LGBulleTIn #94 – The week in LGBTI news July 7-13, 2017

Friday, July 7

Japan: politicians launch league to protect LGBT human rights

A group of local assembly members in the prefectures of Tokyo and Saitama have launched an inter-assembly league to promote policies supporting rainbow communities in Japan. According to The Asahi Shimbun, the group will seek to advance local ordinances and policy measures to protect LGBT human rights, and has already been joined by at least 78 supporters, including prefectural and municipal assembly members. “We need to change our society, including its system and levels of awareness,” said Aya Kamikawa, a 49-year-old trans woman who was elected to the Setagaya Ward assembly in Tokyo in 2003. “We would like to work on what we can at regional levels.” During the press conference convened to launch the initiative, founding member Kunihiro Maeda – a 51-year-old member of the Bunkyo Ward assembly in Tokyo – publicly came out as gay: “We have to enact changes to enhance the understanding of LGBT (issues),” he was quoted as saying. The group is set to hold its first study sessions at the end of July.


Friday, July 7

United States: arson causes damages at LGBT community centre in Dallas

An LGBT community centre in South Dallas experienced a severe fire in what firefighters confirmed has been an intentional attack. Kirk Myers, CEO of Abounding Prosperity, Inc., which runs the facility, told WFAA-TV that the arsonist broke through a back gate and used an accelerant to start the fire. By the time firefighters could put the fire out, a back office was gutted, and smoke heavily damaged the rest of the building. The centre, reads its Facebook page, “has been a beacon of hope to the South Dallas community and Dallas’ Black LGBT community at large for over 13 years,” and it has long provided counselling, medical treatment, and STD prevention services. It is also a place where members of the LGBT community gain access to computers for a variety of needs including employment, educational, and insurance. Luckily, no staff or clients were present at the time and no one was injured. Even though the fire appeared to be set intentionally, the incident has not been labelled a hate crime at this time. However, Myers states,  “because of the recent national social and political climate, we have reason to believe that this was caused by someone who is having a hard time accepting what we do to help save lives and make a positive impact in our community.”


Monday, July 10

Hundreds of human rights defenders stage protests as “Hate bus” arrives in Chile

They called it “freedom bus”, but the message it conveys is a blatant attack against rainbow families. And, as it roamed the streets of Chile earlier this week as a part of a campaign an ultra-conservative Catholic group, it was met with hundreds of people protesting its hateful message. A similar campaign, conveying other messages against rainbow communities, had already taken to the streets in Spain, United States, Colombia and Mexico. This time, the arrival of the “hate bus,” which took aim against the rights of LGBTI children and adolescents in education settings, prompted human rights organisations to even organise a counter-protest with their own “Bus of Diversity and Respect”. As Agence France Presse reports, the two opposed groups clashed in front of the Chilean presidential palace in Santiago. Police reportedly intervened using tear gas and water cannon to separate the two sides, even if the Bus of Diversity was denied the chance to follow the route taken by the other bus. Several demonstrators were arrested. Both in Recoleta and ValparaisoLGBTI human rights defenders unfurled huge rainbow and trans pride flags from government buildings before the bus could pass by. “[The hate bus’] horrific campaign leads to the assumption that LGBTI people are a danger to children,” Movilh’s president Ramón Gómez commented. “Even worse, it denies the existence of LGBTI children, something that goes against the best interests of children and can lead to bullying and violence against them.”


Tuesday, July 11

Nigeria: man detained on the grounds of his alleged sexual orientation

Police in Asaba arrested a man at the bar of a hotel on the grounds of his alleged sexual orientationNoStringsng.com has reported. Police arrested him after receiving complaints from another man, who claimed to have received a number of unsolicited advances from him, along with private pictures on social media. According to reports, the two agreed to meet at a hotel, where police was waiting for them. Victor (not his real name) was then taken to a police station and held in a cell, as the accuser demanded him to pay sum to reimburse him of the room that he had booked. In what has been described as a move “with intent to extort the victim,” a police officer concluded that Victor paid a sum of 35,000 naira (about U.S. $111) to settle the case. The victim was eventually released.


Wednesday, July 12

Malta: Parliament votes to introduce marriage equality

With a landslide vote, the Maltese parliament has voted to introduce marriage equality. Both Government and Opposition agreed to vote for the amendments to the Marriage Act, which were approved with a 66-1 vote. “The aim of the bill is to ensure all couples are treated equally before the law,” explains ILGA-Europe. “In practice, this will make marriage gender neutral and open for all. Once the new law comes into effect, same-sex couples will have the opportunity to enjoy the rights associated with marriage.” “This is a historic moment that we will never forget,” Malta Gay Rights Movement’s Gabi Calleja said as hundreds of people gathered together to celebrate. The bill will now be presented to the President who must sign it before it becomes law. In recent years, several provisions protecting the rights of LGBTI persons were passed in the country, including a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act and an amendment to the Maltese Constitution that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds.


Monday, July 12

Australia: newspaper infographic labelling being LGB as a health issue sparks outrage

Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph has come under fire on social media for an infographic suggesting that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is a health issue among secondary school students, alongside childhood obesity, drugs and alcohol use. As The Star Observer explains, “the article draws from a NSW state government report canvassing young people to help determine a framework to address the needs of the nearly 1.3 million young people in the state.” Readers took to social media to complain about the articleand a group of about a hundred persons staged a demonstration outside the newspaper offices in Sydney, chalking a large rainbow on the ground. While a petition called on the newspaper to apologise, the editorof the newspaper was reported claiming that “the presentation of the story has been misinterpreted,” and that “in no way  (it) suggests, or intends to suggest, that same-sex relationships are unhealthy.”

Is that all? More LGBTI news bites

Registration and scholarship applications are now open for the 2017 ILGALAC Conference, which will be held in Guatemala from 16-19 November 2017. In Mexico, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation struck down the

La @SCJN invalidó arts. del C. Civil de Chiapas que definían al matrimonio como exclusivo entre un hombre y una mujer#MatrimonioIgualitario pic.twitter.com/xW6YerD6Mf

— Eduardo Murillo (@emtdf) July 11, 2017 ” target=”_blank”>Chiapas’ ban on marriage equality, invalidating two articles of the Civil Code of the state that established that marriage should be celebrated only between a man and a woman.

The Russian LGBT Network has confirmed that the persecution against LGBT persons in Chechnya has started again. In the United Kingdom, a man has won a landmark ruling which will make his husband entitled to a spouse’s pension.

In the Philippines, the Department of Education issued a policy that “commits to integrate the principles of gender equality, gender equity, gender sensitivity, non-discrimination and human rights in the provision and governance of basic education”. In Taiwan, members of the Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan called for members of rainbow communities to be included in the team discussing the marriage law reform.

In the United States, the House of Representatives voted down an amendment that would have scrapped health care for trans service members and military dependents. Brittany Johnson, a lesbian woman of colour, was shot and killed following an altercation in New Orleans, LA, United States. The woman living with her was injured in the accident.

In Australia, a Liberal Senator announced plans for a private member’s bill to hold a parliamentary vote on marriage equality. The Prime Minister, however, reiterated the government’s support for a plebiscite on the matter. In Fiji, Haus of Khameleon is working on a research project about violence facing trans women in the country.

In South Africa, reports revealed that the minister of Home Affairs has allegedly refused to back an amendment to remove a provision in the Civil Union Act that allows officers to deny marriage services to same-sex couples. A video entertainment company has reportedly suspended six children-tv programmes across Africa after the Kenya Film Classification Board had banned them, claiming the programmes bear “messages that are deliberately designed to corrupt (children’s) moral judgment regarding the institution of family.”  

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