LGBulleTIn #38 - The week in LGBTI news
February 26 – March 3rd, 2016
Friday, February 26
El Salvador: association files action of unconstitutionality before the Supreme Court, asks that the state provides for legal gender recognition
Comcavis Trans, an association advocating the human rights of trans women in El Salvador, has filed an action of unconstitutionality before the constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice.
The organization, El Mundo reports, is claiming that articles 11 and 23 in the Ley de Persona Natural are discriminating against trans people who want to change their legal names to reflect their own gender identity.
On the very day the action has been filed, Comcavis has also presented a lawsuit before the office of the Attorney General, alleging they had been denied the right to access information regarding the case of Tania Vásquez Santos, the human rights defender and founder of Comcavis who was murdered in 2013.
Read more on Sin Etiquetas
Sunday, February 28
Switzerland votes against initiative that would have prevented future chances of advancing marriage equality
The Swiss electorate has voted against a popular initiative that would have effectively prevented same-sex couples from marrying in the future. Even though the initiative has passed in 17 out of the country’s 26 cantons, as Swissinfo.ch reports, it has eventually been rejected by the 50.8% of voters.
Framed as a way to end fiscal inequality experienced by married couples, the referendum suggested not only a tax reform but included amending the existing gender neutral definition of marriage in Article 14 of the Swiss constitution. “We are glad that the electorate has recognised this sham,” Bastian Baumann of the gay organisation Pink Cross told the Swiss News Agency.
Read more via ILGA-Europe
Brunei: activists concerned over proposed implementation of the Syariah Penal Code
Human rights activists in Brunei have expressed their concern over reports that the government is committed to implementing the second phase of the Syariah Penal Code by June 2017. This phase, reads a statement released on The Brunei Project’s Facebook page, “will include the amputation of limbs for those found guilty of theft, while the proposed third phase will include the punishment of death by stoning for those found guilty of adultery or sexual intercourse between two males.”
While the Sultan of Brunei has reportedly recently questioned the delay in Syariah law enforcement in the country, The Brunei Project has strongly urged the Brunei government and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah “to review and amend the proposed laws to ensure that the Syariah Penal Code meets international human rights norms.”
As Human Rights Watch has recently pointed out, the sultan of Brunei “has imposed a near complete ban on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly” in the country.
Monday, February 29
Seychelles moving towards decriminalising same-sex sexual activity
The Seychelles’ cabinet of ministers has agreed to repeal the law criminalising same-sex sexual activity in the country and, in the coming months, members of the national assembly will be asked to consider a bill on the issue.
"It is a priority for the country,” the Attorney General Ronny Govinden has said, “because whenever the Seychelles is participating in an international convention, we face pressures from other countries who are asking us to remove this law.”
Govinden has also rejected the idea to make this law a matter to be voted on in a referendum: “This is a simple amendment to the penal Code which can be done by the National Assembly, avoiding conflicts on the issue.”
The move has been praised by human rights activists: “Laws like these open up members of the gay community to extortion,” Muthoni Wanyei, the Amnesty International regional director for East Africa, told Gay Star News. “Now, the move by the Seychelles will hopefully inspire others.”
31st session of the UN Human Rights Council opens in Geneva
Likening human rights violations to seismic signals that come before an earthquake, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on leaders to take actions now to relieve the pressure on rights or face future explosive consequences.
Zeid made his statement as part of the opening of the 31st session of the Human Rights Council, which will see representatives from nearly 200 countries discussing about pressing human rights issues until March 24.
While delivering his remarks to a panel on The 2030 agenda for sustainable development and human rights, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon addressed the issue of human rights violations facing LGBTI people: "In many countries, LGBTI people are subjected to brutal and sometimes deadly violence," he said. "I commend this Council for adopting two historic resolutions on sexual orientation and gender identity. I urge you to maintain your stance on this issue."
Wednesday, March 2
United States: coalition of more than 400 businesses opposes Georgia discriminatory “religious liberty” bill
A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing a Georgia “religious liberty” bill that is rapidly heading toward passage. House Bill 757 was amended in a state Senate committee last month to include an amendment which would allow individuals and faith-based organizations to refuse service to people in relationships they deem objectionable on “moral or religious conviction.”
