#Law

San Marino, The Oldest Republic In The World, Legalized Civil Unions

The Republic of San Marino has just passed a law allowing civil unions for same-sex couples!

Just a few hours ago (of this article’s publishing), the landlocked microstate within the Italian Peninsula, which is considered the smallest and oldest still living republic in the world, voted to legalize and recognize the unions of same-sex couples.

The Great and General Council voted 40 v. 4 in favor of the Regulation of Civil Unions law with an addition 4 lawmakers choosing to abstain, according to Italian news source Gay News.

Possibly the most important section of the law with 14 articles is its definition of a civil union:

"The civil union is the contract by which a family-like community is governed by two adult individuals of the same sex or different sex in order to organize their life in common.”

The law was first presented to the lawmaking council by Valentina Rossi last year on December 18, 2017. Lawmakers then argued over, analyzed, edited, and eventually voted on the law in the early morning hour of 1:00 CET today.

Despite this celebration, San Marino has a negative past with LGBTQ rights and law. Only six years ago did the country take down the law forbidding same-sex couples from living together.

But as Michele Pazzi, the secretary for the LGBT-San Marino association pointed out at that time, “This is a little step towards the full recognition of same-sex couples.”

Now, the country has taken one step further, though there’s currently no word as to when the law will go into effect.

h/t: Gay News

Thousands Sign A Petition To Keep Gay Sex Banned In Singapore

On Thursday, India’s Supreme Court made a landmark decision that the colonial era Section 377 law was unconstitutional. This decision thus made gay sex legal in all of India.

In reaction to this announcement, many have looked called for Singapore to challenge a similar law in their island nation. This law, Section 377A was also introduced by British colonialism in the region, and bans gay sex with the threat of two years in prison.

Immediately after news hit of India striking their Section 377 as unconstitutional, Tommy Koh, an Ambassador-at-Large at the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Singapore should do the same.

Kohn made this comments in the response to Simon Chesterman’s, dean of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, Facebook post about the Indian Supreme Court, according to Channel News Asia.

"I would encourage our gay community to bring a class action to challenge the constitutionality of Section 377A," wrote Koh.

This was only the start of outcry for the decriminalization of gay sex in Singapore, but that has also caused major pushback.

For instance, multiple questions and calls for decriminalization led to Singaporean Law and Home Affairs Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam sharing the following statement at a press meeting:

“If you look at the issue, it is a deeply split society. The majority are opposed to any change to Section 377A. They are opposed to removing it,” he insisted.

“Can you impose viewpoints on a majority when (the issue is) so closely related to social value systems?” he asked.

He then added, “I think society has got to decide which direction it wants to go. And the laws will have to keep pace with changes in society and how society sees these issues.”

Unfortunately, there are many who agree with Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam. A petition to keep the law banning gay sex in Singapore has appeared and has reached over 75,000 signatures.

As the petition’s mission statement states:

“By repealing the section 377A penal code, it would begin to normalize homosexual behaviours as a societal norm and lead to greater push for other LGBT rights in our conservative society as we have seen played out in other western societies today. We do not think the vocal minority should impose their values and practice on the silent majority who are still largely conservative.” 

“Hence, if you among the silent majority, please sign this petition to support and reiterate our position to the Singapore government that we wants the Penal Code 377A to stay.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Perry Wong (@perrbearwong) on

It is important to note that the peitition’s creator has asked those who sign to be respectful of others and that his main goal is just to keep the staus quo.

“We simply want to have our voices heard by our government,” he said in the latest update, “We are not against anyone. (And so let's be respectful). We just want to keep the status quo.”

At it's creation, the petition hoped to receive at least 75,000 signatures to show government officials. Unfortunately, they have since reached that goal.

There's currently no news on how this petition will affect any fight for the decriminalization of gay sex in Singapore, but it's not looking good.

h/t: Channel Asia News, Pink News

Here Is Where Trump's Potential SCOTUS Picks Stand on LGBTQ+ Rights and Abortion

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27th, and ever since we’ve all been curious (to put it mildly) whom the president would appoint to fill the position.

It’s hard to overstate how much is at stake here; the next Supreme Court appointee could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade or gay marriage, and will absolutely form and shape life in this country for decades.

Trump has reportedly narrowed the field down to three potential choices. Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals; Amy Coney Barrett on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; and Raymond Kethledge on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. All of these candidates are conservative… to varying degrees. 

