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LGBTI Rights

    June 26, 2015

    By George Harvey, Amnesty International Canada, LGBTI Coordinator

    A landmark ruling from the Supreme Court in the United States calling for marriage equality in all 50 states! A successful referendum on marriage equality in Ireland! Discriminatory laws challenged and repealed in a number of countries, and peaceful Pride marches in cities where they've been met with violence and counter marches in the past. We have much to celebrate during Pride this summer.

    Pride season is in full swing. As I type this blog I am gearing up to coordinate Amnesty's contingent in Toronto Pride this Sunday. Amnesty marches in Pride parades throughout Canada and around the world. We promote our actions at festivals and info-fairs, and we honour the lives lost to homophobia and transphobia at human rights vigils. Some of us are Amnesty activists who are members of the LGBTI community; many are allies marching in solidarity with the LGBTI community. All of us stand firmly against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and all of us stand firmly for the right to loudly, proudly, and publicly be who we are.

    June 17, 2015

    The Latvian government should break its silence and give a firm commitment to do all within its power to ensure the safety and protection of those participating in this year’s EuroPride in Riga, said Amnesty International today.

    EuroPride, which celebrates the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in a different European city every year, will be held in the Latvian capital on Saturday 20 June, at the end of a week-long festival that began on 15 June.

    While EuroPride organizers say law enforcement authorities have been very cooperative, the Latvian government has failed to welcome the event. When asked about it last December, Latvian President Andris Berzins stated that “homosexuality should not be advertised and imposed”.

    June 06, 2015

    Despite efforts by police today, Ukrainian authorities should have done more in advance to prevent violent attacks against gay Pride marchers several of whom were injured today, Amnesty International said.

    Lack of coordination with the event organisers and the failure to put an evacuation plan in place meant that, despite the presence of at least 1,500 police and national guard soldiers, about 10 protesters were injured when they were attacked by homophobic protesters. At least five police were also injured, one seriously.

    “The homophobic violence which soiled the streets of Kyiv today was ugly and action should have been taken in advance to try and prevent it. Instead of responding to violent threats by taking steps to ensure marchers would be safe, the police only took the decision to provide protection to the march yesterday. Had more time been spent planning and coordinating, some of these injuries might have been avoided,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia.

    May 21, 2015

    Amnesty International Ireland Release

    In less than 24 hours, Ireland will go to the polls in a referendum that is truly historic, the first time any nation has asked its people to vote ‘Yes’ and end discrimination against LGBTI people in its civil marriage laws. If passed, Ireland will become the first country anywhere in the world to guarantee its people the equal constitutional right to marry the person they love, regardless of their sexual orientation, following a popular vote.

    Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said:

    “Love does not discriminate, and neither should our laws. If a state decides to recognise, protect and value loving, intimate, committed relationships in its laws, it should not deny this recognition to some just because of their sexual orientation. We call on the people of Ireland to bring in a new era of equality in civil marriage. It is their decision now.

    May 14, 2015

    Around the world, people face violent attacks and threats simply because of who they are or who they have sex with. But some brave activists are still standing up for their rights. To mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on 17 May, we celebrate the courageous activism of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people worldwide.

    1. Pushing to end hate crimes in Greece

    In Greece, LGBTI rights organizations tell us violent attacks on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity have more than doubled over the last year. In August 2014, Kostas and Zabi, a Greek-Pakistani gay couple, were brutally beaten up in a homophobic and racist attack in central Athens.

    April 10, 2015

    An Amnesty International Norway Release

    During a press conference on Friday 10 April an expert group appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care presented its report "Right to right gender - health to all genders" to Minister of Health and Care Bent Høie (Conservative Party).

    The expert group clearly expressed that the current practice for legal gender recognition is a violation of fundamental human rights, and stressed the need for change. The expert group recommended the establishment of a transparent and accessible procedure for legal gender recognition based on the individual's perception of gender identity, without any requirement for a period of reflection. The expert group's recommendations are in line with Amnesty International’s assessments.

    February 25, 2015

    Ottawa, February 26, 2015 – Trans Equality Rights in Canada, a civil society-based coalition advocating for the rights of transgender people in Canada, is disappointed that Canada’s Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs amended Bill C-279 on Gender Identity yesterday, exempting it from applying to public spaces including bathrooms and locker rooms.

    “Human rights are not conditional,” said Helen Kennedy of Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. “The human rights of transgender people must be protected in all spaces including public bathrooms and locker rooms. The amendment to Bill C-279 fuels discrimination against transgender individuals by making it seem like people have something to fear by sharing a bathroom with a transgender person, which of course they don’t.”

    December 19, 2014

    Ireland must allow transgender people to have their gender legally recognized in a quick, transparent and accessible manner, Amnesty International said after the country’s Gender Recognition Bill was published today.

