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5/26 open thread


This is an open thread. We’ll post any breaking news.

The Supreme Court is not issuing decisions this week.


  • 1. VIRick  |  May 26, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Costa Rica: First Marriage of a Same-Sex Couple after Legalization

    Per Costa Rica Noticias:

    A las 00:01 el 26 de mayo 2020 en el municipio de Heredia, Daritza Araya Arguedas y Alexandra Quirós Castillo se convirtió en la primera pareja del mismo sexo en casarse civilmente tras haber entrado en vigencia el matrimonio igualitario.

    At 00:01 on 26 May 2020 in the municipality of Heredia, Daritza Araya Arguedas and Alexandra Quirós Castillo became the first same-sex couple to marry civilly after marriage equality had entered into force.

  • 2. VIRick  |  May 26, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Zambia: President Pardons Gay Couple Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Zambia’s president has pardoned a gay couple sentenced to 15 years in prison in November 2019 under colonial-era sodomy laws in a case that caused a diplomatic row with the United States. On Friday, 22 May 2020, Japhet Chataba, 39, and Steven Sambo, 31, were among nearly 3,000 inmates pardoned by President Edgar Lungu to commemorate Africa Freedom Day, according to the government gazette.

    A Lusaka High Court judge had sentenced them to 15 years in prison under laws that forbid sex between couples “against the order of nature.” The case drew criticism from then US ambassador Daniel Foote, who said the sentence was too harsh and could damage Zambia’s reputation. Washington later withdrew Foote following the row with Zambian authorities over the issue.

  • 3. VIRick  |  May 26, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Canada: Calgary Bans "Conversion Therapy"

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    "Conversion therapy" is now illegal in Calgary. On Monday afternoon, 25 May 2020, the Calgary city council voted 14-1 to approve a bylaw that bans the practice. Businesses that break the bylaw by offering the practice for a fee will face fines up to $10,000.

    Conversion therapy aims through counselling or religious teaching to change an individual's sexual orientation to heterosexual or to change their gender identity to cisgender, both of which have been discredited by most major expert bodies as psychologically damaging.

    Five provinces and eight other Alberta municipalities have taken steps to ban the practice, and a federal ban is also in process.

  • 4. VIRick  |  May 26, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Costa Rica: Marco Castillo, 76, Married Today After Fighting for the Right for 33 Years

    Per Karly, Cienfueguera viviendo en Costa Rica:

    Este abogado y notario, Marco Castillo, presentó la Acción de Inconstitucionalidad ante la Sala Constitucional con la que se logró una sentencia a favor del matrimonio igualitario en Costa Rica.

    This lawyer and notary, Marco Castillo, presented the Action of Unconstitutionality before the Constitutional Chamber by which the ruling was obtained in favor of marriage equality in Costa Rica.

    Per Hulda Miranda Picado:‏

    "Casarnos en un juzgado es un símbolo para ese derecho," dice activista Marco Castillo Rojas, luego de contraer matrimonio con Rodrigo Campos.

    "Marrying in a court is a symbol of that right," says activist Marco Castillo Rojas, after contracting marriage with Rodrigo Campos.

    Per Luis Manuel Madrigal:

    Marco and Rodrigo were the first couple to marry in a court (el Juzgado de Familia de Desamparados) after legalization in yet another ceremony that was broadcast. They were married before the very same judge, Maureen Solis Madrigal, in the very same court room from which, in 2011, their case had originated, with said judge being the one who initially assisted in requesting the Action of Unconstitutionality.

    Gerardo y Leonel, (otros dos activistas,) contraerán matrimonio hoy, también.

    Gerardo and Leonel, (two other activists,) contracted marriage today, as well.

  • 5. VIRick  |  May 26, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    Suriname Takes Definite Note of Marriage Equality in Costa Rica

    Homohuwelijk legaal in Costa Rica is primeur voor Midden-Amerika. Verbod op huwelijken tussen hetzelfde geslacht is nu opgeheven.

