Category Archives: Official reports and policy declarations

Bangladesh MSM snapshot released at ICAAP Bali

MSM Country Snapshots for 15 countries was developed as a collaborative product of UNAIDS Regional Support Team, the AIDS Datahub and APCOM.The countries are Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Each snapshots portrays the latest  behavioural response data available from the Datahub, with information from the Commission on AIDS , and also included in some key sessions relating to MSM at ICAAP. A one-page Regional Picutre snapshot is also attached to each MSM Country Snapshot.

The Snapshots are designed to inform viewers (particularly those who may have little or no knowledge of MSM) about the reality of MSM in-country, to ensure that they have some related facts and figures, and to help spurn interest in attending specific MSM-related sessions.

The latest epidemiological data, released at the forum held by the Asia Pacific in Bali, shows that epidemics in the region are accelerating at an alarming rate.The risk behaviours among MSM and TG in Asia Pacific combined with the unique social, cultural and economic pressures that influence them create cross-cutting issues that must be taken into account by those seeking to support, educate and advocate for these often neglected communities.

“The vast majority of MSM is Southeast Asia are married or will be married, whether they want to be or not,” said Shale Ahmed of the Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Dhaka, Bangladesh

In addition, a large number of MSM in the region who are sex workers face a double stigma, exacerbated by low access to condoms, drug and alcohol abuse, low levels of education, a high level of mobility and dealing with harassment and violence.

The regional Picture Snapshot


http://msmasia.org/tl_files/news/ICAAP_News/Bangladesh_MSM_Country_Snapshot%20_Aug_2009.pdf

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Sass Sasot at UN: Reclaiming the lucidity of our hearts

UN Speech – Reclaiming the lucidity of our hearts

Opposing grave human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Thursday, December 10th 2009 at 1.15 p.m. – 2.45 p.m

Sass Rogando Sasot, transgender activist, Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)


Links to the entire webcast:

English: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/specialevents/2009/se091210pm2.rm

Spanish: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/specialevents/2009/se091210pm2-orig.rm

Let me begin by expressing my warmest gratitude to the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, and to the coalition of non-government organizations defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Thank you for making this event possible and for giving us this opportunity to contribute our voices to this ongoing conversation for change. Our esteemed participants, beautiful beings, and profound expressions of this Universe, a warm, vibrant, and dignified afternoon to each and every one of you!

Burned at stake. Strangled and hanged. Raped and shot and stabbed to death. Throats slashed. Left to bleed to death. These are just some of the ways transgender people were killed in different parts of the world, in different times in the history of humanity. These are just the tip, the violent tip, of the iceberg of our suffering. I can go on and on, reciting a litany of indignity upon indignity, but my time is not enough to name all the acts of atrocious cruelty that transgender people experience. But what is the point of counting the dead bodies of our fellow human beings, of narrating how we suffer, and of opposing violence against us if we don’t challenge the root of our oppression?

The sincerity of our intention to address the human rights violations against transgender people rests upon the depth of our appreciation of human diversity and the breadth of our understanding of why transgender people suffer these indignities.

The root of our oppression is the belief that there is only one and only one way to be male or female. And this starts from our birth. Upon a quick look on our genitals, we are assigned into either male or female. This declaration is more than just a statement of what’s between our legs. It is a prescription of how we should and must live our lives. It is a dictation of what we should think about ourselves, the roles we should play, the clothes we should wear, the way we should move, and the people with whom we should have romantic or erotic relationships. But the existence of people whose identities, bodies, and experiences do not conform to gender norms is a proof that this belief is wrong.

Nonetheless, even though the truth of human diversity is so evident and clear to us, we choose to hang on to our current beliefs about gender, a belief that rejects reality and forces people to live a lie. This is the belief that leads to attacks on our physical and mental integrity, to different forms of discrimination against us, and to our social marginalization. This is the belief that led to Joan of Arc to be burned at stake because she was cross-dressing. This is the belief that motivated the rape and murder of Brandon Teena on December 31, 1993. This is the belief that led to the stabbing to death of Ebru Soykan, a prominent transgender human rights activist in Turkey, on March 10, 2009. This is the belief that led to the arrest of 67 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia for cross-dressing in June this year. This is the belief that keeps the list of transgender people being harassed, killed, and violated growing year after year. And it is very unfortunate that our legal systems, religions, and cultures are being used to justify, glorify, and sanctify the violent expressions of this belief.

So we question: Is human life less precious than this belief? Is our right to life, to dignified existence, to liberty, and pursuit of happiness subservient to gender norms? This doesn’t need a complicated answer. You want to be born, to live, and die with dignity – so do we! You want the freedom to express the uniqueness of the life force within you – so do we! You want to live with authenticity – so do we!

Now is the time that we realize that diversity does not diminish our humanity; that respecting diversity does not make us less human; that understanding and accepting our differences do not make us cruel. And in fact, history has shown us that denying and rejecting human variability is the one that has lead us to inflict indignity upon indignity towards each other.

We are human beings of transgender experience. We are your children, your partners, your friends, your siblings, your students, your teachers, your workers, your citizens.

Let our lives delight in the same freedom of expression that you enjoy as you manifest to the outside world your unique and graceful selves.

Let us live together in the fertile ground of our common humanity for this is the ground where religion is not a motivation to hate but a way to appreciate the profound beauty and mysteries of life;

for this is the ground where laws are not tools to eliminate those who are different from us but are there to facilitate our harmonious relationship with each other;

for this is the ground where culture is not a channel to express the brutality of our limited perception but a means to express the nobility of our souls;

for this is the ground where the promise of the universality of human rights can be fulfilled!

And we will be in this ground if we let the sanity of our desires, the tenacity of our compassion, and above all, the lucidity of our hearts to reign in our lives.

Thank you!

—————-

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Trans Rights Declaration endorsed by ILGA-Europe in Malta

silvan agius of ILGA europe opens the trans rights conference

Ashok DEB-ILGA-Europe and Trangender Europe held a joint conference on the 28th October 2009 , which also included a social programme in the evening with a performance and an opening of an exhibition. At this meet a Declaration was  proposed that was adopted by great majority of the participants of the Trans Rights Conference in Malta on October 28th 2009.  It was endorsed on by ILGA-Europe and will be used as policy documents guiding the future work of both organisations.

