LGBulleTIn #99 – The week in LGBTI news August 25 – 31, 2017

August, Friday 25

Canada announces it will implement “X” gender marker in passports

The Government of Canada announced that it will be working to implement an “X” gender marker in Canadian passports, as well as other documents issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Starting August 31, IRCC will be the first Government of Canada department to introduce interim measures, which include allowing individuals to add an observation to their passport stating their gender marker should read as “X”.  Interim measures will be available until IRCC is able to print documents consistent with the new provision.

“Canada is taking an important and positive first step by acknowledging the challenges faced by non-binary, intersex and trans individuals,” said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada and co-secretary general at ILGA. “However, it is not the ultimate solution. […] The ‘x’ designation will not solve the issue of forced or unwanted conversations for people who aren’t prepared to have their gender discussed. Allowing the gender-neutral option on the form does nothing to prepare airport staff and other employees in the travel industry to handle non-binary, trans or intersex travellers appropriately. Additionally, this move does nothing to address safety or legal problems in international destinations with fewer protections for members of the LGBTQI2S community. […]  In order to successfully increase the safety of non-binary, intersex and trans folks, Canada needs to do more work to lobby internationally to remove gender markers on passports, as well as break down existing barriers that are preventing access to gender autonomy in our country.”



Monday, August 28

Chile: President signs marriage equality bill that will now be introduced to Congress


The President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, along with six ministers of her government, signed a marriage equality bill that will now be introduced to Congress for debate.

“We do this with the certainty that it is not ethical nor fair to put artificial limits on love, nor to deny essential rights just because of the sex of those who make up a couple,” Bachelet said during the ceremony at the presidential palace. “Denying equal rights and freedoms to all people – regardless of their sex, race, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity – is much more than anachronistic: it is inexcusable.”

Bachelet also acknowledged the role of several human rights organisations in contributing to the bill and noted that its introduction will come as a settlement to a complaint filed by LGBTI organisation Movilh before the Inter American Commission of Human Rights.

The bill seeks to expand the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, defining it as “a solemn contract” between “two persons”, and would also recognise the rights of all couples to have children, to adopt and to access assisted reproduction techniques.

Human rights defenders welcomed the news, speaking of “a historic step,” but also recognise that the discussions in Congress might not be over before the end of Bachelet’s presidential term.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, however, vowed to follow-through until Chile has marriage equality, pointing out that the settlement is binding “regardless of who is in charge of the Executive.”



Tuesday, August 29

Hungary: swimming pool fined for discriminating against LGBTQ sports club

The Equal Treatment Authority in Hungary found that a local government-run swimming pool discriminated against an LGBTQ sports club for refusing a request to rent two of its lanes for a competition.

The facility, run by a subsidiary of the Budapest District XII Local Government, has been ordered to pay a fine of 1 million HUF, approximately 3,250 euros. According to the LGBTQI rights group Háttér Society, this is the highest fine ever-imposed by the Equal Treatment Authority to sanction a case of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In January this year, the Atlasz Sports Club contacted the swimming pool to organise one of their flagship events for the LGBTQ community. At first, the sports centre confirmed the availability of the facility via email, only to take it back as soon as they learnt the name of the club.

The pool tried to explain this sudden change by claiming that the facility would have been overcrowded, and that some of the club’s requests did not comply with their house rules. These arguments, however, were proven to be unsubstantiated during the investigation of the Equal Treatment Authority, which declared that the swimming pool discriminated against the club on the basis of its members’ sexual orientations and gender identities.



Tuesday, August 29

Uganda: “cases of homosexuality and lesbianism” escalating because of pornography, minister claims

The government of Uganda has set up a committee designed to detect and curtail the circulation of pornographic materialDeutsche Welle reports.

Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, who announced the approval of funds for the Pornography Control Committee, claimed that the circulation of pornography is one of the key reasons for “escalating cases of drug abuse among youths, incest, teenage pregnancy and abortion, homosexuality and lesbianism and defilement” in the country.

Only a few weeks ago, Lokodo issued a directive shutting down a Pride gala, scheduled to take place at a hotel in Kampala. Police officers were also deployed at other venues where pride events were scheduled, eventually forcing Pride Uganda organisers to cancel the events.

