LGBulleTIn 109
The week in LGBTI news
January 19-25, 2018


 Friday, January 19

Kenya: High Court hears case seeking to scrap laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity

The case seeking to decriminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults has reached the High Court in Kenya, where the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) is arguing that sections 162, 163 and 165 of the Penal Code are in breach of the Constitution and basic rights of Kenyan citizens.

“As lawyers, we believe in the equal protection of the rule of law and in the superior legal framework of the Kenyan Constitution,” NGLHRC acting executive director Njeri Gateru explained. “These colonial legacy laws undermine LGBT people’s fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution and ostracise them from society, causing misery and isolation, and devastating their lives. We believe that this wrong must be put right.”

Kenyan laws criminalising consensual same-sex sexual activity could lead to a sentence up to 14 years in jail. Such provisions, NGLHRC argues, “exist in contravention of the rights enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution and African Charter on Human and People’s Rights,” and expose rainbow communities to gross human rights violations.

The next hearing has been scheduled on February 22.



Saturday, January 20

Human rights defender So’oalo To’oto’oalii Roger Stanley passes away in Samoa

Human rights defenders from across the world mourned the loss of So’oalo To’oto’oalii Roger Stanley, the president of Samoa Faafafine Association Inc. - a group advocating the rights of fa'fafine and fa'afatama people, and an ILGA member organisation.

Roger founded the organisation in 2006, and has been recognized “a pioneer in articulating the links between human rights, exploitation of fa’afafines in Samoa and the Pacific, and the health, wellbeing and security of the LGBQTI community.”

“Under her determined and exuberant leadership,” Samoa Planet wrote, “SFA grew from only a ‘gathering of a few friends’ to a hugely influential organisation which does everything from successfully work for constitutional law reform, advocate for faafafine that experience abuse and discrimination in their families and in the workplace, offer training opportunities and job assistance to young faafafine, provide vital sexual health workshops and resources in the community, and raise much-needed funds for charitable organisations.”



Monday, January 22

Brazil: violent deaths of LGBT persons at “all-time high”, report shows

At least 445 LGBT Brazilians died as victims of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in 2017, research by Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB) has indicated: almost one person every 19 hours.

These horrific figures, which include 387 murders and 58 suicides, show a dramatic 30% increase from 2016, where 343 deaths were reported.

"Such alarming numbers are just the tip of an iceberg of violence and blood,” said GGB president Luiz Mott. “Since there are no government statistics on hate crimes, such deaths are always underreported.” This report itself was based on media reports, as well as information shared on the internet or through personal networks.

Impunity and prejudice also play their part, spurring new attacks and fuelling the fire of hate, the report explained: “The offender was identified in less than a quarter of these homicides, and less than 10% of the cases resulted in the opening of proceedings, or in a punishment for the assassins.”



Monday, January 22

United States: same-sex couples sue State Department for discriminating against their families


Two same-sex couples are suing the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize their marriages and denying their children’s rightful citizenship at birth.

"If an American is born and raised in the United States, and then gets married to a foreign national abroad, the couple’s children are entitled to birthright U.S. citizenship whether they are born in the U.S or not," Immigration Equality explained. “The law treats married couple’s children as their offspring from birth."

Two bi-national couples, however, are being denied this right.

U.S. citizen Allison Blixt and her Italian national spouse, Stefania Zaccari, got married in the UK and are both legal parents of their two sons. The State Department, however, allegedly notified them that the child carried by Zaccari is not a U.S. citizen and was born "out of wedlock," while his younger brother, born to Blixt, is apparently eligible for U.S. citizenship.

Similarly, Andrew (a U.S. citizen) and Elad Dvash-Banks (an Israeli citizen) got married in Canada. Both of them are legally the exclusive parents of their twin children, but one of them – who has the DNA of his Israeli father – was denied U.S. citizenship and forced to enter the country on a tourist visa.

