LGBulleTIn #36 – The week in LGBTI news February 12-18, 2016

Friday, February 12

Czech Republic officials: investigation into 30 gay men living with HIV following a STI diagnosis “not an attack to the gay community”

Late last month, Prague’s Public Health Authority launched criminal investigations against 30 gay men that had been diagnosed during the last year with other sexually transmitted infections (STI) after testing HIV-positive. Officials allege that those men had unprotected sex, thus violating the country’s laws that make it a crime to expose someone else to HIV.

As Buzzfeed reports, there are no complainants in the case, nor any evidence anyone has contracted HIV from the men under investigation.

After drawing criticism from the Czech AIDS Society, the head of the public health department, Zdeňka Jágrová, responded stating authorities are legally obliged to initiate such investigations, and that there is no witch hunt going on: “[We] did not check the sexual orientation of HIV-positive people who got infected with another contagious, sexually transmitted disease,” the statement reads. “It is not an attack on the gay community, but in 2014 no HIV-positive women in Prague were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.”

A Change.org petition, addressed to the European Commission, is currently circulating online asking “persecution of people with HIV in Czech Republic” be stopped, while a number of organisations representing European networks of communities of people living with and affected by HIV, doctors and scientists have written an open letter calling upon the government of the Czech Republic to immediately stop the Prague Public Health Authority’s persecution and intimidation of people living with HIV.


Saturday, February 13

Peru: kiss-in against homophobia violently disrupted by police


Peruvian police used water cannons against a group of activists who staged a kiss-in against homophobia in Lima. Dozens of persons had gathered in Plaza de Armas on the fifth anniversary of a LGBTI demonstration which had been disrupted by the police and, as soon as couples began kissing, history repeated itself: armoured police trucks stood in the activists’ way, and sprayed them with water and – activists reported – kerosene.

Pictures show that protesters, including a contributor of LGBTI media outlet Sin Etiquetaswere hurt during the incident. As George Liendo of Promsex, a Peruvian LGBTI rights group, told the Washington Blade, authorities have banned protests of “any kind” in the square. Nevertheless, religious processions, cultural events and other demonstrations routinely take place without incident.

Watch pictures of the incidents on Sin Etiquetas and read a statement by ILGA LAC


Tuesday, February 16

United States: South Dakota passes “bathroom bill” targeting trans students

The South Dakota state senate passed a bill to ban trans students from using school restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. HB 1008 was approved by a 15–20 vote, and now is expected to head to Gov. Dennis Daugaard in the coming days: should he sign it, South Dakota would be the first US state to pass such a law.

The governor, who at a recent press conference said to have never knowingly met a trans person, plans to hold encounters both with members of the trans community and with lawmakers who sponsored the bill in the legislature. It is still not clear whether the meetings signal Daugaard plans on vetoing the legislation.


Cameroon: LGBTI advocates seek Pope Francis’ intervention over the country’s bishops “zero tolerance” policy on homosexuality

LGBTI advocates are seeking Pope Francis’ intervention as they hope Cameroon’s Catholic bishops may retract their harsh statements on homosexuality. During the recent meeting of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, churchmen prescribed a “zero tolerance” policy on the issue, 76 Crimes reported, and spoke about “this abominable thing that goes against nature” risking to become “a social outbreak.”

This words led the advocacy group Alternatives-Cameroon to ask for Pope Francis’ intervention: “This Church wants more than ever to set Cameroonians against each other, ignoring its mission to promote love, tolerance and peace,” read a statement issued last week. “We call on the Catholic Church to fulfil its primary mission to promote peace, love and tolerance and finally to be at the sides of the oppressed and those left behind.”

Now their voice has been backed by New Ways Ministry, too: “When Pope Francis made his pastoral visit to Africa last fall,” they wrote on Bondings 2.0, “Catholics and LGBT advocates worldwide called on him to appeal for mercy on behalf of sexual and gender minorities. Francis remained silent last fall, but it is not too late for him to speak out and end episcopal prejudice so openly displayed.”


Australia: Christian lobby calls for anti-discrimination laws be suspended during marriage equality debate 

The Australian Christian lobby has called for anti-discrimination laws be suspended during the debate about marriage equality in Australia to ensure the “no” camp can speak freely in support of its positions.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said his organization is worried that those who argued against same-sex marriage would be faced with the “constant threat of quasi and full-blown legal action” during the debate.

The Law Council of Australia said any exemptions to discriminatory behaviour when it came to marriage equality  “should be construed as narrowly as is absolutely necessary”, while Australian Marriage Equality is fearing that the plebiscite – and the debate set to precede it – could be used “as an excuse to suspend laws that protect vulnerable Australians.”

