Thursday, 22 November 2012

Extrajudicial Killings and TDoR

The following is a joint press release from these organisations;

Action Canada for Population and Development, Canada; Anjaree Thailand, Thailand; Amnesty International; Arc International; COC Nederland, Netherlands; FARUG, Uganda; For-SOGI, Thailand; GAYa NUSANTARA, Indonesia; GATE: Global Action for Trans* Equality, International; Human Rights Watch; International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO); International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA); International Commission of Jurists, International; International Service for Human Rights (ISHR); Kaos Gay Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association, Turkey; The Norwegian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organisation (LLH), Norway; Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad (OTD), Chile; RFSL The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, Sweden; Russian LGBT Network, Russia; SAYONI, Singapore; SPECTRUM, Uganda; SPoD, Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association, Turkey; TLF Share, Philippines; ransgender Europe (TGEU), International; Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR), Turkey.

"Governments Condemn Extrajudicial Executions in Seminal UN Vote

Historic First Condemnation of Killings Based on Gender Identity 

November 21, 2012

For Immediate Release (For media contacts, see below)

(New York) An international coalition of organizations dedicated to human rights celebrated yesterday’s historic vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to pass resolution A/C.3/67/L.36 condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  The vote reversed the events of 2010 when the same body voted to strip the resolution of reference to “sexual orientation.” The UNGA also expanded upon its commitment to the universality of human rights by including “gender identity” for the first time in the resolution’s history.  

The resolution, which is introduced biennially in the Third Committee, urges States to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling upon states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. It was introduced by the Government of Sweden and co-sponsored by 34 states from around the world. 

For the past 12 years, this resolution has urged States "to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including... all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation."  Apart from Human Rights Council resolution 17/19, it is the only UN resolution to make specific reference to sexual orientation.  This year, the term “gender identity” was added to the list of categories vulnerable to extrajudicial killings.

At Tuesday’s session, the United Arab Emirates, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, presented an amendment that would have stripped the resolution of reference to “sexual orientation and gender identity” and substituted “or for any other reason.”  The UAE proposal was rejected in a vote with 44 votes in favor, 86 against, and 31 abstentions and 32 absent.  Another failed effort, led by the Holy See, would have stripped all specific references to groups at high risk for execution; however it was never formally introduced.  

The Third Committee also retained language expressing “deep concern” over the continuing instances of arbitrary killing resulting from the use of capital punishment in a manner that violates international law, which some States led by Singapore attempted to have deleted. The Singapore proposal was rejected in a vote with 50 votes in favor, 78 against, and 37 abstentions and 30 absent. 
The full resolution passed with 108 votes in favor, 1 against, 65 abstentions, and 19 absent.  (While the voting screen showed no vote from Trinidad & Tobago, the state representative took the floor after the tally to explain their intention to vote in favor of the full resolution.)

Many governments, including Brazil, the United States and South Africa, among others, spoke out to condemn the proposed amendment to remove reference to sexual orientation and gender identity.  The Government of Japan ended the silence that has often characterized the Asian Group’s participation on LGBT rights at the UNGA by stating, “We cannot tolerate any killings of persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our delegation voted against the proposed amendment to this paragraph because we think it is meaningful to mention such killings from the perspective of protecting the rights of LGBT people.”  

Some governments condemned the reference to sexual orientation and gender identity, including Sudan on behalf of the Arab Group, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Trinidad and Tobago stated that specific reference to “gender identity” presented a “particular challenge” for the country.  Speaking frequently, the Government of Egypt stated that it was “gravely alarmed at the attempt to legitimate undetermined concepts like gender identity” by equating them with other forms of discrimination such as that based on race, color, sex, religion, and language.  In reference to sexual orientation and gender identity, Egypt stated, “We are alarmed at the attempts to make new rights or new standards.”  

The vote affirms the resolution’s dramatic conclusion in 2010. At that time, the Third Committee removed the reference to “sexual orientation” by a vote of 79 in favor, 70 opposed, with 17 abstaining and 26 not voting and was silent on “gender identity.” However, in a remarkable turn of events, the resolution was later introduced before the full General Assembly, which voted to reinstate the language by passing it 93 to 55, with 27 abstentions and 17 absent or not voting.

