The week in LGBTI news 9-15 October

Written by Maddalena Tomassini Edited by Daniele Paletta Read more Read less

Our family worldwide continues to fight against discrimination and the many ways it affects our lives. In India, the death by suicide of a bisexual woman who had been forced to undergo ‘conversion’ therapy prompted a group to file a petition, asking for those practices to be banned. Queer people need no fixing, as over 60 members of the European Parliament pointed out in an open letter addressing the need for a ban on such discredited practices across the European Union.

Prejudice affects every segment of our daily life. It disrupts our ability to have our relationships recognised – as it is happening in Peru, where the Constitutional Court is failing to deliver a ruling that could pave the way for marriage equality in the country. A study in the United States has cast a light on how, for intersex people, stigma and human rights violations result in alarming health disparities throughout their lives. In Liberia, a man was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and torturing over twenty men, just because he believed them to be gay. In many States, who you are and whom you love can result in barriers for you to donate blood: in Australia, the deferral period for “donors with a sexual-activity-based risk factor” is going to be reduced from 12 months to three – a step forward, but still not enough, activists say.


(trigger warning: suicide) LGBT group files petition against “conversion therapy” after bisexual woman dies by suicide

After a young bisexual woman died by suicide, LGBT activists have filed a petition to the Kerala High Court, seeking a ban on “conversion therapy”. The court will hold a hearing on the matter on 28 October.

The woman, who took her own life in May, had claimed in a video on social media that she was being forcefully admitted in “de-addiction centres” after coming out to her parents as bisexual.

Queerala – the group behind the petition with Raghav, trans activist and board member of Malayalee Transmen Association – said they received “several complaints” regarding the discriminatory and harmful practice, also rebuked by the Indian Psychiatric Society. The number of cases has reportedly increased especially since lockdown measures have come into force in March this year, as many queer persons were forced to isolate in non- accepting home environments. “One young woman told us how her parents forced her to see a doctor, who asked to admit her at the hospital so that tests could be run to see if her internal organs ‘were working’, and [if] medicines can be administered on her,” said Rajashree Raju, a Queerala board member. According to Raju, another bisexual woman was prescribed medicines for schizophrenia.

More news from Asia

Five years after the first program to recognize same-sex unions was set up in Japan and with over 50 municipalities certifying them, people in queer relationships are still facing struggles as the central government refuses to recognize them.

In India, the Delhi High Court sought the Centre’s response on separate pleas by two same-sex couples, one seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act and the other seeking registration of their wedding in the US under the Foreign Marriage Act.



Europe and Central Asia

European Parliament members address the need for an EU-wide ban on “conversion therapy”

Over 60 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) addressed the need for a Europe-wide ban on so-called “conversion therapy” in an open letter to commissioners Věra Jourová, Helena Dalli and Stella Kyriakides, stating that it can only be described as “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that seek to ‘correct’ something that warrants no ‘fixing’”.

In the letter, the MEPs highlighted how, according to data from the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, the “highly discriminatory” and harmful practices are enforced in at least 69 countries worldwide, including in EU member states – reportedly, by the use of medication in France; psychotherapy in Austria, Italy and Poland; and exorcisms or ritual cleansing in France and Spain.

“This call is all the more pressing when, as recognised in the recent European Parliament resolution on Article 7 concerning Poland, the Polish Episcopate recently endorsed the idea of ‘conversion camps’ in Poland for LGBT persons,” the letter continued.

“Currently, only Germany, Malta and some parts of Spain have banned these practices and other Member States like France envisage to do so. However, as several Member States are not considering adopting such legislation in the near future, and in the absence of a Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive which would have made discrimination on sexual orientation grounds in health matters illegal, the [European Commission] has a responsibility to act.”

More news from Europe and Central Asia

Georgia breached its international obligation by failing to protect LGBTI activists from degrading treatment at the hands of police, the European Court of Human Rights ruled.