Declaration of the Trans Rights Conference ,

28th October 2009, Malta

We, the participants of the European Trans Rights Conference, yearn for a Europe free from all discrimination(1), where all people are valued equally irrespective of their gender identity and gender expression.  We envision a Europe where people of all gender identities and gender expressions are fully respected and can live freely without any violations to their human rights and institutions’ interferences in their private lives, in accordance with the Yogyakarta Principles(2).  We want a Europe where health insurance funded adequate hormonal and surgical medical assistance is available in a non-pathologizing manner to all those trans people(3) who seek it, and where no trans person is required to undergo any compulsory medical treatment (such as sterilization or gender reassignment surgeries) or a mental disorder diagnosis in order to change legal gender and/or name.

Julia Ehrt presents the Proposed Declaration of the Trans Righs Conference that was adopted later

Commissioner for Human Rights’ ‘Gender Identity and Human Rights’ Issue Paper

We unanimously welcome the ‘Gender Identity and Human Rights’ Issue Paper(4) published by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, in July 2009.  Commissioner Hammarberg’s Issue Paper is a significant step forward in articulating the human rights and equality that national governments should provide to trans people. We endorse all of Commissioner Hammarberg’s twelve recommendations and urge all 47 Council of Europe Member States to implement these recommendations at their national levels, including the implementation of legislation/procedures that allows to change name and gender without compulsory medical treatments, or any form of diagnosis, and including strong anti-discrimination legislation inclusive of gender identity and gender expression.

•We call upon the Commissioner to exercise his influence with the Council of Europe’s Member States to ensure that they tackle any gaps in their legislation and policies with regard to the twelve recommendations in the Issue Paper.

European Institutions
We note the importance of European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950) and European Union gender equality directives and various judgements of the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice, in reducing discrimination against trans people.

We call upon the institutions of the Council of Europe and the European Union to:

• Monitor the implementation of case-law and gender equality legislation vis-à-vis trans people
• Make sure that future gender equality legislation expressly includes gender identity and gender expression
• Outlaws any form of discrimination against all trans people explicitly.
• Clearly include measures addressing trans equality issues within gender mainstreaming measures; funding programmes; and including the multi-dimensional gender identity and gender expression in internal and external policy
• Fund detailed research and data collection on trans equality and human rights issues
• Consult and involve trans equality and rights organisations in European gender equality and human rights policy development

the proposed declaration that was adopted later at the conference

Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

We note with particular concern the high murder rate and violence against trans people across Europe.  Often the police fails to investigate cases of hate crime and killings of trans people and no adequate prosecution of the perpetrators takes place. In addition trans related hate crimes are hardly documented and monitored.

Additionally, trans people with migration background and trans sex workers are especially vulnerable and face multiple forms of discrimination as well as social exclusion and economic hardship.

• We call on participating States of the OSCE to enact hate crime legislation fully inclusive of trans people.
• We call on participating States of the OSCE to ensure safe detainment and contact with their communities for trans prisoners.
• We call upon the OSCE to monitor and urge for investigation of murders of trans people as hate crimes.

Social Partners: Trade Unions and Employers’ Organisations

We are concerned with the high level of discrimination that many trans people face in access to, and retention of employment.  This frequently leads to poverty and severe negative repercussions on their lives and health.  A disproportionately high number of trans people get fired when their transgender status becomes known to their employers (e.g. when starting a process of gender transition, when being visibly gender-non-conforming, etc.).

• We call upon the social partners to proactively undertake joint initiatives with trans and LGBT organisations to reduce trans discrimination and harassment at the workplace, and to implement workplace policies which uphold trans workers’ dignity.
• We call upon the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its members to implement the eleven actions and activities that the ETUC outlined in its Executive Committee’s Resolution on LGBT rights of 2008.(5)
• We call upon employers’ organisations to tackle the issue of discrimination against trans people in promoting diversity with their members, and to highlight how current equality legislation applies to trans people.

opening of the serious game exhibition

National equality bodies

We note the importance of national equality bodies in tackling discrimination against trans people through enforcement of gender equality and anti-discrimination legislation at national level.  The Fundamental Rights Agency’s social situation report6 shows that national equality bodies are currently not sufficiently including trans issues in their work. We therefore call upon national equality bodies to:

• Be pro-active in enforcing anti-discrimination legislation to improve trans equality and human rights.
• Monitor the implementation of case-law and gender equality legislation vis-à-vis trans people.
• Include trans people in gender mainstreaming measures
•Produce guidance on trans-rights and equality.
•Support trans people in taking forward cases of discrimination to courts and/or respective entities.
• Make sure that future gender equality legislation expressly includes gender identity and gender expression.
• Research, collect and publish data on trans equality and human rights issues
• Consult and involve trans equality and rights organisations in national gender equality and human rights policy development.
World Health Organisation (WHO)   We observe with great concern that trans identities are still pathologized and considered a mental health condition.  Given its strong implications on the living of trans people in Europe we therefore demand the removal of gender identity disorder from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
• We call upon the World Health Organisation to safeguarded the human rights of trans people in the current revisions of the ICD 10 and DSM IV.
• We call for an alternative non-pathologizing category in the ICD 11, which establishes quality standards for medical treatments ample to support the gender expression of trans people.  No national or international health institution shall render transgender identities as mental health disorders.  They should nonetheless enable access to hormonal, surgical and or psychological medical assistance to be provided to those trans-people who seek such assistance.

Serious Game Exhibition

Finally, we ask Transgender Europe (TGEU) and the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) to continue lobbying for full trans equality and rights on a European level and call upon TGEU, ILGA-Europe and national trans organizations to work together for the implementation of Commissioner Hammarberg’s recommendations throughout Europe.  We call strongly all Member States of the Council of Europe to take active steps safeguard the human rights of all people explicitly including trans people.

1 Discrimination against trans people in Europe has been widely documented in both Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Member States: Part I – Legal Analysis (2008) http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/material/pub/comparativestudy/FRA_hdgso_part1_en.pdf and Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States: Part II – The Social Situation (2009) http://fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/attachments/FRA_hdgso_report_Part%202_en.pdf

2 Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2007) http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/

3 Trans people (as used above) includes those people who have a gender identity which is different to the gender assigned at birth and those people who wish to portray their gender identity in a different way to the gender assigned at birth.  It includes those people who feel they have to, or prefer or choose to, whether by clothing, accessories, cosmetics or body modification, present themselves differently to the expectations of the gender role assigned to them at birth. This includes, among many others, transsexual and transgender people, transvestites, cross dressers, no gender, multigender, genderqueer people.

