The week in LGBTI news
January 12-18, 2018
ILGA mourns the loss of Kürşad Kahramanoğlu
Kürşad Kahramanoğlu, the LGBT activist from Turkey who has played a crucial role in the ILGA family for many years, has left us.
A passionate activist, trade unionist and leader of our communities, he served as Secretary General of ILGA between 1999 and 2006, becoming one of the longest-standing persons in this role in the history of the organisation. During the many years he spent in the United Kingdom, he also worked as an LGBT Officer at UNISON, one of the largest trade unions in the country and an ILGA member organisation.
With Kürşad’s passing, ILGA has lost one of its leaders, and a person who has worked relentlessly to fight racism and advance the human rights of our communities. We lost part of our history and an important depository of our memory, but we pledge to honour his legacy and keep on making sure that our communities are heard, and our existences and rights are recognized.
Our condolences go to all who have been touched by Kürşad’s presence in all these years.
Friday, January 12
Sex education is failing lesbian and bisexual girls, study finds
The lack of inclusivity in sex education may be among the factors that could place lesbian and bisexual girls at increased risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI), a study found.
Researchers conducted online focus groups with 160 lesbian and bisexual teenage girls located across the U.S. to examine their awareness of the risk of STI and opportunities for barrier use. "What surprised us was their overall lack of knowledge when it came to safe sex practices with female partners," said study co-author Jennifer Wolowic. "When we asked why, many told us they didn't find their sex ed programs - if they even had one - to be very informative. And even when they asked questions, the focus on heterosexual sex made them feel uncomfortable.”
The study highlighted how addressing knowledge and access gaps is an important first step for improving sexual health. “Prevention priorities should focus on helping LB girls understand their risk of STI transmission in both opposite and same-sex relationships,” the research concludes. “Tailoring messaging to move beyond heteronormative scripts is critical to engaging LB girls and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to have safer sex regardless of the sex of their partner.”
Friday, January 12
India: National Council of Churches calls on repealing Section 377
“Our call is to reject all laws that demonize, criminalize, and exclude human beings, and work to facilitate just inclusive and loving communities”: these are the words that the National Council of Churches of India used to respond to the Supreme Court ordering that a Constitutional Bench review the 2013 judgement which upheld Section 377 of the Penal Code.
In its statement, the Council pointed out how such a provision is a heritage of the British colonial authorities, and that “homosexuality and homo-eroticism have been practiced in India from time immemorial.”
Furthermore, the council reiterated that “in the contemporary context of growing fascism, it is important for us to understand the Sodomy Law as legal codes of fascism as they provide the State the power to intervene, invade, regulate, and monitor even the intimate spheres of human life.”
The National Council of Churches also pointed out that, “in the Indian context of religious diversity, it is important to initiate interfaith coalitions to campaign against homophobia”: “Churches in India need to give responsible consideration to the initiative of the Supreme Court of India to review Sec 377 in the light of constitutional rights and the right to privacy, and the gospel of justice and love.”
Saturday, January 13
“Better together”: national LGBTIQ conference concludes in Australia
More than 600 persons joined the first edition of the Better Together conference, aimed to bring together the LGBTIQ community in Australia, address challenges in representing the many and diverse people and groups who belong in it, and discuss future priorities of the movement.
According to reports, “People from each letter of the LGBTIQ acronym were represented, with a focus on intersecting minorities as well.” The 56 sessions of the conference included discussions on disability, families and faith, but also on intersex justice and equality, on bisexual visibility, on Aboriginal perspectives on being LGBTIQ and stories from rural and regional areas.
The idea of the conference, the programme explained, was born thinking of what could come next after marriage equality. “How do we determine priorities for further action – on hugely important issues like justice for trans and intersex people, safe schools, parenting and families, LGBTI refugees, disability and so much more? Next, how do we unite our communities to achieve these goals? […] Finally, how do we work with other marginalized groups to achieve real social change that benefits the whole community?”
The event provided activists with a space to continue answering these questions, "and people reported back from a number of caucus sessions, some with action points, others with areas of focus." Read more via Buzzfeed.
Tuesday, January 16
Egypt: police raids private party, nine men arrested
Nine men have been imprisoned after police raided a private party in Egypt, Gay Star News wrote.
