Two weeks in LGBTI news 23 October – 5 November

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

In these past two weeks, our communities worldwide mobilised to raise awareness and be better allies to our intersex and asexual siblings, on the occasion of Intersex Awareness Day and Ace Week.

Meanwhile, as the United States wait for the outcome of their general elections, the Supreme Court held a hearing that could impact on many lives, determining if foster care agencies have the right to discriminate against rainbow families on the grounds of “religious beliefs”. Another ruling became a stumbling rock on the path to equality, as the Constitutional Court of Peru rejected a request to recognise a marriage between two men. In the meantime, in Australia, closure to a historic hate crime case could be delayed, as some key documents were reportedly destroyed.

Discrimination against our communities is still happening everyday, but we are fighting back everywhere to move the needle. North Macedonia reinstated the Anti-Discrimination Law after it had been repealed earlier this year. The city of Manila, in the Philippines, adopted an anti-discrimination ordinance. In South Africa, the passing of the Civil Amendment Union Bill ensured that marriage officers can no longer refuse to solemnise a same-sex union.

North America and the Caribbean

United States: Supreme Court set to rule on “right to discrimination” case

The Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in a case that could affect countless lives, potentially allowing foster care agencies to discriminate against rainbow families.

The case was brought by a Catholic foster care agency who sued the City of Philadelphia in 2018, when it stopped referring children to the group after learning they refused to accept same-sex couples as foster parents. All lower courts ruled in favour of the municipality, rejecting the agency’s claim of being constitutionally exempt from the non-discrimination requirement. Now, the case reached the Supreme Court, and LGBT activists are calling on the justices to uphold the previous rulings.

The impact on LGBT communities could be severe, affecting more than the aspiring foster parents. “Allowing foster care agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to foster sends a clear message to LGBTQ youth in care that there’s something unacceptable about who they are and that they aren’t equal under the law. It also exposes them to harm due to lack of family home placements likely to meet their needs,” said M. Currey Cook, Counsel and Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project Director at Lambda Legal. He further noted that they are “disproportionately represented in foster care compared to their non-LGBTQ peers, largely due to rejection by their families”.

But they wouldn’t be the only ones in harm’s way, activists said. Allowing agencies contracting with the government to discriminate on the grounds of their religious beliefs could jeopardize LGBT elders’ well-being, health, and even their lives. “Because of higher likelihood of isolation and alienation from families of origin and a lifetime of experiencing discrimination and health disparities, LGBTQ older adults must rely on a network of caregivers and service providers,” Lambda Legal wrote in a recent statement. “Much of this network provides services and care through grants and contracts with the government. And a majority of the services older adults rely on are offered by religiously affiliated agencies”.

More news from North America and the Caribbean

According to a report, right-wing groups in the United States put more than US$280 million into campaigns against LGBT rights and abortion worldwide since 2007. Almost a third of this funding focused on Europe.

Canada’s House of Commons has passed a bill in principle to ban so-called “conversion therapy” by 308 votes to 7.

Canadian activists demanded answers on the circumstances that led to the death of a Black trans woman after being apprehended by police.

Rallies in favour and against same-sex unions took place in Barbados.

In the context of the United States’ general elections, people in Nevada voted to repeal a 2002 amendment in the Constitution that defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

In the United States, rainbow families marked key legal victories, as federal district courts ruled that it is unlawful to refuse the U.S. citizenship to children born abroad to married same-sex U.S. couples.

In Texas, United States, a regulatory board reinstated the anti-discrimination rule that bars social workers from refusing services to LGBT people and people with disabilities.



Latin America and the Caribbean

Peru: Constitutional Court rejects request to recognise marriage between two men

Marriage equality has hit a roadblock in Peru, where the Constitutional Court rejected a request to recognise a marriage between two men.

The ruling came over two years after the Court held the public hearing on Óscar Ugarteche’s case against the Registro Nacional de Identificación y Estado Civil (RENIEC) in June 2018. The plaintiff reported that RENIEC had rejected his request to recognise his marriage to a man, registered in Mexico – reportedly arguing that marriage could only be  “between a man and a woman”. Now, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the RENIEC, leaving thousands of couples without any legal protection.

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.

“This ruling is a step backwards towards equal rights in Peru,” said Ugarteche, who is as well one of the founders of the Homosexual Movement of Lima (Mhol). “It has been a long and stormy road, one that continues ever since [1800’s French-Peruvian activist] Flora Tristan fought unsuccessfully for the recognition of her parents’ marriage in France. My struggle will continue now abroad.”

More news from Latin America and the Caribbean

In Argentina, a bill to protect intersex persons’ rights has been submitted to the Chamber of Deputies, with the support of intersex and LGBTI organisations as well as of 16 MPs from different parties.

One year after the death of activist Charlot Jeudy, our communities in Haiti are still facing violence. According to reports, over the last two weeks one man was found dead in unclear circumstances, and a trans man has been murdered, while six more persons have disappeared.

In Mexico, while the state of Puebla approved marriage equality, a case will be brought at the Supreme Court after 23 local deputies voted against the Equal Marriage Bill in the State of Guerrero.

Activists in Chile rang the alarm on the rising number of gay and bisexual men that are lured through dating apps and attacked. At least four similar deaths were reported in less than a year.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights organised an International Congress on Sexuality and Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event took place online.




Australia: New South Wales police reportedly destroyed documents in historic hate crime case

Closure to a historic hate crime case that occurred over 30 years ago could be delayed as, according to reports, the New South Wales Police may have destroyed key documents.

