A Gay Couple Had To Flee Russia For The Crime Of Caring For Their Adopted Children

The gay couple, who had to leave Russia after authorities threatened to take away their 12- and 14-year-old sons, spoke with Russian-language outlet Meduza about their plight.

When Andrey Vaganov’s 12-year-old son complained of stomach pains in June, the ambulance rushed him to one of Russia’s top pediatric hospitals. The ache turned out to be nothing, but while there, the child told the hospital staff that he and his brother don’t have a mother who lives with them — they have two fathers.russia gay

The revelation that Vaganov and his partner, Evgeny Erofeyev, have been raising their adopted sons together for nearly a decade put them squarely in the crosshairs of the Russian authorities. Since then, the couple have had to flee the country with their two sons, accused of breaking Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda law” simply by letting their children know that they are married. The law, which makes teaching minors about LGBTQ issues illegal, didn’t pass until 2013, years after the children were adopted. Since then, it has been used as a weapon against the gay community in Russia more broadly, allowing for state-sanctioned harassment of activists and persecution of individuals like Vaganov and Erofeyev.

In an interview with Ivan Golunov, an investigative reporter with Meduza, an independent Russian-language news outlet, the couple explained how they became targets of Russia’s anti-gay laws. Vaganov had adopted his elder son, Denis, in 2009, and then his second, Yuri, two and a half years later. It was around that time that Vaganov met and soon married Erofeyev, a businessman like himself, in a ceremony in Denmark, which recognizes same-sex marriages.

gay russia“We never asked our children to hide anything,” Vaganov told Meduza. “This was our conscious position, explaining why is it somehow stigmatizing and so on.” But Yuri’s admission to the hospital staff was a complication — before the child left the hospital, Vaganov was told that he and his son would need to report to the police the next morning to answer some questions. The two showed up as requested to meet with an investigator and a juvenile affairs official, with Vaganov insisting that his lawyer be present.

By the time the first interview was over, what had started as a false alarm caused by Yuri eating too much had become a news story. While carrying out his questioning, Vaganov said, the investigator handling the “preinvestigation check” frequently had to step out of the room to speak with his superiors. Soon Vaganov’s phone began to ring with journalists who had learned about the situation from a Telegram channel known for publishing confidential details about Russian law enforcement’s investigations.

Buzzfeednews.com, by Hayes Brown – August 12. 2109

Click here to red the entire article.

Bulgaria Court Recognizes Gay Marriage in Landmark Case

A court in Bulgaria has ruled in favor of a same-sex couple who married in France, in a case that recognized gay marriage for the first time in the conservative country.

Bulgaria gayAustralian citizen Kristina Palma, who married Mariama Dialo of France in 2016, was initially permitted to live, work and travel in Bulgaria and the European Union on the grounds that she married an EU citizen. But Bulgaria later denied her those rights, arguing that same-sex marriage was not legal in the country.

The couple fought a two-year battle that concluded Wednesday, when the court affirmed Palma’s rights as the spouse of an EU citizen.

Their lawyer Denitsa Lyubenova said the ruling could be an important first step toward legalizing same-sex marriage in the country.

 

By Associated Press via VOANews.com, July 25, 2019

U.S. Couple Sues State Dept. Over Policy That Denied Citizenship To Their Baby

An American couple’s daughter, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, was denied citizenship. Her parents, two gay men, are suing for discrimination.

This summer, James Derek Mize and his husband, Jonathan Gregg, celebrated their daughter’s first birthday at home in Atlanta with a party that coincided with WorldPride. Dressed in a rainbow outfit, the birthday girl, Simone, did what toddlers are bound to do: Took a fleeting glance at her presents and instead found delight in her favorite “toy,” an outdoor water hose.

denied citizenship

It was a memorable day for the parents. It was also a respite from the looming reality that Simone, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, would soon be at risk of being removed from the country that is her home.

“I try not to think about ICE coming to our door and deporting our baby,” Mr. Mize said in an interview last week. “That is a pretty hard thing to think about.”

On Tuesday, the couple filed a discrimination lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the department’s decision to deny citizenship to Simone, even though both Mr. Mize and Mr. Gregg are American.

