India’s Gay Rights Activists Seize Momentum After Landmark Ruling

At a jammed intersection in New Delhi, a passing parade of people announced their mission with a single word in Hindi, dicing it into short, snappy syllables.

“Azadi!” or freedom, the crowd chanted as drivers leaned out of their rickshaws, straining to hear. One of the marchers, Rishi Raj Vyas, 16, filled in the blanks.India

“We are here to break stereotypes,” he said, “to tell Delhi that we are here and we are queer.”

He was one of several thousand participants in Delhi’s annual gay pride parade who gathered on a smoggy afternoon this month to march, cheer and dance Bhangra through the streets of the city.

If the parade atmosphere seemed even more buoyant than usual, it may have been because a major victory was in sight for gay rights in this country. In a landmark decision in August, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s citizens had a constitutional right to privacy. In its judgment, the court made special note of the gay community, writing that “sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.”

For lawyers building a case against a colonial-era law, known as Section 377, that criminalizes sex between men in India, the ruling was welcome news. And it has renewed some hope for the repeal of other repressive laws, including one requiring the “registration and control of eunuchs” and marital rape exceptions in the Indian Penal Code.

by Kai Schultz, November 25, 2017 – New York Times

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Australia Senate approves same-sex marriage bill

The Australian Senate has approved a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Lawmakers approved the measure by a 43-12 vote margin. The Australian House of Representatives will now consider the bill.gay cake

The vote took place less than a month after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced the majority of voters who took part in a non-binding plebiscite on whether same-sex couples should be able to legally marry in the country said “yes.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged lawmakers to pass the marriage bill by Christmas.

WashingtonBlade.com, november 28, 2017 by Mike Lavers

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8 Times The Supreme Court Ruled On LGBT Rights

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on December 5, 2017

On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which puts the state’s public accommodations law against “sincerely held religious beliefs” opposing marriage equality.gay cake

After Colorado bakery owner Jack Phillips refused to sell a wedding cake to David Mullins and Charlie Craig because it was against his religious beliefs, the couple filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which determined that Phillips was at fault. In 2015, a Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed that decision, but Phillips maintains the state’s anti-discrimination law violates his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

The case could have serious implications for both anti-discrimination statutes and so-called religious freedom laws that enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination. But it’s far from the first time our rights have come before the Supreme Court. Below, we look at the high court’s history with the LGBT community.

  1. One, Inc. v. Olesen (1958)Founded in 1952, ONE, Inc. was the first LGBT organization in the U.S. to have its own offices. Its magazine, One: The Homosexual Agenda, came a year later and is believed to be the first mass-produced gay publication in America, sold through the mail and on newsstands in L.A.

    In October 1954, the FBI and the Postmaster General of Los Angeles declared One obscene and refused to deliver it. The publishers sued and, though they lost the case and subsequent appeal, the took their case to the Supreme Court. Their victory marked the first time the high court sided with the LGBT community.

    The magazine ceased publication in December 1969.

By Dan Avery, NewNowNext.com, November 20, 2017

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Who’d Gain From an Estate Tax Rollback: The 0.2 Percenters

Who’d Gain From an Estate Tax Rollback: The 0.2 Percenters

Supporters and critics of the Republican tax bills argue over their effect on middle-class Americans, but there is one group that everyone agrees would come out ahead: the millionaires and billionaires who have to reckon with the estate tax.estate tax

As Steven Mnuchin, President Trump’s Treasury secretary, bluntly declared last month, “Obviously, the estate tax, I will concede, disproportionately helps rich people.”

As it is now, the estate tax affects a small set of wealthy Americans, applying only when someone leaves assets worth more than $5.49 million to heirs. Together, parents can leave $11 million to their children without paying a penny in estate taxes.

Last year, for example, more than 2.6 million people died in the United States. Of the estates filed with the Internal Revenue Service, 5,219 — or 0.2 percent of the total — were large enough to qualify for the tax.

The kind of households that could potentially owe money, however, include Mr. Trump’s, Mr. Mnuchin’s, and those of several cabinet members and advisers, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Gary Cohn, chief of the National Economic Council.

(An analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund concluded that the estate tax repeal could save Mr. Trump’s estate more than $1 billion, and those of his cabinet members $3.5 billion.)

Mr. Trump has stated, incorrectly, that the tax is crushing “millions of small businesses and the American farmer.” In reality, only about 80 small businesses and farms would fall under the estate-tax tent this year, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Republicans want to shrink the numbers further. In the Senate’s proposed tax bill, exempted income would temporarily double to $11 million per person — $22 million for a couple — during the next decade.