“This policy is not only illegal, it is unconstitutional (…) and places an undue burden on their families,” said the couples’ attorney. 



Monday, January 22

Trans human rights defenders violently attacked in Pakistan

Two members of TransAction Pakistan, a provincial organisation working for the wellbeing and protection of trans and intersex communities, were brutally attacked in Peshawar in the past few days.

Shama, 18, reported being kidnapped and sexually assaulted by nine men in retaliation for her advocacy. The assailants threatened to shoot her if she disclosed the incident to anyone, or if she continued her human rights work.
A First Incident Report (FIR) has yet to be lodged, no arrests have been made, and no medical examination has been conducted. TransAction Pakistan expressed frustration with the inertia noting the “huge pressure building” for action to be taken.

Only five days before this incident, another activist was attacked: Sonia was shot by her partner after refusing to give up her human rights work. She was rushed to the hospital with gunshot wounds, and a complaint has been filed against her attacker.

Cases of violent crimes against trans people have been on the rise in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, FrontLineDefenders noted, condemning the attacks and urging authorities to investigate.


Thursday, January 25

European Court of Justice rules out psychological tests for assessing asylum claims based on sexual orientation

European authorities cannot use psychological tests as grounds to dismiss asylum claims made by people who say they have fled their country due to their sexual orientation, the European Court of Justice ruled.

Such tests, the Court explained, amount “to a disproportionate interference in the private life of the asylum seeker”, and violate their right to privacy and dignity enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

The ruling refers to a case in which a Nigerian national was denied asylum in Hungary in April 2015 after a psychologist’s report commissioned by authorities failed to confirm his alleged sexual orientation. As ILGA-Europe pointed out, the Court “paid particular importance to the fact that asylum seekers undergoing assessment may not necessarily consent to it freely by ‘being de facto imposed under the pressure of the circumstances’”.

As Politico reports, the ECJ ruling will be legally binding in all EU member countries.


Is that all? More LGBTI news bites

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the world for the second annual Women's March.

In Chile, the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies passed the proposed Gender Identity Law by a 62-38 vote. The bill will now be delivered to the Senate.

192 LGBTI human rights defenders gathered together in Mexico for the first meeting of the Coalición Mexicana LGBTTTI+, aimed to elaborate concrete proposals ahead of the 2018 elections.

Human rights organisations across Europe are raising concerns after a judge - who was reported linking same-sex attraction to pathologies and arguing that trans people must undergo 'psychological and psychiatric' therapies – has been elected to represent Spain at the European Court of Human Rights.

Less than half of Council of Europe’s member States have action plans to explicitly prevent homophobic, biphobic, transphobic or interphobic bullying in education settings, a new study by IGLYO has shown.

A federal judge in the United States has ruled in favour of a student group that was denied official recognition by the University of Iowa for refusing to accept gay students in leadership roles.

Government in Canada has sought to clarify its policy on Canada Summer Jobs funding, reiterating that the program won’t fund “organizations whose primary activities do not respect (...) established individual human rights", including reproductive rights and those of LGBTQ2s people.

Amidst false allegations about “an LGBT law or same-sex marriage” being discussed by Parliament, a House commission in Indonesia is reportedly working on a new draft version of the Penal Code, including a possible criminalisation of same-sex relations.

In India, the National AIDS Control Organisation highlighted the need for condoms and harm reduction strategies for inmates who engage in unprotected sex or share needles.

Eight persons were arrested in South Africa in association with the rape and murder of two lesbian women.

Sexual Minorities Uganda and Icebreakers Uganda have launched the #SeeTheInvisible campaign addressing depression within the LGBT community and the general population.

Ten years into the Enquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People, the NZ Human Rights Commission has highlighted progress and areas of further work  to ensure that trans people in New Zealand have full and equal access to their human rights.

Two drag performers will reportedly be the first Indigenous young people ‘crowned’ to lead the annual Midsumma Pride march in Australia.


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