LGBTI news from around the world
March 18 – 31, 2016
Our LGBulleTIn returns after a one week break and begins with two announcements:
* Scholarship applications and session proposals are now being accepted for the 28th ILGA World Conference, which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand from November 28 to December 2, 2016.
* There are only a few days left to apply for the role of Events, Logistics and Administration officer at ILGA: the closing date for receiving applications by e-mail is Monday, April 4 2016 (5 pm CET).
And now, off to the last two weeks’ news!
Friday, March 18
Norway: self-determination for trans persons could soon be a reality
The Norwegian Ministry of Health has proposed legal reforms that could have important consequences on the lives of trans people in the country. If adopted by Parliament, the proposal would allow individuals to self-determine their gender without having to undergo any compulsory requirements, giving them access to accessible and transparent legal gender recognition.
The current practice subjects trans people to undergo sterilisation and obtain a psychiatric diagnosis in order to be legally recognised. The new proposal, Amnesty reports, would 'lower the age limit from 18 to 16 for individuals to self-define their gender and apply for legal recognition. Children between six and 16 years old could do so with parental consent. If the parents disagree, an external body will decide based on the child’s best interests.'
Read more via TGEU
Australia: dramatic changes announced in the Safe Schools anti-bullying program
The federal government of Australia has chosen the occasion of the National Day of Action against Bullying to make the results of the review into the Safe Schools program public, unveiling dramatic changes into it.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced that Safe Schools – which aims at creating inclusive environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families – will be restricted to secondary schools. Students will also be required to get parental consent to participate in the program, and schools will have to obtain parental consent before opting to use its materials. According to The Guardian, it has also been confirmed that the program won't be funded beyond 2017.
The decisions have sparked heated reactions, and the Victorian education minister said the state will continue to expand the program. In a statement, Safe Schools Coalition said it has been working with the Australian Government Department of Education and Training “to further clarify the recommendations received.”
Wednesday, March 23
United States: North Carolina adopts law allowing discrimination– at light speed
In the span of a single day, North Carolina lawmakers have introduced and passed a bill through two houses, and obtained the governor's signature to the law, which overrides local non-discrimination ordinances concerning wages, employment and public accommodations.
As Buzzfeed reports, the law ‘also restricts single-sex public restrooms and locker rooms in publicly run facilities to people of the same sex on their birth certificate. In addition, it bans trans students from school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.’
The adoption of the law sparked nationwide outrage: individuals and advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge it, and the attorney general has refused to defend the law, calling it “a national embarrassment.” While the White House defined the law “mean-spirited,” a coalition of more than 80 business leaders have urged the law be repealed.
Friday, March 25
Morocco: man falls victim to homophobic assault and then receives prison sentence
A man has been sentenced to four months in prison for committing “unnatural acts” after having fallen victim to a homophobic assault in Béni Mellal, Morocco. A second man, also a victim of the same attack, has been arrested, and will face a hearing in a few days.
This hate crime took place earlier in March, but news began circulating only when a video documenting the attack was shared on social media: the clip shows the mob insulting and threatening the two victims at knifepoint, and then throwing them into the street, their bodies naked and bleeding.
In a joint press release, twenty civil society organisations have called on the jailed victim to be released. They also urged the government to repeal article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, and are asked for an inquiry into the assailants and into whom has posted that video online. According to Medias24, two of the assailants were recognised and have been arrested: they have received a two-months suspended sentence.
Monday, March 28
Saudi Arabia: man arrested for flying a rainbow flag
A Saudi man has been arrested by the Committee for Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice after he had raised a rainbow flag above his home in Jeddah.
According to CNN, he said to have bought the flag online after one of his children found the colours “pretty,” and to have been completely unaware of its LGBTI symbolism. The man has been bailed after an investigation, and agreed to remove the flag.
Reports indicate that authorities in Jeddah are about to draft a law that would enhance penalties for people who are coming out online, or who post anything which may be perceived as “gay propaganda.” Social media users have begun to use the hashtag #لن_ترهبوني_انا_مثلي to raise awareness on the issue.