The Parliamentary of the Council of Europe (COE) has adopted a report on upholding human rights in times of crisis, which states that governments have rarely taken the different situations and needs of LGBTI people and minority groups into sufficient account when designing measures to combat the pandemic. This week, a second review report on recommendations on LGBTI issues was also adopted by the COE Committee of Ministers.

Following a similar ruling earlier this year, an Italian court has recognised two children of a lesbian couple as siblings despite being born from different mothers.

Trans women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international levels of the game in England. The position, however, is at odds with World Rugby, which last week ruled that trans women could no longer play international women’s rugby on the grounds of alleged “too great” risks of “significant injury”.

As of 2027, new passports in Finland will be issued without a gender marker.

The government of France has unveiled a national plan to combat hatred and discrimination against LGBT people, which emphasises the importance of inclusive education.



Latin America and the Caribbean

Peru: lawyers, academics and activists express “deep concern” as the Constitutional Court delays ruling on a case for equal marriage

Over fifty lawyers, academics and activists sent a public letter to Peru’s Constitutional Court, expressing “deep concern” as the court has delayed  ruling on a marriage equality case for more than two years.

In June 2018, the court held a public hearing on Óscar Ugarteche’s case against the Registro Nacional de Identificación y Estado Civil (RENIEC). The plaintiff reported that RENIEC had rejected his request to recognise his marriage to a man, registered in Mexico – reportedly arguing that marriage was “between a man and a woman”. The Court was supposed to rule in 30 days, but a decision on the case has been pending since then.

Peru is bound by a 2018 decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which indicated that all couples must be guaranteed the same legal protections and rights – including the right to marriage.

“A favourable ruling could pave the way towards marriage equality, but still [the Court] hasn’t issued a decision,” Más Igualdad Peru wrote on social media. “The recognition of equal marriage in Peru is at stake!”

More news from Latin America and the Caribbean

After nine months, the vote on the proposed changes to Mexico City’s Civil Code that would  allow trans minors to align their birth certificate with their gender identity was once again excluded from the local Congress’s agenda.

In Chile, a 21-year-old man has been charged for the murder of two gay activists.



North America and the Caribbean

United States: study reveals alarming health disparities faced by intersex people

One of the largest studies ever conducted on the physical and mental health experiences of intersex adults in the United States has revealed serious disparities faced by people with diverse sexual characteristics.

Many among the 198 persons who took part in the study reported having undergone surgeries during childhood, conducted without their consent. Results also showed unusually high diagnoses of depression and anxiety: 53.6% of participants reported fair or poor mental health, and nearly 32% of respondents told that they had attempted suicide. Over 43% of participants reported fair or poor general physical health (compared to 17.7% in the general population), while 1 in 4 reported living with an income below US$ 20,000 per year. Overall, the study found that participants had worse self-reported health than the general population, and many noted encountering functional difficulties concentrating, climbing stairs, dressing or doing errands.

“This study demonstrates the need to expand research and interventions relating to the health of intersex people,” the authors conclude. “It is also vital to consider how interventions experienced by intersex infants and children affect health throughout the life course, in order to inform decision-making, promote bodily autonomy, and avoid preventable harms.”

“[The report] is a great start toward addressing the social and mental health issues that are overrepresented in intersex adults, whose bodies are shamed and stigmatized so young,” writes co-author Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director for interACT.

More news from North America and the Caribbean

Our communities around the world are mourning pioneering journalist and trans rights advocate Monica Roberts. She had founded the TransGriot blog in 2006, and worked to foster understanding and acceptance of trans people inside and outside communities of color.

The reported number of trans and gender non-conforming people killed in the United States has hit an all-time high, making 2020 the deadliest year on record.

The New Mexico Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women task force held a public meeting to address violence against queer and trans people in the community.

A federal court in the United States upheld a previous ruling, stating that two twin boys born abroad to a same-sex couple are officially US citizens.

At least 574 openly LGBT people will appear on ballots around the United States this November, in a 33 percent increase since 2018’s midterm election.




