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3 hours ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 1 reply · +2 points

California: State Assembly Passes Bill to Ban “Conversion Therapy” for Adults

California could make history as first in the nation to protect both children and adults from abusive, ineffective efforts by labeling them "consumer fraud." Legislation to ban efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, sometimes called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,” passed in the California Assembly this morning, 19 April 2018, with a bipartisan vote of 50-14.

AB 2943 would make clear in California law that claiming to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a fraudulent business practice that misleads consumers and exposes LGBTQ people to damaging psychological abuse. The bill previously passed the Assembly Privacy Committee 8-2 and the Assembly Judiciary Committee 8-1, each time with bipartisan support.

“The pain and fear suffered by those who have been subjected to conversion therapy is something that I can personally identify with,” said Assembly member Evan Low (D-San Jose), author of AB 2943. “This legislation finally creates accountability for those who claim to provide therapy but are in fact peddling an unfounded and destructive practice.”

AB 2943 is co-authored by the seven other members of California’s Legislative LGBT Caucus and supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the California Medical Association, the California Psychological Association, and Consumer Attorneys of California, among others. Recently, a group of national organizations representing tens of thousands of licensed medical and mental health care professionals, educators, and advocates released a declaration reaffirming the impropriety and dangers of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.

In 2012, the California Legislature acted decisively to ban the use of “sexual orientation change efforts” on California minors (SB 1172 – Lieu, 2012), also sponsored by Equality California, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. Since two federal court challenges to SB 1172 failed, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the law’s constitutionality, nine other states, the District of Columbia, and at least 32 municipalities have banned this practice for minors, reaffirming a growing consensus that this practice is as harmful as it is ineffective.

April 19, 2018 at 10:31 am

8 hours ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +3 points

The DOJ Just Lost A Major Sanctuary City Case

On 19 April 2018, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling, thereby preventing the Trump administration from denying grant funds to sanctuary cities nationwide. The federal appeals court ruled that local governments nationwide do not need to provide certain types of help to federal immigration authorities in order to get millions of dollars in federal grants.

The ruling is a blow to A-G Sessions and the Justice Department, which had attempted to coerce so-called sanctuary jurisdictions into helping the Trump administration's immigration agenda. In September 2017, in a case brought by Chicago, a lower court had held that the Justice Department could not deny $254 million to jurisdictions that refused to notify federal authorities when an undocumented immigrant was in their custody and to hold the inmate in jail. The Trump administration had sought to limit that earlier decision only to Chicago.

But in a 2–1 ruling from the appeals court panel, the judges said, “The district court did not err in determining that the City established a likelihood of success on the merits of its contention that the Attorney-General lacked the authority to impose the notice and access conditions on receipt of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG grants), and did not abuse its discretion in granting the nationwide preliminary injunction in this case.”

In a majority opinion for the court, Judge Ilana Rovner wrote that any harms to Sessions from the injunction "is minimized because the Attorney-General can distribute the funds without mandating the conditions — as has been done for over a decade — and nothing in the injunction prevents any state or local government from coordinating its local law enforcement with the federal authorities." Chicago, she added, had "demonstrated a likelihood of success on the claim that the Attorney-General lacked any Constitutional authority to impose the conditions upon the grant recipients, and therefore that the actions violated the separation of powers principles."

10 hours ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +5 points

United Kingdom: Major Government Fund to Help End Anti-Gay Laws in Commonwealth Countries

According to an announcement made today, 19 April 2018, the UK is to spend more than £5m lobbying Commonwealth countries to drop their anti-gay laws. Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the plan at a gathering of LGBT activists in parliament during the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in London. 

36 of 53 member states still criminalize being gay, with an estimated 100 million LGBT people directly affected. Echoing a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week, Ms Rudd condemned Britain’s history of exporting discriminatory laws to former colonies and called for the UK to support a change in attitudes.

12 hours ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +3 points

Cuba: Castro Era Officially Ends

Today, 19 April 2018, Miguel Díaz-Canel became Cuba's president, as Raúl Castro stepped down, giving Cuba a new president, and for the first time in 59 years, one whose surname is not Castro. Miguel Díaz-Canel officially became president this morning after Raúl Castro, 86, officially stepped down and Díaz-Canel was confirmed by the National Assembly.

The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, the most powerful governing body on the island. But his departure from the presidency represents a symbolic shift in a leadership of octogenarians. Díaz-Canel, who has served as Cuba's first vice-president since 2013, turns 58 on Friday. The transition is an effort to guarantee that new leaders can maintain power in the communist-run government. But Díaz-Canel faces challenges ahead, primarily economic stagnation and a younger generation's disenchantment with their limited opportunities.�%a...

