The week in LGBTI news
January 26 – February 1, 2018
7 days in LGBTI news from around the world available in a single read
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
Friday, January 26
Almost 700,000 persons have been subjected to ‘conversion’ therapy in the United States, study finds
Despite being widely recognised as harmful and even ‘tantamount to torture’, the discredited practice of so-called ‘conversion’ therapy continues to be used in many parts of the world.
A recent study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law casts a light on the practice in the United States, indicating that an estimated 698,000 LGBT adults in the country have received treatment to ‘change’ their sexual orientation or gender identity at some point in their lives.
The study also indicates that 20,000 LGBT youth aged 13 to 17 will be subjected to such harmful treatments from a licensed health care professional before the age of 18.
"I don’t think many people realize this is still going on," lead author of the study Christy Mallory said. “Laws banning conversion therapy could protect tens of thousands of teens.”
According to the study, nine states, the District of Columbia and 32 localities across the United States have laws protecting youth under age 18 from receiving ‘conversion’ therapy from licensed health care providers. Such laws, however, “generally do not apply to religious or spiritual advisors” who engage in such treatments “within their pastoral or religious capacity.”
Only a few days after the report was released, a case made headlines in Ohio, as a Juvenile Court heard arguments in a legal battle involving a trans teenager. According to reports, grandparents are asking for full custody of a 17-year-old youth, as his parents fail to accept him and allegedly claimed they wanted to subject him to ‘spiritual-based’ therapy to "get to the underlying causes" of his gender identity.
Friday, January 26
Marriage equality ‘most significant event’ in Australians’ lifetime, survey indicates
Marriage equality has been a reality in Australia for only a few weeks now, after years of tireless campaigning by human rights defenders. Despite its short course, Australians believe that achieving marriage equality has been the ‘most significant event’ that has occurred in their lifetime, according to a survey by the Social Research Centre.
Of the over 2,000 people surveyed, all among 18 and 93 years old, 30% included it among the 10 historic events that that had the greatest impact on the country during their lifetime. The 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States came as close second in this ranking, followed by the national apology to Australia’s Indigenous people for the Stolen Generations.
The survey was conducted between November 15 and December 3, 2017, just a few days before the final vote on marriage equality in the House of Representatives. “Given the proximity of the Historic Events Survey to the same-sex marriage postal survey and subsequent announcement of the results, it perhaps comes as no surprise that same-sex marriage is the most frequently mentioned historic event,” the report reads.
Marriage equality was also indicated as the historic event that made Australians most proud of their country, being nominated by 13% of participants in the survey.
Saturday, January 27
Indonesia: police arrests, publicly humiliates trans women as crackdown against rainbow communities intensifies
Indonesian and Sharia police arrested twelve trans women in a joint raid on five hair salons, in what they called an operation on ‘eradication of community disease’ held in the Aceh province.
The women were taken to the local police headquarters and humiliated as they were made to strip off their shirts and have their hair cut in public and forced into a series of demeaning exercises. The women were detained for three days.
The North Aceh police chief addressed a crowd that had gathered immediately after the raids, threatening to take action not only against the trans women, but also against any visitor of the salons they own.
After his actions made headlines worldwide, Indonesia’s police chief General told reporters that he had ordered an investigation into the North Aceh police chief's behaviour, who later issued a public apology.
After more than 300 LGBT people were apprehended in police raids across Indonesia in 2017, according to reports by Human Rights Watch, the crackdown on rainbow communities has further escalated across the country, as parliament is drafting proposed revisions to the national criminal code that could ban all consensual sex outside marriage.
Fuelling such a panic towards rainbow communities is also translating into restrictive and less inclusive attitudes: Google was reported pulling a popular dating app from the Indonesian version of its online store in response to government demands, and a recent survey found that 87% of those claiming to understand the term ‘LGBT’ consider the community a ‘threat to private or public life’.
Saturday, January 27
Tunisia: police disrupt demonstration participated by LGBTI human rights defenders
Plain-clothed police disrupted a demonstration participated by LGBTI human rights defenders in the capital of Tunisia, AFP reported.
