Italy’s deputy prime minister calls gay parents ‘unnatural’ and surrogacy ‘a horror’

The Italian deputy prime minister has called same-sex parents ‘unnatural’ and vowed to keep all families heterosexual.

Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the Northern League party, has risen to popularity on the back of rhetoric against migrants, Islam and the European Union.

Soon after becoming deputy prime minister in June alongside Five Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio, the two nationalist politicians tried to appoint anti-LGBT+ journalist Marcello Foa as the head of public broadcaster Rai.

In an interview with Catholic news outlet La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Salvini expressed his strong opposition to same-sex parents, equal marriage and surrogacy.

The 45-year-old populist figurehead, who is also the country’s interior minister, was asked about same-sex marriage, to which he responded: “My position is firmly against.”

by Josh Jackman, pinknews.co.uk, August 13, 2018

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More People Now Support Allowing Businesses To Refuse LGBTQ Customers: Survey

Americans are conflicted over whether Christians like Colorado baker Jack Phillips should have the right to refuse service to queer customers.

In handing a narrow victory to a Christian baker who refused to make cakes for a gay wedding, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to punt a bigger question down the road: whether Americans can use religion to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people.

A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that for many Americans, the jury is also still out on this issue.

PRRI completed the survey shortly after the Supreme Court’s June decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It found that Americans were conflicted over whether Christians with conservative religious beliefs, like Colorado baker Jack Phillips, should have the right to refuse service to queer customers.

The survey of 2,008 adults between June 27 and July 8, 2018, showed evidence of an America still divided over how to treat LGBTQ citizens.

Nearly half of Americans surveyed (46 percent) said that owners of wedding-based businesses, such as caterers, florists and bakers, should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Roughly the same number (48 percent) disagreed, saying that these types of businesses should be required to serve queer couples.   

That’s a slight shift from how Americans felt about the issue last year, PRRI reports. In 2017, only 41 percent of Americans said wedding-based businesses should be allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ people, while a majority of Americans (53 percent) said these businesses should be required to serve gay and lesbian couples.

Sperm donor secrets emerge as Australia law erases anonymity

For Peter Peacock, fate arrived in the form of a registered letter.

The letter, at least initially, looked to be a bit of a letdown. Peacock had gone to the post office expecting the delivery of a big, furry aviator jacket he’d ordered online. And so it was with little fanfare that the Australian grandfather and retired cop tore the envelope open as he walked back to his car — at which point he stopped dead in his tracks.

“Dear Mr Peacock,” the letter began. “The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) has received an enquiry of a personal nature which may or may not relate to you. The matter concerns a record held in relation to a project you may have assisted with at Prince Henry’s Institute.”

Prince Henry’s? The Melbourne clinic where he’d donated sperm nearly 40 years ago?

There could be only one reason for such a letter, he thought. Someone out there had come to life through his donation.

His mind raced. How on earth was he going to tell everyone? How would he break it to his two grown daughters? And how could this person even know who he was? He had been promised that his donation would be anonymous.

And for decades it was, until a new law in one Australian state retroactively erased the anonymity of sperm and egg donors. Their offspring now have the legal right to know who they are.

Which is why a week after receiving that letter, Peacock found himself staring at a photograph of a woman named Gypsy Diamond, whose face looked so much like his own that he felt an instant and overwhelming connection. He gazed in wonder at her dark, almond-shaped eyes. His eyes.

“God almighty, I looked at it and I thought — ‘Bloody hell. I can’t deny that girl,’” he says. “She was my child from the start.”

By KRISTEN GELINEAU AP.com, August 2, 2018

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Sudbury court awards woman ownership of embryo called ‘property’ in precedent-setting case

Woman, 48, was divorced from man and awarded embryo based on fertility clinic consent form.

A court in Sudbury, Ont., has awarded an embryo to a woman in a case involving her ex-husband, in what is being called a precedent-setting decision because the embryo has no biological connection to the couple.embryo

Two childhood friends decided to get married in 2009 to have and raise children together, but the man didn’t want his sperm used and the woman’s eggs weren’t suitable. So three years later, they purchased eggs and sperm from a business in the United States for $11,500 US, and two good embryos were created through in-vitro fertilization. 

In December 2012, the woman gave birth to a son. Eight days later, the marriage dissolved and both sides claimed ownership of the second embryo in the divorce.

The judge’s decision awarding the embryo to the woman, who is now 48, was released last week.

It hinged on a consent form from a fertility clinic in southern Ontario on which the couple indicated the “patient’s wishes” would be honoured in case of divorce. The form describes the woman receiving the embryo as “the patient.”

