LGBulleTIn #35 - The week in LGBTI news
February 5 – 11, 2016
Friday, February 5
Argentina: Lohana Berkins, activist, passes away
Lohana Berkins, a fierce advocate for the human rights of trans and travesti people in her native Argentina and across the Americas, has died in Buenos Aires. Her health conditions had worsened during the last few weeks, leading activists to hold a vigil outside the hospital where she was taken care of.
A few hours before her death, she had sent a last, powerful message to her travesti sisters:
"I am convinced that the drive for change is love.
The love we were denied of is what moves us to change the world."
Berkins has been a pioneer for the fight towards the human rights of trans persons. In 1994 she founded the Asociación de Lucha por la Identidad Travesti y Transexual (ALITT), and in 2007 she was elected a member of the ILGALAC regional council. One year later, she lead the creation of the first cooperative school for travesti and trans people in the country. It was also thanks to her commitment that the Argentinian Gender Identity Law was approved by the National Congress in 2012.
On behalf of its entire membership, the board and secretariat, ILGA would like to express our deepest sympathy and convey our condolences to her family, friends and colleagues, and to everybody who was touched by Lohana’s exemplary commitment in working for a world where everybody’s human rights are respected.
Read more on Página 12 (in Spanish)
Saturday, February 6
United States: New York state moves towards banning coverage of conversion therapy
The state of New York has announced a series of comprehensive regulations to prevent the practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” Multiple agencies have issued these regulations, which ban public and private health care insurers from covering this harmful practice, and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.
“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”
A few days after these regulations were released, four members of Congress sent a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission to “take all actions possible to stop the unfair, deceptive and fraudulent practice of conversion therapy.”
Monday, February 8
Kuwait minister denies intention of expelling LGB students from educational facilities
The Kuwait minister of Education and Higher Education Dr Bader Al-Essa denied any intention to dismiss LGB students from the country’s educational facilities. Should they be expelled, the minister told the Al-Rai news agency, they would “be return(ed) by the power of law.” “We need a legislation in order to limit these phenomena,” he added, referring to LGB persons.
The minister said that, even if no study has been made on the issue during his tenure, a number of “individual cases” related to sexual orientation “are handled discreetly by social and psychiatric workers in various educational areas” in the country.
As ILGA’s State-sponsored Homophobia reported, consensual sexual intercourse between men of full age is punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to seven years in Kuwait.
Tuesday, February 9
Malawi: judge orders arrests of gay and lesbian people to continue
Despite the Malawian government having reaffirmed its moratorium on prosecuting consensual same-sex conduct, a judge in the country seems to think otherwise: according to media reports, the High Court in Mzuzu has “ordered the Malawi police service and the director of public prosecutions to continue arresting and prosecuting gays and lesbians who commit homosexual offences in Malawi.”
The court order was requested by a group of pastors, which last month had called for the re-arrest of two men who had faced homosexuality charges, but were then released as the moratorium was reaffirmed.
This week, one of those two men has been the target of a brutal attack: he was reportedly beaten up by “a group of unidentified men,” and left bleeding severely from his head and eye. Police are investigating on the case.
Read more on 76 Crimes
Wednesday, February 10
Portugal: parliament overturns presidential veto on adoption by same-sex couples
The Portuguese parliament has voted to overturn the presidential veto on adoption by same-sex couples by 137 votes to 73: the motion brought together MPs from the ruling party, their allies and a number of opposition deputies. Parliament also overturned Anibal Cavaco Silva's veto on changes to the law on abortion.
Last month, the president vetoed the bill that parliament passed in November 2015 , Reuters reported, citing doubts that it would promote the wellbeing of children. Thanks to the parliament's overturning, he will now have eight days to sign the bill into law.
“This delay has proved to be useless,” ILGA Portugal commented on its Facebook page. “It has been distressing for those families who were waiting, and a further humiliation for those who believe in equality. Thank you, parliament. Now we’ll wait for the inevitable promulgation (of the law).”
Thursday, February 11
South Australia: female co-parents to both be recognised on child’s birth certificate without preconditions
A bill has been passed in South Australia repealing a rule unique to the state wherein female parents who conceived a child through donor sperm had to be living together for at least three years before they could both be listed on their child’s birth certificate.
Both the government and the opposition allowed their MPs a conscience vote on the issue, and a majority of 29-12 voted in favour of the bill.
“The passage of this bill is the first in what is expected to be a busy year for LGBTI law reform in South Australia,” the Star Observer reports, as the “South Australian Law Reform Institute plans to deliver reports on laws around sexual reassignment, surrogacy, and exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act.”
Is that all? More news bites
The IRGT has issued a report, aptly titled Most Impacted, Least Served, offering specific recommendations for improving policies and fostering a more enabling environment for trans people to participate in Global Fund processes.
The headquarters of Lambda Warszawa, the oldest LGBT association in Poland, were attacked by an alleged group of neo-Nazi sympathizers.
The European parliament has expressed “its grave concern regarding the situation of LGBTI people in Crimea,” where all LGBTI organisations and facilities reportedly had to cease their activities following the Russian annexation.
A member of an extreme right wing organisation in Hungary has been sentenced to two years imprisonment (suspended for three and a half years) for insulting and threatening Budapest Pride March participants in 2012 as part of a larger group.
In Colombia, the Government is preparing a decree to tackle harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation in schools, hospitals and prisons.
Both campaigners for and against marriage equality filled the grounds of Cabinet in Bermuda.
Ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Mexico, 14 organisations issued a statement asking him to commit to respecting the human rights of those who suffer from discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the United States, a trans man was shot dead by police, and then misgendered by media reporting on the incident.
In South Dakota, United States, a bill to ban trans students from using public school facilities that align with their gender identities is on the brink of becoming law, and another bill that would prevent the state from taking any punitive action against discriminations on the grounds of religious beliefs has been moved forward.
Once the B21-168 act will be signed into law, the District of Columbia will be the first jurisdiction in the United States to require LGBTQ cultural competency training for health care providers.
According to his public statements, the president of Uzbekistan seems to be convinced that homosexuality is a manifestation of a “Western, vulgar culture.”
A closed workshop on access to justice for members of the LGBTI community has been disrupted by police in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The country’s first-ever conference on the human rights of intersex persons was held in Nepal.
In Kenya, a man was reportedly arrested after sending text messages to another man and allegedly flirting with him.
In Egypt, a court ruled the infamous December 2014 televised gay bathhouse raid "served public interest." The journalist who reported it had been sentenced to six months under defamation charges, but was later acquitted.
In the state of Victoria, Australia, a bill has been introduced in the parliament to crack down on dangerous and unregistered health practitioners, including those who offer conversion therapy.
In New Zealand, the minister of Youth announced $25,000 worth of funding will be dedicated to initiatives supporting LGBT youth in the country.
The number of Australians coming out as LGBTI on Facebook each day has almost doubled over the last year, social network representatives have reported.
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