LGBulleTIn #101 – The week in LGBTI news September 8-14, 2017

Prepared by Daniele Paletta Edited by Lara Goodwin Read more Read less

Friday, September 8

South Africa: Court ruled marriage status irrelevant to gender marker change

The Western Cape High Court has ruled that legally married persons have the right to subsequently alter their gender markers without having to dissolve their marriages.

Part of the caseSunday World explainsrevolves around three trans persons and their spouses‚ who took the Department of Home Affairs to court after it had refused to change their gender markers.

As the couples had been married under the Marriages Act 25 of 1961‚ which regulates marriages of opposite-sex partners, the Department had argued that the amendments could not be made, in order to avoid gender marker changes resulting in same-sex marriages.

The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) took up the case after one of its clients had their marriage deleted from the National Population Register‚ and two others were advised to get divorced to be able to obtain their gender legally recognised.

The legal battle lead to the recent ruling, in which Judge Binns-Ward declared that the decision of the Department of Home Affairs infringed on the applicants’ rights to administrative justice, equality and human dignity, and was inconsistent with their obligations in terms of the Constitution.



Tuesday, September 12

Vitit Muntarbhorn resigns as Independent Expert on SOGI

Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’s Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, resigned on Friday in a letter sent to the President of the Human Rights Council. The effective date of the resignation is 31 October 2017.

In the letter, Professor Muntarbhorn explains he has resigned for illness and family reasons.

The position of Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was created by the UN’s Human Rights Council in June 2016. Professor Muntarbhorn was appointed as the first such Independent Expert to this groundbreaking position in September 2016. In his one year of holding the position, Professor Muntarbhorn has finalised two initial reports: presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2017 and to the General Assembly, due to be presented in October 2017.

Professor Muntarbhorn was the keynote speaker at the ILGA World Conference in Bangkok in November 2016In addition to his two reports, he has conducted a country visit to Argentina, engaged in consultations with governments, civil society and business, and responded to specific human rights situations of concern such as the situations in Honduras and Chechnya, women’s rights and trans and gender diverse children and adolescents.

The process for appointing his successor – the standard procedure for appointing a UN “Special Procedures” expert – is expected to start in the coming days.

ILGA’s thoughts are immediately with Professor Muntarbhorn and his family, and we wish him health and support during what is no-doubt a difficult time.


Tuesday, September 12

United States: activist Edith “Edie” Windsor dies at 88

Rainbow communities across the United States have mourned the loss of Edith “Edie” Windsor, the activist whose landmark Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, and paved the way for marriage equality in the country. Her death was confirmed by Judith Kasen-Windsor, the woman she married in 2016.

Back in 2007, Windsor married Thea Spyer, her partner of almost 40 years, in Canada. When her spouse died two years later, Windsor found that the law known as DOMA, passed in 1996, barred her from receiving the federal tax benefits of marriage as a consequence of their relationship not officially being recognised in the country, and decided to go to court. Her case went all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in the 2013 decision.

That historic ruling, the New York Times explained, was limited to 13 states and the District of Columbia, but eventually paved the way for the ruling handed out on 26 June 2015, when the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry anywhere in the nation.

“I thought about Edie that day,” Barack Obama wrote in an eulogy for the activist. “I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love — and who, in the process, made us all more free.”

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Edie Windsor, a hero and icon for the LGBT rights movement,” National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell said. “Many of us feel the personal loss of a tremendous friend and mentor, whom we will never forget. (…)  Her legacy will live on in history and be felt in the lives of our community for many years to come.”


Tuesday, September 12

Russia: LGBTI human rights defender charged with “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” for sharing articles on social media

An LBGTI activist from Samara, Russia will soon stand trial after being charged with “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors using Internet.” If found guilty, she could be fined up to 100,000 roubles (€1,500).

An active member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR), Evdokia Romanova was summoned to a local police station in July 2017 to act as a witness for another case, only to see herself charged under the Russian “promotion” law as soon as she arrived there. As Amnesty reports, she was unlawfully denied legal representation when questioned by the police, and her lawyer could access casefile materials only six weeks after she was charged.

Evdokia Romanova’s casefile reveals that the charges most likely relate to sharing links to publications by the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, as well as articles about rainbow communities, on social media.

The human rights defender will face trial on September 18: here is how you can take action.



Tuesday, September 12

Brazil: queer art exhibition cancelled after campaign by right-wing protesters

An exhibition aiming to “map diversity in Brazilian art” was abruptly closed a month ahead of schedule, following a wide wave of protests on social media by right-wing campaigners.

