GAYRHS – Episode 10

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. Keep an eye out for new posts soon!

Outline

 

Today’s episode:

  1. Introduction
  2. Current Events
  3. IDAHOT
  4. ACP

 

Current Events

  1. Taiwanese laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying violate their personal freedom and equal protection, the island’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday. The justices called sexual orientation an “immutable characteristic that is resistant to change.” “The judges have today said yes to marriage equality. This is a huge step forward for LGBTI rights in Taiwan and will resonate across Asia,” said Amnesty International’s Lisa Tassi, who directs campaigns in East Asia. Taiwan’s president has asked the Ministry of Justice to come up with a legal framework for complying with the decision. The court’s ruling gives Taiwan’s government two years to change its marriage laws. If that deadline passes without legislative action, same-sex couples will be allowed to register for marriage and obtain “the status of a legally recognized couple.” Allowing single people to have the autonomy to decide whether to marry and whom to marry, the Taiwanese court said in a news release, “is vital to the sound development of personality and safeguarding of human dignity, and therefore is a fundamental right.” The court also said that when same-sex couples create “a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together,” they’re not affecting the rights of people in a heterosexual marriage. The issue of same-sex marriage has been a source of contention for decades in Taiwan. The key plaintiff, Chi Chia-wei (sometimes written as Qi Jia-wei), has fought for gay rights since the 1980s and first sought a marriage license 16 years ago, Focus Taiwan reports. Groups opposing same-sex marriage, including Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, protested outside the Judicial Yuan after the result came out. Some requested the invalidation of the interpretation and the president to step down. Noting a history of discrimination against homosexuality and homosexuals’ lack of political power, the court said that “in determining the constitutionality of different treatment based on sexual orientation, a heightened standard shall be applied.” Ahead of Wednesday’s ruling, there were signs that Taiwan was poised to legalize same-sex marriage. It was a key campaign issue for President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office one year ago, and the legislature has been weighing a change to Taiwan’s Civil Code, according to The China Post. (NPR)
  2. Texas is proposing a bill that could keep transgender students out of high school sports. The stated focus of the bill, SB 2095, is steroid use. But because gender confirmation often includes the use of steroids, critics say the true purpose of the bill is to discriminate. This year, a Texas teenage transgender boy, Mack Beggs, was allowed to wrestle only girls, because his birth certificate says he was female at birth. Some complained that the boy’s prescribed testosterone treatment gave him an unfair advantage over girls. State law already bans steroid use, but it allows a “safe harbor” exception for students using steroids prescribed by a doctor, said Garcia, the Democratic senator. The bill would give authorities the power to block kids from playing. The board could find that an individual’s steroid treatment affects safety or fair play. Not all transgender people necessarily take steroids. “All young people should have the opportunity to play interscholastic sports and have their personal dignity respected,” advocacy group Equality Texas said. “Transgender people are no different.” The bill “does not eliminate the birth certificate problem, and creates the potential for student athletes like Mack Beggs to be prohibited from competing in sports altogether,” Equality Texas said. (CNN)
  3. One bill would make it legal to decline adoption services to gay couples. Another could deny them marriage licenses. Others would bar transgender Texans from using the public bathroom of their choice. Supporters of the bills circulating in the Texas Legislature this session say they’re intended to protect the religious rights of citizens or maintain safety in public bathrooms. Critics counter they’re an unprecedented attack on LGBT rights. One of the most contentious bills has been Senate Bill 6, the so-called “bathroom bill,” which would require that people use bathrooms in public schools and government buildings based on their “biological sex” and prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Just as it did for a similar law recently passed in North Carolina, Senate Bill 6 has drawn withering criticism from civil rights activists as well as business and tourism leaders. In a letter to Texas senators in March, Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business, warned that the bill, if passed, would lead to at least $407 million in direct spending losses for the state. The bill passed the Senate but has stalled in the House. Another bill would allow county clerks to pass off issuing marriage licenses to other county officials if it conflicts with their religious beliefs, and another would keep transgender athletes from competing in high school sports. Texas is not alone. This year, state lawmakers have introduced 131 anti-LGBT bills in 30 states, according to figures compiled by the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign. Only nine of those bills so far have passed into law. Texas leads the nation with the number of bills considered anti-LGBT. Last year, 252 bills were introduced, eight of which became laws, according to the HRC statistics. Texas Rep. James Frank, R-Wichita Falls, said the Texas bills are about allowing citizens and agencies to exercise their religious beliefs, not impeding LGBT rights. His initiative, House Bill 3859, would allow faith-based agencies to deny adoption and fostering services to couples if it goes against their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Agencies that deny a couple would have to offer a referral to that couple, according to the bill. Randy Daniels, vice president of Dallas-based Buckner Children & Family Services, a Baptist-affiliated adoption and foster service agency, said HB 3859 could shield agencies such as his from lawsuits if they turn away same-sex couples. Laws that specifically target the LGBT community are hurtful and could have lasting impacts in their communities, even if they’re not passed, said the Rev. Karen Thompson, lead pastor at Metropolitan Community Church of Austin, a majority LGBT congregation. Earlier this month, Thompson and other clergy filed into the State Capitol for a “prayer protest” of the bills and handed lawmakers a letter signed by 40 faith-based leaders across Texas denouncing the initiatives. Just debating the bills has already harmed members of her congregation, she said. (USA Today)
