The week in LGBTI news (15 – 21 October 2021)
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The week in LGBTI news
15 – 21 October 2021

Written by Maddalena Tomassini
Edited by Daniele Paletta


This week, a historic report has been presented in Australia: the Human Rights Commission shone a light on the persistence of harmful surgeries on intersex children, calling for new legislative protections that prohibit medically unnecessary interventions on people born with variations of sex characteristics.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe highlighted the important role that Equality Bodies play in protecting LGBTI persons’ rights. In Peru, the National Board of Justice has opened an investigation into derogatory remarks made by a Supreme Court judge.

Our rights and safety are still under attack in many parts of the world.
A new report has highlighted the impact Covid-19 is having on rainbow communities in Eastern and Southern Africa. In Kuwait, a trans woman was arrested for expressing her identity, and some of her social media videos were allegedly used as evidence against her. Meanwhile, in the United States, both Houses of the Texas Legislature have approved a bill that will ultimately limit student athletes to teams that match their gender assigned at birth.

Despite all the stigma and discrimination that our communities face every day, we continue to fight for a more equal and just world. As this week comes to an end, we prepare to celebrate our intersex and asexual siblings as Intersex Awareness Day and Ace Week are approaching.


Read this week's news from...


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The image has a orange background, and reads North America and the Caribbean 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




Australia takes a step forward against harmful surgeries on intersex children

Authorities must protect intersex children from medically unnecessary non-consensual surgeries, the Australian Human Rights Commission said in a recent report

As Human Rights Watch stated, such harmful cosmetic operations have been widespread since the 1950s. According to the Commission’s study, such operations are still persistent nowadays. 

The report states that “‘Normalising’ interventions have been understood by both people born with variations in sex characteristics and those around them as meaning that their bodies are undesirable or problematic. This can fuel stigma and shame. The Commission agrees that ‘normalising’ interventions appear to exacerbate a cycle of stigma about bodily diversity, thereby being used to justify further medical interventions.”

Following the report’s release, Intersex Human Rights Australia and Equality Australia have launched a national campaign, My Body, My Choice, calling for laws in every state and territory to end these harmful practices.

“Infants and children in Australia continue to be subjected to inappropriate interventions -including unnecessary and irreversible surgeries and hormone treatments," said Tony Briffa, Vice-Chair of Intersex Human Rights Australia and Chair of ILGA World Intersex Steering Committee. “Legislation is needed to protect children born with intersex variations so they can make their own decisions about their bodies when they can provide consent, while still allowing any necessary interventions with appropriate approval processes”. 

“All human bodies are different, and intersex variations are a natural part of human diversity,” she added. “The report also acknowledges a need for non-medical support to affirm our human rights and dignity. We need resourcing for our peer support and advocacy groups.”

More news from Oceania

The 2023 Census will be the first in Aotearoa New Zealand to include questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.



Latin America and the Caribbean

Peru opens investigation on judge’s derogatory remarks

Peru’s National Board of Justice has recently opened an investigation into Supreme Court Judge Javier Arévalo Vela after he made derogatory remarks against the LGBT community, Agencia Presentes reported.

The Judge had defined homosexuality as an “abnormality” during a debate about Peru’s adhesion to the Brasilia Rules.

Approved in 2008 at the Ibero-American Judicial Summit, the Rules seek to ensure access to justice to vulnerable groups. Last year, Peru approved all of them except for rule number Four, which includes “sexual orientation and gender identity” among the grounds for vulnerability. The decision caused a backlash, pushing the Judiciary to reconsider its decision.

“The opening of this preliminary investigation is very important on a legal level, but also on a symbolic social level, because the message is very clear: a person in public office who makes discriminatory statements based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression cannot go unpunished,” said Sayda Lucas, a sociologist from DEMUS - Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer.

More news from Latin America and the Caribbean

The Mexican State of Tlaxcala has outlawed so-called “conversion therapy”.

After five years of legal struggle, two Peruvian women have been both registered as mothers of their child.




Kuwait, trans woman faces prison for expressing her identity

A trans woman in Kuwait has been sentenced to two years in prison for “imitating the opposite sex” online and “misusing phone communications”, Human Rights Watch reported. According to her lawyer, the court used her social media videos as evidence to convict her, on the grounds that she was wearing makeup. Her appeals hearing is scheduled for October 31.

She had already been convicted in the past with similar charges, and had reported facing abuse at the hands of police while in detention. Now, she is being held in a solitary cell designed for trans detainees in a men’s prison. 

