LGBulleTIn #65 - The week in LGBTI news
September 30 – October 6, 2016
Friday, September 30
Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn appointed first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
On the day the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council came to an end, Vitit Muntarbhorn was appointed the first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
An international law professor at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Muntarbhorn is currently member of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. He has served on many United Nations bodies over the years, and was also Co-Chairperson of the drafting committee of the Yogyakarta Principles in 2006.
The Independent Expert position was created by the Human Rights Council in June this year after being brought to the floor by seven Latin American countries. After a heated debate, the mandate was established by a vote of 23 in favour and 18 against, with six abstentions.
Appointed for an initial but renewable three year period, Muntarbhorn is now tasked with assessing the implementation of existing international human rights law around the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity, raising awareness of violence and discrimination suffered by LGBT persons, engaging in dialogue and cooperating with States to implement measures, and providing advice and technical assistance where needed.
Friday, September 30
United States: single-user public bathrooms set to be made gender-neutral in California
Single-user public restrooms in California are set to be made gender-neutral. Assembly Bill (AB) 1732 has just been signed into law, requiring “all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency to be identified as all-gender toilet facilities” starting March 1, 2017.
“California is charting a new course for equality,” said Assembly member Phil Ting, who authored the legislation. “Restricting access to single-user restrooms by gender defies common sense. (…) This law will ensure more safety, fairness, and convenience access for everyone.”
Civil society organisations supporting the bill have pointed out how the bill stands in contrast with legislations being considered in other states: “We now have a policy that gives everyone greater privacy and safety in public restrooms,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “It, and not hateful laws in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere, should be the model for the nation."
Read more on Mashable
Friday, September 30
Italy: Supreme Court rules birth certificate mentioning two mothers must be registered
The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation gave green light to the registration of a child’s Spanish birth certificate mentioning two mothers. The Court ruled that there is no "constitutional ban" on same-sex couples “welcoming and generating children,” and that the minor’s best interest must prevail.
Both women – an Italian citizen and a Spanish citizen – are now officially recognised also in Italy as the mothers of the baby, who was born in Spain in 2011. An Italian civil status registrar had refused to register the child’s birth certificate, a decision that a lower court had then upheld. That ruling was then overturned by the Turin Court of Appeal in 2014: finally, Supreme Court rejected the appeal by the Administration and the Public Prosecutor.
Read more via AGI (in Italian)
Sunday, October 2
El Salvador: human rights defender held at gunpoint and kidnapped
Comcavis Trans, a civil society organisation advocating the human rights of trans women in El Salvador, has reported that one of their board members has been held at gunpoint and briefly deprived of her liberty on Sunday, in the surroundings of a mall in San Salvador.
“She was held at gunpoint by an individual in a grey car,” a Facebook post by the organisation reads, “and then set free in the surroundings of the Centenary park. Luckily, our companion is safe and unhurt.”
According to reports, the organisation said that such cases are “a clear attack against the work done in the country by human rights defenders advocating the rights of LGBTI persons.”
Tuesday, October 4
Man accused of ‘promoting homosexuality’ faces trial in Abu Dhabi
A 21-year old man has been arrested in Abu Dhabi and charged with ‘practicing’ and ‘promoting homosexuality,’ according to local media reports. Prosecutors claimed that the young man had posted pictures of himself in women’s clothes on social media, as well as his phone number to offer ‘sexual services to other men.’
The young man, who has denied all the charges during the trial, was allegedly arrested in a sting operation after an undercover policeman made an appointment while posing as a customer.
As ILGA's State Sponsored Homophobia points out, “Article 80 of the Criminal Code in Abu Dhabi criminalises ‘unnatural sex with another person’, punishable up to 14 years in jail." Although it is understood that “the United Arab Emirates has not implemented [the death penalty] under the Sharia code, it remains a possibility under interpretations current in the Emirates.”
Wednesday, October 5
South Africa: human rights defenders gather for advocacy meeting on laws and policies affecting trans people’s rights
More than 60 human rights defenders from ten different countries have gathered in Johannesburg for a four-day advocacy meeting on laws and policies affecting the human rights of trans persons.
The workshop was hosted by the Southern Africa Trans Forum (SATF) together with the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) and, Iranti-org wrote in a Facebook post, “brought together activists, doctors and legal practitioners to share strategies and opportunities in promoting and protecting the human rights of trans and gender diverse people across the SADC region.”
A few days before the meeting began, Southern African Litigation Centre published a report casting a light on “serious and varied experiences of discrimination in healthcare in Botswana, Malawi and Zambia” and focusing on the experiences of sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons, women living with HIV, and persons with disabilities.
Thursday, October 6
Australia: LGBTI groups meet Attorney General over marriage equality plebiscite
Approximately 30 representatives from various LGBTI organisations have met with Attorney-General George Brandis to discuss the terms of the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality in Australia.
According to reports, the meeting was held via teleconference, and each group was given the opportunity to make a one minute statement.
During the meeting, Brandis reportedly said that marriage equality wasn’t inevitable, after groups restated their opposition to the government’s plebiscite.
The Attorney-General was also reported to reveal that his submission to cabinet on the proposed changes to the Marriage Act would include exemptions from servicing weddings for religious ministers and civil celebrants, but that he would not be recommending “general commercial exemptions” in discrimination laws.
As Buzzfeed reports, “(H)e will also advise cabinet to simply remove the 2004 amendment from the Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. This would mitigate the concerns of some LGBTI advocates, who fear language like ‘two people of the same sex’ could exclude some transgender and intersex people from being allowed to marry.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A U. S. organisation listed as an anti-LGBT hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center announced it has launched a chapter in Nigeria.
Human rights defenders are mourning the loss of Eitel Joris Ella, executive director of Camfaids, a Cameroon-based organisation advocating the human rights of LGBT persons.
In India, a survey at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay revealed that almost 4 in 5 students claimed to be "comfortable with an open LGBTQ culture" on campus, but also that almost 2 in 5 "advised a remedy" to 'cure' homosexuality.
In the Philippines, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he instructed his staff to prepare a draft bill on marriage equality, as he reportedly wants to sponsor it.
In Alabama, United States, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding marriage equality.
More and more sporting events are being relocated from North Carolina, United States because of the state’s House Bill 2, which overrides local non-discrimination ordinances and requires individuals use facilities comporting with the sex on their birth certificate.
The Soccer Federation of Mexico said it will appeal a fine - the third in 10 months - imposed by FIFA over homophobic chants by the national team's supporters.
A bill titled "Reparation scheme for victims of institutional violence based on gender identity" was presented in Argentina.
There will be no referendum against legalised stepchild adoption for same-sex couples in Switzerland, as the committee calling for a popular vote on the issue failed to collect the 50,000 signatures required.
A draft bill was submitted in Austria to grant more rights to same-sex couples in registered partnerships, allowing them to register at the district clerk’s office and to adopt a common ‘family name.’
In the state of Victoria, Australia, the government's bill aimed at “removing barriers for trans, gender diverse and intersex persons seeking new birth certificates” is likely to be debated in the upper house next week.
According to reports, the Tonga Leiti's Association has planned a national consultation with government leaders in December to petition for changes to the Criminal Offences Act.
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