Romania pulls up the shutters

Romania is gearing up to hold a referendum to amend the constitution to prohibit gay marriage, a move that civil rights groups warn could put the country on an “illiberal” path alongside the likes of Hungary and Poland, writes Politico.

Romania’s civil code forbids same-sex marriage, and civil partnerships have not been introduced.

The planned vote — which could be held as early as November — is the result of a campaign by “Coalition for Family,” which brings together more than 40 groups, many of them religious or describing themselves as “pro-life.” They gathered more than 3 million signatures to force a referendum.

http://www.politico.eu/article/romania-gay-marriage-turns-illiberal-with-moves-against/

Advertisements

Wedding cakes – the new battleground

American gays are concerned at the direction their new President is taking on gay rights.

Bloomberg comments:

Early on, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people seemed to be exempted from Donald Trump’s most inflammatory rhetoric. He was the first Republican presidential nominee to mention LGBT people in his acceptance speech. After his election, he declared same-sex marriage “settled law.” Once in office, he left in place an executive order protecting the federal government’s LGBT employees from discrimination.

But any early optimism among gay-rights supporters has disintegrated in recent months. The Trump administration has rescinded policies that supported transgender students and soldiers and signaled its opposition to gay rights in a pair of federal cases.

Most recently, the U.S. Justice Department filed a brief in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery that refused on religious grounds to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding. The bakery was sanctioned by the state, and the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case this fall. The Department of Justice supported the argument that cake decoration is artistic expression and therefore deserves special protection.

Expect a major battle.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-12/trump-adds-to-rollback-of-obama-legacy-with-anti-gay-measures

More to do, Forces

We all know how easy it is to gain “accreditation” for some kind of award by going through a questionnaire and ticking all the right boxes, and gaining an award for being a gay friendly employer because you have all the right words in your personnel policies.

What is really important is what things are actually like for gay and lesbian people where they work, and that often paints a completely different picture of so called award winning organisations.

The gap between the policy and reality is the measure of how much more there is still to do and achieve.

An SAS soldier claims underlying prejudice against gay personnel is hampering their promotion – despite a senior general saying he wants to spearhead sexual equality.

The decorated soldier says he was pushed aside for promotion to sergeant – despite his outstanding military pedigree on operations – because many senior officers refuse to accept gay soldiers in the elite regiment.

The experienced special forces Corporal was listed for a promotion board to sergeant after returning from operations last year, but while many of his colleagues were successful he failed and was told he needed to gain more time on operations.

But just three weeks after the promotion board sat the soldier, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was told by a close friend that senior officers had discovered that he was gay and that had affected his chances.

Come on, Forces.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/30/sas-soldier-says-faced-anti-gay-discrimination/

Remembering and marching for freedom and rights

17105

Associated Press | 17105

Hundreds of thousands of gay citizens marched in cities across the United States in pride and protest this weekend, celebrating and demanding full rights for our community. The Equality March in Washington and the Resist March in Los Angeles were just two major events this weekend.

Many of the marchers noted what they believe is the setback in the progress made under the Obama administration, in the new Trump White House.

Several members of the new President’s Cabinet have been openly critical of the gay community, including Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Unlike Obama, Trump did not declare June Gay Pride Month.

Sunday’s marches came on an especially poignant day as many remembered the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, one year ago, when a pro-Islamic State gunman killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 people.

https://www.voanews.com/a/lgbt-pride-marches/3896483.html

Where we are on gay rights

17090

ILGA | 17090

Sweden has failed to make any progress in the newest edition of a review of European LGBTI human rights, continuing in 12th place as the worst performer in Scandinavia as other countries introduce more comprehensive policies, reports The Local.

Sweden was once considered to be the top country in Scandinavia and the fourth best in Europe for gay rights, but it fell to 12th position in 2016 and has failed to improve this year according to ILGA-Europe.

“Sweden has remained in the upper ‘green’ section of our Rainbow Europe Map for several years. Of course that’s a positive thing, but other countries have bypassed them on the ranking by introducing more comprehensive, inclusive laws and policies,” said ILGA’s Emma Cassidy.

