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Celebrate Pride Month with good news from Cyprus, Taiwan and Mexico

+ fighting the LGBTQIA+ backlash in Pakistan and Uganda

9 JUN 2023

Welcome to The Wrap, a monthly round-up of news on women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights around the world by the Impact newsletter. This month:

  • 🇹🇼 Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex adoption.
  • 🇨🇱 Chile compensates the families of femicide victims.
  • 🇪🇸 Spain’s constitutional court finally upholds 2010 abortion reform.

Read on for more. And if you want to be up-to-date on feminism worldwide, follow us on LinkedIn.

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MEXICO  Mexico’s government issued its first non-binary passport on the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. Foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard handed the document to Jesús Ociel Baena Saucedo, who is also the first non-binary magistrate in the country. The ceremony took place in Naucalpan. As of May 14, anyone who identifies as non-binary can apply for a passport in any of Mexico’s 32 states. Their passport will be marked with an ‘x’ in the gender section.

TAIWAN — Same-sex couples can now adopt children jointly in Taiwan. The amendment to the Same-Sex Marriage Act was passed by the parliament in May. Previously only one member of a queer couple could register as the legal parent. In December 2021, a ruling authorised a gay man in Kaohsiung City to adopt his husband’s child, but this did not set a precedent for other couples. The latest amendment grants equal rights to all families, regardless gender or sexual orientation. In 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise gay marriage. It is now the only country in Southeast Asia to allow same-sex adoption.

CYPRUS — The parliament of Cyprus has passed an amendment to the penal code defining conversion therapies as a criminal offence. This means any practice, technique or service aiming to convert, suppress or obliterate sexual orientation, gender identity or the gender expression of any person will be punishable with up to two years in prison or a fine of up to €5,000. The bill also establishes a three-year prison sentence and a fine of up to €10,000 for people who subject a minor to these practices. Priests will be able to continue running confessions and giving advice to LGBTQIA+ people.

UGANDA  Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has signed a bill into law that imposes the death penalty for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, defined as having gay sex with a minor, having sex while HIV-positive or commiting incest. In its original form, passed by parliament in March, the bill criminalised the mere fact of identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender. This section was removed from the text after Museveni sent it back for revision last month, asking for the bill to be restricted to people who have “committed a sexual act with another person of the same sex”. However, the latest version – approved earlier in May – still imposes a punishment of life imprisonment for sex acts between people of the same sex and a 20-year prison sentence for « promoting » homosexuality. A recent report from the Institute for Journalism and Social Change revealed that groups supporting the anti-LGBTQIA+ backlash in Uganda have received at least $40 million in international aid funding since 2014.

Read our interview with LGBTQIA+ activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera on the threat to the queer community in Uganda. 

PAKISTAN — The Federal Shariat Court of Islamabad ruled in May that certain sections of the country’s transgender law, including the right to a self-perceived gender identity and inheritance rights, do not comply with their interpretation of Islamic principles. The religious court ruled that gender reassignment is « un-Islamic”, and people must respect their gender assigned at birth rather than following their « innermost feeling ». Transgender and human rights organisations have said they will appeal the decision. They have six months to obtain a ruling from the Supreme Court before the changes to the law begin to take effect. The groundbreaking Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act was passed by parliament five years ago, allowing gender reassignment and protecting transgender’s people rights to vote, inherit, apply for public jobs, have a driver’s licence and hold a passport with their self-perceived gender. The law also prohibits discrimination in schools, workplaces and public spaces.

Read about the Aurat March, the trans-inclusive radical feminist movement sweeping Pakistan.

Reproductive Rights

ARGENTINA — The morning after pill is now available without a prescription in Argentina, thanks to a new resolution signed by health minister Carla Vizzotti. A second resolution updating the protocol for abortion care was also published in the country’s official gazette. The regulation, which is in line with the guidelines updated by the WHO last year, completely eliminates the criminalisation of abortion and any practices that delay access to it, for example mandatory reflection periods. The minister also introduced a clinical manual on comprehensive health care in situations of gender-based violence for health system staff.

MALTA — A woman in Malta has been charged in court for having an abortion. The woman was found guilty and given a conditional discharge for three years. Malta is one of the only countries in the world to ban abortion in all circumstances, but prosecutions for breaking the law are rare. Prime Minister Robert Abela said he was “uncomfortable” with the conviction, the first of its kind since 2014. Malta Today has reported that the woman was in an abusive relationship, and was reported to the authorities by her partner. It is estimated that 400 people per year in Malta have self-managed medical abortions at home using pills ordered online. The Maltese parliament is currently debating a bill to allow doctors to provide abortion care in cases of grave risk to the patient’s life.

Read our interview with lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic, who is fighting Malta’s abortion ban in the courts.

SPAIN — Spain’s constitutional court has upheld abortion reform first introduced in 2010, protecting the right to abortion after many years of disputes. The law made abortion available in Spain up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, with an extension up to 22 weeks in cases of risk to the patient’s life or non-viable pregnancies. The reform was appealed by the right-wing Popular Party when it was introduced, and it has languished in the court since then due to a lack of consensus. Abortion was available as usual according to the 2010 law while the case awaited judgement, but now it is firmly established on a constitutional basis. This year, a partial reform of the 2010 law came into force, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to have an abortion without parental consent and eliminating a mandatory three-day reflection period and the obligation to inform patients about alternatives to abortion.

DENMARK — Denmark plans to reduce the age of abortion without parental consent from 18 to 15 years old. “Asking for parental consent under the age of 18 can be humiliating and have serious consequences, » gender equality minister Marie Bjerre said. The statement was made to mark the 50th anniversary of the law that granted access to legal abortion in Denmark. Currently, the procedure is legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Gender-Based Violence

CHILE — Chilean president Gabriel Boric has enacted the Reparation Law for Victims of Femicide and their Families, which creates a pension for children whose mothers have been victims of femicide or have committed suicide. They will receive $200 a month until the age of 18. The bill also provides social assistance and job protection for women who have survived an attempted femicide. In the presence of Antonia Orellana, the minister for women and gender equality, and victims’ relatives, Boric signed the law passed by the Congress a month ago. The country registered 11 femicides and 81 attempted femicides this year.

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