Trump intends to announce his top choice at 9 p.m. ET on Monday July 9.

Here’s where the candidates stand on the issues:

Brett Kavanaugh

In the 2017 case of Garza v. Hagan, which determined whether or not an undocumented woman could have an abortion in ICE custody, Kavanaugh’s stance was that Kavanaugh honored Roe v. Wade as the precedent here, which suggests he wouldn’t overturn it if elected.

There isn’t much information available on Kavanaugh and LGBTQ+ issues. According to a piece in the LA Times, his rulings are “predictable” and he has a tendency to uphold court precedent, which could be a good thing in terms of upholding gay marriage.

That said, Kavanaugh is also known as an advocate of “religious freedom.” As we saw in the gay wedding cake case earlier this year, this can be a damaging thing.

In the case of Kavanaugh, it’s honestly hard to predict how things could turn out if he is appointed.

Raymond Kethledge

Kethledge was appointed by George W. Bush. According to Time, Kethledge has said he will uphold Supreme Court precedent. This would, of course, be good news for LGBTQ+ rights and women's rights.

He hasn’t made any rulings on LGBTQ+ rights or abortion so far in his career so nothing is  completely clear.

Amy Coney Barrett

Trump appointee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the most extreme of the three potential Supreme Court picks. She belongs to a highly conservative, controversial sect of Catholicism called “People of Praise,” and many are concerned her religious views could affect her work as a judge.

In 2013, she wrote an article in Texas Law Review arguing that Roe v. Wade and other similar cases needn’t be upheld as settled law. This kind of thinking could also, of course, threaten same-sex marriage rights.

In a 2006 commencement address at Notre Dame Law School, Barrett is quoted as saying:

“Your legal career is but a means to an end, and that end is building the Kingdom of God. “

Yikes.

Stay vigilant and informed.

h/t: http://fortune.com/2018/07/06/trump-final-three-scotus-nominee/

New Ohio Bill Wants Government Officials To Report Youth Who Act Outside Of Gender Norms

While the state of Ohio could soon have its first openly gay U.S. Congressman, it could also have an extremely transphobic and homophobic bill as well.

HB658 has been introduced to the state’s House of Representatives and has already gained massive opposition from LGBTQ advocates and their allies.

The bill, submitted by Republicans Thomas Brinkman and Paul Zeltwanger, asks that government officials, like doctors, teachers, and care providers, notify parents if a child ever acts “in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex.”

The bill goes further to say:

“If a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the child’s parents and the child’s guardian or custodian.

“The notice shall describe the total circumstances with reasonable specificity.”

The bill also tells teachers and school administrators to not refer to transgender students as their chosen names and pronouns, unless a parents says otherwise.

Plus, the bill also states that parents and guardians won’t be punished for denying their children gender dysphoria treatment.

It seems that HB658 is focused more on transgender youth, but the law is written so broadly that if a child acts outside of gender norms, the extent of which is up to the government official, it must be reported.

As such, gay or lesbian youth could also be at risk.

Of course, several LGBTQ advocates have expressed outrage at HB658 such as Equality Ohio which released a statement saying:

“Ohio’s HB658 is the latest attempt by anti-LGBTQ extremists in Ohio to codify explicit second-class citizenship for LGBTQ people, only this time, they are targeting transgender youth.

“We already have a legal standard of how we treat kids in Ohio – we treat them in accordance with their best interest. Period.

“The state policing of behaviour opens a can of worms. Who is the judge of which gender is allowed to do what? If Jane signs up for shop class, will her parents receive a government letter? If Jordan doesn’t want to play football, do his parents get a letter? What if Alex wants to attend a meeting of the student LGBTQ group – does the school email that to Alex’s parents?

“Just what stereotypes are they expected to enforce?

“In targeting transgender children, the bill authors create a ridiculous and unenforceable requirements – requirements that out transgender students and create a significant threat of bullying and reduced access to social support systems.”

“This bill is anti-trans youth. It’s attacking our most vulnerable.

“A few cynical politicians are trying to drum up fear and division about transgender youth and their families at a time when we need more love, respect, and kindness.

“This unnecessary and discriminatory bill does nothing to support youth and families.

“In fact, it puts the livelihoods of some of our most vulnerable youth – transgender youth – further at risk with bullying and discrimination by potentially forcing teachers to out them.”

Canada's Senate Legalizes Marijuana, Sales Will Begin Later This Summer

Today, Canada became the second nation in history to fully legalize marijuana.

Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, was approved by the Canadian Senate on Tuesday. It was previously passed by the House of Commons. C-45 legalizes marijuana possession, home growing and sales to adults. It is still a crime to sell cannabis to a minor, and the federal government will oversee such sanctions/boundaries. Governments of provinces will manage sales and distribution.

To date, nine states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 29 states allow it for medicinal purposes.

The black market of marijuana—just like any black market in the drug trade—has incited violence and conflicts around the world. Legalizing the drug takes power away from cartels and  other criminals, while creating several new, legitimate jobs. That part’s a win-win.

 

“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” declared Canada’s Liberal Party online. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

Marijuana is not without its risks: it can be habit-forming and if abused it can harm mental health. But it’s never been linked concretely to more serious problems like lethal overdoses. Marijuana is significantly less likely than alcohol, about tenfold, to cause serious accidents.

Last July, Uruguay became the first nation to legalize marijuana. Drug-related crime has plummeted.

Sales of marijuana in Canada should begin in within weeks.

h/t: https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621422290/canadas-house-votes-to-legalize-marijuana-sending-bill-to-senate

A Filipino Gay Man And His Friends Were Detained For "Loitering"

A gay man is sharing how he, his boyfriend, and his friends were arrested for “loitering.”

Ttam Nanaramid recently posted to Facebook the story of how a new Presidential order led to the arrest of him and his friends.

On Saturday, June 16, he, his partner, and his friends were waiting outside another friend’s apartment for her to come out and join them for a bar crawl.

As he wrote on Facebook:

“My partner and I were not even paying attention… and the police approached us and told us to get in the police car because we could not ‘hang out’ there.”

Nanariamid and his friends complied willingly and were taken to the Guadalupe Nuevo Station 7 in Metro Manila. There, they were thrown into a jail cell.

“We were quite anxious the moment they opened the cell. There were already people inside the cell and they were really horny and drunk. We’re all quite stressed out inside.”

"When they asked why they had been put in jail, one of the police officers responded, “Don’t; you wat TV?”

Earlier this month, Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, had announced a new war on loiterers or “tambays.” Since that June 13th announcement, more than 3,000 people have been detained. This is despite the fact that loitering is not officially against the law.

As for Nanaramid’s group, they were eventually let go around 2 or 3 am, but their names and contact info were recorded for future reference.

As Nanaramid wrote:

“I do not even know what lesson learned in this story and I still don’t know what’s wrong with waiting outside a house.”

“After that I do not feel safe and comfortable going anywhere and I am not sure if they have violated (our human rights).”

In addition, he questioned how this vague and unofficial law is even being followed.

“If they see you drinking soda outside the store, is that it? If they see you sitting in the gutter of the road because you’re heavy, do you think it’s a hangout? If they find you waiting in the waiting car waiting for the car, is that it? What is the true and clear meaning and measurement of tambay?”

h/t: GayStarNews

Homosexuality Declassified as a Mental Illness by Indian Psychiatric Society

Just in time for Pride Month, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) declassified homosexuality as a mental illness last week.

The IPS was founded in 1929 and has about 3,000 members today. This is the first time the organization has publicly addressed the matter.

IPS president Dr. Ajit Bhide said:

“Certain people are not cut out to be heterosexual and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, to ostracize them.

 

IPS chairperson Dr. Kersi Chavda stated:

“This statement is our official stand on homosexuality, that it is not a disease and should not be treated like one. This is the first time we have released an official stand.”


This is a small victory, though. Homosexuality is still illegal in India under Section 377, and conversion therapy is still common. India's Supreme Court is currently reviewing Section 377, and is expected to declare whether or not to uphold it by October. 

The law, which describes anal sex as an “unnatural offense” has stood since 1862 as a direct result of British colonization. The law was modeled from the British Empire’s buggery law. Britain decriminalized homosexual acts in 1967.

Breaking the long-standing Indian law can result in a 10-year prison sentence, an equivalent punishment to rape. It’s worth noting that oral sex, even between a man and a woman, is prohibited under the law.

Also, as we reported earlier this week, India’s Central Board of Film Certification has outright banned critical darling Love, Simon because it features a gay lead character.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/stop-treating-homosexuality-as-an-illness-says-indian-psychiatric-society/story-EqoFV1KjFE0mxAxOimX8oN.html


 

SD GOP Lawmaker Says Businesses Have a Right to Turn Away Blacks, Apologizes

The aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker’s refusal to serve a gay couple just keeps getting deeper and weirder.

