Gay parenting ‘boot camp’ moves to Asia to meet growing demand from China


The world’s largest “boot camp” to help gay men become parents will stage its first Asia event next month to address growing demand for surrogates from China and the region, organizers said on Thursday.

Men Having Babies
Men Having Babies Chairman Emeritus, Anthony M. Brown, speaks
at the New York City Gay Parenting Conference.

New York-based non-profit Men Having Babies (MHB) stages events across the world to provide advice and support to all LGBT+ people who want to become parents and plans to stage its first annual Asian event on March 9-10 in Taipei, Taiwan.

“We have been witnessing over the last three years, a growing interest from Asia – mostly Chinese – intended parents coming to the United States for surrogacy,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, founder and executive director at MHB.

Socially conservative attitudes prevail across most of Asia where Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei outlaw sexual relations between men, and Indonesia has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBT+ people.

But changes are happening, with India moving to scrap Section 377 outlawing same-sex relations last year, and Taiwan this week proposing a draft law to allow same-sex marriage.

The issue of lesbian and gay couples having access to medically-assisted reproductive treatments like IVF has stirred political debate recently in several countries.

Many countries, including Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, and Britain, ban for-profit surrogacy, although they allow some form of surrogacy if no payment is involved. In the United States, the legality of surrogacy is determined by each state.

Gay couples are banned from applying for surrogacy in countries such as Nigeria and Russia.

Poole-Dayan, who has 18-year-old twins with his husband, began MHB in 2005 with monthly workshops giving advice to gay men interested in becoming biological parents and now holds about seven conferences a year.

The two-day events, which are held across the United States, Europe, Canada and Israel, have made MHB the largest “boot camp” for gay parenting in the world, said Poole-Dayan.

He said the internet was flooded with people trying to push surrogacy information but it was hard to know where to start so the two-day events involved surrogate mothers and egg donors, doctors, lawyers and local clinic representatives.

“Our conferences are not meant to persuade to become parents … they are meant for people who already want to become parents (and) to make the process more accessible and easier,” Poole-Dayan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People are starting to realize .. the fact that they’re gay doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be able to have a full life including starting a family and having children.”

Reuters.com, by Michael Taylor, February 21, 2019

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Kansas bill seeks to define same-sex marriage as ‘parody’


Kansas state representatives introduced legislation Wednesday that would define same-sex marriage as “parody marriage” and would prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages or transgender people.

The bill seeks to establish an “elevated marriage” for straight couples, according to the Wichita Eagle.

The legislation would also allow controversial gay “conversion therapy” which seeks to change a gay person’s sexual orientation. Critics of conversion therapy say it is often inhumane and does not work.

Two bills were introduced, one that says same-sex marriages “erode community standards of decency.” It argues that civil rights for gay people are different than civil rights for black people because it claims that there are “no ex-blacks but there are thousands of ex-gays.” 

The measures would also prohibit public schools and libraries from hosting or endorsing “drag queen storytime.”

The legislation has very little chance of becoming law, according to the Eagle. The state’s Democratic governor is supportive of gay marriage and is likely to veto the bill if it passes the state legislature.

In an interview with the Eagle, the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Randy Garber (R) admitted that the language in the legislation is “kind of harsh.”

“Their marriage probably doesn’t affect me — their union or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “But in my opinion, they’re trying to force their beliefs on society.”

BY RACHEL FRAZIN – 02/14/19 – TheHill.com

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Jussie Smollett, Star of ‘Empire,’ Attacked in What Police Call a Possible Hate Crime

Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of “Empire,” in 2016. The Chicago police said he took himself to Northwestern Hospital after the attack and was described as in “good condition.”

Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the Fox television show “Empire,” was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday morning by two people who yelled racial and homophobic slurs and wrapped a rope around his neck, according to the police, who said they were investigating the incident as “a possible hate crime.”

