Written by Maddalena Tomassini Edited by Daniele Paletta
Taking a stand, asking to be recognised for whom we are - persons that are entitled to enjoy the same rights as everyone else: the past two weeks have been a time to fight and challenge old and new inequities.
Rights organisations in Latin American and the Caribbean continue to demand justice for Haitian activist Charlot Jeudy, who was murdered last year. In Indonesia, our communities have come together to support a trans woman who had been dangerously housed in a male detention cell. In Dominica, a lawsuit is pushing to scrap a law criminalising our loves. Queer people in Eswatini are calling for their voices to be heard as well, in a courageous campaign.
It might take time, but we do see progress. In The Netherlands, the government vowed to compensate those who were forcibly sterilised before they could see their gender legally recognised, and issued a public apology. South Australia became the last state in Australia to finally abolish the discriminatory so-call “gay panic” defence.
Meanwhile, our rainbow flag fluttered even over the South and North Poles, where the first official Polar Pride was celebrated.
Read this week's news from...
Europe and Central Asia
This week, Dutch Ministers apologised to the trans community for the Dutch Transgender Act, which required bodily modifications and sterilisation to apply LGR. Trans people affected by this law between 1985 and 2014 will be eligible for financial compensation. pic.twitter.com/Y0nf2rcAmy
The Netherlands: government apologises for forced sterilisations, offers compensation
The Dutch government has apologised to trans and intersex people for requiring surgeries, including sterilization, as a prerequisite for legal gender recognition. The government also pledged to compensate people who underwent the operations.
Before it was scrapped in 2014, the 1985 provision mandated that persons seeking to change their gender marker on identification documents had to undergo surgery. According to ILGA World’s Trans Legal Mapping Report, presently any person who is at least 16 years old and desires to update their gender marker and name in official documents can make an application to the Civil Registrar by providing a statement from an appointed expert.
The Netherlands’ decision to compensate trans people who were forcibly sterilised is a worldwide second: as ILGA-Europe pointed out, only Sweden had taken a similar step in the past.
“It was a historic moment for the government to take responsibility and recognise that the law has caused deep suffering,” claimed the Transgender Netwerk Nederland.
Minors aged under 16 will need court approval in England and Wales to access puberty blockers, the High Court ruled, arguing that it is allegedly “highly unlikely” for them to be “competent to give consent”.
In Switzerland, the Council of States gave green light to marriage equality, who will now need final approval from the National Council to become law.
Following backlash and rejection from the Russian Cabinet, the authors behind two packages of discriminatory amendments to the country's Family Code have withdrawn their initiatives from the State Duma.
A regional court in Hungary requested a constitutional review of “Article 33”, a law 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. The Constitutional Court will now have 90 days to rule on the matter.
The Czech government was criticised for loosening COVID-19 restrictions on marriages while halting registered partnership - the only form of legal recognition for same-sex couples currently available in the country - unless they are “urgent”.
Latin America and the Caribbean
A year after Charlot Jeudy died in Haiti, rights group are still calling for justice
A year after activist Charlot Jeudy was found dead in his home in Haiti, ILGALAC and many other LGBTI organisations are still calling for the circumstances of his death to be clarified. Jeudy was head of the human rights group KOURAJ in Port-au-Prince, and a board member of the International Francophone Alliance for Equality and Diversities- EGIDES.
“Over the past year, we have demanded justice,” groups said in a joint statement. “The results of the autopsy need to be published and communicated to the services in charge of the investigation, to shed light on his sudden and brutal death. We have issued a press release and written twice to the President of the Republic, Mr Jovenel Moïse, but none of our requests for transparency has been met. We do not accept this silence and refuse to close the judicial process without knowing the real causes of death, and without a sentence for those who committed the crime.”
“Furthermore, we would like to draw the attention of the Haitian Presidency to the increase in killings, deaths and disappearances of people from LGBTI communities in the Port-au-Prince area since last month,” the statement added, referring to the latest surge of violence against queer people in the region. “On the occasion of the commemoration of the murder of Charlot Jeudy, we call on the government to protect all people living in Haiti, including those belonging to the LGBTI community, as well as the right to live in dignity and security.”
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
In Panama, billboards for a campaign promoting marriage equality have been taken down just hours before an opposing march was set to take place.
Human rights organisations have reported that a public hate campaign, featuring a bus plastered in transphobic statements, was announced to be revamped in Chile.
Few months after a decree required a 1% quota of trans persons in Argentina's public sector, the army is set to follow suit with a similar employment quota.
Indonesian police condemned for placing trans woman in male cell
After public outcry and condemnation from activists and the country’s Human Rights Commission, the Indonesian police has moved a trans woman from the male detention cell where they had initially placed her.
According to reports, the woman - a popular influencer with more than 1 million followers on Instagram - was arrested and charged with alleged drug abuse. “Most trans women are imprisoned in male prisons, so they experience sexual harassment there,” said Andreas Harsono, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher in Indonesia. “The simplest one is verbal abuse. Some physical abuse happens too. It is not in the cell at the prison but in closed areas.”
“This case is repeated. The police should have listened to the input from the trans community, experts and civil groups. Recognition of the existence of trans people is very essential for their survival,” Naila Rizqi Zakiah, activist at the Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group, told the Jakarta Post.
