#JusticeForJennifer: Filipino Communities Organize National Day of Outrage Friday, October 24 in Response to Killing of Jennifer Laude

Contributed by Ging Cristobal, Project Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands, IGLHRC

In the Philippines, the killing of a transgender woman, Jennifer Laude, has ignited calls for justice. Her death became a breaking point for activists who have been pushing for government action to address gender-based violence against women and the LGBT community.

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Jamaican Activist Reflects on Second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference

Contributed by Paige Andrew, Programme Team, J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All Sexuals and Gays)

The second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference with the theme “Inspiring Women to leadership” was convened in Suriname October 5 to 12 by United and Strong St. Lucia with support from CariFLAGS, WomenSWaySuriname and international partners. IGLHRC’s Jessica Stern and María Mercedes Gómez participated in the conference and facilitated a capacity-strengthening workshop for human rights documentation. Paige Andrew of J-FLAG shares her experience and the impact the conference will have on her advocacy in the following post.

Empowering and extremely fulfilling; those are the words that come to mind, when I think of my experience at the second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference (CWSDC), which was held in Suriname in October this year.

As a queer person and budding activist, the conference was an incredible experience. The workshops were not only informative and engaging, but exciting. The practical aspect of the workshops, made it easy for the participants to gauge exactly how we would use the information, in our fight for LGBT equality in the Caribbean.

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There is a Voice that is Silent from Africa

Contributed by Leigh Ann van der Merwe, Director, S.H.E.

There is a voice that is silent from Africa… a voice no one hears, despite its loud scream. There is a faceless person, despite standing in a crowd of millions. That person has a name, a face, and an identity. These are the transgender women in South Africa. Strides have been made for the rights of transgender people in South Africa, yet many of the issues affecting black, impoverished transgender women go unattended. This is where the idea of a feminist collective dedicated to addressing the issues of transgender women in South Africa originated and S.H.E. (Social, Health and Empowerment feminist collective of transgender and intersex women of Africa) was established.

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Transgender Women’s Constitutional Challenge To Sharia Law Fails in Malaysia

Contributed by Grace Poore, Regional Program Coordinator, IGLHRC

Many countries in the Southeast Asian region are incrementally shifting on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people’s rights:

Vietnam’s Minster of Justice said publicly that rights of same-sex married couples should be recognized. The Philippines Supreme Court has ruled that an LGBT party had the right to participate in national elections. A Singapore Appeals Court ruled that the constitutionality of Section 377A of its Penal Code needs to be examined because it discriminates against gay men. Thailand has long been known as the place to go for gender reassignment surgery. Indonesia’ s Parliament will soon decide whether to appoint the first openly gay man as commissioner on its National Human Rights Commission.

The Malaysian government however continues to stubbornly reject the rights of LGBT people. This position reverberates throughout state institutions, encouraging hostility, discrimination, and abuse by state and religious authorities.

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Paradojas Chilenas: Derechos LGBT en América Latina

Contributed by Pedro Garcia, 2012 Paula Ettelbrick Fellow, IGLHRC

To read the original article in English, visit: Chilean Paradoxes: LGBT rights in Latin America

Durante los últimos años ha habido avances importantes en materia de derechos humanos para la población gay, lesbiana, bisexual y transexual (LGBT) de América Latina. El reconocimiento de uniones civiles para parejas del mismo sexo en Brasil y en Uruguay, matrimonio homosexual en la Ciudad de México y en Argentina, y leyes que protegen la identidad de género en Bolivia, Chile y Argentina. Estos cambios ponen en duda viejos estereotipos que califican al subcontinente como una región conservadora, machista, y dominada por la moral de la iglesia católica.

La lucha por los derechos humanos LGBT en América Latina no es un camino de un solo sentido. Existen paradojas dentro de los Estados y entre las naciones. El año en que la Ciudad de México legalizó el matrimonio para parejas del mismo sexo, únicamente el 29% de la población de la ciudad apoyaba el derecho de estas parejas a adoptar. En Ecuador, la Constitución prohíbe explícitamente la discriminación por motivos de orientación sexual, pero también rechaza textualmente el matrimonio y la adopción por parejas del mismo sexo. EL matrimonio gay es legal en algunos casos en Brasil, pero la población transgénero sigue siendo víctima sistemática de violentos crímenes de odio. En el 2009, Brasil reportó el mayor número de asesinatos a personas transgénero del continente. En Costa Rica el diputado evangélico Justo Orozco, quien ha afirmado que la orientación sexual es un pecado y debe tratarse, es también presidente de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos.

