Politics and Society: August 2015

August 2, 2015 in General

Thailand: Thai ¬†public health minister Rajata Rajatanavin held a press conference to explain Thailand’s ¬†new surrogacy ban law, which now requires couples seeking surrogacy to be legally married for three years minimum. At least one partner must be a Thai citizen.¬†Rajatanavin said, ‚ÄúUnder the new act, foreign couples cannot seek the surrogacy service in Thailand. Homosexuals also are not allowed to receive the service because Thailand has not yet legalised same-sex marriage.¬†To stop commercial surrogacy, there are now rules for surrogates as well. A surrogate must be a sibling of one of the parents-to-be, obtain consent from her husband, and already have a child of her own.”¬†Legislation on surrogacy was drafted after an Australian couple left behind a baby boy with Down syndrome but took his healthy twin sister. However, this new update comes in the wake of a media spotlight on Gordon Lake and his husband Manuel Valero, whose second daughter Carmen was born via a Thai surrogate.

After realising that the parents were gay, the unnamed surrogate refused to sign over custody of Carmen ‚Äď forcing Lake, Valero and their firstborn √Ālvaro into hiding so that the newest member of their family would not be taken from them. Thai law automatically grants custody to a child‚Äôs birth mother.¬†Authorities are currently cracking down on some 45 clinics providing surrogacy services. Six have been shut down and arrests have been made.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

¬†Canberra: The ¬†¬†latest Australian Census results show there are already thousands of children living with same-sex couples, kids who would arguably be better off if their parents were allowed to marry each other, committing to a stable relationship in front of all their friends and families.¬†Objectors like extreme right fringe group the¬†Australian Christian Lobby¬†traditionally quote bleak studies showing that children of same-sex couples are worse off, but in recent weeks even they are softening that view, preferring to simply point out that kids are ‚Äúbetter off with their natural mother and father.‚ÄĚ

The¬†ABC Fact-Check¬†team have looked at all the most recent research both here and overseas, and have found that stigma by others against gay relationships is the only substantial thing that could be holding children of gay couples back.¬†In fact, children by same-sex couples actually do better on some scores of behaviour, self-esteem, health and how well families got along.¬†This makes sense, since same-sex parents must go through a lot more planning and organisation to start their families ‚Äď and that suggests having kids is an important priority in their lives, requiring plenty of care and attention. There‚Äôs never any unplanned kids in rainbow families.

So don’t believe the fear campaigns. The genders of a child’s parents don’t matter as much as the love and attention parents give to the child. And like with every good family, same-sex couples take their children’s lives and care seriously.

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Alabama:  Antigay Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is facing numerous ethics charges related to his vehement opposition to marriage equality, with more allegations added this week according to AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed its initial complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama on Jan. 28, and has already updated the complaint once in early February.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

¬†Tel Aviv: Rallies have been held for the victims of an ultra-Orthdox Jewish man’s attack on Jerusalem Pride participants last week. Update: (03/08): ¬†An Israeli teenager has died of stab wounds sustained when an ultra-Orthodox man attacked a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.

Shira Banki, a 16-year-old girl who was one of the six people stabbed at the Jerusalem Gay Pride, has died today from her injuries, the Jerusalem Post reported. Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center confirmed Banki’s death and announced that her family has given their permission to donate her organs.  Banki and five others were stabbed on Thursday by Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man. Schlissel also attacked the pride parade in 2005, leaving three people wounded. He was slapped a 12-year prison sentence for the 2005 attack, and had just been released from jail three weeks before this year’s Jerusalem Pride. Ironically, Ms Banki was straight and came along to support LGBTI friends at the parade.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/#ixzz3hgqwqUtR

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

¬†Brighton: Ninety-two year old George Montague, who calls himself ‚Äėthe oldest gay in the village,‚Äô is believed to be the oldest gay man in the world to marry after he converted his civil partnership with his¬†partner of 16 years Somchai Phukkhlai into a marriage this week.¬†According to the BBC, the couple¬†converted¬†their partnership into a marriage at Brighton Town Hall as the city marks its 25th anniversary in early August 2015.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

¬†Ontario: ¬†Hundreds of Canadian woman joined a topless protest march after three sisters were allegedly stopped by police for cycling without shirts.¬†Saturday’s “Bare with us” march took place in Waterloo, Ontario. The women say that police told them to cover up whilst cycling in the neighbouring town of Kitchener last month.¬†They have filed a formal complaint with the police.¬†It is legal for women to be topless in Ontario after a court ruling in 1996.¬†Protestors held signs that included the slogans “They are boobs not bombs, chill out” and “Nudity isn’t sexual.” ¬†¬†Ontario passed legislation confirming the right of women to go topless in 1996, after the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a woman’s conviction for removing her shirt.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news