The demonstration – convened by Association des Libres Penseurs and joined by other rights organisations - was to be held outside the tourism ministry to advocate respect for individual freedom and protest “the criminalisation of sexual freedom and discrimination against women,” but it was banned the day before it was meant to take place.
"We had information that they were going to be targeted," said an interior ministry spokesman, who claimed to have acted “for their safety and to preserve public order.”
A dozen human rights defenders, however, took to the street anyway, only to be violently disrupted by police after one of them started displaying a rainbow flag.
Monday, January 29
Gay married couple flee Russia after receiving death threats
Two men whose marriage in Denmark was registered by Russian officials once they returned home were forced to flee the country, human rights activists said, citing a ‘real danger’ to their safety.
A clerk had put marriage stamps on the men’s passports, applying a law that means Russia recognises marriages registered abroad.
The news made headlines, and sparked nationwide outrage fuelled by politicians and state media: soon after, the interior ministry announced that the men’s passports would be annulled and that the clerk who stamped them would be dismissed. It also said that the couple would face a fine for defacing their passports – a charge the men have denied, claiming that documents were stamped by officials who had every right to do so under federal law.
Unfortunately, the situation escalated further. The Russian LGBT Network reported that police had tried to break into the men's apartment - where electricity and internet connection were cut off for several hours - on January 28, preventing the couple to leave. Police also allegedly told the couple they could not guarantee their safety, even if they reported receiving death threats online. Fearing for their safety, the couple gave their internal passports to police on their lawyer’s advice and left the country.
Monday, January 29
U. S. pastor known for hate speech against LGBTI community banned from Jamaica
Among mounting pressure from civil society, the Jamaican government announced it has banned U.S. pastor Steven Anderson for entering the country.
Anderson, known for opposing women’s rights and for repeatedly calling for members of the LGBTI community to be executed, was set to speak at the University of West Indies. His plans, however, were blocked just before he was about to board his flight: “The decision was made by the chief immigration officer because the pastor’s statements are not conducive to the current climate,” said a spokesperson for the ministry of national security. The university also rescinded its invitation, clarifying that this would have been an event organized by a local church, rather than a campus one.
Anderson had previously been denied entry into a number of countries – most recently in South Africa, soon before being deported from Botswana – and was reported reacting to the news by wishing the death of the activist who had launched the petition to see him banned from Jamaica.
A Jamaican citizen, known by the pseudonym “Jay John,” had started a Change.org petition to prevent Anderson from preaching in the country. Almost 39,000 signatures were collected in support of the plea, prompting the government to bar the hate preacher.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
A new 23-country survey showed that a majority of respondents worldwide would like their country to do more to support trans people and protect them from discrimination.
In Trinidad and Tobago, a civic court heard oral arguments in a case seeking to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity in the country. A judgement is expected in April 2018.
More than 400 people gathered together in Argentina to address the emergency situation caused in several provinces by the reported lack of medicines for persons living with HIV.
In a local government area of Edo State, Nigeria, traditional institutions claimed to have joined police raids seeking to arrest people on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
In South Africa, a bill has been tabled in parliament to repeal a provision allowing Home Affairs officers to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
A court in Singapore has agreed to review the decision to delete a couple’s marriage from the city-state’s registry after one partner underwent gender-affirming surgery.
In a reported first, the annual &PROUD LGBT festival was held in a public park in Yangon, Myanmar rather than in private settings, gathering together thousands of persons.
After the meeting in 2017 resulting in the Darlington Statement, a second retreat for intersex advocates from around Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand is set to take place in April 2018.
The Human Rights Commission is hosting a series of open forum consultations across Aotearoa New Zealand for people with diverse or minority sexual orientations, gender identities, and sex characteristics.
ILGA-Europe has announced a call for proposals on the review of the implementation of the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5, addressing measures to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
TGEU will launch a new report on D/deaf and disabled trans experiences in Europe at a webinar on Monday, February 5. Click here for more information.
Thousands of human rights defenders gathered together in Washington D.C., United States for the annual Creating Change conference, held under the theme “Learn. Connect. Resist".
The Senate in Canada passed a bill that renders the national anthem gender neutral by replacing "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command". It now must receive royal assent by the Governor General before it officially becomes law.
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