LGBulleTIn #55 – The week in LGBTI news July 8-14, 2016

Friday, July 8

India: West Bengal state asks colleges to build separate toilets for trans students

The Indian state of West Bengal has asked all colleges and universities run and aided by the government to construct separate toilets for trans studentsthe Hindustan Times reports. The recommendation was made by the West Bengal Transgender Development Board, created by the state in 2015, and the Education department has already directed colleges to implement it.

“I had a problem using the boy’s washroom,” a student told reporters. “Sensing our plight, our principal allowed five of us to use the girl’s toilet. It is, indeed, a welcome step to have separate toilets built for us.”

Some college principals, however, fear that the plan may be difficult to implement, both for lack of space and for fear among students of being targeted.



Saturday, July 9

New Zealand: government dedicated further funds to support LGBTI youth

The government of New Zealand will pledge $ 20,000 for activities aimed at supporting young members of the LGBTI community, Youth Minister Nikki Kaye has announced.

The funding, unveiled on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill’s passing in Parliament, will be used to develop resources to support LGBTI young people who are leaving school and entering employment, education or training.

“This is a time of change and often uncertainty for all young people, but LGBTI young people can face additional challenges when making this transition,” said Kaye, highlighting the importance of the support that will be offered.

According to the Minister, this new funding will add to the $500,000 the Government has pledged in the last few years to provide services and support for LGBTI young people: “I’m committed to ensuring that they thrive, achieve and feel a sense of belonging,” she said.



Sunday, July 10

Tunisia: activist survives suicide attempt after facing death threats


Shams, a Tunisian NGO advocating the decriminalization of same-sex sexual relations in the country, took to social media on Saturday to announce that the organisation’s vice-president, Ahmed Ben Amor, had tried to take his own life. “(We believe) this happened because of the homophobia of his family and the society, and because of death threats that Ahmed has regularly received,” the organisation said in a statement.

These threats, according to Gay Star News, began after the activist took part in a talk show on national TV in April, advocating the repeal of article 230 of the country’s penal code, which criminalises sodomy and the promotion of ‘indecency’.

Hospitalised in a coma after the incident, he woke up almost one day later, and is now beginning to recover. Meanwhile, people from all over the world have sent him messages of solidarity and support on Twitter, under the hashtag #WeLoveYouAhmed.

“The entire Shams-Tunisia team cannot express how much we are relieved by the knowledge that he is alive,” the president of the association said. “But we also need to share our bitterness and anger. […] Ahmed exemplifies a youth that is systematically sacrificed in Tunisia. How can such a wonderful young man be excluded from all aspects of his life? His family first. His college. His friends. Just because he has chosen to claim his homosexuality.”


Tuesday, July 12

United States: House holds hearing of discriminatory bill on the anniversary of the Orlando tragedy

Exactly one month after the tragic Orlando mass shooting, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on a bill human rights organisations deem as “discriminatory”: the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).

If passed, the bill formally known as H.R. 2802 would prohibit “the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”  In other words, Advocate.com explainsthe bill “would create a national ‘religious discrimination’ law, allowing businesses and government workers to refuse goods and services to customers who offend their religious sensibilities.”

In a letter to Chairman Jason Chaffetz, more than 50 national organizations and 20 organisations had urged him to cancel the hearing, while a White House spokesperson had defined the hearing “disturbing”, reiterating opposition to “attempts to roll back non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans.”


Tuesday, July 12

Human rights of trans people advance in France

France is moving towards allowing trans persons to apply for a change of their gender on the civil register through a non-medicalised procedure: the proposed process is included in a bill that has just been approved by the National Assembly.

According to the text of the bill, the modification can be obtained by any person who demonstrates “by an adequate combination of facts” that their legal gender status does not match their gender identity. The procedure would also be available to legally independent minors.

“Today we celebrate a great victory, and we hope it marks the beginning of the recognition of human rights trans people have been too long denied,” Inter-LGBT commented. The association, however, regretted that the Assembly failed to remove judges entirely from the process and to open gender recognition out to all young persons.


