LGBulleTIn #46 – The week in LGBTI news April 29 – May 5, 2016

Friday, April 29

United States: Department of Education releases records on schools granted with religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws

The Department of Education published thousands of pages of documents on religious schools in the United States that are being granted exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.

Documents include records from 232 religious schools throughout the country, including their applications to be exempt from laws banning discrimination on the basis of sex. Requests from 31 more schools are still pending.

In order to receive federal funds, schools must abide by Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits such discrimination. Under the law, though, they can also seek exemptions if they feel that following Title IX would violate their religious tenets.

‘Although Title IX waivers were moderately popular in the 1970s and ‘80s,’ Buzzfeed News remembers, ‘they were rarely sought in the past two decades. […] Under the Obama administration, however, applicants have overwhelmingly sought to ban or discriminate against LGBT students or faculty.’

Read more on Wall Street Journal


Sunday, May 1

Russia: activists supporting LGBTI community arrested during May Day parade in St. Petersburg

Police arrested about 20 activists supporting the LGBTI community during the annual May Day parade in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Two days before the march, Meduza reports, activists were told they were barred from participating. Two groups had then allowed activists supporting LGBTI rights to march along with them, as long as they did not carry flags or banners.

On the day of the parade, activists unfurled a rainbow flag on Nevsky Prospect and, according to an eyewitness, they were arrested on the spot.

While LGBTI rights defenders were barred and later arrested, officials seemed to have no issue in allowing Slavic Power Northwest, a local neo-Nazi group, from taking to the streets to join the same parade and reportedly marching under the slogan “For the unity of the Slavs and the White race.”


Monday, May 2

Bangladesh: human rights defenders from across the world join forces in “urgent plea to the government”


Seven civil society organisations have joined forces in calling upon the Government of Bangladesh to “step up efforts to effectively address the horrific violence that has claimed the lives of several journalists, bloggers, academics, activists and other civilians who advocated for a secular, open, just and equitable society for all citizens.”

The plea – endorsed by almost 60 organisations and human rights defenders from across the world – comes just a few days after Xulnaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were hacked to death by a group of assailants in Dhaka.

“The escalating threats to civil liberties, including LGBTI rights, in so many places are all the more ironic – and dangerous – considering we are in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals that underpin the 2030 Agenda whose primary pledge is ‘to leave no one behind,’ the statement reads. “How can we as a region, and indeed as a world, even begin to fulfil such a pledge if we do not collectively come together to address these threats that target our friends, families and fellow human beings?”

Read the full statement


Tuesday, May 3

Bahamas: former minister calls on trans persons to be exiled

The former minister of Trade and industry, a current member of the parliament in Bahamas, has called for trans persons to be exiled, sparking a wave of outrage in the country. In an interview with Tribune 242, MP Leslie Miller urged people to fundraise to “put (trans people) on a nice [private] island […] because they ain’t going to make babies, so soon they’ll die.”

While the national chairman of Miller’s political group dismissed his comments as “not reflecting the policy position of the party,” a human rights activist argued that his words manifested “a severe degree of ignorance about basic biology, about his role and function as an MP and as representative of both the government and citizens.” A representative of Bahamas Transgender Intersex United (BTIU) also accused the former minister of “spewing venomous hate” that could fuel hate against members of the LGBTI community.

The remarks delivered by the MP, who later said to have spoken “in jest,” came as Bahamians prepare to vote in a referendum on June 7 which will propose amendments to the Constitution to advance gender equality and prohibit discrimination based on sex.

Read more on 76 Crimes


Wednesday, May 4

Kenya: court hears case to challenge forced anal examinations

Two men have launched a case before the High court in Mombasa, Kenya, alleging they were forced to undergo anal examinations to prove they had sex.

The petitioners state that doctors at a Mombasa hospital, in collaboration with law enforcement officials, violated their rights by subjecting them to forced anal examinations, HIV tests, and other blood tests in February 2015, while they were in police custody on charges related to alleged homosexual conduct.

According to BBC.com, the court heard their case and gave government lawyers a week to respond.