“Mutairi’s story is one of many horrific accounts by transgender Kuwaitis whose only crime is expressing themselves publicly,” said Rasha Younes, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

According to ILGA World's Trans Legal Mapping Report, Article 198 of the Kuwaiti Penal Code criminalises trans individuals and people with diverse gender identities and expressions. Since the law was amended in 2007, many trans women have reported multiple forms of abuse at the hands of police.

More news from Asia

APCOM and fellow organisers have published the first list of honourees for HERO Awards 2021, an annual event that acknowledges outstanding HIV and LGBTI advocates and allies from across Asia and the Pacific.




Covid-19 has further exposed African LGBTI communities to significant risk, Pan Africa ILGA’s report finds

Pan Africa ILGA released Voices of Resilience in Uncertainty, a report casting a light on the impact that Covid-19 has had on the LGBTI community and organising in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Published this month, the study is grounded on research completed in April 2021 which involved 76 respondents from 50 member organisations in 12 countries. The report notes that LGBTI communities are experiencing the worst economic impacts of Covid-19 lockdown, including loss of income and lack of support for themselves and their household members.

“When the Covid-19 cases started to increase in many African countries rapidly, the LGBTIQ+ community - which was already experiencing stigma and discrimination - was further exposed to significant risk” as a consequence of the mitigating measures deployed by States to combat the spread of the virus, Pan Africa ILGA Executive Director Nate Brown wrote in the report’s foreword.

Our communities, for example, reported being discriminated against in accessing relief packages provided by government agencies, or no longer being able to access friendly primary health care service providers as a consequence of restrictions on movement.

“In addition to the evident negative economic and material impact of Covid-19,” he added, “the lockdowns also allowed governments across the world to increase repression against already vulnerable groups.”

More news from Africa

According to reports, a group of men were detained by police after escaping a mob homophobic attack in Chogu, Ghana.

The documentary I am Samuel - the story of a gay Kenyan gay man from a rural area, navigating his queerness in relation to his family, tradition, and finding love - premiered across Africa, sparking conversations across the continent.



North America and the Caribbean

United States: Texas passes bill limiting student athletes to teams that match their gender assigned at birth

Both houses of the Texas Legislature approved a bill that will limit student athletes to teams that match their gender assigned at birth. The bill is now heading to the governor’s desk, a signature away from turning Texas into the seventh U.S. State to enact similar provisions.

According to the proposed legislation, students will be allowed to play only in teams aligning with the gender listed in their birth certificate – which will be valid if “entered at or near the time of the student’s birth” or modified to correct a clerical error.

“This cruel and grotesque ban puts a target on the backs of transgender children and adults, erases intersex people and sends a clear message that transgender and intersex people aren’t welcome or safe in Texas. Instead of heeding the community outcry, Texas lawmakers willingly ignored the unequivocal evidence of the harm this bill (and bills like it) has already caused,” Ricardo Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas, said in a statement.

More news from North America and the Caribbean

A recent study authored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States indicated that bisexual women experience significantly higher rates of non-consensual sex and sexual violence compared to both lesbian and heterosexual women.

Health Canada authorised implementing a new behaviour-based screening questionnaire in selected cities to verify people’s eligibility to donate plasma, no longer explicitly excluding men in sexual relationships with men and trans people.



Europe and Central Asia

Equality Bodies must play a part in fighting against LGBTI discrimination, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner says

Equality bodies have a role to play in fighting human rights violations against LGBTI people, said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović in her opening speech at the annual seminar organised by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.

“There have been great advances in the past years in Europe to protect the human rights of LGBTI people. And yet,” she said, “we are at a very dangerous moment. The progress has not been enough. In the past 18 months or so, the Covid-19 pandemic has acted as a magnifying glass over the ongoing vulnerability of some members of LGBTI communities in our member states.”

“In a climate where it is more difficult for LGBTI people and activists to be heard, (Equality Bodies) also have a role to play in educating, encouraging acceptance and pushing for reforms to address systemic human rights violations against LGBTI people,” she said.

More news from Europe and Central Asia

The rectorate of Toulouse, France, established an academic observatory to fight anti-LGBT discrimination.

ILGA-Europe's week-long annual gathering will open on 25 October, offering an online space for European and Central Asian LGBTI movements to learn and work together for change.


Video of the week

What do we talk about when we talk about depathologisation? Think of a path – a path to trans justice. Watch this video campaign by the ILGA World Trans Steering Committee for this year's International Day of Action for Trans Depathologisation, and find out more!


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