After the Senate passed the amended bill, a telecom startup company announced it will relocate to Nevada, and hundreds of companies – including some Fortune 500 ones – have voiced their opposition to the bill, fearing the consequences it may have. “We believe,” reads the pledge launched by Georgia Prospers, that in order for Georgia businesses to compete for top talent, we must have workplaces and communities that are diverse and welcoming for all people, no matter one’s race, sex, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity”.
The bill, Advocate.com points out, has not been signed into law yet: to do so, it would have to pass one additional vote on the House floor and then be signed by the State governor, who has already received more than 75,000 email petitions urging him to veto the bill in case it reaches his desk.
Thursday, March 3
Historic opening of Wellington Pride to be hosted at New Zealand’s parliament
The Pride festival is about to kick off during the weekend in New Zealand’s capital city, and it has been announced its opening ceremony will be held at the country’s parliament.
The evening will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform, which in 1986 had decriminalised sexual relations between men aged 16 and over.
Speakers will also include many of those who were instrumental in passing the Law Reform bill, and activists who raised awareness in the public for the campaign between the introduction of the bill in March 1985 and its final passing in July 1986.
The Pride celebrations will last until March 13: during this time, Wellington will also host the ILGA Oceania conference, which aims at “re-igniting the fires of the LGBTI community on issues of human rights and health in the region.” Click here to find out more about the program of the conference.
Is that all? More news bites
A draft legislation which would allow the creation of same-sex unions has been tabled in Bermuda.
In Guyana, representatives of a human rights organisation have met with the ministry of Social Protection and recommended that the government extend workplace discrimination protection to include sexual orientation, gender identity and health status.
In Bogotà, Colombia, the Secretary of Social Integration has announced it will launch a project to tackle LGBTI discrimination.
While a harsh debate around the Safe School Coalition is continuing in Australia, two petitions supporting the anti-bullying program, and totalling more than 70,000 signatures, have been tabled to parliament.
A Facebook post, written by a woman who lost her wife in a car crash, went viral in Australia, making once more the case for marriage equality in the country.
While delivering his maiden speech, the first out Australian MP took the chance to denounce LGBTI discrimination and people who “peddle prejudice.”
Both the presidents of Senegal and of Zimbabwe voiced opposition to LGBTI equality: “Never, under my authority, will homosexuality be legalized in the country,” the former reportedly said, while the latter explained Zimbabwe would not accept “rotten aid” if it came with conditions that the country should accept marriage equality.
According to an Afrobarometer research, only 21% of the interviewees in 33 African countries would like (or wouldn’t care in case they had) an LGBTI person as their neighbour.
A new report mapping the growth of LGBTQ organizing in West Africa has been released: the research shows that several nascent groups in the region are led by queer-identified women and gender non-conforming people.
APTN has released Finding Our Place, Finding Our Voice, a mapping report on trans organisations in Asia and the Pacific.
In India, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea of an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) seeking a ban or change in the name of Aligarh, a film based on a gay AMU professor.
Yet another organization is campaigning against the LGBTI community in Indonesia, reportedly claiming that “homosexual activities should be prohibited and categorized as crimes.”
The Canadian government has announced that it intends to review the cases of hundreds of gay men who were convicted of sexual offences before 1969, the year the country legalised same-sex sexual acts.
The governor of South Dakota has vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first in the United States to approve a law banning trans students from using school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
In the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed its first lawsuits challenging sexual orientation discrimination as unlawful sex discrimination.
The premises of two LGBTI organisations in Poland, Lambda Warszawa and Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, have been attacked.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance published its latest country reports on France, Georgia and Monaco, all containing recommendations on LGBTI issues.
The Netherlands’ parliament has voted to provide separate facilities for LGBTI asylum-seekers who are facing abuse in refugee shelters.
Three more trans persons have been reported murdered between Venezuela and the United States.
Along with other common search terms, also LGBTI-related words are reportedly being blocked by a new web search engine aimed at children.
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