The ILGA Rainbow Index gives a % for each country to indicate how equal gay citizens are with other citizens in those countries. Malta is ahead at 88% while the UK has reached 76%. For Russia, the figure is merely 6% and Turkey is little better at 9%.

https://www.thelocal.se/20170517/sweden-stagnates-in-european-gay-rights-rankings

Digusting

A gay man is suing a funeral home in Mississippi, alleging that it refused to cremate his husband because it did not “deal with their kind.”

John “Jack” Zawadski, 82, and his nephew filed a lawsuit against the Picayune Funeral Home’s owners, seeking damages.

The lawsuit accuses them of backing out of a verbal agreement to provide final services for Zawadski’s husband, Robert Huskey, in May 2016, after discovering he was gay.

The funeral home denied all the claims in a response to the lawsuit.

“I felt as if all the air had been knocked out of me,” Zawadski said in a statement. “Bob was my life, and we had always felt so welcome in this community. And then, at a moment of such personal pain and loss, to have someone do what they did to me, to us, to Bob, I just couldn’t believe it. No one should be put through what we were put through.”

Zawadski and Huskey met in 1965 in California. They moved around the country, teaching special education classes and running an apple orchard, before retiring in Picayune, Mississippi in 1997, for the friendly neighbors and warm climate, the lawsuit states. They finally married in July 2015, weeks after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage settled.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/02/health/mississippi-funeral-home-gay-couple-lawsuit/

Let off for Christmas

A Moroccan judge has acquitted two teenage girls put on trial for homosexuality. LGBT rights groups in Morocco have long argued that same-sex relationships should not be a crime.

The girls, who are 16 and 17, had faced up to three years in prison according to a law forbidding “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.”

One of their mothers reported them to the police in October.

The judge in Marrakech ruled that the girls must remain under parental authority until they turn 18. Rachid El Ghorfi, their lawyer, expressed relief at the acquittal. “They should have never been in front of the prosecutor or the judge.”

Women and girls are seldom charged under Morocco’s laws prohibiting homosexual activity.

http://www.njherald.com/article/20161209/AP/312099752

Ugandan gays flee

16498ga

ABC | 16498ga

Uganda is one the most intolerant places in the world for homosexual people. Many have fled to neighbouring Kenya and are now refugees, waiting to be relocated to a country that will protect them, reports ABC.

Many of them now live in poverty.

The conditions are not much better than Uganda and it is a tough existence. Some turn to prostitution, others make handicrafts, but living and working in dense settlements means there are very few secrets. It is also dangerous.

Umar Walusimbi escaped from Uganda to Kenya.

“Now I’m also here in Kenya. Life is not OK.” Recently he was attacked while walking home. “They called me, “You gay — where you going? Give us money”. They slapped me, I fell down. They wanted even to burn me. They do everything to me.”

This cannot continue.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-29/gay-refugees-flee-uganda/8074964

I want my record cleansed, says Veteran

Ed Spires, a 91-year-old US Air Force veteran who was discharged in 1948 for being gay, is now fighting for equality. He wants the “undesirable discharge” label removed from his record and to receive a military burial.

For seven decades, Mr Spires kept it a close secret that he was kicked out of the Air Force for being gay. His long-time partner and husband David Rosenberg spoke yesterday on his behalf. “You’re humiliated and when you know that you served honorably without causing any problems, that’s even worse.”

Mr Spires served in the Air Force from 1946 to 1948, but received an “undesirable discharge” when he was outed for sexual orientation.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is the ranking member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee and says 100,000 vets received similar discharges for sexual orientation and only a small fraction of those have filed to have it upgraded.

Veteran discharged for being gay sues Air Force

They really like us, don’t they

African states have launched a bid at the United Nations to halt the work of the first U.N. independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council created the position in June and in September appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand for three years to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

“We … call for the suspension of the activities of the appointed Independent Expert pending the determination of this issue,” Botswana’s U.N. Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae, speaking for the 54-member Africa group, told the committee. The group was concerned that “non-internationally agreed notions such as sexual orientation and gender identity are given attention, to the detriment of issues of paramount importance such as the right to development and the racism agenda.”

Ntwaagae said that sexual orientation and gender identity “are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments.”

The UN does not have a great record on protecting our rights. In June a group of 51 Muslim states blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from officially attending a high-level U.N. meeting on ending AIDS, which led to a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

http://www.voanews.com/a/african-nations-seek-halt-work-united-nations-gay-rights-investigator/3581758.html