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Costa Rica president vows to legalize same-sex marriage before court deadline

Costa Rica will legislate same-sex marriage before it becomes legally automatically in line with a Supreme Court ruling, the country’s president said. Alvarado told the Associated Press he would take action before a May 2020 court deadline. ‘We are, as a government, do everything that [same-sex marriage] is respected as a right’ he said. In August last year, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court found the Family Code, which prevents same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional. The ruling said that if there was no legislation within 18 months, same-sex marriage will automatically come into law. Alvarado in December passed legislation to afford LGBTI citizens more rights. New measures allow same-sex couples in Costa Rica the right to receive a housing allowance for low-income families. Legislation also recognizes same-sex transnational partnerships and extends the recognition of gender identity to migrants. Costa Rica also passed legislation last year which will allow trans individuals to register under their assigned gender. Long wait for equality LGBTI Costa Ricans have already become agitated at parliament’s failure to act on August’s ruling. The ruling says that ‘acts of open discrimination, whether they are expressed or implied, cannot be justified in any way in a democratic society that respects fundamental rights’. Writing the law is ‘complex’. That’s what interim president of the Constitutional Chamber, Fernando Castillo, said earlier this month. He said also said some lawmakers had not finalized their notes. What’s more, Enrique Sanchez, the country’s first openly gay legislator, has accused the chamber of purposefully delaying the law change. ...

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A school is forcing a trans male student to run as prom queen

A school in the USA is reportedly trying to remove a transgender male student from the prom king ballot. Students at Johnson High School, Georgia nominated Dex Frier as a potential prom king, according to WSB-TV. He would run as one of six nominees at prom this Saturday (23 March). But, Frier claims, last week he attended a meeting in the principal’s office. ‘They called me there to tell me I couldn’t run for prom king ’cause I wasn’t legally male,’ he told Buzzfeed. ‘The only way I was eligible to run for prom was to be put on the prom queen ballot.’ He told the new site it was ‘upsetting’ and that he felt ’suppressed’ by school officials. Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield spoke to WSB. He said the district had ‘never removed any student from any prom’. He did not want to ‘disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community’. Petitions Frier’s classmates have started an online petition. It calls for Frier to be allowed to run as prom king. What’s more, it accuses Hall County Schools of a ’transphobic attitude’. ‘We, the Johnson High School student body, elected Dex Frier to represent us as a male member on Prom Court’ the petition says. ‘Not only are we confused at this decision, but we are severely disappointed in the Hall County School Board’ it goes on to say. The petition seeks ‘solidarity in the fight for human ...

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These are the movies you need to watch to mark same-sex marriage in Taiwan

Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalize same sex unions by May 24. To mark the occasion, the region’s first online LGBTI streaming service, GagaOOLala, have chosen 24 movies on the topic. The ‘Go! Marriage Equality in Taiwan’ selection was made together with activist group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan. ‘We hope the “Go! Marriage Equality in Taiwan” topic can help members of the LGBTQ+ community who didn’t think marriage is an option’ Robby Lu of GagaOOLala told Gay Star News. It is also for those ‘who are considering but hesitant about committing to marriage find courage, support, guidance and most important of all, happiness once they’re wedded’. The 24 selected movies are free for viewers in Taiwan until May 24. Equal rights and coming out The movies are divided into six sub-categories: Equal rights, premarital coming out, wedding preparation, becoming parents, after becoming parents, and legal rights. GagaOOLala’s selection includes local and international movies. Different Path, Same Way is a documentary showing the lives of a newlywed gay couple in Hong Kong. Paternal Instinct from 2004, meanwhile, shows a gay male couple in New York who want a baby. Cambodian documentary Two Girls Against the Rain documents a captivatingly courageous lesbian couple in Cambodia who have known and loved each other since the Khmer Rouge. The list also, of course, includes Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s 1993 classic the Wedding Banquet. The award-winning feature films features a gay Taiwanese man in the US organizing a sham ...

