En trascendental decisión, juzgado militar libanés resuelve que homosexualidad no es delito
Fuente: Global Voices
28 de abril, 2019
El 30 de marzo de 2019, un tribunal militar libanés resolvió que la homosexualidad no es delito y se negó a procesar a cuatro personas acusadas del ‘delito’. Esta trascendental decisión es el primer caso de una corte militar que se niega a igualar la homosexualidad con un delito, aunque ha habido precedentes en cortes civiles.
A pesar de la resolución, el Ejército dio de baja a las cuatro personas involucradas en el caso.
El artículo 534 del Código Penal libanés establecía procesos penales para homosexuales. Activistas y abogados que apoyan los derechos LGBTQ+ han trabajado para derogar ese artículo.
El artículo 534 sanciona las “relaciones sexuales contranatura” hasta con un año de prisión. Como la definición de homosexualidad no está explícitamente formulada, más jueces progresistas han podido interpretar la ley y reivindicar a los procesados por actos como sodomía.
Sin embargo, las autoridades y muchos líderes religiosos libaneses no ven con agrado estas decisiones, y eligen perseguir y aislar a la población LBGTQ+ del Líbano. Por ejemplo, la Liga de Académicos Musulmanes (ulemas) en el Líbano publicó en su página de Facebook que la “Sodomía no es delito”.
La misma liga amenazó con intervenir con protestas si se realizaba el Desfile del Orgullo de Beirut 2017. Al final, se dio en un formato más limitado y se tuvo que cancelar en 2018 después de organizar algunas actividades.
El Ejército planea ahora llevar el caso a una corte de apelaciones para que las cuatro personas involucradas en el caso sean procesadas por el ‘delito’.
El primer precedente de una corte de apelaciones fue luego de la resolución de un juzgado de menor jerarquía en julio de 2018.
El 14 de noviembre de 2018, otra corte de apelaciones también absolvió a tres hombresprocesados por delitos relacionados con la homosexualidad. En este caso, uno de los hombres, un sirio, fue torturado durante el arresto, lo que el juez destacó en el caso.
Legal Agenda, organismo no gubernamental libanés, destacó:
En lo referente a la resolución judicial sobre las importantes implicancias hacia la protección de grupos marginados, uno de sus miembros
[juez Rabih Maalouf]
decidió avanzar en la violación mencionada abajo.
El delito se caracterizó en dos aspectos. Primero, confirmar explícitamente que penaliza la homosexualidad no es permisible; y segundo, enfatizar que los procedimientos de la investigación se deben anular para que los procedimientos penales concurrentes con derechos humanos, en particular el derecho a la privacidad y protección contra la tortura.
Continúa la lucha por la normalidad de LGBTQ+
Los obstáculos de las personas LGBTQ+ para una vida normal en el Líbano no son solamente legales. Como informó Global Voices, los LGBTQ+ enfrentan inmensa discriminación social y anticuadas prácticas médicas, como la llamada terapia de conversión, considerada una forma de tortura por la mayoría de profesionales de salud sexual.
A pesar de la naturaleza discriminatoria de esas prácticas, la Asociación Médica Libanesa para Salud Sexual (LebMASH) informó en su tercera conferencia anual de salud en marzo de 2019 que los médicos libaneses siguen negándose rutinariamente a dar tratamiento a los LGBTQ+:
Hasta la fecha, hay doctores, enfermeras y psicólogos que se niegan a ofrecer asistencia médica y atención a personas de la comunidad LGBTQ, y las dejan expuestas a la discriminación.
También se afirma que el 60 % de médicos libaneses creen que la homosexualidad es una enfermedad, de acuerdo con las aparentes actitudes dentro de la sociedad en general. Según una encuesta de 2015 del Centro de Recursos de Género y Sexualidad (GSRC) y la Fundación Árabe para Libertades e Igualdad (AFE): “el 64.6 % siente que los homosexuales no deberían ser aceptados en la sociedad, y la mayoría —75.9 %— discrepa que sería beneficioso para la sociedad reconocer la homosexualidad como normal, con más de la mitad —51.5 %— que siente que su opinión es muy clara”.
