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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:22 pm 
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On December 22, 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America's military, repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:01 pm 
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India's Supreme Court strikes down law that punished gay sex
By ASHOK SHARMA
7 September 2018

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a landmark victory for gay rights that one judge said would “pave the way for a better future.”

The 1861 law, a relic of Victorian England that hung on long after the end of British colonialism, was a weapon used to discriminate against India’s gay community, the judges ruled in a unanimous decision. “Constitutional morality cannot be martyred at the altar of social morality,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, reading the verdict. “Social morality cannot be used to violate the fundamental rights of even a single individual.”

As the news spread, the streets outside the courthouse erupted in cheers as opponents of the law danced and waved flags. “We feel as equal citizens now,” said activist Shashi Bhushan. “What happens in our bedroom is left to us.”

In its ruling, the court said sexual orientation was a “biological phenomenon” and that discrimination on that basis violated fundamental rights. “We cannot change history but can pave a way for a better future,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud. The law known as Section 377 held that intercourse between members of the same sex was against the order of nature. The five petitioners who challenged the law said it was discriminatory and led to gays living in fear of harassment and persecution.

Jessica Stern, the executive director of the New York-based rights group OutRight Action International, said the original law had reverberated far beyond India, including in countries where gay people still struggle for acceptance. “The sodomy law that became the model everywhere, from Uganda to Singapore to the U.K. itself, premiered in India, becoming the confusing and dehumanizing standard replicated around the world,” she said in a statement, saying “today’s historic outcome will reverberate across India and the world.”

The court’s ruling struck down the law’s sections on consensual gay sex, but let stand segments that deal with such issues as bestiality.

Homosexuality has a tangled history in India, and some of Hinduism’s most ancient texts are accepting of gay sex. But same-sex couples have also been harassed for centuries in many Indian communities, whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian. Transgendered people known as “hijras,” for example, have long been a common sight in India. But their treatment — both shunned as impure, and embraced for the belief that they can bring powerful blessings — reflects the complexities of gay life here.

Homosexuality has gained a degree of acceptance in deeply conservative India over the past decade, particularly in big cities. India now has openly gay celebrities, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues. But many gay people still face isolation and persecution, and the court’s ruling will do little to change life on the ground for millions of people.

On Thursday, a leader of a prominent hard-line Hindu group noted that while it doesn’t see homosexuality as a crime, it believes gay marriage is not “compatible with nature.” Arun Kumar, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said Indian society “traditionally does not recognize” gay relationships, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

A New Delhi High Court in 2009 declared Section 377 unconstitutional, but that decision was overturned in a ruling by three Supreme Court justices in 2013 on the grounds that amending or repealing the law should be left to Parliament. But lawmakers failed to take action and in July the government told the Supreme Court to give a ruling in the case.

Sukhdeep Singh, a gay rights activist and editor of Gaylaxy Magazine, said the community still had a lot of distance to go “to be legally with your partner.” “This will obviously open the doors for a lot of more things, more civil rights. And we’ll fight for our rights, definitely. This is the first battle that has been won and there are many more battles that we are going to fight,” he said.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:12 pm 
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Romania’s top court OKs residency rights for same-sex couple
18 July 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s top court on Wednesday ruled that a gay Romanian-American couple is entitled to the same residency rights as other married couples in the European Union.

The Constitutional Court ruling followed a decision last month by the European Court of Justice in the case of Romanian Adrian Coman and his American husband, Claibourn Robert Hamilton. The men, who live in New York, wanted their marriage legally recognized in Romania. The EU court ruled that member countries “may not obstruct the freedom of residence” of EU citizens by refusing to grant residence for the same-sex spouse.” The ruling didn’t prohibit countries such as Romania from continuing to ban same-sex marriages.

Gay rights group Accept called the ruling “an important first step toward ensuring equality for the rights and dignity of LGBT people and their families.” Romanian Constitutional Court chief judge Valer Dorneanu said the national ruling was not about recognizing same-sex marriage but about freedom of movement.

Another group, MozaiQ, said the ruling came “at a crucial time ... when conservative groups are trying to change the constitution and ban gay marriages.” It urged politicians to legalize same-sex civil unions. EU members Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia do not recognize same-sex marriage or offer legal protection to same-sex couples.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:17 pm 
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Hong Kong court upholds ruling in favor of same-sex couple
4 July 2018

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled Wednesday that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate is entitled to equal treatment under immigration law, marking a significant step for gay rights in the Chinese territory.

The unanimous judgment said the woman identified only as “QT” should be issued the same dependent visa that spouses and children of other foreigners working in the Asian financial hub are entitled to.

The ruling is seen as a landmark for Hong Kong, a Chinese territory and former British colony that maintains its own distinct Western-style legal system. Although same-sex unions aren’t recognized under Hong Kong law, the city is broadly liberal in its social values and has a large foreign population.

“This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment for the rights of LGBTI people across Asia,” said Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, in an emailed statement. “The government must now follow up and end the discrimination same-sex couples face in all walks of life.”

The ruling says the policy of accepting only opposite-sex spouses as eligible for a dependent visa “constituted indirect discrimination.”

