49,000 Cheers!

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File photo | Haaretz | 17023

49,000 gay and bisexual men found guilty of decades-old sexual offences in England and Wales have been posthumously pardoned. The pardons were first announced last year and have now been officially rubber-stamped after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent.

The 49,000 men will be cleared of crimes of which they would be innocent today.

Statutory pardons will also be granted to people still living who apply to have their convictions removed. The men involved were found guilty of committing now-abolished offences while in consensual relationships.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38814338

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Thailand may open a gay-only prison

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Transgender prisoners being checked | Uncredited photographer | Associated Press | 17022

Thailand is considering opening a separate prison for prisoners of the GLBTQI community.

Thailand, often described as a haven for gay people, has around 300,000 prisoners, of which more than 6,000 are registered as sexual minorities.

The Thai government is also considering what could be the world’s first prison facility exclusively for LGBT inmates. While the plans are still being discussed, in Pattaya and other prisons across Thailand LGBT prisoners are kept apart from other inmates, to prevent violence.

“If we didn’t separate them, people could start fighting over partners to sleep with,” said Pattaya Remand Warden Watcharavit Vachiralerphum. “It could lead to rape, sexual assault, and the spread of disease.”

It seems that Pattaya LGBT inmates eat together and do their morning exercises in uniform. At night, they sleep in their own quarters, apart from the other inmates. They mingle freely with the other prisoners, though they tend to stick together for daytime activities like sewing or football. Transgender women spike volleyballs next to men pressing barbells and sparing with punching bags; gay men train together in first-aid at the jail clinic, sanitising and bandaging the wounds of straight men.

It reminds your Activist of Brighton.

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2066325/world-first-thailand-considers-opening-gay-prison-already

Tying the knot in Clare

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Father Bernard Lynch and Billy Desmond | Liam Burke/Press 22 | 17021

A gay priest from Co Clare who was involved in the ‘boat to vote’ campaign in the marriage equality referendum in the Irish Republic in 2015 got married to his long time partner yesterday.

Father Lynch became the first Catholic priest in the world to have a civil partnership in 2006, and the passing of the same-sex marriage referendum allowed the two men to be married.

At the ceremony, a proclamation was read out paying tribute to Fr Lynch “for being a tireless advocate for the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for more than 40 years as an out gay and proud Roman Catholic priest”. 67-year-old Fr Lynch helped people living with HIV and AIDS in New York in the 1980s and has been “a human rights champion” for his extraordinary service and “his courage in the face of tremendous adversity”. Fr Lynch helped lead the first ‘boat to vote’ campaign for the 2015 marriage equality referendum in his role as an advocate for the LGBT community in London.

Gay Activist sends congratulations.

http://www.thejournal.ie/gay-priest-marries-partner-3210439-Jan2017/

Killer faces jail

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Kelly Schneider | KBOI/CBS | 17020

Kelly Schneider of Idaho pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime in the death of a gay man, hoping to get a 28-year sentence instead of a life sentence.

Schneider admitted he lured victim Steven Nelson to a remote area and used steel-toed boots to kick Nelson 20 to 30 times while Nelson begged for his life.

Schneider had placed a sex solicitation ad online to set up the meeting with Nelson.

Schneider admitted stripping Nelson of his clothes after the assault and stealing his car. Nelson was left alone in the isolated wilderness area and died after finding help at a home about half a mile away.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/idaho-man-admits-to-federal-hate-crime-in-gay-man-killing/

Coast not quite so ivory as previously thought!

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File photo | Al Jazeera/EPA | 17019

Ivory Coast’s authorities have refused to explain why Yann and Abdoul, two gay men, were sentenced to 18 months in prison in November 2016, as homosexuality is supposed to be legal there.

This is the first time gay men have been prosecuted for acts related to their sexuality in Ivory Coast.

Yann and Abdoul were arrested in October last year after Abdoul’s uncle, who walked in on the pair having sex, filed a complaint for “public indecency” with the gendarmerie.

