For a third year running, authorities in Istanbul banned, on spurious grounds, the Istanbul Pride March, historically the biggest event held by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) people and supporters in Turkey. Yesterday police used excessive and unnecessary force against people attempting to march peacefully despite the ban.
The event, which had been successfully held annually for over a decade and which attracted tens of thousands of participants, was once held up by the authorities as an example of their respect for rights. The repeated blocking of the Pride March in recent years is yet another example of the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and difference, the deterioration of the human rights situation in Turkey in general, and the authorities’ failure to uphold LGBTI rights.
“I often woke up believing my strength was running out, believing I couldn’t keep going, and then I received photographs of Amnesty International human rights activists from all over the world requesting my freedom, respect for justice and for life. Infinite thanks, friends—without you I wouldn’t be here!”
These personal words of thanks for your support came from Rosmit Mantilla during his struggle to be freed from a Venezuelan jail. Rosmit is a prominent Member of Parliament, human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience. He is an activist for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and a member of the opposition party Voluntad Popular. He was freed in November following two years in prison.
By George Harvey and Alex Xavier, LGBTI Coordinators
Summer is officially here, and with it some of the first Pride festivals of the year in Canada. We have a lot to celebrate this summer!
Last November, following efforts from Amnesty supporters around the world, openly gay Venezuelan politician Rosmit Mantilla was released. after more than two years in prison. Upon his release, he expressed gratitude to all those who took action on his behalf:
“I often woke up believing my strength was running out, believing I couldn’t keep going, and then I received photographs of Amnesty International human rights activists from all over the world requesting my freedom, respect for justice and for life. Infinite thanks, friends, without you I wouldn’t be here!”
The Trans Equality Canada Coalition, a loose coalition of human rights groups and individual activists advocating in support of Bill C-16, applauds the passing today of a law that is an important step toward protecting transgender individuals from violence and discrimination. Bill C-16, which was adopted overwhelmingly by the Senate today, amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code of Canada to explicitly prohibit discrimination and violence on the grounds of gender identity or expression.
The amendment to the Criminal Code makes trans people an “identifiable group” protected from the crimes of advocating genocide and inciting or willfully promoting hatred, and allows courts to consider bias, prejudice, or hate based on gender identity or expression in the sentencing of hate crimes.
The amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act brings areas of federal jurisdiction into line with areas of provincial jurisdiction, as all provinces and territories now include trans people in the non-discrimination clauses of their human rights legislation.
When reports emerged in April that the Chechen authorities have been detaining, torturing and even killing gay men, as part of a deplorable campaign to purge the republic of people of “non-traditional orientation”, there was international outcry.
An Amnesty International activist in Turkey holds up a sign for Chechnya to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 3 June
Sir Ian McKellen joined a protest in London, led by Amnesty UK and Stonewall UK
The horrifying killing of a transgender woman in the Dominican Republic – the second such killing this year and 38th since 2006 – highlights the extreme violence faced by many transgender women in the country and the need for strengthened legal protection for discriminated groups, said Amnesty International.
“The grotesque killing of Jessica Rubi Mori is a tragic reminder that the Dominican authorities need to take bolder steps to eradicate discrimination, including that based on gender identity and sexual orientation,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director for Amnesty International.
The body of Jessica Rubi Mori (whose legal name was Elvis Guerrero) a transgender sex worker and activist with community organization Este Amor (This Love), was found on 3 June 2017 in the eastern Dominican municipality of Higüey. Her body was found dismembered in a wasteland. According to news reports one suspect has been placed under arrest.
Responding to news that two men have been caned 83 times each for having sex with each other in Indonesia’s Aceh province, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Josef Benedict, said:
“This sickening spectacle, carried out in front of more than a thousand jeering spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty. These two men had their privacy forcefully invaded when they were ambushed inside their own home, and their ‘punishment’ today was designed to humiliate as well as physically injure them.
“The authorities in Aceh and Indonesia must immediately repeal the law which imposes these punishments, which constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and may amount to torture.
“Flogging sentences and the criminalization of same sex relations are both flagrant violations of international human rights law. The international community must put pressure on Indonesia to create a safer environment for the LGBTI community before the situation deteriorates further. Nobody should be punished for consensual sex.”
