Tag Archives: Australia & New Zealand

Australia News | Indigenous

Indigenous leaders in Australia seek formal legal and political representation with government
  • More than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander leaders met to discuss political recognition in Uluru, agreeing formal treaties were necessary beyond proposed symbolic representation in the constitution.
  • The government issued an apology for historical injustices in 2008, although community leaders and activists have sought legal commitments to reparative measures beyond symbolism.
  • The push is likely to face strong opposition as the Australian Constitution has only been amended eight times in 44 attempts in its 116-year- history.
Read

Uluru talks: Indigenous Australians reject ‘symbolic’ recognition in favour of treaty” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Australia’s Aborigines seek treaties in drive for more than symbolic change” (Reuters | May 2017)

Why doesn’t Australia have an indigenous treaty?” (BBC News | May 2017)

Additional

The Australian Constitution

(Image Credit: Calla Wahlquist/The Guardian)

Australia Feature | Mixed-race Aboriginal

Australia’s “Stolen Generation” Speaks

For six decades across the 20th century, the Australian government pursued a ruthless policy of the forced assimilation of its indigenous population, tearing mixed-race children from their communities and creating “stolen generations” deprived of access to the culture of their aboriginal roots. The policy, similar to those pursued in Canada and the U.S., forced children into boarding schools, church missions, and adoptions to erase connections to their communities. Canadian photographer Matthew Sherwood has documented the stories of those in the Northern Territory through his photo series Generations Stolen, profiled in The New York Times.

Read

Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories” (The New York Times | May 2017)

Australia & Canada Feature | Indigenous

The Fight for Indigenous Equality, from Australia to Canada

As increased attention to negative outcomes in indigenous communities has pushed their governments to address racial disparities, Australian and Canadian indigenous advocates have drawn attention to the markedly similar ways in which English settler colonialism and systemic racial inequality unfolded in their countries. In both countries, indigenous peoples make up at least a quarter of the prison population, 40% of incarcerated children, and half of those in the child welfare system. Similar policies of forced family dissolution, detention, and delayed dismantlement of legal inequality have pushed advocates an ocean apart to come up with comparative solutions to the persistent indigenous/non-indigenous gap in their countries.

Read

‘It’s the same story’: How Australia and Canada are twinning on bad outcomes for Indigenous people” (The Guardian | April 2017)

(Image Credit: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Global Event | Women’s Marches

Global Women’s Marches

On the day following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, millions gathered in demonstrations taking place across all seven continents in support of women’s rights. Trump, who was elected despite having been accused of sexual assault by at least two dozen women, ran a campaign that attacked reproductive rights, disparaged high-profile women (including his opponent, Hillary Clinton), and equivocated on issues like gender pay equity, and of the 25 members of his incoming senior leadership team, only three are women. From Austin to Antarctica, women and allies around the world mobilized around issues including women’s security, reproductive rights, racial and immigration justice, climate change, and LGBTQ rights.

Global Overview
The Americas


Source: The New York Times (YouTube)

Europe & Africa


Source: ODN (YouTube)

Asia Pacific & Antarctica


Source: Reuters (YouTube)

Australia News | LGBTI

South Australia approves bill to recognize same-sex partnerships
  • The South Australia Legislative Council approved a bill to establish a relationship registry for same-sex couples in the state and recognize overseas same-sex marriages, including of Australian nationals who travel to New Zealand to be married.
  • The new law will allow same-sex couples to enjoy some of the partnership rights of opposite-sex couples, including recognition of next-of-kin status, and introduces protections for intersex people.
  • The bill followed the death of British national David Bulmer-Rizzi on honeymoon in South Australia, which prompted international outcry after his marriage to his husband Marco went unrecognized for end-of-life decisions and on the death certificate issued.

Read more:
South Australia Has Passed A Law Recognising Same-Sex Relationships After Honeymoon Death” (BuzzFeed News)
Marco Bulmer-Rizzi welcomes relationships register bill passing SA parliament” (ABC News)
Premier Jay Weatherill makes apology in Parliament for past LGBTIQ discrimination” (news.com.au)

Additional reads:
This British Man’s Husband Died On Honeymoon But Australia Refuses To Recognise Their Marriage” (BuzzFeed News)

(Image Credit: Facebook, via BuzzFeed News)

Australia Features | Asylum-Seekers

Australia’s Refugee Hot Potato

Despite its reputation as a beacon—however imperfect—of multiculturalism in the Asia Pacific region, Australia has increasingly come under scrutiny for its asylum policies, which make it nearly impossible for refugees to find haven in the country. International outrage has grown over more than a decade as an evolving set of agreements and restrictions have made the country’s practices increasingly less transparent and, some advocates argue, more inhumane.

Rejection of refugee-carrying vessels, offshore processing, indefinite detention, poor conditions in detention centers, and questionable legal maneuverings have caused humanitarian monitors to sound the alarm, questioning Australia’s commitment to international human rights laws. The most recent development in Australia’s ever-evolving asylum-seeker drama has involved an agreement with the U.S. to take those currently held in offshore detention on the island of Nauru, but the election of Donald Trump has introduced uncertainty into a situation already defined by precarity.

Read:
Offshore detention: Australia’s recent immigration history a ‘human rights catastrophe’” (The Guardian)

Additional:
The Nauru files: cache of 2,000 leaked reports reveal scale of abuse of children in Australian offshore detention” (The Guardian)
Refugees in Australia’s remote camps offered US resettlement” (AFP via Yahoo! News)

(Image Credit: Dean Lewins/AAP, via The Guardian)

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Commemorating the day when homosexuality was de-pathologized by the World Health Organization in 1990, the 13th-annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) stands as an occasion for global mobilization towards LGBT visibility and security. The day, like many global celebrations, is also one many governments choose to speak out on global human rights and minority security, announcing initiatives to support their LGBT citizens and international projects.

