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Open thread and news round-up 4/16

Transgender Rights

– Last week, a federal judge issued a ruling in one of the challenges to President Trump’s ban on transgender military servicemembers. The judge held that the case should go to trial, but that the injunction that has been in place blocking the ban should remain in place. More importantly, the judge held that gender identity is a “suspect classification” that should be subjected to the highest level of judicial scrutiny, strict scrutiny. This is the first time a court has made this holding. This standard makes it difficult to uphold the ban.

This is an open thread. We’ll post breaking news when it happens.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. VIRick  |  April 16, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Poland: A Gay President?

    Poland's existence under an anti-LGBT administration could be drawing to a close, as an openly gay presidential candidate offers up a fervent fight for leadership. Current polls indicate that one in four Poles intend to vote for the left-wing candidate, Robert Biedroń, who entered his political career as an LGBT activist. Biedroń, who is the mayor of Slupsk, a town with a population of 98,757 in northern Poland, is considered a strong contender to current President Andrzej Duda. Although the election is not set to take place until 2020, it means that the politician has a generous amount of time on his side to win nationwide support.

    Competing against incumbent President Duda, who secured 33.5 percent of the vote in the poll, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who received 33 percent approval, Biedroń still has a battle on his hands. But the prospect of electing a gay atheist is a dramatic turn in the country.

    At present, the right-wing Law and Justice party, led by President Duda, has a staunch anti-LGBT voting record. The politician blocked same-sex marriage legislation in 2017, stating that marriage between a man and a woman was “clearly and expressly regulated in the Constitution.” He also vetoed the Gender Accordance Act, which would have allowed trans people to legally change their gender.….

  • 2. JayJonson  |  April 17, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Theresa May tells Commonwealth nations that she regrets the role of Great Britain in discriminatory anti-gay laws.

    Speaking on the second day of a week-long meeting in London, May addressed a wide range of humanitarian and environmental issues, including laws which outlaw same-sex activity in 37 of its 53 member nations.

    “I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country. They were wrong then and they are wrong now,” May said.

  • 3. VIRick  |  April 17, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Trinidad: Senator Calls for Debate on Gay Rights, Abortion, Marijuana

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Independent Senator Dr Dhanayshar Mahabir says he wants to bring motions on gay rights, abortion rights, and the decriminalizing of marijuana. He was contributing to a motion on financial autonomy for the Parliament in the Senate on Tuesday, 17 April 2018.

    Having lived for an interval in Trinidad, I am sensing that ethnic politics, as always, but in a delicately-balanced manner, may well be coming into play on these matters. The large Indian community (about 40% of the total population, split 80% Hindu, 20% Muslim), particularly those of the secularized portion with Hindu background, coupled together with an assortment of minorities, namely Latinos, French Creoles, Syrian/Lebanese, Chinese, mixed-race, and multi-race, appear to be leaning in our favor, given that a fair portion in these communities can see that "the time has come." This is particularly evident among the French Creole mixed-race, given that both Martinique and Guadeloupe have had marriage equality since 2013, and legalization of homosexuality since 1791, thus (in their eyes) shaming the utter colonial "backwardness" of Trinidad, a point with which I am in accord, given that my partner is French Creole mixed-race.

    Just as Latinos were the nucleus who pushed the gay rights issue in Belize, many Indians of Hindu ancestry now seem to be doing the same in Trinidad.

    Note: Even for religious Hindus, the Vedas do not make any reference whatsoever to same-sex relationships, neither good, bad, nor indifferent. Thus, there is no specific religious teaching on this subject, other than the very basic, universal teaching that everyone is free to live and let live.

  • 4. allan120102  |  April 18, 2018 at 12:58 am

    Looks that the battle for same sex marriage has start in the Cayman islands. There ban should be struck down like Bermuda. I hope though they do not take the same reaction Bermuda did. Still I am pretty sure Bermuda will not enforce its ban because I am almost sure the judge hearing the case will not allow it.

