Chile has passed a new gender identity law that will allow transgender people aged 14 years and above to change their name and gender in official documents.
The process will take place at a civil registry and will not require surgical or medical intervention, although minors will have to obtain permission from a parent or guardian and from a family court.
The law was first approved by a large majority of 26 in favour and 14 against in the Senate last week and landed in the country’s Congress on Wednesday (September 11), where it passed a 95-46 vote marking the end of a five-year-long fight by transgender rights activists.Chilean president Sebastián Piñera now has 30 days to sign the law.
“We celebrate! The Chamber of Deputies voted and dispatched the gender identity law, which we sponsored more than five years ago. A great victory for TRANS people!” the Chilean non-governmental organisation Fundación Iguales, which champions LGBT+ rights, tweeted following the vote.
One of the law’s most controversial elements was the inclusion of minors, with LGBT+ activists lamenting the age limit of 14 in the bill. The legislation originally included children younger than 14 years of age, but a vote on this provision failed to reach the necessary majority.
“Today is bittersweet since the discrimination against those under 14 will translate into more suicides,” Rolando Jimenez, one of the founders of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, was quoted as saying in the Associated Press (AP).
Two conservative lawmakers who voted against the law have instead vowed to challenge the inclusion of any person below 18 years of age in the bill.
Sergio Bobadilla and Juan Antonio Coloma claimed the project “undermines the right of the biological identity of minors” and have said they will present that argument in front of the country’s Constitutional Court, AP reported.
Chilean transgender actor and singer Daniela Vega, the star of the 2018 Oscar-winning film A Fantastic Woman, celebrated news of the vote writing a poetic post on Instagram on Thursday, in which she remembered those who have died without seeing the law becoming reality, as well as celebrating a more hopeful future.
She wrote: “The testimony and the body as a declaration of rebellion. But you cannot be rebellious without first being worthy and dignity is not a faith, it is a right. Do not fear children, there will be arms that contain your beautiful nature.
“To wall in the door is not going to darken the horizon, because it will be you, children who will govern your biography. The art, infinite key of immovable locks. The will, motor of the future that appears more hopeful today.
“There are those who did not see this day, this dawn, their bodies, dignified by the memory of rebellion, of dignity. Love, motor of experience. Love, endorsement of infinite space.
“To live, to resist, to move in the calendar. The time and objectivity of feeling it happen. To have today, the right to live in, to belong. Future body, white canvas of new struggles, new utopias, new spaces, of movement, of dignity.”
A petition to ban gay marriage has been signed nearly 3 million times
13 September 2018
Same-sex marriage could forever be in jeopardy in Romania after the senate overwhelmingly voted to allow a referendum which could change the eastern European countries Constitution.
The proposed referendum would ask Romanians whether they approved of changing the definition of unions in the Constitution. Currently, the Constitution defines unions as between the gender neutral ‘spouses’.
But a petition signed by three million people wants unions defined as between ‘a man and a woman’. If the Constitution changes to say that, it would make it almost impossible to make same-sex marriage legal in Romania.
On Tuesday the senate voted 107-13 in favor of the referendum, after the Lower House voted to approve the referendum at the end of last year.
The Coalition for Family civil groups started the petition in 2016 and got three million Romanians to sign it.
Romania’s government now has to set a date for the referendum, saying it could happen as early as 7 October.
Many LGBTI groups are trying to fight the proposed referendum, labelling it ‘completely immoral’.
Vlad Viski heads the LGBTI community group MozaiQ. He accused politicians of being ‘cowards’ for giving in to ‘conservative forces trying to marginalize the LGBT community in Romania’.
‘We will recommend our followers not to cast their vote in the upcoming referendum because human rights cannot be subject to a popular vote,’ he said.
Viski warned that if the Constitution changed it would ‘gravely’ affect democracy in Romania.
‘It will put into question the rights of all citizens,’ Viski said.
‘At the same time we will not give in to being humiliated by politicians and we will fight for our rights until the end. We urge everyone in Europe to express solidarity with the LGBT community in Romania and spread our message.’
The senate’s vote came less than two months after Romania’s Constitutional Court (RCC) rule to recognize same-sex couples.
