24 Jan 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on LGBTI Rights


New research reveals how the marriage equality debate damaged LGBT Australians’ mental health
The Conversation, 23 Jan 2019

Although Australia has now achieved marriage equality, the topics of sexuality and gender identity continue to spark heated – and often discriminatory – public debates.

Most recently, the issues of religious freedoms and anti-discrimination laws, the Safe Schools program, and gay conversion therapy have dominated public and political discourse.New research has suggested that such divisive debates have the potential to harm the mental health of LGBT people. These findings come from our nationwide study conducted during the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey in 2017.

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Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Gets a Boost
The New York Times, 23 Jan 2019

The Supreme Court has decided that it’s so vital to let President Trump keep transgender people out of the military that it has allowed his ban on their service or enlistment to go forward before even hearing arguments on the validity of his discriminatory decision.

The president announced the ban on Twitter in July 2017, surprising even the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his own defense secretary. The Pentagon later tried to get around injunctions that prevented the ban’s implementation by reverse-engineering the policy to suit Mr. Trump’s demands. In a pair of orders on Tuesday, the court blocked two of those injunctions.

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Angola Decriminalizes Same-Sex Conduct
Human Rights Watch, 23 Jan 2019

Angola has finally shed the divisive “vices against nature” provision in its law, widely interpreted to be a ban on homosexual conduct.

Taking things one step further, the government has also prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation. And so anyone refusing to employ or provide services to individuals based on their sexual orientation may face up to two years in prison.

The changes came on January 23 as Angola’s parliament adopted its first new penal code since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975 and removed the provision, inherited from its Portuguese colonizers.

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Activists: Chechen Authorities Order Families to Kill LGBT Family Members, Also Pay Ransoms
The Daily Beast , 18 Jan 2019

Russian campaigners have told The Daily Beast that Chechen authorities have ordered people to kill LGBT members of their own families, and have demanded ransoms for the release of detained LGBT relatives.
According to reports, at least 40 people have been arrested in the last two to three weeks, many of them tortured, in a new crackdown against LGBT people in Chechnya. Two gay men have reportedly died following torture.
“Chechen authorities demanded that relatives punish their gay family members by executing them,” one of the St. Petersburg volunteers for the Russian LGBT Network, who did not wish to be named, told The Daily Beast. “Several people who managed to escape have been raped with police clubs and tortured with electricity.”

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Court Decisions on LGBT Rights Echo ‘A Wild Wish’
Human Rights Watch, 17 Jan 2019

More than two centuries ago Mary Wollstonecraft laid the foundations for feminist thought with a simple premise: lack of equal opportunity diminished individual self-worth and hobbled social progress. In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft made a “wild wish” for equality between the sexes. When women are treated as less than equal in law and society, she argued, it affects not only the practicalities of everyday life, but encroaches on autonomy, dignity and agency.

Her arguments apply today to people marginalized by prevailing social norms, including those who do not conform to sexual and gender stereotypes. It is these same issues – autonomy, dignity, equality and agency – that were addressed in 2018 in three landmark court judgments in India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

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