4 Human Rights and Gender Identity Issue Paper (2009) https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1476365

5 ETUC actions and activities on promoting equal rights, respect and dignity for workers regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity (2008)

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They want us exterminated: A report on persecuted Iraqi gays by HRW

Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq

August 17, 2009

This 67-page report documents a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009. The killings began in the vast Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, and spread to many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen have promoted fears about the “third sex” and the “feminization” of Iraq men, and suggested that militia action was the remedy. Some people told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing.

Get the Report

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Asia: National Human Rights Institutions Promote Human Rights of LGBT People

Crossposted from ILGHRC website

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/958.html


08/10/2009

ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 12 19.32

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have the potential to serve as gatekeepers for the advancement of human rights in their countries. They are considered the “cornerstones of human rights protection systems.” 1

On May 5-7, 2009, nine NHRIs of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) made history when they gathered for a workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to consider the role of such institutions in the protection and promotion of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. They were from Australia, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Palestine, Republic of Korea and Thailand, reflecting the breadth of the Asia Pacific region, with its wide political, economic, religious and cultural diversity.

The outcome of the workshop was a consensus statement that lists several actions that NHRIs can take to use their mandates and powers to address discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, including the promotion and adoption of the Yogyakarta Principles.2

Grace Poore, IGLHRC’s Regional Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands was invited by the APF to present a paper at the workshop. She noted, “LGBT people who experience violence and discrimination lose several inter-related rights such as freedom of expression, personal security, and effective legal remedies. They face intersecting discriminations, often held in place by interlocking barriers from multiple institutions—such as legal, medical, law enforcement, judicial, education, religion, family, etc. Abuses against LGBT people frequently involve both state and non-state violators. The APF and its members can be important partners with civil society groups that are working to change how LGBT people are treated in Asia… It can ensure that its member governments meet the accountability benchmark, thus leading by example to facilitate the progress of human rights for all in the region.” For a PDF version of her paper, click here.

Asia Pacific Forum

Started in 1996, the APF has 15 full members who must comply with the Paris Principles, which require an NHRI to be guaranteed independence and autonomy from the government, to cultivate a membership reflecting the diversity of that country’s people (plural membership) and to have powers and resources for investigating human rights violations and violators brought to its attention. The APF is likely the only pan-Asian organization that comes close to being a regional human rights monitoring body like the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and the Council of Europe.

Issues relating to human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity were first raised by the APF in 2006. In 2008, the APF Councilors agreed to include sexual orientation and gender identity into the APF work plan, beginning with a regional workshop.

Chris Sidoti, one of the key organizers of the APF workshop, says, “The APF statement affirms the most important principle at the heart of human rights law—all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind. It also ‘deplores all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever they occur.’ It recognizes the widespread violations of human rights that occur in the Asia Pacific region on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Sidoti explains that the APF statement has important implications for the work of national institutions all over the world since it provides a basis for them to examine their work of protecting the rights of LGBT people, and to identify measures they can take to be more effective. “Hopefully, NHRIs in other regions and at the international level will follow the APF’s lead,” he adds.

In addition to the recommended actions for NHRIs, the Yogyakarta workshop also recommended action by the APF itself, such as making sure that laws on the books of its member NHRIs are consistent with international human rights law regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and requesting its Advisory Council of Jurists to review and if necessary recommend changes to laws that are not consistent.
The APF has established a webpage about its work on human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity. All papers from the Yogyakarta workshop are included on this website, which can be accessed at: http://www.asiapacificforum.net/issues/sexual_orientation.

The conclusions of the Yogyakarta workshop will be discussed by the full body of the APF at its annual meeting in 2010. At that time, a decision will be made on whether the APF and its member institutions will recognize the diverse sexual orientations and gender identities of people in the Asia Pacific region, whether it will promote and protect their human rights, and what actions will be taken to implement these commitments. Read the full statement released at the conclusion of the Yogyakarta workshop here.


1- As observed during a March 2008 Internet discussion hosted by HURITALK Human Rights Policy Network about the role of UN agencies and UN country teams in supporting National Human Rights Institutions.2- The Yogyakarta Principles directs national institutions to “promote respect for these Principles by state and non-state actors, and integrate into their work the promotion and protection of the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities.” For more information, see http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.htm.

3- The 15 member institutions of the Asia Pacific Forum are from Afghanistan, Australia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Palestine, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste.

4- Asia Pacific Forum is not to be confused with the newly created ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which has 10 member states—Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—all in Southeast Asia. ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations and is a regional trade and economic bloc with a policy of non-interference in the “internal affairs” of its member states. Four countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia) with national human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific Forum are also members of the AICHR.

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Bangladesh signs a treaty equating Homosexuality to pedophillia

The United Nations

The United Nations

by Ashok DEB

On December 18, 2008, 66 Countries signed a historic statement presented in the General Assembly that affirmed that international human rights protections include sexual orientation and gender identity, condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

On the very same day Syria read out a treaty in response to the  statement previously delivered by Argentina, claiming that there are no legal basis towards non-discrimination of the sexual minorities. This treaty had 57 signatories including Bangladesh, who denounced Homosexuality by equating it to Pedophilia.

In addition this treaty refers to Article 29 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enact laws to uphold the puritan morality and and public behavior by denouncing Homosexuality.

The treaty even hints that persecution and discriminatory legalisation against the sexual minorities should not be interferred by the International community as it falls under the Charter of sovereignty of States and priniciples of non intervention.

This is one of the strongest Homophobic statements I have encountered in recent times. I wonder how could Bangladesh which has a progressive AIDS and STD prevention program could become a signatory to this treaty


Response to SOGI Human Rights Statement, read by Syria – 18 Dec 2008

Mr. President,

I have the honor to make the following statement on behalf of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan*, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan*, Yemen, and Zimbabwe following the statement previously delivered by Argentina, on behalf of a group of member states on Human Rights and the so-called notions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.

On 10 December 2008, the human rights family celebrated the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and once again made an unequivocal commitment to the principles enshrined therein. On that august occasion, we reiterated that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interrelated, interdependent and mutually reinforcing. There was also a universal acknowledgment that in no country or territory can it be claimed that all human rights have been fully realized at all times for all. Member states declared that the full realization of all human rights for all remains a challenge that they shall not shy away from its magnitude.

The principles of non-discrimination and equality are two faces of the same coin. They are indeed cross-cutting principles in the vast areas related to the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. Such principles are well-entrenched in the Charter of the United Nations and internationally-agreed human rights instruments, as they all reaffirm the faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women without distinction.

