LGBulleTIn #48 – The week in LGBTI news
May 20-26, 2016
Saturday, May 21
Bolivia approves gender identity law
The government of Bolivia has formally enacted a Gender Identity Law allowing trans persons to change the name, sex and photos that appear on their birth certificates and national identity documents.
The bill passed in the Senate only a day after the Chamber of Deputies had approved it, and it was signed by the executive office over the weekend.
"Today we've put an end to a history of social proscription," Vice President Alvaro Garcia said as he enacted the legislation in place of President Evo Morales, who was visiting Cuba.
“We want to thank legislators for having guaranteed our human rights, and having put them before the attempts to deny them,” Red Trans de Bolivia declared.
According to Dos Manzanas, the law states that trans people wishing to change their data have to submit documentation to the Civil Registry Service (Sereci), which will then have 15 days to authorise the data amendment. Only non-married persons of 18 years and over will be allowed to legally change their name on official documents, and they will be required to undergo a psychological assessment.
Sunday, May 22
Uganda: security guard killed after violent break –in at human rights organisation offices
A security guard on duty at the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) was killed as the offices of the organisation were broken into in the early hours of Sunday, May 22.
The organisation, which has become reputable for providing legal services to sexual and gender minorities as well as sex workers in Uganda, said offices were left ransacked and a few documents were taken, while other valuable items were left untouched.
The day after the attack, ten civil society organisations joined forces and called the government of Uganda to conduct “swift and transparent investigations (of) the recent wave of office break-ins targeting human rights organisations,” and to “ensure that (they) work in a free and safe environment.”
Between 2013 and 2014, a press release reads, “the NGO Forum reported that at least 26 NGO offices were broken into.” More similar episodes were reported in the past few months.
“It is of concern that assailants do not only look for valuable goods, but also steal confidential organisational documents,” said Nicholas Opiyo, executive director of Chapter Four. “This indicates that the break-ins are not random, but target human rights organisations specifically.”
Monday, May 23
Romania: groups join forces to push for ban on marriage equality
A number of groups, united under a so-called ‘Coalition for the Family’, are reportedly seeking a constitutional amendment to narrowly define marriage as the “union between a man and a woman” in Romania. According to their spokesperson, their petition is backed by three million people, whose signatures have already been delivered to the parliament.
“They only have one purpose: to mobilise public opinion against LGBT people, and to turn them into a fictitious threat against tradition and family,” reads a press release by Accept, an ILGA member organisation based in the country. “We are not talking about a pro-family initiative, but about one that goes against it. […] The Constitutional Court and Parliament of Romania are at a crossroads, and have the opportunity to show that Romania has finally left its totalitarian past behind, and that those of LGBT persons are recognised as human rights.”
Read more on AFP
Tuesday, May 24
Australia: Victorian government issues apology to people convicted “under unjust laws against homosexual acts”
The Victorian government has made a formal state apology to people convicted under historic laws against homosexual acts. “Those who live today (and were affected by the laws) are survivors of nothing less than a campaign of destruction, led by the might of the State,” Premier Daniel Andrews said during a heartfelt speech in parliament.
Before the Crimes (Sexual Offences) Bill came into force in 1981 and same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised, a conviction could lead to penalties of up to 15 years in prison. A scheme to expunge those historical convictions came into effect in September last year.
Laws criminalising homosexual acts “represented nothing less than official, state-sanctioned homophobia,” Andrews said. “We wonder why hundreds of thousands of Australians are still formally excluded from something as basic and decent as a formal celebration of love. And we wonder why so many people are still forced to drape their lives in shame. […] On behalf of the Parliament, the Government and the people of Victoria. For the laws we passed. And the lives we ruined. And the standards we set. We are so sorry. Humbly, deeply, sorry."
Wednesday, May 25
Pakistan: trans activist dies after being shot and denied of treatment at hospital
A trans activist died at a hospital in northern Pakistan after being shot and reportedly denied medical treatment for hours.
Alesha, who worked as a coordinator for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Trans Action Alliance, was shot multiple times during an altercation on Sunday, and was immediately brought to one of the largest hospitals in the region.
