e-bulletin #23 – September 2018
Dear friends and colleagues,
We are pleased to reach out to you once more to share information about our latest activities. We have participated in UN spaces, and prepared statements and documents. We also developed and delivered a lot of trainings, along with speeches at conferences. We have been part of the process before the Indian Supreme Court, advocating for the decriminalization of same-sex relations, and have been strategizing about ways to use the outcomes of strategic litigation and apology to create real change.
We are happy to share this summary with you.
Landmark decision on Section 377
The battle for decriminalisation of same sex relations in India, which began way back in 1994 finally concluded that “Section 377 IPC, so far as it penalizes any consensual sexual relationship between two adults, be it homosexuals (man and a man), heterosexuals (man and a woman) or lesbians (woman and a woman), cannot be regarded as constitutional”. The Supreme Court heard arguments over four days in July and the matter is posted for judgement which is expected anytime before 2 October.
ARC’s Arvind Narrain was present in court and observed the role of international law in the legal proceedings. During the arguments international law on sexual orientation and gender identity was referenced quite extensively by counsels making submissions and even noted by the judges. Thus the Yogyakarta Principles, The Yogyakarta Principles plus 10, the Trinidad judgment on decriminalisation (Jason Jones v Attorney General Trinidad and Tobago), the latest Report of the Independent Expert on SOGI as well as British Prime Minister May’s expression of regret for the export of anti sodomy laws were referred to during the proceedings.
A guest blog piece on the proceedings can be found here.
The link to the judgement can be found here.
ARC at the World AIDS Conference 2018
From July 23th to the 27th, people from all over the world convened in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to share the latest on HIV and many more experiences around it. ARC had a lot to say, share and learn with those who attended the Conference. ARC’s ED Kim Vance-Mubanga was part of three activities, co-hosted and organized with allied organizations. The first two events took place in the Global Village, and the third one at the main conference.
The Workshop: “Utilizing international human rights law & mechanisms to strengthen rights for key populations living with and affected by HIV” was aimed at sharing some tools to help advocates navigate international human rights law and UN mechanisms for key populations affected by HIV/AIDS, including the Yogyakarta Principles +10 and the Independent Expert on SOGI. It was co-organized and hosted by MPact Global Action for Gay Men’s Health and Rights.
The “Yogyakarta Principles plus Ten: updated with the community and used by the movement” session aimed to give an update on Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 (a revision that included persons from all regions, multiple legal traditions and of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics). It was co-organized and hosted by CoC Netherlands.
ARC was also invited to participate in a well-attended and popular satellite session “Anal sex from top to bottom. Beliefs, behaviours and policies for better health”. As anal sex is enjoyed world over by all genders and sexualities, stigma, cultural taboos and criminalization prevent people from getting the information and care they need to maintain anal health and hygiene.
HRC38 – A call to end criminalization on the grounds of SOGIESC
ARC’s ED Kim Vance-Mubanga was active at the June Human Rights Council in Geneva #HRC38. At the invitation of partner organization, ISHR, she contributed to a training session for human rights defenders from around the globe, reflecting on SOGIESC advancements in Geneva over the last decade.
During the interactive dialogue with the new IE on SOGI during #HRC38, ARC delivered a statement calling on States to utilize the #YPplus10 to advance a global understanding of violations affecting persons on grounds of #SOGIESC. The statement also called upon all States which continue to criminalize gender identity and expression and sexual orientation “to remove these colonial era laws throughout the Commonwealth, La Francophonie and elsewhere,” noting that “ they have no place in independent sovereign nations and, as you point out in your report, constitute a violation of international law.”
Read the whole statement here.
Both Canada and the Netherlands referenced the #YPplus10 in their comments to the IE, and the IE also referenced them in his closing remarks. Vance-Mubanga also helped coordinate and participate in a consultation with the new independent expert on SOGI after the delivery of his first report to the Council.
Post #HRC38, ARC released an analysis of the third report of the Independent Expert on SOGI written by Arvind Narrain. It is titled, “Negation, Acknowledgement and taking forward the struggle for LGBT rights: The Third Report of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.”
The analysis concludes that, “Since the rights of LGBTI persons are now a matter of institutionalized concern, it’s important that we continue to use the mechanisms of the mandate be it the ‘communications procedure’, the global publicity generated by the presentation of the Report in the General Assembly and Human Rights Council to take forward the struggle for equal rights for LGBTI persons. One also hopes that continuous engagement with this mandate will enable the production of qualitative reports which can play a role in transforming the status quo of ‘negation’ of the existence of LGBTI persons to ‘acknowledgement’ of the humanity of LGBTI persons and entitlement to all human rights.”
It can be found here.
2nd Pacific Human Rights Conference – Fiji
ARC’s Arvind Narrain participated in the 2nd Pacific Human Rights Conference, which took place in Fiji from 28-30 May. The participation in the Conference was an opportunity to present on the two key developments in the field of international law and SOGIESC over the last two years, namely the appointment of the Independent Expert on SOGI and the adoption of the YP plus 10 document. Arvind presented two papers covering these areas. The first was titled, ‘Appointment of the First UN Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Politics, Challenges and the Path Ahead’. The second paper was on ‘The Yogyakarta Principles and the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10: Relevance to the global LGBTI struggle’.
