Azerbaijan starts de-gaying

Human Rights Watch notes:

Authorities in Azerbaijan are not denying that gay men in Baku have been rounded up in official raids, from mid-September, they are just disputing the reason. Ehsan Zahidov, spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said in a September interview with EurasiaNet.org that police were responding to complaints from residents in Baku that gay men were visible on the streets.

Government officials have also justified the Baku raids in the language of public health, claiming that the gay men arrested were tested for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and Syphilis. “Those who have diseases are being isolated from society,” Zahidov said. The director of the AIDS Center of Azerbaijan, Natig Zulfugarov, points out that it would be against the law for the police to do so without a court order, which they did not have.

In Azerbaijan, homosexuality was decriminalised in 2000. You’d never know, would you.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/29/familiar-rhetoric-anti-gay-raids-azerbaijan

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India’s sham shame

The Times of India looks into why so many gay Indian men are going into sham marriages.

Marriages of convenience are clandestine part of South Asian gay culture — a homosexual man and woman decide to tie the knot to stave off questions from nosy families or find protection from the law in countries like India where homosexuality is a criminal offence. In India, the Delhi high court decriminalised homosexuality (Section 377) in 2009, but the Supreme Court overturned the ruling four years later.

In 2015, a lesbian couple from China launched a smartphone app iHomo to facilitate marriages of convenience or ‘cooperative marriages’ between gay men and lesbians. But in more conservative India, the LGBT community looks for MoCs on private Facebook groups, chat rooms and Craigslist.

There is still a huge stigma attached to being gay in India. Many Indian parents prefer not to admit that their child is gay, and hope he or she ‘will grow out of it’ once married.

In a marriage of convenience, terms are agreed beforehand, so both sides know what they are getting into – but problems often emerge later.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/why-gay-men-are-seeking-a-marriage-of-convenience/articleshow/60811116.cms

No gay parties allowed in Malaysia, says deputy Prime Minister

An announcement that a gay event would be held in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 30 to promote “White Party Bangkok”, the biggest annual gay music festival in Asia, has caused quite a stink.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Malaysian Government will not allow the gay event or party planned for Sept 30 to take place. The organiser had yet to apply for a permit for the event or party but he had instructed the police not to approve the gathering. “If such a party or event is held, then it is an illegal gathering,” he said to Malaysian journalists on Thursday.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/09/21/zahid-government-wont-allow-any-gay-party-in-malaysia/

Adoption to be legalised in Israel

Israel’s government said today it would introduce a bill giving same-sex couples equal rights to adopt a child, in 2018.

The High Court of Justice had given the Israeli government two months to reconsider its opposition to same-sex adoption. The government said that it would present the bill by June 2018.

The court ultimatum came after a legal challenge against the Welfare Ministry and Justice Ministry challenged the state to justify its previous opposition to allowing same-sex couples to adopt.

The government had claimed that adoption by same-sex couples places an “additional burden” on children.

Same-sex couples can be approved for adoption under Israeli law, but only three such couples have managed to adopt children over the last nine years. Some same-sex couples adopt babies from other countries.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/state-commits-to-legislate-adoption-rights-for-gay-couples/

Pride in Nepal

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Today | Uncredited photographer | Agence France Press | 17148

Nepal’s gay community marched through Kathmandu today, in an annual pride parade timed to coincide with the Hindu festival of Gai Jatra, which honours people who have died.

The gay community uses the festival to call attention to its demands for equal rights. About 1,500 people took part in the parade, paying tribute to members of LGBTI community who had died in 2017.

“Every year we celebrate a pride festival to show that we want to be recognised in this society with our different identity, that we are a part of this society,” said Pinky Gurung, president of the Blue Diamond Society, which is a gay rights organisation in Nepal.

Nepal has some of South Asia’s most progressive laws on homosexuality and transgender rights, but members of the community continue to face discrimination and live on the margins of society.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-4771494/Nepal-hosts-gay-pride-parade-demanding-equal-rights.html

Pensions equality suddenly comes nearer. At last

John Walker has won a landmark ruling which if implemented will give his husband the same pension rights as a wife would receive.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that if John Walker dies, his husband is entitled to a spouse’s pension, provided that they remain married. The ex-chemical company worker said it would “drag” the government “into the 21st Century”, while human rights group Liberty said “thousands” could benefit.

A government spokesman said it would review the implications of the ruling.

The decision will effect the entitlement of thousands of civil partners and spouses in same sex marriages, who will now enjoy the same pension rights and entitlements as people in a heterosexual marriage.

For example, Mr Walker’s husband would be entitled to a spousal pension of about £45,000 a year in the event of Mr Walker’s death, rather than around £1,000 a year he would currently expect.

Your Activist first campaigned for pensions equality more than fifteen years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40580596

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.

Hague Court asked to look at Chechnya’s “genocide”

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Recent protest in Berlin | AFP | 17091

Three French gay rights groups have filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court accusing Chechnya of the genocide of gay people.

They blamed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and state officials for a “wave of persecution”, and cited the case of a teenage male thrown out of a ninth-storey window, allegedly because of his sexuality.

The three French groups want the International Criminal Court in The Hague to start work before Russia withdraws from its jurisdiction in November.

There’s the problem.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39937107

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

Kirk criticised

The Church of Scotland has been asked to apologise for its “history of discrimination” against homosexual people and could be a step closer to allowing ministers to perform same-sex marriages.

A report by the Theological Forum of the Church of Scotland to be debated at the Kirk’s General Assembly in May proposes having a church committee research allowing nominated ministers and deacons to carry out the ceremonies while retaining the ability for “contentious refusal” from those opposed to same-sex marriage.

The report also calls for “the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better”.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/church-of-scotland-urged-to-apologise-for-gay-discrimination-1-4422320