LGBulleTIn 54 - The week in LGBTI news
July 1-7, 2016
Friday, July 1
United States: federal judge halts Mississippi discriminatory HB 1523
Just minutes before it was set to take effect, a federal judge blocked a Mississippi law permitting those with “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” to discriminate against members of the LGBTI community and unmarried people.
The court found that the law violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause: “Under the guise of providing additional protection for religious exercise, it creates a vehicle for state-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote of the law. “It is not rationally related to a legitimate end.”
As Buzzfeed reports, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant commented a few hours later, saying that he “look[s] forward to an aggressive appeal,” while the state’s attorney general adopted a more cautious tone.
Human rights groups praised the court's decision. “We are glad to see that Judge Carlton Reeves has made clear what we already knew: H.B. 1523 is indefensible, both morally and legally,” said Rob Hill, Mississippi state director for Human Rights Campaign. “We will continue to look toward a full repeal of the law.”
Monday, July 4
Uruguay grants asylum to Russian citizen who faced harassment on the basis of his sexual orientation
Uruguay has granted territorial asylum to a Russian citizen who claimed he was victim of harassment and discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation in his native country.
The request filed in 2015 by the 35-year-old, who is already working for a private company and studying in Uruguay, was accepted earlier this week.
“I fled my country because of the social condemnation of homosexuality,” he told Asociación de Familias Diversas, which followed his case closely. “I had no chance to live without fear with my partner there.”
Asociación de Familias Diversas welcomed the decision of the Foreign Ministry, praising the fact that “there are nations like ours where laws protect the human rights of any inhabitant of the world, regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.”
The association also reiterated its call to strengthen articles 149 bis and 149 ter of Uruguay’s penal code and put in place further juridical tools to punish those who promote hate against individuals on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
Tuesday, July 5
Cameroon: revision of country’s Penal Code fuels homophobia, activists report
The recent revision of the Penal Code has sparked a new wave of homophobia in Cameroon, human rights defenders report.
The revised version of the document has maintained the provision that criminalises same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults and, since discussions about the issue had started, LGBTI activists began to be targeted with violent comments in media and social networks.
“On the night of June 27-28, photos of five members of Alternatives-Cameroon appeared on social networks,” the organisation reports. “They were maligned and threatened online. Some were driven from their homes and others had to flee hostile neighbors. Now they are homeless, living temporarily with relatives.”
Speaking of “a new wave of institutionalized homophobia”, the association has called on the President of Cameroon “to block the enactment of this criminal law that violates citizens' fundamental rights,” and on the parliament “to take effective measures to ensure the protection of sexual minorities and their supporters.”
Read more on 76 Crimes
Tuesday, July 5
Hungary’s arbitrary detention of a gay asylum seeker violated European Convention on Human Rights, court rules
The European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled that Hungary’s two-month-long detention of an Iranian gay man applying for asylum was arbitrary and unjustified, and violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applicant, O. M., arrived in Hungary in June 2014, where he was apprehended and taken into custody. He soon filed a claim for asylum, stating that he had been forced to flee his country of origin as criminal proceedings had been instituted against him on the grounds of his sexual orientation. Following his request for asylum, though, he was detained for 58 days, after the Office of Immigration and Nationality referred to the fact that his identity and nationality had not yet been clarified.
Now, the European Court of Human Rights found that Hungarian authorities failed to make an individualised assessment and to take into account the applicant’s vulnerability in the detention facility based on his sexual orientation.
“It is comforting that the Court again stands with the rights of asylum seekers – no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director Evelyne Paradis. “Hungary needs to act on the judgment, and immediately ensure the respect of fundamental rights in all asylum procedures.”
Wednesday, July 6
Thailand to consider creating separate jails for LGBT prisoners
The Department of Corrections of Thailand is preparing to separate lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans prisoners from other prisoners for their own safety, Bangkok Post reported. The announcement was made during a meeting - attended by officials from the Office of the Ombudsman, Justice Ministry and human rights activists - by the Permanent Deputy Secretary for Justice Kobkiat Kasiwiwat, who also indicated that the Min Buri prison would be hosting LGBT prisoners under a pilot scheme.
According to the Department of Corrections, LGBT inmates now account for about 1% of the total of 300,000 prisoners in Thailand. “While the population is not a large one, this campaign is not about the numbers but about protecting individuals from abuse,” Jetsada Taesombat of the Thai Transgender Alliance was quoted as saying.
Wednesday, July 6
New Zealand: rainbow flag raised on Parliament grounds
For the first time ever in New Zealand’s history, a rainbow flag was raised on the grounds of Parliament to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Act, which decriminalised “consensual homosexual conduct between males.”
Members of the LGBTI community, politicians and allies who had supported the bill's progress from 1984 until its passing in July 1986 took part in a moving ceremony at the Parliament.
“30 years ago it was a crime to be a gay man, and for me that would have meant that I would have been a criminal, and so it's an important day to recognize how far we've come,” MP Grant Robertson was quoted as saying. The battle for equality is not over, though: “We need to provide support to young people who might be the subject of bullying or other types of abuse,” he said, “and help the rest of the community move from tolerance to acceptance of the diversity that we have.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A civil society organisation protested against the ongoing mistreatment against trans women in Malaysia, after a trans woman, who was not represented in court, was fined harshly for having failed to show her ID.
According to reports, lawmakers in Hong Kong will discuss and vote on a proposal to make same-sex partners eligible to claim the ashes of their loved ones from private columbariums.
In New Zealand, a petition has been tabled in parliament calling on a law to allow the reversal of historic convictions for consensual same-sex activity.
According to Australian Marriage Equality, the federal election in Australia has delivered an increase in parliamentary support for marriage equality across all political parties.
Canada will explore the use of gender-neutral options on identity cards, Justin Trudeau said as he became the first prime minister of the country to march in a Pride parade.
A monument serving as a memorial to the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting was unveiled in Puerto Rico.
According to reports, a man in Oyigbo, Nigeria was kidnapped, assaulted and blackmailed by a mob who accused him of being gay, and released him only after he paid a ransom.
Civil society organisations have joined forces and organised health, counseling and testing services sessions at one of the few bars welcoming LGBTI community members in Kampala, Uganda.
The dead body of a student was found in a university campus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: he may have been victim of a homophobic and racist hate crime.
A national gathering of LGBTI activists has been announced in Mexico: it will be held from August 25 to 28 in Morelos under the theme "LGBTI activism and institutional politics".
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has adopted a hate crime regulation into its Criminal Code, which now includes both sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds.
In the United Kingdom, the Minister for Women and Equalities unveiled a series of reforms which include a review into the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and unnecessary demands for gender information on official documents.
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