Even today, ongoing disagreements between nations over LGBT rights have prompted diplomatic rows and roadblocks to international cooperation, including the recent objection of 51 Muslim countries to the participation of LGBT groups in a U.N. AIDS forum in June. The push to extinguish homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia at all geographic levels remains important to the global mobility of LGBT people worldwide.

Here are highlights from IDAHOT 2016:

Africa & the Middle East


Video Credit: Collectif Arc-en-Ciel

LGBT Nigerians have continued wrestling with conflicting legal messages, with the recent passage of the landmark HIV Anti-Discrimination Act doing little to undo the effects of a 2014 anti-homosexuality law.

While a moratorium on LGBT criminalization is officially in place in Malawi, individuals are subject to entrenched marginalization and stigmatization in healthcare services, with a national referendum on LGBT rights having stalled.

The Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) organized events for IDAHOT in Bulawayo, focusing on mental health as ongoing social and healthcare difficulties plague the community.

Though homosexuality remains criminalized in Tunisia, activists have achieved increased visibility and pushed for legal reform amidst ongoing discrimination.

Israel reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT Israelis, announcing funding to support an emergency shelter for LGBT youth and a hostel for trans people who have recently undergone gender confirmation surgery.

Days before IDAHOT, activists staged a sit-in outside of a Beirut gendarmerie, protesting Lebanon‘s anti-homosexuality legal holdovers from French occupation.  Similarly, the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) issued an appeal to the Lebanese government to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing for recognition of homosexuality’s presence within the natural variation of human sexuality.

The Americas


Video Credit: teleSUR

U.S. President Barack Obama released a statement of support as his administration lended its voice to a national debate over the bathroom rights of trans people.

In Canada, PM Justin Trudeau announced an anti-discrimination bill protecting trans security as advocates organized a demonstration for trans healthcare rights following the firebombing of a trans health clinic.

Across Latin America, important gains in same-sex partnership and family rights and gender identity healthcare and legal protections have heartened LGBT Latin Americans, but the region continues to have some of the highest reported rates of violence against the LGBT community in the world.

LGBT organizations held cultural and political events throughout Argentina to highlight conditions facing the Argentine LGBT community, call for an anti-discrimination law, and press for federal recognition of the International Day Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination, as the day is known.

Cuba celebrated the day fresh off Pride events in Havana, where Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raúl Castro, led a parade of thousands through the city streets.

Asia Pacific


Video Credit: Out for Australia

As the country continues contentious battles including the push for marriage equality and erasure of “gay panic” legal defenses, rainbow flags and celebrations appeared across Australia, including over police stations in Canberra, in the streets of Brisbane, and in the senior-care facilities of Tasmania. In Victoria, officials announced a retreat for Aboriginal gender minorities to be held later in the year.

In China, a study conducted by the U.N. Development Programme, Peking University, and the Beijing LGBT Center, the largest of its kind to date, was released revealing that only 5% of LGBTI Chinese are fully out at school and work, but also showed encouraging levels of acceptance of LGBTI people among China’s youth. The head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission expressed support for anti-discrimination legislation at IDAHOT festivities in the city.

In Fiji, former President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau joined festivities at the French Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the island’s LGBTQI community.

Advocates took to op-ed columns in India to confront ongoing transphobia, reflect on gay representation in film, and highlight everyday homophobia in urban life.

A tug-of-war over LGBT rights between Islamic fundamentalists and pro-diversity moderates in Indonesia has led to mixed messages about LGBT security in the nation, spurring anti-discrimination protests.

A recent Human Rights Watch report on anti-LGBT bullying in Japan served as a reminder of the purpose of the day, highlighting rampant anti-LGBT sentiment even as the government has initiated broad efforts to combat bullying in schools.

Europe & Eurasia


Video Credit: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

The divergent prospects for LGBTI people across Europe, from Western Europe’s distinctive commitment to the protection of gender diversity to ongoing persecution in the East, was further confirmed through a UNESCO report highlighting anti-LGBT violence in schools released as global education ministers met in Paris.

Rainbow colors appeared in the shopping district of Cyprus‘s capital as 22 organizations came together to organize events to launch the country’s third Pride Festival, focusing on the need to increase legal recognition of both sexual and gender minorities in the country.

In Gibraltar, organizers canceled event plans in support of action on marriage equality legislation currently under consideration, arguing that holding a rally in front of the Parliament as uncertainty prevails would undermine pressure on MPs.

Kosovo‘s first Pride march brought out hundreds from the LGBT community to Pristina, including the U.S. and U.K. ambassadors.

Organizations in Luxembourg planned a silent march to call attention to the plight of LGBTI individuals worldwide and call for increased international protections (including asylum).

Organizers in Serbia took the day to announce the date of this year’s Pride parade (September 18) and address concerns of homophobia as right-wing parliamentary representation has increased.

Advocates, allies, and diplomats gathered around the rainbow flag raised at the US Embassy in Latvia.

On the island of Gozo in Malta, NGO leaders celebrated gender diversity in the country.

After advocates scrapped plans for IDAHOT activities in Georgia due to security concerns, a group of activists were arrested for painting pro-LGBT graffiti on administrative buildings. A “Family Day” protest against LGBT rights and visibility, the third such anti-LGBT demonstration, brought together members of Georgia’s conservative Orthodox community and international religious groups.

In the U.K., London’s new mayor promised to make the city a more just place for its LGBT residents as a rainbow flag flew over the Mayor’s Office.

(Image Credit: EPA, via The Straits Times)