Two weeks in LGBTI news
26 March - 8 April 2021
Written and edited by Daniele Paletta
The past two weeks have marked important occasions to affirm many in our communities: Trans Day of Visibility was celebrated worldwide in solidarity with our trans siblings, charting a collective path beyond visibility and towards trans liberation. The inaugural International Asexuality Day also took place to raise awareness and recognise the global ace community.
Unfortunately, however, these past two weeks have also shown us that discrimination continues unabated, and that we must keep on fighting to reclaim our rights and not leave anyone behind.
In the United States Arkansas legislators decided to over-ride the governor’s veto and pass a law to bar trans youth from gender-affirming health care. In Cameroon, the jail time of two trans women accused of ‘attempted homosexuality’ has been extended.
Meanwhile, civil society everywhere stands firmly against LGBTI human rights violations. Human rights organisations called upon the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to enact laws to prevent systemic state-sponsored harassment and violence against LGBTIQ people in the region, after people were arbitrarily arrested in the city of Sulaymaniyah. In Australia, human rights lawyers spoke in support of a judicial inquiry into historic hate crimes against our communities in New South Wales.
In a good first step, Germany adopted a draft law protecting intersex children from non-consensual medical interventions; in Argentina, a court reversed a ‘lesbophobic’ ruling, acquitting a woman that had previously been handed a one-year suspended sentence for ‘resistance to authorities’.
Read this week's news from...
Latin America and the Caribbean
Argentina: court reverses ‘lesbophobic’ ruling, acquits woman sentenced to a year in prison for ‘resistance to authorities’
The National Chamber of Cassation acquitted a woman of the charges of minor injuries and contempt of authority, for which she had been convicted in 2019 in a ruling that was denounced by human rights organisations as lesbophobic.
The case dates back to October 2017, when two police officers saw Mariana Gómez kissing her wife at the entrance of an underground station in Buenos Aires. First accused of smoking in a prohibited place and addressed in masculine terms, Mariana was then beaten and imprisoned for many hours in a police station – accused of resistance to authorities and minor injuries to the police officers.
Sometime later, however, a report clarified that Gómez had not assaulted the police – and yet she was condemned in 2019 with a one-year suspended sentence. The ruling was then appealed, leading the Court of Cassation to acquit the woman of the charges against her.
Following the incident, the judge in charge of the first instance trial had solely taken into account one of the police officers’ testimony, dismissing the one of a colleague who had not supported his statements, as well as that of the people who witnessed the arbitrary detention of Mariana Gómez and came forward to testify on behalf of the accused.
“Mariana Gómez was a victim of institutional violence, not only by the police forces, but also by the judicial actions, reflected in the different acts of the proceedings and, above all, in the contested decision in which two testimonies that favoured justice were discarded,” Emiliano Montini of National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) said.
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
In Honduras, a trans woman and human rights defender was violently killed in what local activists are fearing was a hate crime. The National Commissioner for Human Rights has joined defenders in calling for an investigation on the case.
A group of civil society organisations in Chile reported leaving the government’s Roundtable for the Promotion and Protection of LGBTI rights, originally created to tackle the increasing rate of violence in the country. The groups claim that no significant advances were made, two years after the roundtable was created.
Kurdistan region of Iraq: LGBTIQ citizens arbitrarily detained in the city of Sulaymaniyah
The security police of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government arrested several LGBTIQ+ citizens, including minors, in the city of Sulaymaniyah, prompting human rights defenders across the region to call for an end to the arbitrary detentions.
According to ILGA Asia, the police's operation commander said that members of our communities were targeted across several public places in the city, adding it would continue in the following days. However, he later corrected his statement saying that the action was meant to ‘combat prostitution’.
Kurdish human rights defenders and LGBTIQ+ activists confirmed that detainees are subjected to sexual and physical harassment and involuntary exposure of their identity using different brutal torture methods during the interrogation.
“Kurdish LGBTIQ+ activists’ lives are in grave danger”, ILGA Asia commented. “Due to these recent arrests and police threats, many members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Kurdistan, especially in Sulaymaniyah, are at risk of detention and are in fear of appearing in public.”
The organisation called upon the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to “immediately release the detainees, end the repression and detention policies against the LGBTIQ+ community”, reminding that article 14 of the Iraqi Constitution states that every Iraqi citizen “is equal before the law”
"The arrest of people on charges that they are from the rainbow community is in itself a violation of human rights,” said MP Shadi Nawzad, a member of the Iraqi-Kurdish parliament's Social Affairs and Protection of Human Rights Committee.
More news from Asia
In Malaysia, the Religious Affairs minister confirmed the intention to consider amendments to a Syariah Courts act that would increase penalties for members of our communities.
On the occasion of Trans Day of Visibility, a woman in Nepal whose identification documents and certificates failed to mention her gender identity filed a writ petition to see her gender legally recognised.
Europe and Central Asia
Germany adopts draft law protecting intersex children from non-consensual medical interventions
The German Parliament adopted a draft law from the federal government “for the protection of children with variants of sex development”, which provides the first framework to protect intersex children from non-vital, non-emergency medical interventions.
“This law is the result of more than 25 years of intersex activism in Germany, and we are very glad to see the years of work of national intersex activists have finally come into fruition”, said Dan Christian Ghattas, Executive Director of OII Europe.
