Friday, February 27, 2015

World Professional Association for Transgender Health, WPATH Statements on Identity Recognition & Legal Recognition of Gender Identity

WPATH already opposes surgery or sterilization as requirements to change legal gender, per WPATH’s Identity Recognition Statement, 2010. However, some governments erect many other legal barriers preventing trans people having congruent identity documents. Some of these barriers involve health professionals directly, e.g., examining people and filling out paperwork for court proceedings.

These legal barriers are harmful to trans people's health because they make social transition more difficult, put congruent identity documents out of the reach of many, and even contribute to trans people’s vulnerability to discrimination and violence. These laws are at odds with WPATH's perspectives expressed in SOC 7 and in our letters advising governments at those governments’ request. The statement, dated January 19, 2015, written by the WPATH Public Policy Committee and approved by the WPATH Board of Directors

WPATH Statement on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity

January 19, 2015

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recognizes the right of all people to legal identity recognition and to identity documents consonant with their gender identity. Further, for optimal physical and mental health, all persons must enjoy the right to freely express their gender identity, whether or not that identity conforms to the expectations of others. Legally recognized documents matching self-identity are essential to the ability of all people to find employment, to navigate everyday transactions, to obtain health care, and to travel safely; transgender, transsexual, or gender-nonconforming status should not preclude individuals from enjoying the legal recognition all citizens expect and deserve.

Barriers to legal recognition for transgender and transsexual individuals may harm physical and mental health. WPATH continues to oppose surgery or sterilization requirements to change legal sex or gender markers. No particular medical, surgical, or mental health treatment or diagnosis is an adequate marker for anyone’s gender identity, so these should not be requirements for legal gender change. 

WPATH Standard of Care 7 recognizes that there is a spectrum of gender identities, and that choices of identity limited to Male or Female may be inadequate to reflect all gender identities: an option of X or Other (as examples) may be advisable.

Marital status and parental status should not affect legal recognition of gender change, and appropriate legal gender recognition should be available to transgender youth. The right to legal recognition of gender extends to those incarcerated or institutionalized. Court hearings create financial and logistical barriers to legal gender change, and may also violate personal privacy rights or needs. Therefore, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health urges governments to eliminate unnecessary barriers, and to institute simple and accessible administrative procedures for transgender people to obtain legal recognition of gender, consonant with each individual’s identity, when gender markers on identity documents are considered necessary.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Amnesty International 2014/5 Report mentions Jamaican LGBT Matters

The latest report from AMNESTY is now available for download. 
Amnesty International’s Annual Report provides a comprehensive overview of the state of human rights in 160 countries over the course of 2014.

The inability of world leaders to deal with the changing face of conflict, including a growing threat from armed group attacks, has left millions of people unprotected and in grave danger, Amnesty International warned as it launched its annual assessment of the world’s human rights.

download HERE

It mentions as usual the LGBT community's struggle and has mentioned the so called promised conscience vote that was missed in April 2014 that was to address the decriminalization of buggery on the duped promise by the Prime Minister. See: 
Human Rights of Most Marginalised Must Be Protected – Portia Simpson Miller at "Justice for All" conference 2014 for more background on the political trick played on us.

Also see: Buggery law conscience vote for parliament soon .............


Consensual sex between men remained criminalized. LGBTI organizations continued to report attacks, harassment and threats against individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, which were not fully and promptly investigated. 

On 14 June a mob attacked a young man at a shopping mall in the town of May Pen because he was allegedly seen putting on lipstick. 

There was no police investigation into the incident. In August, Javed Jaghai, a member of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, discontinued the constitutional challenge he had filed in February 2013 against laws criminalizing sex between men, following the receipt of threats against him and his family. A “conscience vote” by MPs on legislation criminalizing consensual same-sex relations, which the government announced would be held before April, did not take place.

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, 78 countries have laws in effect that are used to criminalize consensual sexual relationships between adults of the same sex.

