Bermuda Outlaws Gay Marriage, Less Than a Year After It Became Legal

Bermuda has forbidden same-sex marriage, only nine months after legalizing it, in what advocates for gay and lesbian rights called a disappointing setback.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Bermuda, a British overseas territory, in May as a result of a ruling by the island’s Supreme Court.

But the unions are unpopular with some voters.Bermuda

In 2016, Bermudians voted against same-sex marriage in a referendum, and after the court ruling in May, the territory’s legislature drafted a bill banning same-sex marriage but giving all couples legal recognition as domestic partners. Parliament adopted the Domestic Partnership Act in December, and on Wednesday the territory’s governor, John Rankin, signed it into law.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, said Britain was “seriously disappointed,” but the Foreign Office said on Thursday it would be inappropriate to block the measure.

Same-sex marriage became legal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014, but it is not permitted in Northern Ireland. The issue has been divisive in Britain’s overseas territories, which control their own internal affairs but rely on Britain for defense and for representation in the international community.

by Mafen Specia, New York Times – February 8, 2018

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Lesbian couple sues for son’s US citizenship

A same-sex couple is suing the US government alleging discrimination because one of their children was not granted American citizenship.

US citizen Allison Blixt and her Italian wife Stefania Zaccari had two babies in London, England.

The spouses each carried one child to term using their own eggs and an unknown sperm donor.citizenship

American citizenship was granted to Ms Blixt’s son, Massimiliano, but not to Ms Zaccari’s boy, says the lawsuit.

The US Department of State has not commented on the allegations.

According to the agency’s website, “at least one biological parent must have been a US citizen when the child was born” for a child to qualify for birthright citizenship.

Ms Blixt and Ms Zaccari are listed on both children’s birth certificates, and English law recognises them as the boys’ parents, according to their lawsuit filed in Washington DC.

The court filing says the US consulate denied citizenship to Ms Zaccari’s child, Lucas, now two years old, on the grounds that he was not a blood relation and that he was born “out of wedlock”.

However, lawyers for Ms Zaccari and Illinois-born Ms Blixt say they were legally married in their adopted home of England before their sons’ births.

The lawsuit says that at the US consulate “Stefania and Allison were asked a series of invasive and legally irrelevant questions about how their children were conceived and born”.

The decision violates the Immigration and Nationality Act establishing that “babies born abroad are US citizens at birth when one of the child’s parents is a married United States citizen”, says the court filing.

After a law against same-sex marriage was overturned in the US in 2013, same-sex couples were allowed – like heterosexual couples – to bring their foreign spouses into America.

But the same ruling did not cover the children of same-sex couples, and legal advocates say this is discriminatory.

Ms Blixt told the Washington Post that she declined the offer to become her son’s legal stepmother and bring him to the US as an immigrant.

BBC.com January 22,2018

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State Dept. sued for denying citizenship to same-sex couples’ children

Two binational same-sex couples on Monday filed federal lawsuits against the State Department after their children were denied U.S. citizenship.

Andrew Dvash-Banks, who was born in Santa Monica, Calif., and his husband, Elad Dvash-Banks, who was born in Israel, were married in Toronto in 2010. The two men decided to live in Canada because the Defense of Marriage Act that President Clinton signed in 1996 prevented Andrew Dvash-Banks from sponsoring Elad Dvash-Banks for immigration purposes.citizenship

A surrogate gave birth to the men’s twin boys — Aiden Dvash-Banks and Ethan Dvash-Banks — in Mississauga, Ontario, on Sept. 16, 2016.

Aiden Dvash-Banks was conceived with Andrew Dvash-Banks’ sperm, while Ethan Dvash-Banks was conceived with Elad Dvash-Banks’ sperm. Canada recognizes both men as their children’s parents.

The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case that struck down a portion of DOMA prompted the U.S. to legally recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the country. The U.S. Consulate in Toronto nevertheless denied the men’s request for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad — which certifies that a child who was born overseas was an American citizen at the time of their birth — and a U.S. passport for Ethan Dvash-Banks under Section 309 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that specifically addresses “children born out of wedlock.”

“Focusing improperly on the biological relationship between each child and the parent who conceived him, the State Department then recognized Aiden’s citizenship and denied Ethan’s,” reads the lawsuit that Andrew Dvash-Banks filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The Dvash-Banks family moved to Los Angeles on June 24, 2017.

Andrew Dvash-Banks and Aiden Dvash-Banks are U.S. citizens, while Elad Dvash-Banks is a permanent resident. Ethan Dvash-Banks, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was able to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa that expired on Dec. 23, 2017.

“All of Andrew and Elad’s professional, personal and familial commitments are in constant jeopardy of being undone if the Department of Homeland Security deports Ethan,” reads the lawsuit.

