42% of Iranian LGBTI are victims of sexual violence and rape, new 6Rang report finds

62% of Iranian LGBTI experience one or more forms of violence perpetuated by their immediate family; nearly 30% of them experience sexual violence and more than 77% of them physical violence; close to 38% of them are under pressure for forced marriage.


6Rang (16.09.2020) – http://6rang.org/english/2681 – In its report, Hidden Wounds: A Research Report on Violence Against LGBTI in Iran, 6Rang surveyed 230 individuals over a 3-month period. The findings revealed the realities of living in Iran as an LGBTI individual, observing 15% have been victims of sexual violence at school or university, 30% of them have been victims of sexual violence by their peers, and more than 42% of them have been victims of sexual violence in public spaces.


Of the participants, 68% of them indicated that upon experiencing violence, they “rarely” or “never” have or will seek assistance from the judiciary. More than 19% of the participants have been victims of violence and abuse by the police or the judiciary. 29 people have reported being arrested by the police because of their diverse sexual orientation or gender identity. After arrest, more than 28% of them experienced physical and verbal violence and 13% of them experienced sexual violence.


“The results of this survey show that sexual violence and abuse in the family and in public spaces, workplace and educational settings are usually silenced without punishment and accountability for the perpetrators,” said Shadi Amin, Executive Director 6Rang. “This community is even more deprived of the protection of the law and the judiciary than women, and conversely, if they go to the police, they can be subjected to compounded violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or face criminal charges.”


Of the 230 individuals surveyed, 90% live in Iran. Almost half were between the ages of 18-25, with the second most prominent group being 25-35-year olds making up almost 30%. Just over 15% were under 18 and only about 5% over the age of 35. Nearly 15% of this survey was conducted at the beginning of this year and there was no participant who had not experienced some form of violence in the past or continuously until present. Close to half of the participants reported have been a victim of verbal, physical, or sexual violence in school or university. Furthermore, 18% of participants reported experiencing abuse perpetrated by educational facilitators on a regular basis.


The report, Hidden Wounds: A Research Report on Violence Against LGBTI in Iran, portrays a wide range of forms of violence that LGBTI people experience at their workplace, public spaces such as sport centres, and amongst friends and colleagues. 66% of the participants said they never or very rarely confide in medical professionals when experiencing abuse, while 53% described their families as being unreliable and unsupportive. 73% of the 230 respondents admitted to having considered suicide to some extent.


“This situation is a stark reminder of a lack of an up-to-date community of psychologists, psychoanalysts and counsellors who can rely on freedom of expression and shows the responsibility and importance of having such institutions in a society. Lacking these will continue to damage the LGBTI community in a different way everyday” said Shadi Amin.


Hidden Wounds report shows that structural and domestic abuse and violence against LGBTI in all aspects of society continues to target their lives and human rights. LGBTI people also feel that they are not supported by family members, the legal system or healthcare professionals.


Read the full version of Hidden Wounds: A Research Report on Violence Against LGBTI in Iran here.

More than 60 LGBT, intersex people killed in Colombia in first eight months of 2020

Violent incidents rose during the coronavirus as the pandemic heightened prejudice and threw up new barriers to justice, the human rights ombudsman said.


Reuters (15.09.2020) – https://bit.ly/3hSFCwN – At least 63 members of Colombia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community were killed in the first eight months of this year, the Andean country’s human rights ombudsman said on Tuesday, while other acts of violence also increased.


Among those killed were 17 transgender women, 12 gay men, six lesbian women and one transgender man, as well as others whose sexual orientation and gender identity could not be specified, although they belonged to the LGBT and intersex community, the organization said.


Intersex refers to people who have reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not conform to typical definitions of male or female.


The ombudsman, an independent organization that promotes human rights in Colombia, did not immediately include comparative figures from the same period in 2019 as collection of the information started this year.


From January to August, the organization reported 388 cases of violence against LGBT and intersex people, mostly in the form of physical and psychological aggressions, up from 309 cases in the whole of last year.


“During the pandemic prejudice and discrimination have been exacerbated while obstacles to accessing justice in the receiving of complaints increased,” the ombudsman said in a statement.


The organization, which also cited 36 cases of aggression by police officers, called on the government to develop a concrete action plan to stop violence due to prejudice and fight institutional discrimination that affects this community in all areas and spaces.

Disney, Google, Microsoft back trans rights amid fierce British debate

Trans rights have become a contentious issue in Britain as the government decides whether to ease the rules on legally changing gender.


By Rachel Savage


Thomson Reuters Foundation (14.09.2020) – https://tmsnrt.rs/2E0YZpq – Dozens of organisations including Disney, Google and Microsoft weighed into a fierce debate over transgender rights in Britain on Monday, writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask him to support making it easier for people to legally change gender.


Trans rights have become a contentious issue since the government launched a consultation into reforming the Gender Recognition Act in 2018, with opponents saying easing the rules could potentially let predatory men into women-only spaces.


Multinational companies were joined by universities and trans advocacy groups in the open letter to Johnson, which drew 83 signatories. Dozens more, including BP and Unilever, pledged support for trans rights in an online statement.


