Two weeks in LGBTI news
February 16 – March 1, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #113 provides two weeks in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Tuesday, February 20
Nepal: Immigration ordered to provide visa for same-sex spouse
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that the foreign wife of a Nepalese woman must be granted a non-tourist visa.
The couple got married in California but, as soon as they returned to Nepal, the Department of Immigration refused to provide the spouse – a U.S. citizen – with such a visa.
The decision was soon challenged in court. As Pahichan reports, the plaintiff argued that ‘as [the] constitution has already ensured the rights of gender and sexual minority, and there is a legal provision that foreign national marrying with Nepali citizen would get non-tourist visa,’ the government cannot deny such a permit.
Thursday, February 22
Kenya: High Court continues to hear case seeking to scrap laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity
The legal struggle towards the decriminalisation of same-sex relations between consenting adults in Kenya is making headlines worldwide, as the case has reached the High Court.
The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) is arguing that criminalising colonial-era provisions in the Penal Code are in breach of the Constitution and basic rights of Kenyan citizens. The case is reportedly being heard alongside a similar petition brought forward by the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) and Nyanza Rift Valley and Western Kenya (NYARWEK).
According to Eric Gitari, executive director of NGLHRC, those sections of the Penal Code are used to justify violence against LGBT persons in Kenya, where more than 1,000 incidents of violations against LGBT people were recorded by the NGLHRC since 2014.
“These laws - far from being about morality - are used to justify discrimination, violence, harassment and invasive intrusion of the private lives of Kenyan citizens,” Gitari stated. “We have a constitution that carries the will of the Kenyan people and that says no one should be discriminated against, yet these laws do just that."
After the sessions that took place on March 1, the Court adjourned to the end of April, when possible information regarding when a ruling might be expected.
Thursday, February 22
Turkey: courts reject NGO appeals, allowing Ankara ban on LGBTI events to continue
The ban on public LGBTI events, imposed by the Ankara Governor’s office in November 2017, has been upheld by two administrative courts in the capital city of Turkey.
Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat, two LGBTI non-governmental organisations, had challenged the ban in court, calling it illegal and asking for the decision to be revoked, but courts ruled against their initiative.
As ILGA-Europe points out, the prohibition of any public LGBTI activity did not stop at the capital city’s borders. Since it was introduced, a queer festival was banned by the Beyoglu District Governorship in Istanbul, an LGBTI film screening was disrupted by the police in Bursa, and the administration at Middle East Technical University prevented two LGBTI-themed film screenings.
This ban, grassroots activists noted, also coincided with a rise in anti-LGBTI hate speech in both traditional and online media, including remarks specifically aimed at non-governmental organisations.
“Legitimising hate of LGBTI people through a measure like this is unacceptable. The message must go out that this is not OK," commented Bjorn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe Programmes Director. "The Turkish LGBTI community is not alone."
Monday, February 26
Tonga: reconstruction begins after cyclone Gita damages LGBT youth shelter
Reconstructions and relief efforts have begun in the islands of Tonga after the kingdom was devastated by tropical cyclone Gita, which was described as the worst storm to pass so close to Tonga’s main islands in 60 years.
Among the structures that suffered severe damage was the drop-in centre run by Tonga Leitis’ Association, which serves as a shelter for LGBT youth rejected by their families and communities.
Henry Aho, president of the Tonga Leitis Association, told the Washington Blade that Cyclone Gita “tore off” a portion of the centre’s roof over the bathrooms and bedrooms. Walls, floors and plumbing were also damaged.
A crowdfunding has been set up to ask people for donations that will go toward “building materials, and the delivery of food, water, medical and other essential supplies."
In a campaign update, the association has communicated that the office has been cleaned up, and that a manager is already at work to coordinate the reconstruction and relief efforts for members and their families.
Monday, February 26
UN Human Rights Council opens its 37th regular session
“No tradition, legal or religious, calls for nor supports oppression,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein pointed out as the Human Rights Council opened its thirty-seven regular session. “Discussions on human rights are avoided only by those who shy away from difficult decisions.”
In a passionate statement, Zeid called out several episodes of human rights violations - including also the recent incident in Aceh, Indonesia, where a group of trans women were publicly humiliated by officials - and thanked all human rights defenders, describing having worked with and for them as “the honour of my life."