Other matters:

Levels of homicide remained high, mainly in marginalized inner-city communities, although there was a decrease on 2013 figures. The Jamaica Constabulary Force reported that 699 people had been killed up to 14 September, 15% fewer than in the corresponding period for 2013. 

 Following rising numbers in police killings in recent years (210 in 2011, 219 in 2012 and 258 in 2013), 2014 saw a reduction in the number of police killings according to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), an independent police oversight agency. 

By the end of October, 103 civilians had been killed by police, compared with 220 for the same period in 2013. A number of people were killed in circumstances suggesting that they may have been extrajudicially executed. 

Following the death of Mario Deane (latest news on there HERE) in suspicious circumstances in police custody in August, in September the Ministers of Justice and National Security announced a review of the detention system in order to “develop a strategic response to the issue of the treatment of persons in lock-ups and correctional facilities”. The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act, which is aimed at “disruption and suppression of criminal organizations” became law in April. 

Concerns were raised that this law could be used to
criminalize whole communities by association.
In February a Commission of Enquiry was finally established into the state of emergency of May 2010, when 76 civilians were killed during an operation by the security forces.

The three-person Commission began its work on 1 December. In April the Office of the Public Defender handed over all files pertaining to its investigations into the state of emergency to INDECOM. The files include
the cases of 44 people alleged to have been unlawfully killed by the security forces. Eleven police officers from Clarendon suspected of being part of a “death squad”
were arrested and charged in April by INDECOM. 

They were alleged to have been involved in the murder of nine civilians since 2009. Investigations were ongoing at the end of the year.

Overburdened courts led to continued delays in the justice system. In February, the National Security Minister stated there was a backlog of approximately 40,000 cases. In June, the Chief Justice said that the unavailability of forensic evidence, outstanding statements and ballistic reports, as well as an absence of adequate court infrastructure, human and financial resources, were seriously hampering the
justice system.

also see: 
Mark Wignall on Buggery law review promise was a political sham 2013

Peace & tolerance


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lesbophobia: Woman chased and beaten after being called sodomite

I also want to call this latest case one of butch-o-phobia and there have been a few of them especially in 2014. 

A woman was hauled before the court for reportedly wounding another woman with a bottle after she and her friends chased and beat the victim following a quarrel.

The complainant, who was dressed like a male and sported a ponytail hairstyle on Friday when she appeared in court, received injuries to one of her toes and her left foot after she was hit with a bottle, allegedly flung by the accused, Nikodene Grey of Unity community.

The court heard that on September 8 about 4:00 pm, the complainant was walking on Balcombe Drive when Grey, who was among a number of other women, saw her and shouted out "Sodomite!"

Grey and her friend reportedly started to curse the complainant and during the argument it is alleged that Grey made further disparaging remarks about the complainant.

The complainant, who reported that she was "telling them hot words too" said she was attacked by the group of women.

She ran, but the women caught her and rained several blows on her before she got a chance to escape when a passer-by came to her rescue.

But the group of women, the court heard, chased the complainant to a bar where they began to throw stones and bottles at her.

During the fracas, Grey reportedly threw a bottle which hit the complainant on her toe and foot, causing a wound.

It is alleged that the women continued attacking the complainant, but other people came to her rescue and she managed to get away from the angry group and reported the matter.

Grey was later arrested and charged with unlawful wounding. However, on Thursday when she appeared in court she pleaded not guilty and the case was set back for mention on October 3, awaiting the medical report.

The accused woman's bail was also extended.

Interestingly butch women escaped such attacks in a sense in years gone by and were once considered "one of the boys" in some social circles but what has changed to cause so many attacks on perceived lesbians just due to their masculine attributes is puzzling to me, although the climate may have been influenced by the discourse and deliberations of the sexual offences bill in parliament where church groups continue to conflate same gender sex with abuse/paedophilia with renewed vigour and a well organized campaign and robust funding.

Let us keep on eye on things.

