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Spanish lawmakers reject transgender rights bill

Activists say prime minister’s party blocked measure

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MADRID — Lawmakers in Spain last week voted against a bill that would have allowed transgender people to legally change their gender without medical or psychological interventions.

The Congress of Deputies on May 18 by a 143-78 vote margin with 120 abstentions rejected the “Proposed Law for Real and Effective Equality of Transgender People,” which Human Rights Watch in a press release notes “would also have allowed non-binary and blank gender markers on identity documents, acknowledging the rights and dignity of people who do not identify with a rigid gender binary.”

Mané Fernández, vice president of Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB), a Spanish LGBTQ advocacy group, on Monday told the Los Angeles Blade during a telephone interview from Gijón, a city in the Asturias region of northern Spain, said Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the governing coalition of which it is part promised to introduce the bill.

Trans activists have accused the PSOE of blocking it. The Associated Press in March reported Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, who is a PSOE member, said the measure could undermine the rights of women and other groups.

Mar Cambrollé Jurado — a trans activist in Spain who is the president of Asociación Trans de Andalucía-Sylvia Rivera, president of Federación Plataforma Trans and RESPETTTRANS’ Europe spokesperson — on Monday noted trans activists began a hunger strike on March 11.

Human Rights Watch in its press release notes all PSOE members of the Congress of Deputies voted against the bill. Cambrollé told the Blade that “it seems to us that Spain, with the Socialist Party’s vote, has set LGBTI rights in Spain back 10 years.”

“It is inconceivable that a party that has a historical trajectory of defending LGBTI rights and social advances has voted against allowing us trans people to have a legal framework that guarantees us equality of opportunities to access basic rights like employment, education, sport,” said Cambrollé. “[It would also] regulate the issue of trans people in prison, protection of children, trans migrants, the recognition of non-binary trans people and specifically provide historic reparations to those trans people who were victims of the (Franco) dictatorship and today live in the utmost precariousness.”

“We are not only talking about the right to self-determination of gender,” Fernández told the Blade.

“We are talking about all that it makes up and about how it effects any person or any citizen in Spain, or children who have to get an education, occupational health and the judiciary,” added Fernández.

Argentina and Malta are among the countries in which trans people can legally change their gender without medical or psychological intervention. Fernández said FELGTB remains optimistic the bill “will be approved” during the current government.

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Asia

Hong Kong activist dismisses calls for Gay Games boycott

WTA suspended China tournaments after tennis player disappeared

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Hong Kong Marriage Equality Co-founder Gigi Chao (Photo courtesy of OutRight Action International)

HONG KONG — An LGBTQ activist in Hong Kong on Tuesday dismissed calls to boycott the 2023 Gay Games over China’s human rights record.

“In Hong Kong, the team behind Gay Games has really worked tirelessly to bring it to Hong Kong and it will be a very good opportunity to showcase diversity and people working together and the human spirit at its best,” Gigi Chao told the Los Angeles Blade during a telephone interview from Hong Kong. “So, if it all gets rather political and if you twist the sentiments of what they want China to be, it will just really not work.”

Chao is the co-founder of Hong Kong Marriage Equality, a group that seeks to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the former British colony. Chao also founded the Faith in Love Foundation, a group that seeks to increase awareness of LGBTQ issues in Hong Kong.  

Chao is a member of the OutRight Action International board of directors. Chao is slated to speak in the group’s annual summit that will take place virtually this week.

“All eyes are peeled on the events of next year: The Beijing Olympics, the relationship between Beijing and the U.S. as relationships either improve or sour over the course of the next 12 months and also trade and the global economic situation … it’s not a rosy picture by all means,” Chao told the Blade. “Everybody is bracing for the worst in terms of how the world recovers from COVID, but LGBTIQ rights continue.”

Chao said Dennis Philipse, a Hong Kong resident who co-chairs Gay Games Hong Kong, and his colleagues “want the Gay Games to be a celebration of the human spirit in terms of sport.”

“In Hong Kong, there’s certainly no shortage of people engaged in sport and enjoying sports,” said Chao.

Gay Games Hong Kong in September announced the postponement of the quadrennial event until 2023 because of the pandemic. The Federation of Gay Games, which oversees the Gay Games, awarded the games to Hong Kong over D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Hong Kong was a British colony until China regained control of it in 1997.

Upwards of 2 million people took part in pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong in 2019.

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which, according to human rights activists, makes it easier for authorities to punish anyone who challenges the Chinese government, took effect in 2020. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is closely aligned with the Chinese government, supports the statute.

The Women’s Tennis Association last week announced the suspension of tournaments in Hong Kong and throughout China in response to the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, after she publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. The Biden administration on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics that are slated to take place in Beijing in February.

“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding COVID-19, the National Security Law and all other aspects that affect the safety and security of our event,” Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Blade in a statement after the Women’s Tennis Association announced it had suspended all of its tournaments in China. “We are committed to hosting Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”

Chao acknowledged Gay Games organizers are “facing a lot of opposition from all directions.” Chao also noted Hong Kong’s government is “not actually positively promoting it.”

“If we can get really high-profile athletes to participate, I think that’s going to be a huge call for everybody to participate,” said Chao.

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Canada

Canada moves a step closer to banning conversion therapy

Bill will become law once it receives royal assent

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health disparities, gay news, Washington Blade
Parliament Hill - Colline du Parlement Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (Public domain)

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Canadian Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy in the country.

Attorney General David Lametti and Women and Gender Equality and Youth Minister Marci Ien last week introduced the measure that would amend Canada’s Criminal Code to ban the widely discredited practice. The Canadian House of Commons on Dec. 1 unanimously approved the bill.

“Our government’s legislation to ban conversion therapy in Canada is one step closer to becoming law,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. “To everyone who has made this possible, thank you. Let’s keep building a country where everyone is free to be who they are and love who they love.”

Lametti in his own tweet noted the bill will become law once it receives royal assent.

Canada would join Malta and a handful of countries that ban conversion therapy once the law takes effect.

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South America

Chile marriage bill receives final approval

South American country legalized civil unions in 2015

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Chile, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

VALPARAÍSO, Chile — A bill that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Chile received final approval on Tuesday.

The Chilean Senate and the Chilean House of Representatives approved the marriage equality bill that passed in the lower house of the country’s Congress on Nov. 23. That vote took place two days after the first round of the country’s presidential election took place.

A final vote on the bill was expected to have taken place last week, but senators unexpectedly opposed it.

A commission with members of both houses of the Chilean congress approved the bill on Monday.

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