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terça-feira, fevereiro 23, 2010

Press Release: World Day of Social Justice

Marking World Day of Social Justice, Transgender citizens, supported by SASOD, move to the courts to challenge Guyana’s law against ‘cross-dressing’

Long misunderstood and seen as legitimate targets for discrimination and abuse, transgender citizens used the occasion of the international commemoration of World Day of Social Justice to file a motion against Guyana’s law criminalizing ‘cross-dressing.’ On Friday, February 19, 2010, the notice of motion was filed before the Supreme Court of Judicature for redress claiming, among other relief, to have section 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, Chapter 8:02, invalidated as irrational, discriminatory, undemocratic, contrary to the rule of law and unconstitutional. The law makes an offence of “being a man, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in female attire, or being a woman, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in male attire.”

February 20, 2010, marks the second annual commemoration of World Day of Social Justice, which recognizes, in the words of United Nations General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/62/10), that “social development and social justice cannot be attained… in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” In his message to mark the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon explained that “social justice is based on the values of fairness, equality, respect for diversity, access to social protection, and the application of human rights in all spheres of life.”

The day was chosen to address an act of social injustice against one of Guyana’s most marginalised social groups which took place last year. Transgender persons refer to people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, including cross-dressers, female or male impersonators, pre-operative, post-operative or non-operative transsexuals. Trans people may define themselves as female-to-male (FtM, assigned a female biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly male gender identity) or male-to-female (MtF, assigned a male biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly female gender identity); others consider themselves as falling outside binary concepts of gender or sex.

In a series of crackdowns last year between February 6 and 7, the Guyana police arrested a number of male-to-female transgender persons (MtF Trans) and charged them for ‘cross-dressing’ under the archaic Colonial section 153(1)(xlvii) statute. Unrepresented and completely unaware of their rights, the defendants were detained in police custody over the week-end and then hustled through the legal system. When they appeared before Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson on February 9, 2009, they were further ridiculed and told that they are men not women, before being fined by the learned Chief Magistrate. Seon Clarke, also known as Falatama, one of the persons arrested, said: “It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I felt like I was less than human.” The motion also pleads that the Chief Magistrate was improperly influenced by irrelevant considerations, discriminated against the MtF Trans on the basis of religion, and violated a fundamental norm of Guyana as a secular state. Vigorous and wide-ranging calls within and out of Guyana for the repeal of these discriminatory laws which facilitate such injustices have been ignored by the government.

Since then, SASOD has forged partnerships with human rights interests in the local and regional arenas who have been working collectively and consistently on a voluntary basis over the past year to assist this marginalized group to obtain access to justice for the atrocities endured at the instance of the law enforcement authorities. The 2009 ‘cross-dressing’ crackdowns and prosecutions provided clear illustrations of how discriminatory laws are facilitating grave human rights’ abuses, in spite of the existence of an entrenched regime of human rights protection in the Guyana constitution. Leading the research initiatives to support strategic-impact, human-rights litigation in the region, Tracy Robinson of the University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) based at the Cave Hill campus’ law faculty in Barbados described the arrests and prosecutions as “an unfortunate embodiment of the patriarchal use of coercive state power for no clear or rational purpose,” highlighting the need for law reform to ensure social justice and gender equity in Guyana and across the region.

SASOD has mobilized support from local and regional human rights attorneys to provide representation in what amounts to a ground-breaking constitutional case. According to Dr. Arif Bulkan, also of U-RAP and one of Guyanese attorneys involved in the litigation, “unless the wide-ranging constitutional reforms conducted in 2001 and 2003 are to be dismissed as pure window-dressing, then the emphasis placed on non-discrimination during that process should guide the High Court to interpret the expanded equality rights generously in order to protect one of our society’s most marginalised groups.”

Veronica Cenac, a St. Lucian attorney who serves as the human rights focal point on the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition board of governors, lauded SASOD for spearheading the case. “For way too long, we have allowed abuses against the most affected populations to go unchallenged,” she said, quoting the closing words of the UN Secretary-General’s message: “Lack of social justice anywhere is an affront to us all.”

Man pleads not guilty to murder of trans woman
Leo Fyle, 21, of Laleham Road, Catford, appeared via videolink at the Old Bailey today to plead not guilty to Ms Lauren's murder on November 5th 2009.
Man pleads not guilty to murder of Destiny Lauren in Kentish Town

Schools should not force girls to wear skirts - it discriminates against transsexuals, warns watchdog
Schools which force girls to wear skirts may be breaking the law - because the policy apparently discriminates against transsexuals.
Official guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission says the dress code may breach the rights of girls who feel compelled to live as boys.
Harriet Harman plays down skirt ban in schools
Harperson's plan to ban school skirts
Minister plays down schools ban on skirts
Statement: new trans guidance for public authorities does not ban skirts

