LGBulleTIn #89 - Two weeks in LGBTI news
May 26 – June 8, 2017
Friday, May 26
Colombia: LGBTI human rights defender killed in Tumaco
Carlos Augusto Paneso, an LGBTI human rights defender, was shot several times and killed as he left his home in the city of Tumaco. He had been a victim of forced internal displacement, and was known for his human rights work in the area with the Fundación Colombiano Arco Iris.
According to El Espectador, he was the second gay man to be killed in the area in a few days’ time: on May 18, the body of Alex Aguino was found dead in Piñal Salado.
12 members of the community have been killed in Tumaco since 2011, the Fundación Colombiano Arco Iris reported, but none of the official investigations have found the assailants.
“LGBTI persons have been victims of threats by paramilitary groups operating within and in the vicinity of Tumaco, forcing them to live in a state of constant fear,” Caribe Afirmativo wrote. “In the midst of the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the building of a stable and lasting peace, the government cannot allow cases such as those in Tumaco to continue.”
Friday, May 26
New report reveals ordeal faced by gay and bisexual men in Chechnya
Almost two months after initial reports of the arbitrary detentions, tortures and killings of dozens of men “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such,” a new report by Human Rights Watch has cast a light on the situation in Chechnya, implicating that government officials have had a hand in the mass purge that began as early as February.
According to the organisation, “Chechen authorities, including two high-level officials, paid visits to the unofficial detention facilities, berated the suspected detainees, and watched the guards abuse them.”
The report is based on first-hand interviews with victims of the persecution, and confirmed that police rounded up men believed to be gay or bisexual, held them in secret detention, beat and humiliated them. Victims were also forced to hand over information about other men who might be gay or bisexual. Most of the men were returned to their families and saw their sexual orientation exposed, as officials indirectly encouraged their relatives to carry out “honour killings.”
"Many of the men released have fled Chechnya," HRW reports, "but while they remain in Russia they face the double risk of being hunted down and harmed by Chechen security forces and by their own relatives."
Tuesday, May 30
United States: Court of Appeals issues landmark ruling in favour of a trans student
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a school district in Wisconsin violated the rights of a trans student, Ash Whitaker, when it refused to let him use the restroom comporting with his gender identity. School staff and security were instructed to prevent him from using the boys’ restroom, according to his complaint.
In a unanimous decision, the 3-judges panel upheld the preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court, and concluded that the school district “has failed to provide any evidence of how the preliminary injunction will harm it, or any of its students or parents.”
According to Transgender Law Center, the ruling makes the Seventh Circuit the first federal appeals court to find conclusively that a trans student has the right to be treated in accordance with the student’s gender identity at school under both Title IX and the Constitution.
Wednesday, May 31
HIV diagnoses on the rise in New Zealand, MSM most affected group
244 people were diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand in 2016, figures released by the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago show. According to the research, this is the highest number ever diagnosed in any one year since monitoring of the epidemic began in the country in 1985.
"The persisting increase of recent infections over the last three years, along with the increase in total diagnoses, suggests a true rise in incidence in recent years," said Dr Sue McAllister, who leads the AIDS Epidemiology Group. She also highlighted the importance “to combat the stigma about HIV and the groups most affected, as when this exists testing could be discouraged, and people are less receptive to health promotion messages.”
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) were the most affected group, accounting for the 65 per cent among the people diagnosed in 2016.
“The reality is no one is immune from risk,” New Zealand AIDS Foundation executive director Jason Myers commented. “The message is really clear: if you think you have been at risk, then get tested.”
Listen to a Radio New Zealand interview with ILGA board member Rawa Karetai commenting on the news
Saturday, June 3
Malaysia: video competition on sexual and reproductive health sparks outrage
A video competition on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health launched by the Ministry of Health in Malaysia has sparked outrage among human rights activists.
The competition proposed that young people submit original videos on topics including “gender dysphoria,” and that submissions should address how to “prevent, control and seek help” for people who are “lesbian, gay, transgender (mak nyah), transvestite, [and] tomboy/pengkid." The competition’s guidelines also seemed to suggest that “preventing” or “controlling” same-sex attraction or trans identities would reduce the incidence of HIV infection.