Erik White · CBC News ·

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As evidence supporting LGBTQ families mounts, legal hurdles loom

New studies say kids of gay parents are just as well-adjusted as those with a mom and dad. But Congress is moving to allow adoption agencies to bar LGBTQ families.

LGBTQ families made headlines twice this month, but for very different reasons.

Last week, a study found that from a mental health perspective, adult children with lesbian parents fared just as well as their peers with opposite-sex parents. This follows an Italian study released in May that found that children with same-sex parents were actually slightly better off psychologically than children with a mom and a dad.LGBTQ families

Earlier this month, however, Republican lawmakers dealt a blow to LGBTQ people seeking to become LGBTQ families. The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment allowing foster care and adoption agencies that receive federal funding to refuse to work with same-sex couples on religious or moral grounds. Though the amendment has several steps to go before becoming federal law, 10 states already have a similar law in place.

The House amendment goes even further than current state-level laws. It would cut 15 percent of child welfare funding to states that explicitly prohibit agencies from excluding LGBTQ people.

Independent and private adoption agencies that do not receive federal funding are already allowed to deny LGBTQ people.

The studies of children with same-sex parents don’t surprise advocates of LGBTQ families. Zach Wahls, who was born to a lesbian couple through artificial insemination and famously defended same-sex parents to the Iowa Legislature in 2011, said it was exciting to have studies to back up his experience.

“In our current climate, we’re at risk of backsliding on this issue,” Wahls told NBC News. “We need to be ready to contest that, and now we can do it in a scientific way.”

Scientific as they may be, the studies are unlikely to move those who advocate for allowing agencies to exclude LGBTQ families, because the objections are faith-based and do not pertain only to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

by Avichai Scher NBCNews.com, 

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Missouri Lesbian Couple Sues Senior Housing Community for Discrimination

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ), Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, and co-counsel filed a lawsuit today on behalf of married lesbian couple Mary Walsh, age 72, and Bev Nance, age 68, against St. Louis senior housing community Friendship Village Sunset Hills.

The complaint alleges that Friendship Village violated the federal Fair Housing Act and Missouri Human Rights Act by discriminating against Walsh and Nance on the basis of sex, denying them a unit because they are a lesbian senior couple.lesbian senior

Friendship Village told Walsh and Nance that it would not accept them because it followed the “Biblical definition” of marriage and “defined marriage as between a man and a woman.” Friendship Village is not affiliated with or operated by any religion or religious order; it is open to the public and does not inquire about the religious beliefs or affiliations of residents. Walsh and Nance considered seeking housing elsewhere, but Friendship Village is the only senior housing community in St. Louis that can provide increased levels of care without an increased monthly cost to residents.

“We’ve been together for nearly 40 years and have spent our lives in St. Louis. We want to grow older here by each other’s side,” said plaintiff Mary Walsh. “We should not be prevented from accessing the housing and care we need.”

“Mary and Bev were denied housing for one reason and one reason only—because they were married to each other rather than to men. This is exactly the type of sex discrimination the Fair Housing Act prohibits,” said NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Julie Wilensky. “Their story demonstrates the kind of exclusion and discrimination still facing same-sex couples of all ages.”

Walsh and Nance have both lived in St. Louis since childhood and have been in a committed relationship together since 1978. They first heard about Friendship Village from several friends who lived there. Nance became acquainted with it when she met a former colleague and his wife for lunch there. Then, Walsh and Nance went to dinner at Friendship Village to visit a friend living there with her husband. Walsh and Nance’s friends enthusiastically recommended Friendship Village and encouraged the couple to move there.

Before deciding on Friendship Village, Walsh and Nance made multiple visits, had extensive conversations with staff, and paid a $2,000 deposit. They even canceled a long-planned vacation, losing their nonrefundable airfare, because Friendship Village told them they could get advantageous rates if they signed all of their paperwork quickly and moved within a short timeframe. After being actively encouraged by Friendship Village for several months to obtain housing there, Walsh and Nance were shocked to be denied housing because they are a same-sex couple.

In addition to NCLR and Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC, plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Missouri and Arlene Zarembka.

“Friendship Village was repeatedly advised for several years by its former management company to abandon their discriminatory policy but refused to do so,” said Relman, Dane & Colfax Counsel Joseph Wardenski. “By bringing this lawsuit, Mary and Bev will help ensure that other same-sex couples are not subjected to illegal housing discrimination.”

Windy City Times via NCLR Press Release – July 25, 2018

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Compensation for Canadian Sperm And Egg Donors Will Help LGBTQ Couples Build Families

It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services in Canada.