“We wanted to get this public statement out that says no matter what you’re reading from certain sources, that’s not reality,” said Bobbi Pickard, a BP project manager who came out as trans in 2018 and who spearheaded the open letter initiative.


“Being trans is something that’s a naturally occurring form of human development,” she said. “We all want our employees to flourish in their careers and their lives and trans people should be allowed to do that as well.”


Britain’s government has repeatedly delayed its response to the trans law consultation, and in June local media reported that it was set to scrap plans to let trans people change their gender on birth certificates without a medical diagnosis.


A spokesman for the government’s Equalities Office said in an email that officials were working through the results of the consultation and “will be responding shortly”.


Countries including Ireland, Norway and Argentina allow trans people to change their legal gender without a medical diagnosis, known as “self-ID”.


Prominent figures including “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling have expressed concern that “self-ID” could allow men into women-only spaces such as toilets and changing rooms, endangering women and girls.


Monday’s letter, which was initially sent privately in July with fewer signatories, pledged support for trans staff and urged the government to support the consultation’s findings.


“We all strive to be trans-inclusive organisations and believe that a diverse workforce, including trans employees, offers greater business success,” it said.


“Failing to honour the government’s commitment to implement the consultation findings, and even increasing restrictions on trans people’s ability to live authentically, benefits no one,” the letter added.


Robbie de Santos of Stonewall UK, an LGBT+ advocacy group that helped coordinate the campaign, said numerous companies had got in touch to say they wanted to show the British government that there was support for trans rights.


“Actually that support is not being heard in the mix of the often very toxic social media environment,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

THE NETHERLANDS: Firework bombings targeted Amsterdam home flying an LGBT flag

By Janene Pieters


NL Times (14.09.2020) – https://bit.ly/32BfrXb – A home in Amsterdam Oost twice had fireworks bombs explode in front of it over the weekend. Resident Jesper Raaijman believes that his home is being targeted because of the rainbow flag hanging from his balcony, he said to Het Parool.


“I was sitting on my couch with my curtains open a little when I heard something fall on my balcony and someone running away,” the 35-year-old man said to the newspaper. “I went to see what was going on, and then saw a red flash. I realized I had to get away because the glass may shatter. That didn’t happen, but my flower box was blown up.”


That was around 8:45 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday at 8:15 p.m., another fireworks bomb exploded in front of Raaijman’s home, then on the ground floor.


Raaijman is shaken. “I just hope it stays at that,” he said to the newspaper. He is also worried about the children who play in the area. They could get hurt if there are more attacks.


He, with the rest of the Oostpoort neighborhood, hung rainbow flags to show solidarity with a gay couple in the area, whose rainbow flag was pelted with eggs in two incidents at the end of July. On August 19th, Raaijman’s home was also targeted. A friend looking after his house opened the balcony doors and had rotten eggs thrown at her.


“More attention needs to be paid to this. I think that this must not be possible for Amsterdam standards, that this happens that apparently you cannot have a rainbow flag hanging on your balcony,” he said to the newspaper.


A spokesperson for the Amsterdam police confirmed the two fireworks bomb incidents to Het Parool, and that Raaijman pressed charges. The police’s team focused on anti-LGBTQ incidents is investigating.

WORLD: Oscars reveal new diversity requirements for best picture nominees

Nominees must satisfy two of four key standards addressing onscreen and offscreen representation.


The Guardian (09.09.2020) – https://bit.ly/3hocZra – The Oscars are raising the inclusion bar for best picture nominees, starting with the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.


In a historic move, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday laid out sweeping eligibility reforms to the best picture category intended to encourage diversity and equitable representation on screen and off, addressing gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and disability.


The film academy has established four broad representation categories: on screen; among the crew; at the studio; and in opportunities for training and advancement in other aspects of the film’s development and release. To be considered for best picture, films will have to meet two of the four new standards, the Academy said.


Each standard has detailed subcategories as well. To meet the onscreen representation standard, a film must either have at least one lead character or a significant supporting character be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group; at least 30% of secondary roles must be from two underrepresented groups; or the main storyline, theme or narrative must be focused on an underrepresented group. According to the academy, underrepresented groups include women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people or people with disabilities.


The best picture award, which is handed out to the producers of a film, is the one category every film academy member can vote for. This year, the South Korean film Parasite became the first non-English language film to win the award. All other categories will be held to their current eligibility requirements.


“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them,” said David Rubin, the Academy president, and CEO Dawn Hudson in a written statement. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”


The second category addresses the creative leadership and crew composition of a film. In order to meet the standard, a film must have either at least two leadership positions or department heads be from underrepresented groups and at least one be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group; at least six other crew members be from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups; or at least 30% of crew members be from underrepresented groups.


The third category deals with paid internship and apprenticeship opportunities as well as training opportunities for below-the-line workers, and the fourth category addresses representation in marketing, publicity and distribution teams.


Films will submit confidential inclusion standards forms, but they will not be required for best picture hopefuls for the 94th and 95th Academy Awards.


The inclusion standards were developed by a taskforce led by academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos and in consultation with the Producers Guild of America. They took into account diversity standards used by the British Film Institute and the British Academy of Film and Television Awards.