    Costa Rica is het eerste Midden-Amerikaanse land waar het homohuwelijk gelegaliseerd is. De wetswijziging werd in de nacht maandag op dinsdag 26 mei 2020 van kracht, nadat in 2018 het Gerechtshof al had geoordeeld dat een verbod op dit huwelijk illegaal was.

    Gay marriage legality in Costa Rica is a first for Central America. The prohibition on same-sex marriages has now been overturned.

    Costa Rica is the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage. The amendment came into effect on Monday night into Tuesday, 26 May 2020, after the Court of Justice already ruled in 2018 that a prohibition on this type of marriage was illegal.

    Suriname is one of the remaining 13 nations without marriage equality, but upon which the CIDH ruling on marriage equality is binding. Suriname is also the sole member state to the American Convention on Human Rights to officially utilize Dutch.

    Dutch can be a fun language, full of double-meanings, that often looks more like scrambled, mis-spelled English. "Opgeheven" (upheaved/overturned/overthrown) can also mean "thrown up," as in vomited, which under the circumstances, seems equally appropriate.

  • 6. VIRick  |  May 27, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    Malaysia: Top Court Approves Legal Challenge to Islamic Law Banning Homosexuality

    On 27 May 2020, Malaysia’s top court approved a man’s challenge to the nation’s Islamic law banning homosexuality, allowing his case to go forward. The plaintiff, whose name has not been made public, is a Muslim man in his 30’s, according to his lawyer. He was arrested in 2018 for allegedly having sex with another man, which he says he didn’t do.

    Malaysia’s official state religion is Islam, and the country has a dual-track legal system, with Islamic criminal and family law applicable only to Muslims. That legal system bans sex “against the order of nature” with a penalty of fines, caning, and up to 20 years in prison.

    The plaintiff argues that his state, Selangor, can not ban homosexuality under its Islamic legal system, where punishments are harsher, when homosexuality has already been banned under the federal civil legal system. That civil ban on homosexuality, still on the books since Malaysia was a British colony, is rarely enforced. “This will be the first challenge for the country,” his lawyer Surendra Ananth told Reuters.

    The plaintiff was one of 11 people arrested in the 2018 raid on a private residence. Five of the men have pleaded guilty and have already been sentenced to jail, caning, and fines. If the case is successful, the charges against the plaintiff will be dropped.

    “It is clear that this state law in Selangor is being used by authorities to disproportionately criminalize marginalized and persecuted communities based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said the Malaysian organization LGBTIQ Network in a statement, denouncing the “ongoing national trend” of using bans on “unnatural sex” to attack LGBTQ people.

    Malaysia: Islamic Laws Banning Gay Sex to Be Challenged in Court for First Time

    Critics say there is a worsening climate for the gay community in Muslim-majority Malaysia, with several states enacting their own Islamic laws banning gay sex. Campaigners say a victory in the challenge at Malaysia’s top court could help halt the trend of local sharia authorities introducing harsh legislation targeting gay people.

  • 7. VIRick  |  May 28, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Turkmenistan: A Number of Gay Men Sentenced to Prison for Being Gay

    A local court in Turkmenistan, an ex-Soviet republic in central Asia between the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan, has sentenced an unidentified well-known gay actor, his husband, and several others to two years in prison on charges of sodomy. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are the only countries in Central Asia where having same-sex relations is a crime. According to Article 135 of the Criminal Code in Turkmenistan, sex between two men is punishable by up to two years in prison. A repeat offense can be anywhere between five to 10 years.

    The total number of men who were arrested is unclear, although some outlets have reported it to be as many as a dozen. The men were taken into custody last month, and according to, some were released after they reportedly bribed police or struck a deal to testify against others as witnesses. The actor in question is reportedly the son of a diplomat, according to the "Star Observer," but was unable to gain freedom through bribery or family connections.

    The incident is the latest in a string of horrific incidents coming out of Turkmenistan. Last month, a 23-year-old gay man was reportedly beaten by police for being gay and HIV-positive. Pink News reported that the man was studying in Russia when he was deported back to Turkmenistan because of his HIV status, due to a Russian law that forces foreign nationals living with HIV back to their home countries.

