Peru takes step to repeal hate crime law
by Heather Cassell
Peru's Congress has taken the first step toward repealing language that makes violence against gays a hate crime.
The Popular Force party, which controls the congressional constitutional commission, voted April 4 to repeal Article 1 of Decree 1323, which lists motives of aggravating circumstances, such as race, religion, and sexual orientation, in case of a crime.
The amendment has been sent to congressional leaders. It's anticipated that Congress will consider the motion soon, reported Peru Reports.
If passed, crimes that are motivated by an individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation will not see an additional hate crime charge.
Peruvian LGBTs aren't alone. Women were included in the effort to remove the terms from the legislation that would impose harsher punishments, giving a pass to perpetrators who commit domestic violence or gender-based violence against women.
The changes in the law have sparked protests in Arequipa, Lima, and Trujillo.
The community outcry and the five-hour debate about the bill didn't seem to sway the Popular Force, which is led by two-time presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori.
Fujimori, 41, is the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto K. Fujimori, who led the country from 1990 to 2000. The elder Fujimori ran the country with an iron fist. He was later convicted of human rights violations and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Joel Jabiles, the campaign and advocacy coordinator for Amnesty International in Peru, told Peru 21, "Eliminating such classification in cases of hate crimes from the penal code only amplifies the already existing lack of protection and discrimination experienced by LGBT people in this country."
Ana Izquierdo, a visual artist and founder of Encuentro, a performance art group in Lima, agreed.
"The reality in Peru is that we are being killed for a specific reason, so there should be a law that doesn't make excuses under the pretense of 'homogeneity' in regards to human rights, but rather recognizes the diversity of and offers justice to each community and their specific needs. Especially when certain communities are at elevated risk," she said.
An estimated 174 homicides and 382 cases of violence against LGBT persons have been registered across Peru since 2005, according to the Observatory of LGBT Rights and HIV/AIDS.
Erika Almenara, a native of Peru and assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Arkansas, told Peru Reports that the Popular Force "creates roadblocks in the legal battle to protect the most vulnerable populations such as the LGBT community.
"The Fujimori party is old-fashioned and continues to consider those who self-identify with an alternative gender or sexuality as sick, perverse, etcetera. As such, the party does not believe such individuals deserve protection," she added.
Falkland Islands pass marriage equality
The Falkland Islands' Legislative Assembly voted 7-1 April 13 to approve same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couples will soon be able to tie the knot in the small British territory, located 300 miles off the coast of Argentina in the South Atlantic.
The law also included civil unions, opening that up to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The legislation is being sent to Queen Elizabeth II to receive Royal Assent.
The bill will be returned to Governor Colin Roberts, who will decide on a day to open wedding registries to same-sex couples.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in the Falklands in 1989.
India OKs national anti-HIV bias law
This month, India became the first South Asian country to pass a strong national anti-HIV/AIDS discrimination law.
The Indian Parliament on April 12 passed a law providing strong legal protection against HIV-related discrimination.
"This is an important step forward for people living with and affected by HIV in India and around the world," Steve Kraus, director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, said in an April 12 news release. "This legislation begins to remove barriers and empowers people to challenge violations of their human rights."
The legislation prohibits discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV in employment, education, housing, and health care. The law includes protections regarding holding public or private office, access to insurance, and freedom of movement.
The law also bans unfair treatment of people afflicted with the virus in public facilities, such as shops, restaurants, hotels, public entertainment venues, public facilities, and burial grounds. It protects the rights of people affected by HIV to informed consent.
Furthermore, the legislation contains provisions to increase access to justice for people affected by HIV. One of the provisions is the obligation for health-care institutions to establish complaint mechanisms and a health ombudsman supported by special procedures to be followed in courts, reported LGBT Weekly.
The legislation was developed over 15 years with the consultation of various stakeholders working with HIV/AIDS and backed by UNAIDS. It was finally introduced to the Indian Parliament in 2014.
The law has been well received for the most part. Civil society leaders voiced concern over a provision that appeared to limit the government's obligation to provide HIV treatment, according to the newspaper. However, the government has remedied the issue with a "treat all" policy, which will guarantee free antiretroviral therapy for everyone.
"We declare that anybody tested positive will be treated," said J.P. Nadda, Indian minister for health and family welfare. "This is the level of commitment with which we are working and with which we will be going forward."
An estimated 2.1 million Indians are living with HIV in 2015. India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world and the largest in the Asia and the Pacific region, reported the newspaper.
The law will come into force when it is published in the Official Gazette.
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Heather Cassell at Skype: heather.cassell, or email@example.com