Posts Tagged 'Transgender'

U.N. Human Rights Council adopts LGBT resolution

Photo: @gustavopecoraro

Photo: @gustavopecoraro

Press Statement from ARC International

(Geneva, September 26, 2014) – The United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on combatting violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (L.27/Rev.1), adopted today, Is a critically important achievement for upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 25 human rights groups said today. The resolution follows a resolution adopted three years ago in June 2011, when the Council passed the first ever UN resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and 42 additional co-sponsors introduced the resolution. In its presentation to the Council, Chile stated that “this resolution does not seek to create new rights…there are some whose rights are more violated and need more protection.“ Colombia added “the report that we request is part of existing international law.“ The resolution survived a total of seven hostile amendments, introduced by Egypt on behalf of ten States, seeking to strip the resolution of all references to sexual orientation and gender identity. Brazil stated that the proposed amendments would “seek to radically change the purpose and focus of the resolution and changes its substance.”  Ultimately, the resolution was passed by a vote of 25 in favor, 14 against, and 7 abstentions, with support from all regions and an increased base of support since 2011.

“The leadership of these Latin American states reflects strong commitment to human rights for all and follows the significant progress that is being made by governments and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, travesti, and intersex activists in the region,” said Andres Rivera Duarte from the Observatorio Derechos Humanos y Legislación, Chile.

The resolution asks the High Commissioner for Human Rights to update a 2012 study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (A/HRC/19/41), with a view to sharing good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination. The resolution expresses grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination in all regions of the world committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. This resolution demonstrates that this issue remains on the agenda of the Human Rights Council and sends a message of support to people around the world who experience this type of violence and discrimination, said the 25 groups.

“While we would have preferred to see an institutionalized reporting mechanism, the council has still sent a strong message of support to human rights defenders working on these issues. We look forward to States implementing the outcomes of these reports,” said Jonas Bagas, of TLF Share in the Philippines. Continue reading ‘U.N. Human Rights Council adopts LGBT resolution’

Joint CSO Letter to World Bank on Discrimination in Uganda’s Health Sector

Dr. Jim Yong Kim
President
The World Bank
1818 H St. NW
Washington DC 20433

Dear Dr. Kim:

We write to follow up on our letters of April 1 and May 6, 2014, regarding concerns about discrimination in Uganda’s health sector and the World Bank’s delay of its US$90 million loan.

We, once again, welcome your commitment to ensure that there is no discrimination in World Bank financed projects in Uganda and public recognition that discrimination is not only wrong, but undermines economic growth.

Six months after your decision to delay the health sector loan, we remain concerned that there are still not sufficient safeguards in place to prevent discrimination in health service provision for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) patients, or for women, among other groups in Uganda. In this letter, we share recommendations for the World Bank’s next steps in Uganda and request a meeting with your office as you chart a strategic way forward to ensure that World Bank funding does not entrench discrimination via its loans and other financial instruments. On August 26 during a meeting with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Uganda’s former minister of health and new prime minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, made comments that reinforce this concern: he agreed that there is discrimination in the health sector, and that the government is not equipped to monitor the health sector for discrimination or to respond to discrimination when it occurs.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act
As you know, on August 1 Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Anti-Homosexuality Act was void due to a lack of quorum in parliament during the vote. While we welcome this important ruling, it did not address the substantive rights at jeopardy in the law.

Moreover the Ugandan government has unambiguously indicated that it remains committed to the discriminatory approach and practices that were reflected in the law. For example, the attorney general immediately filed an appeal to the Supreme Court; and while President Museveni has asked for the appeal to be put on hold temporarily, it is only so a ruling party parliamentary committee can determine if and how the law should be returned to parliament anew. Also, since the ruling, several government officials, including President Museveni, have spoken out in favor of the criminalization of the “promotion of homosexuality” which jeopardizes public health work.

The situation in Uganda remains volatile, especially as campaigning for the 2016 elections gets underway. There is a very real possibility all or significant portions of the discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act could be passed in parliament again in the next 12 to 18 months. Effectively, the Ugandan government’s pursuit of discriminatory policies against LGBTI people, including in the healthcare sector, is unchanged by the Constitutional Court ruling.