Although she was listed to be in critical condition, fellow activists reported that she was kept waiting for hours before receiving any treatment: staff dithered long over whether to admit her to the men's or women's ward. First moved to the men’s one, she was later taken to the women’s ward after group members and relatives protested, only to be met with complaints by other women.
After local media began reporting about the scene, and the governor of the province arrived at the hospital, Alesha was finally given a VIP room and underwent medical procedures, but died of her wounds three days after the incident.
Friends of Alesha also reported being taunted at the hospital while waiting: “A doctor wants to know how much I charge for dance for a night, and another health technician wants to know if I only dance or also perform sex,” a fellow activist wrote in a post on Trans Action’s Facebook page during those tragic hours.
Read more on Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, May 25
United States: 11 States file lawsuit challenging Obama administration’s guidance for trans persons
Eleven states and state officials filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Obama administration over non-discrimination protection for trans people, and asking to block the federal government from “implementing, applying or enforcing the new rules, regulations and guidance interpretations.”
“The lawsuit,” Human Rights Campaign explains, “attacks guidance from the U.S. Department of Education which explains that schools are obligated under federal law to protect transgender students from discrimination, challenges guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with regards to transgender employees, and seeks to undermine the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s determination that transgender employees are covered by federal employment non-discrimination law.”
The Obama administration had “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over common-sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights,” the lawsuit reads.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Justice Department spokesperson said the Department will review the complaint, although “the federal government has strong legal foundations to uphold the civil rights of transgender Americans.”
Is that all? More news bites
As a result of a “severe financial crisis,” the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it has been forced to suspend the visits planned for 2016 and the next two sessions: “It is disturbing that thousands of victims of human rights violations will be left unprotected.”
In Canada, trustees at the Vancouver School Board rejected a proposed budget that would have cut funding to the LGBT mentor’s position.
Honolulu has agreed to pay $80,000 to settle a lawsuit from two women who claim they were arrested after a police officer saw them kissing in a grocery store.
The Department of Health and Human Services of the United States issued a rule explaining that the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex in health care ‘extends to discrimination on the basis of intersex traits or atypical sex characteristics.’
A lawsuit filed by a gay couple in South Korea, seeking legal status for their marriage, has been rejected by a district court.
The proposal to hold a fresh second reading of the bill to prohibit “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” in Kyrgyzstan was unanimously approved by a parliamentary subcommittee.
The trans community in the state of Karnataka, India was reported resolving to demand to be recognised as a ‘class minority’ while accessing benefits from the government.
A survey revealed that people from LGBTI communities in Aotearoa New Zealand are struggling to get the right help after sexual and partner violence “due to a lack of research and rainbow specific services.”
The government of Queensland, Australia announced it will begin the legislative process to standardise the age of consent for all lawful sexual activity by the end of the year.
Waverley Council endorsed the commission of a memorial in Bondi, Australia to remember the victims of past homophobic hate crimes.
The Brazilian Association of Homoparental Families (ABRAFH) announced its first international congress, which will be held from June 28 to July 1 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A shootout in an LGBTI-friendly club in Xalapa, Mexico left five people dead and at least twelve wounded, according to reports.
Human rights organisations in Saint Lucia called on political parties “to make a full position statement on the issue of LGBT discrimination,” after a video showing the minister of Tourism using a derogatory word sparked outrage on social media.
The Church of Scotland’s general assembly voted in favour of extending a law passed last May that permits ministers to be in same-sex civil partnerships.
The European Court of Human Rights communicated a complaint by three same-sex couples in Russia, who claim to have been discriminated against because they had no means of securing a legal basis for their relationship.
Pride marches were held over the weekend both in Chisinau, Moldova and Gdansk, Poland, despite counter protests attempting to disrupt them.
The human rights organisation Queer Alliance has shared the results of a "Capacity building training for emerging LGBT leaders" recently held in Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria.
Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth, daughter of Desmond Tutu, revealed she was forced to give up her duties as a priest in South Africa's Anglican church after she married a woman.
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and CCR released three independent expert reports, submitted in conjunction with SMUG’s lawsuit against Scott Lively charging him with conspiring to persecute the LGBTI community in Uganda.
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