Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Belgium appoints
its first transgender MP


Transgender Belgium Senator Petra De Sutter. Photo: Courtesy Petra De Sutter
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Petra De Sutter was sworn into the Belgium Senate July 10, making her the first openly transgender person to serve in that country's Parliament.

During her run for a seat in Parliament De Sutter, 51, came in second, with 47,000 votes, behind incumbent Bart Staes. Staes has held his parliamentary seat since 1999, according to media reports.

De Sutter campaigned for a "more social and fairer Europe" so that everyone feels at home and against "an unpleasant mentality of everyone for themselves," reported Pink News.

De Sutter, who is from the Flanders region, was able to co-opt her Senate seat because of recent government reforms over the selection of politicians' seats in Parliament.

Members of the Senate are no longer elected. Instead, the state parliaments elect 50 senators and community councils elect up to 21 of their own representatives. The Flemish and French are able to appoint 10 representatives each and the German community appoints one representative to make up a total of 71 Senate seats, according to the Belgium Parliament's website.

De Sutter is a medical professional and professor of medicine. She heads up the Reproductive Medicine Department of the University Hospital Ghent and is an associate professor of gynecology at the University of Ghent.

De Sutter is the fourth openly transgender Member of Parliament in the world. Currently, Anna Grodzka is an MP in Poland. In 2006, Vladimir Luxuria was elected in Italy as Europe's first transgender MP. Luxuria lost her seat in 2008. In 1999, Georgina Beyer became the first openly transgender MP in the world in New Zealand. Beyer retired from politics in 2007, reported Pink News.

Belgium's other highly ranked gay politician is Prime Minister Elio Di Pupo, who has been in office since 2011.


Long prison term for murderer of trans woman

A Serbian judge recently sentenced Ivica Mihajlovic to 35 years in prison for murdering transgender sex worker Minja Kocis.

Mihajlovic's accomplice, Novica Radosavljevic, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Representatives of Gayten-LGBT, an organization for LGBTQIA human rights, welcomed the decision in a July 14 news release.

Five years ago, Kocis, a 39-year-old transgender woman from Kikinda, was murdered in Belgrade.

In January 2009, Kocis was found dead in a rented apartment in Vracar. She had been stabbed twice in the chest. During the trial it was ascertained that Mihajlovic knew Kocis prior to paying her for sex and planned to rob her with the assistance of Radosavljevic, according to the release.

Mihajlovic contacted Kocis for sexual services and arrived at her apartment. When Mihajlovic and Radosavljevic attempted to rob her she fought back. Mihajlovic then stabbed her in the heart twice, according to the release.

The two men fled the scene, stealing 2,500 diners (approximately $29).

Mihajlovic and Radosavljevic met in prison while they were both serving sentences for first- degree murder, according to the release.


U.N. extends spousal benefits to LGBT employees

The United Nations announced it will honor marriages of its LGBT staff married in countries where same-sex marriage is legal by extending benefits received by married opposite-sex couples.

The policy change went into effect June 26, but it wasn't announced until July 8 in a news release from the U.N.

This is a change in the way U.N. same-sex staffs' marriages are handled. Previously, marriage status was dependent on the marriage laws of the country where the LGBT staff members were issued valid passports.

The revised policy impacts an estimated 43,000 U.N. employees worldwide, excluding employees of agencies of the U.N., such as UNICEF and UNESCO, said U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, reported the Associated Press.

"Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon through a spokesperson in the release. He added that he is "proud to stand for greater equality for all staff," and called "on all members of the U.N. family to unite in rejecting homophobia."

The policy change gives spouses of same-sex U.N. staff benefits such as health insurance coverage and the chance to accompany spouses on their home leave every couple of years, reported the AP.

Staffers united under U.N.-Globe, the LGBT employee group, welcomed the decision after a long push to change the policy that started in 1997.

"Too many of us have suffered under the previous policy. Too many of us have been unable to secure, for example, residency visas and health benefits for our spouses because of a discriminatory policy that would refuse to recognize our legal partners," the group's president, Hyung Hak Nam, said in a statement. "Let us just enjoy this moment, this huge victory."

U.N. member states weren't consulted about the policy change, which Ban initiated on his "own authority," as head of management of the U.N., addressing a "managerial decision affecting U.N. staff," said the spokesperson, according to the release.


Argentina celebrates four years of marriage equality

Argentina this week celebrated the fourth anniversary of marriage equality.

In July 15, 2009, it became the first country in Latin America, the second-biggest in the Americas and 10th largest in the world to legalize same-sex marriage

Since then, it is reported that 9,500 same-sex couples have tied the knot in Argentina.


Got international LGBT news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at 00+1-415-221-3541, Skype: heather.cassell, or mailto:.


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