Two weeks in LGBTI news of the world
May 25 – June 7, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #122 provides two weeks in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
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Thursday, May 31
Pan Africa ILGA regional conference kicks off in Botswana
More than 250 LGBTI activists and supporters from over 30 African countries gathered together in Gaborone, Botswana for the 4th Pan Africa ILGA regional conference.
Co-hosted by Legabibo, the event was held under the theme ‘Empowering LGBTI youth: uniting for an inclusive future’ and was opened by UN Independent Expert on SOGI, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, who acknowledged the work of African LGBTI organisations in fighting for the mandate and had encouraging words for rainbow communities in the continent.
“There will be a future – one we need to ensure we see in our lifetimes – where every person in this world is free and equal,” he said. “When I will talk to people, I will tell them about the pain and grief that exists in Africa, but I am also going to say that the heart of Africa is beating.”
During five days of work, human rights defenders discussed issues ranging from the economic empowerment of LGBTI youth to the need of the movement to become more inclusive, from the impact of social media in activism to working with religious leaders to bring about change. The event also hosted its first-ever Intersex pre-conference. Read more here.
Monday, June 4
United States: Supreme Court rules in favour of baker who turned away gay couple
In a much-awaited decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a wedding between two men because he believed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. The opinion, however, was a narrow one, and applies only to the specific facts in the case.
The baker, Jack Phillips, appealed to the Supreme Court after both the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and its Court of Appeals ruled that he had discriminated against a same-sex couple who asked the bakery to make their wedding cake.
As Human Rights Watch reports, Justice Kennedy - writing for a 7-2 majority - ruled for Phillips on the narrow ground that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had made dismissive or disparaging comments about his faith during its hearings.
Reiterating that “the outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” Justice Kennedy emphasised that “these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
Civil rights organisations expressed mixed feelings about the ruling. Even if “anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping ‘license to discriminate’ they have been hoping for,” the decision was described as a “dangerous encouragement to those who would deny civil rights to LGBT people and people living with HIV”. Ultimately, however, the ruling “does not break any new constitutional ground” and reaffirms “the core principle that businesses open to the public must be open to all.”
Tuesday, June 5
‘Spouse’ definition in free movement law includes same-sex couples, Court of Justice of the European Union rules
In a landmark decision hailed as a great victory for same-sex couples across Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has defined the term ‘spouse’ for the purposes of freedom of movement for the first time, pointing out that the term “is gender-neutral and may therefore cover the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen.”
As ILGA-Europe explains, the judgement means for same-sex couples that "EU Member States are under an obligation to grant the spouse of an EU citizen a residence permit in the same way they would grant permits to different-sex spouses.”
The case was brought by Adrian Coman, from Romania, and his husband Clai Hamilton, a U.S. citizen. They were married in Belgium in 2010 but, not being recognised as a family by the Romanian authorities, they have not been able to live together in Romania as a result.
Their legal action began over five years ago, and in 2016 the Romanian Constitutional Court referred the case to the CJEU. In November 2017, the Court was asked to interpret the word ‘spouse’ in the context of EU law on freedom of movement, leading to positive recommendations issued by the case’s Advocate General earlier in 2018.
"We can now look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU with certainty that our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant, for the purpose of free movement within the EU," commented Adrian Coman after the ruling.
Wednesday, June 6
Organization of American States approves resolution to protect LGBTI human rights
During the 48th session of its General Assembly, the Organization of American States (OAS) has approved a resolution where its member states reaffirmed their commitment to protect human rights.
A whole section on the resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights is dedicated to the LGBTI community. The OAS resolved to “condemn discrimination and acts of violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, that occur in our Hemisphere”. It also urged member states “to continue to strengthen their institutions and public policies focused on preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons, and to ensure that victims of discrimination and violence enjoy access to justice and appropriate remedies under conditions of equality.”
