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Swiss parliament backs marriage equality, and giving lesbians access to sperm

Switzerland’s parliament voted in favor of gay marriage and allowing lesbian couples to have access to sperm donations.

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A win for the LGBTQIA community.

Switzerland’s parliament voted in favor of gay marriage and allowing lesbian couples to have access to sperm donations.

In total, 132 parliamentarians voted in favor of the proposal with 52 voting against it.

Two major political parties voted against allowing lesbians access to sperm – i.e. Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) and the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland (PDC/CVP), both known for being conservative. The former party was against marriage equality and allowing lesbians access to sperm donations, citing as an excuse the need for would-be children to have a relationship with their fathers. But the latter party was, in fact, supportive of marriage equality even if it wanted the provision on sperm donations removed.

The Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house, has not yet voted on the proposal.

In a Swiss referendum in February, voters strongly backed a new law against homophobia in a referendum. Over 60% voted in favor of widening existing laws against discrimination of incitement to hatred on ethnic or religious grounds to include sexual orientation. The highest approval rate was in Geneva with 76.3%; with the rural cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Schwyz and Uri voting against.

This newer proposal may also eventually be put to Swiss voters in the form of a referendum.

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Norway to prioritize LGBT refugees

Norway will be prioritizing refugees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This move is said to be in recognition of the persecution experienced by LGBT refugees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

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Norway will be prioritizing refugees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). This move is said to be in recognition of the persecution experienced by LGBT refugees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

This will be the first time that members of this community will be given priority both as a group and individuals when Norway selects for transfers. But the new rules will only apply for the transfer of refugees from one asylum country to another for permanent resettlement.

Under Norway’s previous guidelines, vulnerable women and children were given priority.

According to State Secretary for Integration Affairs in the Ministry of Education, Grunde Kreek Almeland: “It is unfortunately the case that in many countries it is not the case that you are free to love whoever you want. In almost 70 countries, homosexuality is criminal and those who violate norms of gender and sexuality can be subjected to persecution and discrimination in their home country.”

And so “we are now changing the guidelines for the work with transfer refugees so that people who are queer should be given priority.”

Migrant refugees are persons who are normally registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It is UN that promotes the applications for the resettlement refugees, and the UDI decides which of them is allowed to come to Norway. In 2020, the Norway decided that the quota for resettlement refugees will be 3,000 people.

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Sudan lifts death penalty and flogging for gay sex

Sudan has lifted the death penalty and flogging as punishment for gay sex after approximately four decades of hardline Islamist rule. This much-needed development follows the toppling last year of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, with the new government pledging to lead the country to democracy.

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Small step; though one that’s long time coming.

Sudan has lifted the death penalty and flogging as punishment for gay sex after approximately four decades of hardline Islamist rule. This much-needed development follows the toppling last year of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, with the new government pledging to lead the country to democracy.

Same-sex relations remain criminalized in many arts of Africa and the Middle East. Sudan was one of six countries – aside from Iran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia – that imposed the death penalty for gay sex.

Under Sudan’s old “anti-sodomy law”, gay men faced 100 lashes for the first offense, five years in jail for the second, and the death penalty the third. But the punishments have been reduced to prison terms from five years to life.

The legal amendment re gay sex was part of other reforms announced by the Sudanese justice minister, which also included plans to decriminalize apostasy or the abandonment of a religion; permitting non-Muslims to consume alcohol; banning female genital mutilation; and allowing women to travel with their children without a permit from a male relative.

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Malaysian minister advocates for trans people to be arrested and re-educated

In Malaysia, the Religious Affairs Minister caused a stir after he gave “full license” to Islamic authorities to arrest and “educate” transgender people. Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced via Facebook that he’d given the country’s religious police, a.k.a. called JAWI, “full licen(s)e to carry out its enforcement actions” against transgender people.

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Religious extremists in positions of power?

In Malaysia, the Religious Affairs Minister caused a stir after he gave “full license” to Islamic authorities to arrest and “educate” transgender people. Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced via Facebook that he’d given the country’s religious police, a.k.a. called JAWI, “full licen(s)e to carry out its enforcement actions” against transgender people.

He similarly said that the authorities should subject transgender people to “religious education” in a bid to “return them to the right path”.

“Islam is a religion that wants to educate,” the Facebook post stated. “We will work towards coordinated efforts from all agencies under the religious affairs wing in the prime minister’s department.”

Local LGBTQIA organizations are, rightfully, calling out the minister’s hateful stance.

For instance, in a statement, SEED Malaysia stated that the minister’s bigoted comments would “fuel hatred” against the country’s transgender community. “The transgender community in Malaysia already face continued persecution by the state and broader society… The statement by Dr. Zulkifli and the threat of arrest will drive the transgender community further into hiding. This will deteriorate the communities’ access to basic rights even more.”