  • 5. VIRick  |  April 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Cayman Islands: Legal Challenge to Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

    Per LGBT Marriage News and Rex Wockner:

    Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush both hold British citizenship (but only one of whom can claim to be a "belonger"). Last Thursday,12 April 2018, they applied for the right to marry in the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory. But the couple were notified on Monday, 16 April 2018, that their application had been rejected on the grounds that the Cayman Islands does not recognize same-sex marriage. Now they are set to launch a legal challenge against the Cayman Islands government. It is that rejection which the couple now plan to challenge by requesting a judicial review or by bringing an action under the Constitution. Day said that the decision will be made very soon and a legal action filed as promptly as possible.

    As a British overseas territory, the Cayman Islands has its own legislative assembly but ultimately falls under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. The British government’s various laws enshrining equality for gay and transgender people do not extend there, and protections for the LGBT community are minimal: there are no anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, the age of consent is higher, and there is no right to change legal gender, marry or adopt. The islands’ government only decriminalized homosexuality in 2000, and even then because the UK forced it to do so.

    Day and Bodden Bush began dating after they met in the Cayman Islands in 2012. Day – a Caymanian – was born on the island, while Bodden Bush – a British citizen since 2010 – had arrived from the UK on a work permit, which is required for British citizens.

    As Bodden Bush’s work permit was nearing expiration, the couple began to assess their options. With no suitable jobs available – and no way for Bodden Bush to remain as Day’s dependent – keeping the family together meant leaving the territory. Day accepted an offer from her law firm, first in Dublin and then in London, where the family have been living since 2016 with their four-year-old daughter.

    Note: It is worth remarking (since other Caymanians would be aware) that although Day is the "born-here" Caymanian in this partnership, and that Bodden Bush is currently a UK citizen, Bodden, as a surname, is very distinctly Caymanian, with one of the larger localities on Grand Cayman even being named Bodden Town.

    To assist Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden in their legal fight, visit their Gofundme page:

  • 6. Elihu_Bystander  |  April 18, 2018 at 3:39 am

    Archbishop’s Criticism of Anti-LGBT Criminalization Law Reveals a Need for More Education

    18-April-2018 New Ways Ministry

    “A Caribbean archbishop has come out against anti-LGBT criminalization, saying that while homosexuality is immoral, it should not be illegal.

    “Archbishop Jason Gordon of Port-of-Spain in Trinidad and Tobago made his comment in response to a court ruling that the nation’s criminalization law is unconstitutional.

    “The judge behind the ruling did not immediately strike down the laws criminalizing same-gender sexual acts, but asked government officials and LGBT activists to help modify existing law so sexual assault remains illegal.

    “Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican LGBT activist involved in the Trinidad and Tobago decision, said the court’s ruling ‘signals a sustainable and viable approach to get rid of these embarrassing statutes from the Caribbean.’ The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian carried further comments from Tomlinson:

    “‘We are the only region in the western hemisphere that still criminalises private consenting adult same-sex intimacy. So, while the rest of the hemisphere has galloped ahead to recognise many of the human rights of LGBT people, including legal partnerships, as stated in a recent Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision, we in the region have literally not left the starting gates…The region will be stronger for [advancing LGBT rights], despite what the fear-mongers will claim.’

    “The upshot of the judge’s moderate approach is that de-criminalization will not happen immediately. It may be even further postponed because Trinidad’s government plans to appeal the court’s ruling.

    “Jason Jones, the gay activist behind the lawsuit, issued a wider appeal for more British Commonwealth nations to de-criminalize homosexuality. Homosexuality is still illegal in 36 of 56 Commonwealth nations, Jones wrote in The Guardian. He said, ‘The right to dignity that Trinidad and Tobago’s court recognised in me is universal–in lesbians criminalised in Uganda and Tanzania, and in gay men criminalised in India and Singapore.’