Mr. President, in this context, we are seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundations in any international human rights instrument. We are even more disturbed at the attempt to focus on certain persons on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviors, while ignoring that intolerance and discrimination regrettably exist in various parts of the world, be it on the basis of color, race, gender, or religion to mention only a few.

Our alarm does not merely stem from concern about the lack of legal grounds, or that the said statement delves into matters which fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of States counter to the commitment in the United Nations Charter to respect the sovereignty of States and the principle of non-intervention. More importantly, it arises owing to the ominous usage of those two notions. The notion of orientation spans a wide range of personal choices that expand way beyond the individual’s sexual interest in copulatory behavior with normal consenting adult human beings, thereby ushering in the social normalization and possibly the legitimization of many deplorable acts including pedophilia. The second is often suggested to attribute particular sexual interests or behaviors to genetic factors, a matter that has been scientifically rebuffed repeatedly.

Mr. President, we affirm that those two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments. We believe that people are not inherently vulnerable but some individuals are made vulnerable due to the socio-economic setting that they live in. It follows that vulnerable individuals and groups are those women, children, elderly, peoples under foreign occupation, refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced persons, migrants, persons deprived of their liberty, and persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, who become vulnerable as a result inter alia of intolerance and discrimination against them.

We strongly deplore all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever†they occur.

We also reaffirm Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right of Member States to enact laws that meet “just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society”.

We recognize that the enumerated rights contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were codified in subsequent international legal instruments. We note with concern the attempts to create “new rights” or “new standards” by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration and international treaties to include such notions that were never articulated nor agreed by the general membership. These attempts undermine not only the intent of the drafters and the signatories to these human rights instruments, but also seriously jeopardize the entire international human rights framework.

We call upon all Member States to continue and step-up their efforts towards the total elimination of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

We also call upon all Member States to refrain from attempting to give priority to the rights of certain individuals, which could result in a positive discrimination on the expense of others’ rights and thus run in contradiction with the principles of non-discrimination and equality.

Mr. President, we urge all Member States, the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations to continue to devote special attention and resources to protect the family as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” in accordance with article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To conclude, Mr. President, we also urge all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to intensify their efforts to consolidate the commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of everyone on an equal footing without exception.

I would like to mention something that Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are not in the list. Thank you, Mr. President.

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United Nations: General Assembly Statement Affirming Human Rights Protections Include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Crossposted from ILGHRC Website

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/957.html

For more information about this historic statement, see the joint press release issued by international human rights and LGBT groups here.

On December 18, 2009, 66 Countries signed a statement presented in the General Assembly that affirmed that international human rights protections include sexual orientation and gender identity, condemning rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The original signatories were Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

On March 18th the United States signed the statement as well.

You can download this statement in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

In response to this statement, Syria read a statement maintaining that there are no legal foundations in international human rights documents to include protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, linking sexual orientation to pedophilia.

Syria read the statement on behalf of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

You can download this statement in English here.

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Israel: IGLHRC Condemns Tel Aviv Shooting

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/955.html

08/03/2009

On Saturday, August 1, 2009, a masked gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on a youth group run by the Aguda, an LGBT community center in Tel Aviv, Israel, killing a young woman (Liz Trobishi, age 17) and a young man (Nir Katz, age 26), and injuring several other young people seriously.

The police have since increased security around other potential targets while government officials, including the Prime Minister, have made statements that significant resources are being used to capture the shooter and any accomplices.

On Sunday, August 2, spontaneous vigils were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beer Sheva protesting the shooting and supporing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Israel. The Minister of Education joined one of these events. Similar vigils have been occurring or are planned in several cities outside of Israel, including London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is greatly saddened by this tragedy and condemns it as a hate crime. We express our deepest condolences to the friends and families of Liz Trobishi and Nir Katz, those who were injured in the shooting, the members of the targeted center, and the LGBT community in Israel.

IGLHRC is concerned for the young people who were forcibly outed to their families when they were injured by the gunfire. We hope that safe spaces in Tel Aviv and all over the country can continue to be ensured for youth to express themselves honestly and without fear.

All people have the right to life, security, freedom of association, and expression. These rights can only be fully enjoyed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Israel – or anywhere else – when the government commits and acts to respect, protect and fulfill human rights for all.

IGLHRC is reassured that the Israeli LGBT community is being protected through additional security and a prompt and thorough investigation of the attack. We also hope that this tragedy will encourage Israelis to come together to address and eradicate the roots of homophobia, which allow these crimes to flourish.

IGLHRC continues to monitor the situation and is in communication with LGBT activists in Israel who are responding to the emergency.

For more information about LGBT issues in Israel click here.

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AIN-O-SALISH Kendra Report on violation of Human Rights on Sexual Minorities: 2008

 

RIGHTS OF SEXUAL MINORITIES

 

It is difficult to assess the extent of rights violations against

sexual minorities and of state and non-state responses in any

year, given the paucity of reliable information. This chapter

therefore begins to articulate the rights of sexual minorities in

Bangladesh in mainstream human rights discourse by mapping

some of the problems faced by the MSM and Hijra communities.

As will be clear from the text below, the nature of available

data is not only limited but also highly gendered, the focus

has been almost entirely on male to male relations.

 

 

Overview

 

For a number of reasons, including cultural invisibility, a general

reluctance to discuss sexuality in the public sphere, and the

stigma attached to non-normative sexualities, information on

Sexual minorities in Bangladesh are quite limited. For that matter,

most human rights organizations, until very recently, have

not considered the subject of sexual rights to be an obvious part

of their mandate.

Problems of categorization complicate matters further. Non normative

sexual practices and identities tend to be quite fluid,

existing within a diverse continuum of sexualities, rather than

being discrete sources of identity.1 Sexuality may not be the

defining feature of identity; non-normative sexualities tend to

exist without being recognized openly or sanctioned culturally

(that is, they are accommodated but not necessarily named by

the dominant culture), and without being associated with a distinct

community or group. With the exception of self-identified

hijras (trans-gender or trans-sexual persons), social identity

and sexual practice do not necessarily coincide.

Paradoxically, the global HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s,

and related anxieties about “high-risk” groups, opened up

spaces for discussion and activism around matters of sexuality.

Although the discourse tends to be somewhat medicalised, it

has increased both visibility and opportunities for mobilization.


 

Legal/Constitutional Protections


 

There is no express legal or constitutional recognition of non normative

sexualities in Bangladesh nor any specific protection

against discrimination for example on grounds of sexual orientation.

Section 377 of the Penal Code introduced by the British

in 1860, continues to be in force and provides punishment for

“carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” a phrase

widely interpreted as criminalizing sodomy. Ostensibly gender-neutral,

it is usually assumed to refer to men.

