Dear friends and colleagues,
It is a pleasure to meet you once more to share with you this update on our latest activities. As usual, we have been working in different spaces to help strengthen capacities for advocacy within the UN. We have also attended several meetings, conferences and symposia and continued to disseminate the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10.
We hope you enjoy this new e-bulletin.
Repeal of 377 is Use of Constitutional Morality to Transform Society
The decision of the Indian Supreme Court decriminalizing the lives of LGBT persons delivered on 6.09.18 is of great significance to LGBT rights nationally as well as internationally. The breadth of the decision and its invocation of constitutional morality is of value in continuing human rights struggles. The import of the decision can be exponentially multiplied depending upon how the concepts of apology, dignity, equality, freedom of expression are understood and internalized by a range of actors and stakeholders.
For a discussion of the import of the decision see the following talk given by Arvind Narrain at a meeting organized by the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties here.
For a summary of the key themes of the judgment see the following Alternative Law Forum publication edited by Arvind Narrain here.
The Second Report of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI , Victor Madrigal
ARC’s Arvind Narrain was in New York for the second report of IE on SOGI delivered in the General Assembly in October, 2018. This prescient, thoughtful and nuanced report signposts the role of gender norms in marginalizing transgender persons. Just when parts of the UN system are showing a willingness to rethink some of the core concepts which have marginalized transgender people, the resistance to such rethinking is also building.
See a more detailed analysis here.
New Crimes Against Humanity Treaty
A proposed new crimes against humanity treaty could give LGBTI and women’s rights activists a historic opportunity to fight against hate-related crimes during armed conflict. OutRight Action International, CUNY School of Law’s Human Rights and Gender Justice (HRGJ) Clinic, and MADRE have joined forces to address these much needed revisions in the treaty.
ARC International’s Arvind Narrain was pleased to be invited and attend a convening of civil society groups and legal experts in New York in October. The convening was an effort to make as many people as possible aware of the ramifications of the treaty and to encourage them to take action and protect women and LGBTI rights.
ARC also worked closely with OutRight and the Government of Canada following the convening to ensure that Canada made a submission to the International Law Commission (ILC) on the problematic definition of gender currently proposed in the CAH treaty.
New anthology on LGBT rights
A new anthology from the Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, entitled “Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights: (Neo)colonialism, Neoliberalism, Resistance and Hope” was released on September 13th in Toronto, Canada.
Both Arvind Narrain and Kim Vance-Mubanga have chapters in the book, which serves to collect the work of the 5-year Envisioning Project, a project out of York University that involved 31 international partners and resulted in skills exchange, capacity enhancement and knowledge mobilization, and the production of numerous video documentaries, including our own “The Time Has Come”.
ARC’s Kim Vance-Mubanga served on the Executive Committee for the project and co-chaired the Law and Human Rights Mechanisms Team.
#CWSDC6 2018 Belize
ARC’s Kim Vance-Mubanga delivered two workshops at the 6th Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference which happened in October in Belize. One of the workshop focused on submitting complaints to the UN Special Procedures and the other focused on using a three-pronged approach to advocacy that considers domestic litigation, international law and apology.
ARC’s Mariana Winocur attended the 25th World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium in Argentina. From November the 2nd to the 6th , LGBTI activists, physicians, and many others who work to improve trans people’s health met in Buenos Aires.
WPATH2018 gave the opportunity to present the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10 (YP+10) in Argentina for the first time. A panel made up of four of the specialists who developed this set of new principles on international human rights law relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), focused especially on how the new Principles have introduced intersex issues.
Read a blog post on WPATH2018 here.
Alternative leaders training
ARC’s Arvind Narrain was a resource person for a training programme organized by Payana in Margao, to build a knowledge base around the Navtej Singh Johar judgment which decriminalised LGBT Lives in India.The objective of the session was to familiarize the group with concepts articulated in the Navtej Singh Johar judgment like apology, dignity and equality so that it becomes an effective advocacy tool.
The training also focussed on building capacity to utilize the legal frameworks in their everyday activism.
Training on 377 in Raichur
In another training organized by Payana in Raichur, in Northern Karnataka, Arvind Narrain was a resource person to familiarize the group of mainly transgender activists with the import of the Navtej Singh Johar judgment and to build capacity to utilize the concepts embodied in the judgment in negotiating the police, bureaucracy and the larger public.
OutSummit and International Human Rights Day
ARC’s Kim Vance-Mubanga was in New York in December to attend OutSummit, a one day conference that brings together international and US-based activists for a day of panels and workshops on human rights relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex issues.
The event finished with an inspiring session called: “The Striking Down of Article 377” featuring Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, lawyers in the recent 377 case. The same two lawyers were the guest speakers at a landmark and very well attended International Human Rights Day event at the UN hosted by the Indian Mission on Monday, December 10th.
ARC’s Arvind Narrain has been appointed Honorary Professor of Practice, Institute of Public Policy, National Law School of India in recognition of his work in human rights law.
Equal Rights Coalition
ARC’s Kim Vance-Mubanga participated virtually in a day-long meeting of the Equal Rights Coalition Coordinating Committee at the end of November. The meeting looked at building on outcomes from the Vancouver ERC Conference, institutional strengthening, and membership expansion.
There were also spotlight discussions on global areas of concerns and the rights of trans and gender-diverse persons. Canada and Chile will be handing over their positions as co-chairs to the United Kingdom and Argentina in 2019.
ARC continues to sit on the Thematic Working Group focusing on national laws and policies.
Global Affairs Canada Consultation
Building on commitments announced at the Vancouver ERC Conference last August, Global Affairs Canada convened a national consultation in early October with civil society and all relevant departments to both support capacity within Canada to engage internationally, but also to jointly develop concrete plans to improve Canada’s policy parameters to support international LGBTI work.
ARC participated in the consultation and worked afterwards with members of the Dignity Network to submit a proposal asking for Canada to develop a dedicated Fund for LGBTQI2 International Assistance.
ARC is participating in civil society coordination and liaison with friendly states to plan side events and strategy leading in to the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women which will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March 2019. This year’s priority theme is social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and the review theme is women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.
ILGA WORLD Conference
ARC’s Arvind Narrain will be participating in ILGA World’s Conference in Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand from March 18 to 22, 2019. He will coordinate a panel on ‘Global Challenges to Anti-sodomy laws’ and present on a panel which aims to introduce activists to the YP plus 10 document.
ARC, ECADE and COC Netherlands are collaborating on another UN Mechanisms training for Caribbean activists scheduled for late April.
International Dialogue in INDIA!
It’s been several years, but we are announcing plans to host our next international dialogue in India in July 2019. Please stay tuned for a formal announcement regarding this event entitled “Rising Through the Challenge: documenting and analysing best practices for advancing human rights related to sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics using the tools of international law, domestic litigation and apology/reparation.”