Kiss-in contre l’homophobie: aucun incident à Saint-Michel, des lesbiennes et des trans’ agressé-e-s à Notre-Dame
Tout s’est bien passé… ou presque. Près de la fontaine Saint-Michel, plusieurs dizaines de personnes se sont rassemblées ce dimanche 14 février à 14h, à l’appel des organisateurs du kiss-in contre l’homophobie et on a pu voir une bonne trentaine de couples s’embrasser. Les militants extrémistes catholiques, qui avaient menacé de s’en prendre à celles et ceux qui s’embrasseraient – même après l’annulation du kiss-in devant Notre-Dame – ne se sont pas montrés
Violences LGBTphobes sur le parvis de Notre Dame, l’Inter-LGBT appelle les pouvoirs publics à la fermeté

Mujer transexual cantante soprano consigue entrar famoso conservatorio después de lucha
Cuando la mujer transexual, Emily De Salvo, foto, fue a una audición a una de las escuelas de música más prestigiosas de Italia, ésta fue rechazada porque el director no sabía si ponerlo entre los registros masculinos o femeninos.


Finals of the Turkish pressers
For Immediate Release

Turkey: Stop Violence Against Transgender People
Multiple Murders Highlight Inadequate State Protection

(Ankara, February 22, 2010) – The recent murders of two transgender women in Turkey highlight an ongoing pattern of violence and the urgent need for stronger protection measures by the government, four Turkish and international human rights organizations said today in a letter to Turkish authorities.

The groups called on Turkey to remedy the conditions that place transgender people at risk from acts of violence by enacting anti-discrimination protections, instituting programs to combat prejudice and hatred, and repealing laws that provide an opportunity for police to harass stigmatized groups. The letter was sent by Pembe Hayat “Pink Life,” Human Rights Watch, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

“Protecting people and preventing violence means more than investigating after the fact,” said Juliana Cano Nieto, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights program at Human Rights Watch. “Without meaningful government action to affirm their rights and ensure their safety, transgender people in Turkey will continue to live in fear.”

Since November 2008, at least eight transgender people have been murdered in Istanbul and Ankara. The most recent killing was of a transgender woman called Aycan Yener on Feburary 16, 2010, in the Fatih area of Istanbul. Yener, whose legal given name was Feyzi, was killed in her apartment. Her throat was slit, and she was stabbed 17 times. Assailants also stabbed her roommate, Seyhan Özmemiş, 32, who survived. According to Turkish media, witnesses reportedly observed three people fleeing the scene, but no one has been arrested.

On February 8, Derya Y., a 35-year-old transgender woman, was killed in her home in the Altındağ district of Antalya. Police found Derya Y. in her bedroom with her throat cut and multiple knife stab wounds to her face and body.

The targeted killings of transgender women are part of a broader pattern of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey. According to Turkish media, the police found 56-year-old Şinasi Halimoğlu, a gay man, dead on his bed on January 28 with multiple knife wounds to his back and neck.

In the wake of the killings, the police have made efforts to investigate and resolve these crimes. In two of the earlier cases, suspects were caught and prosecuted and sentenced to life in prison, and in two other cases suspects are in pre-trial detention. The remaining murders are being investigated. However, little has been done to protect LGBT people in Turkey, especially transgender people, from future acts of violence, the groups said.

In the letter, the organizations recommended:

Enacting anti-discrimination legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as a legal protection;
Disaggregate statistics on violence figures that show violence against LGBT people; and
Instituting consistent communication between the police and LGBT rights groups.

“All citizens of Turkey, including transgender citizens, are entitled to live without fear of murder or persecution,” said Hossein Alizadeh, coordinator of IGLHRC’s Middle East and North Africa program. “The homophobic killings need to stop, and for this we need the Turkish government to take concrete action to protect transgender people.”

European bodies have called on Turkey, a member of the Council of Europe, and on other states to protect LGBT people from violence. The European Union, to which Turkey is seeking admission, adopted a progress report this month, reminding the Turkish government of the need to safeguard all minorities, including LGBT people. Similarly, in 2009, the commissioner for human rights in the Council of Europe, Thomas Hammarberg, urged all member States to enact legislation that would protect transgender people from attacks and violence.

“The Turkish government should stop ignoring demands by Pembe Hayat and other LGBT’s in Turkey to take measures to stop ongoing transgender killings,” said Kemal Ördek, member of Pink Life. “The Constitution and the Penal Code need to guarantee equality and non-discrimination. The Government in turn needs to stop hate murders against transgender people and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Human rights groups like Pembe Hayat have documented a long history of police abuse in Turkey, as well as violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity by state and private actors. In 2008, Human Rights Watch issued reports on violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and on police violence, including harassment and abuse against transgender people in Istanbul.

ILGA-Europe will visit Turkey in April to assess Turkey’s compliance with its European and international human rights obligations toward LGBT people and to document the violence, discrimination, and other obstacles they face in Turkey. The organization has asked the authorities to discuss proposed measures to address the human rights concerns of the Turkish LGBT population.