1 day ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +7 points

Former Miss America Marries Girlfriend in Alabama

On Saturday, 14 April 2018, the former Miss America winner, Deidre Downs Gunn, married her same-sex partner, Abbott Jones, at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama in front of 200 guests.

After winning the Miss America title in 2004, Downs Gunn enrolled at the University of Alabama (UAB) School of Medicine, where she studied obstetrics. Now 37, she works as obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Downs Gunn was previously married to Andrew Gunn, with whom she has an eight-year-old son.

Jones is an attorney and writer. The couple first met on-line in February 2017.

1 day ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +4 points

Cayman Islands: Legal Challenge to Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Per LGBT Marriage News and Rex Wockner:

Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush both hold British citizenship (but only one of whom can claim to be a "belonger"). Last Thursday,12 April 2018, they applied for the right to marry in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory. But the couple were notified on Monday, 16 April 2018, that their application had been rejected on the grounds that the Cayman Islands does not recognize same-sex marriage. Now they are set to launch a legal challenge against the Cayman Islands government. It is that rejection which the couple now plan to challenge by requesting a judicial review or by bringing an action under the Constitution. Day said that the decision will be made very soon and a legal action filed as promptly as possible.

As a British overseas territory, the Cayman Islands has its own legislative assembly but ultimately falls under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. The British government’s various laws enshrining equality for gay and transgender people do not extend there, and protections for the LGBT community are minimal: there are no anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, the age of consent is higher, and there is no right to change legal gender, marry or adopt. The islands’ government only decriminalized homosexuality in 2000, and even then because the UK forced it to do so.

Day and Bodden Bush began dating after they met in the Cayman Islands in 2012. Day – a Caymanian – was born on the island, while Bodden Bush – a British citizen since 2010 – had arrived from the UK on a work permit, which is required for British citizens.

As Bodden Bush’s work permit was nearing expiration, the couple began to assess their options. With no suitable jobs available – and no way for Bodden Bush to remain as Day’s dependent – keeping the family together meant leaving the territory. Day accepted an offer from her law firm, first in Dublin and then in London, where the family have been living since 2016 with their four-year-old daughter.

Note: It is worth remarking (since other Caymanians would be aware) that although Day is the "born-here" Caymanian in this partnership, and that Bodden Bush is currently a UK citizen, Bodden, as a surname, is very distinctly Caymanian, with one of the larger localities on Grand Cayman even being named Bodden Town.

To assist Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden in their legal fight, visit their Gofundme page:

1 day ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +3 points

Couple Elihu's mild quote from the Catholic archbishop of Trinidad, together with what I just posted up above wherein which I noted the ethnic composition of nominal Roman Catholics, but with this caveat (which I myself unconsciously employed): Most Roman Catholics have long ago stopped listening to whatever the hierarchy has to say, given that their own views are far more progressive, and thus, that one normally does not count them within the population based on specific "religious" preference. Then note: most minorities listed in my above post happen to be nominally RC, that is, the Latinos, French Creoles, Syrian/Lebanese, mixed-race, and multi-race. Thus, in the broadest nominal sense, the RCs slightly out-number the secularized Hindu Indian portion of the population in a country that has no single ethnic majority.

As a result, these two disparate elements need to work together, given that there are several other elements (not mentioned) who are intransigently negative.

Note: In the Anglo Caribbean, only the ex-French islands have a large Roman Catholic population,-- plus Trinidad. While still a Spanish colony, thousands of Caribbean French citizens fleeing the effects of the French Revolution were given refuge in Trinidad. But then, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, Trinidad, much to the disgust of most of its population, became British. The British, treating Trinidad as "conquered" territory, imposed British rule upon a generally hostile, unresponsive population. That included all the homophobic laws which are still current, remembering, of course, that France legalized homosexuality in 1791, "only" 227 years ago.

2 days ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +6 points

Trinidad: Senator Calls for Debate on Gay Rights, Abortion, Marijuana

Per LGBT Marriage News:

Independent Senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir says he wants to bring motions on gay rights, abortion rights, and the decriminalizing of marijuana. He was contributing to a motion on financial autonomy for the Parliament in the Senate on Tuesday, 17 April 2018.