The Canadian government is considering amendments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) that will benefit the LGBTQ community.

On May 29, Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather introduced a private members bill to the House of Commons. He is seeking decriminalization of surrogacy services and consideration of reasonable compensation for egg and sperm donation in Canada.canada

It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services. Under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 2004, any compensation beyond reasonable expenditures is a criminal offence punishable by 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. What constitutes a legitimate expense has yet to be clearly defined by the government, leading to criticism of the Act by many doctors and legal experts.

Housefather’s proposed change will affect many Canadians who don’t have their own eggs or sperm to start a family: single women, sterile men, older women who no longer produce viable eggs and people who carry genetic diseases they do not want to pass on.

It will also be of significant importance to LGBTQ couples.

As a fertility doctor, I know that having children is important to LGBTQ couples. However, most require the help of a fertility clinic to obtain donor sperm or eggs.

The intention of sections 6 and 7 of the Act were to prevent commercialization of donors and surrogates in Canada. In reality, the criminalization of potential donors has led to a complete lack of egg and sperm donors willing to provide their reproductive material for free. Donor sperm and donor egg banks are virtually non-existent in Canada. Surrogacy services are only available through recruiting agencies that operate in a “grey area” of the Act.

Lebanon: Same-Sex Relations Not Illegal

Homosexuality Not an ‘Unnatural Offense,’ Lebanon Appeals Court Rules

A district court of appeal in Lebanon issued a groundbreaking ruling on July 12, 2018, that consensual sex between people of the same sex is not unlawful, Human Rights Watch said.Lebanon Gay

The ruling follows similar judgments from lower courts that have declined to convict gay and transgender people of “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” in four separate rulings between 2007 and 2017. It is the first such ruling from an appeals court and moves Lebanon further toward decriminalizing homosexual conduct.

“This ruling signals a new horizon for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Lebanon, who have long been persecuted under discriminatory laws,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights at Human Rights Watch. “The court has effectively ordered the state to get out of people’s bedrooms.”

Activists in Lebanon have long fought to end the use of article 534 of the penal code to prosecute consensual same-sex conduct. The law is a colonial relic, put in place by the French mandate in the early 1900s, and punishes “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature” with up to one year in prison. It has at times been enthusiastically wielded to persecute LGBT people, often affecting particularly vulnerable groups including transgender women and Syrian refugees.

HRW.org, July 19, 2018

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Netanyahu Votes Against Surrogacy Births for Israeli Gay Men Despite Voicing Support

Only on Sunday the PM said he’d like to see the law amended during the current Knesset’s term

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted on Wednesday against a clause in the surrogacy bill that would allow surrogate births for same-sex couples despite voicing public support for it earlier this week.Israel gay

On Sunday Netanyahu said he supports the bill in a closed meeting on Likud lawmakers. “I support surrogacy for single fathers,” Netanyahu said, adding that he favored amending the law during the current Knesset session if possible, but if not, he said it should be done later on, via reservations to an amendment bill that MK Amir Ohana (Likud) raised last week, to permit surrogacy procedures for same-sex couples.

Netanyahu has expressed support for LGBT family rights several times in recent years but has not followed up most of these declarations with any action.

Netanyahu heads a conservative coalition which rejects any recognition of LGBT family units. Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-Orthodox parties and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party all reject support for any amendment on the issue.

Members of the opposition booed Netanyahu after the vote, and MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) was removed from the Knesset chamber. Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) was at the Knesset at the time of the vote but she did not enter the chamber.

and  July 18, 2018 – Haaretz.com
 
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Religious adoption agency can’t exclude gay parents, judge rules

In a ruling hailed as “historic,” a federal judge sided with the city of Philadelphia and same-sex foster and adoptive parents.

A federal judge on Friday ruled against a religious organization that refused to place foster children with gay families on religious grounds.Family law

Judge Petrese B. Tucker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the city of Philadelphia can require the foster and adoption agencies with which it contracts to abide by the city’s nondiscrimination policies. The decision marks the first time a federal court has ruled that such agencies may not turn away same-sex couples who don’t meet the agencies’ religious criteria.

The plaintiffs in the case — Catholic Social Services and three foster families with whom the agency works — were quick to file an appeal.

The dispute began in early March when the commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) discovered that two of the 30 foster care agencies with which it has contracts — Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services — had policies that deny their publicly funded services to same-sex couples.

Following this discovery, DHS stopped working with the two organizations, noting that their policies regarding LGBTQ families violated the nondiscrimination clause included in the contract they entered into with DHS.

NBCNews.com, July 19, 2018 by Julie Moreau

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