LGBulleTIn #52 -The week in LGBTI news
June 17-23, 2016
Friday, June 17
Conclusions on LGBTI equality by the Council of European Union “received with mixed emotions”
The Council of the European Union has adopted its conclusions on LGBTI equality, marking the first time ever that EU Member States have jointly addressed the rights of LGBTI people in a separate conclusion. In the document, the Council asks the Commission to promote measures outlined in its List of actions to advance LGBTI Equality, and to report every year on progress made under this list.
While welcoming this progress, ILGA-Europe has noted a very problematic reference to working to advance LGBTI equality while ‘fully respecting the Member States' competences, national identities and constitutional traditions’. “This is exactly the sort of justification often used by governments opposed to equality to resist the introduction of laws to protect LGBTI people,” they said.
The Council conclusions were also criticised for failing to acknowledge the instruments the EU already has to protect trans people based on EU case law: “Instead of strengthening trans people’s rights, Member States send a signal that EU law would not afford protection.” said Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe.
Friday, June 17
Uganda: NGO rejects police allegations that the break-in into their office was “an inside job”
A police spokesperson in Uganda claimed that the break-in into the offices of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) may have been masterminded by the organisation’s management – an allegation that was strongly rejected by the organisation itself.
The offices of the NGO, which has become reputable for providing legal services to sexual and gender minorities as well as sex workers in Uganda, were left ransacked and a few documents were taken during a break-in that took place last month. During the assault, a security guard on duty was killed. The incident, a police spokesperson now told Uganda Radio Network, would appear to be “an internal plan.”
Such claims were strongly rejected by Adrian Jjuuko, executive director at HRAPF: “I ask the police to back up the allegations with genuine evidence,” he said. “(HRAPF management) were informed that no such conclusion had been reached and that they were still investigating. Therefore, this implies that the police spokesman had not consulted the investigating officer before making the unfortunate statement. If these allegations are, indeed, true, let the police put the culprits to book.” According to Jjuko, this is not the first time such statements have been made by the police spokesman when NGO offices have been broken into: “It now seems to be the standard response,” he said.
Last week, 31 human rights groups had demanded investigations on a series of attacks on Ugandan NGOs and human rights defenders.
Read more on 76 Crimes
Sunday, June 19
Samoa: newspaper publishes uncensored photo of a dead trans woman and misgenders her
Outrage was sparked in Samoa after a national newspaper published a photograph of a dead trans woman on its front page, and repeatedly misgendered her while reporting on her death.
Jeanine Tuivaiki, 20, was found dead in a church hall near Apia, the capital of Samoa, on early Friday morning. Initial reports suggest that she might have committed suicide. Two days later the Sunday Samoan ran a story on her death: a full-page photograph showing her body and the manner of her death was on the front page, and the article repeatedly referred to her using male pronouns.
Samoa Fa’afafine Association defined the article as going “beyond the acceptable standard of decency in journalism”: the newspaper “violated and robbed what last dignity and humanity Ms Tuivaiki had,” a press statement read. “We all need to recognize and understand that the deliberate and destructive misuse of language is a major weapon used by the ignorant and insensitive to haunt and disable fa’afafine and fa’afatama from living meaningful lives free of fear,” a second statement read.
Many persons shared the outrage. A march to “end indifference and ignorance” was organised. Complaints were filed to the office of the Ombudsman in Samoa. Some called for boycotts of the newspaper, while the Pacific Islands Media Association started a petition to call upon the newspaper to be held accountable. The hashtag #beautifuljeanine is being used on social media to do justice to the victim.
The newspaper has since then issued an apology: “We want you all to know,” reads an open letter by the editor in chief, "that there is never an intention on our part to denigrate or discriminate against anyone, at any time.”
Read more on the Washington Post
Monday, June 20
Canada: blood donation waiting period for men who have sex with men reduced to one year
Health Canada announced it approved Canadian Blood Services’ request to reduce the blood donation waiting period for men who have sex with men from five years to one year.
The new policy will take effect across Canada on August 15. Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, Québec’s blood operator, will make the change at the same time.
“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Health Minister Jane Philpott was quoted as saying. “There is an incredible desire and certainly a commitment on the part of our government to work toward further decreasing that donor deferral period. We will be actually looking for mechanisms to be able to support that."