As a comprehensive analysis by OII Europe explains, the law would consider unlawful all surgeries that are solely performed to alter the child’s body to a more normative appearance and without the child’s fully informed consent. However, the provision in its current form still has “risks and gaps that need to be monitored closely”, as it would only protect children diagnosed along the current medical definition of so-called ‘difference of sex development’, and it does not specify when an intervention is to be considered too urgent for a proceeding at the family court.
“Taking human rights of intersex children seriously and protecting these most vulnerable members of society is an ongoing learning process”, says Kitty Anderson, Co-Chair of OII Europe. “We will support our German member organisation in monitoring the implementation of the law and its future evaluation.”
This decision came right after the release of a new comprehensive EU policy framework on the Rights of the Child, which addresses the rights of intersex children along with key areas of children’s rights in the European Union.
More news from Europe and Central Asia
In Uzbekistan, three masked men violently attacked an independent blogger outside his home. He had publicly joined the ongoing calls for the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex conduct in the country.
In a ground-breaking case for Georgia, a transgender woman has seen her gender legally recognised on official documents.
According to reports, a reformational school in The Netherlands would have outed LGBT students to their parents.
Britain's High Court ruled that parents will be allowed to give consent for their children to take puberty-delaying drugs during gender identity treatment without having to gain a judge's approval first.
North America and the Caribbean
United States: Arkansas becomes the first state to ban trans kids from gender-affirming health care
Arkansas state legislatures voted in overwhelming majorities to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that will ban trans young people from accessing affirming health care.
As reported in AP News. Hutchinson had vetoed the bill following pleas from paediatricians, social workers and the parents of trans youth who said the measure would harm a community already at risk for depression and suicide. The bill’s sponsor, however, dismissed opposition and passed the law, which prohibits doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 years old, or from referring them to other providers for the treatment.
The law will take effect in late July at the earliest. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it planned to challenge the measure before then. “This is a sad day for Arkansas, but this fight is not over — and we’re in it for the long haul,” stated ACLU of Arkansas’ executive director Holly Dickson.
More news from North America and the Caribbean
In California, United States, a bill to ban non-vital and non-emergency surgeries on intersex children has stalled in a state Senate committee. The sponsors of the bill will now assess whether to try and pass the legislation in 2022.
A recent report found that the biggest challenge trans and gender-diverse people in the Caribbean face is discrimination, stigma, or violence related to the inability to legally change their gender marker to align with their gender identity or expression.
Cameroon: jail time of two trans women extended without a trial
Two trans women facing charges of "attempted homosexuality" in Cameroon will spend more than two months behind bars without trial after a judge postponed their hearing for the second time in two weeks.
The two women, Shakiro and Patricia have been held in jail in Douala since mid-February, facing charges of public indecency and not carrying identification. The plead not guilty but were repeatedly denied bail. Meanwhile, a publicpetition demanding to release them immediately and put in place all measures to guarantee their security and wellbeingha reached more than 10,000 signatories. If found guilty, the two women could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Rights groups have documented a series of actions against the LGBT community by Cameroonian authorities this year and last, leading to the arrest of dozens of people, reported Reuters.
"We are tired of these dismissals," said one of the defendant's lawyers, Joseph Djabou. Another lawyer called their arrest "arbitrary and illegal".
More news from Africa
In Ghana, 14 people were arrested at a party that police believed was a ‘lesbian wedding’. According to reports, they were freed after a few days.
A recent research on the impact of online violence on lesbian, bisexual and queer women, as well as on female sex workers in Uganda has shown that technology-assisted violence can lead to emotional or psychological harm, harm to reputation, physical and/or sexual harm, invasion of privacy, loss of identity, limitation of mobility, censorship, and loss of property.
Australia: human rights lawyers call on New South Wales Parliament to act on recommendations shedding light to historic gay and trans hate crimes
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) urged the New South Wales Parliament to adopt all recommendations of the Standing Committee on Social Issues’ report on gay and transgender hate crimes between 1970 and 2010. The final report is expected to be tabled in May 2021 and, according to reports, would recommend establishing a judicial commission of inquiry with full investigative powers to look into the responses of the State’s justice system.
As the Bondi Memorial Project explains, more than 80 gay men and trans women disappeared, and were assaulted or murdered in New South Wales from the late 70s to the early 90s. Many other LGBTQ community members were targeted in violent incidents during this time. Many of these deaths and disappearances were misclassified as suicides, misadventure or accidents at the time. Many of these cases remain unsolved.
The NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Social Issues launched an inquiry in September 2018 into institutional responses to historic hate crimes. The final report, ALHR President Kerry Weste said, “will mark an important but sad point in the LGBT community’s journey towards truth and justice. For too long, the LGBT community has suffered brutal and violent human rights violations at the hands of groups within society, and yet has not benefited from appropriate responses from police and justice agencies. The NSW Parliament must act without delay to implement the findings and recommendations of the Final Report, and help the LGBT community of NSW speak its truth.”
More news from Oceania
In Perth, Australia two gay men were lured through a dating app to a construction site and attacked by a group of men in two separate incidents. One of the attackers in connection with both incidents is reported to be arrested while Armandale Detectives are searching for the others.
In Australia, a petition is launched to call on educational institutions to remove anti-discrimination laws that allow students, teachers and staff to be expelled, fired, excluded or treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Photo of the week
In Madrid, Spain, the headquarters of ILGA World member organisation COGAM were vandalised with “intolerant and transphobic graffiti”. Despite the attack. the organisation vowed to continue its work: "A thousand times they’ll scrawl on our facade, and a thousand times we will clean it”, said COGAM president Carmen García de Merlo.
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