LGBulleTIn #47 - Two weeks in LGBTI news of the world
May 6 – 19, 2016
Dear friends, our LGBulleTIn returns after a one week break and begins with some news from ILGA itself:
On May 17th, ILGA released the 11th edition of its State Sponsored Homophobia, the yearly world survey of sexual orientation laws, as well as the first round of results of the largest investigation of attitudes towards LGBTI people around the world ever conducted.
Meanwhile, the third Pan Africa ILGA regional conference was held in Johannesburg. Hosted by Iranti-org, it gathered more than 180 delegates from 34 countries.
ILGA-Europe also released its 2016 edition of Rainbow Europe, examining the situation of LGBTI people in the region, and also launched eight in-depth national projects on LGBTI people in school environments.
And now, off to the last two weeks’ news of the world!
Sunday, May 8
OII Australia outlines priorities for campaign ahead of 2016 federal election
A federal election for the 226 members of the 45th Parliament of Australia will take place on July 2 after an eight-week official campaign period, and Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII) has asked “federal political parties to commit to recognition of the right of intersex people to bodily autonomy.”
"The 2013 Senate committee report on involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people," OII Australia recalls, "heard evidence that 'normalising' treatments aimed at eliminating intersex traits are still recommended in Australia, despite a lack of clear evidence of benefit, and significant evidence that such treatments are human rights abuses. The Senate inquiry [...] calls for an end to human rights abuses.”
The organisation also asks for “improved access to identification documents for people who need to change sex classification, including the removal of a requirement for medical certification,” and also urges federal parties to address difficulties encountered in education settings by persons with intersex variations, to “ensure that intersex women are protected from discrimination in sport” and to “ensure that all intersex people are able to marry in Australia.”
Read more via Organisation Intersex International Australia
Tuesday, May 10
First out trans woman elected to congress in the Philippines
Geraldine Roman, a Filipina trans woman, made history for becoming the first out trans politician to be elected to federal government in the Philippines. She won a lower house seat for Bataan province, which is north of the country’s capital city Manila.
“The politics of bigotry, hatred, and discrimination did not triumph. What triumphed was the politics of love, acceptance, and respect,” Roman said after her victory.
A few weeks before the election, the politician shared that she had been bullied in high school – something that reportedly happened also during the campaign trail – but that she had been taught to be confident.
"That somebody of my condition is going to enter congress for the first time is a statement that even transgender people can serve our country and should not be discriminated against," Ms Roman told AFP during her campaign.
The news of Roman's elections was highly celebrated on social media, with netizens defining the event as a "huge breakthrough" and a "great historic victory."
Read more on BBC.com
Wednesday, May 11
Italy adopts civil union law
Italy has become the 27th country in Europe to legally recognise same-sex couples: the law on civil unions was approved in the lower chamber of parliament after the Prime Minister had called a confidence vote. 372 MPs voted in favour of the bill, with 51 against, and 99 abstentions.
The new legislation provides for equality in matters of tax, social security and inheritance.
Wording that might in any way equate civil unions to marriage was carefully removed, including the duty of fidelity, and partners in same-sex civil unions are not allowed to adopt their stepchildren.
“Legal recognition for same-sex couples is a great step forward for Italian society,” commented ILGA-Europe, “but it cannot be the final step. The Italian LGBTI community, their families and friends deserve to be fully protected and recognised by their state.”
Unfortunately, this glimpse of equality did not come without a backlash: a group of lawmakers have already called for a referendum to have the law repealed, and a far right group staged protests in various Italian cities, disrupting public events and raiding Rome’s Gay Center.
Tuesday, May 17
Canada to introduce new law to protect trans people from violence and discrimination
On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the Canadian government announced the introduction of a law to protect trans persons from violence and discrimination.
Bill C-16 would update the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms 'gender identity' and 'gender expression.’ If passed, a government press release reads, “gender identity and gender expression will become prohibited grounds of discrimination, (and) the Criminal Code will be amended to clarify that where someone commits a crime motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or gender expression, a judge must consider that as an aggravating factor in deciding what sentence to impose.”
The announcement was reportedly met with cautious optimism, and Egale Canada urged lawmakers to approve the bill and send “a clear message to the world that discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression is nothing short of hate.”
Read more on CBC News
Wednesday, May 18
Seychelles: parliament passes bill to decriminalise same-sex sexual activity
Seychelles' National Assembly has passed an amendment to the penal code that decriminalises same-sex sexual relations.
