LGBulleTIn #59 - Three weeks in LGBTI news
August 5-25, 2016
August, Wednesday 10
Belize: Chief Justice strikes down law that banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”
In a historic move, the Supreme Court of Belize ruled that section 53 of the Criminal Code is inconsistent with the country’s Constitution. The provision banned ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’, and convictions under that section could lead to a sentence to up ten years’ imprisonment.
Lawyers and activists had been challenging the constitutionality of this section since July 2010, when Caleb Orozco, Executive Director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), launched the case.
Orozco and UNIBAM argued that section 53 of the Criminal Code violated constitutional rights to human dignity, privacy and equality before the law, because it criminalized sexual intimacy between consenting adults, even in private. The Chief Justice ruled in their favour, and also stated that the definition of "sex" in the Constitution of Belize includes ‘sexual orientation’.
“Today is a proud day with a history-making judgment for Belize,” Orozco said. “In striking down Section 53, we have reaffirmed ourselves—consistent with the Belize Constitution—as a society built on dignity and respect for all.”
The Government of Belize has already announced that they would not appeal the ruling, but interested parties still may do so.
August, Thursday 11
United States: LGB students have a higher prevalence of health risk behaviours, first nationwide study on the issue finds
The first nationwide study on the health risks of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students in the United States found they are at far greater risk for bullying, depression, physical and sexual violence than their straight peers.
A survey of more than 15,000 teenagers found that LGB students are three times more likely than their heterosexual peers to be forced into sexual intercourse and more than two times as likely to have experienced physical or sexual dating violence. They are also about two times as likely to have been bullied at school or online.
"While physical and sexual violence and bullying are serious health dangers on their own,” CDC notes, "a combination of complex factors can place young people at high risk for suicide, depression, addiction, poor academic performance, and other severe consequences."
This is exactly what is shown in data: more than 40% of LGB students have seriously considered suicide, and 29% reported having attempted taking their lives during the past 12 months. Six in 10 among them reported having been so sad or hopeless they stopped doing some of their usual activities, and more than 1 in 10 reported missing school during the past 30 days due to safety concerns. According to the survey, LGB students are also up to five times more likely than other students to report using illegal drugs.
Read more on the New York Times
August, Thursday 18
Australia: birth certificate reforms announced in Victoria
The Victorian government has introduced legislation to make it easier for trans, gender diverse and intersex people to get new birth certificates.
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 “removes the need for applicants to have undergone sex affirmation surgery before being able to apply for a new birth certificate,” a press release reads. “The Bill also ensures couples will no longer be forced to divorce if one partner wishes to apply to change the sex recorded on their birth registration.”
“Nobody should be forced to undergo major surgery or choose between maintaining a legal relationship with their spouse just to get a birth certificate that reflects who they are,” Attorney General Martin Pakula said.
"Under the changes," the press release reads, "an applicant will be able to nominate the sex descriptor in their birth registration as male, female or specify a gender diverse or non-binary descriptor. The Bill will also introduce a new process enabling parents or a guardian to apply to alter the sex recorded on their child’s birth registration" – a process that will require the child’s consent.
Read more on The Guardian
August, Sunday 21
Turkey: hundreds join demonstration in memory of Hande Kader
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Istanbul to remember Hande Kader, and commemorate those who lost their lives due to homophobic and transphobic hate murders.
Kader, 23, was a trans woman and a sex worker, and a well-known activist. She had gone missing on August 8: according to reports, she was last seen getting into a car of a possible client. Four days later, her body was found in Istanbul. She had been raped and tortured, and her body was burnt.
“Trans murders are a political issue. We want to die of natural causes,” said those who came together in a demonstration in her memory, participated in by women’s associations and many political parties as well as LGBTI organizations.
“Hande is yet another victim of lethal hatred of women and anything feminine,” Arja Voipio, TGEU co-chair, commented. “We stand in solidarity with trans sex workers in Turkey and elsewhere, who, like Hande, face unsafe working conditions and have to fear police instead of being protected.”
Sadly, several other cases of violence against members of the LGBTI community were reported having taken place in the past weeks.
Unidentified assailants in Abbottabad, Pakistan, shot a trans woman three times in the abdomen when she resisted abduction and rape. A 16-year-old gay teenager was murdered in South Africa. The dead body of a trans woman was found in a dumpster in Italy. Activists were assaulted in Serbia and New Zealand, and participants in a meeting aimed to support sporting initiatives among the local LGBTI community were violently attacked in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.