This is worth noting: Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, and it forbids homosexuality under its Islamic laws. The country’s secular laws also criminalize gay sex.

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Netherlands to remove gender from identity cards

By 2024 or 2025, gender identity will no longer be contained in Dutch national identity cards. This move is expected to counter-check the potential harms caused by gender declaration – e.g. harassment, discrimination and violence – particularly when there is no justification to publish a person’s legal gender at all.

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By 2024 or 2025, gender identity will no longer be contained in Dutch national identity cards.

This after the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, announced the decision in a letter to the House of Representatives. This move is actually part of a broader plan from the Ministry, which also includes limiting “unnecessary gender registration”.

This move is expected to counter-check the potential harms caused by gender declaration – e.g. harassment, discrimination and violence – particularly when there is no justification to publish a person’s legal gender at all.

Gender identity will, however, remain on Dutch passports due to European Union regulation.

The removal of information that used to be deemed “important” from IDs is not actually new.

Various countries, for instance, already exclude personal characteristics, such as race, religion or marital status, which could cause more harm than good.

The Netherlands is not the first EU country to do this. In 2013, Germany recognized indeterminate sex by permitting babies born with no clear gender-determining anatomy to be put on the birth register without a male or female classification.

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Thailand could become first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex civil partnerships

Thailand’s Cabinet approved a draft bill that will legally recognize same-sex civil partnerships while giving greater rights to same-sex couples. If/when passed into law, this could be the first for any nation in Southeast Asia; and the second in Asia to allow for the registration of same-sex unions after Taiwan legalized marriage equality in 2019.

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The rainbow rises in Thailand.

Thailand’s Cabinet approved a draft bill that will legally recognize same-sex civil partnerships while giving greater rights to same-sex couples. If/when passed into law, this could be the first for any nation in Southeast Asia; and the second in Asia to allow for the registration of same-sex unions after Taiwan legalized marriage equality in 2019.

This is a major step, but to clarify, it doesn’t endorse same-sex “marriage(EMPHASIS OURS). Instead, the Civil Partnership Bill allows same-sex couples to legally register their union.

The draft bill defines “civil partners” as “couples born with the same sex”. To register, couples must be at least 17 years old and at least one of the pair must be a Thai citizen; meaning that – similar to Taiwan’s law on this – foreign same-sex couples will not be able register their partnership in Thailand.

Those under the age of 17 must get permission from their parents/legal guardian.

Under the draft bill, same-sex couples will be allowed to adopt children, claim inheritance rights, and jointly manage assets such as property for the first time. However, partners would not be entitled to the same financial benefits that heterosexual couples get from the state.

The bill also covers rules for separations – e.g. unions could be ended by death, voluntary separation or court order.

While the Cabinet’s approval is a major development, process-wise, this is far from over as the draft bill still needs to go through a public hearing and then the House of Representatives (HOR) will debate and vote on it. If HOR passes the bill, it will then will go to the Senate for another vote.

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City in Massachusetts officially recognizes polyamorous relationships

The city of Somerville in Massachusetts in the US passed an ordinance that officially recognizes polyamorous relationships by no longer limiting the number of people included in domestic partnerships.

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#LoveisLove

The city of Somerville in Massachusetts in the US passed an ordinance that officially recognizes polyamorous relationships by no longer limiting the number of people included in domestic partnerships.

With this, Somerville becomes one of the first cities in the US to officially recognize polyamorous relationships.

This move was actually a result of a few subtle language shifts – e.g. instead of defining a relationship as an “entity formed by two persons,” the ordinance now defines it as an “entity formed by people”; replaces “he and she” with “they”; and replaces “both” with “all.”

The City Council passed the ordinance on June 25; and on June 29, Mayor Joe Curtatone signed it into municipal law.

Polyamory is usually defined as the practice of having multiple consensual intimate relationships, and is often described as consensual non-monogamy. Relationships can be sexual or romantic, and are not gender-specific. Polyamorous relationships are diverse and can look different depending on the family. Sometimes it means having a primary relationship and seeking casual intimacy, and sometimes it means involving a third or fourth (and so on) person in building a family structure.

Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels.com

This is important: It is illegal in all 50 American states to be married to more than one person, which is known as polygamy, not polyamory. Polygamy is tied to marriage (and is also gendered); and does not reference romance, intimacy or even consent.

Polyamory, meanwhile, refers to different kinds of arrangements — e.g. when a married couple has regular outside partners. Prior to this ordinance, there was no legal framework in Somerville for polyamorous families to share finances, custody of children or the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.

Somerville is now in the process of changing the application to include space for more than two partners.

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