Global Religious Right: ADF Expands Again
Alliance Defending Freedom, the US-based religious right legal group, has expanded its global culture-war reach with the opening of an office in London. In an email to supporters, ADF’s international affiliate wrote, “Lord Alton of Liverpool kindly hosted an evening reception for us at the House of Lords in celebration of the launch.” Alton’s speech took on the concept of “choice”:
Choice without reference to the consequences is as impoverished as the concept of rights without responsibilities. Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow; freedom for the hunter is death for the hunted.
When it comes to the struggle for life itself, or in the struggle of conscience and belief against coercive liberalism or angry atheism, all know that we are greatly indebted to Alliance Defending Freedom for providing the intellectual ballast, rapier like arguments, and a counter narrative to the impoverished concept of freedom that I have described.
Mormon Church: Leader Affirms Doctrine on Marriage
Dallin Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a governing body of the Mormon Church, “reaffirmed the religion’s opposition to same-sex marriage” and “reminded followers watching around the world that children should be raised in families led by a married man and woman no matter what becomes the norm in a ‘declining world.’” More from Associated Press:
“We have witnessed a rapid and increasing public acceptance of cohabitation without marriage and same-sex marriage. The corresponding media advocacy, education, and even occupational requirements pose difficult challenges for Latter-day Saints,” Oaks said. “We must try to balance the competing demands of following the gospel law in our personal lives and teachings even as we seek to show love for all.”
Oaks acknowledged that this belief can put Mormons at odds with family and friends and doesn’t match current laws, including the recent legalization of gay marriage in the United States. But he told members of the nearly 16-million member faith watching around the world that the religion’s 1995 document detailing the doctrine — “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” — isn’t’ a policy statement that will be changed.
He lamented that more children in the United States are raised in families led by unmarried mothers.
“Even as we must live with the marriage laws and other traditions of a declining world, those who strive for exaltation must make personal choices in family life according to the Lord’s way whenever that differs from the world’s way,” Oaks said.
Azerbaijan: Human Rights Activists Sound Alarm About ‘Vicious Crackdown’ on LGBT Community
“Dozens” of gay and transgender people have been “swept up in raids in the capital of Baku this month,” reports Associated Press, which notes, “Homosexuality was decriminalized in majority-Muslim Azerbaijan in 2000, but animosity toward LGBT people remains strong.” BuzzFeed’s Vusala Alibayli spoke with a man who says he was beaten and tortured while he was detained for nine days in what The Guardian calls “a vicious crackdown” on Baku’s LGBT community. “The crackdown has echoes of a roundup of gay men in the southern Russian region of Chechnya this year, many of whom were detained and tortured,” writes The Guardian’s Shaun Walker.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the Baku raids, or what the authorities’ end goal might be. The topic of homosexuality is taboo in conservative Azerbaijani society, and last year’s ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index ranked it the worst place in Europe to be gay, based on the number of violent homophobic attacks and discriminatory remarks by public figures.
The CBC says the president of an Azerbaijani LGBT rights group, who now lives in Germany, “told CBC nes gay people in the oil-rich, mainly Muslim country have been subjected to occasional harassment in the past, but a systematic effort to detain people in unprecedented.”
Lawyer Samed Rahimli told the New York Times that police had “targeted homosexuals in general, not prostitutes as they have claimed.”
Many of those arrested were sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, after being charged with disobeying police orders, said Javid Nabiyev, a local activist who is helping lawyers appeal the sentences.
Many were detained at home or at work, exposing their sexual orientation to their families and colleagues, said Mr. Rahimli, one of the lawyers.
An activist and staff member of Minority, a magazine in Azerbaijan that covers gay and transgender issues, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from the government, said many victims had been forced by the police to provide names of their friends and colleagues.
Some victims were detained after being lured to meet in the city by the police, who were posing online as gay or transgender people looking for dates, the activist added.
Many of those affected lived in rented apartments, which their landlords told them to vacate after the raids, the activist said. Some fled for Turkey or went to hide in other regions of Azerbaijan.
Eurasianet also reported on the “rising” persecution of LGBT people:
Dozens of similar incidents have occurred in Azerbaijan since September 15, with gay and transgender people rounded up on the streets, in homes, and in bars across the city. Advocacy groups say at least 100 people have been arrested in the wave of raids. EurasiaNet.org was able to obtain information about at least 46 individuals who have been detained.
Police have acknowledged the raids and have given varying justifications, from protecting public morality to isolating people with sexually transmitted diseases.
