e-bulletin #21 – December 2017

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 Dear colleagues,

Once more we would like to share with you some of our latest activities. During these intense months we have been working on updating and expanding Yogyakarta Principles, while participating in different UN spaces to strengthen LGBTI peoples’ human rights. We have launched reports, attended a wide range of conferences, and delivered speeches on SOGIESC.

We take this opportunity to send you our warmest wishes for the holiday season.

New Independent Expert appointed

ARC welcomes the appointment of Costa Rican jurist, Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, as the new Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. ARC first engaged with Madrigal-Borloz through his work as the Principal Advisor on LGBTI rights with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and he appears in our documentary, The Time Has Come (available here), discussing the way forward in dealing with perpetrators of violations against LGBTI persons. 

Mr. Madrigal-Borloz’s presence during the experts meetings to draft the new Yogyakarta Principles plus ten (YP+10) added great value and bodes well for his upcoming work in the SOGI mandate.  Both Madrigal-Borloz and his predecessor, Vitit Muntarbhorn, are signatories to the YP Plus 10 document.
Mr. Madrigal-Borloz has been appointed for a period of three years.

Yogyakarta Principles plus 10

On September 20th, in Geneva, a group of international human rights experts examining the Yogyakarta Principles, concluded a process (led by ARC International and the International Service for Human Rights and supported by a Drafting Committee and Secretariat) to approve 9 Additional Principles (including 55 State Obligations), 56 Additional State Obligations under the original Principles, and 2 Additional Recommendations to non-state actors.

This document aims to take on board new developments in international law with respect to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. After long days, intense dialogue, and abundant wisdom, commitment, and passion, the Yogyakarta Principles are now updated and stronger than ever. They were officially launched on-line with 33 new signatories on November 27th. They were also launched at a formal event in Geneva on December 13th, in conjunction with activities around International Human Rights Day. Further launches and events will follow.
Check out the YP+10 here.

New publication

Arvind Narrain, along with Pooja Patel from the International Service for Human Rights, were invited to contribute an article on the Yogyakarta Principles to a upcoming book on global LGBT rights to be edited by Dr. Andreas Ziegler from the University of Lausanne.
The book is anticipated to be published in 2018.

Human Rights Council Session 36

At the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council in September, ARC delivered two statements.  One statement was delivered at the adoption of India’s UPR in collaboration with Sangama. The statement urged India to repeal Section 377, ensure action in compliance with the Supreme Court decision upholding transgender rights, and went on to ‘note with concern the rising tide of intolerance, which has created a climate that allows for brutal violence against minorities and dissenting voices including lynchings and targeted assassinations.’ The entire statement can be read here.

The second statement was delivered at the adoption of the United Kingdom’s UPR, in collaboration with partner groups in the Caribbean and Asia. This statement focused on a formal apology from the UK noting that  an apology provides LGBT activists in all parts of the Commonwealth a tool to argue criminalizing laws are an ‘alien legacy’ disowned even by the progenitor of these laws.
The entire statement can be read here.

Coming out of the Council, ARC’s Arvind Narrain also published an analysis of the death penalty resolution, which argues that the ‘no’ votes of India, Japan and the US indicates that it’s unlikely that there will any progress on the question of the death penalty for same-sex conduct until and unless there is progress on the death penalty per se. The struggle for the removal of death penalty for consensual same sex conduct should be seen as part of a wider continuum of struggle.
The full article can be found here.

Joint report on the General Assembly and Independent Expert on SOGI 

As a way of summarizing and analyzing the different phases and stages of this key process at the General Assembly, ARC, together with OutRight Action International (OutRight), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) recently launched the report “Defending the Independent Expert on Protection Against Violence and Discrimination Based on SOGI”.

This reports details the establishment and confirmation of the mandate of the IE SOGI at the GA during its 71st Session (from October to December 2016) and offers insight into the dynamics of debates by providing an analysis of the voting records of UN Member States, transcripts of the debates that surrounded each vote and a snapshot of the pivotal role of civil society advocacy throughout the process. You can read the report here.

Equal Rights Coalition

In October, ARC’s Kim Vance was in New York City for a series of meetings, beginning with Randy Boissonnault, Canada’s special advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues. Boissonnault met with civil society groups and multilateral stakeholders to discuss Canada’s role in the international arena on these issues, and then co-hosted a reception with the Chilean ambassador, Milenko Skoknic, to welcome participants to the meeting of the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC). The state members of the ERC, along with civil society and multilateral stakeholders spent the next day mapping out a structure and initial work plan for the year to come.

ARC has been part of a global civil society coalition engaging with the work of the ERC, and also works closely with Canadian civil society groups (through the Dignity Initiative) who regularly engage with the Canadian government as one of the ERC co-chairs.

The first Canada Pride National Conference and Conference on the Francophonie

August 2017 saw the first-ever “Canada Pride” celebrations in Montreal. The celebrations also included two well-organized human rights conferences, one exclusively focused on the countries of La Francophonie.