If those rules had been imposed last year, the number of estates owing money under the tax would have been no more than 2,204 — fewer than 0.1 percent of the total.

The House bill approved Thursday goes a step further, doubling the exemption through the 2024 tax year (and indexing for inflation), but then eliminating the tax. The result is that other taxpayers would have to make up the $151 billion cost over the next decade.

Opponents of the tax say fairness is at stake. No one — including billionaires — should have their assets taxed twice, once in life and once in death, the argument goes. But the issue is less about double taxation than no taxation.

by Patricia Cohen, NYTimes.com, November 16, 2017

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Australians Say ‘Yes’ to Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path for Legalization

A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”Australia gay marriage

The high turnout and unequivocal result amounted to a rebuke for Australia’s most conservative politicians, many of whom saw a majority of their constituents vote to support same-sex marriage despite their arguments against it.

Proponents of gay rights spent the day celebrating. They gathered in cities around the country to watch news broadcasts of the survey results. The largest crowd, at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, broke into cheers, with hugs, dancing and tears, as soon as the news was announced.

“This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians,” said Chris Lewis, 60, an artist from Sydney, who waved a large rainbow flag he bought in San Francisco about 30 years ago. “Finally I can be proud of my country.”

But many Australians said it was also late in coming.

Annika Lowry, 42, who brought her 4-year-old daughter to the celebration, said the vote revealed a widening gap between Australia’s political class and voters who have been demanding same-sex marriage legislation for years.

“It was not just about us,” she said. “It’s for our kids, so that they know equality is important.”

Alex Greenwich, a state lawmaker from New South Wales and the co-chairman of Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy group, said the vote “shows that Australians have truly come together in support of their gay and lesbian mates and have said that everybody should be able to have the freedom to marry.”

Debra Chasnoff, Whose Films Redefined Gay Families, Dies at 60

Debra Chasnoff, an Oscar-winning documentarian whose educational films promoted greater tolerance for gays and lesbians, died on Nov. 7 at her home in San Francisco. She was 60.

Her wife, Nancy Otto, said the cause was breast cancer.Chasnoff

Ms. Chasnoff’s first film, which she produced in 1984 with her companion at the time, Kim Klausner, was titled “Choosing Children.” It profiled six households headed by same-sex parents who were raising children through adoption, foster parenting, previous relationships and donor insemination.

The film was said to have inspired many gay and lesbian couples to start raising families of their own.

“I think that very first film has done more to change the world than anything else I could possibly do,” Ms. Chasnoff said in a 2013 interview on blogtalkradio.com. “It’s no longer assumed you can’t be a parent if you’re gay.”

By Sam Roberts, New York Times, November 14, 2017

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Yet another study finds kids with same-sex parents do just as well as those with straight parents

More than a third of Americans think LGB people should not be able to adopt kids

Kids with same-sex parents are doing just fine, according to a new study.

In news shocking no one but homophobes, the study analyzed data from the American National Health Interview Survey from 2013 to 2015 and proved kids with same-sex parents do just as well as kids with straight parents.

The researchers looked at data for around 21,000 children between the ages of 4 and 17. The survey analyzed the emotional, mental and psychological health of both children and parents.

It’s the latest research in a flood of previous studies proving same-sex parents are just as qualified in raising kids. In fact, some studies suggest they’re even better.

This study found there is no increased difficulties for kids with homosexual partners. It did, however, find kids with bisexual parents had slightly poorer scores.

Researchers then took into account the psychological stress suffered by the parents and the difference vanished.

They theorize this is probably a result of the hardships parents face in a society that stigmatize their sexual orientation.

The authors suggest a ‘more inclusive society might help reduce that stress, and improve the mental wellbeing of kids with bisexual parents.’

Lead author Dr Jerel Calzo, from the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health said: ‘As lesbian, gay, and bisexual parented families become more visible, the findings bolster previous studies revealing that children raised in these families have comparable psychological well-being compared with children raised by heterosexual parents.

‘In addition, the results indicate the need for continued investment in strategies to prevent sexual orientation–based discrimination. And to support sexual minority parents who may experience minority stress,’ he said.

gaystarnews.com, November 10, 2017 by James Besanvalle

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Germany Must Allow Third Gender Category, Court Rules

Germany must create a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or were born with ambiguous sexual traits, the country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday, finding that binary gender designations violated the right to privacy.

In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents to register newborns as neither female nor male, if the child was born with characteristics of both sexes.

The new decision, by the Federal Constitutional Court, goes further, giving lawmakers until the end of 2018 to either allow the introduction of a third gender category or dispense with gender altogether in public documents.Germany transgender

The ruling arrives as society, medicine and law increasingly recognize the ways in which gender is socially constructed and not necessarily fixed or stable.

