The Czech Republic could become the first former Eastern bloc country to achieve same-sex marriage after MPs passed a new equality law. The new bill was passed in the lower house after being introduced to parliament three years ago delayed by opponents.
That means that the bill can be discussed in committees. The final vote could be affected by an upcoming general election, which takes place on 8 and 9 October 2021.
The new bill would amend the Civil Code to say marriage is between "two persons", instead of "a man and a woman.
Same-sex couples in the the Czech Republic have been able to enter into registered partnerships since 2006. However, the partnerships do not offer full equality on matters such as rights to property and adoption.
The most recent surveys show that a majority of the Czech population, around two-thirds, is in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.
In his first address to a joint session of Congress, Joe Biden came with a simple message for trans youth: He has your back.
The Democratic US president struck a hopeful tone for his first address 100 days into his presidency. But after promoting his various blockbuster plans to reshape America to a room with more chairs than people, he took his address to where no US president has done before.
In a brief but impactful line, he recommitted his pledge to pass the Equality Act before saying to a standing ovation: “To all the transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people who are so brave, I want you to know that your president has your back.”
“I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBT+ Americans,” Biden added during the address.
His words come at a truly imperilling time for trans Americans.
Switzerland will hold a referendum on whether to push ahead with same-sex marriage.
MPs adopted a bill recognising same-sex marriage in December, several years after many other Western European countries. But opponents of the law have gathered the necessary signatures to call for a referendum, the authorities said.
In Switzerland, most laws and other acts passed by parliament come into force without the people being asked to vote. But a referendum is possible when citizens who oppose certain decisions collect 50,000 valid signatures within 100 days of the official publication of the act.
Switzerland's largest party, the populist SVP, had warned that they would launch a referendum bid against December's law. According to the Swiss Federal Chancellery, the request for a referendum on same-sex marriage gathered more than 61,000 valid signatures.
The date of the vote has not yet been set, as Swiss citizens are used to voting three or four times a year on a variety of issues under their system of direct democracy.
Switzerland adopted its bill on same-sex marriage in 2020 after a long parliamentary battle and fierce support from the Green Liberals party. Previously, same-sex couples could enter into "registered partnerships" that did not give them the same rights as marriage.
But the new legislation allowed them to wed and have access to sperm donation, while transgender citizens could also change their legal gender with a declaration. However, the legislation did not include provisions for allowing same-sex couples to have children.
Switzerland will become the 29th country to recognize marriage equality if voters approve the referendum as expected.
Tyler Perry picked up the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, a special achievement honour that recognises notable philanthropy, at the 2021 Oscars Academy Awards. The filmmaker paid for senior citizens’ groceries, supported the families of Black folk killed by police and founded a film studio that included an LGBT homeless shelter.
During his rousing and heartfelt acceptance speech at the 93rd Academy Awards, Perry sought to soothe a rattled world by calling on people to no longer hate one another, especially those long cast to the margins.
“My mother taught me to refuse hate,” he began, “she taught me to refuse blanket judgment. And in this time, and with all of the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way, the 24-hour news cycle, it is my hope that all of us will teach our kids just refuse hate."
“I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LGBT. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope that we would refuse hate,” he added.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, said that attempts to change someone's sexuality or gender identity were chilling.
As the world's most senior authority on religious rights, Dr Shaheed said a ban would not violate freedom of religion or belief under international law, because of the harm involved in conversion therapy.
He said: "International human rights law is clear that the right to freedom of religion or belief does not limit the state’s obligation to protect the life, dignity, health and equality of LGBT persons."
"The testimonies of survivors of conversion practices are chilling. Operating on the basis that there is something wrong, sinful or pathological in non-heterosexual-cis forms of sexual and gender identity, LGBT persons are assailed with physical and emotional abuse that have haunting consequences," he added.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recently reported that "transgender or nonbinary gender identities are normal variations in human expression of gender. Attempts to force people to conform with rigid gender identities can be harmful to their mental health and well-being.”
President Joe Biden's Administration allowed US embassies around the world to fly the gay Pride flag on the same flagpole as the American flag, reversing a Trump-era policy.
In 2019, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blocked embassy requests to fly the symbol of support for LBGT people on the same pole as the Stars and Stripes. But now Biden's Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has given approval to fly the flag at diplomatic outposts around the world.
Embassies are required to get permission from the State Department when flying anything besides the American flag on their main flagpoles. The chiefs of mission who run the embassies and consulates can choose whether to fly the Pride flag or showcase other symbols of support for LGBT rights based on what is 'appropriate in light of local conditions.'
Five leaders of the horrifying Chechen “anti-gay purge” could finally be charged with crimes against humanity thanks to a criminal case in Germany.
The criminal case was submitted in February by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a German NGO, and the Russian LGBT Network, which has been instrumental in helping LGBT people flee the region. If no other jurisdiction investigates, Germany is able and must be willing to take over tasks, representing thereby Europe and the international community.