Such a move encouraged “discrimination, hatred and even violence towards minorities," activists immediately reported. As the competition made headlines worldwide, the Ministry of Health met with representatives of the Malaysian AIDS Council and human rights defenders, and pledged to amend the “Gender Dysphoria” category to “Gender and Sexuality” and to circulate new guidelines for the competition, reiterating that “the purpose of the competition is not to single out or discriminate the LGBT community."
Monday, June 5
Scott Lively's "actions in aiding efforts to injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law," court affirms
A US federal court dismissed the suit that Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) brought against Scott Lively, the US anti-LGBTI extremist who “has aided and abetted a vicious and frightening campaign of repression against LGBTI persons in Uganda."
The court, however, was clear in outlining how Lively worked to deprive rainbow communities of their fundamental rights: “Anyone reading this memorandum should make no mistake,” wrote Judge Michael Ponsor of the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts. “The question before the court is not whether Defendant’s actions in aiding and abetting efforts to demonize, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law. They do.”
As Buzzfeed explains, the judge agreed that Lively's actions violated international law, but the case was dismissed as US courts do not have jurisdiction over crimes committed on foreign soil.
“This case is a win for SMUG,” said Frank Mugisha, SMUG Executive Director. “The court’s ruling recognized the dangers resulting from the hatred that Scott Lively and other extremist Christians from the U.S. have exported to my country.”
Only a few days after the ruling, however, an appeal was filed on the case: the Liberty Counsel (an anti-LGBT hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) announced it will attempt to get the language used by the judge in his ruling struck from the record, claiming it “was not necessary to the disposition of the case.”
Tuesday, June 6
35th session of the UN Human Rights Council opens in Geneva
"Every State has accepted that 'it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms'," the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein remembered as the Human Rights Council opened its thirty-fifth regular session.
During his opening speech, Zeid reiterated how members of the Council, and candidates for future membership, have a particular responsibility to cooperate with the Council's mechanisms, and expressed concerns over "disgraceful incidents of personal threats and insults directed against Special Procedures mandate-holders" in recent months.
On the first day of the session, the historic first report by the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was presented in an interactive dialogue. Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn recalled how in many countries lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons are still victims of torture, mistreatment, killing, harassment and bullying from a young age, and highlighted how promoting non-discriminant values in education and raising awareness are essential to put an end to disrespectful and hate attitudes.
During the week, ILGA co-hosted two side events: a conversation between human rights defenders and the Independent Expert on SOGI, and a panel event about trans people, mental health and human rights.
Find out more about ILGA’s involvement in the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A new awards show has been created to celebrate positive representation of bisexual people in TV shows.
In Peru, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI) launched a first virtual survey to collect data on the issues facing LGBTI communities.
The body of Rubí Mori, a trans human rights defender and a sex worker, was found in a field in Higüey, Dominican Republic, in what appears to be a hate crime.
In Texas, United States, the governor called lawmakers back to the Capitol and put on the agenda a bill that would prevent municipalities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances designed to protect trans people.
A group of Indigenous two-spirit and LGBTI youth gathered in Regina, SK, Canada to share experiences and support one another, in a talking circle organised by eight community organisations.
SOGIESC issues were addressed in a number of comments and reports presented during the 60th ordinary session of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Niamey, Niger.
17 LGBTIQ Ugandan refugees in Kenya were sentenced to a month in prison, or to pay a fine, after protesting against mistreatment and conditions at the camp where they were forcibly relocated to.
An LGBT conference in Xi’an, China was cancelled, and organisers were detained for eight hours, after authorities told organisers that rainbow events were not welcome in the city.
A global coalition of human rights organisations has called for public support to end increasing persecution of LGBT people in Indonesia.
A capacity building training on children's rights was held at the European Parliament, including a workshop focusing on LGBTI children and children of LGBTI parents.
Leo Varadkar, an out gay politician, is set to become the next prime minister of Ireland, after he was voted leader of the country’s main governing party.
Guam is reportedly looking to use the local government's "sovereign immunity" protection to avoid having to pay attorney's fees in a lawsuit brought by a same-sex couple whose request to have both their names on their daughter's birth certificate was rejected.
Over a quarter of Coalition voters in Australia say they will consider voting for a new Government that commits to a marriage equality free vote, if the issue isn't dealt within this term.
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