LGBulleTIn 119 The week in LGBTI news April 13-19, 2018

Prepared by Daniele Paletta Edited by Callum Birch ILGA’s LGBulleTIn #119 provides a week in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies Read more Read less

Friday, April 13

Portugal votes to better protect the rights of trans and intersex people

In a historic vote, the Portuguese parliament has adopted a law which will place a moratorium on performing normalising surgeries on intersex minors. The law will also allow people aged 16 and above to see their gender legally recognised through a procedure based on self-determination.

According to OII-Europe, “Portugal is only the second country worldwide to take steps towards banning cosmetic medical treatment on intersex infants.”

“It was profoundly enlightening to see all civil society working on the ground pronounce itself unequivocally in favour of these advances. We are truly happy with the result of this vote,” commented Nuno Pinto, president of ILGA Portugal.

The law, however, still leaves a few critical questions opened.
According to OII-Europe co-Chair Kitty Anderson, the law still “does not definitively protect all children’s right to bodily autonomy and physical integrity”, as it allows “for parental consent for non-emergency, invasive and irreversible procedures to be performed on young children if their gender identity is considered to be clear.”



Friday, April 13

Argentina: students speak up against homophobic materials circulated in their school

A group of secondary school students from a religious institute in Paraná (Entre Ríos) have called out their school for having circulated homophobic content in response to their request for sex education classes.

According to Presentes, the materials that were distributed among students were riddled with discriminatory stereotypes – including speaking about ‘normality’ for heterosexuality, and ‘abnormality’ for same-sex attraction.

Students immediately called out their school: first they posted pictures of the texts on social media, and then they prompted their parents to file a complaint with the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI). They also organised a kiss-in in front of their school, calling outhomophobia and the indoctrination of young people.”

As a result of the outcry, the General Council of Education of the Entre Ríos province ordered the school to withdraw the discriminatory materials, and urged it to comply with its duties to provide students with comprehensive sex education.



Friday, April 13

United States: new report highlights extent of food and housing insecurity for LGBTQ college students

A new report released earlier this month revealed that non-binary students are significantly more likely to face food and housing insecurity, as well as homelessness, compared to their cisgender peers.

The findings of the study, conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, are based on a survey of 43,000 students at 66 institutions across the United States.

“Among university students, 28% of male students were food insecure, compared to 37% of female students and 46% of non-binary students,” the report reads. “When it came to homelessness, male and female students were at similar risk; however, non-binary students were at far greater risk—23% of non-binary students at community colleges and 18% of non-binary students at universities reported experiencing homelessness in the last year.”

Students in the LGB cohort were also at higher risk of basic needs insecurity than their heterosexual peers, with bisexual students experiencing the higher risk rates of all.
Nearly half of bisexual respondents experienced food and/or housing insecurity, and over one in five bisexual community college students have experienced homelessness.

Acc0rding to the study, the disproportionalities are likely “linked to the higher risk of family estrangement and consequently lower levels of family financial support among LGBTQ students.”



Friday, April 13

Australia: Health in Difference conference celebrate its 10th edition

Nearly 400 delegates were reported to gather together in Redfern, NSW, Australia for the 10th edition of the Health in Difference conference.

Opening with a plenary session featuring ten speakers, each presenting their personal perspectives about the key health challenges facing LGBTI+ people in Australia, the conference unfolded during three days and 40 sessions, diving into the intersectional contexts that shape the lives and wellbeing of rainbow communities in the country.

The issues addressed ranged from the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI persons to the social recognition of bisexual and non-binary persons, from intersex health and wellbeing to LGBTIQ+ young people’s negotiations of identity and wellbeing, and many more. See the full schedule and a description of every session.



Monday, April 16

China: community mobilises and obtains victory as Weibo withdraws ban on ‘homosexual’ content

One of China’s largest social media sites, Sina Weibo, has reversed a short-lived ban on online content “related to homosexuality” after rainbow communities spoke up against the provision.

On April 13, the social network issued a statement announcing it would be removing comics and videos “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality” for the next three months. According to the platform, the effort meant to “create a clear and harmonious community environment” and comply with the country’s cybersecurity laws. More than 100 accounts and 56,000 posts were quickly removed after the announcement.

The move sparked massive outrage in the country, and rainbow communities quickly mobilised to protest the decision. Tens of thousands of Weibo users began posting photos with their partners, comments, and rainbow emojis under the hashtag “I am gay.” According to QZ, the crackdown also spurred more people to speak out in real life, as activists considered filing complaints against Xianlang, the company owning the platform.

As a result, Weibo backtracked only three days after announcing the ban, and pointed out that its ‘clean-up’ would now be limited to pornographic and violent material.



Monday, April 16

Report highlights LGBT voices from the Middle East and North Africa

A new report and a video series have cast a light on the lived realities of LGBT persons in Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Based on interviews with 34 activists, Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s Audacity in Adversity shows how grassroots movements in the region are finding ways to speak out and build alliances to bring about change, despite state-sponsored oppression and social stigma.

