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LGBTI Rights

    February 19, 2014

    Dear Senators,

    The following organizations, representing a broad cross section of civil society groups from across Canada, urge the Senate to pass Bill C-279, the Gender Identity Bill, as drafted and without delay, to ensure that the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code protect the human rights of all people in Canada.

    We recognize the violence and discrimination faced by the trans/transsexual/transgender/ intersex/two-spirit/gender variant (“trans”) community in Canada. In a recent nationwide survey, 74% of transgender youth reported experiencing verbal harassment in school, and 37% reported experiencing physical violence. Transgender individuals in Ontario face unemployment over three times the national rate and many more are underemployed. As a result of discrimination and bullying, the trans community faces high rates of mental health issues. Rates of depression are as high as two-thirds; 77% of transgender individuals in Ontario report having considered suicide, and 43% have attempted suicide at least once.

    February 10, 2014
    Like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal

    By Khairunissa Dhala, Refugee Researcher at Amnesty International

    When Khalil, 26, entered Lebanon having escaped the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria, he thought his life would finally improve.

    But one night, he was lured into a meeting with two men. He says they raped him, stole money from his wallet and his mobile phone.

    Khalil never reported the alleged rape to the police. He is a refugee, and he is also gay. He feared he would be penalized, and that no one would care about what had happened to him.

    Since then, he has tried to commit suicide – a friend found him and took him to hospital.

    Although Lebanon is often perceived as more tolerant than most countries in the region, like in Syria the Lebanese Penal Code considers ‘homosexual acts’ illegal. The country’s lesbian gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) community is growing in prominence but the issue is still a taboo.

    As one of the nearly one million refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Khalil claims to suffer daily discrimination on the basis of his nationality. But as a gay man he faces further hardship.

    February 09, 2014

    Amnesty International staff hand over 86,169 signatures to the Ugandan High Commission in London, calling for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to be scrapped.© Azmina Dhrodia/Amnesty International

    Thousands of civil society activists, including Amnesty International supporters in the UK, Canada, Spain and Germany are acting together today in solidarity with campaigners in Uganda to show their opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill and call on President Museveni to veto it.  

    “If this deeply discriminatory bill is passed it will legalize the persecution of people on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Since the Bill was proposed there’s been an increase in homophobic arrests and mob violence. This is turning into a witch-hunt. President Museveni must veto the bill before the situation worsens,” said Gemma Houldey, Uganda Researcher at Amnesty International.

    February 04, 2014

    Released 1200 GMT (1300 CET), 4 February 2014

    European countries are violating the human rights of people trying to change their legal gender, said Amnesty International in a report published today. It details how transgender people are forced to undergo invasive surgery, sterilization, hormone therapy, psychiatric testing before they can change their legal status.

    "There are obviously transgender people who would like to access some of the available health treatments, but many others do not. States should not force the choices of transgender people by making legal gender recognition dependent on surgeries, hormone treatment or sterilization,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination. 

    “Many transgender people have to overcome enormous difficulties in coming to terms with their identity, and problems are often compounded by blatant state discrimination.”

    January 29, 2014

    Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must urgently investigate the unprecedented wave of homophobic attacks in Abidjan, which has forced many HIV workers to go into hiding, Amnesty International said.

    “The only way to stop the unprecedented homophobic witch-hunt taking place in Côte d’Ivoire is for the authorities to investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice. Failing to do that will only lead for more violence,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, West Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

    On 25 January 2014, the office of Alternative Côte d’Ivoire – an organization working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people (LGBTI) living with HIV -- was ransacked by a mob of around 200 people. Computers were stolen and the security officer was beaten so badly he required medical treatment.

    When members of the organization contacted the police they were accused of being homosexuals and working as pimps and told that the police had more important work to do.

    January 16, 2014

     

    Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, a 34-year-old former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, recently died an untimely death in Cameroon.        © Private

    Jean-Claude Roger Mbede died an untimely death on 10 January in his hometown, Ngoumou, Cameroon.

    According to media reports, his family prevented him from receiving necessary medical treatment – leaving him fighting for his life whilst his lawyers fought in the courts to appeal his earlier conviction for “homosexuality”.

    January 15, 2014

    Nigeria must immediately release the more than 10 people already arrested under a deeply oppressive new law that runs roughshod over a range of human rights and discriminates based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, Amnesty International said.

    The arrests have been made in several Nigerian states such as Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Oyo states since Monday, when it was revealed that President Goodluck Jonathan had signed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law.

    “Those arrested under this draconian new legislation must be released immediately and the charges against them dropped. Locking someone up for their sexual orientation violates the most basic human rights standards,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Researcher.

    “Reports that the police in one state are apparently drawing up lists of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to target are extremely worrying.”

    December 20, 2013

    Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni must veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was passed in a surprise vote this morning, Amnesty International said. The passage of the Bill – which dramatically increases the criminal penalties for consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex – amounts to a grave assault on human rights. 