Having lived for an interval in Trinidad, I am sensing that ethnic politics, as always, but in a delicately-balanced manner, may well be coming into play on these matters. The large Indian community (about 40% of the total population, split 80% Hindu, 20% Muslim), particularly those of the secularized portion with Hindu background, coupled together with an assortment of minorities, namely Latinos, French Creoles, Syrian/Lebanese, Chinese, mixed-race, and multi-race, appear to be leaning in our favor, given that a fair portion in these communities can see that "the time has come." This is particularly evident among the French Creole mixed-race, given that both Martinique and Guadeloupe have had marriage equality since 2013, and legalization of homosexuality since 1791, thus (in their eyes) shaming the utter colonial "backwardness" of Trinidad, a point with which I am in accord, given that my partner is French Creole mixed-race.

Just as Latinos were the nucleus who pushed the gay rights issue in Belize, many Indians of Hindu ancestry now seem to be doing the same in Trinidad.

Note: Even for religious Hindus, the Vedas do not make any reference whatsoever to same-sex relationships, neither good, bad, nor indifferent. Thus, there is no specific religious teaching on this subject, other than the very basic, universal teaching that everyone is free to live and let live.

3 days ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +6 points

Poland: A Gay President?

Poland's existence under an anti-LGBT administration could be drawing to a close, as an openly gay presidential candidate offers up a fervent fight for leadership. Current polls indicate that one in four Poles intend to vote for the left-wing candidate, Robert Biedroń, who entered his political career as an LGBT activist. Biedroń, who is the mayor of Slupsk, a town with a population of 98,757 in northern Poland, is considered a strong contender to current President Andrzej Duda. Although the election is not set to take place until 2020, it means that the politician has a generous amount of time on his side to win nationwide support.

Competing against incumbent President Duda, who secured 33.5 percent of the vote in the poll, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who received 33 percent approval, Biedroń still has a battle on his hands. But the prospect of electing a gay atheist is a dramatic turn in the country.

At present, the right-wing Law and Justice party, led by President Duda, has a staunch anti-LGBT voting record. The politician blocked same-sex marriage legislation in 2017, stating that marriage between a man and a woman was “clearly and expressly regulated in the Constitution.” He also vetoed the Gender Accordance Act, which would have allowed trans people to legally change their gender.

4 days ago @ Equality on Trial - Open thread and news r... · 0 replies · +2 points

(Hong Kong continued)

The QT Case
QT is a British national whose same-sex partner, SS, is a dual national of South Africa and Great Britain. In May 2011, the couple entered into a civil partnership in England. The same year, SS was offered employment by a company in Hong Kong. SS applied for an employment visa with the Immigration Department and included QT as her accompanying dependant. Later, QT’s application for a dependant visa was withdrawn and SS was issued with an employment visa on 26 August 2011. QT entered Hong Kong under a visitor status.

On 25 April 2013, QT applied for an employment visa but was refused. On 29 January 2014, QT made a fresh application for a dependant visa with SS as her sponsor. This too was denied on 18 June 2014, when the Director of Immigration rejected QT’s application on the grounds that she was not a “spouse” within the meaning of the Immigration Department’s immigration policy.

QT complained that the grounds, as applied by the Director of Immigration, constituted discrimination against her on account of her sexual orientation and commenced legal proceedings for judicial review of the decision. The Department of Immigration's policy states that the spouses of sponsors who have been admitted in Hong Kong to take up employment may apply to join him/her for residence.

QT challenged the decision on the following grounds:
1. The decision was discriminatory and unjustified and, accordingly, was 'Wednesbury' unreasonable
2. The Director of Immigration misapplied the policy and the definition of spouse
3. The decision was unconstitutional because it was inconsistent with Articles 25, 39 and 41 of the Basic Law and Articles 1, 14 and 22 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.

On 11 March 2016, the HKCFI rejected all three grounds of review and dismissed QT’s application for judicial review. The judge held that marriage confers a special legal status with new legal rights and obligations which could be different from civil partnership and that under the common law a “spouse” means husband and wife of a heterosexual marriage and excludes same-sex couples. The judge also said that in the immigration context the Director of Immigration was entitled to draw a line for immigration control.

QT filed an appeal against the HKCFI’s decision. While QT conceded that Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil partnership, she contended that differential treatment based on marital status may still constitute discrimination on account of sexual orientation.

The HKCA held that the policy, as applied by the Director of Immigration, amounted to indirect discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and failed to demonstrate that the eligibility requirement was rationally connected to the avowed aim of striking the balance between administrative workability and convenience. In particular, given that the dependant visa merely allows an applicant to stay in Hong Kong, it does not have the legal effect of the Director of Immigration recognizing the validity of the union or relationship under Hong Kong law. The HKCFI’s decision was set aside.