Married couple, Adrian Coman and Clai Hamilton married in Belgium in 2010. They wanted to move to Coman’s native Romania because the country didn’t recognize same-sex relationships.
And, on September 2, arsonists set fire to the corridor outside Zabarauskas’ flat on fire in a possible homophobic incident, after the director hung a Pride flag on his balcony.
Speaking to PinkNews, Zabarauskas said that, following the arson attack outside his flat, a police offer had told him to take down his Pride flag.
“The next morning, after the initial shock, I realised that not only I won’t take the flag down, I need to do something more to send a strong message and not to give in into fear,” he explained.
“So I made this story public, emailed some people and we quickly raised enough funds to buy 500 flags.”
Zabarauskas said that supporters of his and Ilja’s initiative are posting their own Pride flags on social media using the hashtag #LGBTdraugiškaLietuva, which means “LGBT+ friendly Lithuania.”
The first 400 Pride flags were handed out for free to LGBT+ supporters at the gay-friendly Paviljonas jazz club on Friday in the city.
A further 100 flags will be distributed for free during the queer festival Kreivės in Vilnius.
The initiative has been supported by politicians across the city, including Vilnius city councillor Mark Adam Harold, who attended the event on Friday and hung the Pride flag on the Vilnius City Municipality building. He has also supported the campaign on social media.
Zabarauskas also said that Vilnius city mayor Remigijus Šimašius has expressed support for the campaign. PinkNews has contacted Šimašius for comment.
Zabarauskas continued: “Taking down a flag and hiding your true identity never makes you feel safer. Freedom of expression and acceptance do. I’m currently surrounded by rainbow flags—I can see one in each of the three buildings around mine. That makes me feel great.”
“Lithuania is a free country and we’ll defend our freedom with Pride,” he added.
“I care about LGBT+ visibility. I truly think it’s the main way to go if we want to achieve equality in our region. And it feels better to live your true life.”
Zabarauskas explained that he could not be certain that the arson attack outside his flat was a homophobic incident, but added that it “deserves to be investigated.”
He said, however, that the attack on LGL was “clearly a hate crime.”
PinkNews has contacted the police in Vilnius over the arson attack on LGL, and was directed to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania, which has also been contacted for comment.
The U.S. Senate on Sept. 6, 2018, confirmed the nomination of Randy Berry to become the next U.S. ambassador to Nepal. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
The U.S. Senate on Thursday by a voice vote confirmed Randy Berry as the next U.S. ambassador to Nepal.Then-Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015 named Berry, a career Foreign Service officer who is openly gay, as the first special U.S. envoy to promote LGBTI rights abroad.
Berry was the consul general at the U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam before Kerry named him to the position. Berry was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal from 2007-2009.
Berry was most recently a deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
“Randy Berry is a career senior Foreign Service officer with 25 years of experience as a diplomat,” reads Berry’s biography on the State Department’s website.
Sunil Babu Pant is the founder of the Blue Diamond Society, a Nepalese LGBTI organization. He is also the first openly gay member of the Nepalese Parliament.
Pant told the Washington Blade in an email that Berry’s confirmation is “welcome news” because he “knows Nepal very well.”
“There are many important issues to look into as an ambassador but many have failed to pay any attention to LGBTI matters as many believe LGBTI matters are of less important,” said Pant. “I hope under Mr. Berry’s leadership, the U.S. mission in Nepal will give deserving attention to LGBTI causes including moral support, diplomatic support, political support.”
The U.S. Senate in April confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell’s nomination.
A gay student who was forced to flee Kenya after his family tried to send him to a gay conversion camp has been awarded the Colin Higgins Foundation’s annual Youth Courage Award.
Mahad Olad’s terrifying ordeal in the summer of 2017 left him with no contact with his family, who brought him to Kenya under the pretence that it was a “vacation.”
Receiving the Youth Courage Award also means that he will receive a $10,000 grant. The award is given to an inspiring person within the LGBT+ community who has overcome adversity brought on by their identity.
Olad, who lives and studies in New York, opened up about his ordeal of almost being sent to a gay conversion camp in his student newspaper, The Ithacan.
He went on a holiday in the summer of 2017 to Kenya with his mother, who Olad says comes from an “extremely conservative Muslim background.”