Canadian national LGBTQI2S Conference in Toronto
ARC’s Kim Vance-Mubanga was invited to introduce and moderate two plenary events at the Canadian national LGBTQI2S Conference in Toronto in May. She welcomed the new UN independent expert on SOGI to Canada for his first public speech, and moderated a lively dialogue. She also introduced and moderated an interactive panel with global members of The Commonwealth Equality Network (TCEN) from South Africa, Malaysia, the UK and Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also received an award at the closing banquet.
Training on YP and YP+10
At the end of March, ARC’s Arvind Narrain facilitated a two day training on Indian Constitution and Yogyakarta Principles and Yogyakarta Principles plus 10.
The workshop in Bangalore, India, was meant for LGBTI activists in Karnataka (a state in India with a population of over 60 million people). The training familiarized participants with the Constitutional framework as well as the YP and YP plus 10 framework and how the relationship between these two frameworks can be used to further advance LGBTI Rights.
Pan-Africa ILGA Conference
At the end of May/beginning of June, ARC’s ED Kim Vance-Mubanga travelled to Botswana for the PAI Conference. Along with partners, PAI, CoC, and ILGA, she helped develop and deliver an intensive two day evaluation and training session with advocates who use UN mechanisms to enhance their advocacy work. This built on the outcomes of three previous training sessions held in Ghana, South Africa and Namibia. The new UN IE on SOGI was also able to participate in a portion of the training and answer questions from participants. She also co-facilitated an African launch of the YP+10 with YP expert Monica Tabengwa, and veteran trans and intersex activist from Uganda, Julius Kaggwa.
Taking YP to the grassroots
One of the limitations inherent in the wider dissemination of the YPs is the fact that it’s available in very few world languages. The YPs, even if they are available in English, sometimes due to the legal nature of the language, are not very useful to grassroots communities. Keeping this in mind, ARC partnered with Sangama in India who worked to adapt and translate a version of the article by Arvind Narrain and Pooja Patel titled, ‘YP and YP plus 10: Its contribution to the LGBTI Struggle’ into Kannada. The article was released during a training on YPs so as to generate some content in local Indian languages on the YPs. Sangama is a sexual minorities, sex workers and people living HIV human rights organization for individuals oppressed due to their sexual preference.
Leaving No One Behind: The Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) Global Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development
Held in Vancouver, Canada, the ERC Global Conference on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development in August saw the participation of approximately 275 delegates from over 85 countries. These delegates represented the ERC’s member states, observing states, parliamentarians, international organizations, civil society organizations, and private sector representatives. ARC was a key player in the recruitment and selection of civil society participants to the conference, as well as assisting to provide feedback on the overall agenda, and the outcomes of the thematic group on “national laws and policies”, of which it is a member. ARC’s ED, Kim Vance-Mubanga, participated in the conference and was invited to chair a plenary session on Intersectional and Cross-Cutting Issues on LGBTI Human Rights and Inclusive Development and a Break-out session on intesex-inclusive development and advocacy.
ARC, through its role on the Dignity Initiative, also used this conference opportunity to advocate strongly with the Canadian government to issue calls to action and secure commitments, in particular funding commitments, to advance global LBGTI human rights.
‘On the brink of global change: decriminalization of same-sex intimacy’
This event was held on August 13, 2018 at Glad Day Books, Toronto. ARC’s Arvind Narrain presented an update on the arguments which were made before the Supreme Court in the Navtej Singh Johar case which stressed heavily on the right to privacy, equality and dignity. Maurice Tomlinson presented his work on the struggle to decriminalise same sex conduct in the Caribbean. What united both struggles was the citing of the Indian privacy decision in the decision in Trinidad decriminalising same sex conduct and in turn the citing of the Trinidad decision in the arguments before the Indian Supreme Court.
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” will be released on September the 13th in Toronto, Canada. Both Arvind Narrain and Kim Vance-Mubanga have chapters in the book and Kim will attend the launch in Toronto.
#CWSDC6 2018 Belize
ARC’s ED, Kim Vance-Mubanga will be attending and delivering two workshops at the Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference in Belize in October, 2018. One will be a hands-on workshop on submitting complaints to the UN special procedures and one will focus on using the YP+10 and other tools, such as section 377 decision, Trinidad decision, and State apologies for advocacy purposes.
ARC’s Mariana Winocur will attend the 25th World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium in Argentina, in November.
This symposium is dedicated to training professionals in the field, and to the dissemination of scientific research and sharing of clinical practice expertise to network and set up new collaborations.
Other editions of the ARC E-bulletin
22. April 2018 I 21. December 2017 I 20. August 2017 I 19. April 2017 I 18. January 2017 I 17. September 2016 I 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