As ILGA’s State-sponsored Homophobia report remembers, punishments for those engaging in same-sex sexual behaviour in the kingdom can include whipping and death by stoning.
Colombia: more than two million persons demand referendum to repeal legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt
A petition with over 2 million signatures demanding that same-sex couples’ adoption rights be put to a popular vote has been presented to the National Civil Registry in Colombia.
The campaign has been promoted by senator Viviane Morales, and began soon after the Constitutional Court, back in November 2015, had ruled that same-sex couples cannot be excluded from adopting children.
In only five months, the petition managed to gather more than the 1.8 million signatures needed to move forward with a referendum on the issue.
45 more senators are reportedly backing Morales’ initiative, who claims “the constitutional right of the formation of the family and the rights of children to grow up with a father and a mother must be respected.”
LGBTI human rights defenders have voiced their opposition to the referendum: "Majorities ignore the rights of minorities," Marcela Sánchez, the director of Colombia Diversa, told RCN Radio. "This is why we have turned to the Constitutional Court."
Is that all? More news bites
The World Psychiatric Association issued a statement declaring that "there is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed."
On May 1, 2016, LGBTIQ* family organisations from around the world will join to celebrate the 5th International Family Equality Day: this year's motto is "Families without borders." Here is how you can get involved.
Proposals for the second cycle of the Intersex Human Rights Fund run by Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice can be submitted until April 8, 2016.
Three more trans persons have been reported murdered, including in Turkey, the United States and Bolivia.
Human rights defenders are calling attention on how confronting the president of Ghana over LGBTI issues during his recent visit to Scotland has reportedly backfired against the country's LGBTI community.
A group of students in a Senegal university have attacked a young man after rumours spread he had hit on a male classmate. After the victim found shelter inside the security offices, the mob reportedly damaged buildings on the campus.
A coalition of pastors in Malawi is reportedly threatening to take court action to force the government to arrest 4,000 men who have sex with men in the city of Mzuzu.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Equal Opportunity Commission has urged the government to take action and include sexual orientation as a status ground for protection against discrimination.
A reform of the Civil Registry law, which will include “civil unions for every person," is likely to be discussed in less than two months in Venezuela.
The Mexican national football federation has launched an anti-discrimination campaign to tackle homophobic chants by the national team’s fans, which Mexico was sanctioned over by FIFA earlier in 2016.
After a ten-year break, the Cook Islands have revived Mizz Jewel, a popular trans beauty pageant, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the community's issues and to decriminalise homosexuality in the country.
The law recognising civil unions between ‘two adults who are in a relationship as a couple, regardless of their sex,’ has come into effect in Queensland, Australia.
A report highlighting the intersectional discrimination suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations has been released in Australia.
A trans man in China has been fired from his new job with no notice or compensation because he wore men’s clothes to work.
Malaysian human rights defender Nisha Ayub has become the first out trans woman to win the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.
Bieureun regency in Aceh, Indonesia has reportedly banned the employment of openly trans people at beauty parlors.
A study published in Canada found that lesbian and gay persons in the country report about twice the rates of anxiety and mood disorders compared to heterosexual Canadians. These rates almost double for bisexual persons.
In the United States, the Department of Justice issued new guidelines clarifying regulations it set in 2012 for the treatment of trans and intersex inmates in prisons.
In the United States, a religious freedom bill has been vetoed by the governor of Virginia, and the governor of Georgia has vowed to do the same in his State. A similar bill, though, is advancing in Mississippi, while in Kansas a law enabling campus religious groups to restrict their membership to students that adhere to a religion’s tenets has been approved.
The Equality festival in Lviv, Ukraine has been disrupted by 200 extremists who had gathered near the venue hosting the event, and assaulted participants once they were evacuated due to an explosive alert.
LGBTI organizations from Macedonia, Western Balkans and Turkey have demanded the fence at the Greek-Macedonian border be removed after three refugees drowned in a river near the border.
In the United Kingdom, a poll of 1,304 teachers indicates that the 53% of them is aware of pupils using social media to send insulting or bullying messages of a homophobic nature.
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