Notably, Bangladesh has a fairly progressive National Policy

on HIV/AIDs. Issued in 1997, the document upholds the

protection of the rights of persons affected with HIV/AIDS,

including rights to confidentiality and non-discrimination in

health care access and treatment.


 

Recognition of Identities


 

It can be argued that legal invisibility allows for a degree of

flexibility for sexual minorities. At the same time, for some

groups, legal non-recognition can be highly problematic at an

everyday level. Badhon, a community based organization representing

hijras, has demanded state recognition as a third gender,

and Government issued identity cards to affirm their separate

identity. Not being able to ‘prove’ a clear cut gender meant they

were not able to stand in either the male or female queues during

elections or for any other purpose. They also faced problems

with inheritance, as under personal laws, the shares for men and

women differ: as Hijras are not perceived to be either male or

female, and therefore neither son nor daughter, complications

arise with determining their share of inheritance.


 

Arbitrary Arrest and Detention


 

Although there has been only one reported case involving section

377 in the four decades since the independence of Bangladesh,

the existence of this offence is reportedly used by law enforcing

agencies and others to threaten and harass individuals,

and thus inhibit their free exercise of expression and behaviour.2

In fact, none of the cases reported by or to Bandhu (see below)

involved Section 377 directly, although the threat of arrest under

this law may have been invoked. More significant is the abuse of

Section 54 of Criminal Procedure Code and Section 86 of the

Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance (and related provisions in

the police ordinances applicable to other Metropolitan cities)

which are commonly used to harass persons using public spaces.

Indeed, this situation is not very different from that of sex workers

and other socially marginalized groups detained under Section

54 without being shown any cause. And yet, while lawyers

and human rights groups are vocal about the perils of Sections

54 and 86, they have tended to be silent about the specific effects

of these provisions on this community.


 

Incidents of Violence and Harassment of MSM and Hijras


 

Table XXII, drawn from data collected by Bandhu, a support

service organization, indicates the nature of violence and harassment

faced by the MSM (and hijra) population. Underreporting

of such matters is widespread and, presumably, actual

figures are much higher.

 

Table XXII:1 Harassment and Violence on MSM of 2008 (till 16 July)

  

Perpetrator/

Type of Violence

  

 

Police

 

RAB

 

Gangstar

 

 Others

 

Family Members

 

 Total

 

Beating

 

 

   5

 

  

                  9          7              21

Beating and Snatching

 

 

 

  

 

      4

 

   

           4
Forced eviction 

 

  3

 

     1

 

      1

 

   

           5
 Forced sex     1

 

  

 

      1

 

  

 

    

     2
 Suicide        

 

    

 

  

 

      1

 

    1

  Total       9     1

  

         15

  

     1

  

     7

 

    33

 

 

 

 

Bandhu’s records show that physical assault or beating was the

primary form of violence experienced by MSM. Second to

physical violence was rape/forced sex, followed by forced eviction

from public spaces. The main perpetrators of violence are

local thugs or mastans, followed closely by members of law enforcement

agencies, primarily the police. Harassment by the local

population is relatively less common though not entirely absent.

In one reported incident, the taunts and reprimands of family

members resulted in the suicide of an individual.

The justifications for violence directed at the MSM population

signal the dangers MSM, hijras and others face on a daily

basis. An overwhelming majority were attacked for their “feminized”

behavior, that is, simply for challenging socially acceptable

norms of masculinity. Simultaneously, this also apparently

invited and legitimized forced sex or rape – refusing sexual offers

was the second most common reason given for assaults on MSM.

MSM and hijras are in a bind; for once they acknowledge

their sexuality, they appear to lose their right to refuse sexual

offers by overtly “heterosexual” men who feel entitled to the

formers’ sexual services. Extortion and intra-community violence

over the receipts of sex-work is also commonly reported.

Hijras, who are the most openly feminized, face considerable

discrimination in employment opportunities and for many, sexwork

is the most viable source of income since the barriers to

entry are minimal. Social, institutional and legal support for

MSM and hijras are inadequate at best. 3

 

BOX XXII.1: Harassment and Extortion (Names have been changed

to protect the identity of the persons involved

 

 

Anjan had inherited two decimals of land. His older brother, Amjad, put

pressure on Anjan to sell this land to him. Anjan refused at first but was

eventually coerced into signing away the land. After about a month, Amjad

came to Anjan’s house with a group of thugs and evicted his younger

brother and their mother from the premises. When they started to throw

out the furniture as well, local people gathered and protested the action.

Anjan came to Bandhu hoping it would be able to take legal steps to void

the agreement which he signed under duress. Bandhu offered to help Anjan

file a General Diary at the local police station. However, upon hearing

of Anjan’s contact with Bandhu, his older brother retracted from his

original position. He arranged for a mediation session facilitated by local

elites. In a written agreement handed over to his younger brother, Amjad

promised he would no longer pressure Anjan for the land.

While this is not a case of overt legal or social discrimination, it appears

that Amjad felt entitled to his brother’s land because the latter was

“feminized” and therefore not entitled to his legal rights as a male offspring


 

Conclusion


 

There is no research on the incidence of discrimination among

people with non-normative gender/sexual identities. Other than

hijras, the discrimination remains invisible and unstated.

 

1 See Adnan Hossain, Bangladesh Sexual Minorities Encyclopaedia entry and Sharful

Islam Khan et al, “MSM’s Sexual Relations with Women in Bangladesh” in

Culture, Health and Sexuality, March 2005 7(2) 159-169.

 

2 Najrana Imaan and ATM Morshed Alam, Review Paper Analyzing the Existing

Legal and Policy Provisions and Practices with respect to Human Rights in relation

to People Living with HIV/AIDs in Bangladesh, Unpublished paper, ASK

2008.

 

3 See reports on file at ASK received from Bandhu indicating that such requests

for legal assistance involved issues such as violence by a sexual partner, inheritance

claims and pressures for forced marriage.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Comments by Ashok DEB:

For the first time Ain O Salish Kendra have included a separate chapter on the rights of sexual minorities in their annual Human Rights Report. This report is available on Chapter 22, Page 241-244 of Human Rights in Bangladesh, 2008, ASK publication. The editor accepts the severe constraints of high under-reporting of hate crimes and lack of reliable documentations have obstructed in depicting the actual scenario of antipathy towards the different homosexual communities of Bangladesh. This report is based on the data of human rights violation (till 16th June, 2008), provided by Bandhu Welfare Society, the only NGO which runs nationwide welfare programs for MSM and Hijra sex workers. Thus the report primarily focuses on the atrocities and unlawful persecutions committed on these two particular communities only, who are ironically the most visible of all the sexual minorities. A quicker glance on the table XXII yields that a massive third of these atrocities have been inflicted by the law enforcing agencies, while family rejection has driven one soul towards self destruction. It may be appropriate to justify that the actual figures could be presumably much higher as a larger percentage of such crimes goes un-reported.