Read more on Out in Perth


Thursday, February 18

Crackdown against the LGBTI community continues in Indonesia

After a minister stated that LGBT students should be banned from university campuses and police disrupted a closed workshop on access to justice for LGBTI persons, the crackdown on LGBTI issues has grown more and more severe in Indonesia. During the last week, according to Associated Press, the Indonesian Ulema Council encouraged the government to make same-sex sexual acts and the promotion of LGBT activities illegal. Later in the week, an interfaith forum issued a joint statement in which, The Jakarta Post reports, “they concluded that a peaceful approach was the only way to deal with members of the LGBT community before they could turn to faith to be cured.”
The country’s vice president, meanwhile, had urged the UN Development Program to deny funding to LGBTI programs in Indonesia.

The crackdown did not even spare the media world: the government asked instant messaging apps to remove LGBT-themed stickers and emojis, announced (and later droppedplans to block Tumblr, together with 477 more websites, unless it “agrees to block pornography and LGBT content from being accessed in Indonesia.” The country’s broadcasting regulators also decided to ban programs portraying LGBT lives as “normal.”


LGBTI news More LGBTI news bites


Is that all? More news bites

world_LGBTI news_ILGAThe historical meeting between the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church resulted in a joint declaration describing family as “based on marriage […] between a man and a woman,” and regretting that “other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union.”

The first and largest collection of historical materials regarding trans issues has been launched and is now online.

ILGA’s co-secretary general Ruth Baldacchino will be among the speakers at Pride and Prejudice, a global conference organised by The Economist Events that will catalyse fresh debate on the costs of discrimination against the LGBT community worldwide. Registration is open! Click here to find out more.

Africa_LGBTI news_ILGAPM Abdelilah Benkirane made clear the issue of marriage equality remains way out of the picture in Morocco.

A man in Egypt has reportedly been arrested on the accusation of “practicing homosexual activity.” More arrests took place in Nigeria, where police allegedly disrupted a same-sex marriage ceremony.

A cross-party group of members of the European parliament has called on the Tunisian government to decriminalise homosexuality and respect the human rights of minorities.

In Uganda, a presidential contender has promised to “rehabilitate” gay people: “They have demons and we have specialists to chase out demons,” he said.

Asia_LGBTI news_ILGABoxing champion Manny Pacquiao, currently running for senate in the Philippines, claimed LGB persons are “worse than animals.” He later apologised, but this didn’t prevent him from losing his endorsement contract with a major sports corporation.

A public square in Jerusalem, Israel will be renamed in memory of Shira Banki, the girl who was murdered last year at the city’s Pride parade.

A national dialogue to help make human rights of LGBTI people visible in policies and local discourse has been held in Cambodia.

North America_LGBTI news_ILGAKael McKenzie, Canada‘s first trans judge, has been sworn in, while Puerto Rico Supreme Court Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez might become the first openly LGBTI chief justice in the US.

A bill that gives non-discrimination protections to LGBT employees has been filed with the Senate in Kentucky, United States.

The Canadian government is reportedly studying the idea of creating a special diplomatic post to advocate the human rights of LGBTI people worldwide.

Oceania_LGBTI news_ILGAThe Australian Capital Territory has passed a suite of new laws allowing for the use of gender non-specific birth certificates.

An interview with a community group representative in Australia has highlighted how indigenous same-sex attracted women may face cultural barriers leading them to experience isolation and mental health issues.

In New Zealand protests were voiced after it was announced that more prison cells could be converted to dual occupancy cells: a group recalled how “double bunking directly led to the rape of a Māori trans woman in Auckland South Corrections Facility last year.”

Latin America_Caribbean_LGBTI news_ILGATwo trans women were reportedly murdered in Maracanaù and João Pessoa, Brazil during the last week.

Outrage sparked in Brazil when Secretary of the Rio de Janeiro State Social Services and Human Rights Department spoke in favour of “gay cure.” After he was nominated, the Rio Sem Homofobia programme was dismantled: now that he has been removed from office, several organisation have signed a letter asking the programme be maintained.

Registration is now open for the 6th convention of Families for Sexual Diversity, which will take place in June 2016 in Costa Rica.

Europe_LGBTI news_ILGAWhile the discussion on the civil unions bill has stalled once again in Italy, the parliament in Finland has approved changes to the law that will allow same-sex couples to convert their registered partnerships into marriages.

Two young men were convicted for attacking and spitting at two gay Brazilian students in Budapest, Hungary.

COC Nederland and ILGA-Europe have created “Allies in action,” a small action fund to support LGBTI communities and their allies in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.

Want more?

Read our interview with Donny Reyes, a LGBTI human rights defender from Honduras, or download the Standing up for the human rights of intersex people – how can you help? toolkit released by ILGA-Europe and OII Europe.


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