A pesar de estos obstáculos, ha habido progresos hacia la igualdad según la ley y hacia la aceptación en la sociedad. Como se menciona antes, los jueces en cortes civiles ya han emitido resoluciones similares antes.
Además, en 2013, la Sociedad Psiquiátrica del Líbano fue la primera en criticar la creencia de que la homosexualidad es un desorden mental. Pero el Índice de Censura informado en 2014, “en un país lleno de sectarismo, loa debates sobre la homosexualidad quedan descartados fácilmente en nombre de la religión y a los homosexuales se les acusa de promover el libertinaje”.
Supreme Court to take up LGBT employment discrimination cases
April 22, 2019
The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to take on two cases asking whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees are protected by federal employment discrimination laws, as well as two additional cases pertaining to maritime vessel safety and immigration permanent resident policy.
First, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, the court will decide whether discrimination “because of sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes discrimination based on sexual orientation. Courts of appeals have come to mixed conclusions about these questions.
In Bostock, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision last May that sexual orientation was not included within the meaning of the statute. The Second Circuit on the other hand, in Altitude, held that Title VII does apply based on sexual orientation because such discrimination “is a subset of sex discrimination.”
In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the court will decide whether Title VII bars discrimination against transgender people based on either their status as transgender or stereotyping.
A transgender employee was fired from her work at a funeral home for what the funeral home owner believed would violate the home’s dress code and “God’s commands” by allowing her to wear woman’s clothing. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the transgender employee, represented by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Two more cases were also added to the docket Monday, including CITGO Asphalt Refining Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co., Ltd., to determine whether under federal maritime law a safe-berth clause in a voyage charter contract is a guarantee of a ship’s safety, as the US Courts of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits have held, or one a duty of due diligence, as the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held.
The other case is Barton v. Barr, which asks whether a lawfully admitted permanent resident who is not seeking admission to the United States can be “render[ed] … inadmissible” for the purposes of the stop-time rule, when a period of continuous residence ends if the legal alien commits an offense that would make him inadmissible to the country.
Michigan: state-affiliated adoption agencies must allow LGBT couples to adopt
March 22, 2019
As part of a settlement, Michigan agreed Friday that state-contracted adoption agencies must follow non-discrimination requirements and allow LGBT couples to adopt or foster children.
The case was brought in September 2017 by two same-sex couples who wished to adopt against the state of Michigan and St. Vincent Catholic Charities (an intervenor defendant). “The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couples, arguing that the state of Michigan was violating the Constitution by permitting agencies to use religious criteria to exclude prospective foster and adoptive families.”
Kristy and Dana Dumont, two of the plaintiffs, told the ACLU, “We are so happy that for same-sex couples in Michigan who are interested in fostering or adopting, opening their hearts and homes to a child no longer comes with the risk of being subjected to the discrimination we experienced.”
However, the ACLU noted that Tennessee and Arkansas are working to pass bills that would allow state-funded agencies to exclude LGBT couples from adopting or fostering. In May 2017 Alabama passed a law permitting adoption agencies to exclude same-sex couples under a religious exemption. Texas passed a similar law the following June.
Kenya appeals court rules LGBT group can register as NGO
March 22, 2019
A Kenyan Court of Appeal on Friday denied an appeal of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Coordination Board that sought to deny an LGBT group’s registration.
In 2015 the High Court ruled that the group, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission(NGLHRC), could register with Kenya’s NGO board with the words “gay” and “lesbian” in its name, but the Coordination board appealed this decision, arguing the organization was “unacceptable,” and that it could not register it because Kenya’s penal code “criminalizes gay and lesbian liaisons.”
Three judges out of five on the Court of Appeal in Mombasa ruled in favor of the organization. Judge Philip Waki said that the penal code does not criminalize the LGBT’s ability to form a group and that they have a constitutional right to freedom of association.
According to a tweet from NGLHRC, three judges dismissed the appeal and agreed with the lower court’s ruling that “ALL, including LGBT persons, should be allowed to form an organization and that what is criminalized is the act (in the penal code) and not the person, the Kenyan.”
