LGBulleTIn 111 The week in LGBTI news February 2-8, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #111 provides a week in LGBTI news from around the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
February, Sunday 4
China: “Gender identity and expression are protected grounds from discrimination”, court states
“Laborers should not be treated differently in the course of employment because of their gender identity and expression,” an appeals court in China has stated.
Such a declaration was featured in the verdict of the country’s first-ever trans employment discrimination case, and it has been described as ‘historic’ by human rights defenders: even though the court ruled against the plaintiff’s appeal for a public apology, citing insufficient evidence of the discrimination he allegedly suffered, this is China’s first explicit condemnation of employment discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
In July 2017, a court found that Mr. C was unjustly fired from his job at a health services firm. The plaintiff alleged that he was fired for wearing men's clothes, and that his colleagues told him he might damage the company's reputation.
According to Common Language, the wording in the appeals court ruling marks "the first explicit inclusion of gender identity and gender expression in the protection of personhood rights," and represents "an expansion of the causes for discrimination in employment, which opens up the space for sexual and gender minority individuals to bring forth employment discrimination cases in the future."
Tuesday, February 6
LGBTI human rights defender detained for days in Turkey over social media posts
Human rights defender Ali Erol freed under judicial control
Our co-founder and LGBTI rights defender Ali Erol was detained on Friday, Feb. 2 in his Ankara home where he lives with his partner on the grounds of his social media posts. pic.twitter.com/1ntAbwgHR9
LGBTI activist Ali Erol - one of the founders of Kaos GL, an ILGA member organisation based in Turkey - was apprehended in a police operation on the house he shares with his life partner. He was freed only five days later, yet under judicial control - a provision that usually entails going to the police station periodically and a ban on traveling abroad.
According to Kaos GL, he was detained in “a clear violation of freedom of thought and expression” over the content of some social media posts, where he “demanded peace following Ankara governor’s ‘ban on LGBTI events for an indefinite period’ in November 2017.”
The organisation also claims that further details over the detention and the ongoing investigation could not be shared with them due to a confidentiality decision.
“Each year, thousands of human rights defenders are silenced through fabricated or ridiculous reasons that turn into lengthy, costly and mostly unjust judicial processes,” KaosGL stated following Ali Erol’s release. “The long struggle in the field of human rights shows us that the effect of silencing human rights defenders can be more unnerving and long-lasting than directly putting pressure on those groups.”
The European Parliament has publicly raised its concerns on the worsening situation for human rights in Turkey, and adopted a resolution calling on Turkish authorities to revoke the indefinite ban on events organised by LGBTI organisations.
Tuesday, February 6
United States: elderly lesbian woman takes living facility to court for failing to protect her
A case that is being closely watched both by LGBTI and housing rights advocates has reached an appeals court in the United States. The plaintiff, Marsha Wetzel, is asking the court to hold a senior living facility accountable for allegedly failing to protect her from the harassment and abuse she suffered at the hands of other residents because of her sexual orientation.
Marsha moved into the facility after being evicted from the home she shared with her late partner of 30 years by her partner’s siblings. After she disclosed to other residents that she had been in a relationship with a woman and that they had raised a child together, some residents began to harass her, but her complaints to staff allegedly went unheard.
She then took the case to court in 2016, only to see it dismissed one year later without any reference being made to discrimination on the grounds of sex or sexual orientation. The case has now reached the Seventh Circuit and, as Lambda Legal explained, the question at stake has broadened to the assisted living facility’s general responsibility for protecting residents against harassment and violence from other residents.
As arguments were heard in court, the facility reportedly argued that they have no obligation to keep any of their residents safe from discriminatory harassment – a statement that was described as “particularly appalling to hear from an entity that specializes in caring for seniors”.
Tuesday, February 6
Australia: “Health in Difference” conference programme announced
Hundreds of members of rainbow communities are set to gather together in Redfern, New South Wales, Australia for the 10th edition of the Health In Difference conference, organised by the National LGBTI Health Alliance.
The event, which will take place from April 11-13, pledges to offer “a deep consideration of country, community, and the intersectional contexts that shape the lives and wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people”.
The provisional programme has just been announced, offering dozens of workshops on issues as diverse as human rights perspectives on the impact of pathologisation on trans and gender diverse communities, suicide prevention action plans, building better healthcare outcomes for intersex people, and exploring the links between bi-erasure, isolation and mental health.