In what appears to be an effort to encourage donors, including the World Bank, to maintain funding to Uganda’s healthcare sector despite the discriminatory environment, the Ministry of Health produced a ministerial directive this year establishing guidelines for health workers who treat LGBTI people. While a written commitment to non-discrimination in the healthcare sector should not be dismissed, this directive is very problematic. It describes the provision of health services to LGBTI people as an “ethical dilemma” for healthcare workers – rather than a professional obligation or equal access to health care as a fundamental human right. The directive creates a de-facto “separate but unequal” system for LGBTI people seeking healthcare. It also remains wholly unenforceable in law. It provides no substantive protection to LGBTI people, or to healthcare workers providing services to LGBTI people, nor does it require any substantive action by the government in terms of upholding non-discrimination in the health sector. It should not be seen as meaningful action on the part of the government to address the World Bank’s publicly stated concerns which led to the loan’s delay.

The HIV Prevention and Control Act
Just as worrying, on July 31, President Museveni signed into law the HIV Prevention and Control Act, which not only criminalizes transmission and attempted transmission of HIV but allows for mandatory testing of pregnant women, their partners, and victims of sexual violence; allows certain people including health workers to reveal the HIV status of their patients without their patients’ consent; and enables courts to order the release of individuals’ HIV status without their consent.

Women tested against their will, or whose HIV status may be revealed against their will, may be exposed to potential physical violence from partners who fear or blame them for infection. Not only are the law’s provisions contrary to well-established international best practices of confidentiality, consent and counseling – a bedrock in the fight against HIV – but the well-documented impact of such punitive measures is to drive people away from services and fuel fear and further discrimination.

Given Uganda’s ongoing discriminatory environment in the allocation of health services, we believe it remains very important for the World Bank to ensure strong safeguards are in place before the delayed loan is released. Such action could significantly contribute to mitigating against existing discrimination experienced by LGBTI patients, women, and other marginalized and excluded populations who are at disproportionately high risk of negative health outcomes and poverty.

We recommend that the World Bank:

1. Publicly share the outcome of the World Bank’s independent assessment of the impact of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act on the proposed $90 million loan.

2. Only fund the health sector through the proposed $90 million loan if it includes

(a) Components funding:

  • Routine pre-service and in-service training of the Ugandan health workforce in non-discrimination in service delivery, building on existing training efforts led by civil society;
  • Robust monitoring, and supervision measures to enforce expectations regarding non-discrimination, beyond current supervisory structures. This would include, in addition to other mechanisms, independent third party monitoring to identify instances of discrimination;
  • Activities to promote all patients’ rights to non-discrimination, confidentiality, privacy, and consent to or to refuse treatment, and to be informed about risk of medical procedures during health service delivery – for example through public messages, health promotion activities, signs in clinics and public places, and other strategic communications efforts (in English and local languages); and
  • Measures to determine consumer satisfaction with health service quality.

(b) Loan covenants:

  • Prohibiting all forms of discrimination, including on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and all other grounds articulated under international law;
  • Requiring the government to respect patient confidentiality, privacy, and informed consent to all treatment, which requires being fully informed of the risks involved with medical procedures and medication;
  • Requiring that there not be any interference with any civil society or other third party monitoring of health institutions;

3. Through the Global Partnership for Social Accountability and other World Bank civil society funding mechanisms, provide financial support for patient advocates and legal counsel for individuals who face discrimination, breach of confidentiality, or other abuses in health settings;

4. Review Uganda’s new HIV law, in close collaboration with Ugandan civil society and independent experts, and describe mitigating measures the World Bank will take to ensure Uganda’s health systems is strengthened and HIV objectives are achieved given the discriminatory environment, and publish both the review and mitigating measures;

5. Publicly and privately at all levels urge the government to repeal all discriminatory laws and end discriminatory practices, emphasizing the importance of non-discrimination for health and development and emphasize that the government’s lack of progress in this area will increasingly call into question aspects of the government’s relationship with the World Bank.

We firmly believe that the World Bank’s decision regarding the $90 million loan will have a profound impact on the credibility of the World Bank in Uganda and beyond.  Countries seeking to benefit from World Bank funding should clearly understand that the delay of the loan was not a superficial decision, but rather a serious statement about the deleterious economic impact of discrimination and a precedent-setting decision to stand up for human rights. But that is not possible if the delay is concluded without any substantive progress by government regarding nondiscrimination in the health sector.