Peace and tolerance


Woman assumed to be a lesbian chopped viciously allegedly by neighbour

* sorry for the late post on this but thought it relevant to share it here, originally a Jamaica Observer story on January 4, 2015. As this story shows the ease at which persons can be attacked (in their homes) just by an allegation.

A young woman was allegedly chopped by her neighbour just over a month ago, and has, since then, been spending most of her time away from her apartment with friends and relatives, because she no longer feels safe at home.

She told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview that it is apparent something is wrong, she just does not know what.

"Apparently she has an issue with me, I don't know what it is really. She is making all kinds of assumptions," the victim disclosed. "Because I live in a two-bedroom house with another female, she is automatically assuming that I am a lesbian."

Questioned as to whether there was any truth to the assumptions, she responded: "But me being a lesbian or not being a lesbian has nothing to do with me being chopped and that's what this is about. My sexuality has nothing to do with it, whether or not I am straight or gay, people can assume; I have nothing to say, no comment on that."

The victim told the Sunday Observer that the matter should now be before the courts, but she is questioning whether it is a situation where her case is being stalled, because when she turned up for the initial December 12 court date, she found out that there was no case file.

The situation came to a head on November 21, according to the victim, when she was involved in a tussle with her neighbour, after which she received chop wounds.

She related that everything started on November 16. She said she got into a scuffle with her housemate, who is also her business partner, after which she turned the music in her apartment on. The victim told the Sunday Observer that she heard banging on her door and when she opened it, her neighbour from the apartment in front of hers was standing there.

She said her neighbour complained that her music was too loud, so she turned it off. She said about 15 minutes later, the security guard for the compound knocked on her door and told her that a complaint was made about her music. She said that she then left the apartment and went for a walk, only to return sometime later and was told that the police had also visited her apartment.

"Nothing happened on Monday. Tuesday evening, usually after work I have school. I wasn't feeling well, so I decided that I was going to wait at work a little bit, until my business partner was finished working; we also work for the same company, that's how we got into business together," she explained.

She told the Sunday Observer that when she eventually got to her apartment, which is on the third floor of the compound's fifth block, she was greeted by a high-smelling substance.

"So I reach for the light and I am slipping at the top of the staircase in front of my door, almost burst my face. I turned the light on and there is gasolene or kerosene oil in front of my door and all over the door, not sure what (substance it was), but some high-smelling substance," the victim stated. "At first, I was thinking 'what the hell', until

I noticed the matchsticks and newspaper pushed underneath the door. So, the paper burnt all the way up under the door and there were probably about six or seven matchsticks at the door."

She said by then she was furious, and contacted the landlord and property manager, as well as informed the security guard. The police were also called to the location. She told the Sunday Observer that people living on her block were also upset because their homes would also have been affected if there had been a fire.

"They were saying we need to have a meeting about what was going on," she said. "I understand that there have been some scuffles that probably the neighbours have overheard from my apartment, and my music."

She said she found the situation stressful and decided to take the remainder of the week off from work.

"So I am doing some business, working on my loan company at home, and a client comes over on Friday. As I was about to go downstairs to let him inside (the building), that's when I noticed some white, powdery substance; apparently somebody was trying to get rid of the scent of the kerosene oil or gasolene, so they had poured some powder-like substance on the handle of the door, on the door, in front of the door.

"So I am trying to push the key into the door and there is now a barrier. I can't lock my door to go anywhere now, so if I have to leave my apartment I have to leave my door open. Now, I am a businesswoman, I have my files all up in my house, not to mention my furniture, my electronics, I can't leave my house open. I am worse upset more than ever," said the victim.

She said that up to that point, no one had heard her 'go off' and things just kept on happening. She said that she went downstairs and spoke to the security guard as well as contacted the property manager who told her the matter would be looked into.

She said she was so upset she contacted one of her friends, who is a police officer, who advised her to contact the police.

"I was on my way upstairs and I was so upset I got to my door and I hit my door three times and was like, 'what the hell is all of this? Mi tyad a this, anybody messing with me need to stop it'," she explained, adding that she might have said an expletive in the process.