The concluding words of the report are:

There is no research on the incidence of discrimination among

people with non-normative gender/sexual identities. Other than

hijras, the discrimination remains invisible and unstated.

 

Sadly this report fails to throw any light on the persecutions endured by the Gay and Lesbian community members in Bangladesh due to their cultural invisibility and reluctance to expose their bitter societal approbations towards public scrutiny. Still the gays are being forced into marriages, subjected to psychiatric remedies, electric shock treatments, social boycotts and even evictions from their neighborhoods. The LGBTI defenders who coordinate their activities even at the International level have confessed to conceal their sexuality within family circles. This invisibility has become an obvious setback to stage any resistance towards ending the Anti-sodomy law, hate crimes and discrimination on the sexual minorities. Recently BRAC has pioneered efforts towards meaningful discussions on ending Section 377 (Sodomy Law). Legalizing a harmless practice like Homosexuality and recognizing same sex unions continue to remain a distant dream , due to lack of consensus among the prominent LGBTI organizations over challenging the draconian Sodomy law in courts. The policy of the Government towards recognition of non-normative gender patterns coincides with this very statement of the UPR Report ,FEBRUARY ,2009 which quotes There is a culture of collective denial of the existence of same sex sexualities in Bangladesh a fact perhaps attributable to the dominance of Islamic religious sentiments.” In the recently concluded UNHRC, June 2009, the Government of Bangladesh has declared that ‘SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS INDEED NOT AN ISSUE IN OUR COUNTRY’ which can rightly be equated with by the parable of Ahmedinijad “THERE IS NO GAYS IN IRAN” Truly the ghosts of invisible persecution and blatant societal marginalization will continue to haunt us for times to come.

 

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e-groups a case study: BoysOnlyBangladesh- BOB

 

Internet in Bangladesh was an expensive affair even in the new millennium. Only the privileged upper class y had access to the virtual world.IRC fast became a popular chatting platform where a room for Bangladeshis was created and soon it was a major hub for Bangladeshis worldwide to mingle and giggle. The platform also helped queer Bangladeshis find each other using witty but effective pseudonyms obviously for security reasons.

Owing to the massive popularity and rapid expansion of the internet, local entrepreneurs opened up chatting rooms and the first one to lead that was BDChat. This being a site with lots more facilities, BDChat gained attention in no time and soon people were joining in numbers, which of course included quite a few gay men. These men were scattered and kept in touch only through mobile phones and Internet. There was no gay community as such though a need for unity had been identified. BOB (BoysOnly_Bangladesh) was created on 2nd November 2002 arranging the first ever offline get-together on 7 December. A few brave men who dared to meet in broad daylight in public place. On 25th December 2002 BOB was deleted by Yahoo without any warning. BOB was reopened on 4 Jan, 2003 with a slightly different name BoysOnlyBangladesh. BOB remained discreet and went on with its highly guarded get-togethers and it grew slowly but steadily. Since the first get-together there has been at least one get-together every month with more and more people attending. The security concerns increased in parallel to this expansion.

Initially membership was restricted and people could join only by invitation. The moderators invited people they knew from chatting rooms, dating websites and through other people. The group was listed under the adult category and could not be found by a regular search. Even after invitation if a member wanted to join, he had to go through a formal procedure of writing an application to the moderators giving a brief introduction, a name (not necessarily a real one), age, location and how he got to know about the group. Only after getting a filled out application, would moderators approve an application. This was done because of the obvious security concerns.

In 2006, a new management team was formed who decided to radicalize the BOB by changing the membership system and becoming more visible. And the result was overwhelming. In just a month, the number of members reached a whopping 600+ from 300. The offline events also got bigger and better. Parties were introduced along with regular film shows, river cruise, picnics etc. A new permanent “hangout” was also selected where we all would meet together at a particular time of a particular day and eventually this became a common place to meet. The idea was to create an option for people just to drop by and have a casual fun meeting. Visibility became a new strategy.

BOB members were already forming friend groups among themselves and were meeting outdoors quite bravely. They were more comfortable with their sexuality and weren’t afraid to flaunt it publicly. A community, a sense of belonging was ultimately formed giving the strength and inspiration to move forward.

The risk of becoming visible was taken and it turned out to be positive. As a part of security plan for this visibility BOB started sending letters to the daily news papers talking about gay issues. The response was mixed with some great support and extreme criticism. Safe sex campaign was also initiated and lots of members were encouraged to go for voluntary HIV testing. As a result, in 2006 BOB had a meeting with the then country representatives of UNAIDS and facilitated a survey on sexual diversity carried out by ASK.

After the country went into emergency rule with recent caretaker govt. coming into being, BOB ceased all its regular activities to avoid any negative reactions. 2007 saw no offline events and the year went by without any activism. The political situation didn’t even permit heterosexual parties. In 2008 when the political situation stabilized, BOB revived its regular parties and started organizing get-togethers. On May 17th 2008, BOB celebrated the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) launching its logo and plans for future events. It was the first event where BOB appeared openly as a gay group with the approval of the restaurant. For the first time a public venue recognized BOB and its crowd. With pride we displayed our logo and rainbow symbol all over the venue.

In these years lots of other e-groups have been formed with different promising slogans, but none of these groups have managed to survive. The initial careful steps helped BOB a great deal to gain the trust of its members and to be at the position it is now. BOB plans to stick to the strategic approach and move forward cautiously for days to come.

 __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Comments by Ashok DEB:

This manual for the Protection of LGBTI Defenders has been adapted from the New Protection Manual for Human Rights Defenders Researched and written by Enrique Eguren and Marie Caraj, of Protection International (P I). This manual has been produced for the benefits of the Human Rights Defenders and can be produced, quoted and photocopied for non-commercial purposes as long as the source is acknowledged.

You can download this manual (English Version) from this following link:

http://www.protectionline.org/spip.php?article7912

The case study on BOB, e-groups a case study: BoysOnlyBangladesh- BOB appears on page 109 in the hard copy of the Protection Manual for LGBTI Defenders. However,that very page 109 is strangely missing across the downloadable version of the manual.

