By George Harvey, LGBTI Coordinator
The Danish Parliament has ushered in a historic victory in the struggle for transgender rights by today adopting a decision to no longer stigmatize transgender identities as mental disorders, said Amnesty International.
“This very encouraging move from Denmark sets a strong example internationally towards destigmatizing transgender people and paving the way for quick and transparent processes for legal gender recognition,” said Leda Avgousti, Amnesty International’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisor.
“It is disgraceful that globally the norm is for transgender people to be placed under the category of mental disorders because of their gender identity. This label means that transgender people are forced to undergo traumatizing and humiliating psychiatric evaluations in order to legally change their gender or even to be able to access gender reassignment treatment.”
By Alexander Kennedy, LGBTI Coordinator
In June 2005, I sat in the gallery of the House of Commons the night the Civil Marriage Act was passed. It was a moment of joy, the culmination of years of work by LGBTI activists, and yet in the midst of the celebrations I found myself wondering when trans people would get our moment, the recognition that our rights matter too.
This morning, more than a decade later, I sat in the gallery of the House of Commons as the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-16 to extend human rights protections to trans people in Canada, surrounded by some of the many trans activists who have worked long and hard to make this day a reality.
"The brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBTI publication and his friend, days after a university professor was hacked to death, underscores the appalling lack of protection being afforded to a range of peaceful activists in the country,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.
“There have been four deplorable killings so far this month alone. It is shocking that no one has been held to account for these horrific attacks and that almost no protection has been given to threatened members of civil society. Bangladeshi authorities have a legal responsibility to protect and respect the right to life. They must urgently focus their energies on protecting those who express their opinions bravely and without violence, and bringing the killers to justice. The authorities must strongly condemn these horrific attacks, something they have failed to do so far.”
We're still celebrating the release of scores of prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, including student leader Phyoe Phyoe Aung, on April 8!
And now we get to take a moment to reflect on how amazing March was for human rights – activists were released, unfair laws were changed, and people who committed serious human rights abuses were brought to justice. We’ve picked out 15 successes, wins and pieces of good news, and they were all made possible thanks to your support.
>> For the latest good news stories, click here!
Key legal reforms proposed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health today mark an important breakthrough that could change the lives of transgender people in Norway for generations to come, said Amnesty International.
If adopted by Parliament, the Ministry’s proposal would give transgender people access to legal gender recognition through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure. Crucially, it would allow individuals to self-determine their gender and do away with Norway’s shameful legacy of compulsory requirements that are discriminatory and violate a range of human rights.
“This is a milestone for all of us who have been fighting hard for the right to be who we are. Thanks to our combined efforts together with transgender activists and LGBT organizations in the country, we can look forward to the upcoming adoption of a law that will give transgender people access to legal gender recognition,” said Patricia M. Kaatee, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International Norway.
By Lorna Hayes and Khairunissa Dhala from Amnesty’s refugee and migrants’ rights team at Amnesty's International Secretariat
Said and his partner Jamal – who is living with HIV – fled Syria after being tortured for their political activism. They are excited about starting a new life in the capital, Berlin, after being resettled there.
“We were so happy that we cried,” says Jamal* about the moment he and his partner Said* found out that Germany had opened its doors to them.
“It was a moment of victory,” Jamal continues. “We were shocked that we were accepted for resettlement so quickly, [after just] six months.”
They were lucky – many other refugees who qualify for resettlement wait much longer for that all-important phone call to say they can settle down for good somewhere peaceful and safe.
A new home in Berlin
By Lesly Lila, London, UK
As the 2015 Pride season ends, we look at why Pride events are still so important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and activists across the world.1. People are still attacked because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity
The killing of three trans women in Argentina in the past month must trigger authorities into taking more robust action to protect one of the mostmarginalized communities in the country, said Amnesty International.
Lastnight, Amancay Diana Sacayán, a renowed activist for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people (LGBTI) was found dead in her flat in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. Her body had signs of violence. A month ago, Marcela Chocobar and Coty Olmos, two trans women and leaders of LGBTIorganizations, were also violently killed in the provinces of Santa Fe and Santa Cruz.
“Adark cloud has set over Argentina’s trans community. Unless this latest wave of murders is effectively investigated and those responsible taken to justice, a message will be sent that attacking trans women is actually ok,” said Mariela Belski, Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina.
The case of a 22-year-old student sentenced to one year in prison for engaging in “homosexual relations” has finally sparked public debate on same-sex relations in Tunisia. Yesterday, the Minister of Justice Mohamed Salah Ben Aissa made a ground-breaking public call for the decriminalization of same-sex relations.
A court in Sousse convicted the man, known under the pseudonym Marwan, on 22 September after forcing him to undergo an anal examination to establish “proof” of anal sex. 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.
On 6 September, police had summoned Marwan in relation to the murder of a man in Sousse. When he denied any involvement in the crime, but admitted to having sex with the victim reportedly after the police threatened to bring a murder charge against him, he was charged with “sodomy” under Article 230 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. The article also criminalizes “lesbianism” although it is rarely used to detain lesbian women.
Poland’s legal system falls dangerously short when it comes to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and other minority groups from hate crimes, Amnesty International said in a new report today less than two months ahead of general elections.
Targeted by hatred, forgotten by law shows how the state has excluded whole communities from hate crime legislation, including homeless people, people with disabilities and the LGBTI community.
“Poland has a two-tiered legal system that protects some minority groups but leaves others to fend for themselves. If you are a gay man or woman, a person with a disability or a homeless person in Poland and attacked because of who you are, the police will just treat it as an ordinary crime, not as a hate crime – this dangerous protection gap must be closed immediately,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia.
Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified US government documents to the website WikiLeaks. Two years after she was first sentenced, Chelsea tells us why speaking out against injustice can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Q. Why did you decide to leak documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
These documents were important because they relate to two connected counter-insurgency conflicts in real-time from the ground. Humanity has never had this complete and detailed a record of what modern warfare actually looks like. Once you realize that the co-ordinates represent a real place where people live; that the dates happened in our recent history; that the numbers are actually human lives – with all the love, hope, dreams, hatred, fear, and nightmares that come with them – then it’s difficult to ever forget how important these documents are.
Amnesty International USA release
The Supreme Court of the United States today delivered a historic ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples across the country to legally marry.
“This is a joyous day not just for loving and committed same-sex couples, but for everyone who believes in human rights and equality for all,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
“The ability to marry the partner of your choice and raise a family is a human right enshrined in international law. While much work remains to be done to ensure that all forms of discrimination against LGBT people are eliminated once and for all, this long-awaited and significant decision affirms that same-sex couples and their families deserve the same respect and recognition as anyone else.”
For more information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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”.