However, upon arriving in Kenya, his mother told him that it was not a vacation, as he had been told, and that she had brought him there to send him to a gay conversion camp.
He was horrified to discover that his family had discovered the truth about his sexuality, which he had chosen to keep from them.
His mother asked him to withdraw from college in New York so he could be placed under the control of a group of sheiks who would reform his religious beliefs and “reorient” his sexuality.
“A few sheiks were at our hotel that night,” Olad wrote in his student newspaper earlier this year. “They briefly spoke to me about how being gay and atheist is unequivocally against my Islamic upbringing and African heritage.
“I knew that when they came back to get me the following morning, I would be forced to go with them.”
Olad said that the camps that operate in Kenya and Somalia are terrifying places where captives are subject to “severe beatings, shackling, food deprivation and other cruel practices.”
“Those who fail to cooperate, make adequate progress or try to escape could possibly be killed.”
Olad told his mother he was going for a walk that night and immediately called a group called the Ex-Muslims of North America, who helped him get out of Kenya and back to the United States. He is no longer in touch with his family.
Stonewall say that LGBT+ people continue to be exposed to harmful conversion therapy. A 2009 survey of over 1,300 accredited mental health professionals found that more than 200 had offered some form of conversion therapy.
Tommy Koh, the country’s former UN ambassador, called for a class action suit to change Singapore’s Section 377A law, which, like India’s now-defunct legislation, was put in place under British colonial rule.
Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam has also raised the possibility of repealing the law, which carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and predates Singapore’s independence in 1965 by a decade.
“The law is there but generally there have been no prosecutions for private conduct,” said Shanmugam.
“People openly express themselves as gay, you [have] got the gay parade. Police even approved a licensing for it, no-one gets prosecuted for declaring themselves as gay.
“So, really, when was the last time someone was prosecuted?”
Shanmugam hinted at his personal acceptance of gay people, saying: “Speaking for myself, if you ask me, in a personal capacity, personal view—people’s lifestyles, sexual attitudes—(we) really should be careful about treating them as criminals or criminalising that.”
He refused to explicitly voice his support for LGBT+ equality, though, saying: “But again, it will be wrong for me to impose my personal views on society or as a policymaker.
“We live our lives, live and let live. If one side pushes, you will expect a substantial pushback.”
Li Huanwu, the grandson of Singapore’s first prime minister and nephew of its current prime minister, came out as gay in July, but his public statement was seen as brave and unusual, rather than commonplace.
And that contributed to a culture of fear across India, according to activists who celebrated the ruling. A man named Krishna, one of the petitioners in the case, told the BBC: “I don’t know how it will change our lives yet but it helps us lead them without fear or depression.”
The fight to decriminalize gay sex in India
A five-judge panel, in a unanimous decision, overturned Section 377 on Thursday, though the same law had been upheld by the same court just five years earlier.
“We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens,” India’s Chief Justice Dipak Misra said as he read the decision striking down the nearly 160-year-old law.
Section 377 criminalized “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” and sentences ranged from 10 years to life in prison.
Activists have been trying to change the legislation for more than a decade.
In 2001, the Naz Foundation, an Indian organization that works on HIV/AIDS advocacy, disputed the constitutionality of the law. The legal challenge wove its way through the courts for years. Finally, in 2009, the Delhi High Court overturned the ban on gay sex, but the ruling only applied in that specific jurisdiction, not across the country.
That early gay rights victory almost immediately faced a setback. Proponents of Section 377 took the challenge to India’s Supreme Court, which fully reinstated the ban on gay sex in 2013.
In that 2013 decision, the court said that gay people made up a “minuscule fraction” of India’s population, and left it up to India’s Parliament to change the laws.
But it was another landmark decision by India’s Supreme Court in 2017 — this one about privacy — that provided opponents of Section 377 a new avenue with which to challenge the law.
In August 2017, India’s highest court ruled that Indians have a fundamental right to privacy, and it included sexual orientation among those protected rights. “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual,” the Court said in its decision.
And a year later, India’s highest court strengthened that principle when it struck down the law criminalizing gay sex. “What makes life meaningful is love,” Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud wrote in the decision. “The right that makes us human is the right to love. To criminalize the expression of that right is profoundly cruel and inhumane.”