The five officials are within the inner circle of Chechnya’s autocratic leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the charge sheet against them stretches 97 pages. It accuses the Chechen military and state apparatus of persecution, unlawful arrests, torture, sexual violence and incitement to murder at least 150 individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation since February 2017.
Two of the officials are already sanctioned by the EU, the UK and the US for their involvement in the purge: Abuzayed Vismuradov, Kadyrov’s former personal bodyguard and deputy prime minister, and Ayub Katayev, a police chief and senior official at the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry in Chechnya. The chair of the Chechen parliament, Magomed Daudov, is also named in the criminal complaint.
Chechen leaders could now be charged in Germany because the country has implemented the legal principle of universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity, allowing prosecution in its courts even if the crimes happened elsewhere.
Bulgaria should issue identity papers for a child with two mothers in a same-sex marriage, the top EU court’s advocate general said in an opinion, though the bloc cannot force the country to legally recognise their marriage or parenting.
The opinion by the European Court of Justice’s advocate general relates to a case of a Bulgarian-British married couple in which both women are recognised as mothers on their child’s birth certificate, which was issued in Spain where they live.
But Bulgaria, which does not recognise same-sex marriage, refused to name both as mothers in a national birth certificate the couple had sought in order to get a Bulgarian (and hence an EU) identity document for the child.
While Bulgaria cannot stall the EU-wide right to free movement for its citizens, it may refuse to issue a birth certificate naming both women as mothers under its national laws, according to the opinion.
The contradiction highlights the conundrums faced by gay couples in the 27-nation EU where some countries allow for same-sex marriage and parenting, while others do not. In practice, that means couples enjoying full marital and parenting rights in one EU country are deprived of them if they travel to another.
A final ruling by the Luxembourg-based court, which does not have to but usually does follow the preliminary opinions, is expected in coming months.
Georg Bätzing, Bishop of Limburg and head of the German Bishops' Conference, said in a statement: "A document that in its argumentation so blatantly excludes any progress in theological and human scientific knowledge will lead to pastoral practice ignoring it." And he added: "We need a re-evaluation of same-sex partnerships and a further development of the church's sexual morality."
Several German Catholic theologians and clergy have also mobilized against the ruling. According to a statement put together by the Catholic Theological faculty at Munster University, and signed by 266 theologians, the ruling "is characterized by a paternalistic gesture of superiority and discriminates against homosexual people and their lifestyles. We decisively distance ourselves from this position."
They are not the only ones. The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), a network of more than 40 organisations supporting LGBT Catholics around the world, said: “This document is indeed a reactionary cry in response to the fresh air that is filling the Church from those parishes and lay communities around the world where blessings for same-gender couples are already a factual reality."
A lot of Catholics are changing faster than Church hierarchy.
More than half of LGBT people who have been made homeless in Britain have been discriminated against or harassed by people who should be caring for them, according to a new report.
The youth charity AKT surveyed 161 people who have recently experienced homelessness between the ages of 16 and 25, and half who answered said they had feared expressing their LGBT identity to family would lead to them being evicted.
It was already known that LGBT people were disproportionately likely to end up homeless, but the report reveals that almost a quarter (24%) of the homeless population are LGBT-identifying.
Almost two thirds (61%) of LGBT people who had become homeless had first felt frightened or threatened by family, while 16% of those who responded to the survey had been forced into sexual acts by family members beforehand.
The report covered more subjects and here are some of the headlines:
Just 13 per cent of LGBT young people surveyed felt supported by parents or stepparents while homeless.
One in six (16 per cent) of LGBT young people who were happy to answer, were forced to do sexual acts against their will by family members before they became homeless. The same number had experienced this with a romantic partner.
Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of LGBT young people who were happy to answer felt frightened or threatened by their family members before they became homeless. One in five experienced this from romantic partners.
Half of LGBT young people (50 per cent) who were happy to answer said they feared that expressing their LGBT identity to family members would lead to them being evicted. Almost one in ten (7 per cent) said the same about romantic partners.
Two thirds (64 per cent) of LGBT young people said homelessness made it hard for them to establish or maintain new relationships, including friendships.
Almost one fifth (17 per cent) of LGBT young people felt like they had to have casual sex to find somewhere to stay while they were homeless.
Less than half (44 per cent) of LGBT young people were aware of housing support services the last time they experienced homelessness. Almost one quarter (24 per cent) weren’t aware of any support services available to them.
Only 35 per cent of LGBT young people who have accessed a service whilst homeless recall being asked by service providers to provide information about their gender identity and sexual orientation. Just one third (33 per cent) felt safe to disclose this information.
Over half (59 per cent) of LGBT young people have faced some form of discrimination or harassment while accessing services.
The findings of the AKT report, gathered over the past five years, paint a stark picture of queer youth homelessness in Britain. The charity says the government and local authorities need to do more to support homeless young people from LGBT backgrounds.
Moffie is a 2019 South African-British biographical war romantic drama film co-written and directed by Oliver Hermanus. The plot revolves around two gay characters Nicholas van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) and Dylan Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) who attempt to come to terms with their homosexuality.
