The week in LGBTI news
11 - 17 February 2022
Written by Daniele Paletta
Change: our world has never needed it more than now. LGBTIQ communities have always stepped-up in times of hardship, and continue pushing forward to advance equality.
This week, our global community had major advances to celebrate. In Aotearoa New Zealand, the parliament passed a bill banning ‘conversion therapy’, and Kuwait overturned a law criminalising the “imitation of the opposite sex”. As Cape Verde is discussing new HIV response measures, the Minister of Health acknowledged that there are still "important challenges" in relation to prevention and universal access to treatment - including tackling gender inequalities and homophobia.
Especially in times of crises, stigma and discrimination place an even-higher burden on the most marginalised within our communities. A recent report highlighted how LGBTQ youth in the United States are overrepresented among young people experiencing homelessness and housing instability.
We continue to fight for social justice. A new report showed how anti-LGBTI rhetoric is rising and fuelling a wave of hate crimes across Europe and Central Asia, and yet there is a growing institutional resolve to tackle hatred and exclusion. Colombia announced it will investigate cases of violence against LGBTI children that occurred during the armed conflict.
Read this week's news from...
Aotearoa New Zealand: parliament passes bill banning ‘conversion therapy’
The parliament of New Zealand passed a legislation that bans discredited practices intended to forcibly change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression – also known as ‘conversion therapies’.
The bill, which was introduced by the government last year, passed with 112 votes in favour and eight votes opposed.
As Radio New Zealand reports, under the legislation it will be an offence to perform ‘conversion therapies’ on a child or young person aged under 18, or on someone with impaired decision-making capacity. It will also be an offence to them on anyone - irrespective of age - where the practices have caused serious harm.
The bill passed in its third reading, meaning that now it has to receive royal assent before becoming an Act.
“This is a great day for New Zealand’s rainbow communities,” Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi said as parliament passed the bill. “Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand."
More news from Oceania
World first out intersex mayor and ILGA World Board member Tony Briffa is being celebrated with a new Pride mural and interactive project in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
The parliament of Victoria, Australia passed a bill to decriminalise sex work, with the first stage of the reforms to commence in May 2022.
Kuwait overturns law criminalising the “imitation of the opposite sex”
In a landmark ruling, the Constitutional Court of Kuwait held that Article 198 of the Penal Code that criminalised “imitating the opposite sex” is unconstitutional, as the arbitrary application of this vaguely-worded law would violate provisions that guarantee personal freedoms.
As ILGA World’s Trans Legal Mapping Report points out, trans people and persons of diverse gender expressions were criminalised under the provision “regardless of their medical transition”, and there are “many reports of trans women especially being targeted by police for subjective interpretations of this law.”
The recent ruling has been praised by communities across the region. “This victory is the first step in eliminating all discrimination against transgender persons,” said ILGA Asia co-Chair Shadi Amin. “The Kuwaiti authorities must fully implement the ruling by removing all social restrictions, and we will continue monitoring the situation to ensure it will be as such.”
Activists on the ground said that “a heavy rock has been lifted off our backs”, although they remain concerned that Article 198 has been overturned as it was found to be not specific enough - which might prompt the parliament to replace it with a more restrictive law.
More news from Asia
In Israel, the Health Ministry issued a circular saying that medical professionals’ attempting to practice ‘conversion therapy’ will face sanctions, including the revocation of their licenses.
Major streaming platforms across China censored an LGBTQ plot line in a popular TV series, in what is considered the latest episode of a growing crackdown against public discourses on SOGIESC issues.
Europe and Central Asia
LGBTI human rights in Europe: between anti-rights rhetoric and determination to tackle hatred
Anti-LGBTI rhetoric is rising and fuelling a wave of hate crimes across Europe and Central Asia, and yet there is a growing institutional resolve to tackle hatred and exclusion – a new report indicated.
The annual review of the human rights situation of LGBTI people in the region, published by ILGA-Europe, showed that politicians have continued to demonise LGBTI people over the past year, leading to a stark rise in attacks – in which young LGBTI people were in particular targeted.
