Germany is set to annul the convictions of gay men under a law criminalising homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-war Germany.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas is to overturn the convictions and create a “right to compensation”.
About 50,000 men were convicted between 1946 and 1969, under a 19th-Century law that the Nazis had sharpened.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1969, but the legislation was not taken off the books entirely until 1994.
“We will never be able to eliminate completely these outrages by the state, but we want to rehabilitate the victims,” Mr Maas said in a statement. “The homosexual men who were convicted should no longer have to live with the taint of conviction.”
For those with past convictions for being gay, the decision has been a long time coming.
In 2002, the government decided to overturn any convictions made during the Nazi period, but this did not include men convicted after the war.
Now a study commissioned by the Federal Anti-discrimination Agency has found the government is legally obliged to rehabilitate the men.
The author, professor Martin Burgi, says all convictions must be overturned, and suggest compensation should be offered for educational projects.
The head of the Anti-discrimination Agency says she is happy with the results. Christine Luders says that the “open wound in the rule of law” will need to be healed.
Germany has allowed civil partnerships since 2001, and gay couples have the same tax status and adoption rights as married couples.
Pressure is growing on the government to allow gay marriage, particularly after Ireland adopted it last year.
A mob in Senegal have “burned” and “ransacked” buildings at a university in search of a gay student.
The crowd formed last Tuesday at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, after one student accused another of hitting on him in the showers.
Amateur footage showed the group going around various buildings of the institution, shouting “you homosexual” and telling the victim of their attacks to show his face to the camera.
When the man was able to escape, the group turned violent burning and trashing various buildings.
A security guard at the university said hoards of young men gathered on campus near a bank and a restaurant, before causing riots.
Speaking to France 24, he said: “They were screaming ‘We are going to kill him!’ and the young man, who was being chased, hid inside the offices of the head of campus security.
The mob wanted him to come out and there was a heated exchange between them and the security personnel.
“The bank decided to evacuate its staff until the police arrived.
“The police fired teargas to disperse the students so the young man could come out.
“The angry students went on to burn down the buildings belonging to the campus security guards. They also destroyed the ATM outside the bank as well as the bank’s signs. They openly criticised security guards for ‘helping a homosexual’ man flee.”
The guard also added that the incident was the first time he had witnessed students attack security guards.
Djamil Bangoura, president of Prudence, an organisation that supports the LGBT community in Senegal, said mob justice was common in the country when someone was suspected of being gay.
“This isn’t the first time that a mob has gone after someone suspected of being gay at Cheikh Anta Diop University,” he said.
“Since 2012, we’ve counted nine similar cases. Some of these students dropped out of school because of these events.
“These mobs are often sparked by mere suspicions or rumours that someone is gay, not by facts.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal and punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of 1.5 million CFA Francs or both.
A number of MEPs have condemned Hungary’s decision to block a Europe-wide agreement on LGBT rights.
The Dutch government, which currently holds the EU Presidency, had tabled a draft agreement at the Council of the European Union this week, which called on the European Commission to tackle homophobic and transphobic discrimination, promote measures to advance LGBTI equality, and step up efforts to collect data on the treatment of LGBTI citizens.
The agreement has been welcomed by the majority of member countries – with conservative countries including Latvia, Lithuania and Poland dropping their initial reservations.
Following the news, three members of the EU’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights have spoken out against the decision.
Austrian Green MEP Ulrike Lunacek said: “I strongly welcome the efforts by the Dutch Presidency to put this on the agenda and the attempt to reach unanimous Council Conclusions on the List of Actions.”
“Although it is disappointing that the Hungarian government has taken this as an opportunity to show itself from its most homophobic side, the broad agreement among all other Member States is really a promising sign of increased LGBTI acceptance across Europe.”
Italy’s Daniele Viotti MEP, continued: “The support by 27 Member States for EU action on LGBTI equality, should give the Commission, Parliament and Member States the necessary backing to continue working towards full equality for LGBTI people.”
“We cannot let one country halt all progress on LGBTI rights. Equality simply cannot wait any longer!”
Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld added: “The Dutch Presidency has demonstrated a clear commitment to getting the rights of LGBTI people on the Council’s agenda. I call on them, and on other allies in the Council, to intensify their efforts in convincing Hungary to ensure a successful Dutch Presidency for LGBTI people.”