The film is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Andre Carl van der Merwe. The film had its world premiere release at the Venice International Film Festival on 2019. It also had its special screenings at other film festivals and received several nominations in various categories.
“Moffie” is Afrikaans slang for “faggot,” and the film attempts a bold gesture in reclaiming epithet as an emblem of power. It’s 1981, South Africa, which means it’s not okay to be a “moffie”; effeminacy is a sign of weakness, and being gay is also illegal. It’s also a moment of compulsory military conscription that all (white) boys over the age of 16 must endure, and so that means, as the film begins, Nicholas is readying to ship off to defend colonized land.
On its face, the war is between the white minority government and Angola, whose Communism the South African Defense Force wants to stop from spreading; but really, the atrocities as seen inflicted in this movie are governed by the power-seeking regime of Apartheid, and not any real threat.
Nicholas is a melancholic who’s clearly hiding a secret, but just barely. When two of his comrades who engaged in homosexual activity are trotted out before the brigade, a bloodied cautionary tale for all to see, Nicholas retreats further into the closet. But during a rainy night, passion awakens in the trenches as a spiteful commander orders the men to stay down in the ground, which brings him literally closer to Dylan. An erotic attraction is sparked, but a relationship never quite sizzles as both remain, by the powers of the social hegemony, in the closet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a series of constitutional amendments that, among other things, formally defines marriage as between a man and a woman in the country.
The amendments passed by voters and signed into law by Putin specifically ban marriage equality and adoption by transgender folks. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Russia, so the new wording in the constitution simply makes it even harder for marriage equality to ever become a reality.
Upwards of 78 percent of Russian voters backed the amendments in a referendum that took place last July. Russian lawmakers later approved the constitutional changes that also allow Putin to run for president two more times, meaning he can serve an additional two six-year terms in office.
This latest attack on the LGBT community is no surprise in Putin’s Russia, where the queer community faces frequent violence and discrimination, and a notorious “gay propaganda” ban, prohibiting the distribution of anything viewed as vaguely pro-LGBT, has been in place since 2013.
Swiss voters will have to decide the fate of marriage equality in their country. It will become the 29th country to recognize marriage equality if voters approve the referendum as expected.
Marriage equality and other LGBT protections were approved by the Swiss Parliament late last year, but a coalition of conservative groups has gathered enough signatures to force a referendum. While the move is seen as a setback by some, a recent poll found four out of every five Swiss citizens support same-sex marriage, and the referendum is expected to confirm the bill and make marriage equality the law of the land.
Legislation recognizing marriage equality had been languishing in parliament for years before it was finally passed in December. Switzerland had previously banned conversion therapy, expanded anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, allowed LGBT people to serve in the military, but had not officially approved marriage equality.
Kate Winslet opened about the stigma surrounding LGBT actors in the cinema industry. The Academy Award winner revealed that she knows some actors that are fearful of coming out.
“I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know, some well known, some starting out, who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles, ” Kate said.
The actress added that top Hollywood agents are still telling their gay and bisexual clients to keep their sexuality in the closet. “I’m telling you. A well-known actor has just got an American agent and the agent said, ‘I understand you are bisexual. I wouldn’t publicise that.’,” she elaborated.
The actress also pointed out that the stigma applies mostly to male actors. She fumed that the film industry should take a more enlightened view of sexuality, insisting: "Hollywood has to drop that dated crap of, 'Can he play straight because, apparently, he’s gay?' That should be almost illegal... and it can’t just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts," she exclaimed.
Winslet portrays historical palaeontologist Mary Anning in her recent movie Ammonite, in which her character embarks on a same-sex romance with geologist Charlotte Murchison, played by Saoirse Ronan. Watch the official trailer below:
In April 1, 2001, Netherlands became the first country in the world to conduct same-sex marriages.
In the two decades since, the legalization of same-sex marriage has been neither uniform nor particularly rapid. In all there are now 28 countries in the world which allow same-sex marriages.
More than half of those are in Europe, but even here there are notable divides. While most of Western Europe now permits same-sex marriage, most of Eastern Europe doesn't.
Some of the countries yet to legalize same-sex marriage, including Czechia, Greece and Italy, have permitted some sort of civil union, if not with full legal parity with marriage.
Other governments are opposed. Last year, Poland's President Andrzej Duda was re-elected after campaigning against gay rights, which he called "destructive."
Last December, Switzerland's parliament approved the legalization of same-sex marriage, but the law has yet to take effect, while opponents are actively endeavoring to collect enough signatures to force a confirmatory referendum.
The countries where gay marriage is legal in Europe:
The Pentagon will sweep away Trump-era policies that largely banned transgender people from serving in the military, issuing new rules that offer them wider access to medical care and assistance with gender transition. The new rules also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
President Biden’s executive order overturned the Trump policy and immediately prohibited any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin then gave the Pentagon two months to finalize the more detailed regulations that the military services will follow.
The new department regulations allow transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender, and they will be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law.
Until some years ago, service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed during the President Obama's Administration. In 2016, the Pentagon announced that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly, and that by July 2017, they would be allowed to enlist.