What these decision might mean for India — and the region
India’s gay rights advocates won a major victory on Thursday — but there’s still more to do.
Issues like same-sex marriage, adoption, and inheritance rules have yet to be decided, and could lead to court battles in the future.
The end of Section 377 won’t necessarily be embraced across India, and there’s still a lot of skepticism about gay rights outside major urban centers and among conservative religious Hindu, Muslim, and Christian groups. Those who wanted the law to remain in place argued that sexual orientation wasn’t innate, and that decriminalizing gay sex would lead to the spread of HIV, according to the New York Times.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his conservative ruling party, Bharatiya Janata, largely stayed on the sidelines during this latest debate. The government, which had previously supported the law, said during the latest fight that they would leave the decision up to the courts.
This silence was likely driven by a mix of domestic and global political concerns — the desire to balance India’s ambitions as a modern economic power, while trying to placate some of its more conservative supporters.
Still, many advocates interpreted this ruling as laying the groundwork for a greater acceptance of gay, lesbian, and transgender people in India.
“This is not a narrow, do-what-you-want-in-your-bedroom type of decision,” Menaka Guruswamy, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, told the Los Angeles Times. “This is so much wider than that, and the fact that many of the justices linked this to the idea of freedom and consent, that it was unanimous, that all of them looked to India as a constitutional democracy … it’s huge.”
The question now is how intensely this ruling might reverberate across the region, or in other countries (including former colonies) that have similar laws decriminalizing gay sex. According to the Washington Post, India was the largest country to have such a law — until Thursday.
“I was turning into a cynical human being with very little belief in the system,” Ritu Dalmia, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Guardian, “but honestly, this has really shown once again that we are a functional democracy where freedom of choice, speech and rights still exist.”
A group of countries have triggered an international action against Russia over the homophobic purge in Chechnya.
Human rights monitors first reported in February 2017 that authorities in Chechnya – an autonomous region of Russia – were carrying out a homophobic purge.
Gay people in the region have faced arrest, torture and execution, but the Kremlin has consistently refused to intervene, even as Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov publicly stated that homosexuals are “not people” who should be removed to “purify” the blood of the region.The international community has been slow to respond to the situation, but action was today launched via the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE), of which Russia is a member.
15 states have signed a statement invoking the OSCE’s rarely-used Vienna Mechanism, which
The statement was signed by Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
It states: “Our countries continue to be deeply concerned about serious human rights violations and abuses in Chechnya.
“Numerous credible reports by media and civil society organizations over the past 20 months have alleged worrying actions taken by Chechen authorities against persons based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as human right defenders, lawyers, independent media, civil society organizations, and others.
“These actions include harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detention, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. The Russian Federation’s apparent unwillingness or inability to address these serious human rights violations has contributed to a climate of impunity for authorities in Chechnya in perpetrating such violations.”
It adds: “Our delegations, as well as many others at the Permanent Council, have repeatedly raised concerns about these violations over the past 20 months.
“The Russian Federation’s response has been inadequate. Therefore, our countries are today invoking Russia’s commitments under the Vienna (Human Dimension) Mechanism to respond to our concerns.”
It adds: “Our countries have raised well-documented accounts that suggest that Chechen authorities have been involved in arresting, detaining, torturing and killing people based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as in suppressing information about these violations and abuses.
“Furthermore, Chechen authorities have condoned violence against these individuals and reportedly encouraged families to commit ‘honor killings’
“At the same time, journalists and human rights defenders face threats and reprisals by local Chechen authorities for documenting these and other violations and supporting the survivors.”
It continues: “Over the past 20 months, the Russian Federation has not provided a substantive response.
“The Russian delegation has denied credible reports from international organizations, journalists and civil society, telling concerned delegations at the OSCEs to ‘get our facts straight’ and accusing us of spreading fake news from the Internet. We are concerned that the lack of action by the federal authorities contributes to the climate of impunity in the Chechen Republic.”
The letter lays out the following questions for Russia:
* What steps have been taken by the federal authorities to ensure Chechen officials abide by the Russian Federation’s OSCE commitments?