    The organization called on the Irish authorities to remove restrictions on gender recognition for married transgender people and minors, and to ensure that transgender people can obtain legal gender recognition without having to provide medical certification.

    “This is a missed opportunity to enshrine the rights of all transgender people in Irish law. This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Acting Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment.”

    November 21, 2014

    Gambia’s recent passage of a homophobic law puts the already persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community at even greater risk of abuse, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    The new crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” which carries punishments of up to life in prison, is part of a criminal code President Yahya Jammeh approved on October 9, 2014, documents uncovered this week show. Among those who could be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” are “serial offenders” and people living with HIV who are deemed to be gay or lesbian. Exactly what constitutes “homosexuality” or a “homosexual act” is not defined in Gambian law. That makes Gambia’s criminalization of homosexual activity – which already violates international law - even more likely to be used broadly and arbitrarily.

    November 18, 2014

    The arrest, detention and torture of eight people since the beginning of the month as part of a crackdown on “homosexuality” by the Gambian authorities reveals the shocking scale of state-sponsored homophobia, Amnesty International said.

    “These arrests took place amid an intensifying climate of fear for those perceived to have a different sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa. 

    “This unacceptable crackdown reveals the scale of state-sponsored homophobia in Gambia. Intimidation, harassment, and any arrest based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity is in clear violation of international and regional human rights law. The Gambian authorities must immediately stop this homophobic assault”.

    Amnesty International considers people who are arrested and detained solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity to be prisoners of conscience. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.

    November 14, 2014

    The High Court judgment overturning Botswana’s Department of Labour and Home Affairs’ refusal to register an organization representing the rights of LGBTI people is a triumph for justice and a victory over state homophobia, said Amnesty International today.

    Lesbian, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) brought the case against the government arguing that the refusal to register their organization violated their constitutional rights, including their rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and equal protection of the law.

    “This High Court ruling is a triumph for justice and a victory over state homophobia. It re-affirms the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Botswana to organize and advocate for their human rights without being subjected to unfair treatment,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for the Southern African region.

    November 13, 2014

    On Thursday, November 20, call Senators and speak out in support of the rights of Canada’s transgender communities.

    November 20th is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day to honour transgender people who have lost their lives because of hatred and fear, and to re-commit ourselves to supporting the human rights of Canada’s transgender communities.

    Transgender people in Canada and around the world face extreme levels of violence and discrimination because they are transgender. Six provinces and one territory in Canada have legally established “gender identity” as a prohibited ground of discrimination in an effort to curb this violence and discrimination. Similar legislation is not yet in place at the federal level.

    October 16, 2014

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

    There appears to be a rise in homophobia around the world. From Russia and Kyrgyzstan to Nigeria, Uganda, and beyond, homosexuality is becoming further criminalized. This is particularly hard to understand here in Canada where we are steadily marching in the opposite direction—we have had marriage equality for a decade, and several provinces and territories have legislation in place to protect the transgender community from violence and discrimination.

    When we hear about new legislation criminalizing or further criminalizing same sex sexual conduct we are enraged. And we want to act. And when activists in Uganda ask us not to act—or at least not act in the ways we would normally work here at home—we are confused. We want to be supportive. We want to help. We want to send a message to the Ugandan government that LGBTI rights are human rights. And sometimes the hardest thing we can do is nothing.

    October 16, 2014

    Released  08.00 BST - 16 October 2014

    Repressive and discriminatory legislation enacted over the last 18 months in Uganda has led to increasing state repression, violence and homophobic and gender-based discrimination, according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.

    “Rule by Law” – Discriminatory Legislation and Legitimized Abuses in Uganda, launching today in Uganda’s capital city Kampala, details how three pieces of legislation have violated fundamental human rights, fuelled discriminatory abuses and left individuals unable to seek justice.

    “Repression in Uganda is increasingly state sanctioned through the use of blatantly discriminatory legislation that erodes rights guaranteed in the country’s Constitution,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.  

    “The government must act now to revise these toxic laws, which threaten the core of human rights in Uganda.”

    October 09, 2014

    Ottawa, October 9, 2014 – Amnesty International is calling on Canada’s Senate to pass Bill C-279, a piece of legislation which will go a long way to protecting the fundamental human rights of transgender persons in Canada.

    In a brief submitted today to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Amnesty International called for the bill to be passed immediately and as drafted.

    “Around the world, and certainly in Canada, transgender individuals face alarmingly high levels of violence, harassment and prejudice,” said Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada. “It is a glaring human rights problem that governments everywhere have, for far too long, failed to address. Bill C-279 would provide much-needed and long-needed human rights protection to transgender individuals in Canada who face discrimination and hate crimes, in keeping with the country’s international human rights obligations.  It is imperative that the Senate do the right thing and ensure its speedy passage into law.”

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