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Chilean Paradoxes: LGBT rights in Latin America

Contributed by Pedro Garcia, 2012 Paula Ettelbrick Fellow, IGLHRC

Para leer este artículo en español, mira: Paradojas Chilenas: Derechos LGBT en América Latina 

Over the past few years, there have been important milestones advancing LGBT human rights in Latin America. Recognition of civil unions in Brazil and Uruguay, same-sex marriage in Mexico City and Argentina, laws protecting gender identity in Chile and Bolivia, and historic, progressive legislation in regard to gender identity in Argentina. These advances question old stereotypes of the region as a conservative macho culture dominated by the morals of the Roman Catholic Church.

The fight for LGBT human rights in Latin America isn’t a one-way street. Paradoxes arise among and between countries.  When Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage by legislative action, only 29% of the city’s population supported the right to adoption by same sex partners. In Ecuador, the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation yet bans same-sex marriage and adoption. Gay marriage is legal on a case-by-case basis in Brazil but transgender people continue to be the target of violent crime. In 2009, Brazil reported the highest number of murders of transgender people for the region. In Costa Rica, the president of the Legislative Assembly’s Human Rights Commission expressed his belief that sexual orientation is a sin that can be treated. Clearly, homophobia and transphobia are widespread in the region.

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Indonesian Government Questioned About LBT Rights Violations

Contributed by Grace Poore, Regional Program Coordinator, IGLHRC

Women’s human rights defenders from Indonesia arrived in New York this week to report to the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) about flagrant violations experienced by women and girls in Indonesia across all sectors of society – female circumcision, unsafe abortions, forced sterilization of minority women, marital rape, polygamy, weak implementation of the domestic violence law, police abuses, abuses by domestic worker recruitment agencies, failure to grant reparations to women sexually violated during conflicts with the Indonesian military and police forces, judicial disregard for violence and discrimination against women, rampant abuses against women migrant workers, and many more.

Yet, violence and discrimination against lesbians, bisexual women and transgender (LBT) women was not on the agenda. The spread of intolerance by religious fundamentalists had driven a wedge within the Indonesian women’s movement. Except for one 145-page shadow report that mentioned sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) once, LBT people were invisible. Even Komnas Perempuan, the National Commission of Women was reluctant to raise LBT issues. As one Commissioner explained, “The fundamentalists are saying that when we push for women’s rights we are pushing for same sex marriage. So if we bring up LBT, it will weaken our advocacy.” Another Commissioner assured me, “We can raise the LBT issue at the next CEDAW session.” But that would be five years down the road!

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End Sexual-Orientation and Gender-Identity Discrimination in Guyana

Contributed by

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women ("CEDAW Committee"), meeting this month at United Nations headquarters in New York City, will review the human-rights record of several countries that are signatory parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In recent years the CEDAW Committee has increasingly included the rights of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) women in its deliberations. During the week of July 9, Guyana will be reviewed. There has been strong engagement by LBT activists in preparation for the hearing. In the case of Guyana, an LBT-specific shadow report, "Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBT) People in Guyana," was jointly drafted and submitted by three human-rights organizations: Guyana RainBow Foundation (GuyBow), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). I had the privilege of making an oral presentation of this report to the members of the CEDAW committee on July 9 at the UN.

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Celebrating Pride... Beyond the White House

Contributed by Jessica Stern, Executive Director, IGLHRC and Peter Dunne, Former Harvard Law School Irving R. Kaufman Public Interest Fellow, IGLHRC

On June 15, as U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a reception at the White House to mark Pride Month, the now annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) lives across the United States, there was much to contemplate about U.S. foreign policy and LGBT human rights.

While many celebrated advances made in the U.S. over the past year, this annual White House reception is an opportunity to recognize the efforts the Obama administration has made to promote LGBT human rights beyond U.S. borders. In December 2010 U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice spearheaded efforts to ensure that sexual orientation would remain part of a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. Last December Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke movingly at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva of how "gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights." And President Obama the same day issued an executive memorandum calling upon U.S. diplomats to make LGBT human rights a priority in American foreign policy.

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We’re Going to the White House and We Want to Bring You with Us!

Contributed by Brian Tofte-Schumacher, Digital Communications Manager, IGLHRC

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, for the first time, has been invited to the White House LGBT Pride Reception, but we don’t want to go alone!

Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director, will attend the reception and she wants to bring your perspectives, opinions, critiques and stories with her.