“Many governments in the region reject the concepts of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ altogether,” the report points out. “Faced with official intransigence, some activists choose to work outside state structures: their activism focuses on community building and attitudinal change. Others have taken on their governments, successfully pushing for incremental change in various forms.”

Despite all these efforts, progress can still be marred with setbacks, with the most evident case being the recent crackdown against rainbow communities in Egypt.

This is where community voices are most important in reaching out to individuals to tell them that they are not alone: a video series created by HRW with the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) shows individual activists reaching out in Arabic to LGBT people living in the region, offering messages of support and encouragement. Click here to watch the series.



Wednesday, April 18

Commonwealth leaders urged to embrace equality, as UK PM expresses “deep regret” for discriminatory colonial-era laws


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Leaders of 53 countries from across the world have gathered together in London to take part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where some historic words were pronounced.

“Across the world, discriminatory laws made many years ago continue to affect the lives of many people, criminalising same-sex relations and failing to protect women and girls. I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

“I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced, and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today,” she continued, offering her country’s support to “any Commonwealth member wanting to reform outdated legislation that makes such discrimination possible.”

Her words were met with positive feedback from human rights defenders: “I am extremely pleased that finally the UK has acknowledged its wrongdoing in bringing such insidious laws to our countries,” said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Executive Director of EQUAL GROUND in Sri Lanka and former co-Secretary General of ILGA. “It paves the way for making some positive change for the LGBT communities of the Commonwealth.”

May was not alone in addressing the legacy of discriminatory laws, as the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat pointed out that “the Commonwealth must be a force that nudges and encourages its members to embrace” the value of equality. “Malta believes that the advocacy for gender equality, and equal rights for the LGBTIQ community should remain firmly on the Commonwealth agenda”, he said.

This year’s CHOGM has been attended by representatives from The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN), which in 2017 became the first LGBTI-focused network to receive Commonwealth accreditation. A photo exhibition showing their faces and telling their stories has opened in London as the CHOGM was taking place.

Before country leaders reached London, over 104,000 people had signed a petition calling on LGBTI human rights to be included in the CHOGM agenda.



Is that all? More LGBTI news bites


ILGA’s UN Programme is collecting information about good practices of implementation/follow-up activities on UN Treaty Bodies LGBTI recommendations.

The Economist is holding its third Pride and Prejudice event on May 24 in Hong Kong, London and New York: if you are planning to attend, you can register with the reference code ‘ILGA/DC’ to get a 20% discount.

RFSL has opened applications for its Rainbow Advocacy Program, a training and mentoring opportunity for LGBTIQ+ activists from Global South and East to affect change at home through UN advocacy. More information here.

The Aceh province of Indonesia announced it will no longer hold canings in public, but rather only inside prisons, after such punishment of two men convicted of consensual same-sex activity drew international criticism in 2017.

In Taiwan, the Central Election Commission has passed a review of two referendum proposals brought on by groups opposing marriage equality, as well as a proposal on a public vote on whether sex education should mention same-sex attraction.

Human rights organisations have called on the Ministry of Health of Norway to “reject any policy which discriminates against trans people,” following an “extremely misleading” statement issued by the National Treatment Centre for Transsexualism (NBTS).

489 members of the European Parliament voted in favour of an instrument to support civil society organisations which promote democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.

A review of the bid by Morocco to host the 2026 soccer World Cup found that the country failed to mention its law criminalising same-sex relations as a risk factor for participants.

A movie portraying the love story between two girls in Nairobi, Kenya – directed by a renowned Kenyan filmmaker, and inspired by a short story by an Ugandan writer – is set to have its world premiere at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.

A woman from the Cayman Islands and her fiancée are taking legal action after their application for a marriage licence was rejected by the General Register on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

At least ten persons in Trinidad and Tobago were reported to seek assistance from human rights groups, as they were evicted from their homes or experienced workplace discrimination, in an apparent backfire to the recent court ruling declaring criminalisation of consensual same-sex activity unconstitutional.

In the United States, a trans woman who reported being raped while incarcerated in a men’s prison has won a historic settlement, yet she still isn’t housed in a facility comporting with her gender identity.

Advocates in the United States are mourning the death of LGBT rights advocate and environmental activist David Buckel, who reportedly took his own life in a protest against ecological destruction.

In Victoria, Australia, Liberal president Michael Kroger has reportedly intervened to stop a proposed motion debated at the party’s state council. The proposal called on the law to be changed to allow doctors to ‘offer counselling out of same-sex attraction or gender transitioning’.

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, Stats NZ is seeking feedback on the ‘development of a statistical standard for sexual identity.’ Submissions close on May 1.


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The LGBulleTIn will return on May 4, 2018.