    “It is vital that Catholics, especially leaders with public influence, are properly educated on homosexuality if they are to comment on it. But education is not enough, nor is simply criticizing criminalization laws. Catholics must defend every civil right to which LGBT people are entitled and, in the Catechism’s words, must oppose ‘every sign of unjust discrimination.’ Hopefully, Archbishop Gordon will build on his recent comments to preach a more robust message of equality–a message without the false qualification about immorality.”

  • 7. Randolph_Finder  |  April 18, 2018 at 11:54 am

    I *guess* it is a step in the right direction…

  • 8. VIRick  |  April 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    Couple Elihu's mild quote from the Catholic archbishop of Trinidad, together with what I just posted up above wherein which I noted the ethnic composition of nominal Roman Catholics, but with this caveat (which I myself unconsciously employed): Most Roman Catholics have long ago stopped listening to whatever the hierarchy has to say, given that their own views are far more progressive, and thus, that one normally does not count them within the population based on specific "religious" preference. Then note: most minorities listed in my above post happen to be nominally RC, that is, the Latinos, French Creoles, Syrian/Lebanese, mixed-race, and multi-race. Thus, in the broadest nominal sense, the RCs slightly out-number the secularized Hindu Indian portion of the population in a country that has no single ethnic majority.

    As a result, these two disparate elements need to work together, given that there are several other elements (not mentioned) who are intransigently negative.

    Note: In the Anglo Caribbean, only the ex-French islands have a large Roman Catholic population,– plus Trinidad. While still a Spanish colony, thousands of Caribbean French citizens fleeing the effects of the French Revolution were given refuge in Trinidad. But then, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, Trinidad, much to the disgust of most of its population, became British. The British, treating Trinidad as "conquered" territory, imposed British rule upon a generally hostile, unresponsive population. That included all the homophobic laws which are still current, remembering, of course, that France legalized homosexuality in 1791, "only" 227 years ago.

  • 9. allan120102  |  April 18, 2018 at 8:38 am

    Taiwan is on the verge of having a national referendum if to allow ssm after opponets get the neccesary signatures for it . Lgbt acitvist are saying they need to prepare if the referendum is held

  • 10. scream4ever  |  April 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

    It doesn't sound like that the marriage question will be binding though, as the Constitutional Court already ruled and this wouldn't change the constitution.

  • 11. allan120102  |  April 18, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Hopefully you are right scream. I believe now that we have enter winnings in countries with more opposition referendums will be more common in terms to achieve ssm.

  • 12. VIRick  |  April 18, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Former Miss America Marries Girlfriend in Alabama

    On Saturday, 14 April 2018, the former Miss America winner, Deidre Downs Gunn, married her same-sex partner, Abbott Jones, at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama in front of 200 guests.

    After winning the Miss America title in 2004, Downs Gunn enrolled at the University of Alabama (UAB) School of Medicine, where she studied obstetrics. Now 37, she works as obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Downs Gunn was previously married to Andrew Gunn, with whom she has an eight-year-old son.

    Jones is an attorney and writer. The couple first met on-line in February 2017.

  • 13. VIRick  |  April 19, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Cuba: Castro Era Officially Ends

    Today, 19 April 2018, Miguel Díaz-Canel became Cuba's president, as Raúl Castro stepped down, giving Cuba a new president, and for the first time in 59 years, one whose surname is not Castro. Miguel Díaz-Canel officially became president this morning after Raúl Castro, 86, officially stepped down and Díaz-Canel was confirmed by the National Assembly.

    The 86-year-old Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, the most powerful governing body on the island. But his departure from the presidency represents a symbolic shift in a leadership of octogenarians. Díaz-Canel, who has served as Cuba's first vice-president since 2013, turns 58 on Friday. The transition is an effort to guarantee that new leaders can maintain power in the communist-run government. But Díaz-Canel faces challenges ahead, primarily economic stagnation and a younger generation's disenchantment with their limited opportunities.�%a

  • 14. VIRick  |  April 19, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    United Kingdom: Major Government Fund to Help End Anti-Gay Laws in Commonwealth Countries

    According to an announcement made today, 19 April 2018, the UK is to spend more than £5m lobbying Commonwealth countries to drop their anti-gay laws. Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the plan at a gathering of LGBT activists in parliament during the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in London. 