Smollett, who is black and publicly came out as gay in 2015, was walking on a downtown street when two people approached him and yelled the slurs, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department. The attackers then began hitting Smollett in the face and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him.

One of the attackers also wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck before the duo fled.

“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” the police statement said.

The Chicago Sun-Times, citing a police spokesman, said that Smollett went to an apartment after the attack, and his manager called the police. When officers arrived, a “thin, light rope” was still around Smollett’s neck, said the spokesman.

Officers suggested Smollett go to the hospital for lacerations on his face and neck. His manager took him there, and he was later released.

In a follow-up interview later in the morning, The Sun-Times reported, Smollett told the police that the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.

‘I Have to Stay Alive’: Gay Brazilian Lawmaker Gives Up Seat Amid Threats

An openly gay federal Brazilian lawmaker who has frequently clashed with the country’s new far-right president said on Thursday that he was giving up his seat because of death threats.

The lawmaker, Jean Wyllys, a fierce advocate for gay rights who was due to be sworn in for a third term in February, said in an interview with the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that “this environment isn’t safe for me” after the assassination of a political ally last March and violence that followed the election of the president, Jair Bolsonaro, in October.

“For the future of this cause,” Mr. Wyllys said, “I have to stay alive. I don’t want to be a martyr.” He added that he was currently on vacation abroad and did not plan to return to Brazil.

Mr. Wyllys called Mr. Bolsonaro, a former colleague of his in the lower house of Congress, “a president who always vilified me, who always openly insulted me, who was always homophobic with me.”

In 2016, Mr. Wyllys responded by spitting at Mr. Bolsonaro during the hearing to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Mr. Bolsonaro, before reinventing himself as a fighter of political corruption and rampant violence, was best known for delivering verbal attacks on women, black people and gay people from the congressional floor. 

Shortly after Mr. Wyllys’ interview was published, Mr. Bolsonaro, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, tweeted “Great day!” and a thumbs-up emoticon. Supporters weighed in, many with homophobic comments.

Mr. Wyllys has been the target of death threats for years, but he said those threats had become more severe after Marielle Franco, a human rights advocate who was his friend and political ally, was assassinated.

NYTimes.com, January 25, 2019 by Shasta Darlington

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Supreme Court Revives Transgender Ban for Military Service

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the Trump administration’s request to allow it to bar most transgender people from serving in the military while cases challenging the policy make their way to the court.

Trump LGBT

The administration’s policy reversed a 2016 decision by the Obama administration to open the military to transgender service members. It generally prohibits transgender people from military service but makes exceptions for those already serving openly and those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

The vote to lift two injunctions blocking the policy issued by lower courts was 5 to 4, with the Supreme Court’s five conservative members in the majority.

Lawyers questioning the new policy said there was no need to enforce it while the cases challenging it moved forward.

“Transgender people have been serving openly in all branches of the United States military since June 2016, including on active duty in combat zones,” their brief said. “Transgender individuals have been permitted to enlist in the military since January 2018.”

“The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness or lethality,” the brief said.

In granting stays of injunctions issued by Federal District Court judges in California and Washington State, the justices in the majority may have been influenced by the complaint by the administration that lower courts have been able to frustrate its policies by the issuance of injunctions applying to the entire country.

“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco wrote. “Unfortunately, this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”

“Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine,” he wrote. “In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration and domestic issues.”

New York Times, January 22, 2019 by Adam Liptak

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Non-gender specific birth certificates to be used for same-sex couples in Ireland

The current options of ‘Mother’ or Father’ pose problems for same-sex couples

birth certificate

Same-sex couples who are parents in Ireland will be able to list themselves as ‘parent’ on their child’s birth certificate.

This amendment to the law is designed to accommodate to same-sex couples, allowing both partners to register on their child’s birth certificate.

Under the current system, birth certificates only include the categories ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’.

Birth certificates for donor-assisted children born to same-sex couples currently only allow one mother to be listed.

