LGBulleTIn #50 – The week in LGBTI news June 3-9, 2016

Friday, June 3

LGBTI activist René Martínez murdered in Honduras

The LGBTI community in Honduras is mourning the violent loss of another activist: René Martínez – president of Comunidad Gay Sampredrana, a San Pedro Sula-based advocacy group – was murdered.

According to La Prensa, his family reported him missing after he left his home and got into someone’s car. They identified his body two days later at the morgue: apparently, he was strangled to death.

Besides his LGBTI activism, Martínez also coordinated a violence prevention programme in an outreach centre in the suburb of  Chamelecón. Investigators have yet to identify a possible motive behind his murder.

Joani García, regional coordinator of the Foro Nacional del Sida, was quoted as describing Martínez as one of the prominent LGBTI human rights defenders in Honduras.
In 2015, Peace Brigades International reported that “more than 200 members of the LGBT community have been murdered since 2009” in the country, and “only 33 among these cases have been investigated upon.”



Sunday, June 5

Singapore: government warns foreign companies against “interfering in domestic issues” after strong Pride support

After thousands of persons joined the annual PinkDot Pride event, colouring the Hong Lim Park pink, the government of Singapore issued a statement warning “foreign entities” from interfering “in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones.”

The 2016 Pride had gained support from 18 corporate sponsors, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, after claiming it received “media queries as to whether foreign companies can provide sponsorships for PinkDot,” announced “steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence such events”.

“Foreign entities” supporting the Pride, PinkDot remembers, “are all registered and incorporated in Singapore.” However, the Government remarked in a press release that its “general position has always been that foreign entities should not interfere in our domestic issues, especially political issues or controversial social issues with political overtones. These are political, social or moral choices for Singaporeans to decide for ourselves. LGBT issues are one such example.  This is why under the rules governing the use of the Speakers’ Corner, for events like the Pink Dot, foreigners are not allowed to organise or speak at the events, or participate in demonstrations.”


Monday, June 6

Norway introduces legal gender recognition based on self-determination

The Parliament of Norway approved a healthcare bill introducing legal gender recognition based on self-determination. Under the Ministry of Health’s legal revisions, trans people aged 16 and older can now have their gender recognised without any compulsory requirements. Trans children and young people aged 6-15 will be allowed to apply with their parents’ permission.

“The Norwegian vote sends out a strong message to other European governments,” Brian Sheehan, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, commented. “Oppressive preconditions, such as medical interventions, psychiatric diagnosis or sterilisation, need to be consigned to history.”

Activists, however, also pointed out that there is still work to be done, as these self-determination reforms do not remove age limits or make any provision for non-binary adults and children.


Monday, June 6

Nigeria: ex-president says the anti-LGBT law he signed may be revisited

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who signed the harsh Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in 2014, said “the nation may, at appropriate time, revisit the law.” “When it comes to equality, we must all have the same rights as Nigerian citizens,” he said, speaking at a Bloomberg financial information company forum in London.

The law, as ILGA’s State Sponsored Homophobia notes, provides for prison sentences of up to 14 years for those who enter into a same-sex union, and of up to 10 years for those who make “public show of same-sex amorous relationship.”

Jonathan has now alleged he had no choice but to sign the law, as “this private member bill was put forward in the context of polls that showed 98% of Nigerians did not think same-sex marriage should be accepted by our society.”

“The bill was passed by 100% of my country’s National Assembly,” he added. “Therefore, as a democratic leader with deep respect for the Rule of Law, I had to put my seal of approval on it. However, in the light of deepening debates for all Nigerians and other citizens of the world to be treated equally and without discrimination, and with the clear knowledge that the issue of sexual orientation is still evolving, the nation may, at the appropriate time, revisit the law.”

Read more on 76 Crimes



Tuesday, June 7

United States: federal government recognises a 1975 same-sex marriage as valid

The federal government of the United States has recognised as legally valid a marriage that two men celebrated in 1975, approving the “green card” petition that Richard Adams filed in 1975 for his husband, Anthony Sullivan, an Australian citizen.

The marriage, The Pride L.A. reports, remained in the record and was never invalidated, but, back in 1975, immigration authorities had refused the couple’s green card petition, saying they had “failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” (sic) A ten-year legal battle followed, and in the end the couple was forced to leave the country, only to return a year later but fearing that Sullivan would be deported.

After his husband died in December 2012, he sought to have the Immigration Service recognise their marriage and grant a green card to him as the widower of a U.S. citizen: finally, the document was issued this year.