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Yogyakarta Principles

The Yogyakarta Principles

In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a distinguished group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. They promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfil that precious birthright.

The Principles are presented here in all six United Nations languages.

http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org

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Official IDAHO Report – 2009

May 24, 2009 

 

 

Forwarded by Peter Tatchell on behalf of IDAHO

Official IDAHO Report – 2009

17 May 2009 – International Day against HOMOPHOBIA & TRANSPHOBIA

MEDIA RELEASE

The fifth International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, an initiative launched on May 17th 2005 by activist Louis-Georges Tin, saw an amazing outburst of activities around the world. The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) Committee reports on its global site www.idahomophobia.org.

“Actions were reported in more then 50 countries”, said Joel Bedos, coordinator of the IDAHO Committee, the NGO promoting the Day worldwide. “This shows just how strong the global movement is.”

ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, a world-wide network of national and local groups with more than 700 member organisations from every continent and representing 110 countries, has been involved in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with the IDAHO Committee since it was launched in 2005.

“We chose this Day,” say Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini, ILGA’s Co-Secretaries General, “to launch the third edition of the World Report on State Sponsored Homophobia. With this report ILGA wants to name and shame the States which at the end of the first decade of the 21st century still treat their LGBTI citizens like lesser persons, unworthy of consideration.

“The actions undertaken by activists and the majority of our members all around the world on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia have been an important occasion to remind civil societies and Governments of the situation of lesbians and gays in 80 countries in the world, where homosexuality is considered a crime and of the fact that in 5 of them, i.e. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Mauritania and Yemen, homosexuals risk the death penalty. ILGA is now working on a State sponsored transphobia report, which we hope to publish by November this year.”

Nicolai Alexeyev, organiser of Slavic Pride in Moscow, speaking after his release from a Russian jail said, “We launched the first Moscow pride and the first IDAHO international conference in 2006 with Louis-Georges Tin, who was with us, on the streets confronting homophobic attacks.

“Since then, we have always been together, working for equal rights in the world. IDAHO breaks down isolation, makes people feel stronger, and sends a powerful signal to all homophobes and transphobes around the world that they are facing not just a handful of activists but millions of people across the globe.”

This ambition to get activists in different countries together is Joel Bedos’ main driving force.

“This year we have got a really large alliance of major regional and international NGOs, including ILGA’s Trans secretariat of course, together to launch a large international campaign against Transphobia. The appeal has been signed by 300 organizations in more than 75 countries, 3 Nobel Prize winners and many international institutions and celebrities and we are now launching it on our websites for citizens all over the world to join in with.”

Most amazingly, this campaign already has led France to announce an historic decision to become the first country in the world to stop classifying Trans people as ‘mentally disordered’ as the World Health Organisation’s guidelines still demand. Also, on May 15th, the Dutch parliament organised a conference on LGBTI rights, celebrating IDAHO, and the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, Maxime Verhagen announced that the Government will change the law that still requires transgender people to undergo irreversible surgery before granting them a new identification document. He acknowledged that the current law violates principle 18 of the Yogyakarta principle: the right to be protected from medical abuses.

The report, presented on Saturday 16 May at the Axel hotel in Barcelona with the help of Coordinadora Gai Lesbiana and former ILGA co-Secretary General Jordi Petit, was prepared by Daniel Ottosson. The report and a map showing the results of the study at a glance can be accessed on www.ilga.org.

“Such an international campaign is one of the added values of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and we are glad that the IDAHO Committee has provided the initial impulse. It has galvanised us into action and helped us to network with other Trans organisations in other countries. We are definitely stronger together” says Liesl Theron from Gender DynamiX, a South African Human Rights organization promoting freedom of expression of gender identity in Africa.

The IDAHO committee hopes that the Campaign against Transphobia will be just as successful as the one that it launched back in 2006 when an international petition calling “for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality” drew incredible support from several Nobel prize winners, many high profile politicians, actors, intellectuals, etc, and contributed to the French government taking the initiative that resulted in last year UN Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity -a historical achievement indeed.

On this year’s International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, the French, Dutch and Norwegian governments organised a World Congress to follow up on this Statement, with a very active participation of the IDAHO Committee along other civil society actors. This congress got many activists from all over the world to meet and strategise the future.

Getting people around the globe together is indeed a shared passion. Kenneth Tan, founder of the first social gay and lesbian network Gays.com, is a happy man: “The community based video that we did this year in partnership with the IDAHO Committee has already been watched by 200,000 people. The idea was to get individuals from a lot of different countries to come out and say they were proud. The result is exactly what the Day means: a celebration of both diversity, because we are all unique, and unity, because there is something that links us all together.”

Diversity is certainly the motto: In mainland China, a bike rally celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, while in Hong Kong, the IDAHO Coalition protested against homophobia in front of the Government Headquarters. Says Connie Chan, who has been coordinating actions in Hong Kong for many years: “The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia Committee and participating organisations around the world have given us inspiration and momentum for action.”

Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK Coordinator said “In the UK we now have over 100 events and initiatives to mark IDAHO -in 2005 we had five. It is very exciting to see this network get bigger and bigger and to see the very broad support it now receives in the UK”.

While marchers took it to the streets in all major Turkish cities, UK police stations flew the rainbow flag. While in Cameroon, brave activists faced the hostile crowd on a radio programme, a Church service to mark IDAHO was held in Belfast’s oldest church. Iran’s gay students wrote an open letter to the Students’ Union, and in Singapore, the Pink Dot festival was the first-ever event to speak openly about gay and lesbian rights.

The Council of the EU, in a historic statement published on May 17th, declared “Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is incompatible with the basic principles on which the UE is founded”. In a surprisingly progressive move, this Statement was supported by countries outside the EU such as Turkey and Ukraine.

“Everywhere we see things moving. Even in Russia where the IDAHO Committee co-organised the first Pride in 2006, things will change. This is why we created this Day in 2005 and we are so happy to see all these actions take place around the globe. We hope that the sum of all these individual energies will increasingly be visible to the world. Because we are so many and so full of hope and energy, that we can really change the world,” says Louis-Georges Tin.

Press contact

Louis-Georges Tin

IDAHO Committee

lgtin@idahomophobia.org

Protests on the 2009 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – 17 May

A FEW EXAMPLES…

CHINA & HONG KONG · “Love is not a crime, hate is not a family value” chanted IDAHO coalition marchers as they headed to the Governments Headquarters demanding equal rights for LGBT people.