In court, the men admitted the facts, stating that they had been lovers for a long time and that they did not see how their conduct constituted an offence.
The prosecutor accused the pair of an “unnatural and indecent act”, arguing that sexual intercourse between people of the same sex should be “sanctioned”.

Gay couples can be prosecuted for public acts of indecency. Speaking from Sassandra prison, Yann said the pair were “convicted in an unjust manner”. “If there is no law that that condemns it, I don’t understand how we could have been convicted.”

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ivory-coast-authorities-refuse-explain-why-two-gay-men-were-sentenced-18-months-jail-1603210

Up Out In and Down Under

Australia’s marriage equality bill specifies that ministers of religion would be able to refuse same-sex weddings because otherwise it risks creating a right to refuse weddings based on disability or race.

The Australian Attorney General’s department warned a Senate inquiry into the government’s same-sex marriage bill that removing a provision allowing ministers to refuse gay weddings could create a host of unintended consequences.

The bill contains a section that allows ministers of religion to refuse to solemnise a marriage that is not a union between a man and a woman.

LGBTI campaigner Rodney Croome said the application of other discrimination laws showed why service providers should not be able to refuse gay weddings because of a religious objection to same-sex relationships.

“If it’s true that religious marriage celebrants are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race or disability, then it would be a clear double standard for the government to allow civil celebrants and faith-based businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/25/marriage-equality-bill-right-to-refuse-gay-weddings-protects-against-other-discrimination-inquiry-told

Sailors stand ready…

An outdated law that allows shipping firms to sack staff for engaging in ‘homosexual activity’ looks set to be scrapped. Introduced in 1994, equality laws that have come in place over the last 20 years have made it defunct.

A group of MPs have put foward a bill to formally scrap it so that it is erased from the statute book. He told MPs: “When it comes to employment, in the merchant navy or anywhere else, what matters is a person’s ability to do the job—not their gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. Many will be surprised—astonished, even—to learn that this anomaly still remains on the statute book. There is no place in our society today for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. These provisions are the last remaining historic legislation on our statute books which discriminate on grounds of homosexual orientation.”

Thankyou. But can we please stop talking about “sexual orientation” and talk about “sexuality”.

UK’s ‘last anti-gay law’ to be scrapped

Sri Lanka wants to keep us under wraps

Sri Lanka’s cabinet rejected a proposal to end discrimination based on sexual orientation because it could legitimise homosexuality, which is illegal on the island. Sri Lanka’s 1883 Penal Code, a legacy of its British colonial rulers, makes sex between men punishable by 12 years in jail, although the law is rarely enforced.

Health minister Rajitha Senaratne said the cabinet had refused to endorse a provision in a proposed human rights plan that would have undermined the code.
“There was a provision referring to the sexual orientation of individuals and we clearly said it was not acceptable. The government is against homosexuality, but we will not prosecute anyone for practising it,” the minister said.

https://thewire.in/101168/sri-lanka-scuttles-move-legitimise-homosexuality/

Tory MP slams his party for section 28

Conservative MP Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, told Parliament how he questioned whether he would be able to pursue his dream of entering politics because he feared a backlash over his sexuality. He worried about being “cast aside”. Homophobic bullying was rife while he was a boy at school in Glasgow, and it took him many years to get over the feeling of being different and isolated.

Then he criticised the Tories’ defeated and discredited section 28 legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government banning schools and councils from promoting homosexuality.

“Just looking at a career you want to pursue, and thinking you can’t, is very damaging. I, for a long time in my teenage years and early 20s when I decided that politics was my passion and this was a career I wanted to pursue, I did think for a time, “actually I can’t do it”. I would live in fear of being revealed for who I was, something that was so innate in me – I can’t change being gay, that’s the way I was born. It’s as natural as being left-handed, right-handed, or the colour of your hair, or whatever. But I felt I can’t pursue a career in politics because I’m so afraid that I’d be cast aside and prevented from doing it, exposed, whatever, because of who I was. And that was in the late 1980s, early 1990s.”

That’s why we fought it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/gay-tory-mp-iain-stewart-conservative-party-never-underestimate-damage-done-by-article-28-a7537556.html