LGBulleTIn #78 - The week in LGBTI news
February 24 – March 2, 2017
Friday, February 24
Trinidad and Tobago: human rights defender files lawsuit to challenge law criminalising same-sex sexual activity
A human rights defender has filed a lawsuit challenging section 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act 1986 of Trinidad and Tobago, which state that a person "who commits buggery" or "an act of serious indecency" (...) is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment."
“This country guarantees that every creed and race should find an equal place, but the law denies me my equal place,” Jason Jones said.
In his lawsuit, he claims that the “very existence of these sections continuously and directly affects the claimant’s private life by forcing him to either respect the law and refrain from engaging – even in private with consenting male partners – in prohibited sexual acts (...), or to commit the prohibited acts and thereby become liable to criminal prosecution.”
Speaking with reporters, Jones said that he received a number of death threats online after filing his lawsuit, but also that positive response to his claim has been far greater than the negative ones. “It is a human rights issue. It is about my right to live my life as I choose,” he said. “Somebody has to do it. So I am doing it.”
Friday, February 24
New civil partnerships law comes into force in Slovenia
A new law allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships has come into force in Slovenia, in what grassroots activists have called “a major step towards greater equality.”
The Civil Partnership Act, adopted in April 2016, extends the rights previously enjoyed by registered same-sex partners, granting them similar rights to those enjoyed by married couples. As Legebitra points out, however, the law “still creates a distinction between civil unions and marriages,” as same-sex couples are still barred from applying for joint adoption and for medically assisted insemination.
The struggle towards equality for rainbow families took other significant advances this week also in other European countries. A law granting marriage equality came into force in Finland, while for the first time in Italy two men were both fully recognized in their parental roles as fathers of their twins, thanks to a ruling by the Court of Appeal of Trento.
Monday, February 27
Tanzania: official refrains from publishing “list of LGBTI people,” vows to “deal with the issue differently”
A week after he threatened to out “gay people selling their bodies online,” announcing the intention to investigate on an alleged “homosexuality syndicate,” the Deputy Health Minister of Tanzania decided to backtrack, calling off a press conference organised to share that list.
Hamisi Kigwangalla took to Twitter, writing: “We are not going to announce the names of LGBTIs who publicly market themselves for technical reasons.”
The LGBTI community, however, is still under alert: according to Mambaonline, the government official also claimed that releasing the list would have been like “freeing a devil in a bottle,” and that “for strategic reasons and to avoid destroying evidence, we will deal with this issue differently.”
Human rights defenders have warned about the consequences of outing members of the community, claiming that such a move would result in a dramatic rise of violence against them.
Monday, February 27
National LGBTI mental health and suicide prevention strategy launched in Australia
A new plan for strategic action to prevent mental ill-health and suicide of LGBTI persons has just been launched in Australia.
Prepared by the national peak body for LGBTI health, the strategy stems from the fact that “LGBTI people and communities have been relatively invisible in mental health and suicide prevention strategies, policies and frameworks and thus excluded from program and project responses,” and aims “to respond to LGBTI people in current need, to provide interventions to those who are at risk, and to interrupt the structural factors that contribute to overrepresentation of LGBTI people in mental health and suicide statistics.”
Ensuring targeted responses to support the needs of LGBTI people is “overdue and essential,” the document reads, “if we are truly to work towards the targets we have set ourselves as a country to tackle suicide.”
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, one of the strategy authors highlighted how commitment from governments is essential to see significant change: “The document is pretty, and it’s got a lot of words, but it’s not going to change the lived experience of people unless it is implemented.”
Tuesday, February 28
Three trans women of colour murdered in Louisiana, United States in a matter of days
The epidemic of violence against trans persons continues unabated in the United States, where three trans women of colour were reported murdered in the past few days.
All of these tragic incidents happened in Louisiana: Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, was shot several times and killed outside of a shopping center in New Orleans; only a few hours later, in the same city, 26-year-old Ciara McElveen was stabbed to death.
A few days later, then, it was reported that another murder had taken place on February 19 in the state. It wasn’t until this week, though, that advocates learnt that Jaquarrius Holland was a trans woman, until her family and friends took to social media to correct reports that misgendered her. She was only 18 years old.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, seven trans women of colour have already been murdered in the United States within the first two months of the year.
Unfortunately, these were not the only reported episodes of violence against LBT women in the country: on the day a court was due to address the dissolution of their marriage, a man entered the house where his soon-to-be ex-wife and her girlfriend lived, and killed both women before turning the gun on himself. According to his former attorney, the man had claimed he “couldn’t handle seeing the mother of his two children in a relationship with another woman,” and that he “felt the relationship was immoral.”
Wednesday, March 1
Saudi Arabia: mass arrest at a gathering, two trans women reported tortured to death
The Saudi authorities raided a resort south of Riyadh, and detained 35 persons the grounds of “breaching public decency.” According to The Express Tribune, these persons identified themselves as trans women: most of them were Pakistani citizens, and they were taking part in a formal gathering.
According to reports, two trans women - Amna, 35, and Meeno, 26 - died while in police custody after being tortured. They were allegedly thrown into bags and beaten with sticks. A human rights defender claimed that 22 of the persons arrested are still being held, while 11 were allegedly released after paying a fine.
Police claimed that the site of the gathering had been under ‘constant surveillance,’ and that women’s clothing and jewellery were found on the spot.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The United Nations launched a campaign to raise awareness of the impact of anti-LGBTIQ bullying: it features a video, a factsheet and recommendations directed at education ministries and school authorities, as well as practical advice for parents and peers of LGBTIQ youth.
The UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has begun his first official visit to Argentina.
After the Court of Appeal of Guyana rejected claims that a “cross-dressing” law is discriminatory, the case is likely to head to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
In Spain, a judge ruled to halt the circulation of a bus showing a transphobic message. The vehicle roamed the streets of Madrid as part of a campaign by an ultra-conservative Catholic group earlier this week, and was soon set to hit the road in various cities across the country.
In Northern Ireland, two women claimed that the National Health System explicitly denied them funding for fertility treatment on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
A bill allowing equal access to assisted reproductive treatment and unpaid surrogacy for same-sex couples has been approved by parliament in South Australia.
Over 100 civil society organisations and activists released a joint statement welcoming the Senate inquiry report on the draft Marriage Act amendment in Australia.
Dozens of human rights defenders from across Southeast Asia gathered in the Philippines for a conference aimed to promote family acceptance for LGBTIQ persons in the region.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan has added provisions to prevent bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the draft of its national prevention policy.
Sameera Krishnan, a 23-year-old trans woman, was brutally murdered in Kuantan, Malaysia, then repeatedly misgendered and ridiculed in media reports.
In the United States, 122 Members of Congress signed on to a bipartisan letter urging President Trump to reinstate guidance detailing schools’ obligations to trans students.
A study aiming to track sports involvement among LGB youth in Canada showed they were about half as likely, or even less, to participate in coached sports than their peers, as “there are continued barriers to participation.”
The fifth edition of the LGBTIQ Human Rights film festival Batho Ba Lorato – featuring movies from Botswana, Nigeria and the United States - was held in Botswana.
In Tangier, Morocco, two men were sentenced to six months in prison for same-sex sexual conduct. They were arrested after a video showing them having sex began to circulate on Whatsapp without their consent.
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