Andrew Dvash-Banks and Elan Dvash-Banks have applied for a green card for Ethan Dvash-Banks in order “to minimize the risk of deportation proceedings and having to face the choice of staying together as a family or staying in this country.”

Washington Blade, by Michael Lavers, January 22, 2018

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European court advisor: Same-sex couples entitled to residency rights

A legal advisor to the European Union’s highest court on Thursday said gay couples should receive the same residency rights that married couples have in the European Union.

The Associated Press reported European Court of Justice Advocate General Melchior Wathelet issued an opinion that he said is not about whether European Union countries should extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Wathelet did say, however, they should extend spousal benefits in a way that does not infringe “on the rights of citizens of the (European) Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states.”European high court

Wathelet issued his opinion in the case of Adrian Coman, a Romanian citizen, and his American husband, Clay Hamilton.

Coman and Hamilton, who currently live in New York, legally married in Belgium in 2010. The Associated Press reported the men since 2012 has been asking the Romanian government to recognize his marriage.

Romania currently bans gays and lesbians from legally marrying, but it does not prohibit civil partnerships between same-sex or heterosexual couples. Opponents of marriage rights for same-sex couples in 2015 collected 3 million signatures in support of a referendum on whether to amend the country’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Romania’s Constitutional Court asked the European Court of Justice to weigh in on the men’s case.

The European Court of Justice is expected to rule later this year. The Associated Press reported the judges often “follow the reasoning laid out by advocates general,” even though the judges are not legally bound to Wathelet’s opinion.

Same-sex couples can legally marry in Ireland, the U.K. outside of Northern Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Malta.

The Washington Blade, by Michael Lavers, January 12, 2018

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Landmark ruling recognizes marriage, trans rights in the Americas

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Tuesday issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights in the Western Hemisphere – the Americas.

Americas – The seven judges who issued the ruling stated governments “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.” Six of the seven judges also agreed that it is necessary for governments “to guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination.”marital trust

The court issued its ruling after the Costa Rican government in 2016 asked for an advisory opinion on whether it has an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples and allow transgender people to change their name and gender marker on identity documents.

The ruling says the Costa Rican government must allow trans people to legally change their name and gender marker on official documents.

It does not specifically say how Costa Rica should extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón on Tuesday nevertheless told reporters during a press conference in the Costa Rican capital of San José that her government will do so.

“The Executive Branch will focus on studying the resolution in depth,” she said as La Nación, a Costa Rican newspaper, reported.

The Organization of American States created the Costa Rica-based court in 1979 in order to enforce provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights. Tuesday’s ruling is legally binding in Costa Rica and 19 other countries throughout the Western Hemisphere that currently recognize the convention.

Margarita Salas, a Costa Rican LGBT rights advocate who is a candidate for the country’s National Assembly — described the ruling to the Washington Blade as an “enormous advance in human rights for Costa Rica.”

“Now more than ever it is imperative that the National Assembly pass bills that make access to marriage equality and the recognition of gender identity a reality,” she said.

The Washington Blade, by Michael Lavers – January 9, 2018

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India Supreme Court to reconsider controversial sodomy ruling

The India Supreme Court on Monday said it would reconsider its controversial 2013 ruling that recriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations.

The Hindustan Times reported Chief Justice Dipak Misra and two other judges said the decision on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was based on what it described as “the perception of majority and concept of social morality.”Indian Supreme Court

“Concept of consensual sex may have more priority than a group right and may require more protection,” said the judges, according to the Hindustan Times. “A section of people or individual who exercise their choice should never live in a state of fear.”

The Delhi High Court in 2009 struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling overturned it.

Indian lawmakers in late 2015 rejected a bill that would have repealed Section 377.

India is among the more than 70 countries around the world in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

The Washington Blade by Michael Lavers, January 8, 2018

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Why a patchwork of laws makes surrogacy more challenging in Atlantic Canada

On a wall in Terri Taylor’s home, opposite the window that looks onto the quiet Fredericton cul-de-sac on which generations of her family have grown up, there’s a series of family photos.

Some of them are pictures of her own children, ranging from their teen years to when they were toddlers.

Others feature twin baby girls, the much longed-for children of Iain and Haley, an Australian couple Taylor met through a surrogacy website.

Taylor isn’t related to the twins, Freya and Jenna — nor is she related to their parents.Canada

But she does consider them part of her family.

‘We grew our own family’

Taylor points to a picture of herself, her children, Haley and Iain, and the twins clustered together at the centre of the arrangement. This one is more than just another family photo — it’s also the outcome of her decision to become a surrogate.

“I didn’t just grow two babies, we grew our own family, so that centre one is a pretty good representation of that — my new and expanded family.”