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UN expert calls to decriminalize gay sex worldwide by 2030

The UN’s LGBT expert on Thursday (21 March) called on the world to end laws that criminalize LGBT people by 2030. ‘I don’t see why we shouldn’t ask to see a world free of criminalization by 2030’ Victor Madrigal told the International Gay and Lesbian and Transgender Association (ILGA) world conference in New Zealand. Some 70 states worldwide criminalize same-sex consensual activity, according to an ILGA report released Wednesday. ‘Decriminalisation is not getting us from zero to one: it is getting us from minus one to zero’ Madrigal said. ‘There is no room to argue for legal justification of criminalization of same-sex relations’ he also said. He fought back against some countries’ that have anti-gay laws but claim they are not implemented. He said people still used the laws to harass and threaten LGBTI people. ‘Criminalisation creates an incentive for persecution’ he argued.  He promised to engage states anti-gay laws. ‘Coalition is fundamental, not one state can do this alone’ Madrigal told the conference. More than 500 people from 100 countries have gathered for the ILGA conference. State-sponsored homophobia ILGA released the 13th edition of its report into laws that affect LGBTI people world-wide this week. It found that as of March 2019, 70 States continue to criminalize same-sex consensual activity. Six UN member states impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts. It is technically possible in another five states. This is our new map of laws affecting people on the grounds of their sexual orientation across the ...

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Japan must stop forcing trans people to be sterilized

Japan should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (20 March). The rights group released an 84-page report detailing the harm caused by Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act. According to Japan’s law, two ‘respected medical professional’ must first diagnose a trans person with ‘gender identity disorder’ before they can apply to change gender. They must also be over 20 years old, unmarried, not have any underage children. Importantly, the law forbids them to have functioning genitalia. ‘Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized’ said Kanae Doi, Japan director at HRW. The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called ‘mental illness’ and should be urgently revised.’ Medical procedures are lengthy, expensive, invasive, dangerous, and irreversible, the report says. The practice is also contrary to international human rights law and international medical best practices. What’s more, Japan’s Supreme Court recently upheld the law. ‘It is humiliating’ HRW spoke to 48 transgender people, as well as with lawyers, health providers, and academics from 14 prefectures in Japan. They painted a picture of how the law infringes on their rights. Some of the trans people included in the report said they felt forced to undergo surgery. ‘I don’t want to [have surgery], to be honest’ one transgender man told HRW. ‘I feel pressured to be operated on – so terrible.’ Another transgender man said he ...

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US Supreme Court won’t hear B&B owner’s appeal for refusing lesbian couple

The United States Supreme Court decided on Monday (18 March) they would not hear an appeal from the discriminatory bed and breakfast owner from Hawaii who turned a lesbian couple away. In 2007, Aloha Bed & Breakfast owner Phyllis Young refused to allow a lesbian couple to stay at her establishment due to her Christian beliefs. The refusal happened when couple Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford from Southern California requested only one bed. They had traveled to Honolulu to visit a friend. They further said the experience at the bed and breakfast ‘soured’ their trip. ‘In my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly. It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren’t good enough,’ Cervelli said. She is no longer with Bufford. The couple sued and several years later, in 2013, Hawaii’s First Circuit Court found in favor of them. The court’s judge ruled Young violated the state’s public accommodations law. This law disallows businesses from discriminating against clients on the basis of their sexual orientation, race, and gender identity. Last year, another court delivered a blow to Young. Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling against her. Young argued the state of Hawaii did not give her proper notice that her business fell under the public accommodations law. She then appealed to the Supreme Court. Religion is not a right to discriminate ‘The freedom of religion does not give businesses a right to violate non-discrimination laws,’ said Peter Renn, a lawyer with Lambda Legal. They represented Cervelli ...

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George Michael’s art collection goes for $15 million at auction

Over the past two days, auction house Christie’s sold the entirety of the late George Michael’s art collection. The auction took place both online and at the physical auction house in London. The whole collection amassed over $15 million (over €13,200,000). All of these proceeds will go towards continuing the singer’s philanthropic efforts. There were bidders from 52 countries and five continents. Around 15,000 people visited the pre-auction exhibit of Michael’s collection. Some of the artists featured in Michael’s expansive collection are Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Michael Craig-Martin, Marc Quinn, and more. One piece auctione was Craig-Martin’s Commissioned Self Portrait (George). It sold online for $231,700 (€204,384), which is a world record for the artist. There were 30 other world online auction records, as well as four world auction records broken at the evening auction in London. Two works by Damien Hirst – The Incomplete Truth and Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain – sold for a combined $2.3 million. The auction house raised a further $331,169 (€292,127) through the sales of catalogues and limited edition tote bags. As Christie’s described, Michael’s collection ‘represented a dialogue with his own British contemporaries […] who rose to prominence by challenging the status quo of the time, together creating the Young British Art movement. They added Michael developed a friendship with many of these artists. Lifelong dedication to charity ‘Philanthropic work was hugely important for George during his lifetime and it was his wish that this work would continue after his passing,’ Michael’s trustees said. A 2018 report ...