Their case, highlighted in a New York Times article in May, has drawn renewed attention to a State Department policy for children born abroad through assisted reproductive technology, which has come under scrutiny in recent months for its effect on same-sex couples. In June, nearly 100 Democratic members of Congress called on Mr. Pompeo to reverse the policy, which they called “cruel” and “deeply disturbing.”

Mr. Mize was born and raised in the United States. Mr. Gregg was born in Britain to an American mother, making him an American citizen as well. The couple, who married in 2015 in the United States, decided to start a family with the help of a close British friend, who offered to be their surrogate. Simone was born in Britain last year, using a donor egg and the sperm of her British-born father.

But when the family returned to their home in the Atlanta area and later applied for Simone’s American passport, she was denied citizenship.

The family was subject to a State Department policy that places an emphasis on biology when considering citizenship at birth. If the source of the sperm and egg do not match her married parents, the case can be treated as “out of wedlock,” which comes with a higher bar to citizenship.

In their case, Mr. Gregg, who moved to the United States to be with his husband, did not meet a five-year residency requirement. His lawyers say that requirement would not have applied if the case had rightfully been treated as in wedlock.

nytimes.com. July 23, 2019 by Sarah Mervoch

Click here to read the entire article.

Indian high court dismisses plea for gay marriage

The Indian High Court in Dehli has turned down a plea urging it recognize equal marriage, or gay marriage, and other LGBT+ rights in India.

The court had been asked to amend the Hindu Marriage Act and other family laws in order to usher in Indian gay marriage and adoption rights, The Statesman reported on Monday (July 8).Dutee Chand

Tajinder Singh, the petitioner, argued “the constitution treats everyone equally without any discrimination. It is the duty of the state to ensure that no one should be discriminated.”

Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Harishankar turned down the request, arguing that the court was not in the business of drafting laws.

Singh had also asked that the court form a committee to look into LGBT+ rights.

In its ruling, the court said that while it would not do this, the government is free to form such a body.

“It is incumbent upon the legislature and not the court to recognise the familial relations of LGBTQ community,” the court said, according to Live Law correspondent Karan Tripathi.

Gay sex decriminalised in India

Gay sex was decriminalised by India’s Supreme Court in September 2018.

Under a colonial-era law, men, women or non-binary people who had same-sex relations faced up to life in prison.

PinkNews.co,uk bu Reiss Smith, July 8, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Ecuador’s Highest Court Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Ecuador’s highest court authorized same-sex marriage Wednesday in a landmark case seeking to expand LGBT rights in the small South American nation.

The decision by Ecuador’s highest Court came after a lengthy legal battle waged by several couples and gay rights advocates.Ecuador's highest court

With the 5-to-4 ruling, Ecuador joins a handful of Latin American nations — Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Uruguay — that have legalized same-sex marriage either through judicial rulings, or less frequently, legislative action.

Plaintiff Efraín Soria told The Associated Press that he would immediately begin planning a wedding with his partner, Xavier Benalcázar, whom he met years ago and has been in a civil union since 2012.

Same-sex unions have been legal in Ecuador for a decade but civil partners enjoy fewer rights than married couples when it comes to inheritance and estate laws. In the ruling, the justices instructed congress to pass legislation ensuring equal treatment for all under the country’s marriage law.

The ruling is “a joy for our entire community and Ecuador,” said Soria, who is also president of the Ecuadorian Equality Foundation, an LGBT rights group.

A decision by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights affirming that countries should allow same-sex couples the right to marry paved the way for the case.

NYTimes.com by Associated Press, June 12, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Botswana’s High Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex

Botswana’s High Court ruled on Tuesday to overturn colonial-era laws that criminalized homosexuality, a decision hailed by activists as a significant step for gay rights on the African continent.

“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,” Botswana’s High Court Judge Michael Leburu said as he delivered the judgment, adding that laws that banned gay sex were “discriminatory.”Botswana's high court

Three judges voted unanimously to revoke the laws, which they said conflicted with Botswana’s Constitution.

“Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement,” Judge Leburu added. “It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”

The small courtroom in Gaborone, the capital, was packed with activists on Tuesday, some draped in the rainbow flag of the L.G.B.T. movement.

“It is a historical moment for us,” said Matlhogonolo Samsam, a spokeswoman for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, a gay rights group. “We are proud of our justice system for seeing the need to safeguard the rights of the L.G.B.T. community.”

“We still can’t believe what has happened,” Anna Mmolai-Chalmers, the chief executive of the gay rights group, said as celebrations began outside the courtroom. “We’ve been fighting for so long, and within three hours your life changes.”

The laws had been challenged by an anonymous gay applicant, identified in court papers only as L.M. In a written statement, read by lawyers in the courtroom, the applicant said: “We are not looking for people to agree with homosexuality but to be tolerant.”

Homosexuality has been illegal in Botswana since the late 1800s, when the territory, then known as Bechuanaland, was under British rule. Section 164 of the country’s penal code outlaws “unnatural offenses,” defined as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.”

NYTimes.com by Kimon de Greef, June 11, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Russia: Chechnya Gay Purge Responders Threatened

Reports of Forced Entry, Death Threats for Chechnya Gay Supporters

Russian authorities should urgently and effectively investigate the break-in at the home of an LGBT rights activist and the death threats he and his colleagues have received, Human Rights Watch said today.chechnya gay

Russian LGBT Network, a national nongovernmental group that has coordinated the evacuation of dozens of gay and bisexual men from Chechnya since 2017, has reported that unidentified assailants forced their way into one of its volunteers’ home on May 17, 2019 and threatened him and other staff with physical violence and murder. 

“Russian LGBT Network has been a vital resource for gay men escaping the brutality of the Chechnya purge,” said Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. “The Russian government, which has dragged its feet on investigating what’s going on in Chechnya, needs to put a stop to attacks on people who are providing life-saving services to the victims.”

From February to April 2017, police in Chechnya rounded up men they suspected of being gay, held them in secret locations for days or even weeks, and tortured, humiliated, and starved them, forcing them to hand over information about other men who might be gay. The attackers returned most of the men to their families, exposing their sexual orientation and indirectly encouraging their relatives to carry out “honor killings.”

Despite a sharp international outcry and Russian authorities’ repeated promises to investigate the 2017 crackdown, the government has taken no effective action. In early 2019, police in Chechnya carried out a new round of unlawful detentions, beatings, and humiliation of men they presume to be gay or bisexual.

The Russian LGBT Network reported that seven men broke into the St. Petersburg apartment of one of their volunteers on May 17. The men, whom the volunteer did not recognize, searched the apartment and threatened to beat and kill the volunteer. They said they were looking for Russian LGBT Network’s emergency program coordinator, David Isteev, and a Chechen woman who recently fled fearing persecution because of her presumed sexual orientation. Some of the attackers implied that they were police officers but refused to show identification.

HRW.org, May 28, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Sprinter Dutee Chand Becomes India’s First Openly Gay Athlete

A champion sprinter, Dutee Chand, with village roots has become India’s first openly gay professional athlete, less than a year after the country’s top court overturned a longstanding ban on gay sex.

A member of India’s national track and field team, Dutee Chand, 23, was previously known for fighting for the right to race against other women. She has hyperandrogenism, a condition that naturally produces high testosterone levels, and which in 2014 prompted the sport’s governing body to ban her from competition. The decision was reversed a year later after she challenged it in court.Dutee Chand

On Sunday, Dutee Chand was quoted by an Indian newspaper as saying that she was in a same-sex relationship with a woman from her rural village in eastern India. She said she was inspired to go public after September’s ruling by the Indian Supreme Court that unanimously struck down a colonial-era ban on consensual gay sex.

“I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love,” Ms. Chand said in an interview with The Sunday Express. “There is no greater emotion than love and it should not be denied.”

Many Indians are socially conservative, and go to great lengths to arrange marriages with the right families or castes. Countless gay people there have been shunned by their parents and persecuted by society, and few think that a same-sex marriage law is on the near horizon.

Ms. Chand said in the interview that she hoped to settle down with her partner sometime after the upcoming World Championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She declined to name her partner, saying that she did not want her to become the object of undue attention.