Alan Rosendale was attacked in 1989, reportedly beaten by a group of four to six men. A witness reported to police, including the number plate of the car that the attackers had used. Reportedly, this number plate belonged to an unmarked police car, bringing into question whether police officers had been involved in the aggression. After more than 30 years, Gavin Vance – a volunteer community radio presenter – began working with Rosendale to seek closure for all involved in the case.

Last month, when they went to visit the Police Station to examine relevant documents, they found that rosters regarding that night had been destroyed. According to reports, when the crime had occurred, the retention and disposal authority allowed the destruction of duty rosters after 20 years – which means that those documents “would have been scheduled for destruction in 2009.”

More news from Oceania

An LGBTI advocate and Labour MP called on the Catholic church in Aotearoa New Zealand to support the decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations between adults in the Cook Islands.

The city of Sydney approved a plan to paint a 90-metre rainbow path to commemorate the legalisation of marriage equality in Australia.



Europe and Central Asia

North Macedonia readopts Anti-Discrimination Law

The North Macedonian parliament adopted the Anti-Discrimination Law with 69 votes in favour, after the Constitutional Court had repealed it earlier this year, leaving LGBTI people and other marginalised groups without legal protection.

The first adoption of the law had marked a great victory after the tireless work of LGBTI activists, as it had explicitly prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in the country’s history.

Now, advocates call for a transparent and inclusive procedure to elect members of the Anti-Discrimination Commission. “The next step, which needs to happen as soon as possible, is the launch of the process for the formation of a new, independent, professional, Anti-Discrimination Commission,” the Helsinki Committee For Human Rights said.

More news from Europe and Central Asia

Human rights groups are calling on Polish authorities to drop the charges of “offending religious beliefs” brought against three activists who used posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo around her head and shoulders.

In Ukraine, the parliament approved an amendment to the Civil Code that will allow trans, non-binary and intersex people to change all parts of their names in the process of legal gender recognition, ensuring the protection of the right to privacy.

The Italian lower Chamber approved a bill to protect LGBT people, women and people with disabilities from violence and discrimination. Before becoming law, the bill will need to be approved by the Senate. Meanwhile, activists asked for the law to be promptly enacted after a TikTok video went viral, in which an out lesbian nurse reported having been repeatedly threatened and harassed.

In Estonia, an online petition calling for marriage equality has collected over 34,000 signatures, enough for the issue to be debated in the Parliament.

A recently published report shone a light on the key obstacles migrant sex workers face in reporting crime and accessing justice in 10 European countries.

In the Netherlands, the municipality of Amsterdam signed the Dutch Intersex Declaration, committing itself to the acceptance of sex diversity and equality of intersex people.




Philippines’ capital approves anti-discrimination ordinance

The City of Manila has signed an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) prohibiting “any and all forms of discrimination” on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The “Manila LGBTQI Protection Ordinance of 2020” includes protection in employment, healthcare, education, from verbal and written insults, in accessing services and also bans hate speech. The ADO mandates the creation of a Gender Sensitivity and Development Council, tasked to facilitate and assist victims of stigma and discrimination in accessing legal representation and psychological assistance. It also envisions the establishment of gender-neutral toilets in all venues of the city.

“Based on experience, we know that a law won’t end LGBTQI discrimination and violence but can enable access to justice for people who seek redress. The fight isn’t over,” said Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas.

Manila is the latest local government in the country to adopt a similar provision. The ordinance came in effect as activists are pushing for a national anti-discrimination law in a widespread campaign on social media promoted with the #PassADBNow and #SOGIEEqualityNow hashtags.

More news from Asia

Over 130,000 people have attended the Pride March in Taiwan, where no new case of COVID-19 has been recorded in more than 200 days.

According to reports, Jordan is summarily deporting foreign nationals found to be HIV-positive, regardless of any risk they might face returning in their country.

Around a quarter of LGBT people in Japan have had their sexual orientation or gender identity disclosed without their consent, an online survey showed.




South Africa: officers can no longer refuse to solemnise same-sex unions

South African government-employed marriage officers can no longer refuse to solemnise same-sex unions. The Civil Union Amendment Bill was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa, removing the provision that allowed government-employed marriage officers at the Department of Home Affairs to refuse to refuse service because of their personal religious or moral objections. The bill also requires the minister of Home Affairs to ensure that there is a marriage officer available at every Department of Home Affairs office.

“Many couples faced discrimination at Home Affairs offices and some couples were also forced to travel to other provinces because marriage officers refused to solemnise their unions,” commented Roché Kester, OUT’s Hate Crime Manager. “This is a definite victory for the LGBTI community and a testament that when the community stands together, great things can be achieved to further the rights of the community and to call out injustice that is discriminatory”.

“We will continue to monitor whether same-sex couples have any difficulties at Home Affairs offices and we will take the necessary action to ensure that the provisions of the Civil Union Amendment Act are enforced,” Kester added.

More news from Africa

Nigerian court threw out a case against 47 men who had been arrested in 2018 on the charges of public displays of affection with other men.

Egypt arrested two men on “suspicion” of their sexual orientations, detaining them in the same cell with alleged rapists.

In South Africa, calls to bar a doctor who advocated for so-called “conversion therapies” from psychiatric practice have been lining up.

A report was published to provide  information and guidance on the legal framework and the challenges faced by trans and gender non-conforming people in obtaining legal gender recognition in Lesotho.


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