¬†London: The general public believe that UKIP is overflowing with homophobes and Nigel Farage’s outbursts aren’t helping.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dallas: T¬†he powerful antigay Texas attorney general ¬†Ken Paxton stymied marriage in the Lone Star State and called the Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality “lawless” and “flawed” -but he ¬†surrendered to authorities Monday.¬†¬†Paxton is facing two counts of fraud and one count of failing to register as an investment adviser. ¬†¬†Paxton is a former state representative who has only served seven months as AG, allegedly directed investors to a Dallas-area tech company without telling them he was getting a cut for the referrals. Each fraud count carries sentences of five to 99 years.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Zurich: ¬†Swiss¬†Catholic bishop Vitus Huonder (73) ¬†has claimed he was ‚Äúmisunderstood‚ÄĚ ‚Äď after implying that gay¬†people¬†should still be put to death.¬†Speaking during¬†the ‚ÄėJoy in Faith‚Äô conference in Germany, ¬†Huonder explained¬†his views on¬†homosexuality by citing passages from Leviticus.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: ¬†The Republican party is to press ahead with a number of anti-gay resolutions at its summer meeting ‚Äď even though marriage equality is now law.¬†The GOP has been a strong opponent of LGBT rights legislation and ¬†marriage equality , and some factions of the party continue their opposition even though the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.¬†A proposed Democrat-sponsored Equality Act is yet to pick up a single Republican supporter ‚Äď and the Republican National Committee is set to vote on a number of anti-LGBT resolutions at its meeting next week.¬†Michigan lawmaker Dave Agema has submitted a resolution which would require any schools ‚Äúteaching the homosexual lifestyle in their sexual education class‚ÄĚ to forcibly include ‚Äúthe harmful physical aspects of the lifestyle‚ÄĚ.¬†According to the¬†Washington Blade, a second resolution introduced by Louisiana RNC member Ross Little would condemn the Supreme Court action ‚Äď and calls for the Republican-controlled congress to act against it.¬†It calls for marriage to be restricted to between one man and one woman, as ‚Äúin the Bible‚ÄĚ, calling on Republicans to pass laws stripping the Supreme Court‚Äôs power on the issue.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Manila: ¬†Two same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses in the Philippines.¬†The couples ‚ÄstMaria Arlyn Ibanez & Joanne Reena Gregorio, and Crescencio Agbayani &¬†Marlon Pelipe ‚Äď hoped to raise awareness of LGBT rights in the predominantly Catholic country. Same-sex marriage is illegal in the Philippines.¬†According to The Straits Times, the couples‚Äô¬†applications were denied¬†by the government, with officials¬†noting that¬†it was the first time a same-sex couple had tried to obtain a marriage license.

The image has been shared online and has sparked discussion about LGBT rights in the Philippines. The right to marry is not the only issue LGBT Filipinos face.There are no anti-discrimination laws covering hate speech, and lesbian couples cannot access IVF services. This is largely due to the influence of the Catholic Church on legislation. The Philippines is the only country in the world where divorce is not permitted, and abortion is illegal.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Amsterdam: ¬†One float in particular stood out at the Amsterdam Pride parade.¬†The parade, which took place on the canal, had a float present to raise awareness about LGBTI rights in Dutch Caribbean countries.¬†The Netherlands is progressive as a country ‚Äď it was the first to legalize same sex marriage, in 2001 ‚Äď but the three other countries which make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, all lag behind.

This is especially true for transgender rights: you cannot change your legal gender, for example. This is an issue of conservative Catholicism, says LGBTI activist Ramona Pikeur. Pikeur is director of Caribbean gay rights organization Dushi & Proud and organized the Pride float.