Queermuseu – Cartografias da Diferença na Arte Brasileira gathered together almost 270 works by 85 artists in the Santander Bank’s cultural centre in Porto Alegre. According to The Guardianprotests started to gain momentum almost a month after the opening, mainly led by the Free Brazil Movement and supported by evangelical Christians. Protestors accused the exhibition of promoting blasphemy, paedophilia and bestiality – charges that the exhibition’s curator strongly denied.

At first the cultural centre seemed to stand by the choice of organising the exhibition, claiming that those works of art “were created precisely to make us reflect on the challenges we must face in relation to issues of gender, diversity and violence, among others.” Two days later, however, it took to social media to announce the cancellation of Queermuseu“sincerely apologize(ing) to all those who felt offended by some work in the exhibition.”

The decision sparked a wave of counter-protests, and more than 65,000 persons have already signed a petition demanding Queermuseu reopen. “It is an exhibition that deals with issues of identity,” the curator Gaudêncio Fidelis was quoted as saying. “This is a frightening moment in Brazilian life.”



Wednesday, September 13

Australia: emergency law to ban vilification, intimidation and threats in marriage equality debate

The Australian government has introduced legislation that makes it illegal to vilify, intimidate or threaten people on the basis of their participation in either side of the marriage equality debate while the postal survey takes place.

According to The Guardian, the provision seeks to penalise those who intimidate or threaten people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, or religious conviction, or because of views they hold on the survey.

As Buzzfeed reports, the legislation was first approved by the Coalition party room on Tuesday, and then passed through the Senate with the support of Labor, the Greens and cross benchers. It will now go to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

The bill will last only for the period of the postal survey, and penalties of up to AUS$12,600 and court-ordered injunctions could be applied.

The news of the vilification protections come as the first forms for the survey have been delivered, and as the campaigns against marriage equality are getting uglier by the minute. Unofficial leaflets and posters with homophobic statements and data from discredited researches are being pushed through letterboxes across the country, The Guardian has reported. Meanwhile, research by an advertising analytics firm has revealed that official campaigns of those opposing marriage equality have so far outspent the “yes” campaign by about five-to-one in television ads.

Supporters of marriage equality, however, have again taken again to the streets during the past weekend, with thousands of people marching in several cities across Australia.



Wednesday, September 13

Anti-discrimination bill advances in the Philippines

The House Bill No. 4982, otherwise known as the SOGIE Equality Bill, has passed its second reading in the House of Representatives in the Philippines and it is now a step closer to becoming law. According to Outrage, this is the furthest this bill has gone in the past 11 years.

The provision seeks to prohibit and sanction discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – including on the workplace, in education and healthcare settings. The provision also “considers as discriminatory any public speech which intends to shame or ridicule LGBTQ+ persons,” including harassment on social media.

According to Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, one of the authors of the bill, the result in the Lower House “is a victory for equality. We are moving closer towards realizing our aspiration for a fair and free society where no one will be discriminated based on SOGIE.”

The bill is now expected to be approved on its third and final reading by the end of September, to then be sent to the Senate for discussion.


Is that all? More LGBTI news bites

A report on the EU conclusion of the Istanbul Convention – which includes calls specifically addressing the needs of LBTI women and includes SOGIESC hate crime as falling within European legislation on hate crime – has been approved by a large majority of members of the European Parliament.

During a conference hosted in Berlin, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency has presented findings of recent research on cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in Germany.

A document published by the municipality of San Martin de Porres, Peru has caused outrage after it claimed that the Committee on Citizen Security pursued 33 interventions to “eradicate homosexuals” in 2016.

A national conference on inclusivity, equality and diversity in university education has taken place in Nigeria, in what was reported being a country’s first.

Human rights defenders have reportedly voiced concerns over the announced Public Inquiry into LGBTI issues that the Malawi Human Rights Commission is planning to conduct in the country.

An intersex support group meeting is set to take place in November 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand to discuss health, relationships and advocacy.

ILGA Oceania Co-Convenor Rawa Karetai is among the speakers at the Waitaha Suicide Prevention Day symposium, where he will talk about his experience of growing up as a Takatāpui person in New Zealand.

In the United States, the Department of Justice has submitted an amicus brief in a case involving a baker who in 2012 refused to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, in an initiative that human rights groups see as “urging the Supreme Court to grant a potentially sweeping license to discriminate.”

In the United States, the California Legislature approved a bill that would help protect LGBTQ seniors from discrimination or mistreatment in long-term care facilities.

A report by the Centre for Responsible Business has cast a light on discriminatory practices excluding women, rainbow communities, people living with HIV, and religious and ethnic minorities from the workforce in Myanmar.

Both Advancing the Human Rights and Inclusion of LGBTI People: A Handbook for Parliamentarians by UNDP and PGA, and ILGA’s 2017 State-Sponsored Homophobia report have had versions released in Chinese this week.


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