The states’ decision on Tuesday to support the inclusion of “sexual orientation” and introduce “gender identity” into the resolution is one more in a series of positive developments the UN and in regional human rights systems where there is increasingly recognition of the need for protection from discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. The successful expansion of the resolution to include “gender identity” on Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day dedicated to those murdered as a result of their gender identity or expression, was particularly significant.

·      For a full vote on the Singapore Amendmentclick here.  For a photograph of the vote, click here.
·      For a full vote on the United Arab Emirates Amendment to remove sexual orientation and gender identity, click here.  For a photograph of the vote, click here.
·      For a full vote on the passage of the Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Resolutionsclick here.  For a photograph of the vote, click here


Amnesty International, International

“The resolution also focuses attention on another way, little explored by the UN up to now, that the death penalty as such does violence to human rights,” said Amnesty International’s UN representative, José Luis Díaz. “The Third Committee sent a strong message, reaffirming everyone must be protected from extrajudicial killings and keeping language Singapore and others sought to expunge, thereby upholding fundamental principles of human rights and the rule of law.”

Arc International, International

"More than half of the world's nations have now spoken, and we call upon the minority of countries that still oppose LGBT rights to bring their laws into conformity with international standards," said Kim Vance, Co-Director, Arc International.


“We commend the steadfastness of those governments who showed their commitment to the universality of human rights principles, and urge those who have not to do so in future resolutions,” said Dédé Oetomo of GAYa NUSANTARA.

Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE), International

“The inclusion of gender identity in the Resolution on Extrajudicial Executions is an historical landmark for trans* people around the world, who are commemorating today an International Day of Remembrance, honoring those killed by transphobic violence. In the context of this Resolution, language on gender identity would contribute decisively to dismantle that violence," said Mauro Cabral, Co-Director, GATE

Human Rights Watch, International

“The right to life, liberty and security of the person is a basic human right. It is shocking to see how often people are killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director in the LGBT program at Human Rights Watch “With this vote the majority of states acknowledge this serious problem and seek to redress it.”  

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, International

“With yesterday’s UN vote, a majority of governments worldwide decisively rebutted the ideology of hate and affirmed the simple but fundamental premise that LGBT people have a right to exist,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).  “By some measure, this is a low bar, but progress is incremental and every step must be celebrated in advancing human rights for everyone, everywhere.”

Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad (OTD), Chile

“The passage of this resolution is the recognition that the lives and dignity of Trans people (transsexual, transgender, transvestite and intersex) and of lesbian, gay and bisexual people cannot continue to be taken with impunity.  Today people are executed and/or murdered because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, which is an aberration we should be ashamed of as a society and as human beings.  Today, states have spoken.  They have recognized that life is a right and that they have the responsibility to protect it regardless of an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Today the work of civil society has paid off, and we can move forward continuing to advance rights,” said Andrés Rivera Duarte, Director of OTD.

RFSL: The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, Sweden

“We appreciate Sweden's lead on this important resolution for the first time explicitly mentioning inclusion of those persecuted on the grounds of gender identity and are very happy with the outcome,” said Ulrika Westerlund, President of RFSL, the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights.

Sayoni, Singapore

"As LGBT citizens of Singapore, we are applaud the government of Singapore for voting to include SOGI in the resolution to stop extra judicial killings. It sends a clear message affirming the sanctity of every human life.  However, we are disappointed that the government of Singapore abstained from voting on passage of the resolution.  This absence represents a missed opportunity to further protect the rights of LGBTIQ persons all over the world and shows little regard for the fate of it's citizens," said Jean Chong of Sayoni

“Don’t legalise killings and murders based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Moses Mulindwa, SPECTRUM.

SPoD, Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association, Turkey

“SPoD welcomes UN General Assembly’s decision to include both sexual orientation and gender identity within the resolution. This historic vote, including gender identity, sends a clear message to all governments that LGBT individuals should be protected from extrajudicial executions.
However, we are highly disappointed to see the Turkish Government abstained from the vote on the adoption of such a crucial resolution and absent on the vote on whether or not to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity as within Turkey an alarming number of LGBT people are killed every year,” said Onur Fidangul, International Coordinator, SPoD.