We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the way forward in Uganda with you given the critical World Bank engagement there and the impact of the situation in Uganda on other countries who may benefit from World Bank financial instruments in the future.

Thank you for your consideration of these important issues. We look forward to meeting with you or your staff to take this conversation forward.

Sincerely,

Aaron Dorfman, Vice President for National Programs, American Jewish World Service (AJWS)
Kevin Robert Frost, Chief Executive Officer, AmFAR
Chad Dobson, Executive Director, Bank Information Center (BIC)
Moses Mulumba, Executive Director, Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)
Jeff Ogwaro, Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL)
Mark Bromley, Council Chair, The Council for Global Equality
Asia Russell, Director of International Policy, Health GAP
David Stacy,Director for Government Affairs, Human Rights Campaign
Jessica Evans, Senior Advocate/Researcher for International Financial Institutions, Human Rights Watch
Brant Luswata, Resource Center Manager, Icebreakers Uganda
Wade McMullen, Staff Attorney,Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
Frank Mugisha, Executive Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)
Moses Kimbugwe, Programs Director, Spectrum Uganda
Najib Kabuye, Director, Uganda Harmonized Rights Alliance
Kikonyogo Kivumbi, Executive Director, Uganda Health and Science Press Association (UHSPA)
Beyonce Karungi, Director, TransEquality Uganda

Cc:
World Bank Board of Executive Directors
Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Uganda
Mr. Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, World Bank
Mr. Tim Evans, Health Sector Director, World Bank
Mr. Olusoji O. Adeyi, Sector Manager, Health, Nutrition and Population, Africa, World Bank
Mr. Philippe Dongier, Country Director, Uganda, World Bank
Mr. Moustapha Ndaiye, Country Manager, Uganda, World Bank
Mr. Peter Okwero, Health Specialist, World Bank, Uganda
Mr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Dr. Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

LGBTI Rights Around the World: A Work in Progress

kyleknight-photoRepost: IRIN Humanitarian News

BANGKOK (IRIN) — In recent years, the world has seen enormous human rights gains with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. However, there have also been substantial setbacks — ranging from discriminatory legislation, to impunity for brutal violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Charles Radcliffe, chief of the Global Issues Section at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted: “Supporting LGBT rights work around the world is about recognizing that hostilities toward LGBT people are deeply ingrained in societies and that changing those mindsets and protecting these people is the duty of governments.”

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 countries and parts of two others; a handful of countries legally recognize gender based on self-identification alone, with Argentinaand Nepal leading the way and Denmark recently joining their ranks. A 2014 Indian Supreme Court judgment in favour of transgender rights showed what one legal scholar, gesturing to Nepali and Pakistani court cases, called “the possibility of developing a unique South Asian jurisprudence on transgender rights.” Continue Reading

Gambia: President Should Reject Homophobic Law

President Yahya Jammeh of GambiaRepost from Human Rights Watch

(Dakar) – President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia should not sign a new Criminal Code amendment that would increase the punishment for “aggravated homosexuality” to life in prison, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The measure would further add to the climate of fear for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Gambia.

Several provisions of the law violate international human rights law and amount to persecution on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Sections of the law are similar to the harsh homophobic legislation that was annulled in August 2014 in Uganda.

“President Jammeh should not approve this profoundly damaging act that violates international human rights law,” said Stephen Cockburn, deputy regional Director for West and Central Africa director at Amnesty International. “Gambia’s National Assembly and the President should not endorse state-sponsored homophobia.” Continue Reading

International Law and the Uncertainty of Rights for LGBT People

Human Rights WatchRepost from Human Rights Watch
Written by Graeme Reid

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)people the law is a paradox. The law can operate as an instrument of repression and control, but also as a tool for resistance and liberation. We find fragments of our collective histories in court records. Here we find a sorry history of people in countries across the world convicted of loitering, sodomy, cross-dressing or so-called “crimes against nature.”