According to reports, law enforcements claimed they raided a house party in Alexandria after they received information saying ‘weird’ young men were frequently visiting an apartment, and found alleged evidence that sex parties were being held at the address.
The men were believed to be engaging in ‘debauchery’ – a behaviour that the head of Alexandria Security Directorate described as a ‘threat to public security’.
The arrests come amidst the ongoing crackdown against rainbow communities and civil society in general in Egypt, which started to intensify last September as seven persons were arrested and charged with “inciting immorality” for raising a rainbow flag at a concert in Cairo. At least 63 citizens were arrested in the weeks following the incident.
As ILGA’s State-Sponsored Homophobia reports, “sexual relations between consenting adult persons of the same sex in private are not prohibited in Egyptian law. However, as recorded the Law on the Combating of Prostitution, and the law against debauchery have been used liberally to imprison gay men in recent years.”
Thursday, January 18
Chile: Gender Identity bill to be discussed in the Chamber of Deputies next week
The Gender Identity bill continues to advance in Chile: this week, the Human Rights Commission approved the latest indications and dispatched it to the Chamber of Deputies, where the debate is set to begin on January 23.
The bill has already been presented to lawmakers. As Movilh reports, the president of the Human Rights Commission explained that the bill seeks to allow those over 18 years old to change their name and gender marker with an administrative procedure in the Civil Registry without any requirements, and to make it possible for minors to apply for such changes in family courts - a procedure that must be carried out with the consent of their parents or caregivers.
The bill would also seek to prohibit arbitrary discrimination against people based on their gender identity and expression, and to include gender expression among the protected grounds against discrimination in the Ley Zamudio.
“This is one more step beyond,” commented vice-president of Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD), Franco Fuica, “but we can’t celebrate yet: we still have the vote in the plenary session of the House, the imminent mixed commission and eventually the Constitutional Court.” OTD praised the decision to include also trans children and adolescents in the bill, “even if with the requirement of reports and only assisted by their legal representatives”.
Thursday, January 18
Civil society under threat, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights finds
Civil society is under threat, to various extents, in many parts of the European Union, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has alerted. In a new report, the agency acknowledged that the issue of shrinking civil society space is present, widespread, and needs to be addressed urgently.
ILGA-Europe has called the report “a big step forward,” as it is the first time that the issue of the shrinking space for NGOs, community groups and local activists obtains recognition at the institutional level.
The report also listed cases of threats and intimidation against several civil society actors, explicitly mentioning as examples the cases of attacks against the headquarters of several Polish LGBTQI rights NGOs in 2016, or a website run by Slovak white supremacists listing names and addresses of Czech LGBTI persons as well as Romani activists and advocates.
“A thriving democracy needs a healthy civil society,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “Unfortunately, the EU’s own civil society is facing a pattern of threats and pressures in many parts of the EU. Addressing this unacceptable situation should be a high priority for policy makers at EU and national levels.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
In the United States, Health and Human Services announced the creation of a new division aimed at protecting health-care workers who decline to participate in certain care services "on religious or moral grounds."
An initiative to create awareness about the history and barriers that impact Two Spirit people was launched in Canada.
Federal court in Australia found the Administrative Appeals Tribunal showed “extreme illogicality” when it rejected the appeal of an Indian asylum seeker seeking protection in Australia because of his sexual orientation.
The 2018 Census in New Zealand will not ask any questions about sexual orientation or gender identity, and instead will provide a two-category gender question - decisions that were criticised by LGBTI human rights defenders in the country.
In Indonesia, the IT Ministry claimed it asked Google to block around 70 LGBT social networking apps from being available for download.
A book about the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, reportedly one of the firsts in Tamil language, was launched by intersex activist and ILGA Asia board member Gopi Shankar during the Chennai Book Fair in India.
Two intersex human rights organisations have submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) ahead of its review of Spain, providing "solid evidence of how today in Spain healthy intersex children are still submitted to non-consensual, unnecessary genital surgeries, sterilising procedures and other harmful treatments."
A school in the United Kingdom has apologised after teachers censored a student’s artwork showing women kissing.
The first edition of the Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival has taken place in Tunisia.
A one-day conference on diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been announced to take place on 8 February 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Activists from across the Americas are celebrating the recent decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognising the right to legal gender recognition and same-sex couples’ right to marriage.
A 22-year-old trans woman reported being violently attacked twice in less than 72 hours in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina.
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