In Canada, hundreds of women every year serve as surrogates for other people, and the number is increasing; when the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society started collecting statistics in 2001, around 100 women a year were acting as gestational surrogates, meaning they had no genetic relationship to the babies they were carrying.

Now that figure stands at more than 500, but demand still far outstrips supply.

For Taylor, serving as a surrogate was an extension of the same drive to care for others that had characterized her personal and professional life.

“I was never going to be rich, I was never going to donate a wing to a children’s hospital, so this was a way for me to give back.”

By Moira Donovan, CBC News, January 7, 2018

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Surrogacy still big business in China despite national ban

Driven by demand and in defiance of the law, China’s surrogacy service is booming with countless women making a living by offering their wombs for hire.

A two-month investigation by The Paper, a state-run news website, offered a glimpse of the underground business luring women in rural villages away from their factory jobs to carry others’ fertilised eggs to birth despite the China ban on surrogacy.China Ban

Couples pay anywhere between £40,000 to £114,000 for surrogacy, with agents claiming that they can guarantee the gender of the baby by testing the sex of the embryo or aborting babies of the unwanted sex, both of which are illegal practices in China.

“I make 3,000 yuan [£340] a month from a factory job,” a masked and visibly pregnant woman said while being filmed by a hidden camera. “But I get nearly as much in living expenses [from being a surrogate].”

Another pregnant woman said: “You can make more than 100,000 yuan [£11,400] from each birth, something I would never be able to make in my whole life.”

Because surrogacy is illegal in China, there is no definitive report on the scope of the black market. However, two factors appear to be driving the surge in demand. An estimated 15 million Chinese couples are thought to be infertile, a statistic blamed by some on pollution. Also, couples who have been trying for a second child since the country relaxed its one-child policy have found it hard to conceive because of their older age.

Other Chinese families want another baby after losing an only child. Last month, a 48-year-old woman gave birth to twins through IVF after her only child, a 24-year-old firefighter, died in an explosion in 2015. In 2010 a 60-year-old woman delivered twin girls after losing her adult daughter to gas poisoning.

The demand has left many hospitals overcrowded with couples seeking fertility treatments, which are legal in China. When this does not work, they turn to underground channels or go abroad for surrogacy.

The unregulated market is full of risks for both couples seeking the service and surrogate mothers, especially if a pregnancy goes wrong or if children are born with disabilities.

Still a conservative society, China frowns upon anyone using their body to make money. However, lured by the generous pay, poor Chinese women are increasingly being drawn to the business, especially after learning that they can make the money without having to sleep with the clients.

thetimes.co.uk by Didi Tang, January 1, 2018

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Swiss Gays and lesbians can now adopt stepchildren

From January 1, same-sex couples and de facto spouses may adopt stepchildren in Switzerland.

In addition, the secrecy surrounding adoption will be loosened so adopted children and their biological parents will be able to get in contact more easily. Swiss gay

Until now, only married people have been able to adopt their spouses’ children. In Switzerland, homosexuals have been able to enter into a civil partnership since 2007, but gay marriage is not recognised. From 2018 however, adoption will be possible for anyone in a civil partnership or a longterm relationship. 

Swiss law will thus align itself closer to that of other western European countries and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. 

That said, a couple in a civil partnership will still be unable to adopt a child who is biologically unrelated to both parents. This means that a gay person can adopt if single, but not when in a civil partnership. 

The adoption option was deliberately left out of the nationwide vote on approving civil partnerships for gays in 2005 in order to increase the chances of success. 

December 26, 2017 via SwissInfo.ch

By Sibilla Bondolfi

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Court Rejects Gay Singapore Man’s Bid To Adopt Biological Son

Local LGBTQ rights advocates said they were dismayed by the decision.

A Singapore court has rejected a gay Singaporean doctor’s bid to adopt his biological child because he was born by a surrogate mother in the United States through a procedure not available for unmarried couples in the island state.Singapore gay

Singapore is in many ways a vibrant, modern society but it remains socially conservative and sex between consenting males is a punishable crime with a maximum penalty of two years in jail, although prosecution is rare.

Singapore is also trying to boost fertility among its citizens, and offers generous incentives to couples to have babies, but in-vitro fertilization is allowed only for married couples and surrogacy services are not available for anyone.

The man, in a homosexual relationship with a partner, paid $200,000 for a woman to carry his child through in-vitro fertilization in the United States after he had learned he was unlikely to be able to adopt a child in Singapore as a gay man.

A Singapore court ruled against his bid to adopt the child this week saying the steps he had taken to have the baby in the United States would not have been possible in Singapore.

“He cannot then come to the courts of the very same jurisdiction to have the acts condoned,” the court said.

“This application is in reality an attempt to obtain a desired result … by walking through the back door of the system when the front door was firmly shut.”

Reuters – by John Geddie, December 26, 2017

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