Dutee Chand’s announcement — which came amid news that the country’s conservative prime minister, Narendra Modi, appeared headed for re-election — prompted jubilant responses from her longtime supporters.

New York Times, May 20, 2019 by Mike Ives

Click here to read the entire article.

Case against State Department for refusing to recognize citizenship of child of binational lesbian couple goes forward

A district court said Wednesday that a case filed against the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of the son of a binational lesbian couple will go to trial, and he denied the government’s motion to dismiss it.

The case, filed by Immigration Equality, the country’s leading LGBTQ immigration rights organization, on behalf of Allison Blixt and her son Lucas Alexander Zaccari-Blixt challenged the U.S. State Department’s refusing to recognize birthright citizenship in children of lesbian parents.lgbt family planning

Blixt, who’s American, met her wife, Zaccari, a citizen of Italy, when she was on vacation in New York City. They wanted to stay together, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act (which was later struck down), Blixt could not sponsorZaccari loved for a permanent visa, so they decided to move to London. They got married and started a family, giving birth to their two boys, Lucas and Massi.

They conceived their children using their own eggs and sperm from an unknown donor.

U.S. law allows American citizens to pass citizenship onto their children, even when they are born abroad. The State Department recognized Massi as a citizen because he had been conceived and carried by Blixt; but denied his brother Lucas the same birthright, because he had been carried by his other mother.

Immigration Equality stepped in and filed a complaint with the U.S. State Department in behalf of the Zaccari-Blixt family. The lawsuit, which was filed in Jan. 2018, claimed that the policy disregarded the dignity of same-sex marriages by the birthright citizenship of the children of married same-sex couples. The State Department responded to the lawsuit by opposing the group’s demand that it acknowledge Lucas’ citizenship.

On Wednesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan decided that the case should go to trial.

“[He] didn’t rule on the merits, only that the couple had made allegations at this stage that were enough for the case to go forward. But the judge made clear that he had a problem with the real-world consequences of the State Dept’s position,” BuzzFeedNews reporter Zoe Tillman tweeted. “The govt argued the same rules would apply to an opposite-sex couple in this situation (one citizen + one non-citizen who have a kid overseas). The lawyer for the plaintiffs said the problem is this broadly affects same-sex couples (given practicalities of how they can have kids.)”

 
Click here to read the entire article.

Taiwan Legislature Approves Asia’s First Same-Sex Marriage Law

As tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the rainy streets of Taipei on Friday, lawmakers in Taiwan voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a first for Asia.

Same sex marriage in Taiwan!  “We want to marry!” supporters outside the legislature chanted in approval of the measure, as they applauded and waved signs and rainbow banners.

“On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon,” President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted after the vote. “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.

An LGBT Flag Illustration with the flag of Taiwan

The legislature faced a deadline imposed by Taiwan’s constitutional court, which in 2017 struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriageas exclusively between a man and woman. The court gave the government two years to revise the law, or same-sex couples would automatically be allowed to have their marriages registered by the local authorities.

“Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination,” Annie Huang, acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said in a statement. “This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.”

Taiwan has long been a leader of gay rights in Asia, a region where such rights have lagged, and the annual gay pride parade in Taipei is a magnet for gays and lesbians from countries where discrimination and unequal treatment is far more entrenched. In one of the harshest examples in the region, Brunei this year put into effect new laws that authorized executions by stoning for gay sex and adultery, although the country’s leader said it would maintain a de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

Ms. Tsai, who took office in 2016, said during her campaign that she supported same-sex marriage, and her left-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which took control of the legislature for the first time that year, also generally favors such legislation.

But momentum for a same-sex marriage law had stalled as opponents, including some church and conservative groups, campaigned against the mandated changes. Voters overwhelmingly opposed same-sex marriage in referendums last year, and politicians have been slow to move forward out of fears of being punished in next year’s general election.

That left the government facing a May 24 deadline. Several gay couples said they planned to get married on that day, regardless of whether the legislature acts.

NYTimes,com, May 17, 2019 by Austin Ramzey

Click here to read the entire article.