Bolivia‚Äôs new constitution, approved by 61 percent of voters last month, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The constitution took effect Feb. 7. According to New York-based Latino activist Andr√©s Duque, Article 14.II, titled ‚ÄúFundamental Rights and Guarantees,‚ÄĚ reads, ‚ÄúThe State prohibits and punishes all forms of discrimination founded on the basis of sex, skin color, gender, age, sexual orientation and gender identity, origin, culture, nationality, citizenship, language, religious beliefs, ideology, political or philosophical affiliation.‚ÄĚ
Duque said the document also defines marriage as between a man and a woman and allows Evo Morales, the first Bolivian president of indigenous background, to run for a second term and ‚Äúto further establish a socialist vision for the country.‚ÄĚ
It was unclear at press time whether the new protections apply within the new parallel tribal justice system established by the constitution.
Some 60 percent of Bolivians may fall under the jurisdiction of the tribal system.
Hungarian Gov‚Äôt Approves New Partnership Bill
Hungary‚Äôs government Feb. 11 signed off on a new registered-partnership bill to replace one that was struck down as unconstitutional just before it was to take effect on Jan. 1. The Constitutional Court said the previous measure was unconstitutional because it would have given the rights of marriage to opposite-sex couples who are not married, violating the special protection granted to marriage by the constitution.
The new bill proposes registered partnership only for same-sex couples and would grant them the rights of marriage except in the areas of adoption and the taking of one‚Äôs spouse‚Äôs last name. Whether Parliament will pass the new bill is unclear. Hungary has had a minority government since the Liberals left the governing coalition early last year.
‚ÄúBased on ‚Äėparliamentary mathematics,‚Äô the bill has a high chance of being passed,‚ÄĚ said activist Tam√°s Dombos of the H√°tt√©r Society for LGBT People. ‚ÄúGoverning parties hardly ever vote against proposals by their own government and the Liberals fully support the new bill. It is, however, very hard to predict how delicate negotiations involved in running a minority government will affect voting on the bill.‚ÄĚ
Russian Gays Target HIV Testing of Visa Applicants
Russian gay activists have launched a campaign to stop mandatory HIV testing of foreigners who wish to remain in the country for more than three months. Those who test positive are denied a visa.
The activists wrote to President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov. ‚ÄúRequesting HIV status in a visa application can be considered as an intrusion to private life in the definition of article 8 of the European Convention for Human Rights,‚ÄĚ said well-known Moscow activist Nikolai Alekseev.
According to the activists, Russia and Armenia are the only members of the 47-nation Council of Europe to have such a policy. Other nations that reportedly restrict the entry of HIV-positive foreigners include Colombia, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sudan and Yemen.
The United States apparently is still in the process of lifting its ban on HIV-positive foreigners and immigrants. Last year, Congress repealed the law that banned HIV-positive persons but failed to amend the government‚Äôs actual list of ‚Äúcommunicable diseases of public health significance‚ÄĚ for visa purposes. The Bush administration left HIV on the list, and the Obama administration has not yet removed it.
African GLBT activists Meet to Plot Strategy
African GLBT activists and gay rights lawyers met in Cape Town, South Africa, for four days in early February to discuss legal strategies in the push for gay rights on the continent. The meeting was organized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Global Rights, Interights, and the Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists. It marked ‚Äúthe first-ever dialogue between lawyers who have worked on litigation related to LGBT rights and African LGBT leaders,‚ÄĚ IGLHRC said.
Forty-five activists attended from Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. ‚ÄúLawyers, activist leaders and donors attending the meeting acknowledged the importance of impact litigation for repealing sodomy laws and challenging other discriminatory statutes and policies,‚ÄĚ IGLHRC said. ‚ÄúSuch litigation, however, needs to be situated within the context of local, national and regional LGBT organizing.‚ÄĚ
The participants discussed the need for security for lawyers defending GLBT clients and causes. Many of the lawyers at the meeting said they have faced attacks on their reputations, attempts at disbarment and physical violence.
The group called for creation of a GLBT African legal fund and a training and support network for African lawyers working on sexual rights cases.
Moscow Pride Sues President Medvedev
With several lawsuits pending before the European Court of Human Rights against Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for his repeated bans of gay pride events, Moscow Pride organizers now have filed a similar suit against Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The new case stems from a May 2008 ban of a planned gay pride parade at Aleksandrovsky Garden next to the Kremlin, an area under federal control.
Federal officials failed to respond to the request to hold the parade and instead forwarded it to city officials, who automatically ban requests to hold gay events in public places.
Mayor Luzhkov has called gay pride parades ‚Äúsatanic‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúweapons of mass destruction.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a pity that the president, even though he proclaimed that he would fight for human rights, did not interfere and put an end to the unlawful actions of Moscow officials,‚ÄĚ said pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev.
When Moscow gays have ignored the bans and staged unofficial pride events, they have been violently attacked by anti-gay protesters and police officers.
-assistance: Bill Kelley