  4. Rick Brattin, a Missouri state representative from Harrisonville, seems pretty certain: Homosexuality and humanity are incompatible. “When you look at the tenets of religion, of the Bible, of the Qur’an, of other religions,” he said [last] Monday, “there is a distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.” The statement, made on the Missouri House floor, was deplorable. It betrayed a stunning lack of understanding of theology and self-government: The Constitution protects all Americans from the tyranny of any single faith-based approach to secular law. It isn’t the first time Brattin has tripped over the Constitution. He has sought an equal footing for teaching creationism in public schools. He proposed requiring the father’s consent before an abortion except in cases of “legitimate rape.” He suggested college football players who refuse to play for political reasons should lose their scholarships. [Last] Monday, state lawmakers tried to pass an amendment prohibiting discrimination in the state on the basis of sexual orientation or gender status. In Missouri, you can still be fired because the boss thinks you might be gay. It gets worse. After all the amendments were dropped, including the protections for gays and lesbians, the House passed Senate Bill 43, a measure that would actually make it more difficult to sue for discrimination. The bill is another unnecessary blemish on the state. The legislation’s original sponsor owns a company facing a discrimination lawsuit, making the decision even more questionable. The bill now sits on Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk. The governor has made clear his desire to bring new businesses and jobs to Missouri. Supporters say SB 43 is part of an effort to make the state more business-friendly. (The Kansas City Star)
  5. In what is being described as the speediest signing of a bill passed by Connecticut‘s legislature, Gov. Dannel Malloy outlawed the practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of young people from gay, lesbian, bisexual to straight. The law also applies to all efforts to force transgender youth to not identify according to their authentic gender identity. “This is supported by the science,” Gov. Malloy told legislators and advocates gathered around his desk before signing the bill into law Wednesday, mere minutes after the state senate passed it, unanimously. Connecticut is the 9th state to enact such a law. Other states already banning what’s been called “ex-gay” therapy, “reparative therapy” and “conversion therapy” are: California, Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, and Illinois. It’s also banned by three cities — Seattle, Miami Beach and Cincinnati —as well as Washington, D.C. Critics of such bans, like Federalist op-ed writer Marcus Gregory — a gay man who claims to work as a scientist — cite debunked studies, discredited “experts” and falsely claim the bans result in preposterous treatments for children such as gender confirmation surgeries and hormone replacement therapy. (LGBTQ Nation)
  6. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled this week that anti-gay attacks cannot be prosecuted under the state’s hate crime law, a decision that activists said diverged from recent outcomes in gay and transgender rights cases. The ruling clears the way for a college athlete accused of assaulting two gay men to be tried on lesser charges. The case hinged on whether attacks based on sexual orientation could fall under a hate crime law that does not explicitly mention sexual orientation. Prosecuting lawyers in Cabell County, where the attack took place, argued that “sex,” which the law lists as a protected category, includes crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation. But the court was not convinced. In a 3-to-2 ruling handed down on Tuesday, it found that “the word ‘sex’ in West Virginia Code § 61-6-21(b) is unambiguous and clearly imparts being male or female, and does not include ‘sexual orientation,’” according to a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II. The court’s ruling was celebrated by West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, who did not side with the state, which argued that sexual orientation was a protected category under the hate crime law. In a statement, he called the attack on the two men “deeply disturbing and heinous” but said “such conduct does not give the judicial system a license to rewrite state law.” West Virginia is one of only six states with a hate crime law that includes sex in its protections but not sexual orientation or gender identity. In recent years, gay and transgender advocacy groups have won a string of federal anti-discrimination cases in areas like employment, housing and education by arguing that federal laws that forbid sex discrimination, particularly Title VII and Title IX, also cover discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But that approach has not always been effective. In March, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Jameka Evans, a lesbian, could not sue her employer for anti-gay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people make up roughly 20 percent of bias attacks and harassment reported to law enforcement agencies, according to statistics compiled by the F.B.I. in 2015. Those episodes included assault, intimidation, vandalism, murder and rape. Robin Maril, the associate legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group, said the West Virginia ruling was not consistent with “the broad legal trajectory we are seeing in the courts” toward including both sexuality and gender identity under legal protections based on sex, especially in the context of anti-discrimination law. (New York Times)
  7. The government of Ontario is considering the introduction of gender-neutral birth certificates as early as next year. The province already issues gender-neutral driver’s licenses and health cards. The minister’s statement comes after an Ontario-born filmmaker and activist pushed the province to recognize non-binary people in all government documentation. (BuzzFeed)
  8. An anonymous spokesperson has revealed details of efforts by the Russian LGBT Network to evacuate gay men from Chechnya. In April, Russian journalists revealed details of six known prisons for gay men in Chechnya. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has told Vladimir Putin that concentration camps do not exist. Last Friday, Putin appeared to support a request by Russia’s Commissioner for Human Rights to form an investigative team to look into “the well-known information, or rumors” of torture against men “with a non-traditional sexual orientation” in Chechnya. The anonymous source said that the Russian LGBT Network has so far managed to evacuate around 40 men from Chechnya to various locations around Russia. The source also confirmed reports that parents in Chechnya are being told to kill their gay children, adding that “some of them are already hunted by their relatives outside of Chechnya.” (Towelroad)