    In addition to violating rights to privacy, family life and equality, the bill threatens freedom of association and expression – all protected under Ugandan and international human rights law. It institutionalizes discrimination against already marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in the country.

    “President Museveni must veto this wildly discriminatory legislation, which amounts to a grave assault on human rights and makes a mockery of the Ugandan constitution,” said Aster van Kregten, Deputy Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    December 11, 2013

    A ruling by India’s Supreme Court making consensual same-sex conduct between adults a criminal offence marks a black day for freedom in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    “This decision is a body blow to people’s rights to equality, privacy and dignity,” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India. “It is hard not to feel let down by this judgement, which has taken India back several years in its commitment to protect basic rights.”

    The Supreme Court overturned a historic ruling by the Delhi High Court in 2009 which had decriminalized consensual same-sex activity between adults. The Supreme Court said that Section 377 - which criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”- was constitutionally valid, and said that the Government could take legislative steps to repeal the law.

    The Delhi High Court had ruled in 2009 that the outlawing of consensual adult same-sex relations was discriminatory and violated the rights to equality, privacy and dignity set forth in the Indian Constitution.

    November 07, 2013

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today declined to hold that the criminalization of consensual same-sex activity constitutes “persecution” for the purposes of EU asylum law, showing it is out of step with international human rights and refugee law, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists said.  

    In X, Y and Z v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel the Luxembourg-based CJEU considered three joined cases arising from asylum requests lodged in the Netherlands by nationals of Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The three men claimed that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on their – undisputed – same-sex sexual orientation and the fact that sex between men is criminalized in their home countries.

    November 04, 2013

    The Russian authorities must promptly find and bring to justice all those responsible for a violent homophobic attack in St Petersburg that has left two people injured, including one who has been left blind in one eye, Amnesty International said.

    According to local activists in St Petersburg, on Sunday night two masked men brandishing air guns and baseball bats attacked the office of LaSky, a non-governmental organization that provides support to gay people living with HIV.

    “This latest insidious attack is sadly characteristic of a widespread atmosphere of homophobia in Russia today. If nothing is done to combat the hate, the ground is fertile for further violence,” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities must seek out, investigate and prosecute all those responsible for these violent attacks. Russian President Putin has publicly said the country would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, but such pledges ring hollow in the face of these ongoing hate crimes.”

    September 27, 2013

    Amnesty International is disappointed by the failure of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to see the detrimental effect that Russia’s discriminatory legislation will have on the Games in Sochi.  

    "Russia’s law banning propaganda of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ among minors is clearly discriminatory and in this it violates international law and runs counter to the Olympic Charter. Moreover, the introduction of the law creates an atmosphere in Russia that has already encouraged brutal crimes against people only because of their real or perceived sexual orientation,” Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

    “The fact that the IOC has satisfied itself with Russian officials’ assurances of non-discrimination is not enough. It disregards the fact that Russian law effectively prohibits people from public expression of ‘non-traditional’ sexual orientation. This is an affront to gay and lesbian athletes and spectators. It is also a disappointment to sports fans across the world who care about the Olympic ideal.”

    September 18, 2013

    The European Union (EU) and its member-states are failing to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and to protect all individuals from discrimination, harassment and violence, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Hate-motivated violence has a particularly damaging and long-term effect on victims. Yet, the EU as well as many of its members do not recognize crimes based on the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes in their legislation. This is unacceptable because sexual orientation and gender identity are protected grounds of discrimination in international human rights law,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia.

    Amnesty International’s report, Because of who I am: Homophobia, transphobia and hate crime in Europe, highlights gaps in the legislation of many European countries where sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly included as grounds on which hate crimes can be perpetrated. The report also points out the inadequacy of current EU standards on hate crime for tackling homophobic and transphobic violence.

    September 17, 2013

    Zambia postpones same-sex conduct trial

    The postponement of the trial against two Zambian men charged with same-sex sexual conduct whilst they continue to languish in prison is compounding their suffering, Amnesty International said.

    “These men should not be facing the courts in the first place. Postponing the trial condemns these men to even more time in prison simply because of outrageous charges against them based on their perceived sexual orientation,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    The trial, which was due to start yesterday, was deferred as the presiding magistrate, Mr John Mbudzi, had to attend an urgent family matter. No new date has been confirmed yet.

    Philip Mubiana, a hair dresser and James Mwape, a brick layer, were charged with committing acts “against the order of nature”. They have been in custody for more than four months after being denied bail. If convicted they face a minimum of 15 years in jail.

    September 11, 2013

    Zambia must immediately drop the charges against two men accused of same-sex sexual conduct and release them from prison unconditionally, Amnesty International said ahead of a court hearing Thursday.

    “It is high time that individuals stopped being persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people,” Said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, both 22 years old, will appear in court on 12 September in the Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi for a remand hearing.  They have been in custody since 6 May 2013 facing two counts each of committing offences “against the order of nature”.
     
    The pair were initially arrested on 25 April 2013 and detained until 2 May 2013 when they were granted bail. After their release they were arrested for the second time just four days later following another report to police by a neighbour.

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