The UK’s only Liberal Democrat MEP, Catherine Bearder, told PinkNews yesterday in a statement: “The EU has played a vital role in advancing LGBTI rights across the continent in recent year, including by making it illegal to refuse someone a job on the grounds of sexual orientation.“But the reality is that in some European countries LBGTI people still face daily persecution and discrimination.
“It is a disgrace that governments like Viktor Orban’s in Hungary are blocking progress in this area.
“The UK should use our influence in the EU to ensure LGBT rights are respected across our neighbourhood.”
A statement from Hungary’s right-wing government said: “Hungary is not in the position to agree with the list of actions to advance LGBTI equality.”
The agreement had called on the European Commission and member states “to take further action to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and to conduct awareness-raising to advance LGBTI equality”.
However, it added that it was important to “fully respect the Member States’ national identities and constitutional traditions as well as the competence of the Member States in the field of family law… [while] paying attention to the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons.”
Portugal legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, but a right-leaning Parliament who prevented couples from adopting made the country an outsider in the marriage equality movement. The 2015 elections ushered in what’s called the Left Bloc majority in the Portuguese Assembly and the Bloc made the adoption bill one of their first priorities since being sworn in.
Together with members of the ruling coalition, the gay adoption bill was passed in December of 2015, but the out-going president vetoed it in late January. 116 votes in favor were needed for a successful overturn of the veto and the undeterred members of Parliament today raked in support from 137 of the 230 Assembly seats, including votes from the President’s party. Since no changes were made to the bill, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva is now constitutionally obligated to sign the bill within 8 days of its arrival on his desk.
Following unanimous approval in both the Greenlandic and Danish Parliaments, the same-sex marriage and adoption bill was given the ceremonial Royal Assent on Wednesday.
The island’s new Civil Code will become gender-neutral and couples will begin marrying the day the law comes into force on April 1st. Greenland’s Bishop had been looking forward to couples being allowed to marry in the local Church since the bill was first proposed in 2014.
The bill repeals the registered partnership law adopted from Denmark in 1996 and expands full adoption rights to all couples. Previously, only stepchild adoption was allowed since 2009. The joint adoption clause will go into effect on July 1st.
The other part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Faroe Islands, is currently discussing its own same-sex marriage bill with hopes of the first weddings being held in July.
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated Saturday in nearly 100 cities across Italy to urge the government to permit gay and lesbian couples to have civil unions and legally recognized families.
Mirco Pierro, 39, rallied in front of the Pantheon in Rome with his partner and twin infants, saying he wanted “to defend the rights of our children, not just our rights.” Pierro and his partner were married in Los Angeles but their union is not recognized in Italy and only one of them has parental rights.
“They are here. They exist, they are part of our families, and it is unfair that they do not have the same rights as other Italian children,” he said. “This is the main reason that bring us here.”
The gay rights group Arcigay estimated that 1 million people participated in the demonstrations, calling it “a historic day for our country.”
The Italian government has pledged to pass legislation on civil unions for homosexual couples, along with measures allowing both parents, not just the biological parent, custody in a homosexual union. Campaigners say the lack of parental recognition causes problems on a daily basis for gay parents, from simple school permission forms to health care decisions.
Italy lags behind many of its European neighbors in conferring such rights due to strong opposition in this predominantly Roman Catholic nation. The opposition has submitted over 6,000 amendments to the proposed civil unions legislation in a bid to stop its passage. It is scheduled to be debated next Thursday in the Senate.
In what could be considered an encouragement for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, President David Granger has said that he is prepared to respect the rights of any adult to indulge in any practice which is not harmful to others.This revelation was made on Thursday last when the President engaged reporters following his weekly televised show “The Public Interest” which is aired on the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN). It comes against the backdrop of countless calls for the reexamination of laws which discriminate against persons comprising the LGBT community.
According to the Head of State, the issue has been one which has existed throughout human history and given the fact that this period is considered a “modern age,” he is of the conviction that human rights should prevail. “I am prepared to respect the rights of any adult to indulge in any practice which is not harmful to others” he said.
He continued that, “I would like to feel that there should be some element, first, of respecting the human rights of individuals, and second, at the Governmental level, free choice; that persons should be able to express their views freely without necessarily sticking to a party line.”
However, noting that this is not an issue which has been ventilated at the level of Cabinet, President Granger maintained that human rights are paramount, over party opinions. Presently, Guyana is the only country in South America where homosexual acts are still illegal. Under the laws of Guyana, homosexual acts carry a possible punishment of life imprisonment.
According to the Criminal Law (Offences) Act of Guyana: Section 352: Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission, or procures or attempts to procure the commission, by any male person, of any act of gross indecency with any other male person shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years.