IDAHOT

Today HRC recognizes the 13th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) with the launch of a video series highlighting global innovators in the fight for LGBTQ equality. In addition, the organization is shining a spotlight on the need for continued U.S. engagement on protecting the human rights of LGBTQ individuals around the world, especially in the ongoing crisis occurring in Chechnya.

 

Despite the work of innovative LGBTQ advocates from around the world, discrimination and social stigma continue to have negative, often tragic, consequences for LGBTQ people. Last month, reports surfaced that Chechen police have detained, beaten and tortured at least 100 gay men. The Russian LGBT Network claimed that as many as 20 men may have been killed in the attacks in Chechnya, a republic within Russia. From working with the U.S. administration and Congress to activating membership, HRC has sent a clear message that we have our #EyesOnChechnya and that the human rights violations in Chechnya must stop.

The situation for LGBTQ people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBTQ people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution and violence.

  • Anti-LGBTQ discrimination continues to put lives at real risk. 72 countries currently criminalize same-sex relationships. More than 2,300 murders of transgender people were recorded between 2008 and 2016, according to data from the Trans Murder Monitoring project
  • In up to 10 countries, same-sex conduct may be punishable by death
  • Governments in Lithuania, Nigeria, and Russia are silencing equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws — a disturbing trend that leads to human rights violations
  • Same-sex marriage licenses are being issued nationwide in 20 countries, and in some jurisdictions of Mexico and the United Kingdom.

IDAHOT celebrates the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) resolution to declassify same-sex attraction as a mental disorder. The move followed a similar decision by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. The WHO’s monumental change created a shift in how many LGBTQ people were treated. In 2004, LGBTQ activists gathered for the first time to mark this date with rallies in support of equality. The anniversary is now marked by celebrations, governmental proclamations, and renewed efforts to end the discrimination and violence that LGBTQ people throughout the world still face.

ACP

A small anti-LGBT group called the “American College of Pediatricians (ACP)” created a name that is easily confused with the AAP, the largest pediatrics organization in the country. It is disturbing that news organizations and physicians are citing the “ACP” as a reputable source. The ACP is a small group of physicians that left the AAP after the AAP released a 2002 policy statement explaining that gay parents pose no risk to adopted children. The Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly labeled the ACP as an anti-LGBT hate group that promotes false claims and misleading scientific reports. Here are a few false statements propagated by the ACP that have the potential to harm LGBT youth:

1. Reparative Therapy for Homosexual Youth Is a Good Idea

Reparative therapy refers to an attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation (generally from homosexual to heterosexual). The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, The American Psychiatric Association, among others have labeled reparative therapy dangerous and unethical. Reparative therapy has been repeatedly shown to be ineffective at changing sexual orientation, and non-acceptance of a youth’s sexual orientation dramatically increases the risk of suicide, depression, and substance abuse.

2. Gay Parents Are Bad Parents

This was the reason for the ACP’s original formation. The American Academy of Pediatrics explained in 2002, citing a range of literature, that children of gay and lesbian parents have the same potential for health, adjustment, and development as children whose parents are heterosexual. In response, the ACP ignored key literature and issued a non-peer-reviewed report under its new legitimate-sounding name: “The American College of Pediatricians.” The ACP seems to be the only group of physicians holding this stance, with the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, among others vehemently disagreeing.

3. Affirming Transgender Youth Is a Bad Idea

Perhaps the most popular falsehood publicized by the ACP recently is that transgender youth who are supported in their transgender identities are caused harm by this affirmation. Again, they ignore major studies. In the journal Pediatrics in 2014, researchers showed that pubertal blockade and cross-sex hormones resulted in improved mental health for transgender youth. In 2016 and 2017, two papers showed that transgender children who are supported in their identities and allowed to socially transition have developmentally normal rates of anxiety, depression, and self-worth. Furthermore, transgender individuals whose families do not support their transgender identities are 20 percent more likely to attempt suicide. (Psychology Today)

Trans People and the AHCA

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This is not okay.

The AHCA is counting transgender identity as a pre-existing condition, making trans related surgeries not covered under insurance. And that is inhumane.