‘Introduced as soon as possible’

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said that allowing to the option of ‘parent’ would resolve such issues, saying implementing the bill would be prioritized.

‘While the changes proposed will affect a relatively small number of people, they touch on matters that are very sensitive and of great importance to those families affected,’ Doherty said.

‘I have met with and spoken to many affected by this issue and I am now very pleased to be able to bring these changes forward as a priority to ensure that they can be introduced as soon as possible.’

The case had been raised in the Dáil (the Lower House of the Irish parliament) last year, according to TheJournal.ie.

Politician Richard Boyd Barrett said that a pregnant woman had contacted him with concerns about her wife not being able to register on their child’s birth certificate.

The completed bill will go before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the spring.

GayStarNews.com by Calum Stuart, January 12, 2019

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The Justice Department OK’d My Firing in the Name of Religious Liberty


Michael J. Stern, who nearly lost his job as a federal prosecutor due to antigay bias, wonders what additional damage Trump’s “religious liberty” moves will bring.

During his tenure as Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions announced the formation of a Religious Liberty Task Force. This task force, powered by the federal government’s Department of Justice, is supposed to ensure religious liberty for all. But I know the real intent behind its creation. You see, I have been on the receiving end of DOJ’s efforts to spread religious liberty. It nearly cost me my career and pulled me into a rabbit hole of depression from which I was unsure I’d escape.   

After finishing law school in the mid-1980s, I moved back to my hometown in Michigan and was hired by a state prosecutor’s office just outside of Detroit.  I loved the work. I was prosecuting murder, rape, and child abuse cases, and I felt a sense of accomplishment in making my community safer. I was working 70-hour weeks, and I quickly rose through the ranks to the elite handful of attorneys who handled only felony trials. I had a track record of success with difficult cases, and the elected prosecutor had confidence in my work, so he often assigned me to high-profile cases that got a lot of media attention. Soon I was recruited by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit. 

I felt a beaming sense of pride when the Department of Justice offered me a job as a federal prosecutor. When I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a month before the decade rolled into 1990, I was 29, the youngest federal prosecutor in an office of more than 100 attorneys. Even in gray Detroit, I saw only blue skies ahead of me. 

Like all other newly hired federal prosecutors, until my security clearance was completed, I was allowed to work but not access classified information. A few months into the job, two FBI agents walked into my office unannounced. After introducing themselves, they informed me that they had been assigned to investigate my application for a security clearance. I could tell from the looks on their faces that something was wrong. 

One of the agents asked me if I led an “alternative lifestyle.” I knew what he meant. In that moment of panic, I weighed my options. I responded with my default setting: I told the truth. “I do not lead an ‘alternative lifestyle,’ but if you’re asking me if I’m gay, the answer to that question is yes.” 

The brief discussion that ensued was not pretty. What I remember most from the discussion were the phrases “moral standards,” “subject to blackmail,” and “possible discharge.” I assured the FBI agents that I was not subject to blackmail.  My close family and friends knew that I was gay, and if I had to, I would be willing to come out more publicly to foreclose any possibility that being gay would subject me to blackmail. But that did not work. Although the agents were polite and professional, they made clear that a gay man did not meet the DOJ’s moral standards. When I asked if my job was in jeopardy, they answered yes. 

By Michael Stern, Advocate.com, January 7, 2019

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U.S. appeals court hands win to Trump on transgender military ban


In a legal victory for U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, a federal appeals court on Friday threw out a lower court ruling that blocked a policy barring certain transgender people from serving in the U.S. armed forces, which the government said is important for military readiness.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a decision by a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to block the Trump policy because it likely violates the constitutional rights of transgender recruits and service members.

AOL.com, January 4, 2019 – by Lawrence Hurley

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UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

compassionate surrogacy

Today the clock also starts ticking on the six month window during which existing single parents through surrogacy can apply for a parental order retrospectively. The window will close on 2 July 2019, with applications beyond that possible but more complicated. If you are a single parent of a child born through surrogacy and would like more information about whether and how to make an application then contact us by emailing hello@ngalaw.co.uk or calling 0203 701 5915.

