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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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Photo by Vitalis Hirschmann from Unsplash.com

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.

Lifestyle & Culture

Common whales to see depending on the season

While many people think of whale watching as a seasonal activity reserved for warmer months, interesting and impressive species of whales can be seen in San Diego all year. If you are planning a trip, you should consider which species you would most like to see and book a tour during for when those species are most common.

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While many people think of whale watching as a seasonal activity reserved for warmer months, interesting and impressive species of whales can be seen in San Diego all year. If you are planning a trip, you should consider which species you would most like to see and book a tour during for when those species are most common.

Of course, some species are easier to spot than others. Those looking for the best humpback whale watching San Diego has to offer can find themselves satisfied all year. Blue whales, on the other hand, only migrate through San Diego from April to September.

All Year

Humpback whales are visible in San Diego all year round. Humpbacks are extremely popular with older tourists and children alike for their distinctive appearance. Dolphins are also common throughout the year, and what these brilliant creatures lack in size, they easily make up for in presentation. Dolphin pods love to breach the surface of the water, seemingly for the pure joy of doing flips and rolls for dazzled onlookers.

Summer

Summer is an excellent time for a San Diego whale watching tour. The peak season for blue whales, the largest creatures to have ever lived, is in June, so most times from May until August are good for blue whale sightings. Fin whales, the second largest species of whale, as well as minke whales are also most abundant during summer months. While you may have seen these species on nature documentaries, they have to be seen to be experienced properly. In person, you will be awed by their sheer size and power.

Fall

Humpback whales and rare species dominate fall months in San Diego. Though killer whales travel widely, their migrations take them through San Diego in late fall. Of course, there is plenty of other wildlife in the bay during fall, from seals to seabirds, and some tours have even spotted sharks swimming alongside whale watching vessels.

Winter

The gray whale, a species named for its coloration, is at its peak season in winter. Gray whales love to spout pillars of water into the air, and are highly social animals that often travel together with other cetaceans. February is known as one of the best months for a whale watching tour, as this is when an extremely high volume of gray whales pass through San Diego each year.

Spring

April is generally recognized as the last month for gray whale sightings. While various species can be spotted in early spring, the first blue whale sightings normally begin around May. Dolphin activity tends to ramp up in spring, resulting in awesome photos of playful pods and megapods.

If you are planning a trip to the San Diego area, you can find marine wildlife worth visiting throughout the year. Whether you’re booking a family whale watching tour, or you want to have your wedding reception on a boat San Diego waters have something for you.

Remember that, while no tour at any time of the year can guarantee that you will spot a specific type of whale, you are almost certain to see something interesting or learn something you didn’t know before when you book with a good company.

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Trump-appointed judges void Florida bans on conversion therapy for children

Two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity were declared as unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

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Image by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni from Unsplash.com

Two south Florida laws that banned therapists from offering conversion therapy to children struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity were declared as unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

In the case – Otto et al v City of Boca Raton, Florida et al, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 19-10604 – the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided (in a 2-1 decision) with two therapists who said the laws in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County violated their free speech rights.

American Republican President Donald Trump – the loser in the country’s latest presidential election, and who refuses to concede – appointed the two judges who supported conversion therapy.

According to Circuit Judge Britt Grant, the laws “allow speech that many find concerning – even dangerous,” but the First Amendment “does not allow communities to determine how their neighbors may be counseled about matters of sexual orientation or gender.”

The therapists in the case, Robert Otto and Julie Hamilton, said their clients had “sincerely held religious beliefs conflicting with homosexuality,” and they sought counseling to conform their identities and behaviors with those beliefs.

A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law noted that 20 American states and Washington, D.C. already ban licensed healthcare professionals from conducting conversion therapy on children. The practice – which aims to change people’s sexual orientations or gender identities – stigmatizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and is linked to depression, anxiety and suicide.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also opposes conversion therapy, since the practice often assumes that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

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Italy eyes to make violence against LGBT people a hate crime

A bill eyeing to criminalize violence against LGBT people was approved in Italy’s lower house of parliament. It now needs final approval from upper house before becoming law.

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Image source: Pexels.com

A bill eyeing to criminalize violence against LGBT people was approved in Italy’s lower house of parliament. It now needs final approval from upper house before becoming law.

Italy’s lower house of parliament passed an anti-discrimination bill that makes violence committed against LGBT people and disabled people a hate crime. The bill actually modifies an existing law punishing racist violence, hatred and discrimination; with people convicted of such crimes facing up to four years in jail.

Approved by 265 votes to 193, with one abstention, the legislation now needs final approval from the upper house, where it is backed by the ruling coalition parties.

The bill actually only originally focused on tackling offenses involving homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. But it was eventually expanded to also offer protections to people with disability.