‚ÄėIn the Netherlands we have achieved so much social acceptance. But none of these laws have been enforced in the Caribbean territories.¬†There are a number of reasons for this: it‚Äôs still considered a sin in the religious culture of those countries and thought of as a sickness of LGBT people.‚Äô¬†LGBT people in the Dutch Caribbean countries face a number of legal problems.¬†For instance, there are no employment protection laws, and people can be fired simply for being gay.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Guyana:  A United Nations audit of the state of human rights in Guyana has recommended the country finally repeal its colonial era sodomy law penalizing sex between men and to ensure there are adequate laws to protect sexual minorities from hate crimes. The recommendations came out of the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Universal Periodic Review process which noted that Guyana had agreed to discuss updating its laws in that regard when it was last before the commission five years ago.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

¬†Berlin: ¬†Right now, same-sex German couples can enter a civil partnership; for quite a few (straight) people and politicians, that seems to be close enough to full equality ‚Äď except it isn‚Äôt.¬†Marriage is protected under German constitutional law, but partnerships aren‚Äôt: the government could take gay couples‚Äô right to enter partnerships away in the blink of an eye.¬†Few realize there are 150 regulations in 54 laws outlining the differences between marriage and civil partnerships ‚Äď from adoption to pensions paid by self-regulatory professional organizations. Whatever this is, equality it ain‚Äôt.¬†Ireland‚Äôs landslide decision in the referendum saw the discussion about gay marriage flare up again in Germany, revealing a deep divide: people either spoke for or against it, there was hardly any middle ground. ¬†¬†Germany is, de facto, a secular state with a clear separation between church and state. As such, the Bible shouldn‚Äôt have any influence over the constitution and laws made in the country shouldn‚Äôt be based on religion.¬†Angela Merkel‚Äôs Christian Democratic Union carries a religious outset in its name, yes, but their values are essentially conservative and they don‚Äôt try and implement draconian laws making divorce or abortion illegal.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Houston:  A conservative Christian pastors’ group in Houston has once again sued Mayor Annelise Parker over issues relating to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a city law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Houston Area Pastors Council is sueing Parker for legal fees and damages associated with an earlier suit, which had accused city officials of impeding the group’s efforts to put the equal rights ordinance to a popular vote.

Seattle: Protesters for immigrants’ rights, including group focusing on transgender issues, blocked a major intersection in downtown Seattle today to denounce a system they say provides incentives to detain immigrants. For about two hours, more than 30 demonstrators shut down the intersection of Madison Street and Third Avenue, near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, protesting the terms of ICE’s contract with Geo Group, a private company that operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, where undocumented immigrants are detained pending deportation.

Washington DC: ¬†Five national organizations dedicated to LGBT life, liberty, and educational access ¬†introduced a new resource, ¬†Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools, ¬†to various school administrations. The publication’s aim is to provide an informative guide to help school officials as well as parents assist and encourage transgender students. ¬†The guide’s lead authors are Asaf Orr, the Transgender Youth Project staff attorney for the¬†National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Joel Baum, Gender Spectrum‚Äôs senior director for professional development and family aervices. The guide lists the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Human Rights Campaign as coauthors.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 United States:  Fox Sports has responded to a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by former football commentator Craig James, who claims he was fired by the network for opposing marriage equality. It was August 2013 when the former Southern Methodist University and New England Patriots footballer was hired by Fox Sports Southwest as a football-analyst, but the position was short-lived, with James fired days later and after just one on-air appearance when his opposition to gay marriage surfaced from comments he made during a failed 2012 U.S. Senate run.  James, who filed the lawsuit on Monday and is seeking $100,000 (£64,000) in damages, is demanding a jury trial to hear claims against the network that include breach of contract and violations of state law.   James said the case demonstrates the impact to every person who holds religious beliefs.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Brisbane:  The Australian House of Representatives could have its first openly-gay MP if the Labor Party’s new candidate for the Brisbane electorate Pat O’Neill is successful at the next Australian federal election in 2016.  Late last month O’Neill, who is a serving army major, defeated former Brisbane City Council candidate Philip Anthony in a preselection battle for the seat currently held by Liberal-National MP Teresa Gambaro with a margin of 1.13 per cent. While the Senate already welcomed its first openly-gay member decades ago, that milestone is yet to be achieved in Federal Parliament’s lower house. 34-year-old O’Neill believes the societal views and personal politics that can dominate elections for lower house MPs have all contributed towards this.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Hong Kong: ¬†In Asia, where the level of LGBT acceptance can vary and change with alarming regularity,¬†Hong Kong¬†is a contradictory beast. In 1991, the territory finally ditched British anti-buggery laws that still dog former colonies like Singapore and Malaysia. Today, Asia‚Äôs ‚Äúworld city‚ÄĚ embraces its queer celebrities and supports a sizable¬†calendar of LGBT events.¬†Privately, however, many Hong Kongers face enormous pressure to conform. It‚Äôs a common dilemma in Northeast Asia, one that in Hong Kong skews the queer bar scene heavily toward ex-pats and visitors.¬†Despite the 1991 reform, an equal age of consent was not established until 2006, and anti-discrimination laws remain a matter of interpretation rather than being absolute. In this deeply traditional society, less than a third of the population supports the legalization of marriage equality. When it comes to civil unions, though,¬†three quarters of Hong Kongers also say they support equal rights for same-sex couples, and most are very accepting of LGBT media personalities. While same-sex unions are still not recognized, transgender citizens were finally granted the right to marry an opposite-sex partner in 2013. It seems that in the land of ‚Äúone country, two systems,‚ÄĚ it‚Äôs a case of ‚Äúone territory, two attitudes‚ÄĚ on equality.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