    The young man was later arrested in Turkmenistan after trying to access HIV treatment, and beaten by police when they discovered his status. He ultimately fled back to Russia and was able to seek refuge in an unspecified European country, thanks to assistance from an unspecified LGBTQ organization.

    In 2019, a gay man named Kasymberdy Garayev went missing in Turkmenistan after posting an emotional video directed at his family imploring them to “forgive him” if he is “forcibly taken away.” According to Radio Free Europe, Garayev has disappeared twice in the last year and has since recanted his prior statement that he was gay, a move his friends believe is an attempt to protect himself from police.

    Turkmenistan is also one of only two countries worldwide (the other being North Korea) to foolishly claim that it has no cases of COVID-19, despite reputable, widespread evidence to the contrary. Instead, as part of Turkmenistan's denial process, citizens are encouraged to attend massive stadium gatherings where its president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, ostentatiously displays his horsemanship skills.

  • 8. VIRick  |  May 28, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Cuba: Proposal to Approve Marriage Equality without a Popular Vote

    Proponen que Cuba Apruebe Matrimonio Gay sin Plebiscito

    Cuando esta semana Costa Rica acaba de convertirse en el primer país de Centroamérica en legalizar el matrimonio igualitario, en Cuba surge una nueva propuesta para que La Habana lo apruebe sin la necesidad de hacer una consulta popular.

    "Vayamos a por el matrimonio igualitario. ¡Sin plebiscito!" alentó la cantante cubana, Haydée Milanés, convertida en los últimos tiempos en activista de numerosas causas sociales. La comunidad LGBTI de Cuba ha logrado crear espacios alternativos y un discurso claro, inteligente, respetuoso, y objetivo, dijo la joven.

    "La inclusión del matrimonio igualitario en Cuba dentro del Artículo 68 me parecía una ley súper justa, acorde con nuestros tiempos; una ley que ya ha sido aprobada en más de 30 países. Por ejemplo, la Ciudad de México hace más de diez años goza de este derecho fundamental. En Cuba, había tremendo revuelo, muchísima expectativa sobre este tema. Finalmente, fue excluido de la nueva Constitución y eso significó una gran decepción para muchos, incluida yo," recuerda la cantante.

    El activista, Jancel Moreno, promotor de una iniciativa para recoger firmas en favor de que se apruebe el matrimonio gay sin consulta popular, explicó a Radio Televisión Martí las acciones que se llevan a cabo para que finalmente se haga realidad. "Así que vamos a recoger las firmas. Vamos a recorrer toda Cuba para lograr que el Código de Familia sea discutido y aprobado por la Asamblea Nacional y no llevado a plebiscito, que es algo totalmente discriminatorio."

    This week when Costa Rica just became the first Central American country to legalize marriage equality, in Cuba a new proposal surges for Havana to approve it without the need for a popular consultation.

    "Let's go for marriage equality. No plebiscite!" encouraged the Cuban singer, Haydée Milanés, who has recently become an activist for numerous social causes. The LGBTI community in Cuba has managed to create alternative spaces and a clear, intelligent, respectful, and objective discourse, said the young woman.

    "The inclusion of marriage equality in Cuba within Article 68 seemed to me a super fair law, in accord with our times; a law that has already been approved in more than 30 countries. For example, for more than ten years, Mexico City has enjoyed this fundamental right. In Cuba, there was a tremendous stir, a lot of expectations on this issue. Finally, it was excluded from the new Constitution and that meant there was great disappointment for many, including me," recalls the singer.

    The activist, Jancel Moreno, promoter of an initiative to collect signatures in favor of the approval of gay marriage without popular consultation, explained to Radio Television Martí the actions that are to be carried out so that it finally becomes a reality. "So we are going to collect the signatures. We are going to visit all of Cuba to ensure that the Family Code is discussed and approved by the National Assembly and not carried to a plebiscite, which is something totally discriminatory."