The ruling comes exactly one year to the date since a Kenyan court ruled against a law that required Kenyans to undergo forced anal examinations when suspected of same-sex relations. The organization remains in a legal battle concerning homosexual acts currently punishable under Kenya’s penal code, a decision set for May 24 this year.
Supreme Court rejects Hawaii B&B owner’s appeal in lesbian discrimination lawsuit
March 19, 2019
The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a Hawaii bed and breakfast owner who turned away a lesbian couple due to her Christian beliefs, thus leaving open the question of what protections are afforded public business owners who act in violation of anti-discrimination laws but in accordance with closely held religious beliefs.
Phyllis Young, owner of Aloha Bed & Breakfast, appealed the Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii’s decision, which found that Young violated Hawaii’s anti-discrimination law in denying service to Diane Cervilli and Taeko Bufford based on Catholic beliefs.
Young rents three bedrooms as a bed and breakfast in her family home. According to her petition for certiorari, Young welcomes all customers, so long as they abide by the house rules, including the rule that no romantic couples “share a bedroom unless they are a married man and woman.”
Young’s argument was largely premised on Hawaii’s “Mrs. Murphy exemption,” which “provides that if a dwelling has four or fewer rental units and the owner lives in one of those units, that home is exempt from the FHA.” According to the petition, “Mrs. Young believed, in good faith, that Hawai’i protected her right to practice her faith at home because Hawai’i’s statutory ‘Mrs. Murphy exemption’ facially protects from state interference those who rent a few rooms in their dwelling.”
The court’s rejection comes on the heels of the 2018 Colorado baker case, where the court ruled in favor of the baker, who denied service to a gay couple, but only for the reason that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility toward certain religious practices. In denying Young’s petition, the court has thus far declined to address the more broad question of whether owners of businesses open to the public may claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.
Taiwan proposes same-sex marriage Bill
February 22, 2019
The executive body of the Republic of China (Taiwan) submitted a bill to the legislature Thursday to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
In astatement, Premier Su Tseng-chang acknowledged the national referendum last year, where the majority of the island nation’s populace voted against recognizing same-sex marriage. Su also maintained the Executive’s Yuan’s position that the decision of the Constitutional Court stands, and carries the same weight as the nation’s constitution, itself. Despite this acknowledgement, Su stated that it is not the Executive Yuan’s position that the the country’s Civil Code should be amended.
In May 2017 the Constitutional Court of the Republic of China ruled, in its Opinion No. 748, that Articles 972, 973, 980 and 982 under Chapter II of the Civil Code pertaining to marriage was unconstitutional. Specifically, the civil code provisions referred to above restrict marriages to those between a man and a woman. The court based its analysis on Articles 7 and 22 of the Constitution, which broadly guarantees equal protection to all citizens under the law. The Constitutional Court noted that the government has been unsuccessful with producing legislation that would extend recognition marriages to same-sex couples. The Judicial Yuan required the government to amend the Civil Code within two years of its decision. As of May 25, 2019, the deadline for the Legislature would have expired. Should the Legislature fail to meet this deadline, same-sex couples may proceed with their marriage unions, regardless of whether the Civil Code has been amended.
Officially, the bill reflects the Executive Yuan’s position that the Constitutional Court’s opinion should be implemented. Despite no proposed amendments to the existing Civil Code, the draft of the bill addresses what defines a same-sex union, eligibility criteria, as well as provisions regarding property, custody, conflict, and dissolution. Interestingly, the bill designates same-sex unions as “第二條關係”, which roughly translates to a “second relationship.” It appears the bill intends to circumvent the Executive Yuan’s not amending of the Civil Code by stating that the marriage provisions under the Civil Code shall apply to the parties specified under this bill.
Court Decisions on LGBT Rights Echo ‘A Wild Wish’
January 16, 2019
Landmark court judgments in India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana
More than two centuries ago Mary Wollstonecraft laid the foundations for feminist thought with a simple premise: lack of equal opportunity diminished individual self-worth and hobbled social progress. In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft made a “wild wish” for equality between the sexes. When women are treated as less than equal in law and society, she argued, it affects not only the practicalities of everyday life, but encroaches on autonomy, dignity and agency.