For a vulnerable minority, and an unpopular one, domestic and international law has proven to be an indispensable tool, sometimes the only tool, for LGBT people to claim a space in the world. Two decades ago in a 1994 case, the UN Human Rights Committee in Toonen v. Australia asserted the right to privacy for same-sex consenting adults under international law. In 1998, South African courts repealed the Immorality Act and five years later, in 2003, Lawrence v. Texas saw the remaining sodomy laws in the US declared unconstitutional.

Yet some 76 countries around the world maintain discriminatory LGBT laws. Britain exported its sodomy laws to the empire, where many remain in force. These laws not only hold the threat of arrest and prosecution, but have other profound implications for LGBT people as well. Even in the many countries where sodomy laws are seldom enforced, such as India and Uganda, they still symbolize national discrimination against LGBT people.

Human Rights Watch has reported these laws are routinely used for blackmail and extortion, in settings as diverse as KyrgyzstanJamaica and Uganda. Such laws contribute to a climate of prejudice and hostility in which violence occurs with impunity. The passage of the anti-propaganda laws in Russia led to a peak in violence against LGBT people. In Nigeria, the immediate effect following the enactment of draconian legislation was mob violence against gay men. The law in these places means that LGBT people must live a shadow existence under the threat of violence. Continue Reading

Uganda’s Constitutional Court Strikes Down Anti-Homosexuality Law

Royal Mile Kampala UgandaAugust 1, 2014 — The Council for Global Equality welcomes the decision today by Uganda’s Constitutional Court to strike down that country’s odious “Anti-Homosexuality” Law. The Court determined that the passage of the law was not in keeping with correct democratic procedures and struck it down on technical grounds involving the lack of a quorum to pass the bill. The civil society leaders who led the challenge to the law, and stood firmly in support of human rights for all Ugandans, won a remarkable victory for human rights and democracy today. We applaud them, along with those in the international community who have steadfastly opposed this anti-democratic and discriminatory law.

The Council urges that Ugandan officials not reintroduce the bill and instead move forward toward equality for all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  We also hope that President Museveni of Uganda will use the occasion of his official visit to Washington next week for the first-ever Africa Leaders Summit to demonstrate a stronger appreciation of the principle that all citizens, including Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender minority, deserve equal respect and treatment under the law.

Related: Council Calls for President Obama to Raise LGBT Issues at Africa Summit

Supporting LGBT Workplace Equality is Good For Business

President ObamaThe Council for Global Equality welcomes the President’s leadership in signing a new Executive Order to protect LGBT workers in the United States.  Now it’s time to apply those same principles to U.S. government contractors and grantees operating overseas to ensure that U.S. government funds are never used to finance discrimination anywhere in the world.

Learn more about the Executive Order.

FACT SHEET: Taking Action to Support LGBT Workplace Equality is Good For Business

America is built on the fundamental promise that if you work hard, and play by the rules, you can get ahead. But today, millions of Americans in most states in the country go to work every day fearing that they could lose their jobs simply because of who they are or who they love. No current federal law adequately protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers from employment discrimination. This is completely contrary to our values as Americans – and it’s also bad for business.

President Obama declared 2014 a year of action – working with Congress where they’re willing, but acting where he can when they refuse to take action. As part of this commitment to expanding opportunity for hardworking Americans, today, the President will sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment.

At a critical time for our nation’s economy, we need all of our workers to be focused on making the most of their talent, skill, and ingenuity, rather than worrying about losing their job due to discrimination. The economy functions best when workers are matched to the jobs with the best fit, maximizing their productivity, increasing wages and helping the bottom line for businesses. Discrimination is not just wrong, it also can keep qualified workers from maximizing their potential to contribute to the strengthening of our economy. For decades, companies have found that benefits and inclusive, flexible, and supportive workplace policies make it easier and more cost effective to recruit, retain, and motivate employees. The same logic applies to extending these basic protections and policies to LGBT workers.

American workers should be judged by one thing only: their ability to get the job done. That’s why the President has long supported federal legislation to explicitly prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. For forty years, Congress has considered various pieces of legislation meant to address LGBT workplace equality. Last November, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support. However, the House has failed to act.