One, they use the term ‘transsexualism’, which is inaccurate. Transgender identity is not related to sexual orientation. My sexual orientation is no way related to my gender identity. Transsexualism/Transgenderism is typically used by transphobes as a term to ‘promote the transgender agenda’, which I’m assuming is the gay agenda but involves infiltrating bathrooms. And that is plain transphobia. The medical term for transgender identity is gender dysphoria. It is not an agenda to ruin your life. It is a medically proven condition in which someone’s gender identity does not line up with their biological sex (read more here for a cool take on the science behind trans identity.)

Two, transgender people may need to transition medically. It can be a life or death situation. Dysphoria is excruciatingly painful, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I wrote about my dysphoria here and that was barely scratching the surface on how dysphoria feels. Some trans people don’t medically transition, and that’s their choice. But for most of us, medically transitioning is life saving. Taking testosterone and having top surgery saved my life.

Not allowing trans people to medically transition will harm trans people in ways cis people can’t even begin to imagine. Transgender people don’t choose to be trans. I didn’t choose this. I try to find the positives in my situation of course and portray it in a positive light, but I would never choose this. It’s painful and hard and I have trouble looking in the mirror most days. And I’m one of the lucky ones.

With this plan, trans people won’t be able to have coverage on their medical transition. And because of discrimination (and the new discrimination law President Trump is reportedly signing soon will only help fuel the fire), trans people have a lot of trouble getting jobs, and therefore can’t afford health insurance on their own.

It doesn’t matter your stance on health insurance, whether it’s a right or not, or whether the government should be involved in health care or not. The ACA had faults. But this? This plan is pure evil. It doesn’t just target trans people, but if you look at this list, you’ll see what’s counted as a pre-existing condition. It doesn’t mention it here, but domestic/sexual abuse victims will also be counted as existing conditions. This health plan only benefits insurance companies, and not the best interest of the people.

GAYRHS – Episode 8

Just realized I never uploaded this. Oops! I go really fast, so I’m providing my script.

Marriage Equality

From Amnesty International:

“Amnesty International believes that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity, evolving conceptions of international human rights law include a broad interpretation to include the rights and the protection of the rights of LGBT people around the world. The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, developed in 2006 by a group of LGBT experts in Yogyarkarta, Indonesia in response to well-known examples of abuse, provides a universal guide to applying international human rights law to violations experienced by lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people to ensure the universal reach of human rights protections. However, across the globe, there remain many instances where an individual’s’ sexual orientation or gender identity can lead them to face execution, imprisonment, torture, violence, or discrimination. The range of abuse is limitless and it contravenes the fundamental tenets of international human rights law. Human rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender can include violation of the rights of the child; the infliction of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 5); arbitrary detention on grounds of identity or beliefs (Article 9); the restriction of freedom of association (Article 20) and the denial of the basic rights of due process. Examples include: Execution by the state, Denial of employment, housing or health services, Loss of custody of children, Denial of asylum, Rape and otherwise torture in detention, Threats for campaigning for LGBT human rights, and Regular subjection to verbal abuse. In many countries, the refusal of governments to address violence committed against LGBT people creates a culture of impunity where such abuses can continue and escalate unmitigated. Often, such abuses are committed by the state authorities themselves, with or without legal sanction.”

 

From the UNFE:

“Criminalizing private sexual relationships between consenting adults, whether the relationships are samesex or different-sex, is a violation of the right to privacy. Laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships are also discriminatory, and where enforced, violate rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. At least 76 countries have laws in effect that criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships, and in at least five countries conviction may carry the death penalty. In addition to violating basic rights, this criminalization serves to legitimize hostile attitudes towards LGBT people, feeding violence and discrimination. It also hampers efforts to halt the spread of HIV by deterring LGBT people from coming forward for testing and treatment for fear of revealing criminal activity. Human rights are universal: every human being is entitled to the same rights, no matter who they are or where they live. While history, culture and religion are contextually important, all States, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems, have a legal duty to promote and protect the human rights of all. International human rights law establishes legal obligations on States to make sure that everyone, without distinction, can enjoy their human rights. A person’s sexual orientation and gender identity is a status, like race, sex, colour, or religion. United Nations human rights experts have confirmed that international law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

From MarriageEquality.org, a list of countries and their marriage equality:

Canada: On July 20th, 2005 the Canadian Parliament passed the Civil Marriage Act, defining marriage nationwide as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”Canada does not have a residency requirement for marriage; consequently, many foreign couples have gone to Canada to marry, regardless of whether that marriage will be recognized in their home country. In fact, in some cases, a Canadian marriage has provided the basis for a challenge to the laws of another country. As of November 11th, 2004 the Canadian federal government’s immigration department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), considers same-sex marriages performed in Canada valid for the purposes of sponsoring a spouse to immigrate. Canadian immigration authorities previously considered long-term, same-sex relationships to be equivalent to similar heterosexual relationships as grounds for sponsorship.