“Turkey is witnessing ongoing violence and hate against LGBT people,” said Silvan Agius, ILGA-Europe’s senior policy officer responsible for transgender equality. “The Turkish government’s response needs to address the problems at their roots by tackling the severe stigma against LGBT people, social exclusion and poverty on the one hand, and the culture of gender stereotypes that is driving the violence and hate on the other.”

For more information, please contact:
In Ankara, Kemal Ördek, Pembe Hayat LGBTT Solidarity Association (Turkish, English):
In Brussels, Juris Lavrikovs, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Trans and Intersex Association (English, Russian, Latvian): +32-2-609-54-16
In New York, Juliana Cano Nieto, Human Rights Watch (English, Spanish): +1-212-216-1233
In New York, Hossein Alizadeh, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (English, Persian): +1-212-430-6016
Rights groups slam murders of transsexuals

Transgender men seek end to Guyana dress code laws
A group of transgender men in Guyana have asked the country's Supreme Court to strike down laws that leave them open to arrest following a police crackdown on male cross-dressers.

Two gay men in Malawi have been denied the chance to have their case heard in a constitutional court.

Ugandan UUs oppose anti-homosexuality bill
Unitarian Universalists mobilize opposition to legislation that could make homosexuality a capital crime.

Transgender beauty pageant concludes in Mumbai
In a unique beauty contest in Mumbai, eighteen transgendered models walked the ramp at the grand finale of India’s first transgender beauty pageant.
The contest titled, ‘Super Queen’ was organised by Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, a known transgendered person and activist.
The auditions for the contest took place in 10 cities.

Mujeres transexuales de la India celebran su primer concurso nacional de belleza (Foto)

Gay Pageant Held in Bali
At the Raka Rai Contest held in Sanur, Bali, Surya won the Raka title from the gay group while Ella Agatha was chosen as the rai from the Rai group.

The participants were motivated to join the competition because they wanted to lift the position of their groups among the society and empower them so they would no longer be considered the refuse of the society.
“The winning has automatically made us HIV/AIDS Ambassadors for Bali. Our job is to educate people about the disease,” Ella, who is working at a beauty salon, told VIVAnews on Saturday, February 20. (Photo)

Deaf Trans Conference
The Ontario Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf (ORAD) and The Trans Program at The 519 Church Street Community Centre are hosting the first-ever Deaf Trans Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from March 12 to 13, 2010.

[USA] [Commentary]
Sorry John/Jane Ozimek but 'Transgender' Men Are Not Women
Excerpt: If "transgender realignment" can be a fake solution for individuals, it is also a fake phenomenon for society. And this is the second issue. A man cannot 'become' a woman. He can live 'as' a woman and - happily in our liberal democracies - he is free to do so. But a woman is not a man who takes female hormones and has surgery to remove his male genitals. He remains a man, surgically and chemically altered. Ozimek may demand that Andrea and Rafe call him 'Jane' or 'mummy'. That's a matter for him and his family. But he shouldn't demand that others call him Jane or agree that he's 'become' a woman. Society may be politically correct to to the nth degree - but a woman simply isn't a man with bits chopped off and hormones added.

Vigil honors victims of hate crimes, presses for legislation
Dozens gathered Sunday on the steps of the state Capitol to remember a Sylacauga man murdered 11 years ago and to press for a hate crimes bill protecting people attacked because of their sexual orientation or gender.

EQUAL Empowerment Summit 2010
The EQUAL Empowerment Summit is an exciting day-long event for Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), queer youth and straight allies, and educators across the Kansas City metro area.

Announcing the Keystone Conference 2010: A Celebration of Gender Diversity
Welcome to the Second Annual Keystone Conference, "A Celebration of Gender Diversity," hosted by TransCentralPA in the capitol city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania! You are in store for an informative, inspirational and joyous time among members and supporters of the Transgender community at the lovely Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel.

[SD, USA] [Blog/News]
South Dakota Equality Summit 2010
The South Dakota Equality Summit 2010 was held on Wednesday Feb 17th at the state capitol Pierre. This was the 2nd annual summit on LGBT equality to be held here in SD. The summit had 35 to 40 LGBT people and allies in attendance and was about double of number that was at the 2009 summit. It started at 12 noon and ran until 7:45 pm. Speakers included representatives from nine organizations and groups: the ACLU, Equality South Dakota, The Centers for Equality, The Black Hills Center for Equality, PFLAG, EQSD PAC, The 10% Society and The Dakota T-Girls.

[Puerto Rico]
Causa para juicio por asesinato en primer grado por la muerte de Jorge Steven López
El juez Roberto Angleró, del Tribunal de Caguas, encontró causa para juicio contra Juan “Casper” Martínez Matos por asesinato en primer grado y tres violaciones a la Ley de Armas por la muerte del joven homosexual Jorge Steven López Mercado.