To mark today’s law change, we wanted to reflect on our campaigning journey of the last ten years. It all started in 2008 when, as part of making UK fertility law more inclusive, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2008 proposed broadening who could apply for a parental order from just married couples to married, unmarried and same-sex couples. Single parents remained excluded so, through her work as part of a stakeholders’ group supporting progressive reform, NGA Law founder Natalie Gamble proposed and drafted an amendment to the Bill which would have included single parents too. Her amendment was tabled by Dr Evan Harris MP when the Bill was in Committee, but not pursued when it became clear the government did not support it. On behalf of the government Dawn Primarolo MP said:

Surrogacy is such a sensitive issue, fraught with potential complications such as the surrogate mother being entitled to change her mind and decide to keep her baby, that the 1990 Act quite specifically limits parental orders to married couples where the gametes of at least one of them are used. That recognises the magnitude of a situation in which a person becomes pregnant with the express intention of handing the child over to someone else, and the responsibility that that places on the people who will receive the child. There is an argument, which the Government have acknowledged in the Bill, that such a responsibility is likely to be better handled by a couple than a single man or woman.

There was no evidence basis for such a statement, but it was clear that discrimination against single parents was government policy rather than oversight.

At both NGA Law and Brilliant Beginnings we continued to help single parents through surrogacy as we have always done. The lack of availability of parental orders hasn’t stopped single mums and dads having children through surrogacy. It has, however, made things harder and restricted the legal recognition of their families. All but two of the single parents we have worked with have had to go overseas to find a surrogate and almost all have then lived under the radar, without parental responsibility and with their surrogate remaining their child’s legal mother in the U.K., hoping that no one would ever question their authority to parent. We have shared their frustration about how unfair and discriminatory the law was.

By Natalie Gamble, NGA Blog, January 3, 2019

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Gay Couples Rush to Wed Before Brazil’s New President Takes Office

Just hours after Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election in a landslide victory for conservatives, Carolina Zannata and her girlfriend called the closest public notary and set a date for their wedding.

Gay marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, and Ms. Zannata said she and Aline Foguel had not been in a hurry to wed. But the triumph of Mr. Bolsonaro — a far-right politician who once declared “I’m homophobic, with pride” — changed their calculations.

Brazil Gay

“We got scared,” said Ms. Zannata. “We need to take advantage of our hard-won rights because we might not have them afterward.”

On Jan. 1, Mr. Bolsonaro will be sworn into office, and high on his agenda is making good on his campaign pledge to defend “the true meaning of matrimony as a union between man and woman.”

Once president, he will have the power to act on his promise. His party will also become the second-largest force in the lower house, thanks to an outpouring of support at the ballot box in October.

Legal experts say that the Supreme Court would almost certainly strike down legislation that reversed the legalization of same-sex marriage, but it is not clear how long the process could take.

“There could be attempts to make same-sex marriage illegal, but the Constitution will prevail,” said José Fernando Simão, a professor of civil rights and family law at the University of São Paulo. “It’s natural for there to be concern. This is a community that has been ultra-marginalized in the past.”

And so, in early December, Ms. Zannata and Ms. Foguel gathered friends and family for a simple wedding ceremony at the notary’s office, followed by a festive lunch. They joined a wave of same-sex couples rushing to the altar out of love, but also fear or in defiance of what the incoming government might do.

Four of the five ceremonies at the notary’s office that Saturday morning were same-sex marriages.

According to the notary association Arpen, the number of same-sex marriages across Brazil surged 66 percent in November. In São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, there were 57 same-sex weddings in just the first 10 days of December, compared with 113 for whole month of December 2017.

By Shasta Darlington, New York Times, December 29, 2018

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