“Our Constitution clearly states that all persons are equal, [...] so I do not see why we should discriminate against a specific group based on their sexual orientation,” a lawmaker was quoted by Seychelles News Agency as saying.
Before the amendment, any person found guilty of having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” could have been sentenced to 14 years in prison. As ILGA’s newly-released State Sponsored Homophobia remembers, the Seychelles received nine strong recommendations to decriminalise same-sex sexual relations at its second cycle UPR review that commenced in January 2016. One month later, in his State of the Nation Address, the country’s president announced his government’s intention to repeal the law.
The amendment will come into force on the day it is gazetted as an act by the Attorney General’s office. For this to happen, the bill needs to be assented by the president, and then sent back to the National Assembly.
Thursday, May 19
Bolivia: lawmakers approve gender identity bill
The Chamber of Deputies in Bolivia voted in favour of a gender identity bill that, if enacted into law, will allow trans persons to legally change their name on official documents.
According to the Deputies’ president, Gabriela Montaño, “this is a law allowing for the possibility of happiness to hundreds of persons who face discrimination and violence.” The draft has now been sent to the Senate for review.
Opinión quotes Rayza Torreani, a representative of Tweets by fau
_LAC/status/733354388157259778" target="_blank">Trans Red Bolivia, as saying that the bill “does justice to a part of the population that had been set aside, who can now exercise their rights.”
According to the report, only persons of 18 years and over will be allowed to legally change their name on official documents.
Is that all? More news bites
UNAIDS has called for inclusion and full participation of civil society organizations at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, after a group of States blocked 22 organisations, including LGBT and drug users groups, from attending the meeting. ILGA and other NGOs had already sent a letter to the UN objecting to this in previous weeks.
This year as never before many heads of States, ministers, MPs and elected officials supported the International Day of Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the committee revealed in their May 17 roundup.
100 trans and gender diverse persons have been reported murdered in 2016. According to Transgender Europe, this is highest number in the first 4 months of the year registered by their Trans Murder Monitoring project since 2008.
In January 2017, Denmark could become the first country to depathologise trans identities if the WHO does not change the International Classification of Diseases by October.
Germany is poised to annul the convictions of tens of thousands of gay men who were criminalised under Paragraph 175, which deemed same-sex sexual activity to be a punishable crime and was not fully abolished until 1994.
A square dedicated to LGBTI activist Pedro Zerolo was officially inaugurated in the district of Chueca in Madrid, Spain.
In Mexico, president Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he had signed initiatives proposing that marriage equality be written into the country’s constitution and federal civil code.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the minister of Social transformation reportedly defined the law criminalising same-sex sexual relations between adults "antiquated", and said she would advance a recommendation towards decriminalisation to the Cabinet.
Candy Pamela González Arosemena has become the first trans person in Panama to be authorised to legally change her name of her documents.
Statistics New Zealand is planning to test new or amended questions ahead of the 2018 Census, including a question on sexual orientation, while a question on gender identity is still being developed.
A national weekend retreat for trans and gender diverse Aboriginal people will be held for the first time in Victoria, Australia later this year, the government announced.
A panel discussion featuring representatives of UN agencies and LGBTI civil society organisations was held in Fiji on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
In Bangladesh, police have arrested a person over the hacking to death of activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.
A survey of more than 30,000 persons in China found that only 5% of LGBT persons choose to disclose their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression at school, in the workplace, or in religious communities.
A married lesbian couple from India who have lived legally in the UK for many years have had their request to continue living in Britain rejected. They will have to return home despite their relationship not being legally recognised in their homeland.
The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative has published reports on the lived realities of the sex workers’ and LGBT communities in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi, and on the situations facing the sex workers’ and LGBTI communities in Tanzania.
The Committee against Torture has condemned the use of forced anal examinations in Tunisia, describing them as medically worthless and pointing out that they cannot be freely consented to.
Police arrested six men in Benin City, Nigeria on charges of homosexual activity. It is reported that officials made their names public and ordered the men to be paraded in front of photographers.
In the United States, the Department of Education and Department of Justice issued guidance explaining how schools receiving public funding should respect the rights of trans students.
A formal complaint was filed in Alabama, United States against the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court for ordering the state’s probate judges to refuse applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.
In Canada, the federal department overseeing social insurance numbers said it is working to make it easier for trans persons to change the sex designation on the record.
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