A landmark ruling by Taiwan’s highest court means it is close to becoming the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, Amnesty International said.
On Wednesday, judges in Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s current marriage law is unconstitutional as it discriminates against same-sex couples. The judges have given lawmakers two years to amend or enact relevant laws.
“The judges have today said yes to marriage equality. This is a huge step forward for LGBTI rights in Taiwan and will resonate across Asia,” said Lisa Tassi, East Asia Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.
“Lawmakers must act swiftly to ensure Taiwan becomes the first in Asia to make genuine marriage equality a reality.”
A draft bill on same-sex marriage is currently being considered by Taiwan’s legislature. Amnesty International urges lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in Taiwan, on the same basis and with the same rights as marriage between couples of different sex.
“As today’s ruling makes clear, whoever you love, everyone is entitled to the same human rights and equal protection under the law,” said Lisa Tassi.
On the eve of the final Senate committee hearings on Bill C-16 on Gender Identity, Amnesty’s women’s rights campaigner Jackie Hansen caught up with violence against women advocate and LGBTI social worker Dillon Black of the Ottawa Coalition to end Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), to talk about the significance of Bill C-16 in promoting gender equality. Dillon sits on the Minister of the Status of Women to the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council to Help Shape the Federal Strategy on Gender-Based Violence.
By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International Canada
In early April, the courageous journalists at Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred men suspected of being gay had been abducted, tortured, and some killed in a coordinated government campaign in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Men who are released from detention are not safe; they may face honour killings by family members. In response, Chechen officials denied the existence of gay men in Chechnya, and denied they had ordered ‘preventative mopping up’ of people considered to be undesirable.
People worldwide were outraged. How could this be happening? What could be done to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities in Chechnya from discrimination and violence? What were we doing and could we do more?
Children born with sex characteristics that do not fit with female or male norms risk being subjected to a range of unnecessary, invasive and traumatizing medical procedures in violation of their human rights, said Amnesty International in a report launched today.
Using case studies in Denmark and Germany, ‘First, Do No Harm’ shows how outdated gender stereotypes are resulting in non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgical interventions on children who are intersex – the term commonly used for individuals with variations of sex characteristics such as chromosomes, genitals and reproductive organs.
“These so-called ‘normalising’ procedures are being carried out without full knowledge of the potentially harmful long-term effects they are having on children,” said Laura Carter, researcher on sexual orientation and gender identity at Amnesty International.
By Ta*, an LGBT activist in Bangladesh
“I might not come any longer. I’m afraid. You had to flee from one place to another out of fear of being slaughtered by the extremists. If something like that happens again, I don’t have the strength or ability to do things like you.” I have received many messages like this from fellow LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) activists in Bangladesh over the past year. On 25 April 2016, Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were killed mercilessly by extremists for promoting LGBT rights in Bangladesh – nothing has been the same since.
By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner, Amnesty Internatioanl Canada
Amnesty yellow mingled with the Women’s March on Washington’s signature pink toques at solidarity marches from St. John's to Victoria on Saturday, January 21. Amnesty supporters were amongst the 3+ million march participants worldwide. We marched against fear, hate, and in support of love, equality and justice. We marched for women’s rights and for LGBTI rights.
On inauguration day, many women and LGBTI people felt invisible in the president’s speech, erased from the White House’s list of policy priorities, and concerned about the potential impacts of new policies on civil liberties, the shrinking space for civil society, women’s rights, and LGBTI rights.
By Yaridbel Licón and Victor Molina, Amnesty International Venezuela
“I often woke up believing my strength was running out, believing I couldn’t keep going, and then I received photographs of Amnesty International human rights activists from all over the world requesting my freedom, respect for justice and for life. Infinite thanks, friends, without you I wouldn’t be here!” - Rosmit Mantilla, ex prisoner of conscience, unjustly detained in May 2014 and released in November 2016.
On May 2, 2014, a delegation of more than 20 members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) burst into his apartment in Caricuao, a modest neighbourhood in west Caracas, where Rosmit Mantilla lived with his grandparents. A student, member of the opposition Party “Voluntad Popular” and a human rights activist, he never thought he would spend two and a half years of his life behind bars awaiting a trial against him that would never happen.