In the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic violence against LGBTI family members continued to take place widely. But attacks happened also outside people’s homes: Germany, for instance, had a 39% increase in anti-LGBTI hate crime, while a new app in France, where users can report anti-LGBTI incidents, collected 3,896 reports in its first year.
Anti-gender and anti-trans rhetoric have remained widespread, and the narrative pitching trans rights against women’s rights contributed to a stagnation in legal gender recognition reform in many countries.
However, amidst the political scapegoating, it is also clear that state-sponsored anti-LGBTI rhetoric is not matched by public opinion, and that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and courts in many countries have begun to strengthen their work to protect the rights of LGBTI people.
“Regional and national institutions and courts took their obligations to the human rights of LGBTI people with utmost gravity amid the now crystal-clear escalation of the instrumentalisation of hatred against LGBTI people for political gain and expanded power”, commented Katrin Hugendubel, Advocacy Director at ILGA-Europe.
More news from Europe and Central Asia
In France, the trial over the murder of Vanesa Campos - a trans sex worker - has ended. Two men have been charged with ‘gang murder’ and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Six other men have also been sentenced.
More than half of respondents to a poll launched in Denmark stated they do not believe that priests should be able to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
Men who have been convicted for consensual same-sex sexual acts on the Isle of Man will be automatically pardoned later this year – although people will have to apply to have historical convictions struck from their records.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Colombia to investigate violence against LGBTI children during the armed conflict
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) of Colombia announced that it will investigate discrimination and violence against LGBTI people within one of the macro-cases opened after the end of the armed conflict, Deutsche Welle reported.
The transitional peace tribunal opened a "sub-line of investigation" within Case 07 on discrimination and violence against children of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. So far, the JEP has identified 400 people as victims in this case, 68 of whom suffered different types of violence.
The announcement was made by Judge Lily Rueda, rapporteur on Case 07, during the presentation of a report by Caribe Afirmativo on the forced recruitment of children and adolescents of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions within the armed conflict in Colombia.
More news from Latin America and the Caribbean
A series of public consultations were launched in Cuba to debate a measure that would make marriage equality a reality in the country.
An LGBT organisation in Guyana was forced to suspend its shelter activities due to a lack of volunteers and places to accommodate people in need.
North America and the Caribbean
United States: LGBTQ youth overrepresented among young people experiencing homelessness and housing instability
LGBTQ youth are overrepresented among young people experiencing homelessness and housing instability in the United States, a recent report by the Trevor Project has indicated, and these heightened risks have detrimental risks on their mental health.
According to the study, 28% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing homelessness or housing instability at some point in their lives – a percentage that grows up to 44% among Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth.
More than half of respondents of those participating in the study reported running away from home because of mistreatment - or fear of mistreatment – on the grounds of their sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.
LGBTQ youth who experienced homelessness or housing instability also reported higher rates of mental health challenges, compared to their stably housed LGBTQ peers, as well as higher rates of victimisation, being in foster care, and food insecurity.
More news from North America and the Caribbean
In a bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would prohibit those who have committed LGBTQ human rights abuses abroad from obtaining a visa to enter the United States.
In Canada, the premier of Alberta apologised for comparing the treatment of unvaccinated people to the stigma faced by HIV/AIDS patients during the 1980s.
Cape Verde: respect and equal opportunities “necessary” to mitigate impact of HIV/AIDS, says Health Minister
Creating an environment of respect, and promote social dignity and equal opportunities, is necessary to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS, said Minister of Health Arlindo do Rosário during a parliamentary debate around HIV response measures.
The Minister acknowledged that discrimination and stigmatisation undermine prevention and HIV response efforts, and that there are still "important challenges" in relation to prevention and universal access to treatment - including the need to tackle gender inequalities and homophobia.
According to Balai Capo Verde, the draft law currently being discussed would “facilitate better integration and coverage for the entire population”, adding that it would aim to better define the criteria guiding public policies for HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
More news from Africa
A human rights organisation in Mauritius has written to the Ministry of Children's Rights to report the abuse that two lesbian 15-year-olds would have suffered on the grounds of their sexual orientation at the hands of their parents.
In Cameroon, two men reported surviving the assault of a mob after they were seen walking hand in hand on Valentine’s Day.
Video of the week
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