Wednesday, February 7
Bermuda repeals marriage equality to replace it with domestic partnerships
Bermuda has become the first national territory worldwide to repeal marriage equality. More than two months after the Senate approved the Domestic Partnership Act 2017, Governor John Rankin signed it into law “after careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the Constitution”.
After a non-binding referendum on the issue failed in June 2016, Bermuda nonetheless achieved marriage equality in May 2017, after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian husband Greg DeRoche, who had challenged the Registrar-General’s rejection of their initial application to marry.
The act that has just been signed into law now reverses the situation to guarantee the possibility of domestic partnerships for all couples in the territory. “The Act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda,” the Ministry of Home Affairs declared, “by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples.”
However, human rights defenders and rainbow communities see fewer reasons to celebrate: "The Governor of Bermuda just gave assent to legislation [of discrimination] that has taken away same-sex marriage," activist Tony Brannon was quoted as saying. "This is a sad day for Bermuda. The fight goes on.”
Thursday, February 8
Kenya: conference highlights importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
More than 150 representatives of civil society and business leaders gathered together in Nairobi, Kenya for the Colourful Workplaces conference, highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion in workplace settings.
Organised by Hivos, Workplace Pride and Sullivan Marketing, the conference allowed actors in the corporate sector, organizations representing employers and employees and civil society initiatives to share and discuss good practices and specific challenges on inclusive workplaces. It was also an occasion to present the United Nations’ Global Standards for Business to tackle LGBTI discrimination.
The conference also included panel discussions that explored the legal, corporate and socio-cultural barriers that limit the development and implementation of inclusive policies.
"All human rights are due to every person and should be enjoyed freely without discrimination," Justice Monica Mbaru was reported pointing out during the conference while referencing also the Kenyan constitution, which "should be interpreted in a way that is fundamental in enabling equality at the workplace".
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
Intersex activists from 11 Asian countries have gathered together for the first Asia Intersex Forum.
"The hateful rhetoric against LGBTI community that is being cultivated seemingly for cynical political purposes will only deepen their suffering and create unnecessary divisions," said UN Human Rights Chief Zeid during his visit to Indonesia, as the government was reportedly getting ready to publish a medical guide where it has listed same-sex attraction as a mental disorder.
A church in South Africa has been accused of beating gay men and then forcing them to pay damages for allegedly 'shaming' the church itself.
Pan Africa ILGA and LeGaBiBo have launched the official logo and website for the Pan Africa ILGA regional conference, set to take place in Botswana from May 31 to June 4.
The European Parliament urged the Commission and Member States to guarantee freedom of movement for rainbow families, while a court in Hungary ruled that marriages of same-sex couples abroad must be recognised as equivalent to registered partnerships in the country.
Transgender Europe (TGEU) has launched a report setting out the various challenges D/deaf and disabled trans people face in accessing their human rights, and discussing the barriers that they experience in attempting to engage with LGBTIQ organisations.
A study published in the United States showed that trans and gender-nonconforming students report significantly poorer health than cisgender youth, and suggested that health care providers identify barriers to care for TGNC youth.
In the United States, the New York State Governor signed an executive order banning state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that tolerate discrimination. He also announced he will be advancing legislation that will ban the use of so-called 'gay panic' defence.
LGBTI community groups in Australia have taken part in the submission to the Senate inquiry into last year's postal survey, highlighting their experiences of hate and discrimination suffered during the period of the plebiscite.
Dozens of persons in Samoa paid their homages to So’oalo To’oto’oalii Roger Stanley, the president of Samoa Fa’afafine Association, and the country’s prime minister delivered an eulogy during the ceremony calling to respect fa’afafine persons.
More than 8 in 10 respondents to an inquiry into rainbow communities in the area of Greater Curitiba, Brazil reported having faced discrimination in their lifetime.
In Costa Rica, a conservative politician has won the first-round vote for the country's presidency after a strong campaign against marriage equality following the recent historic decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. A runoff is set to take place in April.
Is there any other LGBTI news that you would like to share with us? Let us know!
Subscribe to our newsletters
Get updates on LGBTI rights issues, and on our work to support LGBTI civil society worldwide