The bill did not exactly pass without opposition, particularly from right-wing parties, conservative groups and the Italian Catholic Church. Among the contentious elements was the bill’s proposal to observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May every year, with initiatives and ceremonies in Italian schools.

As reported by Arcigay, one of the biggest LGBTQIA organizations in Italy, there are more than 100 hate crime and discrimination cases reported in the country each year. But over the last 25 years, numerous attempts to create a law to punish acts of homophobia and transphobia have failed.

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Nevada becomes first US state to constitutionally protect same-sex marriage

Along with choosing the new US president, Nevada’s voters were also asked if they were willing to remove the decade-long same-sex marriage ban from the state’s constitution.

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Photo by Juliana Malta from Unsplash.com

Nevada’s voters have decided to amend its state constitution to include the right to same-sex marriage.

Along with choosing the new US president, Nevada’s voters were also asked if they were willing to remove the decade-long same-sex marriage ban from the state’s constitution.

In 2015, the US Supreme Court overturned same-sex marriage bans in the entire country. However, similar provisions still remained in the constitutions of 30 states.

With this development in Nevada, voters made it the nation’s first state to overturn a ban.

This means that same-sex marriage will remain state law even if a future US Supreme Court overturns its 2015 decision legalizing it throughout the country.

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5 Essential LGBT travel tips

While many global communities now support LGBT travelers, some places are lagging behind. It’s important to know the culture of the country you’re traveling to avoid awkwardness or worse.

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The world may be shut down at the moment due to pandemic safety fears, but some places are still open for business. If you’re an LGBT person looking to travel in the near future, you might want to consider the travel safety tips listed below.

IMAGE SOURCE: UNSPLASH.COM

While many global communities now support LGBT travelers, some places are lagging behind. It’s important to know the culture of the country you’re traveling to avoid awkwardness or worse. 

Do your research 

Hopefully, you are living in a modern country that supports civil partnerships and LGBT rights. The world has come a long way in this respect, particularly within the last decade. However, not every country is as keen on progressive cultures, and it can still be dangerous to travel to certain places as an LGBT person or couple. Do your research before traveling and make sure homosexuality is not illegal or looked on with disdain. If you need help saving for a trip abroad, check out Pigly.Com for financial advice. 

Use discretion 

The world is not always as accommodating as the place you choose to live. In some countries, same-sex affection is looked down on and could be dangerous in some cases. You need to be aware of the prevailing cultural attitudes in the place you’re visiting and behave with discretion. While you may find this unfair and want to take a stand, you need to also be aware of the risks. Taking a stand in a culture, you’re familiar with is a whole lot safer. 

Know your rights 

In the USA and certain other western countries, there are laws that protect LGBT people. Transgender people, for instance, cannot be legally asked to remove prosthetics and binders. But this is not the case everywhere. In some places, even carrying condoms can be an offense. Knowing your rights for the country you’re traveling to allows you to act within the law and stand up for yourself where possible.

Support LGBT businesses 

Traveling can be awkward at times for LGBT people. Not everywhere is welcoming and set up to provide for LGBT couples. Furthermore, some places may be actively hostile. To avoid this, support hotels, airbnbs, and hostels who encourage LGBT visitors to stay. Thankfully there are a growing number of places that cater to LGBT travelers, such as EBAB and misterb&b. LGBT friendly accommodation will also provide tips and advice on the best local places to visit and how to navigate the city for LGBT people. 

Hook up with care 

If you are traveling single, you might want to hook up on holiday. There are many apps that allow you to do this with a relative degree of care and certainty. However, you must know the risks and take extra care. In some places, the apps are monitored by authorities and can land you in trouble. There are also instances of people using the apps to rob people or take advantage of them. Take extra care when on these apps and use your best judgment.

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Cook Islands delays decision to decriminalize gay sex

Currently, it is illegal for men to have sex with men in the Cook Islands, and this is punishable by a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment. Same-sex marriage is outlawed, and civil unions are not recognized.

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Photo by Dean McQuade from Unsplash.com

Following the September 30, Wednesday, meeting of the Cook Islands Parliament, the decision to decriminalize sex between consenting same sex people was deferred for three months.

Currently, it is illegal for men to have sex with men in the Cook Islands, and this is punishable by a sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment. Same-sex marriage is outlawed, and civil unions are not recognized.

In 2019, a new draft of the Crimes Bill was considered. Had it passed, it would have decriminalized same-sexual activity.

The bill had a hard time following opposition from fundamentalist “Christians”.

The nation was actually tolerant of same-sex relationships before the arrival of foreign “Christian” missionaries.

The existing law is premised on United Kingdom’s antiquated “anti-buggery law”, imposed in countries it colonized with the prohibition of same sex relationships. UK, however, already decriminalized homosexuality in 1967, even if a handful of Commonwealth countries continue to discriminate against LGBTQIA people.

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