Good news from Malaysia, Namibia, Ukraine

Recent weeks have seen advances for trans people in Ukraine and Malaysia and perhaps for all LGBT people in Namibia. The news items in this recap were excerpted with slight modifications  from  ILGA’s LGBulleTIn round-up of the world’s LGBTI-related news and UNAIDS’s Equal Eyes:

A quick explanation of gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation, published by Justice for Sisters.
A quick explanation of gender identity, gender expression, sex, and sexual orientation, published by Justice for Sisters.

In Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the National Registration Department (NRD) to update a trans man’s information on his identity card to better reflect his gender identity and chosen name. The decision, according to Justice for Sisters, “gives new hope” for the trans community in the country.  According to Autostraddle, previous attempts in Malaysian courts to allow trans people to change their names and gender markers on their identity cards had been unsuccessful. This time, though, the judge argued that “the plaintiff has a precious constitutional right to life under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution, and the concept of ‘life’ under Article 5 must necessarily encompass the Plaintiff’s right to live with dignity as a male and be legally accorded judicial recognition as a male.” The NRD has appealed.

John Walters, Namibia's official ombudsman. (Photo courtesy of The Namibian)
John Walters, Namibia’s official ombudsman. (Photo courtesy of The Namibian)

In an interview with The Namibian, John Walters, the ombudsman of Namibia, claimed that provisions prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation “should be in the Constitution,” and that the old anti-sodomy law “has served its purpose.”  “How many prosecutions have there been?” he was quoted as saying in reference to that law. “I believe none over the past 20 years. If we don’t prosecute people, why do we have the act?” According to reports, the debate around LGBTI issues has recently taken centre stage in the country, following a visit to the country by two members of the UN Human Rights Committee. In a recently adopted document, the Committee urged the government to “adopt legislation explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation […,] adopt hate crime legislation punishing homophobic and transphobic violence, “abolish the common law crime of sodomy and include same-sex relationships in the Combating of Domestic Violence Act so as to protect same-sex partners.”

However, as Equal Eyes noted, separate from the Walters interview, “All the authorities met by the Delegation expressed that Namibia does not prosecute LGBTI people, but the culture, religion and tradition does not permit any recognition of LGBTI rights in the laws of Namibia. None of the authorities met agreed with the Committee’s recommendations of the need to eliminate the crime of sodomy and the need to include sexual orientation as ground of discrimination and against including the protection of same-sex relations in the Domestic Violence Act as recommended by the Committee.”

In Ukraine, a court ordered changes requested by two trans persons to their   passports and all other documents without requiring them to undergo sterilization.

This article was updated on Aug. 30 to include the Equal Eyes account of developments in Namibia.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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