Section 353 states: Everyone who (a) attempts to commit buggery; or (b) assaults any person with intent to commit buggery; or (c) being a male, indecently assaults any other male person, shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for 10 years. Section 354 and 355 further states that: Everyone who commits buggery… shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life.
Everyone who (a) does any indecent act in any place to which the public have or are permitted to have access; or (b) does any indecent act in any place, intending thereby to insult or offend any person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for two years. But the law does not specifically define “buggery”, “gross indecency”, or “indecent”.
However, while the Head of State did not divulge on when the review of these laws can be expected, LGBT rights activist, Vidyaratha Kissoon has commended the President’s efforts which seems to encourage acceptance of Guyana’s LGBT citizens. He further highlighted the fact that Guyana is a signatory to human rights obligations which aims to repeal the sodomy laws, cross dressing laws and to amend the Prevention of Discrimination Act to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“The lives of LGBT citizens cannot be determined by any citizen whose religious views encourage discrimination. The President seems cautious in his leadership in trying to be cohesive. However, human rights are not the gifts of religious groups to any other group of the society” Kissoon said. And referencing the fact that all political parties had committed to, in their manifestoes, addressing discrimination against the LGBT community, the activist charged the National Assembly to address its human rights obligations towards LGBTI Guyanese. The process, he said, must be steered by the President. A Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) set up to hold consultations on the recommendations to decriminalise adult same sex relations here was divided when it was convened. Joel Simpson, Managing Director of SASOD, has said in the past that the APNU+AFC coalition Government had campaigned on platforms of national unity, social cohesion, equal rights and gender equality. He also noted that their manifesto states “We commit to putting in place measures which will ensure that all vulnerable groups in our society, including women, children, persons with disabilities, rural and Indigenous women, youth, the elderly and the sick and pregnant, and those marginalised because of sexual orientation are protected and not discriminated against.” On that note, Simpson stated that they expect the new Government to bring action to their rhetoric and take legal and policy measures to prohibit discrimination by including sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited categories in the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997 and the Guyana Constitution, repeal laws criminalising same-sex intimacy and cross-dressing and end the discriminatory policy against gays and lesbians donating blood at the National Blood Transfusion Service.
Since InterPride started its Pride Radar initiative in 2012, almost 800 Pride celebrations have been identified around the world. InterPride’s Vice-President and author of the 2014 and 2015 Pride Radar report Frank van Dalen and his team are discovering new Prides on a weekly basis. “With the global Pride movement growing, we see new Prides coming up in hostile environments, but also in smaller cities in the Western world” van Dalen says.
At the same time the distribution of Prides does reflect the social and legal climate for LGBTI-people around the world. Many Prides are expectedly held in relatively friendly areas,of the Western world, such as in Canada and the United States. A high density of Prides are similarly held in the Northern and Western parts of Europe. Until recently, Prides organized in Eastern Europe would meet resistance from both authorities and the public.Regrettably, Prides are rate in Africa and the Middle East, where the death penalty is often still in place against homosexuals.
In India, Prides are very often molded in the form of a typical movie festival. In China, InterPride has only identified three Prides so far. Although homosexuality itself is not criminalized there anymore, a significant social taboo still exists. At the same time, the Chinese government is extremely reluctant to allow big public demonstrations taking to the streets. With India and China each registering over one billion inhabitants, including tens of millions of LGBTI people, we anticipate that changes in the legal system and in the social climate will allow the Pride movement in both countries to grow in the years to come.
In Australia, most Prides can obviously be found in the cities along the coastline. Smaller Prides in countries located in the pacific ocean, and in New Zealand in particular, are organized on an annual base. In Latin America, many Prides are celebrated in Brazil. Just recently, the Pride Radar team was able to identify over 30 Prides in Mexico, a huge bump from the previous estimate of five celebrations!.
Language barriers, varying naming traditions for Pride events and the absence of many smaller Prides on the internet are all reasons that make it hard to identify all Prides without local stakeholders. As an example, Pride events exist in Cuba, but they are held over the five-day period of IDAHO week, in a different city every day! This kind of format is difficult to track.
In the years to come, the Pride Radar team will continue working to identify new Prides around the world and collect data characterizing these Prides. It will help InterPride to support the growth of the global Pride movement, and it will provide the crucial data and information needed by those who keep working for a more LGBTI-friendly world.