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India’s oldest political party mulls LGBTI rights in election manifesto

India’s major opposition party the Indian National Congress (INC) is reported to be including LGBTI rights in their election manifesto. INC will consult on the controversial Transgender Rights Bill. It may also make gender-sensitivity training mandatory for government bodies, according to The Print. Its manifesto may also include better implementation of India’s landmark decriminalization of gay sex. The party might also establish a women empowerment and justice department, according to News 18. Section 377 India made history in September last year when it struck down Section 377 of its Colonial-era Penal Code. The archaic law punished gay sex with up to 10 years in jail. But, the Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional. But, the LGBTI community has warned, society will take time to change. Homophobia is still rife in the country. A transgender bill currently in the Upper House of parliament, meanwhile, has riled the trans community. While India’s Supreme Court recognized a third gender in 2014, transgender Indians remain marginalized. Trans Indians say the bill enshrines discrimination rather than fights against it. More than 900 million Indians are eligible to vote in the Lower House of Parliament elections in April and May. Congress The INC was founded in 1885 prior to India’s independence. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, it became a force in India’s independence from Britain. INC has already made the headlines this year for LGBTI inclusion. In January, transgender activist Apsara Reddy became Indian National Congress party’s first transgender office-bearer at the national level. INC appointed ...

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Arizona police investigating after gay man ‘attacked by mob of 10 people’

A gay man has said he was brutally attacked because of his sexuality in downtown Phoenix, Arizona early on Saturday morning (16 March). It all began when a woman flicked a cigarette in into Cesar Marin’s car and called him a homophobic slur. ‘Before I knew it, I was surrounded in a hail of punches,’ Marin wrote in a Facebook post. The post, which includes a photo of Marin with bruises and cuts to his face, has now been shared nearly 2,000 times. ‘I was just gay bashed in downtown Phoenix’ Cesar wrote. ‘I was attacked by a mob of 10 people. It all started with 1 girl flicking her cigarette in my car and calling me a faggot.’ ‘I felt like I was gonna die’ Phoenix police told ABC 15 they were investigating. They had collected the cigarette and an earring as evidence. But, they did not confirm if they were classifying the attack as a hate crime. Cesar told the local news station he believes he was singled out for being gay. ‘I just wanted it to stop, I felt like I was gonna die, I didn’t know how to defend myself, how to protect myself’ he said. ABC 15 had obtained video of the aftermath of the alleged attack from a nearby restaurant worker. LGBTI hate crimes rose 17% during 2017 in the US, according to the FBI. More than 1,000 incidents of anti-LGBTI violence were reported to the police. Read the original article Author: Rik Glauert

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Leading Malaysian lawyer accuses government of ‘cowardice’ on LGBT rights

Prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has accused Malaysia’s ruling party of ‘cowardice’ over its treatment of LGBTI people. She urged the government to drop its investigation into organizers of the Women’s March Malaysia last week. LGBTI Malaysians are once again under attack after the Women’s March Malaysia included demands for LGBT rights last week. ‘It is easy to attack a minority group. That is not courage. That is cowardice’ she said on Saturday (16 March). ‘What takes courage and leadership is to fight for their fundamental liberties even if you disagree with them,’ she added. Muslim-majority Malaysia, led by politicians and religious leaders, is becoming increasingly intolerant towards its LGBTI population. The human rights advocate and former president of the Malaysian bar Sreenevasan asked leaders: ‘Are they proud of the way they attacked a minority community with their non-scientific based views?’ LGBTI people face discrimination at workplaces and at hospitals, Sreenevasan said. They are at risk of violence and even murder, she said. But, she said, ‘every human being deserves to live free from fear’. Leaders were acting like bullies, she argued. ‘The Federal Constitution does not discriminate on the grounds of gender or sexual identity’. LGBTI rights in Malaysia Human Rights Watch on Friday (15 March) urged Malaysia to drop its investigation into organizers of the Women’s March last week. The government and mainstream media condemned the march for including demands for LGBTI rights. A member of parliament said organizers had ‘abused democratic space to defend something that is ...

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