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LGBTI Rights

    October 11, 2017
    Alex Neve (left), Alex Xavier (centre), and Jackie Hansen (right) in Parliament when Bill C-16 on gender identity was tabled in June 2016.

    In Conversation with Amnesty International’s LGBTI Rights Coordinator Alexander Xavier

    Ottawa-based Alexander Xavier is one of Amnesty International Canada’s two LGBTI Coordinators. He has served on Amnesty’s board of directors, and has been an Amnesty supporter since he was in high school. In October 2017, we had a chat with Alexander about his long history with Amnesty and what motivates him to continue so fervantly advocating for LGBTI rights in Canada and around the world.

    Alex, how did you first get involved with Amnesty?

    In high school I became acquainted with Amnesty as I learned about the death penalty. I joined an Amnesty student group, later attended Amnesty’s Human Rights College, and got involved with Amnesty’s student and youth program.

    October 10, 2017

    The passing of a new law reforming the legal recognition of gender identity, is an historical step forward for transgender people in Greece, said Amnesty International.

    The new law adopted today expressly states that transgender people can change their papers without the requirement of medical interventions or tests.

    “Today’s reform is a hard-won victory for transgender rights activists in Greece who have fought for equality for transgender people for years. It sends out a clear message that no one should be forced to go through medical procedures in order to be officially recognized for who they are,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    “Whilst this reform is a historic step in the right direction, the struggle is not fully won. The Greek government must make further changes in law to ensure that transgender people in Greece can be legally recognised as who they are without having to give up other rights.”

    Background:

    September 30, 2017

    Six men arrested for “promoting sexual deviancy” and “debauchery” on social media will be subjected to invasive forensic anal examinations said Amnesty International, ahead of their trial tomorrow on Sunday 1 October. The arrests, on the evening of 27 September, came shortly after Egypt’s chief prosecutor announced an investigation in response to a public backlash against a recent concert in Cairo by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Laila where members of the crowd raised a rainbow flag.

    The Forensic Medical Authority is due to subject the six men to anal examinations to determine whether they have engaged in same sex sexual relations. Amnesty International believes that such examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law.

    “The fact that Egypt’s Public Prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    September 06, 2017

    Amnesty International welcomes the initiative of the Canadian government, and non-governmental partners Rainbow Railroad and Russian LGBT Network, which has brought dozens of gay men from the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya to Canada as government-assisted refugees. This unique government and civil society partnership comes in response to a coordinated campaign against men in Chechnya who are believed to be gay.

    In early April, the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred of men believed to be gay had been recently abducted, sent to undisclosed detention centres, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals known to them. Chechen officials have also supported ``honour killings`` of gay men by their families. Amnesty International documented the practice of extrajudicial executions of gay men in Chechnya and elsewhere in the region earlier this year.

    August 04, 2017
    Good news! All 28 men arrested on suspicion of being gay are now free

    Twenty-eight men were arrested during a social event on May 19, 2017 in Kerinaganj, a town south of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Why? Though the individuals were detained on suspicion of violating the Narcotics Control Act 1990, Amnesty International believes that the arrests were due to the fact that the gathering was known to be frequented by gay men.

    Twenty-three of the men were granted bail in June. The remaining five men were released on bail on July 21. Amnesty does not know if any conditions were attached to the bail. 

    The men do not appear to be facing imminent danger any longer. Amnesty International will continue monitoring the situation, and respond accordingly if there are any developments.

    Background: 

    August 02, 2017

    The Russian authorities must immediately overturn their decision to deport asylum seeker Khudoberdi Nurmatov, better known under his journalist alias Ali Feruz, to Uzbekistan, Amnesty International said today.

    “Ali Feruz is openly gay, a human rights activist and a correspondent for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper. This is a near-lethal combination for someone who is about to be handed over to Uzbekistan, where “sodomy” is a crime and torture is endemic,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    Ali Feruz fled from Uzbekistan in 2009 after he was arrested and tortured by the security forces in Uzbekistan and eventually came to Russia in 2011. He has repeatedly tried to claim asylum in Russia and had recently appealed the Russian immigration authorities’ refusal to grant him refugee status. In a late night court hearing yesterday, the judge found him in violation of “the rules of entry or stay in the Russian Federation by a foreign citizen” and ordered his deportation.

    July 26, 2017
      Following tweets from President Donald Trump announcing he would no longer allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military, Tarah Demant, Amnesty International USA’s director of Gender, Sexuality, and Identity program issued the following statement:

    “Today’s announcement violates the human rights of all transgender Americans. It lays bare the president’s prejudice and underlines the fact that creating policy based on bigotry is becoming a dangerous and cruel pattern for President Trump. The administration continues to target minority communities without pause and without facts. From stripping protections from transgender students to today’s announcement, the Trump administration has made clear it has an agenda of discrimination.”  
    June 30, 2017
      Following news that Germany has voted in favour of marriage equality, granting all couples - regardless of their gender or sexual orientation - full rights, including adoption, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director said:   “The passing of this law is a victory for equality and a testament to the commitment of activists in Germany who have fought long and hard to achieve equality in who has access to marriage.”   “This long overdue decision to remove a deeply discriminatory barrier and means that marriage – and the rights that come with it - will finally be open to all couples in Germany.”  
    June 28, 2017

     

    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.

    June 27, 2017
    Rosmit Mantilla

    “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.

    June 21, 2017

    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!”

    June 15, 2017

    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.

    QUOTES

    June 09, 2017

    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

    June 07, 2017

    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.

    May 24, 2017

    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.”

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