If you want to see if your Pride is already part of the Pride Radar, or if you want to add additional information to the Pride Radar database, please go to www.interpride.org where you will be redirected to the Pride Radar. For more information you can also contact [email protected].
A gay man in the central Chinese province of Hunan has filed a lawsuit against the government for refusing his application to marry his male partner, in a move that has been hailed as a major test case for LGBT rights in the country, his lawyer told RFA on Monday.
Sun Wenlin, 26, filed the complaint against the Furong district civil affairs bureau in Hunan’s provincial capital Changsha earlier this month, challenging the bureau’s refusal to allow the couple to register their marriage.
Sun is arguing that current Chinese marriage law refers to the union of “husband and wife,” but without specifying the gender of either party to the marriage.
The argument rests on the idea that a person can identify as a husband or a wife without reference to their gender.
The complaint was filed at the Furong District People’s Court, which has until Dec. 23 to decide if it will accept the case.
Sun told the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time blog: “We just hope that we can legally become each other’s family in our own country someday in our lifetime.”
“Our most basic desires and rights have been denied, and this is very difficult to vindicate. I feel very angry,” he said.
Young people hold rainbow flags as they march on the street during an anti-discrimination parade in Changsha, central China’s Hunan province, May 17, 2013.
A ‘sensitive’ case
Meanwhile, Sun’s lawyer Shi Fulong told RFA that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have yet to fully enter public awareness in China.
“We have filed this administrative complaint because the civil affairs bureau failed to carry out its duty to register marriages,” Shi said. “We are appealing to the court to order it to proceed.”
He said the gradual liberalization of gay marriage in Western countries and some U.S. states has paved the way for changing attitudes in China.
“Gay marriage is now legal in a lot of countries, which affects a lot of individual rights including property rights and inheritance, as well as matters relating to children,” Shi said.
“All of these things are inherently tied up with marriage, and homosexuality is also subject to social conventions and questions of cultural tradition,” he said.
Shi said he hopes the case won’t be regarded as “sensitive” by the authorities.
“In my view, there’s no such thing as a sensitive case, because from a lawyer’s point of view, all clients are equal,” he said.
“We won’t treat our clients differently because of their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, or other differences.”
Long way to go
A Guangzhou resident who runs a support group for the friends and relatives of LGBT people said there is still a long way to go for LGBT rights in China, but welcomed Sun’s lawsuit.
“This is the first case to do with gay marriage in this country … and really it’s quite epoch-making,” the man, who gave only a nickname A Qiang, said.
“For gay marriage to become legal, it will have to win broad public support, and at the moment only about 22 percent support it, or thereabouts,” he said.
“There is still a long way to go for gay marriage in China, but the good thing is that there has been huge change [globally] in the past decade or so, and the overall trend is towards legalizing gay marriage,” he said.
Sun’s case comes after Guangzhou-based lesbian Qiu Bai filed a lawsuit against the government after it approved and disseminated university textbooks describing homosexuality as a “psychological disorder.”
Qiu took legal action against the ministry of education in Beijing after reading discriminatory language in a nationwide student psychological handbook published by the prestigious Renmin University.
However, there are signs of shifting attitudes among the younger generation, and among some companies.
How many Chinese would identify themselves as gay is unknown, as social stigma associated with homosexuality remains widespread, with many choosing to marry despite their orientation.
More and more educated urban Chinese have begun coming out in recent years, while the gay dating app Blued has estimated that China is home to 13 million gay men, and says it currently has three million users.
Last February, Internet giant Alibaba paid for 10 same-sex couples to get married in California, as part of a contest it said would help to promote LGBT rights.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s private member’s bill to decriminalise gay sex was rejected in the Lok Sabha on Friday, with the former minister saying it was “surprising to see such intolerance”.
Tharoor had proposed to amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexual acts between consenting adults.
The Supreme Court had ruled in 2013 that only Parliament can change Section 377, which prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”, and is widely interpreted to refer to homosexual intercourse. A lower court had overturned this section of the code in 2009.
“The bill proposes to restrict applicability of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to non-consensual sexual acts between persons or sexual acts with persons under the age of eighteen years as long as such acts are not punishable under sections 375, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E of the Indian Penal Code,” Tharoor’s proposal earlier said.
“Intro of Pvt.Member’s Bill2decriminalize consensual sex btwn consenting adults defeated in LS 71-24. Surprising to see such intolerance (sic),” Tharoor tweeted.“Notice of intent to oppose introducn of Bill came so late there was no time 2rally support. Will try again in future. We shall overcome!,” he added.