    36 of 53 member states still criminalize being gay, with an estimated 100 million LGBT people directly affected. Echoing a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week, Ms Rudd condemned Britain’s history of exporting discriminatory laws to former colonies and called for the UK to support a change in attitudes.

  • 15. VIRick  |  April 19, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    The DOJ Just Lost A Major Sanctuary City Case

    On 19 April 2018, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling, thereby preventing the Trump administration from denying grant funds to sanctuary cities nationwide. The federal appeals court ruled that local governments nationwide do not need to provide certain types of help to federal immigration authorities in order to get millions of dollars in federal grants.

    The ruling is a blow to A-G Sessions and the Justice Department, which had attempted to coerce so-called sanctuary jurisdictions into helping the Trump administration's immigration agenda. In September 2017, in a case brought by Chicago, a lower court had held that the Justice Department could not deny $254 million to jurisdictions that refused to notify federal authorities when an undocumented immigrant was in their custody and to hold the inmate in jail. The Trump administration had sought to limit that earlier decision only to Chicago.

    But in a 2–1 ruling from the appeals court panel, the judges said, “The district court did not err in determining that the City established a likelihood of success on the merits of its contention that the Attorney-General lacked the authority to impose the notice and access conditions on receipt of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG grants), and did not abuse its discretion in granting the nationwide preliminary injunction in this case.”

    In a majority opinion for the court, Judge Ilana Rovner wrote that any harms to Sessions from the injunction "is minimized because the Attorney-General can distribute the funds without mandating the conditions — as has been done for over a decade — and nothing in the injunction prevents any state or local government from coordinating its local law enforcement with the federal authorities." Chicago, she added, had "demonstrated a likelihood of success on the claim that the Attorney-General lacked any Constitutional authority to impose the conditions upon the grant recipients, and therefore that the actions violated the separation of powers principles."

  • 16. VIRick  |  April 19, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    California: State Assembly Passes Bill to Ban “Conversion Therapy” for Adults

    California could make history as first in the nation to protect both children and adults from abusive, ineffective efforts by labeling them "consumer fraud." Legislation to ban efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, sometimes called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,” passed in the California Assembly this morning, 19 April 2018, with a bipartisan vote of 50-14.

    AB 2943 would make clear in California law that claiming to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a fraudulent business practice that misleads consumers and exposes LGBTQ people to damaging psychological abuse. The bill previously passed the Assembly Privacy Committee 8-2 and the Assembly Judiciary Committee 8-1, each time with bipartisan support.

    “The pain and fear suffered by those who have been subjected to conversion therapy is something that I can personally identify with,” said Assembly member Evan Low (D-San Jose), author of AB 2943. “This legislation finally creates accountability for those who claim to provide therapy but are in fact peddling an unfounded and destructive practice.”

    AB 2943 is co-authored by the seven other members of California’s Legislative LGBT Caucus and supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the California Medical Association, the California Psychological Association, and Consumer Attorneys of California, among others. Recently, a group of national organizations representing tens of thousands of licensed medical and mental health care professionals, educators, and advocates released a declaration reaffirming the impropriety and dangers of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.

    In 2012, the California Legislature acted decisively to ban the use of “sexual orientation change efforts” on California minors (SB 1172 – Lieu, 2012), also sponsored by Equality California, becoming the first state in the nation to do so. Since two federal court challenges to SB 1172 failed, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the law’s constitutionality, nine other states, the District of Columbia, and at least 32 municipalities have banned this practice for minors, reaffirming a growing consensus that this practice is as harmful as it is ineffective.

    April 19, 2018 at 10:31 am

  • 17. DevilWearsZrada  |  April 19, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    It's about time!