For the next five days, we’ll be asking you questions on facebook (fb.com/iglhrc) and twitter (@iglhrc) such as: If you could tell President Obama one way he could help you work for LGBT rights globally, what would you say?

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Argentina Adopts Landmark Legislation in Recognition of Gender Identity

Contributed by IGLHRC

Human rights advocates worldwide are celebrating the passage of the most progressive gender identity law in history in Argentina on May 9, 2012. The law gives self-identified transgender people access to critical services without the need for medical intervention and provides for specific human rights protections. Argentina’s Senate passed the law on May 9th with 55 votes in favor, one abstention and no votes against. Activists from around the world are talking about the passage of the legislation.

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Argentina ha aprobado la legislación de Identidad de Género más progresista de la existencia

Contributed by Alejandro Nasif Salum, Secretario de Relaciones Internacionales, Federación Argentina LGBT

En la noche del miércoles 9 de mayo el Congreso de la Nación Argentina sancionó la Ley de Identidad de Género y Atención Integral de la Salud para Personas Trans. Si bien es la primera vez que el Congreso reconoce los derechos de personas trans, la norma es probablemente la más avanzada del mundo en este sentido.

A partir de ahora, cualquier persona, sólo con la manifestación de su voluntad mediante una declaración jurada, podrá pedir en el registro civil la modificación de su sexo y nombre de pila en su documento de identidad y en su partida de nacimiento. A diferencia de lo que sucede en otros países, no necesitará de la intervención de ningún juez, ni de un diagnóstico médico, ni de testigos, ni tendrá que esperar un cierto plazo antes de que le concedan el cambio de documentación.

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Argentina Has Passed the Most Progressive Gender Identity Legislation in Existence

Contributed by Alejandro Nasif Salum, Secretario de Relaciones Internacionales, Federación Argentina LGBT

On the night of Wednesday, May 9th Congress of Argentina enacted the Gender Identity and Health Comprehensive Care for Trans People Act.  It is the first time that the Argentinean Congress fully recognizes the rights of trans people, and the rule is probably the most advanced in the world in this regard.

From now on, anyone, just by manifesting his or her will through an affidavit, may request in the Civil Registry the change of sex and name in his or her identity card and birth certificate. Unlike what happens in other countries, he or she will not need the intervention of any judge, or a medical diagnosis, or witnesses, or have to wait a certain period before being granted the change of documentation.

Moreover, both the public health system and private must ensure comprehensive health care for trans people, and will have to cover hormone treatments, sex reassignment surgery or any other treatment they need. There is no need of judicial intervention or diagnosis of "gender dysphoria" or a "gender identity disorder." In this sense we could say that the Argentine State depathologized trans identities.

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Julie Dorf, IGLHRC Founder, Analyzes the Global Impact of Obama's Support for Gay Marriage

Contributed by Julie Dorf, Founder and Former Executive Director, IGLHRC

As an LGBT rights advocate, I have experienced so many proud moments with our president. Our community in the United States can count a number of major achievements during President Obama’s tenure: an inclusive hate crimes law; the repeal of the US military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; and the hugely important decision that the attorney general will longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

So when the rumors started buzzing Wednesday morning that Obama was about to announce his support for marriage equality, it was yet another exciting moment of tangible progress in our country and by our president. When I watched the ABC interview, I was most struck by the weight he gave to his conversations around the dinner table with his daughters, who themselves have friends with lesbian and gay parents. Obama acknowledged that his daughters’ perspectives have helped him evolve: “It wouldn’t even dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently.”

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LGBT Report From The Peoples’ Forum In Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Contributed by Ging Cristobal, Project Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands, IGLHRC

The Ninth Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum, (ACSC/APF), was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at the close of March. ASEANis an intergovernmental network formed to establish economic, socio-cultural, and political cooperation as well as regional peace amongst members. The ten member states include: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The forum, which provides civil society activists a space to engage with their respective governments, included lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) issues for the second time this year. Ging Cristobal, Asia Project Coordinator for IGLHRC attended the forum for the second time around and shares about the experience.

The Struggle Continues for LGBTIQ Rights in the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum
For LGBTIQ activists the ninth convening of the Forum was an uphill climb compared to their first engagement last year. Fewer civil society organizations and individuals participated this year, as many were protesting the process of the Cambodia organizing committee. They claimed the Cambodian committee failed to be transparent in the organizing process and did not adequately consult with the regional committee. Allegedly, this affected not only how local organizers ran the convening but also hindered civil society groups and non-governmental organizations in other ASEAN countries from seeking funds to participate in the event.

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