LGBulleTIn #88 - The week in LGBTI news
May 19-25, 2017
Friday, May 19
Inter-American Court of Human Rights holds public hearing on LGBTI human rights
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has recently held a two-day public hearing on LGBTI human rights. According to Presentes, this is an historic first for the court.
During this hearing, 91 written observations were received, and 43 oral submissions were made by delegations of States, members of civil society, universities and individuals.
The hearing was held following a request for an advisory opinion presented by Costa Rica on how to interpret specific aspects regarding the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people. According to reports, the State was seeking guidance on the protection that the American Convention on Human Rights offers to people seeking to change their names according to their gender identity, and on the recognition of economic rights that stems from same-sex partnerships.
During the hearing, the president of the Court called on States and civil society to “promote, respect and guarantee the human rights of LGBTI persons,” and raised awareness of how our communities “continue to suffer from discrimination, stigmatization and acts of violence, which are incompatible with the fundamental notion of respect for the human rights of all.”
Saturday, May 20
South Africa: protest marches held to condemn hate crimes against the LGBTI community
Dozens of LGBTI human rights defenders and allies took to the streets in Durban and Cape Town to condemn the ongoing deadly attacks against members of rainbow communities in South Africa.
According to Mambaonline, at least three murders were reported during the past few weeks: in April, 28-year-old Nonkie Smous was found in Makoeng, her body burnt beyond recognition. On May 14, the body of Lerato Moloi was found in a field: police suspect she had been raped and stoned to death. A few days later, the body of 26-year-old Stephen Nketsi was discovered dumped in a hole in the township of Botshabelo.
Human rights defenders are calling for immediate action by authorities, and have launched a campaign to “illustrate severe lapses in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to LGBTI people,” by highlighting five hate crime cases where justice has been denied for years.
More public actions are set to take in Pretoria next week, where protesters “will call for police to do more when it comes to LGBTIQ+ hate crimes, particularly against lesbian women, and in cases involving abuse and violence against women and children.”
Tuesday, May 23
United States: proposed budget cuts may negatively affect LGBTQ persons, advocates warn
Human rights advocates and the scientific community have raised concerns over the United States’ 2018 budget requests, that were delivered to Congress with the title A New Foundation for American Greatness.
According to the Washington Post, the proposal includes “a call for massive cuts in spending on scientific research, medical research, disease prevention programs and health insurance for children of the working poor.”
“If enacted into law, the president’s proposal would devastate federal safety net programs, eliminate health care for millions of Americans (including those living with HIV), and undercut civil rights protections in the U.S. and human rights protections abroad,” Human Rights Campaign warned. The organisation detailed in a Twitter thread how the proposed cuts could impact our communities.
As Mic reports, the proposed budget also seeks to eliminate funding for a line item called "Special Projects of National Significance," part of which includes a $3.2 million initiative meant to keep HIV-positive trans women of colour in care.
The proposed cuts include a 20% reduction in HIV prevention programs and cuts to global AIDS care. In a press release, advocacy think tank Treatment Action Group called the cuts "murderous."
Wednesday, May 24
Taiwan: Constitutional Court rules in favour of marriage equality
In a historic ruling, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court found that the current provision in the Civil Code stating that only a man and a woman can marry violated constitutional guarantees.
Such a ruling has paved the way for Taiwan to become the first place in Asia to allow marriage equality, and was cheered by hundreds of activists and allies in the streets of Taipei.
As Taiwan News reports, the Council of Grand Justices said the legislature now has two years to amend the existing civil code or create a new law. If no action will be taken within that time, same-sex couples will be able to see their marriages validated at household registration offices with a written document signed by two or more witnesses.
The attention will now turn to monitoring how legislators interpret the ruling. As the Washington Post reports, there is some fear among campaigners that lawmakers will appease opponents of marriage equality by creating a special category for same-sex unions. Human rights organisations, however, have already urged lawmakers to move without hesitation to amend the Civil Code to guarantee full equality.
Wednesday, May 24
Belgium approves reform to gender recognition law, but unnecessary hurdles remain
The Belgian Parliament approved a reform bill to the country’s gender recognition law, ruling out sterilisation and a mental health diagnosis as requirements for legal gender recognition.