  • 18. Elihu_Bystander  |  April 20, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I live in CA, I just sent an email to my state senator asking him to vote for AB 2943. If you live in California, I ask you to do the same.

    Here is the CA website to locate your state senator and go to their official website.….

  • 19. VIRick  |  April 20, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Czech Republic: Poll: 75% Approve of Same-Sex Marriage

    Per Rex Wockner and LGBT Marriage News:

    Prague (CTK) – Roughly 75% of Czechs agree with the possibility to conclude marriage irrespective of sexual orientation, and over three-fifths are in favor of gay and lesbian couples being able to adopt children from institutes, according to a poll conducted by the Median agency and released on Thursday, 19 April 2018. The poll was conducted within the year-old campaign, We Are for Marriage for All, campaign spokeswoman Klara Kubickova told journalists.

    A similar poll from 2016 revealed that same-sex marriage was favored by 68 percent of respondents, or 7 percent less than now. Some 61 percent of Czechs also agree with homosexual couples being able to adopt children from the institutes, while the idea is opposed by 31 percent of respondents. Support tends to be expressed more often by women, the young, and people with higher education.

    The law on registered partnership defines the establishment and termination of a partnership between two persons of the same sex. Registered partnerships can be concluded since 1 July 2006, and during its first 11 years of legality, 2647 couples have done so. The legislation ensures the right to information on the health condition of registered partners and on the ability to inherit property, just as married couples. However, it does not enable same-sex couples to adopt children. Registered partners also have no right to a widow's or widower's pension, nor to joint property or joint taxation, which married couples can utilize.

    In Spanish, per LGTBI con Orgullo:

    Enorme apoyo (75% frente al 19%) al matrimonio igualitario en la República Checa. En dos años, ha aumentado el SI un 8%, y se ha reducido el NO en un 10%.

    Huge support (75% v. 19%) for equal marriage in the Czech Republic. In two years, the YES has increased by 8%, and the NO has been reduced by 10%.

  • 20. VIRick  |  April 20, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    India: Supreme Court to Hear Plea to Re-Hear Case to Overturn Sodomy Law Monday

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Hotelier Kesav Suri, MD of the Lalit Suri Hospitality group and known LGBT rights activist, has moved the Supreme Court urging it to scrap Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalizes any sort of homosexual activity and several other forms of “unnatural” heterosexual activity. The plea was mentioned in the top court before a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on an urgent out of turn basis by lawyer Shally Bhasin. The bench comprising among others by Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said that they would hear the plea on Monday, 23 April 2018.

    Suri’s petition is the latest to be filed in the top court. Earlier, several other gay celebrities such as dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath, and business executive Ayesha Kapur, had also filed petitions urging the court to quash Section 377 to ensure that the numerically small but significant LGBT community can lead a life of dignity under the Constitution of India.

    Section 377 was introduced by the British in the IPC as part of Victorian mores prevalent then, though it was not a crime in liberal ancient India.

    Note: At the time of British Imperial rule in India, Section 377 of the IPC, criminalizing sodomy, applied to all of modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh (East Bengal), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and Myanmar (Burma). However, an overturning of Section 377 by the Supreme Court of India would only apply to modern-day India. Section 377 continues to remain in effect in all of the other jurisdictions, and would need to be overturned separately by each of the others.

  • 21. VIRick  |  April 20, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    New Hampshire: State Senate Passes "Conversion Therapy" Ban

    On 20 April 2018, in New Hampshire, a bill to ban conversion therapy for minors passed the state senate on a 14-10 vote. Republicans added an amendment that exempted “talk therapy or religious counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding” from the bill.

    The state house has already passed a slightly different version of the bill. After reconciliation, the bill will be sent to the governor, who is expected to sign it.

    In Colorado, a conversion therapy ban that passed the state house was sent to a committee in the state senate that insiders call the “kill committee.” For this session, the bill is effectively dead in that state.