Today’s action is consistent with the President’s commitment to advancing equality for the LGBT community, as well as his commitment to expanding opportunity for American workers and strengthening American business. And it is consistent with actions being taken by employers, including many federal contractors, across the country to support workplace equality, because they recognize it improves productivity, reduces turnover and supports their bottom line.

  • Workplace Inequality Still Impacts Millions of LGBT Workers. Today, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly protecting LGBT workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and no federal law adequately protects LGBT workers from being fired because of who they are or who they love. According to surveys and studies, more than four in ten lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have experienced some form of employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation at some point in their lives, and 90% of transgender employees have experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.
  • Employers Are Taking Action on Their Own to Support Workplace Equality – Because They Recognize It Is In Their Interest: According to an analysis of 36 research studies by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, “LGBT-supportive policies and workplace climates are linked to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes among LGBT employees.”
  • Fortune 500 Companies Support LGBT Workplace Equality. Most of America’s major companies know that workplace equality is important to staying competitive and retaining their best talent, and as a result, nondiscrimination policies are good for business. 91% of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation; and 61% already prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
  • Small Businesses Support LGBT Workplace Equality. According to research conducted by Small Business Majority, six in ten small business owners believe that employment nondiscrimination laws improve their bottom line by helping employers attract the best and brightest employees. And of small business owners who have adopted nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBT workers, 86% report that nondiscrimination policies cost them “nothing or next to nothing,” 2% said such policies had a small but significant cost, and none said they had a substantial cost.
  • Many Federal Contractors Already Have Policies on LGBT Workplace Equality. Of the largest 50 federal contractors, which represent nearly half of all federal contracting dollars, 86% prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and 61% prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In addition, the five top federal contractors, which receive nearly a quarter of all federal contracting dollars, already bar discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • The American Public Supports LGBT Workplace Equality. A recent national survey of 1,200 registered voters found that 63% of those surveyed favor a federal law that protects LGBT people from employment discrimination. When asked specifically about LGBT nondiscrimination in federal contracting, another poll found that 73% of those surveyed favor such policies.
  • States and Local Jurisdictions Support LGBT Workplace Equality. Over the last several years, there has been significant progress in moving LGBT inclusive non-discrimination laws through statehouses and city halls across the nation. Since 2011, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nevada have added gender identity to their existing employment non-discrimination laws. Today, 18 states and the District of Columbia have inclusive non-discrimination laws, and over 200 cities and counties – from small towns like Bozeman, Montana and Vicco, Kentucky to large cities like Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia – prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nine of the ten most populous cities in the country already have these protections in place.
  • Diverse Faith Communities Support LGBT Workplace Equality. A diverse range of religious communities  and organizations support workplace protections, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society; The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; and the Union of Reform Judaism. Majorities of Christian denominations polled support workplace protections, including 76% of Catholics, 75% of white mainline Protestants, 61% of minority Protestants, and 59% of white evangelical Protestants. Another poll shows that 74% of born-again Christians favor LGBT workplace protections.

Additional Information about President Obama’s Executive Order

Executive Order 11246, issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating “against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” President Obama’s Executive Order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories.

President Obama’s Executive Order does not allow for any exemption beyond the one added by Executive Order 13279, issued by President George W. Bush, which permits religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions, by specifying that Executive Order 11246, “shall not apply to a Government contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities. Such contractors and subcontractors are not exempted or excused from complying with the other requirements contained in this Order.” In addition, under the First Amendment, religious entities are permitted to make employment decisions about their ministers as they see fit.

Executive Order 11246 governs only federal contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year. It does not affect grants and President Obama’s Executive Order does not impact the administration of federal grants. The Order is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). As part of these duties, OFCCP conducts compliance reviews, receives complaints from individuals who believe they have been discriminated against, and provides technical assistance to contractors regarding their contractual obligations. More information can be found at www.dol.gov/ofccp.

Executive Order 11478, issued by President Nixon, bars discrimination against federal employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age, and was amended by Executive Order 13087, issued by President Clinton, to include sexual orientation.

President Obama’s Executive Order will add gender identity to the list of protected categories.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal agencies already apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity as a form of sex discrimination. The President believes it is important to explicitly prohibit – in both Executive Action and in legislation – discrimination on the basis of gender identity.


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