According to the victim, it was while she was inside her apartment with her client that she heard talking outside her door. She said she opened her door and saw her neighbour speaking to the security guard.

"My door is ajar at this time. My client is in my house. I head towards my kitchen to get some water," she stated. "About two minutes or so, drinking some water doing whatever I am doing... And I hear talking inside my living room.

"This woman is on her phone and she is screaming at me in my kitchen, and she is in my living room," she shared. "So I am like, 'what the hell, what are you doing in my house, get out my house'. The security (guard) was outside my door, just standing there. So, I went over to my door, still with the bottle in my hand because I was shocked.

"I was walking over to her and the woman grabbed me in my chest, inside my living room, tore my shirt down the middle," she continued. "My first response was to throw the bottle, it caught the security on the shoulder, he was standing behind her.

"A fight started and I kicked her out my house... mi never inna nuh fighting mood, is a bigger woman for me, so I am not going to fight her like that, or the way she wanted me to fight her; granted I did hit her back when she hit me," the victim related.

She said she eventually got control of the situation and told the security guard to hold onto her neighbour. By this time, she said her client, who was inside her house, came outside to see what was happening.

"So the security is holding her and pulling her, but she is pulling me, so it's two people pulling me," she explained, adding that she asked her client to hold onto her. She said her client managed to pull her inside her apartment but the neighbour ran up to the door and they had to brace it in order to lock it.

According to the victim, she later heard banging on her door but by this time she had already contacted her landlord and the police.

"I had spoken to the police before, so at this point the fight was done. I had not got injured or anything; we fought, I had a few scratches, she tore off my shirt, but it was done," she insisted.

"I called the police because I wanted them to come and see what was going on at my door, I was tired of it. She put her hands on me, came into my house and started a fight," she continued.

She said when her landlord, who was coming from Harbour View, got to the compound, some time later, this was when she decided to unlock her door and exit her apartment.

"My client comes out ahead of me, I change my clothes and she is standing over there talking to the security guard, cool and calm as ever," the victim recounted. "And as I exit my door, she reaches for something on her little side table, obviously it was there before, and I just saw her coming and before I could think, my first instinct was to run.

"My client started to run and I started to run and as I entered probably about the first two staircases, I heard the security yell out and I turned around to see her coming down with a cleaver, a chopper... she chop me and it was straight underneath my boob, about a four-/five-inch chop on the left side, and I moved my arm and she chopped me in the back of my neck," she continued to relate. "And she was still swinging and I just ran down the stairs.

"All I know is that I am downstairs and I am feeling warm," she recounted.

She said that the police took some time to get to the location but that when they got there, her neighbour allegedly related another story of the incident.

"So that's how I got chopped. An incident that started on Sunday and ended on Friday, and I did not provoke this woman or trouble this woman any at all," the victim insisted.

She said that when she went to court on December 12, she learnt that there was no case file.

"She was not served a summons to come to court, I was informed after going over to the police station to try to get the file, that there has to be a summons issued. But I am wondering, how does she know of the court date and 10:00 am for the time, how do I know about it, if there was no summons?" She questioned initially. "If proper protocol was not followed, how are we aware of all of these things and what happened to the file?"

The case file has since been found and, according to the victim, attempts are now being made to serve her neighbour with a summons.

"I don't understand what I did to this woman for her to feel like she had the right to come into my house... My mindset is out of place, I wake up at 1:00 or 2:00 am in pain," she disclosed. "I look over my shoulder every sound I hear, she doesn't understand what she has done to me."

She is adamant that she will not stop until she gets some justice.

Friday, February 13, 2015

European Parliament: Include LGBT non-discrimination clause in future agreement with African, Caribbean & Pacific States

Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted a report in which it calls for inclusion of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in a future agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states.