    In California, the measure which passed the state assembly yesterday, banning "conversion therapy" for both minors and adults, and which would label such practice as fraudulent in its consumer protection law, has moved on to the state senate for passage.

  • 22. davepCA  |  April 20, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Regarding the New Hampshire addendum – just what on earth do they mean when they refer to some kind of conversion therapy 'that provides acceptance, support and understanding'? Acceptance, support and understanding of WHAT?

    If it is an attempt to change an orientation from gay to straight, it is by definition NOT accepting, NOT supporting, and NOT understanding of the orientation….. !?!

  • 23. VIRick  |  April 20, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Dave, as per the same article (which I did not quote in my earlier post):

    What the line is between “talk therapy” for “acceptance, support, and understanding” and therapy that attempts to change someone’s sexual orientation will have to be determined by the courts.

    Still, this entire notion is very much a one-sided effort, as straight kids are not being sent to counselling for "acceptance, support, and understanding" with the hope that they will somehow be deemed gay.

    However, the New Hampshire House version of the "conversion therapy" ban, already passed, is somewhat different, and does not include that same caveat, so the matter will first have to be submitted to reconciliation, and then (in whatever version) be signed by the governor, before it can become law.

  • 24. VIRick  |  April 20, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Puerto Rico: Federal Judge Issues Opinion and Order on Amending Birth Certificates

    Without question, this is the most sweeping ruling ever, anywhere in the USA, pertaining to the constitutional right to gender identity. Instead of emphasizing "transgender rights" as being something special in the form of a "protected class" requiring "strict scrutiny," as one might more typically expect, given previous US federal court cases elsewhere, Judge Cerezo follows the Latin American thought process, as embodied in the recent CIDH ruling, and asserts quite broadly and directly that each person has a fundamental constitutional right to their own self-declared "gender identity" (identidad de género).

    Per Lambda Legal and LGBT Marriage News:

    New groundbreaking opinion issued in our case in Puerto Rico, which recognizes transgender people’s right to define their own identity. Governmental non-recognition of trans people’s liberty interferes with their constitutional rights!

    Per LGBT Puerto Rico:

    On 20 April 2018, federal judge issued opinion on decision allowing trans people to be permitted to change the gender marker on their birth certificates to accurately reflect their identity. "And so, we must heed their voices:" "the woman that I am,” “the man that I am.” —Judge Cerezo

    Per Pedro Julio Serrano:

    WAO. Conclusión de Jueza Cerezo al determinar que en Puerto Rico las personas trans podrán corregir su certificado de nacimiento: "Los demandantes fueron a corte a exigir lo que les corresponde: su derecho a existir, vivir más y morir menos."

    WOW. Conclusion of Judge Cerezo when determining that in Puerto Rico trans people will be able to correct their birth certificates: "The plaintiffs went to court to demand what corresponds to them: their right to exist, to live more and to die less."

    The Opinion and Order in "Arroyo-González v. Rosselló-Nevares" (in English) is here:

    Note: On 3 April 2018, Judge Cerezo issued her summary judgment in this case. Now, we have the written Opinion and Order.

  • 25. VIRick  |  April 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Migrants from Caravan Start Reaching US-Mexico Border

    The first migrants from a caravan that sparked the ire of Trump have started arriving at the US-Mexico border and asking for asylum, advocates say. About 50 Central Americans from the caravan have arrived in Tijuana, Mexico, according to Juventud 2000, an organization that assists migrants in that border city. Of those, about 10 have turned themselves in to US authorities at the border. Others are waiting for a larger contingent from the caravan to arrive before they head north, Juventud 2000 Director José María García Lara said.

    Many of the migrants say they're fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. They're part of a caravan that convened at Mexico's southern border weeks ago, then trekked through the country as part of an annual pilgrimage organized to bring light to migrants' plights. This year's journey got far more attention than usual, starting with a series of tweets on a Sunday morning from Trump. By the end of that week, Trump had ordered National Guard troops to deploy to the border in a memo warning of a security crisis there (but at the discretion of the various state governors, most of whom either refused or ignored him).

