News from the Global South

Council of State Seeks Public Opinion on Civil Union Bill

Bangkok Post, Thailand, 8/16/2019

A draft legislation allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples in Thailand will not be rushed through, and its fate depends on public feedback, the Justice Minister, Somsak Thepsutin said on August 16, 2019. He said the process to consider the bill will take some time as it requires careful deliberation to prevent any misunderstanding. The Council of State, the Government's legal advisory body, is currently vetting the bill and has assigned the Justice Ministry to hold forums to compile public opinion on some contentious issues in the legislation. The proposed civil partnership bill stops short of allowing same-sex couples to marry. If passed, it would grant such partners the legal right to jointly manage assets and liabilities, and to give or receive inheritances.

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Ethiopian Capital Eyes Ban on Sex Work, Street Begging

The East African, Ethiopia, 8/15/2019

Officials in Ethiopia's capital are weighing a ban on sex work, the latest in a series of measures intended to ‘clean up the country's image’, the mayor's office said on August 15, 2019. Draft legislation detailing the terms of the bans is still being finalised. Sex work is currently not criminalised in Ethiopia, and authorities have said that the ban would only apply to solicitation that occurs on the street. That means it would not affect bars, massage parlours, guesthouses and other sites where solicitation for sex work occurs. Under the ban, both sex workers and their clients would be subject to punishments that could take the form of fines or jail time. Officials are also attempting to provide ‘alternative job opportunities’ for affected sex workers.

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Mall Management Sorry for Discrimination of Transgender Woman

Philippine Star – Manila, Philippines, 8/14/2019

The management of Farmers Plaza, a mall in Manila, apologised on August 14, 2019, for its discrimination against a transgender woman, and distanced itself from the incident, saying that the member of the cleaning crew involved in the incident is not an employee. Gretchen Diez, a transgender woman, was blocked from using the women's restroom at the Cubao mall on August 13, 2019, and was later brought to the police station for taking a video of her encounter with the mall staff without permission. Though the mall management has called this an ‘isolated’ incident, they faced a lot of backlash online for their transphobic behaviour. Philippines is currently in the process of passing a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Tunisia has its First Openly Gay Candidate for President

NBC News, Tunisia, 8/13/2019

Just months after a Tunisian presidential commission recommended the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the North African nation has its first openly gay candidate for president: Mounir Baatour. Baatour, 48, is a lawyer and president of both the Tunisian Liberal Party and Association Shams, Tunisia’s main LGBTQ rights organisation. Baatour’s candidacy is noteworthy because in Tunisia homosexuality is still a crime that is punishable by up to three years in prison. Baatour himself was jailed in 2013 under charges of ‘homosexuality’. Baatour said he expected to make the ballot for the September 15, 2019 election, and vowed to go to court to challenge any effort to bar his candidacy, though he said he has collected double the number of signatures required to run.

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De Lima’s Bill Aims to Increase Age of ‘Sexual Consent’

Panay News - Manila, Phillipines, 8/12/2019

Leila de Lima, a senator from the Philippines, has proposed a bill to increase the age of sexual consent in order to protect minors against rape and other forms of sexual exploitation. De Lima, in a statement, said the age of sexual consent should be raised from 12 to 18 since minors, especially those at 12 years old, have scant knowledge about sexual intercourse and aren’t equipped to give consent. ‘Age of consent’ is the age at which a person is deemed legally competent to consent to sexual acts. The Philippines has one of the lowest ages of consent, which runs contrary to the international standard set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which the Philippines is a signatory.

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