The couple’s attorney spoke about a “historic case”: “The U.S. government not only apologized directly to Anthony Sullivan, but, for the first time since the Supreme Court established the right of same-sex couples to marry as a protected, fundamental liberty – the Immigration Service has shown its willingness to correctly apply recent Court rulings and to recognize as valid this same-sex marriage that took place in 1975.”



Wednesday, June 8

Australia: Victorian government releases LGBTI health guide

The Victorian Government has released Rainbow eQuality, a new online guide to support members of  the State’s LGBTI community better access the health services they need.

The guide was developed “to assist mainstream health and community service agencies identify and adopt inclusive practices and become more responsive to the health and wellbeing needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex  individuals and communities.”

“In general,” an online presentation reads, “members of the LGBTI community experience poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than other Victorians. This poorer health and wellbeing largely results from stigma and discrimination that people who are LGBTI can experience in their everyday lives. […] Inclusive practice is (…) about ensuring that services are delivered in ways that are non-discriminatory and LGBTI inclusive and welcoming.”

Speaking to Star Observer, Minister for Equality Martin Foley said that it is important that all health providers access this guide: “What we need to make sure is that we arm advocacy groups and individual health and human service consumers with this tool, so they can encourage their providers to use, understand, and have access to it.”



Thursday, June 9

Civil society organisations express “profound dissatisfaction” with the political declaration approved at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS

In a joint declaration, civil society organisations who attended the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS expressed “profound dissatisfaction” at the political declaration approved by UN member states.

“We are especially outraged with language that highlights victimization and blames key populations and fuels discrimination,” the declaration reads. “Euphemisms have no place in evidence-based HIV responses, and leave the door open for HIV responses that are driven by ideology, rather than informed by evidence and rights-based obligation. People in vulnerable contexts are the people leading the fight against the epidemic, and should be recognized for their leadership role and as subjects of rights.”

According to reports by the Global Forum on MSM and HIV,  “multiple delegations had delivered statements affirming support for key populations programming and inclusion in national HIV plans. […] In addition, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, Carlos Foradori, on behalf of a coalition of 49 UN member states, issued a joint statement to “reaffirm all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all,” including key populations



Is that all? More news bites


world_LGBTI news_ILGAAfter a unanimous decision at a recent meeting of its world board, ILGA is supporting the establishment of a Special Procedure on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the UN Human Rights Council. The ILGA board has also unanimously agreed that it will continue to work on existing gaps in relation to sexual rights and intersex human rights at the UN.

Both Nepal and United Kingdom received recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to “ensure that no one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment […], guarantee “bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination to children concerned, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support.”

Latin America_Caribbean_LGBTI news_ILGADuring a public debate in Barbados, the attorney general said the government “will not change the law” to allow same-sex marriages, while activists insisted on the need for anti-discrimination laws in the country.

Voting in a referendum, citizen in Bahamas have rejected amendments to the Constitution to advance gender equality and prohibit discrimination based on sex.

Europe_LGBTI news_ILGAIn Portugal, the president signed a new law which allows all women to access medically assisted insemination and gives automatic co-parent recognition for same-sex couples.

Recent bans of a IDAHOT event in Ankara and of the Izmir Pride march have raised concerns among LGBTI activists in Turkey, including the organisers of Istanbul’s upcoming Pride.

North America_LGBTI news_ILGAThe parliament of Canada voted to pass a bill aimed at making the country’s national anthem gender-neutral.

In the United States, a third lawsuit was filed against Mississippi’s HB 1523 law, alleging that it violates the separation of church and state by favouring “certain narrow religious beliefs that condemn same-sex couples who get married, condemn unmarried people who have sexual relations and condemn transgender people.”

Africa_LGBTI news_ILGAAfter meeting with members of the LGBTI community, the Minister of Home Affairs has committed to addressing violations faced by LGBTI persons in South Africa.

A number of civil society organisation has called on German authorities to review their decision to declare Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia “safe places of origin,” implying that LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers may be sent back to their countries.

Asia_LGBTI news_ILGA40% of participants in a study of the workplace experiences of LGBT people in India said that they were often or sometimes subject to workplace harassment, while two-thirds reported overhearing colleagues making discriminatory remarks.

Hong Kong pro-family group is reportedly planning to survey potential Legislative Council election candidates on their stance on LGBT issues.

Oceania_LGBTI news_ILGAIn Australia, the Tasmanian government is considering changes to its Anti-Discrimination Act to allow debate during the proposed same-sex marriage plebiscite.

An opposition MP in Nauru has demanded the government immediately repeal new legislation decriminalising same-sex sexual activity, while a former president of the country spoke about “disappointment with the new legislation” among the population.


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