QBits
Gay rights victory in Ethiopia

A step in the right direction, albeit, a small one.

Q.

An anti-gay march was planned in Addis Ababa to protest against homosexuality and raise support for tougher anti-gay laws
Mulatu Teshome is the president of Ethiopia.

Gay rights victories in Ethiopia are scarce. But officials announced today (16 April) a rally protesting against homosexuality was cancelled.

Two groups had been planning to hold a large rally against gay people in Addis Ababa on 26 April.

The initiative was planned after Uganda and Nigeria recently passed anti-gay legislation, with a religious group hoping to raise support of toughening up Ethiopia’s anti-homosexuality laws.

‘The country has seen an increase in gay-related activities and this has reached an alarming stage,’ said Dereje Negash, the head of a Christian Association, Woyniye Abune Teklehaimanot.

In the east African country, Ethiopia punishes homosexuality by up to 15 years in prison.

But in a turnaround, the religious group chairman spokesman said the cancellation came after people inside the church asked the government to prevent the rally.

Redwan Hussein, a government spokesman, said the government does not support the homophobic moments that have been building in Ethiopia and across Africa.

He told the AP plans to add gay sex to a list of crimes ineligible for a presidential pardon have been dropped.

The Louisiana House of Representatives rejected legislation, on Tuesday, that would remove the state’s symbolic ban on certain kinds of sodomy. The bill failed by a wide margin on a vote of 27-67, with 11 members not voting.

Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law was overturned and declared unconstitutional in 2003, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling such state statutes could not be enforced. Still, the Legislature has been unwilling to officially strike the measure from state law, even though it can’t be used as a cause for arrest.

UN condemns Brunei over new law allowing gays to be stoned to death

Hassanal Bolkiah has been the Sultan of Brunei since 1967

Hassanal Bolkiah has been the Sultan of Brunei since 1967

The United Nations has condemned Brunei for adopting a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

It has long been a crime in Brunei, but the maximum punishment had been a 10-year prison sentence.

However, Brunei, a predominately Muslim state, has now adopted a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for consenting same-sex sexual activity, adultery, rape, extramarital sexual relations, and for declaring oneself to be non-Muslim.

The new penal code will come into effect on 22 April.

“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder are the other offences for which the death penalty could be applied under the revised code.

Noting that Brunei has maintained an effective moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 1957, OHCHR urged the government to establish a formal moratorium and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether.

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” Mr Colville stated.

He added that the criminalisation and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

Hassanal Bolkiah has been the Sultan of Brunei, head of government and state, since 1967.

Brunei gained independence from the UK in 1984.

(via Malta passes civil unions for gay couples, celebrations start | Gay Star News)

"The island nation of Malta has finally passed civil unions for gay couples tonight (14 April).

Traditionally conservative, the small European Catholic nation has given gay couples the right to have their union recognized.

With the opposition choosing to abstain from the vote, the Labour-led government passed the bill Monday evening.

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who said she had ‘no problems’ giving gay couples civil unions, is expected to sign the bill as early as tomorrow.”

Read more at the source link.

(via Malta passes civil unions for gay couples, celebrations start | Gay Star News)

"The island nation of Malta has finally passed civil unions for gay couples tonight (14 April).

Traditionally conservative, the small European Catholic nation has given gay couples the right to have their union recognized.

With the opposition choosing to abstain from the vote, the Labour-led government passed the bill Monday evening.

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who said she had ‘no problems’ giving gay couples civil unions, is expected to sign the bill as early as tomorrow.”

Read more at the source link.

(via Patchwork of progress | Daily Xtra)

Of the 60 districts in the province, only two had passed anti-homophobia policy by the end of 2004.

Fast-forward a decade: we’re up to 29 — nearly half the districts have signed on. That may not sound like a huge change, but it is.

“In the past five years in particular, there’s been a groundswell of change,” says Chamberlain, who has been there since the beginning.

(via Patchwork of progress | Daily Xtra)

Of the 60 districts in the province, only two had passed anti-homophobia policy by the end of 2004.