TLF Share, Philippines

"The historic vote of the UN against extrajudicial executions sends a strong signal to the international community that collectively, we stand against the appalling execution of individuals because of their sexual orientation & gender identity. We have just shattered that wall of silence that has allowed this grave form of abuse to persist in many countries worldwide, and we hope that this would lead to an end to extrajudicial executions of LGBTs. We are disappointed, however, with the abstention of the Philippine government. It must realize that with its silence on EJE, it is condoning this reprehensible abuse against LGBTs," said Jonas Bagas, Director, TLF Share


Action Canada for Population and Development, Canada
Neha Sood,, +1-917-510-3714

Anjaree Thailand, Thailand
Anjana Suvarnananda,

Amnesty International, International
Jose Luis Diaz,,

Arc International, International
Kim Vance,, +1-902-442-3630

COC Nederland, Netherlands
Philip Tijsma,, +31.6.3958 3789

FARUG, Uganda
Kasha N. Jacqueline,, +256 (0) 31229 4863

For-SOGI, Thailand
Coordinator, ชมพู่ ธรรมดา,

Dédé Oetomo,, +62811311743

GATE: Global Action for Trans* Equality, International
Mauro Cabral,, +54 (9) 11 65806999
Justus Eisfeld,, +1-212-367-1304

Human Rights Watch, International
Graeme Reid,, +1-212-216-1288

International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO), International
Joel Bedos, ,, +33 6 64 71 59 21

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, International
Jessica Stern,, +1-917-355-3262

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), International
Renato Sabbadini,,+393356067158

International Commission of Jurists, International
Allison Jernow,, +41 (0)22 979 38 00

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), International
Michelle Evans,, +1-212-490-2199

Kaos Gay Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association, Turkey
Hayriye Kara,, +90 (312) 230 03 58

The Norwegian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organisation (LLH), Norway
Bård Nylund,, +47 23103939

Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad (OTD), Chile
Andrés Rivera Duarte,, +56-72-229660

RFSL The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, Sweden
Ulrika Westerlund,, +46-70-345 01 83

Russian LGBT Network, Russia
Maria Kozlovskaya,, +7 (812) 454 64 52

SAYONI, Singapore
Jean Chong,, +65 9747 5756

Moses Mulindwa,, +256782854391

SPoD, Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association, Turkey
Onur Fidangul,, +90 534 080 75 47

TLF Share, Philippines
Jonas Bagas,

Transgender Europe (TGEU), International
Carla LaGata,, +49-176-39509277

Women for Women's Human Rights (WWHR), Turkey
Pinar Ilkkaracan,"

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Translation of French newspaper article about trans person's suicide in French prison...

"Un détenu transsexuel s’est pendu dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi dans sa cellule du centre de détention de Caen, a-t-on appris samedi auprès de l’Observatoire international des prisons (OIP).
Selon l’OIP, le détenu est mort vendredi, après s’être pendu à l’aide du cordon électrique d’une télévision. Il venait d’apprendre que son« recours pour obtenir l’autorisation d’utiliser le prénom Nathalie avait été rejeté » et écrivait « une énième lettre pour demander une prise en charge médicale (une hormonothérapie pour un changement de sexe : NDLR) ».
« Personne ne lui répondait »
« Depuis plus d’un an, elle demandait des informations sur les structures médicales spécialisées dans la prise en charge des transsexuelles. Personne ne lui répondait au niveau du centre pénitentiaire », a ajouté l’OIP, dans un communiqué, en ajoutant que le détenu « a subi de nombreuses brimades : non prise en compte de sa transsexualité, refus réguliers de ses demandes de vêtements féminins, de produits spécifiques ».
L’administration pénitentiaire, a confirmé la pendaison du détenu sans vouloir commenter les raisons de son geste".

Google translation:
"A transsexual detainee hanged themself during the night of Wednesday to Thursday in their cell at the detention center of Caen, it was learned Saturday at the International Observatory of Prisons (OIP).
According to the OIP, the inmate died Friday after hanging with TV electrical cable. They had just learned that their "appeal for permission to use the name Nathalie had been rejected" and wrote "yet another letter to request medical treatment (hormone therapy for a sex change: Ed)."
"Nobody answered"
"For more than a year, she asked for information on medical facilities specializing in the treatment of transsexuals. Nobody at the detention center gave any reply, "said the OIP, in a statement, adding that the prisoner
" has undergone much bullying: disregarding his transsexuality, refusing his requests for regular women's clothing, specific products. "
The prison administration has confirmed the hanging of the prisoner without wanting to comment on the reasons for this gesture".