More news from Asia
In India, trans people will now be able to use an online portal to declare their gender identity and update their identity certificate, without visiting the government’s office.
People living with HIV in the Middle East and North Africa region have announced they will launch their first network, aiming to raise awareness and mobilize to end HIV/AIDS.
North America and the Caribbean
Dominica: Christians churches join case on criminalising law, claiming it protects the country’s “core beliefs”
Christian churches have demanded to join a court case that could see Dominica scrapping its ban on consensual same-sex intimacy, claiming that such a move would “threaten the core beliefs” of the country.
The case was brought to the State’s High Court of Justice after a man challenged the law in June 2019. Supported by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, Minority Rights Dominica and Lawyers Without Borders, the plaintiff lamented being subjected to homophobia, harassment, threats and physical and sexual assault. He also claimed that, because of the criminalising provisions, the police refused to investigate an attack he faced in his own home.
According to ILGA World’sState-Sponsored Homophobia report, Dominica criminalises same-sex intimacy between consenting adults under the “buggery” section of the Sexual Offences Act (1998), with penalties of up to 10 years of imprisonment and compulsory psychiatric treatment.
The Churches’ request to join the lawsuit as “interested parties” resulted in a delay of the case, as the State’s representative excused herself due to her connection with the Evangelical pastor who gave the affidavit.
“[The lawsuit] is a challenge to the ban on private consensual same-sex activity, and in no way touches on religious freedom,” said Maurice Tomlinson, activist and victim’s lawyer. “There is no attempt to force the churches to support same-sex intimacy and, even if this law was struck down (as is happening around the world), churches would still be at liberty to preach against homosexuality, in the same way that the legalization of divorce did not prevent some churches from continuing to condemn this practice.”
More news from North America and the Caribbean
According to a recent report, over 3,000 women reported having experienced sexual harassment and discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation while working for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In the United States, a federal court repealed two south Florida ordinances that banned so-called “conversion therapy” on minors. Activists condemned the decision as “incredibly dangerous” for LGBTQ youth.
Indiana Attorney General has asked the United States’ Supreme Court to reverse a ruling listing both members of a married same-sex couple as parents on their child’s birth certificate.
LGBT persons in Eswatini share their stories, calling for decriminalisation
The Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities (ESGM) group has launched a campaign to highlight the impact of criminalising laws on LGBT individuals.
The project, supported by All Out, consists of 16 audio clips where people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities speak about the stigma, fear, and discrimination they face in the country. The campaign further includes an online petition calling for the decriminalisation of same-sex relations between consenting adults.
As ILGA World’s State-Sponsored Homophobia reports shows, a 1907 colonial-relic criminalises consensual same-sex acts between men. Its existence still severely affects the lives of LGBT persons, and has been used by the government as an argument to not officially recognise ESGM.
“These voices are our weapon,” Melusi Simelane, executive director of ESGM, told MambaOnline. “I always say that when you share your story, you’re already a hero. We are using our voices to push the conversation forward. To remind everyone that when you see an article about LGBT+ people, when you hear the government refuse to protect us, when you hear religious and traditional authorities attack our dignity and humanity, when all the horrible things happen… There are real lives. There are real people.”
More news from Africa
In Uganda, a rights group has requested to join the case against those accused of torturing and mistreating 20 homeless LGBT youth as they were arrested for allegedly violating COVID-19 measures.
An Ugandan organisation for trans rights launched a project to provide trans persons with skills and support for economic empowerment.
South Australia becomes the last state to abolish “gay panic” defence
South Australia has become the last state in the country to abolish the so-called “gay panic” defence, a discriminatory legal strategy in hate crime cases which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction.
The bill was introduced in October after Equality Australia and South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance started a petition that was signed by over 38,000 people. All other states and territories in Australia had previously abolished the “gay panic” defence. However, Queensland maintained a clause allowing the defence in exceptional circumstances, as determined by a magistrate.
“Together we’ve ensured that the defence is abolished. Now we will be working to make sure that our laws address crimes motivated by hate or prejudice,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia. “Laws that legitimise and excuse violent and lethal behaviour against any member of the LGBTIQ+ community have no place anywhere in Australia. Attacking someone because who they are offends you should increase your punishment, not reduce it. Our laws should condemn prejudice, not condone it.”
“We’re glad to finally see this outdated law abolished,” said Matthew Morris, chair of the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance. “This announcement comes after years of advocacy from community members and supportive politicians of all parties. The news was swiftly met with celebration from many LGBTIQ+ South Australians and we thank everyone who helped this Bill finally come to pass.”
More news from Oceania
The state of Victoria, in Australia, has introduced a bill to ban so-called “conversion therapies”. The proposed law would prohibit such practices in all settings.
The state of Tasmania, Australia should compensate people damaged by laws that criminalised consensual same-sex acts between adults and “cross-dressing”, an independent review recommended.
The #ILGA2022LA World Conference will take place from 2 to 6 May 2022 in Los Angeles, CA, United States, hosted by the It Gets Better Project under the theme "LGBTIQ Youth: Future Present Change".
After an incredibly difficult 2020 for our world and many in our communities, we look forward to coming together in-person in 2022!
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