They called for legislation outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and for same-sex couples to be included in the law on domestic violence. Spokesperson Connie Chan reports: “Protesters laid down in a symbolic die-in action to signal their disappointment at the treatment they get from the Hong Kong authorities.”

In the meantime in Beijing, organisations Common Language and Aibai Culture and Education Center organised “Rainbow in Motion”, the Beijing Multi-campus Bike Ride to celebrate gay pride, raise awareness of LGBT rights and introduce IDAHO to the LGBT community and general public of mainland China.

FRANCE · In France, hundreds of events where organised all over the country, where IDAHO enjoys a growing visibility. In Paris, Trans People from all over the world joined French Trans activists and LGBT organisations to “Shout Out against Transphobia”. On that day, the Health minister announced that France would be the first country to officially stop applying WHO classification of Trans People as “mentally disordered”. 27 cities organised debates, film screenings, parties, exhibitions and other political and cultural events, including a National Conference on Transgender and Transexual issues at the French Parliament.

TURKEY · Hundreds of people marched in Ankara and other major cities in the country for LGBT rights. Homophobia and Transphobia have risen dramatically over the last year with dozens of people brutally murdered and police harassment is growing.

ILGA · The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association published on IDAHO the third edition of its report on State Sponsored Homophobia.

The report surveys legislations criminalising consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private over the age of consent in all countries in the World. With this report ILGA wants to name and shame the States which at the end of the first decade of the 21st century still treat their LGBTI citizens like lesser persons, unworthy of consideration.

UK · Amongst many initiatives across the country, dozens of police stations raised a gay rights banner to mark a day of action against homophobia. The organisations raising the rainbow flag high were taking part in The Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s “Flying the Flag” campaign. In London, an IDAHO party launched Day in Hand community project. This campaign’s aim is to inspire and support same-sex couples who want to hold their partner’s hand in public.
www.adayinhand.com

EUROPEAN UNION · To mark IDAHO, the European Union issued a strong statement calling for renewed mobilisation against homophobia and transphobia.

The Statement, warning that “discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity is incompatible with the basic principles on which the UE is founded”, was also supported by other States, including Turkey and Ukraine, two countries who did not sign up to the UN Statement last December supported by now 67 countries and calling States to fights discrimination on these grounds.
www.consilium.europa.eu

SINGAPORE · IDAHO 2009 went down in History as the Pink Dot festival united a 2500-strong crowd celebrating the freedom to love. The organisers of the event, pinkdot.sg, say the event was held to commemorate love in all forms and between people of every orientation. The city-state still has a ban on homosexual sex that has been in force since its colonial days under the British. According to Jack Soh of pinkdot.sg, “It was not a protest or a political rally. The event was for Singaporeans in general – to affirm our respect for diversity and the freedom to love, regardless of sexual orientation.” http://www.pinkdot.sg

TRANSPHOBIA · 300 organisations from 75 countries, 3 Nobel Prize winners and intellectuals, artists, politicians from many countries ,supported the International Appeal against Transphobia and for the Respect of Gender Identity launched by a group of large regional and international Human Rights and LGBT Rights organisations. The Appeal was launched on the eve of IDAHO and is now opened to signatures by the public.

A FEW MORE EXAMPLES…

INTERNATIONAL · To coincide with IDAHO, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the World Congress on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. This congress originated from a joint decision by the French, Dutch and Norwegian governments. Its aim was to reflect on future strategies to take the LGBT agenda forward within the UN. Ministers from 15 countries, including 3 African countries, and more than 80 representatives from NGOs from all World regions debated during the day-long congress to elaborate recommendations for all stakeholders.

RUSSIA · Once again Gayrussia tried to organise a Pride march in Moscow on IDAHO. This year, the date coincided with the Eurovision song contest in the Russian capital, which drew increased media attention on the event. In spite of much public attention and support, Moscow authorities cracked down on demonstrators and arrested many members of the group. Gayrussia founder Nicolai Alexeyev promised to hold on to the slogan “Gay Equality; No Compromise” and plans actions for IDAHO 2010.

More information on www.idahomophobia.org

BACKGROUND to IDAHO

In August 2004, Louis-Georges Tin, a French university lecturer, campaigner for Black and LGBT Rights, and chief editor of the Dictionary of Homophobia launched an appeal for a universal recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). He proposed that this day be fixed on May 17th, to commemorate the World Health Organisation decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.

By May 17th 2005, as a result of a year long campaigning effort, 24000 people worldwide and reputed international organisations like ILGA, IGLHRC, the World Congress of LGBT Jews, the Coalition of African lesbians, to name but a few, had signed the IDAHO appeal. In May 2005 already, IDAHO saw some action take place in more than 40 countries in the world. The first LGBT events ever were organised in Congo, China, Bulgaria. Josepp Borrell, President of the European Parliament made a statement supporting the IDAHO and invited Tin to the conference the EU Parliament organised for IDAHO 2006.

By that time a new campaign had been launched by the IDAHO Committee calling “for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality” and on May 17th 2006 it had attracted support from several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo, José Saramago), artists (Merryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie), intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bernard-Henri Lévy), NGOs (ILGA, FIDH), politicians, etc…

In July 2006, the Montreal Conference on LGBT Human Rights, organised in the wake of the Outgames, included in its final declaration a strong recommendation to all Governments to recognise May 17th as the International Day against Homophobia.

For IDAHO 2007, the IDAHO committee and Gayrussia co-organised the first GayPride in Moscow, preceded by an International IDAHO conference that brought together many activist, organisations and politicians from around Europe and North America.

At that time, IDAHO had been officially recognised by the EU Parliament, Belgium, the UK and Mexico and organisations in more than 50 countries in the world celebrated IDAHO. Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Luxemburg soon joined the list of countries officially recognising the Day.

On IDAHO 2008, as a result of the actions coordinated by the IDAHO committee, the French Government also recognised IDAHO. Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, announced France’s intention to launch a UN initiative towards the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

During the second semester, Civil Society organisations, including the IDAHO committee, ILGA, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, ARC international, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and many other groups from the global South and East worked towards this initiative that eventually resulted in the December 2008 UN Statement read at the General Assembly by Argentina and supported by now 67 countries. This UN Statement was one of the elements in a long strategy of LGBT advocacy at the UN, a strategy that was discussed on IDAHO 2009 at the World Congress against Homophobia and Transphobia, that the IDAHO committee, as part of a central working group, helped shaping.

ENDS

UPLOAD MEDIA BRIEFING IDAHO 2009

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