ARC’s Kim Vance was invited to be part of three interesting panels at the conference: “L stands for Leader” focused on LBT women’s experiences as leaders in the arts, pride movements, and advocacy organizations;  “Globalizing Prides” explored the role of pride celebrations and pride movement worldwide; and  “Canada’s role in supporting LGBTI rights” featured a mix of civil society and government representatives examining the role that Canada can play at this moment in time in supporting LGBTI rights globally.
While in Montreal, Vance also attended a full day of meetings and the launch of the newly structured Dignity Initiative and its International Advisory Board.

ARC at the first European Lesbian* Conference (EL*C)

ARC joined hundreds of lesbian activists in Vienna, where the first ever European Lesbian* Conference took place between 6-8 October. Dodo Karsay (Research and Information Officer) delivered a workshop with Joyce Hamilton (COC Netherlands) and Kseniya Kirichenko (ILGA) on how lesbian issues have been addressed by UN Treaty Bodies, Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The workshop highlighted the key challenges that lesbian advocates face when working with UN mechanisms. The participants came up with practical solutions to these barriers, including increased documentation of human rights violations, coalition building, and others.

LGBTI asylum conference

Between 5-6 October ARC attended Out and Proud? LGBTI asylum in Europe, a conference organized by COC Nederlands in Amsterdam. The conference brought together NGOs, activists, LGBTI refugees, policy makers, and asylum authorities for two days of workshops and discussions. Dodo Karsay joined a workshop organized by Transgender Europe (TGEU) on the specific situation of trans asylum seekers and refugees in Europe. In particular, the workshop identified key human rights violations that trans refugees face and proactive steps that local trans and LGBTQI communities can take to provide more support to trans refugees.

The workshop was led by Fernanda Milán, who was the first trans woman to apply for asylum in Denmark and co-facilitated by Samyar Shooshian, trans refugee activist in Hungary. Dodo Karsay and Richard Köhler (TGEU) were supporting the workshop.

The ‘Against Nature’ Journal

ARC has been collaborating with an artist group, Council, so as to explore innovative ways of combating the laws criminalizing LGBT persons. As part of this project, Arvind Narrain made a presentation on ‘Against the Order of Nature: Legal Interpretations, Ground Level Impacts and  Political Potentialities’ at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in an event hosted by Council.

The presentation was part of a panel discussion aimed at producing a journal titled, ‘Against Nature’ which aimed to creatively interrogate the nature of the ‘against nature’ laws which are now present in many of the ex-colonies.

Training on LGBTI Rights and UN mechanisms in collaboration with ARROW

ARC’s Arvind Narrain delivered a training on LGBTI rights at the UN level in a workshop hosted by ARROW, a regional non-profit women’s organization based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). The training was held in Vietnam from the 1st-3rd of December 2017.

The training focussed on getting the participants to think within human rights language and on developing an understanding of how the UN mechanisms can be made accessible for activists.

ILGA Asia Conference in Cambodia

In early December, Arvind Narrain collaborated with Kseniya Kirichenko from ILGA to deliver a session on strategic litigation at the ILGA Asia conference in Cambodia. Arvind also chaired and spoke at a panel on the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10, along with YP expert Cianán B. Russell, where the content of the YP plus 10 was analytically presented and discussed.
The panel was hosted by UNDP.

8th International Conference on Human Rights EducationMontreal

From November 30 to December 3rd, ARC’s Kim Vance was pleased to be invited to attend and participate in a plenary panel at this international conference hosted by Equitas. The International Conference on Human Rights Education (ICHRE) is a forum for practitioners, policy-makers and academics to explore innovative education solutions to global challenges.

Under the theme, Bridging Our Diversities, the conference assembled 300 participants from all over the world for practical workshops and insightful sessions featuring the latest tools, knowledge and good practices in human rights education. You can watch a video presentation of Kim Vance’s plenary panel here.

Looking ahead

YP+10 Webinars

ARC will co-sponsor a series of webinars on the YP+10 being hosted by the Williams Institute. The webinars will be offered on January 16, 2018 and February 15, 2018. More details can be found using the following links: January 16th here; and February 15th here .

New tools for civil society

ARC is working with its close partner, ISHR, to revamp and launch a new guide for engagement with the Special Procedures in early 2018. Stay tuned!

Commission on the Status of Women/Human Rights Council

We are already engaged in discussions and planning around CSO participation, side events, and strategic opportunities for the next CSW and HRC coming up in March 2018.


Other editions of the ARC E-bulletin

20. August 2017 I 19. April 2017 I 18. January 2017 I 17. September 2016 16. April 2016 I 15. October 2015 I 14. April 2015 I 13. January 2015  I 12. September 2014  I 11. June 2014  I 10. February 2014  I 9. November 2013  I 8. July 2013  I 7. December 2012  I 6. September 2012  I 5. March 2012  I 4. October 2011  I 3. July 2011  I 2. April 2011  I 1. January 2011