LGBulleTIn 123 The week in LGBTI news of the world June 8-14, 2018 Prepared by Daniele Paletta Edited by Callum Birch

ILGA’s LGBulleTIn #123 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, June 8

India: largest mental health professionals body announces official stance on same-sex attraction

The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) has officially asked its members to ‘stop considering homosexuality as an illness’ in a reported first for the largest mental health professional body in the country.

According to the Hindustan Times, the IPS had set up a working group to discuss issues faced by rainbow communities in 2016, kickstarting two years of work that led to the recent announcement regarding its stance on same-sex attraction.

In a video posted on social media, the IPS president Dr Ajit Bhide described the move as “a step in the right direction” backed by plenty of scientific proof.  “Some individuals are just not cut out to be heterosexuals”, he added, “and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, we don’t need to ostracise them.”

The announcement has been welcomed both by health professionals and LGBTI human rights defenders: “It should have been done 20 years ago, but I am glad they have come up with it now,” activist Vikram Doctor was quoted as saying. “[The IPS statement] will be an effective argument in the court to challenge bodies that support criminalisation of homosexuality based on religious point of views”.



Monday, June 11

UN Independent Expert on SOGI Victor Madrigal-Borloz publishes his first report

The UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has published a new report to the UN Human Rights Council. It is the first such report since Victor Madrigal-Borloz has held the mandate.

The report will be presented in an interactive dialogue on June 18, as the 38th Human Rights Council kicks off, highlighting the extent of the violence and discrimination faced by rainbow communities worldwide.

“Such acts”, the report reads, “are committed in all corners of the world, and victims are presumed to be in the millions, every year. These acts extend from daily exclusion and discrimination to the most heinous acts, including torture and arbitrary killings. At their root lie the intent to punish the non-conformity of victims with preconceived notions of what should be their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The report highlights that “almost half of the world population lives in the 72 countries in which law or other measures criminalises on the basis of sexual orientation”. It also points out how “trans and gender non-conforming persons are particularly at risk of violence,” “especially when they are persons of colour, belong to ethnic minorities or are migrants, living with HIV, or sex workers.”



Monday, June 11

Nigeria: dozens of men and women reportedly arrested on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation

More than 100 persons have reportedly been arrested on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation as they were attending a party at a hotel in Asaba, NoStringsNG reported.

According to a witness, the police showed up at the hotel’s club, where a party was taking place, and started beating and harassing everyone in attendance. People were later arrested and taken to a local police station.

Some of the persons arrested were reportedly granted bail, while others were detained at the police station, with officers threatening to take the matter to court. At the time of this report, it is still unclear if and when they will be charged and tried.



Wednesday, June 13

Australia: Queensland scraps abusive ‘forced divorce’ precondition for legal gender recognition



Joining New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland has become the fifth state in Australia to allow trans people to change the gender on their birth certificate without undergoing forced divorce from their spouse.

The bill approved by the Queensland parliament amended the state’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Act, allowing trans persons who have undergone gender affirmation surgery to have their birth certificates amended without having to get divorced first.

“I hope delivering this reform will go some way to helping the transgender community to live their lives openly and without judgment,” said the state’s attorney-general, Yvette D’Ath.

As Human Rights Law Centre pointed out, the Queensland Government is also reviewing laws which only allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate in very limited circumstances.

Only one day after it scrapped the ‘forced divorce’ precondition, Queensland took another step towards equality, as the new laws overturning convictions for historic consensual same-sex activity were officially proclaimed.



Thursday, June 14

Russia: LGBT human rights groups launch World Cup hotlines as the tournament kicks off

Ahead of the men’s football World Cup in Russia, LGBT human rights groups in the country have established hotlines to assist members of rainbow communities in need of legal or psychological aid during the weeks of the tournament.

According to Coming Out St. Petersburg, “the chances of being affected by discrimination and violence from fans are high for both residents and tourists. The situation is worsened by the Russian discriminatory legislation” – a reference to the infamous ‘promotion’ law sanctioning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”.

Coming Out has established a World Cup hotline for both residents and tourists in Saint Petersburg, while Stimul has set up a similar initiative in Moscow.

Unfortunately, reports of attacks against rainbow communities have already made headlines. In Saint Petersburg, two men from France were allegedly assaulted and robbed after catching a taxi, and two men have since been arrested in conjunction with the assault.

Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament in the LGBTI Intergroup shipped dozens of rainbow shoelaces to football teams across Europe, launching the #supportallcolours campaign to raise awareness of the LGBTI human rights situation in Russia.

“The beginning of the World Cup also coincides with the start of Pride season in Europe,” Daniele Viotti MEP commented. “Distributing Rainbow Laces at Prides around Europe is a way to show that while we celebrate in some places, we also are in solidarity with countries where Prides are at risk – in Russia or elsewhere”.



Thursday, June 14

Argentina: congress takes historic step towards legalising abortion

In a session that lasted more than 23 hours, the lower house of Congress in Argentina has approved a bill that would legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, in what has been described as a historic move.

The bill was narrowly passed by the chamber of deputies by 129 to 125 votes, and will now go before the senate. According to The Guardian, Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri pledged not to veto the bill in the event that it is approved.

The bill appears to address not only the right of cisgender women to abortion, as its text explicitly mentions “pregnant persons” alongside them, thus including also trans men and non-binary persons amongst others.

As Vox explains, abortion is currently illegal in Argentina except in cases of rape or when the life or health of the woman is at risk. But even in such circumstances, abortions are difficult to obtain.

Before the vote took place, hundreds of thousands took to the streets – their heads covered in green handkerchiefs – to demand the right to a safe, free, and legal abortion.

“We won. Whatever the result,” tweeted Argentine journalist Mariana Carbajal after the vote. “The green wave is unstoppable. We’ve opened consciences. And there’s no turning back.”



Thursday, June 14

United States: resolution urging a delay of medically unnecessary intersex surgeries advancing in California

A resolution calling on health professionals to protect intersex children from non-consensual, medically unnecessary surgeries is advancing in California: after a hearing at the Assembly Health Committee, SRC-110 has moved forward as it passed with 9 votes in favour, 1 against and 5 non-recorded.

The next hearing on the resolution is set to take place in July 2018.

According to interACT, the resolution would make California the first state to endorse the position that non-consensual, cosmetic genital ‘normalising’ surgery on intersex kids should only be an option when a child is old enough to participate in the decision.

“The first goal is to get a resolution passed that will actually show that the state of California is making a strong statement in support of intersex rights and intersex people: that’s a big achievement,” Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of interACT, told ThinkProgress. “We’ve never had a state or legislative body in the U.S. come to consensus on that and say that.”



Is that all? More LGBTI news bites


23 trans activists from 19 countries will soon gather together in Geneva for Trans Advocacy Week 2018, an initiative organised by APTN, GATE, ILGA, RSFL and TGEU. You can follow all updates under the hashtag #UNTransAdvocacy.

In Maine, United States, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is now offering the option of a non-binary gender designation on driver’s licenses and identification cards.

The governor of New Hampshire, United States has signed into law a bill banning ‘conversion’ therapy for minors, and a second bill protecting trans individuals across the state from discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces.

The judgement in the trial for the murder of trans activist Diana Sacayán is set to be delivered on June 18 in Argentina.

Three persons have recently filed a petition against Barbados before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging laws criminalising ‘buggery’ and other intimacy between consenting partners.

Two women took their own lives in the state of Gujarat, India after community members had taken a strong objection to their relationship.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines is soon set to hear oral arguments on a petition that seeks to allow marriage equality in the country.

In a public speech, the Governor General of the Solomon Islands quoted provisions criminalising same-sex activity to reiterate that “our present criminal law is against same-sex marriage and associated conduct.”

A child care centre in New Zealand was reported to reveal an employee’s HIV status to parents to “discount any potential fears before they might arise” after she announced that she would appear in an HIV awareness-raising campaign. A few weeks after, the woman lost her job – in a decision the employer claimed not to be connected to her HIV status.

In what has been called “a ground-breaking sentence”, the Supreme Court of Poland ruled against discrimination of LGBT persons in access to services.

In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has recently asked forgiveness for the suffering inflicted on persons persecuted after Paragraph 175, while Ireland is soon set to debate a motion apologising to men who were convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual acts prior to their decriminalisation.

The second edition of the European Lesbian* Conference will take place in April 2019 in Kiev, Ukraine.

A binational same-sex couple have seen their request for a spousal visa rejected multiple times from the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa. The couple has taken the issue to court, where they are reportedly facing yet more delays.

A radio and digital campaign called Unheard Voices was launched to share real-life stories of people across Southern Africa who are LGBT or sex workers.


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