LGBulleTIn #74 - The week in LGBTI news
January 27 – February 2, 2017
Friday, January 27
Lebanon: same-sex conduct “not a criminal offense,” court rules
In a landmark ruling, a court in Lebanon conceded that same-sex conduct should not be considered a criminal offense.
Citing Article 183, which states that “an act undertaken in exercise of a right without abuse shall not be regarded as an offense,” Judge Rabih Maalouf ruled that “same-sex conduct is a personal choice, and not a punishable offense.”
As ILGA's State Sponsored Homophobia report points out, Article 534 of the country's Penal Code states that “Any sexual intercourse against nature is punished with up to one year of imprisonment”.
The recent ruling, Beirut.com reports, is not poised to change the law, but may set a precedent for future cases in the country.
Since 2009, according to The Legal Agenda, three court decisions have refused to apply Article 534 of the Criminal Code to sanction same-sex intercourse.
Friday, January 27
United States: majority opposes anti-LGBT provisions, survey finds
A majority of U. S. residents publicly oppose measures that erode civil rights for LGBT persons, a study has found.
66% among the 2,192 adults surveyed in a Harris Poll expressed negative views on laws allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT persons because of their religious objections. 62% of respondents also claimed to oppose state laws that repeal or overturn local or city LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
According to the study, people seemed to be more divided on legislation requiring individuals use restrooms and facilities comporting with the sex on their birth certificate: less than 1 in 2 expressed their opposition to these bills, even if 63% of them agreed that all public buildings should be required to offer a single-user or gender non-specific bathroom.
When people were asked how effective various tactics might be in overturning or preventing passage of discriminatory laws, 59% of respondents indicated that federal lawsuits against states for civil rights violations would be the most effective response.
Saturday, January 28
At least 343 LGBT persons and allies were killed in Brazil in 2016, study finds
At least 343 persons who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans – or who were allies to our communities – were murdered in Brazil in 2016, according to a study released by Grupo Gay da Bahia. Among the victims, there were 173 gay men, 144 trans persons, 10 lesbian women and 4 bisexual people; 12 more persons were killed on the grounds on their involvement with members of the LGBT community.
‘These alarming numbers are the tip of an iceberg of violence and blood,” Luiz Mott, co-author of the report, was quoted as saying. “Since there are no government statistics on hate crimes, they are always under-reported because our database is based on news published in the media, the internet and personal information.”
Only 10% of the cases registered in 2016 led to the opening of a judicial process. “When there are witnesses, they often refuse to testify due to anti-LGBT prejudice. Police officers, delegates and judges manifest their homo-transphobia ignoring such crimes, denying their homophobic grounds without a plausible justification,” the study points out.
Saturday, January 28
Australia: Indigenous sexual health programs face defunding
A sexual health program aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of rainbow communities is set to close this year when federal funding stops.
The 2 Spirits program, which “aims to improve the sexual health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men and sistergirls through a 'Whole of Community Approach' to education, prevention, health promotion and community development activities,” has operated under the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) for the past 21 years. According to reports, the team was recently advised in a letter that funding would be cut-off after June 30.
Advocates and members of the LGBTI community have voiced their concerns over the impact that a lack of support could have within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, should the programme not find alternative funding in a few months.
A similar fate is faced also by the Aboriginal Sexual Health Program of the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC), which will reportedly be defunded after June 30. “Given the high rates of STIs and blood borne viruses in the Indigenous community, this is a very disappointing decision by the Commonwealth government,” NTAHC said.
Monday, January 30
Church of Norway embraces marriage equality
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway voted in favour of new ceremonial language that will allow its pastors to conduct same-sex marriages.
A large majority of the Synod members decided last year that the Church of Norway create a liturgy for church weddings of same-sex couples, but an agreement on the wording of the new marriage text was reached only this week. According to Reuters, the text was amended to include gender neutral terms, omitting the words ‘bride’ and ‘groom’. The first marriage was celebrated only a few minutes after the new liturgy had come into force.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the Court of Cassation ruled in favour of two women and ordered the registration of their marriage, which had taken place in France, in what is believed to be “the first decision granting full recognition” in the country to a same-sex marriage celebrated abroad.
Thursday, February 3
Nigerian man at risk of deportation from Sweden after failing to 'prove' that he is gay
In a few days, almost 40,000 persons joined a campaign condemning the deportation of Franco K., an 18-year old Nigerian man who fled to Sweden after having suffered a homophobic attack.
Franco was attacked inside his own house, after a neighbour gathered a mob to beat him up after seeing him and his boyfriend together. A few days ago, Franco saw his asylum application rejected by the Swedish Immigration Board, which claimed that Franco could not ‘prove’ he is gay. He now risks to be sent back to Nigeria, where “acts against the order of nature” can lead to an imprisonment of up to 14 years.
The campaign, launched by RFSL and All Out, is asking the Swedish Minister for Justice and Migration to halt Franco's deportation and immediately implement humane processes and training for migration staff working on asylum cases involving LGBT people.
According to RFSL, Franco’s case is not isolated: a few months ago, a gay Iranian teenager was also denied asylum because he managed to get a passport to leave Iran; and a bisexual woman from Nigeria was told her claim wasn’t credible, even though her girlfriend testified in court.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
In the United States, a leaked draft of an executive order which would create exemptions for those who claim religious objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identities prompted strong responses from human rights organisations.
The Boy Scouts of America announced it will now allow trans boys to enrol in its boys-only programs.
In American Samoa, a fa'afafine public servant has laid a complaint for sex discrimination against the Department of Human Resources, alleging the department's director intimidated and sexually harassed her during a staff meeting.
In New Zealand, the Auckland Pride Festival Board asked the Department of Corrections to withdraw its application to participate in the forthcoming Parade as they saw "no evidence that the promised Transgender Policy has been implemented."
A memorial was held in Uganda in honour of human rights defender David Kato on the sixth anniversary of his murder.
A civil society organisation has released a short film to document challenges and abuses faced by rainbow communities in Sudan.
"Under no circumstance are we going to change the law" that criminalises same-sex sexual activity, the Minister of Justice of Sri Lanka claimed during an interview.
In India, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) overturned the censor board’s decision to cut ten seconds of a music video showing two men lying in bed.
In Colombia, the plenary session of the Constitutional Court rejected a request to nullify the ruling legalizing marriage equality issued by the same court in April 2016.
The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) of Mexico approved jurisprudence affirming the right of same-sex couples to access assisted reproduction.
Thousands of gay and bisexual men found guilty of now-abolished sexual offences in England and Wales have been posthumously pardoned, as the Policing and Crime Act 2017 received royal assent.
In Switzerland, the lifetime blood donation ban on gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men was lifted in favour of a one-year deferral system.
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