Human rights organisations have raised concerns about how the committee will work, and there are fears it may turn into another means to persecute rainbow communitiesAs Sexual Minorities Uganda reports, in 2016 Lokodo spoke about “a censor gadget or machine” which would be used to “detect ‘homos’ and porn actors, especially those misusing applications like WhatsApp with sex acts.”



Wednesday, August 30

Pakistan: trans woman murdered by a group of armed men

Her name was Chanda Sharmeeli. Her life was taken away by armed men who harassed a group of trans persons in the streets of Karachi, eventually opening fire on them.

According to a witness, it all started when a vehicle with tinted windows and private security guards passed by, and threw rotten eggs at them. A few minutes later, the gang turned around and tried to force the victim into the car with them. When she refused to join them, the gang reacted by opening fire on the group.

“This society may have found tolerance, but there is no acceptance for transgender people,” commented a friend of the victim of this brutal assault.

A few days before the incident, provisional results from Pakistan’s census showed that at least 10,418 people identified themselves as transgender in the country’s first official population count since 1998. According to reports, however, local communities are considering these data inaccurate and misleading, and expressed their doubts over the procedure adopted by the census teams to collect these figures.



Wednesday, August 30

Australia: campaigners against marriage equality release offensive and hurtful ad

More than 16 million Australians are enrolled and eligible to participate in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) announced.

Since August 8, when the Australian Senate rejected the option of a compulsory plebiscite on marriage equality and paved the way for a voluntary, non-binding postal vote on the issue, the AEC processed a total of 933,592 enrolment transactions. While the 87% among them were enrolment changes or updates, over 98,000 people added to the roll – 65,000 of which are electors aged 18-24.

Two days after the deadline to enrol to vote in the survey, more than 20,000 people took to the streets in Melbourne for what organisers described as one of Australia’s largest marriage equality rallies ever.

Meanwhile, those campaigning against marriage equality also made headlines, as they launched an offensive and hurtful national television campaign with a 30-second ad linking the issue of marriage with education in schools.

“The school told my son he could wear a dress next year if he felt like it,” a woman says in the ad. This claim, however, was strongly rejected by the principal of the school in question: “I have never had any complaints that we advised the boys they could wear dresses,” he said, wondering also “why would this so-called incident that never happened have anything to do with marriage equality.”

Is that all? More LGBTI news bites

On August 18, at least 200 delegates from 26 countries took part in the Equality & Legality International Conference on Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Francophonie, organisers of Fierté Montréal Pride reported.

In the United States, president Trump issued a memorandum directing the Pentagon to “return to the long-standing policy and practice” barring trans people to openly serve in the military. Civil rights groups have already filed three different complaints to challenge this decision.

In the United States, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated the intention to retain the position of the U.S. special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI people under a State Department overhaul.

A U.S. pastor delivered a homophobic and transphobic sermon when she was invited to talk at a recent missionary summit in Nigeria.

A group of human rights defenders have gathered together outside a Court in Soweto, South Africa to demand justice for Lerato Tambai Moloi, a lesbian woman who was killed in May in what may have been a homophobic hate crime.

A student-led campaign against sexual harassment and assault has been launched in Australia, aiming also to raise awareness of support services dedicated to LGBTIQ+ persons.

In Samoa, the Samoa Fa’afafine Association held its annual general meeting to kick off a week of charity activities and celebrations leading up to the Miss Fa’afafine pageant.

A trans woman and a man from Singapore who were arrested in the United Arab Emirates on the grounds of their gender expression, and were facing one year in prison, have seen their sentences reduced to a fine and deportation, an official said.

In Israel, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition made by the Israeli LGBT Association which demanded the state recognise marriage equality.

In Batumi, Georgia, three trans persons and two members of the Equality Movement were verbally and physically assaulted by a mob outside a night club. Police let the assailants walk away, while two of the victims ended up being detained – charged for “disorderly conduct” and “non-compliance with a demand of a law-enforcement officer.”

The Council of Europe‘s High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement calling on States to “ensure they have a robust law enforcement framework to eliminate discrimination and combat violence and hate speech motivated by bias against a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The first-ever national meeting of bisexual people is set to take place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia on September 22 and 23.

There are only a few days left (until September 4) to submit grant applications and workshop proposals for the ILGALAC Regional Conference, which will take place in Guatemala in November 2017.


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