    While political pressure over the caravan mounted north of the border, in Mexico the migrants continued their journey. Some individuals and smaller groups have split off along the way, making the largest contingent much smaller than it was at the outset. About 1,200 migrants from Central America began the journey, but after a recent head count by organizers, the group numbered closer to 600 (because many in the original group have relatives in Mexico and/or have requested asylum there).

    The larger group is still days away from the border, according to organizers. But some migrants from the caravan have started trickling into Tijuana, according to Juventud 2000, which is working with caravan organizers to help provide shelter to the arriving migrants.

  • 26. ianbirmingham  |  April 21, 2018 at 10:26 am

    What do these identical twins – one gay, one straight – tell us about the infinite mysteries of human sexuality?
    * Rosie and Sarah, 29, are identical except that Sarah is straight and Rosie lesbian
    * Sarah said she was 'always a girly-girl who owned every Barbie doll there was'
    * Rosie was described as 'the tomboy' and insisted on only ever wearing trousers
    * The twins are taking part a psychology research programme at Essex University

    ‘Two studies, using data from the general population, confirm that early gender-nonconforming behaviours (as early as three to four years old) predict a same-sex orientation in later life,’ said a paper by Gerulf Rieger and Tuesday Watts, from the university’s psychology department, which was published in the journal Development Psychology last year.

    Rather than relying on the memories of siblings and their parents, the researchers studied a selection of childhood photographs of 56 sets of identical twins — including the sisters, who live ten minutes away from each other in Lincoln — where one had turned out to be gay and the other straight. …

    ‘Knowing Rosie better than anyone, I was angry with myself for not realising, and leaving her to figure it all out alone. I knew she wasn’t interested in boys, but thought that was because she didn’t want a relationship. It never even crossed my mind that she might like girls instead.

    ‘My second thought was: “Does that mean I’m gay as well?” I pondered that for several weeks, talking to friends, before concluding that I couldn’t be as I’d never been sexually attracted to girls.’

    …studying images of identical twins with different sexualities for early evidence of both stereotypical and non-stereotypical behaviour … Dr Watts says they show that indicators are there from age six or seven, way before puberty begins.

    Similar research into the roots of sexuality that studied photographs of gay adults who did not have the influence of an identical twin suggests they are likely to exhibit non-stereotypical gender behaviour even earlier, aged three or four.

    Read more:

  • 27. VIRick  |  April 21, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Bolivia: First Openly Gay Elected Deputy/Vice-Minister

    Per Felipe Parada:

    José Manuel Canelas Jaime (Caracas, 21 de octubre de 1981) es un político boliviano nacido en Venezuela donde sus padres estaban exiliados. En la actualidad es diputado por el Movimiento Al Socialismo por La Paz. Es el primer diputado elegido (en 2014) que ha reconocido abiertamente su homosexualidad en la historia de Bolivia.

    A partir de hoy, el 1 de febrero 2018, fue posesionado como nuevo viceministro de Planificación y Coordinación por la ministra de esa cartera de Estado, Mariana Prado. Además, Manuel Canelas es la primera autoridad de primera línea de un gobierno de Latinoamérica en ser abiertamente gay.

    José Manuel Canelas Jaime (Caracas, 21 October 1981) is a Bolivian politician born in Venezuela where his parents were exiled. He is currently a deputy for the Movement Towards Socialism from La Paz. (In 2014), he was the first elected deputy who has openly recognized his homosexuality in the history of Bolivia.

    From today, 1 February 2018, he was inaugurated as the new deputy minister of Planning and Coordination by the minister of that State portfolio, Mariana Prado. In addition, Manuel Canelas is the first front-line authority of a Latin American government to be openly gay.

  • 28. VIRick  |  April 21, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Paraguay: National Elections Tomorrow, 22 April 2018

    Per Ana Fornaro, periodista uruguaya:

    Mañana, el 22 de abril 2018, son las elecciones en Paraguay y los discursos tienen un componente FUERTE de odio hacia la comunidad LGBT. Pero allí está Yren Rotela, la primera candidata trans.