Fast-forward a decade: we’re up to 29 — nearly half the districts have signed on. That may not sound like a huge change, but it is.

“In the past five years in particular, there’s been a groundswell of change,” says Chamberlain, who has been there since the beginning.

(via US: Mississippi shops resist ‘religious freedom’ law with ‘we don’t discriminate’ stickers · PinkNews.co.uk)

"Hundreds of Mississippi shops and businesses are protesting against the state’s new ‘religious freedom’ law, with window stickers assuring customers they would never use it to refuse them service."

Read more at the source link.

(via US: Mississippi shops resist ‘religious freedom’ law with ‘we don’t discriminate’ stickers · PinkNews.co.uk)

"Hundreds of Mississippi shops and businesses are protesting against the state’s new ‘religious freedom’ law, with window stickers assuring customers they would never use it to refuse them service."

Read more at the source link.

A sad day for post secondary education.
Q.

"The B.C. Law Society has voted down a motion that would have barred graduates of Trinity Western University’s new law school from practising law in B.C. because of the school’s ban on gay sex.

The society benchers voted 20-6 against the motion on Friday morning in Vancouver.

“We are very pleased with this outcome,” said TWU President Bob Kuhn in statement shortly after the vote.

“This is also an important decision for all Canadians. It says that there is room in a democratic country like Canada for a law school at a Christian university.”

The B.C. government approved the creation of a private faith-based law school at the Fraser Valley’s university last December.

But the provincial approval sparked outrage from gay and lesbian advocates because the Christian university has a policy against same-sex relationships.

The school’s handbook says students must sign a covenant recognizing that sexual relations should be confined to marriage between a man and a woman.”

In which Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson back pedals on her promise to review the countries buggery laws.

“I can’t tell you when, because you are going to hold me [to it] if I give you a timeline. We are so busy trying to hold things and to see … whatever decisions we take — because we have to take tough decisions — that it doesn’t impact in a very serious way the majority of our people…,” she says.

If they’ve got extra money sitting around to promote perversion, obviously they’ve got more money than they really need.

Senator Mike Fair R-SC

(via Melissa Harris-Perry on msnbc)

Melissa Harris-Perry reads her open letter to Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi in light of him signing bill SB 2681 which would allow businesses to discriminate based on their right for “religious freedom.”

Gay rights victory in Russia as a Pride ban is declared illegal
Six judges in Kostroma, in western Russia, have ruled the city was wrong to ban a gay rights protest over ‘propaganda’ fears
Gay rights protests could happen in Kostroma as a court has ruled a ban on Pride is illegal.
Photo by Gay Russia.

In what is being described as the biggest gay rights victory in Russia yet, a ban on Pride was declared illegal today (4 April).

The Presidium of Kostroma Regional Court - the highest court in the region - has ruled two rallies held last year in June protesting against the nationwide ‘gay propaganda’ ban should have been allowed to go ahead.

The six judges heard from gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev as well as the western Russian’s city local government that banned the event.

Lawyers fighting for the ban on gay rights protests claimed the organizers would ‘promote non-traditional sexual relations’.

They also claimed the police would not be able to ensure the safety of all participants in the protests.

But the judges said LGBTI people deserve a right to freedom of expression and protection from discrimination.

Following the announcement, Alekseev announced he would be serving Kostroma with notice of a new Pride and other gay rights events held in public.

Alekseev said: ‘It is our single biggest victory in the framework of the Russian judicial system.

‘And it gives extra weight that the verdict by the Bureau of the regional court - the highest court of the Russian Federation .’

He added: ‘Now I intend to seek compensation from the state of moral and material damages in connection with the violation of human rights caused by prohibitions stated public events.’

The gay rights activist is convinced the entire federal ‘gay propaganda’ ban will one day fall as Russia is incapable of defending the law in the courtroom.

Alekseev added to Gay Star News: ‘There’s a lot of talk and discussion, boycotts and stuff like that, with all this discussion you don’t see all the real legal work that has been done in the last year.

