Displaying items by tag: lgbt

Australian Politician Calls For Immediate Suspension Of Foreign Aid To Indonesia Over Gay Lashings

  • Published in World


"Suspend aid and the policy might just change."

Justice Party senator Derryn Hinch has called on the Australian government to suspend its aid program to Indonesia, after two Indonesian men were publicly caned in Aceh.

The men, aged 20 and 23, were allegedly having sex in a house in Aceh on March 28 when a group of vigilante enforcers entered the dwelling and filmed them.

The men were sentenced to 85 lashes each, and the sentence was carried out in front of a crowd of hundreds of people in Banda Aceh on Tuesday.

According to Human Rights Watch, they each received 83 lashes, with two subtracted for the two months they had spent in detention.

Australia and Indonesia have a crucial bilateral relationship, with significant cooperation on a number of economic and political fronts, notably trade and tourism.

Australia budgeted $365.7 million in foreign aid to Indonesian in the 2016-17 financial year, and has budgeted $356.9 million in 2017-18.

Hinch said in a statement the government should suspend all foreign aid to show Australia's "disapproval and disgust".

“Coupled with the jailing of Jakarta's Christian governor, known as Ahok, for blasphemy earlier this month, the use of this medieval form of punishment indicates that Indonesia’s values far from align with our own," he said.

The Victorian senator said he was "disappointed" by the Australian government's silence about the canings, which he described as "barbaric".


Foreign minister Julie Bishop's office said Bishop had raised Australia's "serious concerns" with the Indonesian government about the canings.

"Earlier this month, the Australian government recommended that Indonesia reject discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity, during Indonesia’s UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review," Bishop's office told BuzzFeed News.

That's not good enough for Hinch.

“Foreign minister Julie Bishop has reportedly raised concerns with the Indonesian government about these canings," he said. "Well, let’s hit them where it hurts. Suspend aid and the policy might just change."


Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong told BuzzFeed News the caning was "deeply disturbing news".

"Labor is fundamentally opposed to the oppression of anyone on the grounds of their gender, sexual orientation or their religious beliefs," she said.

"We would support a clear and unambiguous statement by the government expressing Australia’s firm position on these matters."

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Taiwan top court rules in favor of gay marriage

  • Published in World

TAIPEI, Taiwan – A top Taiwan court ruled in favour of gay marriage on Wednesday, May 24, a landmark decision that paves the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalize same sex unions.


The constitutional court said Taiwan's current Civil Code, which stipulates an agreement to marry can only be made between a man and a woman, "violated" the constitution's guarantees of freedom of marriage and people's equality.

It gave Taiwan's government two years to implement the ruling.

If parliament does not make the change within two years, the court said same-sex couples could register to marry regardless, based on its interpretation.  

"The current provisions of the marriage chapter do not allow two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of an intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together. This is obviously a gross legislative flaw," a statement from the court said. 

The push for equal marriage rights has gathered momentum on the island with hundreds of thousands rallying in support.

But there has also been anger among conservative groups, who have staged mass protests against any change in the law.

The court ruled that the decision to allow gay marriage would contribute to social stability and protect "human dignity."

Supporters from both camps had gathered in central Taipei to await the decision, with hundreds of pro-gay marriage campaigners flying rainbow flags outside parliament.

A panel of 14 grand justices made the ruling – a majority of 10 was needed. Only two judges dissented.  – Rappler.com


Texas revives transgender ‘bathroom bill' for public schools

  • Published in U.S.

A transgender “bathroom bill” reminiscent of one in North Carolina that caused a national uproar now appears to be on a fast-track to becoming law in Texas — though it may only apply to public schools.

broader proposal mandating that virtually all transgender people in the country's second-largest state use public restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates sailed through the Texas Senate months ago. A similar measure had stalled in the House, but supporters late Sunday night used an amendment to tack bathroom limits onto a separate and otherwise unrelated bill covering school emergency operation plans for things like natural disasters.

Republican Rep. Chris Paddie wrote the hotly-debated language, saying it had “absolutely no intent” to discriminate. Under it, transgender students at public and charter schools would not be permitted to use the bathroom of their choice but could be directed to separate, single-occupancy restrooms.

“It's absolutely about child safety,” said Paddie of the East Texas town of Marshall. “This is about accommodating all kids.”

His change passed 91 to 50. Final House approval should come Monday, sending the modified bill to the Senate, which should easily support it. Texas' legislative session ends May 29, but that's plenty of time — even if the bathroom bill is scaled back enough to only affect the state's roughly 5.3 million public school students, and not the general public.

“This amendment is the bathroom bill and the bathroom bill is an attack on transgender people,” said Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat. “Some people don't want to admit that because they are ashamed, and this is shameful.”

A small group of Democratic female legislators went into the men's restroom just off the House floor before debate began in protest. With Republicans enjoying solid majorities in both of Texas' legislative chambers, though, such opposition was purely symbolic.

Houston Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, one of the House's longest-serving and most respected members, likened the new language to when restrooms nationwide were segregated by race.

“Bathrooms divided us then and bathrooms divide us now. Separate but equal is not equal at all,” Thompson said, drawing floor applause.

Under President Obama, the U.S. Department of Education tried to implement requirements that school districts nationwide allow transgender students to choose campus bathrooms or locker rooms they wished to use. Texas led a lawsuit challenging that directive, and a federal judge in Texas ordered it suspended. President Trump rescinded the order in February.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he wants to sign a bathroom bill into law. House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, has been even more vocal opposing one — saying it could hurt a Texas economy that has been among the country's strongest in recent years.

Top firms, chambers of commerce and lobbyists also have decried the bathroom bill in all forms as bad for business. Many Hollywood actors and music stars have suggested state boycotts, and the NFL and NBA have expressed concerns about it passing — even though Houston successfully hosted this year's Super Bowl.

Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls, NBA All-Star Games (three) and NCAA men's Final Fours (five) than any other state. San Antonio is scheduled to host another Final Four in 2018, and Dallas is hosting the 2018 women's NCAA Final Four.

Supporters described limiting the scope to schools as “middle ground” and hinted that it could soften the kinds of costly boycotts that hit North Carolina after it approved its bathroom bill last year. The NCAA pulled sporting events and the state faced losing billions of dollars in related economic fallout, though some opposition has quieted since North Carolina lawmakers voted in March for a partial repeal.

Straus said in a statement that the House amendment “will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact” of the original Senate bill, which was closer to what North Carolina's original looked like.

But opponents still vowed to fight Sunday's Texas amendment with lawsuits.

If the Legislature succeeds “in forcing discrimination into Texas law, you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings,” Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and director of law and policy at the national gay rights group Lambda Legal, said in a statement.



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