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LGBTQI News Roundup – 24th June 2022

FINA bans transgender swimmers from women’s elite events if they went through puberty

Fina, swimming’s world governing body, has voted to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty. Fina will also aim to establish an ‘open’ category at competitions for swimmers whose gender identity is different than their birth sex. 

The new policy, which was passed with 71% of the vote from 152 Fina members, was described as “only a first step towards full inclusion” for transgender athletes. The 34-page policy document says that male-to-female transgender athletes could compete in the women’s category – but only “provided they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 [which marks the start of physical development], or before age 12, whichever is later”.

The decision was made during an extraordinary general congress at the ongoing World Championships in Budapest. It means that transgender American college swimmer Lia Thomas, who has expressed a desire to compete for a place at the Olympics, would be blocked from participating in the female category at the Games.

However, the policy does not apply to national federations or the US college championships, the NCAAs, at which Thomas recently won in the 500-yard freestyle. Instead, each national federation – including British Swimming – will need to decide if it is to implement the Fina policy.

Note – World Athletics president Lord Coe has hinted that the organisation may also look at banning transgender women from elite sport events. For more information click here

UK athlete Dame Kelly Holmes shares relief at coming out as gay

Dame Kelly Holmes says she is “getting rid of that fear” as the Olympic champion reveals she is gay. In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, the 52-year-old said she was both nervous and excited about coming out. “I needed to do this now, for me. It was my decision. I’m nervous about saying it. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement,” she said.

“Sometimes I cry with relief. The moment this comes out, I’m essentially getting rid of that fear.” Dame Kelly became only the third woman in history and the first Briton since Albert Hill 84 years earlier to win the 800m and 1500m Olympic double at the Athens games in 2004. She has achieved seven gold, eight silver and four bronze Olympic, Commonwealth and European medals throughout her athletic career.

She shared the news during Pride month, which celebrates and raises awareness about LGBTQ+ communities and will this year commemorate 50 years since the UK’s first Pride march. Writing on Instagram as the interview was published online, Dame Kelly said: “I can finally breathe.

Singapore’s Pink Dot rally makes a colourful return 

After two years of virtual rallies due to the pandemic, Singapore’s biggest queer pride event returned on Saturday to Hong Lim Park, where it first started on May 16, 2009. 

Crowds of thousands showed up on the hot and humid afternoon, carrying pink signboards and waving rainbow flags in support of the city state’s queer rights movement. Among the crowd were the members of parliament Henry Kwek, from the ruling People’s Action Party, and Jamus Lim from the opposition Workers’ Party.

Gay sex in Singapore remains illegal even if it is consensual, between adults, and takes place in private. But societal attitudes, while still largely conservative, are changing, activists say and the government is now “considering the best way forward” on whether to change the law, which has been in place since Singapore was a British colony more than 60 years ago. 

“Policies need to evolve to keep abreast of such changes in views. And legislation needs to evolve to support updated policies,” said Singaporean law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam in a recent parliament session. 

“And if and when we decide to move, we will do so in a way that continues to balance between these different viewpoints, and avoids causing a sudden, destabilising change in social norms and public expectations.”

Japanese court rules ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional

Japan’s ban on same-sex marriages does not violate the constitution, a district court in Osaka has ruled.

The ruling dealt a blow to gay couples and rights activists, after another district court in Sapporo ruled in 2021 that the failure to recognise same-sex marriage was “unconstitutional”. Japan’s constitution defines marriage as one between “both sexes”.

It is the only country in the G7 group of developed nations that doesn’t allow people of the same sex to marry. Opinion polls show a majority of the general public is in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in Japan. Several areas – including Tokyo – have begun issuing partnership certificates, to help same-sex couples rent properties and gain hospital visitation rights. 

The Osaka case was filed by three same-sex couples, two of them male and one female. The case is only the second of its kind to be heard in the country, where conservative attitudes towards homosexuality remain. In addition to rejecting their claim that being unable to marry was unconstitutional, the court also dismissed demands for 1 million yen ($7,414; £6,058) in damages for each couple who argued they had suffered “unjust discrimination” by not being allowed to marry. But the court also noted there had not been enough public debate about same-sex marriage and that “it may be possible to create a new system” recognising the interests of same-sex couples.


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