‘This is what really has an effect.’

April 04, 2014 12:28 GMT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Ugandan government spokesman says police have raided the offices of a United States-funded project known to offer AIDS services to homosexuals.

Ofwono Opondo said on Twitter Friday the Makerere University Walter Reed Project building in Kampala was targeted for “training youths in homosexuality.”

Frank Mugisha, a gay leader in Uganda, said one person was arrested in Thursday’s raid. He said the project —a nonprofit partnership between a Ugandan university and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program — was known to offer services to gays who felt comfortable going there for anti-retroviral treatment.

Police spokesman Patrick Onyango denied the raid, saying a man pretending to represent the police threatened workers at the project, which has since been closed by administrators.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

SSA updates policy on survivor benefits for transgender spouses
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Social Security Administration (SSA) on Tuesday updated its policies regarding the ability of transgender individuals to receive benefits through their spouses.

Robina Asti

Robina Asti

In its announcement, the SSA clarified that although its “past policy was to refer all marriage-based claims involving transgender individuals for a legal opinion from the Regional Chief Counsel,” the new policy “allows us to process most claims…without the need for a legal opinion.”

The action comes after months of advocacy by Lambda Legal on behalf of Robina Asti, a 92-year-old transgender woman who was denied survivor benefits by the SSA after her husband’s death.

“This is a critical development for all married transgender people, but is especially important for transgender older adults, who rely on the safety net of Social Security benefits,” said Karen Loewy, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney and Seniors Program Strategist.

“The extension of Social Security spousal retirement and survivor benefits to older transgender adults can be lifesaving. This new policy allows for transgender seniors to receive their benefits as quickly as possible, and to age with greater certainty and security, rather than with fear,” added Loewy.

Asti, a a World War II veteran and pilot, married Norwood Patton in 2004. Following Patton’s death in 2012, Asti was denied survivor benefits that would have increased her monthly Social Security by about $500.

The SSA had determined that Asti’s marriage was not valid because she was “legally male” at the time of her wedding.

In February, after months of advocacy, Lambda Legal announced the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid Asti, a 92-year-old transgender woman, the survivor benefits she was denied after her husband’s death.

More on Robina Asti is here.

(via Gay activists file curative petition in Supreme Court - The Hindu)

"The present Curative Petition challenges both the December 11, 2013 judgment and the January order to cure the gross miscarriage of justice. It said, “The effect of recriminalisation on account of the impugned judgment has caused immense prejudice to gay activists, who have been put at risk of prosecution under Section 377 IPC, on account of the association between homosexuality and penile-anal/penile-oral sexual acts.”

The petitioner drew the court’s attention to the fact that under an amendment introduced in the IPC in 2013, Section 375 of the IPC in 2013 makes penile non-vaginal sexual acts, between man and woman, without consent an offence. By necessary implication, such sexual acts between man and woman, which are consensual, are no longer prohibited.

Consequently, petitioner said “these consensual acts between man and woman have been taken out of the ambit of Section 377, otherwise the amended Section 375 would be rendered redundant. Therefore Section 377 now effectively only criminalises all forms of penetrative oral sex, which makes it ex facie discriminatory against homosexual men and transgender persons and thus violative of Article 14. The amendments to Section 375 were carried out after the judgment was reserved and the parties did not have a chance to address this Court on the issue.” “

(via Gay activists file curative petition in Supreme Court - The Hindu)

"The present Curative Petition challenges both the December 11, 2013 judgment and the January order to cure the gross miscarriage of justice. It said, “The effect of recriminalisation on account of the impugned judgment has caused immense prejudice to gay activists, who have been put at risk of prosecution under Section 377 IPC, on account of the association between homosexuality and penile-anal/penile-oral sexual acts.”

The petitioner drew the court’s attention to the fact that under an amendment introduced in the IPC in 2013, Section 375 of the IPC in 2013 makes penile non-vaginal sexual acts, between man and woman, without consent an offence. By necessary implication, such sexual acts between man and woman, which are consensual, are no longer prohibited.