  • 9. VIRick  |  May 29, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Cuba: Gay Ex-Deputy Leads Campaign to Not Carry Marriage Equality to Referendum

    Cuba: Exdiputado Gay Lidera Campaña para No Llevar a Referéndum el Matrimonio Igualitario

    El exdiputado abiertamente gay, Luis Ángel Adán Roble, dio a conocer este miércoles, el 27 de mayo 2020, una campaña que pretende alcanzar el matrimonio igualitario en Cuba sin que este sea llevado a referéndum popular. En su Facebook, el exlegislador propuso iniciar una recogida de 50 mil firmas para presentar ante la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular buscando una reforma a la Constitución.

    "Puedes convocar amigos, familiares, y vecinos recoger estos datos de manera clara y legible. Contactarme por privado para hacérmelos llegar y presentar estos documentos a manera de petición formal ante la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular de la República de Cuba y el Consejo Electoral Nacional," escribió Adán Roble.

    This Wednesday, 27 May 2020, the openly gay former deputy, Luis Ángel Adán Roble, unveiled a campaign that aims to achieve marriage equality in Cuba without it being carried to a popular referendum. On Facebook, the former legislator proposed to start collecting 50,000 signatures to present to the National Assembly of Popular Power seeking a reform of the Constitution.

    "You can summon friends, family, and neighbors to collect these data in a clear and legible manner. Contact me privately in order to have me carry them and present these documents as a formal request before the National Assembly of the Republic of Cuba and the National Electoral Council ," wrote Adán Roble.

  • 10. VIRick  |  May 28, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    USA: Same-Sex Spouses Win Equal Access to SSA Survivor Benefits

    On Wednesdy, 27 May 2020, in "Ely v. Saul," (formerly "Ely v. Berryhill"), a federal court in Arizona ruled that the Social Security Administration must consider claims for survivor’s benefits by same-sex spouses who were unable to be married for at least nine months because of state marriage bans.

    Even where couples married as soon as bans were lifted between 2004 and 2015 (the Supreme Court struck down all remaining bans in the latter year), many couples were unable to be married for the minimum nine months before one spouse died. The SSA then subsequently denied them benefits for not being married long enough, notes Lambda Legal, which brought the case on behalf of Michael Ely, an Arizona man whose husband died six months after their marriage.

    The US District Court for Arizona ruled that the denial of benefits to Ely was unconstitutional, as the law itself that had kept them from marrying had been found to be unconstitutional. The court also gave the case class-action status, providing a pathway for other surviving spouses to seek benefits.

    “This is a tremendous victory for many surviving same-sex spouses nationwide who have been locked out of critical benefits because they were unlawfully barred from marriage for most of their relationships,” Lambda Legal counsel Peter Renn said in a press release. “Many same-sex couples were in loving, long-term, and committed relationships for decades — and they shouldn’t be treated as strangers in death simply because they were unable to marry for most of that time. No one should be penalized for being the victim of discrimination. The denial of access to these critical benefits can have dire consequences, with some of our class members experiencing homelessness.”

    Ely married his partner of 43 years, James Taylor, immediately after Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down in 2014. Taylor died of cancer six months later. The SSA denied Ely survivor’s benefits for not being married for nine months, even though that was legally impossible for him in Arizona.

  • 11. VIRick  |  May 28, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Veracruz State Congress Passes Gender-Neutral Cohabitation Reform Bill

    Per Palabras Claras:

    On Thursday, 28 May 2020, behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Veracruz State Congress passed a package of reforms to the Civil Code, including "express" divorce (el divorcio "sin causado" or "no fault" divorce), a gender-neutral cohabitation bill (concubinato de dos personas), and a provision to allow parents to freely choose the surname order for their children. All three measures are required by Supreme Court jurisprudence. The vote on the reform package was 35 in favor, 14 against, and 0 abstentions.

    The new reform describes "concubinato" as a "unión de hecho" (de facto union) of two persons without specifying gender or sex, and confers upon the cohabitants all the rights and obligations of marriage, with or without children. This provision finally recognizes cohabitation for all couples, hetero and same-sex, for legal purposes.

    This site does not allow me to do the usual copy-and-paste, so the above summary free-hand translation is the result. The following shorter version does not provide sufficient detail, but does confirm the passage of the package deal:

    Per Sin Muros:

    "El concubinato es la unión de hecho entre dos personas, sin que exista un contrato entre ellos, ambos se encuentren libres de matrimonio y que deciden compartir la vida para apoyarse mutuamente.”

