a sentence was delivered just in four of such cases.” According to reports, the term travesticidio had never been used in courts across Latin America before this trial.
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
In Brazil, 30 trans persons have been elected in the latest local elections, marking an increase of 275 percent compared to 2016 elections.
LGBTI groups in Peru are calling for “clear elections and accountability”, after days of protests following a political crisis led to the election of a new interim president.
A new research in Brazil is seeking to map the daily experiences of lesbian and bisexual women living in slums. Preliminary findings show a scarcity of information on these experiences - particularly non-violent ones - as hegemonic representations of favelas often focus on the violence and the lack of public policies.
Samoa: a debate on whether fa’afafine can run for office stirs criticisms
A televised debate on whether Samoa’s fa’afafine can run for public office has stirred criticism, leading the church-run television station to apologise publicly.
The debate took place between two youth groups from the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, but reactions to the debate were almost immediate: many members of the public, including some from the fa’afafine community, took to social media to criticise the program. The Church’s General Secretary responded with a live-streamed apology on Facebook.
Despite the public outcry, the Samoa Fa’afafine Association President Alex Su’a brushed aside the apology. “There’s a division of views as some are saying that it’s creating a lot of discrimination against our Fa’afafine Association while some are saying it’s just a debate". Su'a further argued that, despite acknowledging the discriminatory nature of the issue that was discussed, the debate had “some benefits” as it’s an “educational topic”.
More news from Oceania
In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Human Rights Commission has been calling on people to report cases of housing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, despite them being lawful as a result of an exemption to the Human Rights Act.
In 2019, 41 percent of Australian LGBT people considered attempting suicide, a new survey showed.
Europe and Central Asia
Hungary: city bans “LGBTQ propaganda”
Following many Polish local jurisdictions’ footsteps, the city of Nagykáta in Hungary has adopted a resolution banning “dissemination and promotion of LGBTQ propaganda”. In particular, the decision came to halt the distribution of an inclusive fairy tale book that featured queer characters.
The declaration of what activists deemed the first “LGBT-free zone” established in the country is the umpteenth attack against the rights of LGBTI people, a worrying trend to which the European Commission recently responded by announcing its first LGBTI strategy.
“The Hungarian Government County Office should call on the local government to revoke this unlawful decision,” ILGA-Europe said.
Last week, the Hungarian government submitted amendments that would add a provision to the Constitution stating that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man”, while also presenting a bill to explicitly state that only married couples can adopt children. In May, Hungary approved an amendment to the Act on Civil Registration Procedure, which includes an article replacing the category of “sex” on the civil registry with “sex assigned at birth”, making access to legal gender recognition impossible for trans and intersex people.
More news from Europe and Central Asia
Lawmakers in the Netherlands launched an effort to ban schools from rejecting students on the grounds of their or their parents’ sexual orientation.
The Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community has launched a new report, focusing on lesbian lives and realities in Europe. The document aims to increase capacities through knowledge about lesbian issues, and to create an effective impact on national authorities, policy reform and decision-making.
United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has rejected a trans man’s request to be identified as the father on his child’s birth certificate.
Deportation of a gay person to the Gambia violates human rights, the European Court of Human Rights rules
The deportation of a gay person to the Gambia would violate the right to protection from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, the European Court of Human Rights ruled. According to the Court, while the mere existence of laws criminalising same-sex intimacy between consenting adults does not necessarily indicate ill-treatment, it highlights widespread discrimination against LGBTI persons and a lack of State protection.
As ILGA World’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report documents, in 2014 the Gambia has amended its Criminal Code to tighten the existing ban on “homosexual acts”, extending the applicable punishment to life imprisonment. Further, there is little hope for a near-future change, as Gambian authorities have recently declared having no intention of decriminalising consensual same-sex relations.
The Court considered that “no one should be obliged to conceal his or her sexual orientation in order to avoid persecution” and that “the applicant’s sexual orientation could be discovered if he were removed to the Gambia”, putting his life at risk.
“The findings in this judgment have been long-awaited. For the first time the European Court of Human Rights established that in consideration of deportation cases, the failure of sufficiently assessing the risks of ill-treatment based on one’s sexual orientation, particularly by non-state actors in a country of origin, gives rise to violation of Article 3 [freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment]”, said Arpi Avetisyan, ILGA-Europe’s Senior Litigation Officer. “We welcome this judgement as a significant step forward in protecting rights of LGBTI asylum seekers and hope it will serve as a beacon of Court’s guidance on similar cases across Council of Europe.”
More news from Africa
A petition is calling to “bring home” a Cypriot trans woman from the Egyptian prison where she’s held for “debauchery”.
A women’s rights group hosted a Sex Workers Conference in Uganda, with a focus on the challenges that the movement faced in accessing services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Japanese firms could soon be removing gender section from job application forms
Japan’s firms could soon scrap the requirement for job applicants to indicate their gender in their resumé, media claim.
According to reports, a campaign stressing that such practices can lead to discrimination has collected over 10,000 signatures, while some companies have already started changing their rules. The requirement is particularly problematic for trans people, experts said.
The Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation welcomed the proposed elimination of gender sections on job application forms while raising concern over a possible inability “to calculate the ratio between men and women in the workforce.”
“It is desirable to ask for gender identity rather than (legal) gender that does not respect the person’s perception. We also need the option of neither,” said Yuichi Kamiya, secretary general of the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation. “We need to listen to and consider the opinions of experts about their necessities for hiring and how people should be asked.”
More news from Asia
In India, the Delhi High Court has decided it will hear jointly the pleas to recognise marriage equality made under three different Acts.
Trans people in Bangladesh will soon be able to inherit property from their families, the government announced. The bill is yet to be proposed in the parliament, but it is expected to pass easily.
In India, a lesbian woman was publicly humiliated and beaten by her partner’s family, unaccepting of their relationship.
Photo of the week
This year, the Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) reported 350 trans and gender-diverse people murdered worldwide between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020. On Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) we remember and honour trans and gender-diverse people whose lives were taken away from us. Read this joint statement by 25 organisations worldwide
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