 Washington DC: Antigay Republican extremist and presidential nominee aspirant  Rick Santorum may soon be forced to drop out of the presidential race. The antigay former U.S. senator’s presidential campaign organization is low on funds, and he’s polling so low that he probably won’t make the prime-time Republican candidates’ debate to be hosted by Fox News in early August 2015.  Campaign manager Terry Allen, Iowa state coordinator Jon Jones, and digital strategist Steve Hilliard have all left the campaign in the past few weeks, according to Politico. They do, however, plan to start a new pro-Santorum super PAC, which can receive unlimited contributions. There is already one super PAC working on his behalf.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: Leading UK Labour leadership aspirant Jeremy Corbyn has threatened economic consequences for antigay nations should he become British Prime Minister at some point in the future.

London: ¬†In contrast to the oft-cited 49,000 men convicted for¬†homosexual offences, the¬†Peter Tatchell Foundation estimates¬† that some ‚Äė50,000-100,000 men were convicted under Britain‚Äôs anti-gay laws during the twentieth century‚Äô. These figures presumably comprise men, like Turing, who were convicted under¬†Section 11, the infamous Labouch√©re Amendment, of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. The Act criminalised ‚Äėgross indecency‚Äô ‚Äď any same-sex act short of buggery ‚Äď committed in public¬†or in private¬†and made it punishable by up to two years imprisonment with or without hard labour. In addition to ‚Äėgross indecency‚Äô, many men were also convicted of ‚Äėimportuning‚Äô or ‚Äėsoliciting‚Äô other men to have sex. From 1861, consensual anal sex was punishable with life imprisonment. Before that it was a capital offence, with the last executions only in 1835. It¬†was still a¬†felony from¬†1956. Many men were convicted¬†under these statutes until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised male homosexual acts. And even then, various homosexual offences remained on the statute books until the 2003 Sexual Offences Act came into effect the following year.¬†Given the state‚Äôs¬†history of violently punishing same-sex acts, ¬†should a pardon be restricted only to those, including the dead, convicted of crimes in the twentieth century? ¬†Why should men fined or imprisoned in 1935 be worthy of pardons whilst¬†men¬†killed¬†by the state in 1835 should not? There is surely no logical or humane way to fairly dispense justice to men convicted of these historical crimes. Buggery, after all, has been a crime in England since 1533. ¬†And if the Peter Tatchell Foundation estimates the need for some 50,000 ‚Äď 100,000 pardons in the twentieth-century alone, how many should we expect from the previous five centuries?

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

 Kuala Lumpur:  Yo ung and educated Malaysians are overwhelmingly accepting of LGBTI people, a new survey has found. The Oriental Daily News conducted the study following the US Supreme Court’s June ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

The results showed that 83% of Malaysians aged 18 to 30 and 84% between the ages of 31 and 45 would accept gay friends or colleagues. However, half of respondents aged 46 to 60 and only 24% of those above 60 said they could not. Gay sex is illegal in the Muslim-majority country under a colonial anti-sodomy law and punishable by fines, whipping and/or up to 20 years in prison.

The newspaper noted that 83% of respondents with a university or college education said they could accept gay friends or colleagues, compared with 59% of people with only elementary education. Women were also more accepting, with 81% saying they would accept a friend or colleague if they came out, compared with 59% of men. One gay respondent said LGBTI people were the target of jokes in the workplace and social circles and they had no choice but to hide their sexuality in order to protect themselves.

Nearly half of respondents (45%) said gay¬†people were marginalized¬†or discriminated against.¬†Some¬†43% of respondents¬†supported gay marriage, while 32% ‚Äėdo not support or oppose‚Äô it.¬†Of¬†the respondents who opposed gay marriage, 43% believe it is¬†contrary to nature, 21% think¬†it is immoral and 21% said they could not accept it on¬†religious grounds.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com