Wednesday, July 13

Global LGBTI Human Rights conference begins in Montevideo, Uruguay

At least twenty countries have joined a coalition in defence of the rights of LGBTI individuals established on the occasion of the fourth Global LGBTI Human Rights conference, EFE reported.

Co-chaired by Uruguay and the Netherlands, the conference gathered activists, institutions and private foundations in Montevideo for three days, and provided an occasion to share information, best practices and lessons learned in promoting equality around the world. The event aims to ensure better coordination of support of governments and organizations directed towards the advancement of human rights of LGBTI persons.

During his opening speech, the Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa stressed the need to give more visibility to the problems facing the LGBTI community, and to seek strategies to “overcome obstacles” and achieve “full enjoyment of all human rights and freedoms” for all individuals.

LGBT and intersex people are courageously addressing discrimination,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a video message to the conference. “We owe them full support and leadership. Equality for them will benefit everyone.”



Is that all? More news bites


Africa_LGBTI news_ILGAThe fifth Pride in Uganda will be held from August 2 to 7 under the theme “Standing Together! Ffena wamu! Sisi Pamoja! Twese Kumwe”, organisers have announced.

A campaign is growing in South Africa against the visit of an American pastor who has repeatedly called for members of the LGBTI community to be executed, and who is planning to hold a “soul-winning marathon” in the country in September.

According to a new Human Rights Watch report, forced anal examinations on men and trans women accused of consensual same-sex conduct have been reported in at least eight countries in the last five years, including in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Lebanon and Turkmenistan.Asia_LGBTI news_ILGA

A human rights organisation in the Philippines has called on the state to protect the human rights of LGBT persons by ensuring the passage of an anti-discrimination bill in Congress.

A clergyman in Iraq issued a religious decree banning the use of violence against gender-non-conforming individuals, arguing that resorting to violence will result in (their) further alienation from religion.

After the route of the first Pride Parade in Be’er Sheva, Israel was changed to a less central path due to alleged security threats, organisers decided not to march, and to stage a protest in front of the City Hall instead.

Oceania_LGBTI news_ILGABrisbane, Australia has installed a rainbow footpath to honour the local LGBTI community: “(This city) is a place where our differences are celebrated and our similarities unite us,” a plaque reads.

Australia‘s leading AIDS organisations and scientists have announced an end to the AIDS epidemic in the country, while stressing that addressing HIV is still a major challenge, with 1100-1200 cases per year.

A panel discussion exploring trans activism and representation in media will be held later this month on the occasion of a festival in Auckland, New Zealand.

Latin America_Caribbean_LGBTI news_ILGAIn what is believed to be the first such case in Peru, a lesbian girl who claims to have suffered physical and psychological assaults on the grounds of her sexual orientation has filed a complaint for discrimination against her mother and her stepfather.

A man in Brazil confessed to having beaten a 15-year-old boy to death, claiming having “suspected he was gay” as a motivation for what he allegedly did.

The LatinAmerican and Caribbean Network of Trans Persons (REDLACTRANS) has released a report documenting human rights violations against trans women in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.

North America_LGBTI news_ILGAThe governor of Massachusetts, United States has signed into law legislation extending non-discrimination protections to trans residents and visitors to the state.

A survey of 141 school districts in Canada found that most school administrators want to offer specific supports to enhance the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ students.

A day after the Anglican Church of Canada seemed to narrowly reject same-sex marriage, questions about the integrity of the voting process emerged, leading to the reversing of the result.

Europe_LGBTI news_ILGATwo activists of a LGBT organisation in Saint Petersburg, Russia were detained and fined as they entered a park holding a rainbow flag and advocating freedom of assembly, after their request to hold a rally in the area was rejected 11 times.

In Malta, the Family Court has approved the first adoption of a child by a same-sex couple who were recently united in a civil union.

The ban on blood donations by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men has been lifted in France, but a one-year deferral period has been imposed.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, amendments to anti-discrimination law were approved, adding sex characteristics to the list of protected grounds.


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