 

Mexico: In Mexico, same-sex marriage is legal in four states (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero and Quintana Roo); in Mexico City, a federal district; and in the city of Santiago de Querétaro, capital of Querétaro state. Same-sex couples can marry in the other 27 states as well, but only after getting an injunction (amparo) against the civil registry from a judge. That requires a lawyer, the equivalent of around US$1,000 and about a month of time. A June 3, 2015, ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation requires judges to grant the injunctions. Activists are rapidly implementing a court-based legal strategy, state by state, that will force the 27 states, one by one, to clear the way for same-sex marriages without couples having to get a special order from a judge. It involves getting five injunctions per state from a federal appeals court or the federal Supreme Court, to create “jurisprudence” on same-sex marriage in that state, which can then be used to force the state legislature to let same-sex couples marry the normal way. In the meantime, some states likely will throw in the towel legislatively prior to being forced — and before that, some states will simply stop enforcing their ban on same-sex marriage administratively, as is the case now in Chihuahua and Guerrero.

 

China: National People’s Congress, legislature of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), proposed legislation allowing same-sex marriages in 2003. During the course of the debate, the proposal failed to garner the 30 votes needed for a placement on the agenda. Same-sex marriage supporters have vowed to keep pressing for its passage in the PRC.

 

India: On December 11th, 2013 India’s Supreme Court re-criminalized sex between two consenting adults of the same gender, overturning a landmark 2009 decision. The Court said that it is up to Parliament whether or not to keep Section 377 on the books. (On July 2nd, 2009 the Delhi High Court had decriminalized homosexual intercourse within its jurisdiction of the national capital between consenting adults and judged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code violates the fundamental right to life and liberty and the right to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.) There are no protections or legal status of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

Japan: Article 24 of the Japanese constitution states that “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.” The purpose of the clause was to counter previous feudal arrangement where the father or husband was legally recognized as the head of the household. However, the new constitution had the unintended consequence of defining the marriage as union of “both sexes”, i.e. man and women. However, on March 27th 2009, it was reported that Japan has given the green light for its nationals to marry same-sex foreign partners in countries where same-sex marriages is legal. Japan does not allow same-sex marriages domestically and has so far also refused to issue a key document required for citizens to wed overseas if the applicant’s intended spouse was of the same gender. Under the change, the justice ministry has told local authorities to issue the key certificate—which states a person is single and of legal age—for those who want to enter same-sex marriages.

 

Kenya: Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for males, females aren’t covered. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships and since 2010 the Constitution only addresses opposite-sex marriages. A draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been presented to the National Assembly and as of August 11th, 2014 is before the Justice and Legal Affairs committee. The Republican Liberty Party has proposed stoning to death in public for any foreigner who commits a homosexual act, and life imprisonment for Kenyan nationals found guilty.

 

Nigeria: Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for males; for females it is illegal in areas covered by Sharia and legal in areas not covered by Sharia. On January 7th, 2014 President Jonathan signed into the law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2013, banning same-sex marriage, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. The law also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations and public displays of a “same-sex amorous relationship,” punishable by lashings or up to 10 years in jail.

 

South Africa: In November 2006 the government of South Africa passed the Civil Unions Act, allowing for the “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union”. The law allows for churches to refuse performing civil unions.

 

Uganda: Same-sex sexual activity is illegal; there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and there’s been a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage since 2005. On December 20th, 2013 the Parliament of Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, which punished Ugandans charged with “aggravated homosexuality” with life imprisonment. Uganda faced a barrage of international criticism in response to the law. On August 1st, 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the law invalid.

 

Zimbabwe: 4.78 of the new constitution, which was signed into law on 22 May 2013, reads, “Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other.” Since 1995, the government has carried out campaigns against LGBT men and women. In 2006 the Zimbabwean government made it a criminal offense for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug, or kiss. Speaking at a rally in Mutare on July 23rd, 2013, President Mugabe described LGBT people as “worse than pigs, goats and birds” and threatened to behead them. Mugabe has instructed journalists, most of whom work for state-owned institutions, to report unfavorably about gay relationships.

 

Denmark: Denmark was the first country, in 1989, to allow same-sex couples to form “registered partnerships,” giving them a status and benefits similar to marriage, including recognition for purposes of immigration. As of July 1st, 2010 legally registered same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children together. On June 7th, 2012 the Danish Parliament approved neutral-gender marriage, including marriages performed in the Church of Denmark, effective June 15th, 2012.

 

Finland: Same-sex partnerships have become legally binding in Finland. Finns who are at least 18 can register a same-sex union in a civil ceremony comparable to marriage. It also gives gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples when inheriting each other’s property, in cases of divorce, and for the purposes of immigration. As of May 2009 same-sex couples may adopt the biological children of their partner. Legislation for same-sex marriage was submitted to the Parliament in March 2012, but it was turned down by the Legal Affairs Committee. The bill was reintroduced to the Parliament in December 2013 as a citizens’ initiative, with the support 160,000 people, and went to introductory debate in February 2014.