* How have Russian federal authorities investigated allegations of violations and abuses reportedly committed against actual or perceived LGBTI persons, and how have they arrived at the conclusion (as repeated by Russian authorities) that no such violations or abuses have occurred and that no LGBTI persons exist in Chechnya?
* What steps have been taken by the federal authorities to ensure the ability of civil society and media actors to freely document and report, witho
Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will succeed Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein as U.N. human rights chief. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
SANTIAGO, Chile — The U.N. General Assembly on Aug. 10 approved the nomination of former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet as the next U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres nominated Bachelet to succeed Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, a career diplomat from Jordan.
In its official press release, the U.N. described Bachelet as “a long-time human rights champion and groundbreaking leader,” highlighting her activism in the early 1970s. The U.N. with this statement marks the period in which Bachelet and her parents were political prisoners during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.
“I feel deeply honored to assume this position, which was a proposal by the secretary-general,” said Bachelet in a video she posted to her Facebook page shortly after her appointment was confirmed. She added that she will perform her duties “with all my strength, my energy and my convictions to ensure the dignity and well-being of so many people.”
Bachelet was Chile’s president from 2006-2010 and from 2014-2018. She was named the first executive director of U.N. Women in 2013.
Bachelet during her second term promoted the rights of Chile’s LGBTI community, signing the country’s civil union law in 2015 and introducing a same-sex marriage bill in 2017. Bachelet in her first interview after leaving office referred to her LGBTI agenda as one of her many achievements as president.
Local LGBTI leaders reacted positively to the appointment.
“(She is a) fundamental ally of women and rights for the LGBTI community where more courage is required today than ever before,” said Fundación Iguales President Juan Enrique Pi in his Twitter account.
El Movilh added it wishes “all the success in her new efforts. We are convinced that LGBTI issues will be part of her work as high commissioner.”
Movilh spokesperson Oscar Rementería added, “it’s not matter if you’re from right or left wing. Such a proud moment for our country!”
Bachelet assumes her duties in September in Geneva.
Bachelet ratifica como alta comisionada de los derechos humanos en la ONU
SANTIAGO DE CHILE — La Asamblea General de la ONU el 10 de agosto ratificó la nominación de la expresidenta chilena Michelle Bachelet como la próxima Alta Comisionada de los Derechos Humanos de la organización
El Secretario General de la ONU António Guterres nominó a la exmandataria para suceder a Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, un diplomático de carrera de Jordania.
En su comunicado de prensa oficial que destacó su activismo en los principios de los años 70, la ONU describió a Bachelet como “una gran campeón de los derechos humanos y una lídera innovadora.” La ONU con esa declaración marca el periodo cuando Bachelet y sus padres fueron presos políticos durante la dictadura militar de Augusto Pinochet.
“Me siento profundamente honrada de asumir esa posición que era una propuesta del secretario general,” dijo Bachelet en un video que puso a su página de Facebook poco después de su confirmación fue confirmada. Ella añadió que llevará a cabo sus deberes “con toda mi fuerza, mi energía y mis convicciones para garantizar la dignidad y el bienestar de tantas personas.”
Bachelet era la presidenta de Chile entre 2006-2010 y 2014-2018. Ella fue nombrada como primera directora ejecutiva de ONU Mujeres en 2013.
Bachelet durante su segundo mandato promovió los derechos de la comunidad LGBTI chilena, firmando la ley de uniones de civiles del país en 2015 y proponiendo un proyecto de ley del matrimonio igualitario en 2017. Bachelet en su primera entrevista después de dejar la oficina refirió a su agenda en favor de la diversidad sexual como uno de sus logros importantes como presidenta.
Líderes LGBTI locales reaccionaron positivamente al nombramiento.
“(Ella es una) aliada fundamental de los derechos de las mujeres y de la comunidad LGBTI, donde hoy se requiere más coraje que nunca,” dijo Juan Enrique Pi, presidente de Fundación Iguales, en su cuenta de Twitter.
El Movilh añadió que le desea a Bachelet “todo el éxito para sus nuevos gestiones. Estamos convencidos/as de que la temática LGBTI será parte de su labor como alta comisionada en DDHH de la ONU.”
Oscar Rementería, portavoz del Movilh, añadió, “de izquierda o derecha, da lo mismo, ¡Tremendo orgullo para nuestro país!”