(trigger warning: torture and violence) Liberia: ex-Army officer arrested for allegedly kidnapping and torturing 27 men because he believed them to be gay

An ex Military Police officer of the Armed Forces of Liberia has been arrested for kidnapping and torturing at least 27 young men whom he believed to be gay. Survivors believed the number to be higher, and two are still missing and feared dead.

“We are glad that this criminal has been apprehended by the Police,” said a representative of an underground LGBT organisation. “We hope this case will teach others out there that no matter how much different you think someone is, you have no right to assault, mob or take away his/her life. (He) must face justice for his inhumane and criminal act.” According to reports, the suspect had approached his victims by luring them on social media, and argued that he received a “revelation from God to get rid of all gays in Liberia”.

According to ILGA World’s State-sponsored Homophobia report, Liberia still punishes same-sex intimacy between consenting adults with imprisonment up to one year. Furthermore, according to a shadow report submitted by a coalition of Liberian LGBT groups in 2017, individuals suspected of engaging in such acts have been subject to arbitrary arrest and detention: for instance, a man was allegedly detained without trial from 2010 to 2013 after he was “outed” in the media.

More news from Africa

An Algerian court sentenced two men to prison terms and 42 other people to suspended terms after mass arrests at what police alleged was a “gay wedding”, Human Rights Watch said, asking for their immediate release. According to ILGA World’s State-Sponsored Homophobia report, in Algeria any “act of homosexuality against a person of the same sex” could be punished with imprisonment up to two years, while “indecent acts” can lead to a prison sentence of up to three.

A group launched in Uganda a 6-month program to promote self-employment and economic development for LBQ women.

Mauritius hosted a Pride parade, as activists asked for decriminalisation of consensual same-sex activities between adults.




Australia to ease deferral period for blood donations in 2021

Australia’s Red Cross Lifeblood donation service announced that long-standing restriction on gay, bisexual and trans donors will be eased from early 2021. Currently, a 12-month celibacy period must be observed before being allowed to donate blood, as the policy revised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) earlier this year to lower the deferral period to three months has not yet come into force.

“We are pleased that the TGA has approved our submissions to reduce the postponements for whole blood, plasma and platelet donations to three months and can report that our proposal has been agreed to by all Australian governments,” Australia Red Cross Lifeblood announced. “Lifeblood is now in the process of implementing the change which requires updates to our systems including the donor questionnaire form. The change will come into effect in early 2021.”

However, LGBTI advocates argue that changes should go further. Also, Lifeblood’s recent decision to entirely abolish the four-month deferral period for tattooed donors sparked more criticisms. “It is a double standard for Lifeblood to allow donations from tattoo recipients but not GBT people, and it is a double-standard for them to heed science in one instance and ignore it in the other”, said just-equal’s Rodney Croome. “The only explanation for this double standard is that Lifeblood is acting out of prejudice, or in fear of other people’s prejudice, neither of which is an acceptable basis for public health policy.”

More news from Oceania

In Australia, a protest against a bill that would  “prohibit the teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools” of New South Wales went ahead despite a ban.

The government of South Australia introduced to parliament a bill to scrap the so-called “gay panic defence”, a discriminatory legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction. The decision came after activists had launched a petition on the issues which had gathered more than 25,000 signatures.

In Fiji, rights groups have expressed concerns over the multiple reports of police brutality.


Photo of the week

An open door with a rainbow light coming in

Our communities worldwide celebrated Coming Out Day over the weekend.Coming out can be beautiful.
Not a safe option for many.
A way to speak your truth.
It is a journey to take at your own pace, but know you’re not alone: we see you and we support you.

Would you like to see your organisation featured in this space of the newsletter?
Send us your photos at [email protected]!

We need your help!

If you have got news from your country on region, or have spotted studies and researches about our communities, let us know at [email protected]!
Every week, we will review your tips and consider them for publication.