In accordance with the terms of the Cotonou Agreement, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) met four times, in 2012 and 2013.
The 23th session was held in Denmark from 28 to 30 May and the 24th session in Paramaribo (Suriname) from 27 to 29 November 2012. The 25th session was held in Brussels from 17 to 19 June and the 26th session in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) from 25 to 27 November 2013.
Andris Piebalgs, the Member of the Commission with responsibility for development, addressed the Assembly and Members held the customary Question Time with him. The successive Presidents-in-office of the ACP and EU Councils attended the sessions.
During 2012 sessions, nine resolutions and a declaration was adopted. During 2013 sessions, nine resolutions were adopted. Regional meetings in 2012 were held in Lusaka (Zambia) and Apia (Samoa). Regional meetings in 2013 were held in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and in Abuja (Nigeria).
23rd session in Horsens (Denmark)
The 23rd session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly adopted three resolutions prepared by the standing committees:
–       the political impact of the Libyan conflict on neighbouring ACP and EU States
–       price volatility, the functioning of global markets for agricultural products and their impact on food security in ACP countries
–       the social and environmental impact of mining in the ACP countries,
as well as an urgent resolution on the situation in Nigeria with regard to security.
The Assembly also adopted a Declaration on the reform of European fisheries policy and its impact on ACP countries.
The Co-Presidents issued three declarations: the situation in Mali; the political situation in Madagascar; the situation in Sudan and South Sudan.
24th session in Paramaribo (Suriname)
The 24th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly adopted three resolutions prepared by the standing committees:
–         responding to the political and humanitarian crisis in Somalia: the challenges for the European Union and the ACP group;
–         ICT-based entrepreneurship and its impact on development in the ACP countries;
–         the importance of access to energy for sustainable economic development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,
as well as two urgent resolutions on:
–       the situation in Mali and
–       the situation of instability and insecurity in the Great Lakes Region and, in particular, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Co-Presidents issued four declarations: the situation in Mali and in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Millennium Development Goals; beyond the Cotonou Partnership Agreement; and the poaching of African elephants.
25th session in Brussels (Belgium)
The 25th session of the JPA was held in Brussels (Belgium), because Ireland, holding the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, declined to organise it in Ireland despite insistence of ACP and EU Members of the Assembly, hence breaking an old tradition and violating the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement and the JPA Rules of Procedure.
The Assembly adopted three resolutions prepared by the standing committees:
–         the threats posed again by military coups to democracy and political stability in the ACP countries and the role of the international community;
–         the Economic Partnership Agreements – next steps; and
–         human resources for health in ACP countries.
as well as two urgent resolutions on the situation in the Republic of Guinea and in the Central African Republic, amendments to the JPA Rules of Procedure and a code of conduct for members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly participating in election observation missions.
The Co-Presidents issued two declarations on Eritrea and Madagascar
26th session in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
The 26th session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly was held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
The Assembly adopted three resolutions prepared by the standing committees:
–         the respect for the rule of law and the role of an impartial and independent judiciary;
–         South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation: opportunities and challenges for the ACP countries; and
–         the social and environmental impact of pastoralism in ACP countries.
as well as an urgent resolution on the security in the Great Lakes region.
The Co-Presidents issued four declarations on the tragedy of Lampedusa, the crisis in the Central African Republic, the Republic of Madagascar and the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference.
Standing committees: Committee on Political Affairs, Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade and Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment
The three standing committees met four times, both in 2012 and 2013: in conjunction with the four sessions (in Horsens, Paramaribo, Brussels and Addis Ababa) and twice a year (in Brussels) during the inter-sessions. The main role of the Standing Committees is to draw up reports on the issues of mutual concerns, political, economic and social developments that culminate in resolutions adopted at the plenary sessions (a maximum of six reports per year).
Another important role of the Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade is to enable members to monitor the use of an instrument of fundamental importance to the ACP-EU relationship, development cooperation under the European Development Fund (EDF), which helps to redress a democratic deficit as parliamentary scrutiny over the EDF has in the past been notably lacking in ACP countries.