According to Lambda Legal, an American organization that works for the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people, at least eight countries — Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan — recognize more than two genders on passports or national ID cards.

Thailand recognizes a third gender in its Constitution but has not yet made that an option on government documents.

In June, for the first time in Canada, a newborn was issued a health document without a gender: a health card that listed U as the gender, for unspecified or unknown. In August, Canada began issuing passports with a third gender option, designated with an X.

Several American states have offered residents gender-neutral options on drivers licenses, and last month, California passed a law that allows nonbinary and intersex people a nonbinary category on their birth certificates.

While much of the change worldwide has involved transgender people, the discussion has also focused attention on intersex people, those born with traits of both sexes.

“Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery,” a 2013 report from the United Nations special rapporteur on torture found, noting that they were left “with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.” Human Rights Watch has condemned such procedures.

Battle Over Rights Inspires More Transgender Political Candidates

Nearly 30 races in the 2017-18 U.S. election cycle already have a transgender candidate, up from 13 in 2015-16, according to Harvard researcher Logan Casey.

Virginia Democrat Danica Roem has been called a man by conservative opponents attacking her views on LGBTQ rights as she campaigns to become the United States’ only transgender state legislator.Danica

Roem does not shy away from her gender identity. In one campaign ad, she applies makeup at a bathroom mirror and takes hormone pills. But rather than focus on the politics of running as a transgender woman, she prefers to discuss traffic gridlock and other issues in the Nov. 7 election for the Virginia House of Delegates.

“Transgender people are just as qualified to say, ‘Hey, I can’t stand being stuck in traffic right now. I have some ideas to fix this,’” said Roem, a 33-year-old journalist. “We can be leaders on transportation. We can be leaders on economic development, and yeah, we can be leaders on civil rights too.”

U.S. elections this year could double the country’s number of transgender officeholders, currently at six, according to the Victory Fund, which works to elect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates. The group has endorsed eight transgender candidates up for election this fall.

NBCNews.com via Reuters , November 2, 2017

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‘Traditional Values’: A Potent Weapon Against LGBT Rights

In April, news broke of a widespread anti-gay purge in Chechnya; in September, gay men and transgender women were rounded up in Azerbaijan; and in October reports emerged that a registry of gay men and lesbians was being compiled by the authorities in Tajikistan.

How might we understand these disparate events as part of a trend in these three former Soviet countries?  

The rhetoric of regional leaders and their modus operandi show that these events are linked by a discourse on so-called traditional values that situates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as the aberrant ‘other.’  The idea of a timeless, unchanging tradition is particularly powerful in these times of social uncertainty, political instability, and economic pressure. traditional values

This chain of events began in earnest in 2013 with Russia’s federal propaganda law, banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.”  The law had a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Violence with impunity against LGBT people in Russia spiked.  The propaganda law doesn’t ban sexual relations between members of the same sex. Rather it targets all media and public activities which ”try to portray homosexuality as normal behaviour.”

Similar propaganda-style legislation has been discussed in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine, leading to an increase in public discourse on traditional values as a way to sabotage the rights of LGBT people throughout the region. The echoes of traditional values rhetoric can of course be heard much further afield including in Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Uganda.  Russia is not directly responsible for this proliferation of laws outlawing the promotion of homosexuality, or for the renewed zeal for using existing morality laws against LGBT people, such as in Egypt. But Russia has positioned itself as the champion of traditional values, both domestically and internationally.

‘Decadent Modernity & Wholesome Tradition’

Russia and Egypt have long led the charge against the advance of the rights of LGBT people at the United Nations, focusing their efforts on traditional values and family values and opposing any mention of sexual orientation, gender identity, or even gender. 

Traditional Values is the staple language of Russia’s alliance with countries from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Africa Group at the United Nations.  The rights of LGBT people are the wedge issue used to undermine the universality of human rights and to position Russia in opposition to the West on the global stage.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, used this approach in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014:  “A number of countries have recently seen a sudden and sometimes rather aggressive rise in the activities of those who support ultra-liberal ideas, advocating permissiveness and hedonism and demanding a revision of norms of morality and ethics shared by all world religions.” Lavrov articulated a powerful rhetorical divide in which the world is split between decadent modernity and wholesome tradition. It has served its purpose well, as a clever shorthand against human rights.

It is in this geopolitical context that the words and actions of leaders in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Chechnya, a region within Russia, need to be understood. 

By Graeme Reid, November 4, 2017 – emerging-europa.com

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