Consequently, petitioner said “these consensual acts between man and woman have been taken out of the ambit of Section 377, otherwise the amended Section 375 would be rendered redundant. Therefore Section 377 now effectively only criminalises all forms of penetrative oral sex, which makes it ex facie discriminatory against homosexual men and transgender persons and thus violative of Article 14. The amendments to Section 375 were carried out after the judgment was reserved and the parties did not have a chance to address this Court on the issue.” “

(via Keep Big Oil out of Canadian Parks | SumOfUs)

"A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity. Resource companies will now be able to drill exploratory wells, build roads and dig giant test pits, all in the name of pipeline and transmission line “research”.

Unless we act now to repeal this law, some of the most beautiful parks in Canada could be opened up to industrial development. This could set a dangerous national precedent as oil, gas and mining companies scramble to extract as many fossil fuel resources as possible from deep below the soil. But if we add our voices to the thousands of letters that the BC Ministry of Environment has already received, they will be forced to respond.

Take action now to keep Big Oil out of our parks.

Our provincial parks are legally held in trust for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public. But now, some of our most pristine and beloved landscapes in the country are in real danger. Leaked documents show that the BC government is already considering redrawing the boundaries of 30 parks to accommodate destructive new gas and oil pipelines. And now the new Parks Amendment Act could open up these beautiful landscapes for industrial activity - including exploratory wells 75 metres deep and sample pits 250 metres deep. Many park advocates worry that it will also pave the way for large-scale oil and gas extraction.

This is another attempt by the extractive industry to expand its influence over our public institutions. Last year, Big Oil companies were invited to re-write our environmental laws. And earlier this month, we found out they are going to have a say about what our kids learn in school. But we are fighting back against the petrostate. We will soon deliver 25,000 signatures to Alberta Education to tell them to get Big Oil out of classrooms. And we have plans to take action with groups like CPAWS-BC to stop the dangerous precedent of allowing pipelines and other industrial activities in provincial parkland — if one province allows it, it may lead to other provinces following suit.

Take action now to keep Canada’s crowning jewels protected for the use and enjoyment of all Canadians. “

(via Keep Big Oil out of Canadian Parks | SumOfUs)

"A law was just passed that gives oil, gas and mining companies the power to open up BC’s provincial parks for industrial activity. Resource companies will now be able to drill exploratory wells, build roads and dig giant test pits, all in the name of pipeline and transmission line “research”.

Unless we act now to repeal this law, some of the most beautiful parks in Canada could be opened up to industrial development. This could set a dangerous national precedent as oil, gas and mining companies scramble to extract as many fossil fuel resources as possible from deep below the soil. But if we add our voices to the thousands of letters that the BC Ministry of Environment has already received, they will be forced to respond.

Take action now to keep Big Oil out of our parks.

Our provincial parks are legally held in trust for the inspiration, use and enjoyment of the public. But now, some of our most pristine and beloved landscapes in the country are in real danger. Leaked documents show that the BC government is already considering redrawing the boundaries of 30 parks to accommodate destructive new gas and oil pipelines. And now the new Parks Amendment Act could open up these beautiful landscapes for industrial activity - including exploratory wells 75 metres deep and sample pits 250 metres deep. Many park advocates worry that it will also pave the way for large-scale oil and gas extraction.

This is another attempt by the extractive industry to expand its influence over our public institutions. Last year, Big Oil companies were invited to re-write our environmental laws. And earlier this month, we found out they are going to have a say about what our kids learn in school. But we are fighting back against the petrostate. We will soon deliver 25,000 signatures to Alberta Education to tell them to get Big Oil out of classrooms. And we have plans to take action with groups like CPAWS-BC to stop the dangerous precedent of allowing pipelines and other industrial activities in provincial parkland — if one province allows it, it may lead to other provinces following suit.

Take action now to keep Canada’s crowning jewels protected for the use and enjoyment of all Canadians. “