QT entered into a same-sex civil partnership in England with her partner, identified as “SS,” but was given only a visitor’s visa when the couple entered Hong Kong in 2011. That did not permit her the right to work or study, despite SS meeting the financial and other requirements for sponsoring a dependent.

QT’s application for a dependent visa was denied by a lower court but approved by the Court of Appeal. The immigration department appealed that ruling, arguing that Hong Kong law only recognized marriages between men and women, but Wednesday’s judgment turned that down.

The head of the immigration department “failed to justify the discriminatory treatment,” the ruling stated.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:19 pm 
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Matthew Shepard, symbol for gay rights, laid to rest in DC
By Juliet Linderman
October 26, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — After 20 years without a permanent resting place, the remains of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old college student whose brutal murder in 1998 has come to symbolize the plight of the LGBTQ community in America, were interred at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday.

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Episcopal cathedral, the second-largest cathedral in the country, to celebrate Shepard’s life, mourn his death and honor his memory.

The service offered a measure of closure for Shepard’s parents who, until now, hadn’t found a spot that seemed suitable or safe enough to rest their child’s remains. It also provided a moment of unity and collective grieving for those in the LGBTQ community, for whom Shepard’s death has for decades represented the pain and discrimination many had experienced themselves. And the setting inside the same sprawling cathedral in the nation’s capital where U.S. presidents are memorialized lent to the weight of the moment as hymns, speeches, choral music and prayers for love, tolerance and equality bounced off the towering columns and sweeping arches, echoing across the nave.

Shepard was an acolyte in his local Episcopalian church, and when Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop consecrated in the Episcopal church suggested the National Cathedral as a fitting resting place for Matthew’s ashes, his family agreed.

“Matt loved the church,” said Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father. “Matt was blind, just like this beautiful house of worship. He did not see skin color. He did not see religion. He did not see sexual orientation. All he saw was a chance to have another friend. Just like this beautiful home we have here.

“It is so important we now have a home for Matt,” he said. “A home that others can visit. A home that is safe from haters.”

Shepard was found badly beaten and barely breathing, tied to a split-rail fence on a dirt road near Laramie, Wyoming. He’d spent 18 hours there in the near-freezing cold before a cyclist discovered him, at first mistaking him for a scarecrow. He died five days later. Police said his attackers targeted him because he was gay.

Shepard’s death prompted a national reckoning — inspiring marches and protests, vigils and new laws. In October of 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expanding the federal law to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.


But Friday’s interment comes at a fraught moment for the LGBTQ community in America. The Trump Administration has taken steps to restrict protections, including trying to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals in the military and rescinding guidance for schools receiving federal funding on how to treat transgender students. Trump has also installed dozens of conservative judges and his administration, according to an article in the New York Times this week, is drafting language that would limit the definition of gender to only male or female at birth, stripping the transgender community of protection under civil rights law.

Robinson delivered the homily, at times overcome with emotion.

“I have three things I want to say to Matt,” he said through tears. “Gently rest in this place. You are safe now. And Matt, welcome home.”

The undercurrent of his address was political: He implored the audience to “go vote,” and told them simply honoring Shepard’s memory isn’t enough.

He spoke of James Byrd, the African American man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck by three white supremacists and whose name is on the same hate-crime law as Shepard’s.

“Violence comes in many different forms,” Robinson said, “and right now, the transgender community is the target. There are forces about who would erase them from America, deny them the right they have to define themselves. And they need us to stand for them. That’s the kind of transformation today makes possible: that we see the bigger picture.”

Some attendees wiped away tears. Some held hands and comforted each other.

Nicole Murray Ramirez, an LGBTQ activist, traveled from San Diego for the service. Seeing Shepard put to rest in such a historic space felt cathartic, he said.

“How wonderful in such a historic cathedral, that has been a place of so many memorial celebrations and funerals, that Matthew, a young gay man, deserved and earned that honor and respect from the nation.”

But Ramirez said the fight is far from over, and he worries about the tenor of the national conversation surrounding the LGBTQ community.

“These are difficult times,” he said, “I fear more Matthew Shepards.”

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:24 pm 
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Polish police use tear gas to protect gay rights march
By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA
13 October 2018

WARSAW (AP) — Polish police used tear gas and a water cannon Saturday against right-wing extremists who were trying to block the first equality parade in the city of Lublin in eastern Poland.

More than 1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists with rainbow-colored flags and banners gathered Saturday in Lublin for the parade, while around 300 right-wing opponents stood in the march’s way. Police used tear gas, concussion grenades and high-pressured water to disperse them. The right-wing protesters pelted police with stones and dispersed, but some small groups tried to get through the police cordon that was protecting the march.

The colorful parade then proceeded undisturbed. The march took place after Lublin’s Court of Appeals on Friday overruled a ban by Mayor Krzysztof Zuk, who had cited security concerns as his reason for banning the parade.

Gay rights parades have been taking place for years in Warsaw, the capital, and many other cities in predominantly Catholic Poland, but the ruling conservative party is not supportive of gay rights groups.

Source: AP

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