    The elections in Paraguay are tomorrow, 22 April 2018, and the speeches have a STRONG component of hatred toward the LGBT community. But there is Yren Rotela, the first trans candidate.

  • 29. VIRick  |  April 22, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Paraguay: Ruling Party Candidate Wins Presidency

    Asunción, Paraguay — The son of a former dictator’s top aide won the presidential election in Paraguay on Sunday, 22 April 2018, helped by a booming economy under his party. Mario Abdo Benítez of the governing Colorado Party had 46.5 percent of the votes, with 96 percent of 21,000 polling stations reporting, electoral officials said. Efraín Alegre of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party finished second with 42.7 percent of the ballots. Eight other candidates finished far out of the running. The new president begins a five-year term on 15 August.

    Both main candidates are social conservatives who criticized sex education, marriage equality, and abortion rights. However, the election was much closer than the 20-point edge that opinion polls had given Abdo going into the election. Alegre, a 55-year-old lawyer who also finished second in the last presidential election, declined to concede, saying he would wait for the final count, although electoral officials said there were not enough ballots left to be counted to change the result.

    Abdo, a 46-year-old marketing expert, campaigned on a promise to continue the business-friendly policies of outgoing President Horacio Cartes and played down any fears of a return to the heavy-handed past of dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled for 35 years from 1954 to 1989. Abdo’s father was Stroessner’s private secretary.

    Sunday’s voting also elected all seats in Congress and 17 governorships nationwide.

    Since the vote margin between the two main candidates for the presidency was much closer than expected, we will have to wait to see how this plays out in the congressional races to determine whether Paraguay makes any progress on marriage equality within the foreseeable future.

  • 30. VIRick  |  April 22, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    US's Largest LGBT Group Takes on Workplace Discrimination in Mexico

    The HRC Foundation, an arm of the Human Rights Campaign, is launching their second survey of major Mexican corporations to gauge their policies on LGBT employees.

    EquidadMX: Programa Global de Equidad Laboral will query more than 50 Mexican companies — including the nation's largest, the state-owned oil company Pemex — on how they treat their workers. HRC wants to know if there are anti-discrimination policies in place, whether there are diversity or resource groups, and whether the companies engage in public activies — like Pride festivals, for example — to encourage inclusion and a diverse workforce. The second iteration is an increase from the 32 companies that took part in the first year of EquidadMX.

    “Major Mexican employers are demonstrating that LGBT inclusion is a fundamental value and provides a competitive business edge,” Deena Fidas, HRC Director of HRC Equidad MX and HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, said in a statement. “Businesses around the world continue to invest in LGBT inclusion to support their employees and promote talent. Mexico is leading efforts to foster inclusive workplaces across the country and Latin America.”

    HRC has also created an Equidad program for Chile and has developed a Spanish-language toolkit for employers wishing to foster a more equitable environment.

  • 31. VIRick  |  April 22, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Australian Labor Party to Ban Gay "Cure Therapy" If Elected

    The Australian Labor Party has announced a plan to ban gay "conversion therapy" across Australia, calling it a “discredited and dangerous” practice. Australia’s shadow health minister Catherine King announced the plan to federally ban the highly damaging practice on Saturday, 21 April 2018. King said that banning the practice nationwide would be her “personal priority” if the Labor Party were to be elected next year.

    “Gay 'conversion therapy' is discredited and dangerous,” she said. "As the federal shadow health minister, I urge all jurisdictions to follow Victoria’s lead and ban gay 'conversion therapy.' If this issue isn’t resolved before the next election, and I’m lucky enough to serve as health minister afterwards, it’ll be a personal priority for me.”

    The highly-disputed practice of "curing" someone of their gender identity or sexual orientation is currently banned in the state of Victoria, but is legal in the rest of the country, although Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are presently considering enacting laws to ban the practice.

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