Friday, 2 November 2012

Asylum Activists cautiously applaud gender identity and sexuality recognition as criteria for granting asylum.

I have just translated the following press release for the T-Refugee Project in Denmark: 
"Gender and sexuality are now recognized as possible criteria for granting asylum, the Refugee Board has stated in a letter in response to a request from LGBT Denmark legal affairs spokesperson, Søren Laursen.
The T-Refugee Project regards the Refugee Board's letter as meaning that asylum practice has now changed with respect to, among other things, transgender and gay asylum seekers, otherwise known as LGBTIQ refugees (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer).
 A victory in principle
The change of the Refugee Board's asylum practice is an important victory in principle in the view of the T-Refugee Project, and with the change, according to the group there is now no avoiding giving asylum to transgender refugees.
Stine Larsen from the asylum campaign group T-Refugee Project explains:
"I see it as a victory in principle, the Refugee Board now believes that gender identity and sexuality can play a role in an asylum case. But we are not there yet. We are cautiously optimistic, but waiting. We still need to see some concrete decisions that are positive for transgender asylum seekers. If the letter from the Refugee Board is to be more than fine words, transgender asylum seekers from countries that do not protect them from violence and killings should of course be granted asylum."
 Real and personal danger
According to the T-Refugee Project this statement of intent is a clear improvement in relation to their overall struggle for rights. In practice, the change means that amongst others, transgender asylum seekers will be recognized as belonging to a particular social group. This enables them to obtain asylum with convention status, if they can convince the Refugee Board that they are in real and personal danger because of their gender identity.
Phoebus Papanikolaou, who, like Stine Larsen is active in the T-Refugee Project, said:
"It is essential that there is action behind the fine words and asylum is granted in individual cases. Refugee Convention status is not secured by the latest announcement by the Refugee Board, even though it represents a step in the right direction, it would indeed be absurd beyond measure if the change only ended up as embellishments on the paper it was written on. That would be tantamount to simply presenting a positive face, which hopefully is far below the Refugee Board’s standards "
Stine Larsen believes that it is positive that the Refugee Board now suggests a change in relation to gender identity and sexuality:
"At last, something has happened. LGBT Denmark has for many years been trying to get the Refugee Board to change its practice, and this change has been one of our main demands since we started the T-Refugee Project in September. Of course, gender identity and sexuality should be taken into account when deciding who may be considered as part of a particular social group, allowing for asylum status to be granted.”
 A victory for Danish activism
The announcement from the Refugee Board, besides being a victory for transgender refugees also represents a victory for activism in Denmark.
"I do not think Refugee Board would have changed its practice, if Søren Laursen, renowned researchers and other groups and individuals had not argued for asylum for transgender and homosexual people who risk persecution in their countries of origin. I think the change is due to the hard work of many types of lead actors have put in the work for actual transgender asylum seekers."
 An international victory
The new tone of the Refugee Board is also a victory for cooperation between activists across national borders. And it is a victory for international human rights bodies and groups like ILGA Europe, UNHCR and Amnesty International.
T-Refugee Project believes that the other European countries that are lagging behind UN recommendations on gender and sexuality (ie the UK and Ireland) should follow Denmark and change course, specifically to include gender identity or sexuality minorities.
 Words must be followed up with action
"Now we hope that this is a signal that the refugees fleeing because of their gender identity or sexual orientation will actually be granted asylum. The T-Refugee Project will keep a close eye on the Refugee Board’s decisions and speak up if the new policy is not respected. If it is just empty words, it will do nothing for the refugees who need it to be followed up with action," concludes Stine Larsen.

Facebook: T-Refugee Project / Save Fernanda Milan
Søren Laursen, retspolitisk talsperson, LGBT: 
Flygtningenævnets response to Søren Laursen:
Demonstration i København ’Asylum for Fernanda Milán’-manifestation
UNHCR: Refugee protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law p. 43
UNHCR: Om de problematiske forhold for LGBT-asylansøgere i modtagerstaterne:
FN’s menneskerettighedskomite: Om LGBT-personers vilkår i oprindelseslandene:

T-Refugee Project demands
Asylum for Fernanda Milán!

Compliance with the Refugee Convention recommendations on gender and sexuality in specific asylum cases!"
English translation from Danish by Natacha Kennedy