“The main reason for such raids was the numerous appeals from the residents of the capital. People complain that such people walk around us, walk in our streets, and sit in our cafés. ‘These are people who do not fit our nation, our state, our mentality, please take action against them,’” said Ehsan Zahidov, spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in an interview with EurasiaNet.org.
At The Guardian, Samad Ismayilov, who left Aerbaijan in 2014, writes about recent arrests and mistreatment.
The whole Azerbaijani LGBTQ community is now living in fear. Some have left the country – and they don’t know how long it will be before they can go home. Without international support to put pressure on Azerbaijan’s government to stop this vile treatment, all we can do is help those who feel unsafe to leave the country.
Egypt: Rainbow Flag at Concert Sparks Anti-LGBT Backlash, Censorship
The Supreme Council for Media Regulation has reportedly banned the publication or broadcast of information about homosexuality. From teleSUR:
The recently-installed state organism said it will “not make propaganda” for homosexuality until “it is cured and ended.” The objective of the new measure is to “preserve the morals and values of society,” according to the communique.
The president of the Council, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, said in the communique that the role of the media is to “report on the danger of this sickness,” in reference to homosexuality.
The decision of the council comes days after six men were detained for waving a rainbow flag at a concert in Cairo, Sept. 22.
Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among Muslims and minority Christians alike, but it is not explicitly prohibited by law. Egypt regularly arrests gay men, with large police raids on private parties or locations such as public baths, restaurants and bars. In practice, they prosecute individuals under such charges as “immorality” and “debauchery.”
Egypt arrested at least seven people last week after footage of the rainbow flag raising surfaced on social media. The incident took place during a Sept. 22 concert by Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou’ Leila, a jazzy, electro-Arabesque group whose lead singer is openly gay.
Most Egyptians see homosexuality as a practice that goes against nature and religion and insist that it’s a social disease exported by a decadent West. At home, most homosexuals keep their sexual orientation a secret known only to close friends, fearing social stigma.
Nour Youssef and Liam Stack report for the New York Times that social media photos and video of the flag-waving have “stoked public outrage and vituperative news coverage that described the flag waving as an assault on Egypt and its morals.”
Ahmed Moussa, an influential talk show host, suggested last week that Mr. Alaa and the others had been funded by unidentified enemies who wanted to “disgrace” Egypt by making it appear to accept homosexuality.
“I am warning you against calling this a matter of personal freedom!” he told viewers. “This is about religions! This is about morals!” …
The crackdown has primarily targeted gay men and transgender women, groups that the Egyptian state and mass media do not consider distinct from each other. Hundreds of them have been arrested since 2013 as part of a broad crackdown on social freedoms by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has killed hundreds of protesters and jailed thousands of political opponents.
Human Rights Watch has called on Egypt to “stop arresting and harassing people suspected of homosexuality using trumped-up ‘debauchery’ and ‘inciting debauchery’ charges.”
Security forces rounded up at least eleven people in the days following a September 22, 2017 concert in Cairo at which young concertgoers waved rainbow flags, a symbol of solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people, a defiant act in a country known to persecute gay men and transgender people.
After concertgoers shared photos of the rainbow flag display on social media, pro-government media went on an overdrive attack and conservative politicians and religious leaders demanded that the government take action. Police arrested one man on September 23 through entrapment on a dating app, a common police technique in Egypt, and claimed he had been among those to wave a flag. On September 25, the government said that it had arrested seven people identified through video footage of the concert. Several Egyptian activists questioned the veracity of this claim, but they documented additional arrests on September 27, when police picked up six men from the streets, charging them with debauchery and claiming they were all involved in the rainbow flag incident. …
At the September 22 concert, people raised rainbow flags during the performance of the Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila, which has an openly gay lead singer and has performed songs addressing same-sex relationships and gender identity. The Egyptian Musicians Syndicate opened an investigation into the event and banned future Mashrou’ Leila concerts in Egypt.
Curaçao: Prime Minister Attends Pride; MP Says it Violates Christian Culture
Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath opened Pride Week celebrations with remarks that cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Declaration of Independence in proclaiming his vision for “an inclusive Curaçao …where EVERYONE can reach their maximum potential.”
Building a more inclusive society means leaving no one behind and affirming that everyone has a place in our community and can contribute to the wellbeing and progress of Curaçao.