The resolution also called on states to ensure adequate protection for LGBTI human rights defenders as well as to “afford appropriate protection to intersex people, and to implement policies and procedures, as appropriate, to ensure medical practices that are consistent with recognised human rights standards.”
Wednesday, June 6
Australia: New South Wales scraps abusive ‘forced divorce’ precondition for legal gender recognition
New South Wales (NSW) has become the fourth state in Australia to allow trans people to change the gender on their birth certificate without undergoing forced divorce from their spouse.
According to Star Observer, the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Marriages) amended over 50 acts and regulations to ensure they are either gender-inclusive or gender-neutral.
New South Wales follows Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in scrapping the abusive ‘forced divorce’ precondition. A similar bill is currently before Queensland parliament, and public inquiries into broader changes to birth certificate laws are underway in Queensland and Western Australia.
“This is a step in the right direction, but trans people in New South Wales are still required to undergo invasive surgery before they can change their legal sex”, said Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre. “Much more reform is needed to bring birth certificate laws in NSW and many other states into line with best practice worldwide.”
Wednesday, June 6
Hong Kong court overturns landmark decision on benefits for same-sex spouses
In what has been called “a huge step back for equality”, the Hong Kong Appeals Court overturned a landmark ruling that required the government to grant equal spousal benefits to employees in same-sex marriages.
“By granting same-sex married couples (…) access to spousal benefits, which are unique to marriage, the very status of marriage would diminish significantly in the eyes of the public,” one of the judges, Appeal Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, wrote in the ruling.
The case was brought by Angus Leung Chun-kwong in late 2015, after the Civil Service Bureau refused to recognise Scott Adams, whom he married in 2014 in New Zealand, as his husband when he applied for spousal benefits. He won the case in 2017 at the High Court, prompting the government to appeal.
“It is a huge step back for equality in Hong Kong,” Leung was quoted as saying after the recent overruling. “We are not asking for special treatment. We just want to live our life fairly and with dignity.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
On the occasion of Pride Month, ILGA announced a partnership with entertainment company Wattpad for a write-a-thon where users are encouraged to share their experiences as LGBTIQ+ youth and allies.
In a landmark ruling, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador ordered the Civil Registry office to register Satya, a 7-year-old girl, with the last names of both her two mothers.
In Bermuda, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Act that had re-banned marriage equality in the territory.
Ruling on the case of a trans woman, the Supreme Court of Chile spoke in favour of legal gender recognition without abusive surgical preconditions.
The death of a trans woman from Honduras named Roxana Hernández sparked outrage in the United States. She reportedly died from HIV-related complications following a five-day detention in what’s known as the “ice box” – Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detention facilities notorious for their freezing temperatures.
In a reported first for Canada, the city council of Vancouver voted unanimously to ban 'conversion' therapy.
Relationship and Sexuality Education will become a statutory part of Wales’ new curriculum which will be in place from 2022, the government has announced.
A court in The Netherlands ruled in favour of the recognition of a third gender on official documents and said that the option should be made available through a change of law.
In Mauritius, threats of violence from anti-LGBTQ protestors forced organisers to cancel the annual Pride, as police allegedly told them they would have not been able to protect them during the parade.
Three survivors of HIV and AIDS 'treatment programme' of former dictator Yahya Jammeh have filed a legal action in the High Court of The Gambia, seeking compensation and recognition of the human rights abuses they suffered from.
The third ILGA Oceania regional conference will be held in Apia, Samoa from August 29 to September 1. Scholarships applications, preregistrations and proposal submissions are now open.
Over one hundred activists from twenty countries have met with international humanitarian organisations to call for action on the exclusion of LGBTIQ+ people from many aspects of humanitarian preparedness and response in the Asia-Pacific region.
Activists from several countries across East Asia joined a 5-day human rights advocacy training for the LGBTI community organised by ILGA Asia in Seoul, South Korea.
The city of Mandaluyong, The Philippines has approved an ordinance to prohibit discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
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