Meanwhile, news of a concurrent new policy has sparked outrage: according to a statement obtained by BuzzFeed Canada, Canadian Blood Services reportedly said that “trans* donors who have not had gender-affirming genital surgery will be screened by their assigned birth sex.”
Tuesday, June 21
China: father arrested for attempting to kill intersex baby
A man in China has been arrested for allegedly trying to kill his child after he came to know the newborn was an intersex baby, China Daily reports. After the baby was born “we panicked and got concerned,” the mother was quoted as saying, adding that her husband called the baby “neither a boy nor a girl”, but “a monster,” and attempted to smother his child twice.
When the grandfather took over, reportedly abandoning the baby outside the village, the woman contacted authorities, and the baby could be rescued.
“My heart is broken,” the mother said. “He may be a monster to others, but to me, he is and will always be my sweetest baby.” “We are in a difficult situation,” she added. “My husband was locked up, my parents have health issues and the two children need someone to take care of them. But what I worry about most is that my son may suffer discrimination when he grows up.”
Wednesday, June 22
Sixth Families for Sexual Diversity convention begins in Costa Rica
The sixth international convention of Familias por la Diversidad Sexual (Families for Sexual Diversity) has kicked off in San José, Costa Rica: activists from more than 20 countries from Latin America, as well as from Spain and Portugal, have come together under the motto “United families for the rights of our sons and daughters”.
Issues such as the importance of family support for the health of LGBTI persons, empowerment of mothers and fathers, safe educational environments and rainbow families will be addressed.
The conference, held in Costa Rica for the first time, has been described as “an opportunity for parents, professionals, governmental and non-governmental institutions to learn and raise awareness on issues related to sexual diversity and family relations based on unconditional love and the full exercise of human rights of LGBTI people.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The Lancet has launched a series of papers "in an effort to understand, and provide a framework to improve, the health and lives of transgender people globally."
A group of UN human rights experts is calling on States to redouble efforts to prevent the ill-treatment and torture faced by LGBTI people in places of detention.
Police disrupted Trans Pride in Istanbul, Turkey with tear gas and rubber bullets while counter-protesters surrounded demonstrators. A few days earlier, the city governor had issued a ban over security concerns on LGBTI Pride events, included the annual parade that had been due to take place on June 26.
In Italy, the Cassation Court issued its first judgement on a stepchild adoption case involving a same-sex couple, upholding a ruling granting permission for a woman to adopt her partner's 7-year-old daughter.
In Poland, a court ruled to allow a Polish citizen, who legally transitioned in Germany, to change her gender marker and name without obtaining a transsexual diagnosis and going through a civil court case.
Ahead of the federal election in Australia, results of a survey have revealed how major political parties differ on their approach to LGBTI issues.
A 16-year-old trans student in New Zealand is petitioning her college alleging she was barred from using the girls' bathroom while at school.
In Australia, Labor frontbencher Penny Wong argued that a plebiscite on marriage equality would “license hate speech to those who need little encouragement.”
In Pakistan, an inquiry conducted on the case of a trans woman who died after being denied treatment for hours has found hospital officials and personnel “guilty of committing criminal negligence.”
A national consultation was held in Thailand to examine education sector progress in creating more inclusive educational environments for all students.
Toronto, Canada police apologised for the 1981 raids in four gay bathhouses that resulted in the arrest of almost 300 persons.
A federal judge in Mississippi, United States has refused to block the discriminatory House Bill 1523, which will go into effect on July 1.
In the United States, dozens of House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor to try and force a vote on gun violence prevention policies in the wake of the Orlando shooting.
A civil society organisation in Venezuela is calling on the Sociedad Venezolana de Hematología to lift the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men.
Despite fines from FIFA and an awareness campaign from the national team, supporters of the Mexican football team have been reported still using anti-gay slur during matches.
A campaign to tackle discrimination against LGBTI persons in their families was launched in Chile.
In South Africa, Iranti-org launched a series of video interviews to human rights defenders in support of the creation of a SOGI Independent Expert at the UN Human Rights Council.
The call for peer grants by the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (UHAI EASHRI), an indigenous activist managed fund for sex workers and sexual and gender minorities, is open until June 27.
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