On the day I was elected, I expressed that I would be the prime minister of EVERYBODY. EVERYBODY includes ALL citizens of our dushi Korsou regardless of the colour of their skin, background, income, surroundings, religious beliefs and yes….also sexual orientation.
It is my conviction that love is love, and equal is equal, and inclusion therefore means everyone. And that is why I am here today to celebrate pride!
The celebration of pride is not about a group imposing their beliefs on other people. Pride is about the right to celebrate the equal dignity and beauty of all people.
Pride events around the world are a reminder that sexual diversity exists within the beautiful diversity that makes up our human race. The celebrations, both serious and playful, provide the opportunity to proudly show your existence, uniqueness, diversity and soul as a human being.
Pride events are also part of the continuous journey of humanity towards emancipation. Over the last centuries we have liberated ourselves from slavery, oppression, exploitation, and colonialism. Standing up against prejudices and changing an existing order takes time, perseverance, and determination.
Various people throughout history, we know their names: Mahatma Ghandi, dr. Martin Luther King, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harvey Milk have made the long arc of the moral universe bend just a bit quicker towards justice. They opened our eyes to the injustices of slavery, colonialism, racial segregation, female inequality, and the prosecution of gay people.
Rhuggenaath noted that the decision to address the Pride Week crowd “was not positively received by all the people in our community,” but that change is happening.
But member of Parliament Marilyn Moses complained that most of the people of the island are Christians and that ground their moral beliefs, in contrast to the Netherlands (Curaçao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands):
The Netherlands is a country where moral is based on the ratio and is detached from the word of God. It has a very open moral about sexuality and the people there believes that everything is possible. The respect for humanity is the base for the union between the nations, notwithstanding the differences in morals and values.
“We are together in a Kingdom with our history and our challenges that are different from one another and that makes us multi-cultural. We are different while being in the same Kingdom. Curaçao does not have a history of gay bashing in the 60’s where there was persecution of the gays by the police,” said the MP.
“This took place in the U.S. There was violence every day where homosexuals were arrested in bars and coffee shops. During that time the homosexuals united in a fight for acceptance and they started with various events including the Gay Parade.”
According to Moses, homosexuality is not an issue in Curaçao. Why certain governments want to make it an important and urgent issue is something incomprehensible to the MP. Certain politicians are trying to make same-sex marriage an urgent issue while they don’t explain to the people of Curaçao what are the reasons. These politicians want to make it a human rights issue.
While this is taking place in Curaçao, the Human Rights Tribunal in Strasburg in July 2016 indicated in a ruling that the same-sex marriage is not a human right. “Now they want to shove this Gay Parade on us during our Culture Celebration Week, while this parade has nothing to do with our culture,” said Moses.
Bermuda: Government Minister Represents Group Seeking to Reverse Marriage Equality
A judge ruled that the government must pay the legal costs of the couple who won a court case establishing marriage equality as the law in Bermuda.
Meanwhile, opponents of marriage equality have not given up. Kim Wilson, the full-time Minister of Health, is, in her private capacity as a lawyer, representing opponents of marriage equality who are trying to overturn a pro-equality court ruling. Background and details from the Royal Gazette:
The civil case which paved the way for same-sex marriages on the island was brought against the Government of Bermuda by gay couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche, who claimed the Registrar-General discriminated against them by refusing to post their wedding banns.
The Government lost the case, with Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruling on May 5 this year that denying same-sex couples the service of marriage was a breach of their human rights. …
The Government opted not to appeal the ruling but Preserve Marriage, a charity which opposes same-sex marriage and was an intervener in the court proceedings, is attempting to do so.
A separate group led by former politician Maxwell Burgess, which supports Preserve Marriage’s aims, is also seeking to appeal the ruling.
The notice of appeal for that group — described as the “second appellants” — was filed by lawyer Rick Woolridge, of Phoenix Law Chambers.
The notice said marriage was defined in common law as being between a man and a woman and the judgment offended the beliefs of those who upheld that definition.
It said the “cultural shift caused by the judgment was so offensive to the culture and custom of the significant proportion of the community” who voted against same-sex marriage in last year’s referendum and would erode the “custom of the island”.
Journalist Rex Wockner tracks marriage equality action around the world.
Australia: Marriage Mail Ballot Campaign Continues
Opponents of marriage equality tried to stop Macklemore, the American rapper, from performing his “Same Love” ballot while performing at the National Rugby League Grand Final. Marriage equality opponent and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said rugby fans should be spared “a politicized grand final” and a petition to get the league to drop its support for marriage equality gathered thousands of signatures. The effort appeared to backfire, reports Stuff, as “Same Love” shot to the top of Australian iTunes charts. Macklemore said he would donate a portion of Australian sales to the vote yes campaign.