 

Germany: In Germany there is a legal recognition of same-sex couples. Registered life partnerships, “Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft,” effectively, a form of civil union, have been instituted since 2001, giving same-sex couples rights and obligations in areas such as inheritance, health insurance, immigration, name change, and maintenance (alimony and child support). In 2004, this act was amended to include adoption rights (stepchild adoption only) and to reform previously cumbersome dissolution procedures with regard to division of property and alimony. Later that year, the Social Democratic Party, one of the oldest and largest political parties in Germany, and the Alliance ’90/The Greens (a political party founded in the 1970s, based on progressive social movements in Germany) proposed allowing same-sex marriage. However, in recent years the Social Democratic Party ceased to push for same-sex marriage, opting instead to equalize rights for registered partners.

 

Ireland: On 22 May 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize marriage equality by a vote of the people. The referendum states: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” The result of the vote on the marriage referendum requires ratification in the Oireachtas before going into legal effect, though the BBC estimates that the first marriages of same-sex couples will take place in September 2015.

 

Israel: Marriages in Israel are performed under the authority of the religion to which the couple belongs. For Jewish couples the responsible religious authority is the orthodox Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The Rabbinate does not permit same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages performed abroad can be recorded at the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, according to a 2006 High Court of Justice ruling. Unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples in Israel have equal access to nearly all of the rights of marriage in the form of unregistered cohabitation status, akin to common-law marriage. In June 2013, Hatnuah MKs introduced a bill that would provide for civil marriage in Israel for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, and in October 2013, Yesh Atid MKs, introduced a similar bill. On 12 August 2014 the Interior Ministry announced that non-Jewish (gentile) same-sex marriage partners of Jews living abroad will be permitted to immigrate to Israel and be granted Israeli citizenship.

 

Italy: Pisa and Florence allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. On July 25, although the country will not, Bologna will recognize citizens’ same-sex marriages that were legal where performed. Updated: Italy approves same-sex unions, but gay couples cannot adopt.

 

Latvia: In December 2005, the Latvian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga signed the amendment shortly afterward, making Latvia the third (after Poland and Lithuania) member state of the European Union to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Netherlands: The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages on 1 April 2001.

 

Norway: Same-sex marriage is legal in Norway. The Norwegian government proposed a marriage law on 14 March 2008 that would give gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including church weddings, adoption and assisted pregnancies. On 29 May 2008, the Associated Press reported that two Norwegian Opposition parties came out in favor of the new bill; the bill passed when the vote was held on 11 June 2008. The bill also specified that when a woman who is married to another woman becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, the partner would have all the rights of parenthood “from the moment of conception” – the law became effective on 1 January 2009.

 

Russia: No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law. On 30 June 2013 the Russian LGBT propaganda amendment was signed into law. This legislation amended the federal law “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values,” and to prevent distribution of ideas regarding “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors. The law created an effective ban on promoting the rights and culture of LGBT people, and has been criticized for leading to an increase and justification of violence against, and increased arrests and prosecution of, LGBT people. The law is attributed to an increase in homophobic violence in Russia by anti-gay groups. The passing of the law met with a major international backlash. LGBT rights activists, human rights activists, and other critics believed that the broad and vague wording of the “anti-gay” law made it a crime to publicly make statements or distribute materials in support of LGBT rights, hold pride parades or similar demonstrations, state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships, or according to Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin, even display LGBT symbols such as the rainbow flag or kiss a same-sex partner in public.

 

Spain: Spain became the third country in the world (after the Netherlands and Belgium) to legalize same-sex marriage. After being elected in June 2004, Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero restated his pre-election pledge to push for legalization of same-sex marriage. On 1 October 2004 the Spanish Government approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, including adoption rights. The bill received full parliamentary approval on 30 June 2005 and passed into law on July 2nd, becoming fully legal on July 3rd.

 

Sweden: Following a bill introduced jointly by six of the seven parties in the Riksdag, a gender-neutral marriage law was adopted on 1 April 2009. It came into force on May 1 of that year, replacing the old legislation on registered partnerships. On 22 October 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden (which is no longer officially the national church, but whose assent was needed for the new practice to work smoothly within its ranks) voted strongly in favor of giving its blessing. In April 2015, Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary.

 

United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales): The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales cleared the House of Lords and received Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth on 17 July 2013, making marriage legal for same-sex couples in England and Wales. The Act went into effect on March 29th, 2014. The Scottish Marriage and Civil Partnership Act went into effect on December 16th, 2014. Any same-sex couple in a civil partnership can convert it into marriage, free of charge. In April 2014 the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected a motion calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage during debate at Stormont. A total of 51 assembly members (MLAs) voted against the Sinn Féin motion, while 43 MLAs voted in favor. It was the third time in 18 months that Stormont rejected same-sex marriage.