These changes will not affect the 93rd Academy Awards, although the academy has had to make alterations because of Covid-19’s effects on the movie business, including pushing the ceremony back two months to 25 April 2021 and allowing films that debuted on streaming services to be eligible for best picture.

Indonesia: Investigate police raid on ‘gay party’

Authorities exploiting pornography law to target LGBT people.


HRW (07.09.2020) – https://bit.ly/3ih5WBR – The Indonesian government should urgently investigate a police raid on a private gathering of 56 men in Jakarta that highlights the threat to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. On August 29, 2020, police forcibly broke up a party at a hotel, arresting nine men and charging them with the crime of “facilitating obscene acts” and under the pornography law, which discriminates against LGBT people.


The charges violate the rights to privacy, association, and equal protection of the law and should immediately be dropped.


“This latest raid fits into a disturbing pattern of Indonesian authorities using the pornography law as a weapon to target LGBT people,” said Kyle Knight, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The government has been inciting hostility toward LGBT people for several years, and there is no accountability for abuses such as police raids on private spaces.”


Article 296 of Indonesia’s criminal code makes it a crime for someone to make “an occupation or a habit of intentionally causing or facilitating any obscene act by others.” The maximum penalty is 16 months in prison.


The Jakarta raid is part of a years-long pattern of authorities unlawfully apprehending LGBT people in private spaces. Indonesia’s central government has never criminalized same-sex behavior, but no national laws specifically protect LGBT people against discrimination. An uptick in anti-LGBT rhetoric and attacks since 2016 has resulted in the application of discriminatory clauses in the pornography law to target LGBT people for arrest and prosecution.


Indonesia’s 2008 Law on Pornography prohibits the “creation, dissemination or broadcasting of pornography containing deviant sexual intercourse,” which it defines to include: sex with corpses, sex with animals, oral sex, anal sex, lesbian sex, and male homosexual sex. Article 36 of the Pornography Law, which criminalizes facilitating obscene acts for a commercial purpose, has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.


A group of activists, including LGBT organizations, attempted to challenge the law in the Constitutional Court in 2009, but the court declined to review it.


While historically the law was not used to target LGBT people specifically, in recent years police have used it as a pretext for arbitrary raids and arrests, and courts have found gay men in private gatherings guilty under the law.


In September 2017, a court in Surabaya found seven men who had been arrested during a police raid on a gay party in April of that year guilty under the pornography law and sentenced them to between 18 months and 30 months in prison.


In October 2017, Jakarta police raided a club popular with gay men, arresting 58 people. Police released most of them the same day but detained five employees of the club – four men and a woman – and threatened to charge them with violating the pornography law. They were subsequently released without charge.


On December 15, 2017, the North Jakarta District Court sentenced 10 men to between two and three years in prison for violating the pornography law. Police had apprehended the 10, along with 131 others, during a raid on the Atlantis Gym, a sauna frequented by gay men in Jakarta, in May 2017. The 10 were convicted based on allegations that they were naked at the time of the raid, citing the law’s prohibition on performances that involve stripping.


In January 2018, police in Cianjur, West Java province, raided a private home where five men had gathered. Citing the pornography law, the police told reporters the men were caught at a “sex party,” using condoms and lubricant as evidence.


In a development similar to the application of the pornography law, in January 2020, the mayor of Depok, a city in West Java, ordered police to raid private residences to look for “immoral acts” and “prevent the spread of LGBT.” The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) condemned the order, saying such rhetoric from public officials increases the risk of persecution of LGBT people.


According to the police report of the recent Jakarta raid, a 31-officer police unit, under Adjunct Police Commissionaire Jerry Raimond Siagian, had apparently been monitoring the private gathering and organized the raid.


Privacy rights are a fundamental protection that underlie everyone’s physical autonomy and identity and include protections for private adult consensual sexual behavior, Human Rights Watch said. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the independent body of experts that interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is party, has stated, “It is undisputed that adult consensual sexual activity in private is covered by the concept of ‘privacy.’”


Indonesia has been a champion for privacy rights internationally, co-sponsoring a UN Human Rights Council resolution on the right to privacy. In the report on that resolution, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded governments that privacy rights (enshrined in ICCPR article 17) should be upheld jointly with the right to nondiscrimination (ICCPR, article 26).


Indonesian police should halt arbitrary raids on private spaces, investigate those that have taken place, and punish those who took part in the raids and those responsible in their chain of command, Human Rights Watch said. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who has voiced support for LGBT Indonesians in the past, should make clear the prohibition against discriminatory behavior by the police.


The Indonesian parliament should also substantially revise the proposed new criminal code to meet international human rights standards. It contains articles that will violate the rights of LGBT people. It has provisions that will punish extramarital sex by up to one year in jail. While this article does not specifically mention same-sex conduct, since same-sex relationships are not legally recognized in Indonesia, this provision effectively criminalizes all same-sex conduct.


“The combination of exploiting the discriminatory pornography law and a lack of accountability for police misconduct has proved to be both dangerous and durable,” Knight said. “So long as the government permits police raids on private gatherings under a discriminatory law, it will fail to curb anti-LGBT harassment and intimidation.”