August, Tuesday 23
High Court ruling marks an important victory for the trans community in Malaysia
The Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered that the National Registration Department (NRD) update a trans man’s information on his identity card to better reflect his gender identity and chosen name. The decision, according to Justice for Sisters, “gives new hope” for the trans community in the country.
According to Autostraddle, previous attempts in Malaysian courts to allow trans people to change their names and gender markers on their identity cards had been unsuccessful. This time, though, the judge argued that "the plaintiff has a precious constitutional right to life under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution, and the concept of ‘life’ under Article 5 must necessarily encompass the Plaintiff’s right to live with dignity as a male and be legally accorded judicial recognition as a male.”
The man's lawyers confirmed that the NRD has filed a notice of appeal against the decision.
August, Tuesday 23
Namibia: prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation “should be in the Constitution,” says Ombudsman
In an interview with The Namibian, the Ombudsman of Namibia claimed that provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation “should be in the Constitution,” and that the old anti-sodomy law “has served its purpose.” “How many prosecutions have there been?” he was quoted as saying in reference to that law. “I believe none over the past 20 years. If we don't prosecute people, why do we have the act?”
According to reports, the debate around LGBTI issues has recently taken centre stage in the country, following a visit to the country by two members of the UN Human Rights Committee to follow-up on the recently adopted Concluding Observations.
In that document, the Committee urged the government to “adopt legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation […] and adopt hate crime legislation punishing homophobic and transphobic violence”. It also called on the government to “abolish the common law crime of sodomy and include same-sex relationships in the Combating of Domestic Violence Act so as to protect same-sex partners.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has welcomed progress on the human rights of LGBTI persons in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Uruguay.
A social media campaign under the hashtag #EducacionSinMatoneo and various gatherings have taken place in Colombia to support the dialogue on LGBTI issues in schools.
Politicians and LGBTI organisation are supporting a bill to rename the Santa Fe metro station in Buenos Aires, Argentina, into Santa Fe - Carlos Jáuregui, in memory of the first president of the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina.
A bill seeking to protect LGBT persons from discrimination at work, and in health and education settings, has been introduced in Congress in the Philippines.
According to an Associated Press investigation, WikiLeaks has published highly personal data on private citizens around the world, including the name of a man arrested for "sexual deviation" (sic) in Saudi Arabia.
"There is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement,” a presidential spokesman said, as the Constitutional Court is holding hearings on proposed revisions to the country’s criminal code that would punish consensual same-sex behaviour.
A new policy for trans and intersex inmates was launched in Malta.
The President of Georgia rejected the bid for a referendum on the definition of marriage, which could have enshrined the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country’s Constitution.
A Court in Ukraine obliged the Commission on legal gender recognition to allow two trans persons to see their passports and all other documents changed without undergoing full sterilization.
The inaugural LGBTI Pacific Youth Forum will take place in October in Sydney, Australia: applications will close on August 29.
In Australia, the Queensland government has announced it will remove laws that bar same-sex couples from adopting children.
A parliamentary committee in New Zealand announced it will be taking submissions over the next six weeks on a petition calling for historic homosexual convictions to be overturned.
A judge in Texas, United States has blocked federal policies protecting trans students and workers, issuing a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the policies regarding restroom use.
In Canada, PM Justin Trudeau is set to publicly apologize for the historic persecution of Canadian gay citizens, including convictions of “gross indecency” laid prior to 1966, and dismissals of public servants and military personnel on the grounds of sexual orientation.
A federal human rights complaint has been filed in Canada over the rules that restrict gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men from donating blood unless they’ve been abstinent for one year.
A filing was submitted documenting "the widespread and systematic persecution of LGBTQI people in Uganda" in connection with the federal lawsuit of Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively.
In South Africa, a multi-party Women's Caucus was reported holding a day-long meeting to discuss issues in connection to the decriminalisation of sex work.
An article published during the Olympic Games that risked of exposing and outing gay athletes has caused outrage, and has drawn criticism from the International Olympic Committee.
"It's all about loving one another, it’s not about discriminating against people" said Caster Semenya after gaining the gold medal in the Women's 800m at the Olympic Games and having faced continuous speculations over her right to compete. "It's not about looking at people [and] how they look, how they speak, how they run… I think the advice to everybody is to go out and have fun.”
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