LGBulleTIn #82 - The week in LGBTI news
March 24-30, 2017
Friday, March 24
European Union releases report on LGBTI asylum seekers
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights has issued a report entirely dedicated to the situation of LGBTI asylum seekers, highlighting how member states need to step up by providing information, clear guidelines and trainings on the rights and specific needs of this community.
According to the document, in fact, there are still no official statistics on the number of asylum claims based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The report also highlights how only a few member states have specific national guidelines for interviewing LGBTI persons, and special accommodation facilities for LGBTI asylum seekers are still rare. The voice of NGOs is also present in the report: they are often the ones who provide reception centres staff with training on specific vulnerabilities suffered by LGBTI asylum seekers, as asylum officers tend to have stereotypical views on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
"LGBTI persons may have special reception needs and/or grounds for international protection that are related to distinct vulnerabilities," the report reads. "Member state authorities need to establish whether or not this is the case using adequate, effective and fundamental rights-compliant ways to ensure appropriate reception and protection conditions for LGBTI persons."
Friday, March 24
Taiwan: court begins to hear marriage equality case
The Council of Grand Justices of Taiwan has begun to hear a constitutional challenge concerning marriage equality, brought by a human rights advocate as well as the Taipei City Government.
At the core of the debate is an article of the civil code defining marriage as an agreement made by “male and female parties.” Plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of such article: according to Taipei Times, this would make Taiwan the first Asian nation to agree to a constitutional interpretation on this issue.
According to BBC, parliament will be forced to amend the laws to offer protection to same-sex couples, should the judges rule that Taiwan's current ban is unconstitutional.
As justices were hearing the case, LGBTI activists turned up in front of the court in Taipei, as did anti-marriage equality protesters. A ruling is expected to be released in two months' time.
Friday, March 24
IACHR condemns alarming numbers of LGBT killings in the American region
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the alarming number of killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people in the region. In the first three months of 2017 alone, at least 41 serious crimes against LGBT persons have been reported in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, the United States, and Venezuela.
A statement released by the Commission includes a long list of crimes, which unfortunately might be only the tip of the iceberg.
“This situation in disturbing and unsustainable,” said Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren Praeli, IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Persons. “States must urgently adopt the necessary measures to put an end to these situations and ensure that these crimes are investigated using a differentiated approach.”
The Commissioner also noted “the high levels of barbarity and cruelty” of such crimes. “There must be no impunity,” he added, “and reparation must be made to the victims and their families.”
Friday, March 24
Uganda: LGBTI human rights defender included in list of world’s greatest leaders
Human rights defender Frank Mugisha has been included in the Fortune's annual list of the world's greatest leaders over his activism for rainbow communities in Uganda.
Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, is one of the three people coming from Africa to be featured in the list.
“Imagine functioning in a society that still criminalizes—and even debates the death penalty for—homosexual activity,” the article reads. “That is the world facing Frank Mugisha. The 37-year-old, who came out at 14, spoke out against the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which mandated life in prison for LGBT Ugandans, and he led the campaign that eventually led to the bill’s invalidation by the courts. More battles lie ahead for a leader of a community that faces open hostility.”
Wednesday, March 29
Historic media workshop on Indigenous LGBTIQ issues held in Samoa
In a historic first for Samoa, representatives of media outlets took part in a workshop to discuss fair and accurate reporting on Fa’afafine, Fa’afatama and LGBTIQ issues. Such a meeting, hosted by Samoa Fa’afafine Association, was “long overdue,” facilitator Vaitoa Toelupe was quoted as saying, and the need for it had become evident after in June last year a national newspaper published a photograph of Jeanine Tuivaiki on its front page, and repeatedly misgendered her while reporting on her death.
According to Samoa Planet, the workshop was presented as an opportunity for media representatives to learn more about Fa’afafine and Fa’afatama, and vice versa. “There are too many assumptions being made,” Toelupe was quoted as saying. “Too often you assume you know our issues, but you don’t.”
A wide variety of topics was discussed during the workshop, including the difference among sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, the need to avoid misgendering people and asking them inappropriate questions, and Fa’afafine and Fa’afatama as specific cultural identities.
Thursday, March 30
United States: North Carolina passes so-called “repeal” of House Bill 2
North Carolina lawmakers have approved the repeal of House Bill 2, a law that limited protections for people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and Governor Roy Cooper quickly signed the measure into law.
But the terms of the deal have been harshly criticised by human rights advocates, who claim that the new bill keeps in place the most harmful parts of the previous law.
HB2 banned trans people from restrooms that matched their gender identity in public facilities, and also blocked local jurisdictions from enacting their own non-discrimination ordinances on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
As Vox explains, the deal gets rid of the former part - as state and local agencies in North Carolina can no longer regulate access to public facilities - but, for the same reason, it also prevents them to set up more inclusive policies. On the other hand, the deal would also continue to prohibit local governments from passing non-discrimination laws until December 1, 2020.
Several human rights organisations have issued statements condemning the law. “North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed of this backroom deal that continues to play politics with the lives of LGBT North Carolinians," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU LGBT Project, while Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin argued that this law "institutes a statewide prohibition on equality by banning non-discrimination protections across North Carolina and fuels the flames of anti-transgender hate."
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
This week, bisexual people from around the world took to Twitter to share photos of themselves and their stories under the trending hashtag #BiTwitter.
The latest Trans Murder Monitoring project update revealed 2,343 reported killings of trans and gender-diverse people in 69 countries worldwide between 2008 and 2016.
In Sweden, the government announced it will financially compensate trans people who were forcibly sterilised in order to comply with the previous requirements in the Swedish legal gender recognition act.
The Network of European LGBTIQ* Families Associations (NELFA) held its annual conference in Naples, Italy, raising awareness of the need for full recognition, equal treatment and acceptance for LGBTIQ* parents and their children.
A civil society organisation in Tonga has kicked off a campaign in the country's schools to tackle bullying against trans students.
In Australia, advocates are urging people to email the Prime Minister and MPs asking them not to support a proposal for a non-compulsory postal vote on marriage equality.
The GIJN - Global Investigative Journalism Network Conference in South Africa is offering fellowships to journalists in developing or transitioning countries who are focusing on LGBTQ issues.
Nonprofit support organization for LGBT people Icebreakers Uganda reported an attempt to break into their offices. "We found signs of forced entry at the gate and blood at the main door," they wrote.
In Chile, the Senate Human Rights Commission resumed votes on the Gender Identity Law, and approved a proposal to bar minors from the possibility to correct the given name and sex assigned at birth in their civil registry.
A coalition of feminist and LGBTIQ groups in Trinidad and Tobago launched a safety and self-defence campaign.
The federal administration in the United States removed sexual orientation and gender identity as proposed subjects for possible inclusion on the Decennial Census and/or American Community Survey in the future.
A 27-year-old resident of Oregon, United States has been legally recognised as agender.
A new study has estimated that the cost of discrimination against LGBT persons in Indonesia could range from nearly 900 million to 12 billion US dollars a year.
The Philippine Independent Church has released a statement affirming “the equality of all people in the eyes of God,” apologising “for the hurt and neglect the Church has subjected the LGBTQI+ community to,” and committing “to the betterment of LGBTQI+ individuals."
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