Abbott’s daughter Frances, meanwhile, has appeared in an ad for the “yes” campaign.
Germany: Same-Sex Couples Begin Marrying
Same-sex couples began getting married on Sunday, after decades of activism, and after Chancellor Angela Merkel abruptly changed course to allow a parliamentary vote this summer, which she said was provoked by meeting a lesbian couple who care for eight foster children. Same-sex couples were able to register civil partnerships starting in 2001. The first same-sex couple to be married were two men who have been together for 38 years.
Some background from AFP:
By 2017, same-sex relationships have become so normalised that polls show around 75 per cent of Germans are in favour of gay marriage.
Unlike in France, there were no rallies of hundreds of thousands against the law.
“Lots of people were amazed by the end that it hadn’t already happened, asking themselves, ‘surely we have that already?’” said MP Johannes Kahrs, gay and lesbian affairs commissioner for the SPD – who himself will act as witness in a close friend’s wedding Sunday.
Lawmaker Kahrs enjoyed a flash of fame in June, when he laid into the snap decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel allowing conservative MPs to follow their conscience on a gay marriage vote – the trigger for the rush to pass a bill.
“Thank you for nothing, Frau Merkel!” he stormed, pounding the lectern in the Bundestag with rage.
Merkel explained her thinking changed after a “memorable experience” when she met a lesbian couple who lovingly care for eight foster children in her Baltic coast constituency.
Her surprise shift in position – after 12 years of blockade by her Christian Democrats and their Bavarian allies – was seen by some as a cynical ploy to rob her challengers of a popular cause ahead of September’s election.
The chancellor herself voted against the bill, arguing that the German constitution still defines marriage as “the union of a man and a woman”.
“I still think it was indecent to delay for so many years, and the fact that she voted no,” Kahrs said.
Even now, the conservative Bavarian government has put experts to work investigating a constitutional challenge against the law.
Taiwan: Activists Urge Action to Implement Marriage Equality Ruling
On Friday, LGBT-equality organizations urged the government to propose legislation to legalize marriage equality. The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in May, but gave the government two years to implement the ruling:
Nelson Hu (胡勝翔), secretary-general of Taiwan Gender Queer Rights Advocacy Alliance, shared his personal story at the press conference, saying his partner of 12 years has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of hemangioma and doctors have said he could die soon.
Even though they have registered their same-sex partnership at a household registration office, giving Hu the right to sign medical forms for his partner, they are still excluded from many social welfare benefits that are reserved for married heterosexual couples, Hu said.
“We don’t have that much time to wait,” he said in a statement.
In response, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) told CNA that the Executive Yuan will handle the issue in line with the time period as stipulated by the Constitutional Court, and will listen to opinions from all sides.
Costa Rica: New Political Party Advocates for LGBT Equality
A new political party, Vamos (“let’s go”), is focused on making LGBT equality an issue in coming legislative elections. The party’s leaders say that making progress on human rights and marriage equality and combating gender violence have been held up by Christian deputies.
Indonesia: Anti-LGBT Campaign Expanded to Ban on LGBT TV Characters
The anti-LGBT campaign by some religious and political leaders continued, with the House of Representatives agreeing to a ban on LGBT characters in television shows. “We have to ban it early before it becomes a lifestyle,” said one politician. “It’s dangerous and can ruin the morality of the younger generation.”
Tunisia: Human Rights Minister Announces End to Forced Anal Exams
AFP reports that the minister for human rights announced that suspected homosexuals can no longer be forced to take an anal exam.
Hong Kong: Court Rules for Lesbian on Spousal Visa, Says Ruling Not ‘Validation’ of Same-Sex Unions
An appeals court ruled in favor of a lesbian who had been denied a spousal visa to allow her to stay in Hong Kong where her partner works. “While the court ruled that it was a form of indirect discrimination for the Immigration Department to base its definition of ‘spouse’ on a marriage between a man and a woman,” says the South China Morning Post, “it also made clear that granting a dependent visa to QT was not an official validation of same-sex unions.”
Northern Ireland: Government Stalemate Puts Spotlight on DUP
The Independent reports on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party has put the DUP into the spotlight, along with its “policies and statements on a range of political and social issues – many of which are clearly out of step with modern society.”