Both António Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, and Miroslav Lajcàk, president of the 72nd UN General Assembly, also spoke during the opening session, addressing human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and reiterating that “we are all equal in rights and dignity.”
The ongoing 37th UN Human Rights Council will see a few areas of particular interest for LGBTI advocacy within the plenary discussions. Read more about ILGA’s engagement in the session.
Monday, February 26
United States: “Sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination,” Federal Court rules
A federal appeals court ruled that workplace discrimination on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation is banned under a 1964 civil rights law, thus overruling a lower court and a precedent from two previous court cases.
“We now hold that sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination ‘because of . . . sex,’ in violation of Title VII,” the ruling read.
This case was brought by in 2010 by a gay man who sued his employer, claiming that he was fired after revealing his sexual orientation to a client. His lawyers argued that discrimination on the grounds of a person’s sexual orientation falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the grounds of sex. The position was adopted also by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal agency, but opposed by the Justice Department – thereby, as BuzzFeed points out, “pitting the federal government against itself.”
The recent ruling confirmed that “sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination”, and has been hailed as “a long due victory for equality”. Should the decision be appealed, the case would then have to land at the Supreme Court.
Tuesday, February 27
Hate crimes: 41-year-old stabbed to death in Argentina
A 41-year-old man named Karlos Alberto Ledezma was found dead in his home in Las Parejas, Argentina, in what activists are calling to be investigated as a hate crime. His body showed multiple stab wounds, and early investigations seem to indicate that the victim knew his murderer.
A few days after the crime occurred, almost 500 persons took to the streets to demand justice, including relatives and neighbours of the victim, together with local politicians.
“We believe this was a hate crime” against one of the few out gay men in town, provincial undersecretary of Sexual Diversity Policies of the province of Santa Fe Esteban Paulón told Presentes.
Tragically, this wasn’t the only case of brutal violence against members of our communities in the last few days. Phylicia Mitchell, a 46-year-old trans woman, was fatally shot outside her home in Cleveland, OH, while the body of Zakaria Fry, a 28-year-old trans woman who had gone missing from her home weeks ago, was discovered on a stretch of road outside Santa Fe, NM, United States. A 14-old gay teen was separated from his family in Italy, after he reported being repeatedly beaten up and burnt by his household. In Armenia, a trans woman is fighting for her life after her assailant beat her up and burnt down her apartment.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
In Bermuda, the Minister of Home Affairs announced that the Domestic Partnership Act replacing marriage equality will only come into force on June 1, just a few days after the case challenging the repeal is set to be heard.
Chile will soon have what is reported to be the first 'trans mausoleum' in Latin America, where the bodies of trans elderly that have passed on can be housed.
The unique stressors that LGBTQ people experience can impact contributing factors in the development of an eating disorder, a survey in the United States has found. Data showed that a majority of LGBTQ youth surveyed (54%) reported to have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, and 58% among that cohort said they had considered suicide.
In the aftermath of the Parkland, FL, United States school shooting, student survivors have organised against gun violence, with the president of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance - Emma González, a bisexual latinx 18-year-old - being among the leading voices of the protest.
The Parliament of Finland has voted to approve automatic co-parent recognition for female same-sex couples following fertility treatment.
The European Parliament has taken a strong stance against 'conversion' therapies for the first time. It also adopted its Annual report on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU, which speaks out against LGBTI discrimination and the pathologisation of trans people, and calls on unnecessary surgeries on intersex children to be stopped.
A new study has shown the extent of the barriers to transition-related healthcare that trans people face in South Korea.
In Malaysia, an Islamic religious teacher argued that the government should use censorship measures to restrict the growing LGBTI movement, especially monitoring websites, social media and apps.
In South Africa, more than 21,000 people signed a petition calling on the Department of Justice to move the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill to Parliament.
In Tunisia, the distributor of the Oscar-nominated movie Call Me By Your Name claimed that the Ministry of Culture refused to allow a screening of the film because of its storyline.
The bill to expunge historical convictions for engaging in same-sex sexual activity has passed the lower house of the Western Australian parliament.
In Australia, an artists' co-operative launched an exhibit showcasing art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who are part of rainbow communities.
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