 

Vatican City: Same-sex relationships are illegal in the Vatican City. In March 2012 the pope warned that changing the definition of marriage could have many cultural and political effects, reiterated Roman Catholic doctrine regarding same-sex relationships and quashed any hopes that the Vatican or Catholicism in general will alter their views. However, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, published March 5th, 2014, the pope said that “matrimony is between a man and a woman,” but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care,” according to a translation by Catholic News Service. The Vatican denied the Italian media reports that the comments by Pope Francis signaled his openness to the legal recognition of same-sex unions in Italy.

 

Australia: Neither Civil partnerships nor civil unions are recognized by the Commonwealth Government. The Federal Opposition, namely the Australian Labor Party, joined with the Government to support the ban, amid strong objection from the Australian Democrats and The Greens. It was passed on August 13th, 2004 as effective from the day of assent. The states and territories of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have a “registered partnership” system that is available for all couples. These state-level registered relationships are recognized on both the state and Commonwealth Government levels. Even some councils such as Sydney, Melbourne and Yarra provide a relationship register for symbolic recognition, but provide no legal recognition. However, all Government levels of Australia have some form of “de-facto status recognition” or “common-law marriage” that recognizes both same sex and opposite sex couples, called “unregistered co-habitation”. Surviving partners from same-sex couples are able to claim tax-free pension benefits from deceased partners. Same-sex partners of members of the Australian Defense Force are granted the same benefits as spouses of married soldiers. Same-sex couples can sponsor their partners for immigration purposes. On August 23rd, 2012 the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly passed a bill to introduce legally binding ceremonies for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples in the ACT have been able to register their civil partnership since 2008. The new bill will replace the Civil Partnerships Act 2008 and fully restore the role of ceremonies and celebrants in civil unions. The Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 was passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly on October 22nd, 2013 and signed on November 7th, 2013. Same-sex marriages began in the ACT on December 7th, 2013. However, on December 11th, 2013 Australia’s High Court struck down the landmark law and annulled the same-sex marriages that had taken place.

 

Brazil: On May 14th, 2013 the council overseeing Brazil’s judiciary ruled that notary publics cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, a decision that effectively legalized marriage for same-sex couples throughout Brazil. The decision took effect on May 16th, 2013.

 

Egypt: Same-sex sexual activity is not specifically illegal, however other laws may apply. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

 

Iran: Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the legal code has been based on Shari’a law. No legislation exists to address discrimination or bias motivated violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Officially, the Iranian government believes that everyone is heterosexual and that homosexuality is a violation of the supreme will of God. Same-sex marriages and or civil unions are not legally recognized.

 

Iraq: In Iraq’s Personal Status Law marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman to create children. Same-sex sexual relations have been decriminalized but are still considered taboo by the majority of the population in Iraq. Many LGBT people in the country suffer from discrimination, abuse, honor killings, and murder. There is no legal recognition of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

Pakistan: According to Pakistani law, same-sex sexual acts are illegal. Although Pakistan is officially an Islamic Republic, in practice Pakistan has mixed laws with mainly Anglo-Saxon laws inherited from the British. As a result of increasing liberalization trends and increasing globalization and social tolerance, public gay parties in Pakistan have been thriving for a number of years. Pakistan does not have civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation. Same-sex marriages and civil unions in Pakistan have no legal recognition.

 

United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates includes the Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah, and Sharjah. Sexual relations outside of a traditional, heterosexual marriage are a crime. Punishments range from jail time, fines, deportation, and the death penalty. A person may also face forced hormone treatments which may include chemical castration. There is no legal recognition of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

Yemen: Homosexuality is illegal in Yemen in accordance with the country’s Shari’a legal system. Punishments for homosexuality range from flogging to death. Yemen is one of only seven countries to apply a death penalty for consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. Gay and lesbian websites are blocked by the government. As of 2007, there was no public or semi-public space for gays as in western countries. The official position is that there are no gays in Yemen. There is no legal recognition of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

South Korea: On July 30th, 2004, the Democratic Labor Party of South Korea filed a formal complaint against the Incheon District Court’s decision to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages. The complaint was filed on the grounds that the decision is unconstitutional, because neither the Constitution nor civil law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (the only mentioned requisite is age of majority) and that the Constitution explicitly forbids discrimination “pertaining to all political, economic, social, or cultural aspects of life of an individual.” The Committee also claimed that refusal to recognize same-sex marriages constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation and a refusal to provide equal protection under the law.