GOP South Dakota state rep. Michael Clark was forced to eat his words on Tuesday after he typed a message proclaiming the Supreme Court’s ruling a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion”— and then took things to another level by saying he believes businesses should have the right to turn away black people if they want to.

“He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants,” Clark wrote. “If he wants to turn away people of color, then that(‘s) his choice.” 

Clark quickly took the post down, but it had already gone viral.

The Argus Leader published a story about the comment, and an hour later Clark issued an apology to the reporter who broke the story via email.

"I am apologizing for some of my Facebook comments," he wrote. "I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race." 

In an interview with the Argus Leader, Clark had said that business owners with “strongly based beliefs” should be able to turn away customers.

“If it’s truly his strongly based belief, he should be able to turn them away,” Clark said. “People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business.”

Clark is running unopposed for reelection to represent District 9.

h/t: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/05/s-d-lawmaker-says-businesses-should-able-turn-away-customers-based-race/673317002/

Kansas Governor Signs Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Into State Law

On Friday, Kansas governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill into state law legalizing discrimination against LGBT persons looking to adopt. This news comes just one week after Oklahoma’s governor Mary Fallin signed a similar bill.

Senate Bill 284 enables adoption agencies in Kansas, even those which receive taxpayer funds, to deny children placement into homes with LGBT parents over “religious objections.”

Both houses of the legislature approved the bill this month. 

It’s worth mentioning that technically the law could also permit these agencies to subject LGBT children in foster care to conversion therapy.

According to The Wichita Eagle, Colyer said: “What I want Kansans to know is this is about fairness and that we are protecting everyone. It’s not about discrimination; it’s about fairness. We’re looking after those kids that need a forever home.”

JoDee Winterhof, senior VP of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, condemned the bill in a press release: “Kansas now joins Oklahoma as the only states to allow anti-LGBTQ state bills to become law this year. Kansas lawmakers, from the legislature to the governor, are clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate against their own constituents than it is to find loving homes for children in need. Make no mistake: this law will harm the kids, families and reputation of this state.” 

Kansas is the ninth state to enact an adoption law permitting agencies to deny placement into homes over religious objections; the others are Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma.

The new adoption law isn’t the only current anti-LGBT law in Kansas. In 2016, former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing student organization’s at public universities in the state to deny membership to LGBT students. Brownback is now United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom under the Trump Administration.

Earlier this week, Colyer and six other Republican governors signed a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee saying president Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize for “his transformative efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula."

h/t: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/05/18/kansas-governor-signs-anti-lgbt-religious-freedom-adoption-law/

Illinois's State Senate Passed A Bill Asking For LGBTQ History To Be A Requirement In Public Schools

Illinois’s state Senate has approved a bill that asks for LGBTQ history to be a requirement in public schools.

Senate Bill 3249 is the bill that was passed on the floor earlier today. The bill was approved by a vote of 34 to 18.

The bill was first introduced by Chicago Democrat Heather Steans who says the bill would enlighten and better Illinois students.

“By teaching students an inclusive curriculum, Illinois classrooms will promote acceptance and a more accurate portrayal of history,” she said. “LGBT students also will learn about people who had some similar qualities to them and became historical role models.”

If the bill were to be signed into law, it would require schools in the state to take some time in the year to teach LGBTQ history. Specifically, students would learn about contributions LGBTQ people made to society.

Steans says that the bill would work with already established laws that require students learn about specific races and ethnicities like African-American history, Asian-American history, Hungarian history, and French history.

That said, this is only the first step in the bill’s journey towards hopefully becoming a law. The bill would need to be passed by the state House and then be signed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Of course, there’s plenty of opposition to the bill. For instance, some education advocates are lobbying against it for multiple reasons. Some see it as an offense to religious freedom and some see it as an offense to the jurisdictions of school boards.

“We have a clear directive from our membership to oppose all curricular mandates that come before the General Assembly,” said Zach Messersmith, director of government relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards, to the State Journal-Register. “We believe that locally elected school boards should be able to determine curricula for their students as long as it meets Illinois Learning Standards.”

Again, we’ll see if the bill will be able to hurdle over all of the obstacles before it. If it does, Illinois will only be the second state to require LGBTQ history for public school students. The only other state to do so is California.

h/t: the Associated Press, The State Journal-Register

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