Moreover, the Committees follow up on the implementation of the resolutions by the European Commission which provides for a parliamentary scrutiny and in-depth dialogue on the actions taken.
Due to very low attendance by the members of the European Parliament, ACP members called to reschedule Committee meetings, so that they would not clash with other European Parliamentary business when held in Brussels. The meetings of the inter-sessions were shifted from Wednesday-Thursday to Thursday-Friday, which slightly alleviated the pressure on the interpretation services, but did not lead to an increased attendance of EP Members.
Fact-finding missions
The Bureau of the ACP-EU JPA held a fact-finding mission to the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra (Italy) in March 2012 and a mission to Fiji in July 2012 to assess the progress made by the authorities to return the country to constitutional order and parliamentary democracy.
The Bureau of the JPA organised three fact-finding missions in 2013.
The mission to Mali provided an insight on the fragile political situation and an assessment of the preparedness of the Malian authorities to hold elections.
The mission to Liberia contributed to the political dialogue at the parliamentary level as foreseen in Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement and as suggested by HR/VP Ashton. Discussions with the authorities, Members of Parliament as well as representatives of civil society and international organisations raised issues on good governance, including parliamentary scrutiny on budgetary support and the organisation of the legislature.
The mission to Haiti was a follow-up of the mission of 2010, whose purpose was to verify the status of the reconstruction and political developments, in a country confronted with a political stalemate.
Election observation missions
The Bureau of the JPA also organised two election observation missions, one to the presidential elections of Mali in July 2013 and another to the Parliamentary elections and the second round of the Presidential elections in Madagascar in December 2013.
On 19 June 2013 the Assembly adopted a Code of Conduct for Members of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly participating in election observation missions.
Future developments
Through the quality of its work, the Assembly has succeeded in establishing itself as a key player in ACP-EU relations and cooperation. It has proactively continued to monitor political, economic and social developments in the ACP countries, with a view to promote development goals and the respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including respect for fundamental social rights, democracy based on the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance that are an integral part of sustainable development.
The Assembly has played, and continues to play, a key role in monitoring the negotiations and implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in order to ensure that the outcome of the negotiations respect development and economic objectives as stated in the Cotonou (2000) mandate. In this context, particular emphasis is also devoted to regional and sub-regional integration and cooperation.
APC-EU cooperation is underpinned by a legally binding system and the existence of joint institutions. It is important for the JPA to continue to monitor developments extremely closely in order to ensure that its voice will be heard when considering options and alternatives to be put in place after the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020. Without prejudice to any possible outcome of the ACP-EU post-2020 negotiations, the JPA parliamentary dimension should not be diluted, but it should continue to play its important role in the post-2020 framework.

According to the EP, sanctions should follow for those states failing to respect human rights clauses.

The Parliament also expresses its deep concern over anti-LGBTI laws, as found in the Gambia and Nigeriaand as nullified by the Constitutional Court in Uganda.

Currently, diplomatic, trade and aid relationships between the EU and ACP states are governed by the Cotonou Agreement. The Agreement includes a dialogue on “political issues of mutual concern or of general significance” in joint talks, including “discrimination of any kind” (Art. 8.4), yet fails to mention sexual orientation and gender identity specifically.

The report was adopted with a large majority of 575 in favour, while 64 voted against.

Ian Duncan MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and Member of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), reacted: “In this report the European Parliament has made its position very clear: We do not accept the state-sponsored homophobia as we find it in an increasing number of ACP countries.”

“Over half of the ACP states criminalise homosexuality. It is time to effectively use our relationship with the ACP states to stop this wave of homophobia.”

Isabella Adinolfi MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights and part of the ACP-EU JPA, continued: “When we are faced with the horrific violence people suffer for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex, it is time to reinforce the principle that human rights clauses are universal and non-negotiable.”

“The right to non-discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, can not be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership. It is time to fully acknowledge that.”

Read more from the intergroup site:
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