 

The Phillippines: The New People’s Army of the Philippines conducted the country’s first same-sex marriage in 2005. However it was not recognized by the government. Within the government there has been some debate on the issue of same-sex unions. The Roman Catholic Church stands in fierce opposition to any such unions. But since 1991 the Metropolitan Community Church Philippines has been conducting Same-Sex Holy Unions in the Philippines. As of 2010, the issue of same-sex marriage is not “under consideration” in the Philippines. The only thing under consideration is a possible ban on same-sex marriage, including refusal to recognize marriages performed overseas. No political party has placed gay rights on its platform aside from Akbayan, a small party with only one representative in Congress. The Philippines has yet to even approve any anti-discrimination legislation, so any serious look at same-sex unions is likely decades or more away.
Nepal: Nepal’s highest court, in November 2008, issued final judgment on matters related to LGBT rights. The expectation in 2010 and 2011 was that same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities, as well as the establishment of a legal third gender for citizenship purposes, would be included in the new Nepalese constitution which was being drafted by the Constituent Assembly. However, on May 28th, 2012, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai dissolved the Constituent Assembly after it failed to finish the constitution in its last time extension, ending four years of constitution drafting and leaving the country in a legal vacuum. On May 23rd, 2012 the Nepalese Home Ministry began allowing people to register as “other,” a third category, for the Nepalese Census. This category is provided to members of the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. A new Constituent Assembly was elected on November 22nd, 2012. Nepal currently allows same-sex unions but there is official law in place formalizing these unions.

Growing Up

Yesterday, I got a job. Next week, I take Driver’s Ed. Next month, I turn sixteen. Throw in a few other things that have happened this week. I’m growing up, and quite frankly, it’s terrifying.

In my head, 2007 was still three years ago. My Chemical Romance is still a band. One Direction’s hot new single is ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. But it’s not true. MCR is sadly gone, and so is One Direction. And 2007 was ten years ago.

I’m on my second puberty. I’m going through twice the amount of BS I was told I’d go through in that weird fifth grade sex ed video they made us watch. And it sucks. I’m a good 25% acne at this point.

I’m almost halfway done with high school. When I was at my first high school assembly and they told me the time would fly by, I scoffed and turned to my friends and said “yeah, right”. But here I am, and holy cow. This has flown by quicker then I could ever imagine.

My brother is going off to college soon. I’m wearing his university sweatshirt as I type this right now. I still can’t even grasp the fact that he has a driver’s license and he drives me everywhere (sorry about that, Josh). He turns eighteen in about two weeks, and I’m in shock.

My dog is quite visibly aging. Her fur has grayed, she walks slower, and she’s more irritated by the littlest things than before. She’s almost nine and a half. I got her right after her second birthday, and I remember the exact day I got her (January 9th) and I remember everything that happened on that day, to the toys I was playing with (Littlest Pet Shop) to Maddie first walking up the stairs to my house.

One of my best friends just got her driver’s license. My other best friend has a steady girlfriend. My friends are all planning their careers out, and so am I.

I want to be a gender psychologist when I grow up. I want to help diagnose people as transgender (upcoming post on being diagnosed as transgender soon), help get them hormones, and make them feel as happy as I felt when I first got hormones. I just want to make people happy.

And it’s all happening so fast.

I’m looking at colleges, I’m thinking about my financial future, and I’m even thinking about who I want to spend my life with (answer: a bunch of puppies in baby onesies. I don’t need anything else).

As I sit here and write this, I realize how much I’ve grown since I’ve come out. I’m only 15, and I’ve accomplished so much that I never thought I could.

I tend to think too far into the future. It’s time to live in the moment. And to let my teenage angst be free for as long as it’s socially acceptable. That being said, I still miss MCR.

GAYRHS – Episode 7 (Extended)

Wow. This episode is well over an hour. Interview with Cory Champeon. This will piss off a lot of my friends, as it reveals the more conservative side of me.

To clarify: I said gender is not a social construct, and I can’t remember if I clarify it or not, but to explain, the gender binary is a social construct. Gender identity itself is not a social construct.

No, You Didn’t Know They Were Queer.

Barry Manilow officially came out today at the age of 73, and like most people, when I saw his name trending on Twitter, I assumed he died. Nope! I’m super happy for him that he has come out and reveals he’s been with the same partner for 39 years.

Ordinarily, when a celebrity comes out, I just say “yay!” and move on. But what I noticed on Twitter was everyone saying “We already knew.”

And that’s wrong.

No, you didn’t know Barry Manilow was gay. He didn’t say it, so you didn’t know. Your information is all coming from stereotypes. Stereotypes exist for a reason, of course, but just because someone exhibits behavior of that stereotype does not make them that thing.

And this isn’t just in regards to Barry Manilow. This is not an isolated incident. I remember when YouTuber Joey Graceffa came out, every single comment (that wasn’t a homophobic slur) was we already know. And yes, Joey Graceffa is known for his glitter beards and painted nails and effeminate way of speaking. But all of that doesn’t have to mean he’s gay.

This doesn’t just apply to gay people. It happens with people all across the LGBT+ spectrum. And it’s not okay.

You’re allowed to have your suspicions. We all do. I often joke about my ‘gaydar’, but it’s just a joke. You don’t know if someone is queer unless they explicitly state they are.

There’s an article here on what not to say when someone comes out, and I definitely recommend it.

That being said, congrats Barry Manilow! I’m a fan… I think? I mean, I liked a cover of your song on Glee a few years back, so that’s got to count for something.

Edit: Apparently Manilow’s marriage record was released a few years back. The point of this still stands, however.