At last, justice in Germany

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Nazi era gay prisoners with their pink triangles | Public domain | 17116

After decades of lobbying, Germany’s parliament has voted to quash the convictions of 50,000 gay men sentenced for homosexuality under the Nazi-era law known as article 175 of the penal code that remained in force after the second world war.

An estimated 5,000 of those found guilty under the statute are still alive, and can now clear their names.

Gay men convicted under the law are also to receive a lump sum of €3,000 and an additional €1,500 for each year they spent in prison.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/22/germany-to-quash-convictions-of-50000-gay-men-under-nazi-era-law

New York Court appoints openly gay judge for the first time

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Paul Feinman | New York Law Journal/Rick Kopstein | 17114

Mid-level appeals court judge Paul Feinman, an openly gay judge, has been appointed to New York’s state Court of Appeals. The state Senate unanimously confirmed him less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated him for the post.

Feinman previously served in the Appellate Division in Manhattan and will fill the lone vacancy on the seven-member Court of Appeals.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/06/21/new-yorks-top-court-gets-first-openly-gay-judge/103079984/

Human Rights Court ticks Russia off

Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that Russia’s prohibition of “the promotion of homosexuality” discriminates and violates freedom of expression.

The prohibition became Russian law in 2013.

The case was brought to the court by three gay activists in Russia.

The European Court of Human Rights found that “the very purpose of the laws and the way they were formulated and applied” was “discriminatory and, over all, served no legitimate public interest” and ordered Russia to pay the men a total of 43,000 euros in damages.

The three activists who sued were Nikolai V. Bayev, 42; Aleksei A. Kiselev, 33; and Nikolai A. Alekseyev, 39. They had staged demonstrations from 2009 to 2012 in the cities of Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg, carrying banners stating that homosexuality is natural, and not a perversion. They were arrested and fined.

Captain Convicted

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South Korea’s Rainbow Flag | Yay Images | 17096

A military court in South Korea sentenced an army captain to six months in prison on Wednesday for having sex with other servicemen, igniting an outcry against what rights groups called a homophobic “witch hunt” in the country’s military.

The prison term for the captain was suspended for one year, so if he did not break the law again in the next year, he would not go to prison but he will be dishonorably discharged (unless his conviction is overturned by an appeals court).

The captain, whose name was not disclosed, collapsed when the verdict was announced in military court, and was taken to a hospital after hurting his head, said Lim Tae-hoon, the director of the Military Human Rights Centre.

The South Korean military criminal code outlaws sodomy and other unspecified “disgraceful conduct” between servicemen, whether or not there is mutual consent and whether or not that conduct takes place in or outside military compounds. Those found to have violated the act face up to two years in prison.

In South Korea powerful right-wing Christian groups have intensified a campaign against homosexuality, scuttling a bill that would have given sexual minorities the same protections as other minority groups.

The captain was arrested days before he was scheduled to leave the army. All of his sexual activities were consensual and took place in private spaces, like his home. None of the servicemen the captain had sex with served in his unit.

Bangladesh arrests

27 men have been arrested in Bangladesh by the Rapid Action Battalion on suspicion of being gay, which is a criminal offence in Bangladesh. Police plan to charge them with drug possession.

Mostly students aged 20-30 years, the men were arrested in a raid on a community centre at Keraniganj early today.

Zahangir Hossain Matobbar said they recovered illegal drugs and condoms and plan to charge them with drug offences, not homosexuality, because they were detained before they had engaged in sex.

The owner of the community centre, where the suspects used to gather every two months and stay overnight for partying, was arrested.

Bangladesh is a dangerous place for gays and lesbians. 35-year-old Xulhaz Mannan, a USAID official, was hacked to death in April last year at his home after founding Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine.

Since then, many gays and lesbians have left Bangladesh after they received death threats.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bangladesh-authorities-arrest-27-men-gay-homosexuality-muslim-country-islam-police-charge-a7744366.html

Where we are on gay rights

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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

Down goes the number (at last)

Today’s i newspaper quotes the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender and Intersex Association’s press release which states that the number of countries in which same sex relationships are illegal has dropped, from 92 countries in 2006, to just 72 countries today.

Your Activist hopes that is an accurate figure; but 72 is still far too many and a shame on the world.

Hate crimes aren’t hate crimes in West Virginia!

Under West Virginia law it is unlawful to threaten, injure, intimidate or oppress any individual because of their race, colour, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation or sex.

West Virginia’s Supreme Court agreed that the word “sex” has ambiguous meaning and it is unclear if the law protects individuals based on sexual orientation.

“A review of similar laws from other states demonstrated that ‘there are two distinct categories of potential discrimination: discrimination based on sex and discrimination based on sexual orientation,'” the court decision states. “West Virginia legislature could have included sexual orientation as an area of protection … [as] [n]umerous other states have done.”

But it didn’t. So there.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/west-virginia-supreme-court-rules-anti-gay-assaults/story?id=47352792

Stay clear of Indonesia

Prosecutors in Indonesia’s Aceh province want two young gay men named as MT and MH to be punished with 80 strokes of the cane for being gay.

They are due to be sentenced next week and will become the first people in Indonesia to be punished for homosexuality.

The pair are aged 20 and 23 and pleaded guilty before a sharia court in Banda Aceh on Wednesday. The two men face a maximum punishment of 100 strokes of the cane, but prosecutors suggested they may only receive 80 strokes because they were young and had admitted their guilt.

Aceh province introduced sharia law under a peace deal with the Indonesian Government to end a civil war in Aceh.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-10/indonesia-prosecutors-demand-gay-couple-be-caned/8515498

Step up for gay rights in Hong Kong

A gay civil servant’s husband will be entitled to the same benefits as his heterosexual colleagues’ spouses after a successful legal challenge against government policy.

In a “rare judicial recognition” of the city’s gay community, the High Court rejected the Civil Service Bureau’s stance that it was denying benefits for same-sex spouses to protect “the integrity of the institution of marriage”.

Leung Chun-kwong, who married his partner Scott Adams in New Zealand in 2014, launched the challenge last year against the secretary for the civil service and the commissioner of the Inland Revenue Department, which was reluctant to recognise their union.

The Court of First Instance ruled in Leung’s favour against the bureau in an unprecedented decision that may have an immediate bearing on other gay civil servants who married overseas.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/2091507/landmark-win-gay-hong-kong-civil-servant-over-husbands