“This is a vital step towards full recognition of the rights of trans people, but not the final step,” ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director Evelyne Paradis commented. “Several of the concerns expressed by the trans community and civil society groups were not taken into account by the Belgian authorities. That is a bit of a missed opportunity."
Once people will apply to see their gender legally recognised, they will have to wait for three months before confirming they are aware of the legal consequences of the change in their gender marker. “The waiting period prolongs the procedure unnecessarily,” TGEU’s Executive Director Julia Ehrt stated. “It is brought in to ‘prevent abuse’. This shows a lack of understanding and a mistrust of trans people.”
TGEU has also called for age limits established by the reform to be re-evaluated and dropped. Read more here.
Wednesday, May 24
Australia: Government urged to resettle gay and bisexual asylum seekers and refugees currently held in Manus Island
As immigration officials in Papua New Guinea have recently announced, the closure of Australia's immigration detention center in Manus Island has begun, and the federal government has been called to bring gay and bisexual asylum seekers and refugees to Australia.
As The Guardian reports, detainees were told to “consider options” as the shutdown process has commenced. “Refugees can move to accommodation in Papua New Guinea community” or temporarily relocate to a transit centre, “or return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance, or move to third country where you have a right to reside. Non-refugees can return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance or be removed by government of Papua New Guinea without any reintegration assistance.”
Such solutions, lawmakers in Australia have highlighted, will put people who fled their countries on the grounds of their sexual orientation at risk. “The government is being profoundly cruel," Senator Janet Rice said. "Many of these men have fled their home country because of their sexuality, so going home is not an option. Nor is Papua New Guinea where homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.”
According to SBS, such a call may end up unheard. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has already said that no-one from the centre would be resettled in Australia. “The minister has made the position regarding those in Manus crystal clear innumerable times,” a spokesman for the minister reiterated. “Nothing has changed – nothing will change.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
Officers in Bangladesh raided a private party, arresting 28 men. They were paraded in front of the media, as police claimed they were gay and accused them of drug possession. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, over 140 men were detained by police after a raid on a sauna popular among gay men in Jakarta. A few days later, two men were caned in an horrific public ceremony in the Aceh province for committing consensual same-sex sexual acts.
In a country’s historic first, a Pride week was held in Beirut, Lebanon, despite the ministry of Interior reportedly prompted a venue to cancel one of the events for “not being able to keep the participants safe."
According to the latest Trans Rights Europe Map & Index, presented by TGEU at the IDAHoT Forum in Brussels, Belgium, 20 countries in Europe require sterilisation for legal gender recognition, and 36 countries require a mental health diagnosis.
#Portugal abt to ban unnecessary surgeries on #intersex infants, so other states can act now. It is about #humanrights #idahotforum @govpt pic.twitter.com/ihpeDr5IeR
— ILGA-Europe (@ILGAEurope) May 19, 2017
" target="_blank">Portugal announced it will present legislation aimed to ban medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex infants.
Lawmakers in Texas, United States are quickly advancing two discriminatory bills as the state’s regular legislative session is coming to an end: one bill would target trans young people in schools, while the other would allow foster care agencies to potentially disqualify rainbow families from the state’s foster and adoption system based on religious or moral beliefs.
In the United States, a study found that only 18.4% among major Hollywood studios releases in 2016 included characters identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or queer. In 43% of these films, LGBTQ characters have less than one minute of screen time.
The second Africa Regional Dialogue on HIV, TB and the Law will take place in August in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a call for submission has been opened.
A charity organisation in Uganda has urged schools not to expel students on the grounds of their sexual orientation, but added that "we need to prevent (homosexuality) from happening rather than just chasing away."
This is how teachers and students at a school in Morón, Argentina spoke out against discrimination and lesbophobia, after the headmaster rebuked two girls who were holding hands.
Human rights bodies and LGBTI advocacy groups in Guyana are speaking out against the government’s proposal to hold a referendum to determine whether same-sex sexual activity should be decriminalised.
In Australia, the Australian Medical Association has joined those advocating marriage equality, highlighting how "excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage has significant mental and physical health consequences for LGBTIQ Australians."
The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission of Fiji has been asked to condemn homophobic language reportedly used by the acting prime minister.
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