The practice of imposing non-consensual anal examinations was described as “medically worthless” and amounting “to torture or ill-treatment” in a recent report by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended they be banned.

Such examinations also violate the Convention against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights – all treaties that Kenya has ratified, said Human Rights Watch in a statement.


Thursday, May 5

Australia: attorney general rules out suspending anti-discrimination laws during marriage equality plebiscite campaign

Attorney-general George Brandis ruled-out suspending anti-discrimination laws during the marriage equality plebiscite campaign in Australia. The request to override such laws had come from the Australian Christian Lobby a few months ago, arguing that the “no” campaigners would not have had the chance to speak freely during the debate.

That possibility, at least for now, has been ruled out:  “There are very obvious practical problems with that,” senator Brandis explained, as “most anti-discrimination laws in this country are laws of the states, not the Commonwealth.”

The federal government, Fairfax Media reports, has not decided yet whether to give any public funding to the two sides of the plebiscite campaign. Nevertheless, the attorney-general expressed his concern that it was a “fair and transparent” campaign in which “both sides get an equal opportunity to put their case”.


Is that all? More news bites

world_LGBTI news_ILGAThe fifth International Family Equality Day was celebrated on May 1st in 74 towns and 36 countries worldwide, under the motto “Families without borders”.

The 25th session of the UPR working group began this week in Geneva: 14 states will be under review.

Africa_LGBTI news_ILGALesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LeGaBiBo) confirmed that it had received a certificate of registration dated 29 April from the registrar of societies, confirming that it can legally operate in the country.

“I am not gay, I don’t support gays,” reportedly said the president of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe,  before adding that he “will not persecute or prosecute gays” should he become the county’s president.

A network of sex workers’ organisations, fighting for the decriminalisation of sex work, is being established in Uganda.

North America_LGBTI news_ILGANew York’s “Stonewall Inn” and the surrounding area are poised to become the first national monument honouring the history of the LGBT movement in the United States.

The US Justice Department said North Carolina’s House Bill 2 violates federal civil rights laws; meanwhile, the town of Oxford, Alabama repealed an ordinance requiring residents to use public restrooms corresponding with their sex as stated on their birth certificate, or face a penalty of up to six months in jail.

The only clinic in Canada where some gender-affirming surgeries are performed has severely been damaged in a suspected case of arson.

Oceania_LGBTI news_ILGAAnswering remarks on SOGI during the country’s review at the 25th session of the UPR working group, the representative of Samoa said that “the direction has been set to ensure that we move forward in the execution of our obligations in the human rights agenda.”

The need for disaggregated data to address the rate of suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI persons is among the issues reportedly raised during an ongoing conference in Alice Springs, Australia.

An Australian woman who married her partner in New Zealand has found herself in a loophole, as the couple is now unable to get a divorce – due both to divorce law restrictions in New Zealand and the lack of recognition for their marriage in her homeland.

Europe_LGBTI news_ILGAMarriage equality has arrived in the Faroe Islands.

In Malta, the government is considering a review of the lifetime ban on blood donations for men who have sex with men.

In Italy, a bill on civil unions will be discussed in the lower chamber of parliament starting next week, after the Justice commission approved its text and confirmed the version previously approved by the Senate.

Latin America_Caribbean_LGBTI news_ILGAIn Brasil, president Dilma Rousseff signed a decree allowing trans civil servants to use their chosen names while on the job.

The state of Campeche, Mexico will legalise marriage equality this month, the Congress’ administrative board president announced.

Civil society organisations in Venezuela have spoken at the commission for Social development of the National Assembly, calling for a legal instrument with prescribed penalities for discrimination carried out against LGBTI people.

Asia_LGBTI news_ILGAThe Supreme Court of Sri Lanka ruled that HIV discrimination in education settings must be prohibited and, UNAIDS reports, reminded ‘the State of its obligation to take necessary measures to protect, promote and respect the human rights of people living with HIV’.

A leading Saudi cleric was reported saying that people “condemning homosexuals to death are committing a graver sin than homosexuality itself.”

The Philippines may soon appoint their first out trans lawmaker, local media report.


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