    "Cohabitation is the de facto union between two persons, without the existence of a contract between them, both being free of marriage and deciding to share life to support each other."

    Needless to say, the outnumbered PAN deputies went completely nuts over the passage of the gender-neutral cohabitation reform measure. But is that measure sufficient to satisfy the marriage equality jurisprudence of the Supreme Court? As soon as the entire reform is published in the official State Gazette as law, an "Action of Unconstitutionality" needs to be filed by the CEDH or the CNDH with the SCJN to determine for certain. Clue: It will not be deemed sufficient.

    Still, for her part, Mónica Robles Barajas (Morena) did her best to push the gender-neutral cohabitation measure successfully through the congress, (while recognizing that marriage equality remains pending), by wisely attaching it to the "express" divorce provision as a bundled package. As she stated, despite the shortcomings, this is the most significant up-date to the Veracruz Civil Code in 80 years. The original package, when first introduced in February, contained 52 modifications, additions, or revisions to the state civil code. It is still unclear precisely how many of these 52 were still included upon final passage, although most (but not marriage equality) appear to have survived intact.

    And thank you, Coatzacoalcos, for continuing to re-elect Mónica as your district deputy.

  • 12. VIRick  |  May 29, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Panamá: Singer-Songwriter Rubén Blades Strongly Endorses Marriage Equality

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    El cantautor panameño Rubén Blades consideró que el matrimonio igualitario está “protegido” por la Constitución Política del Panamá, y por lo tanto, “debe permitirse su existencia legal. Considero que la posición de negar el ‘matrimonio igualitario’ es completamente desfasada. Negar esa posibilidad vulnera los derechos civiles de aquellos que desean formalizar su relación sentimental para ejercer derechos que poseen como ciudadanos y como personas,” escribió el músico en un comunicado que colgó en su cuenta de Twitter.

    Blades felicita a Costa Rica por la decisión de adoptar el matrimonio igualitario que entró a regir el pasado martes, el 26 de mayo, y recuerda que Panamá geográficamente está ubicado entre ese país centroamericano y Colombia, quien también reconoce ese derecho. “Esto no es un tema de moral personal o pública. Es sobre el derecho legal que todo ciudadano tiene de verse protegido por la Constitución y a no ser considerado como se ‘segunda clase,’ independientemente de su sexo, religión, edad, preferencia política o musical,” escribió Blades.

    Panamanian singer-songwriter Rubén Blades considers marriage equality to be "protected" by the Political Constitution of Panamá, and therefore, "its legal existence must be permitted. I think the position of denying 'equal marriage' is completely out-of-date. To deny that possibility violates the civil rights of those who wish to formalize their relationship to exercise their rights as citizens and as individuals," wrote the musician in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

    Blades congratulates Costa Rica for the decision that came into force last Tuesday, 26 May, to adopt marriage equality, and recalls that Panamá is geographically located between that Central American country and Colombia, which also recognizes that right. “This is not a matter of personal or public morals. It is about the legal right that every citizen has to be protected by the Constitution and not to be considered as 'second class,' regardless of their sex, religion, age, political or musical preference," Blades wrote.

    This strong endorsement made multiple headlines today, 29 May 2020, in Panamá. Here is another:

    Negar el Matrimonio Igualitario Vulnera los Derechos Civiles, Rubén Blades

    To Deny Marriage Equality Violates Civil Rights, Rubén Blades

  • 13. VIRick  |  May 30, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Hong Kong: Court Case Filed Seeking General Recognition of Foreign Same-Sex Marriages

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On Friday, 29 May 2020, a new court challenge has been filed with the Hong Kong High Court seeking general recognition of foreign same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Hong Kong rights activist Jimmy Sham are urging the court to recognize his same-sex marriage.

    They state that the differential treatment based on sexual orientation has deprived people such as him of rights and benefits associated with marriage. The High Court has thus been asked to make a general declaration that the city’s laws violate the right to equality when they do not recognize foreign same-sex marriages.

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