Her arguments apply today to people marginalized by prevailing social norms, including those who do not conform to sexual and gender stereotypes. It is these same issues – autonomy, dignity, equality and agency – that were addressed in 2018 in three landmark court judgments in India, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.
These decisions – each one striking down discriminatory laws – herald new legal dispensations and life possibilities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in these countries. But the judgments go much further than striking down archaic and discriminatory laws. They trace ignoble colonial histories, highlight the negative impact on individuals and society, and seek avenues for redress. In doing so they draw on and develop jurisprudence from countries in the global South, each grappling with the legacy of colonialism.
It is not often that a judgment reflects on the meaning of human existence and the nature of desire, but the long-awaited decision of the Indian Supreme Court, handed down in September, did so, poetically. The court drew on literature, philosophy, social science, queer theory and individual testimony to invalidate Section 377 of India’s penal code, which punished “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with 10 years to life in prison. In doing so, the court upheld individual autonomy, equality, privacy and dignity, stating that “homosexuality is a completely natural condition, part of a range of human sexuality.”
The decision rejected the idea that individual lives should be limited by “the bondage of dogmatic social norms, prejudiced notions, rigid stereotypes, parochial mindsets and bigoted perceptions.” It railed against the “tyranny of the majority” and reasserted the role of the court as a “threshold against an upsurge in mob rule.” By using “constitutional morality” to protect minorities against “societal morality,” the courts protect freedom for all: “Our ability to survive as a free society will depend upon whether Constitutional values can prevail over the impulses of the time.”
The India judgment references a broad sweep of comparative law from around the world, including Belize, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Fiji, Hong Kong, Nepal, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the US and the United Kingdom. Invoking the “sodomy” laws as a residual “yoke” of British rule, the court declared that “history owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries.” The Indian Penal Code served as a template for similar laws imposed throughout the British Empire. Its demise will register globally; it is already referenced in a legal challenge to a similar Kenyan law and is inspiring a new challenge to Singapore’s colonial sodomy law as well.
The High Court in Trinidad and Tobago similarly ruled sections of the Sexual Offences Act that criminalize “buggery” and “serious indecency” unconstitutional, pointing out that – even when dormant – these laws send a message that “society hates homosexuals.” The judgment asserted the rights of individuals, including members of unpopular groups, above vague concepts such as tradition and religious morality. The court stated: “this is a case about the dignity of the person and not about the will of the majority or any religious debate.” The court also reflected that it was unfortunate when individual traits of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation were used as yardsticks to measure worth: “That is not their identity. That is not their soul.” In coming to these conclusions, judges referenced foreign precedent from courts in South Africa, Nepal, Fiji and Belize.
In November, the Caribbean Court of Justice struck down as unconstitutional a 125-year-old law against cross-dressing for an “improper purpose.” This law had been used disproportionately against transgender women in Guyana. The court traced the origins of the law, part of a suite of laws against vagrancy, to the coercive labor practices imposed in the aftermath of slavery and rejected them as relics of an oppressive past. The primary objective of vagrancy laws was to restrict mobility and force former slaves back to plantations as a way of maintaining a steady supply of cheap labor.
The court found that the law violated fundamental rights to equality, non-discrimination and freedom of expression. It condemned the role of gender stereotypes in restricting gender equality and individual self-determination. Pointing out that “[l]aw and society are dynamic, not static,” the court asserted the value of tolerance for individuals and society as a whole, recalling that “[t]oday’s heresy may easily become tomorrow’s gratefully embraced orthodoxy.” In this the court echoes the prescient insights of the feminist frontrunner Wollstonecraft and her wild wish:
A wild wish has just flown from my heart to my head, and I will not stifle it, though it might excite a horse-laugh. I do earnestly wish to see the distinction of sex confounded in society, unless where love animates the behaviour.
Taken together, these landmark judgments go to the heart of how restrictive and discriminatory laws harm individual lives and hamper social progress. When free expression is denied, said the Caribbean Court of Justice, “On the one hand, the human spirit is stultified. On the other, social progress is retarded.”