World News

Here’s some of the latest stories from around the globe.

India

Gay Relationships Recriminalised

India’s Supreme Court has ruled in favour of reversing a 2009 Delhi High Court order which decriminalised homosexual acts. Prior to 2009, a law more than 140 years old decreed that homosexual relationships were punishable by a ten year jail sentence. The Supreme Court has now ruled in favour of reinstating the law after being petitioned by various social, political and religious groups. The court has stated it was up to parliament to legislate on the issue.

Arvind Narrain, a lawyer for the Alternative Law Forum gay rights group, told reporters that ‘such a decision was totally unexpected from the top court. It is a black day.’

USA

Utah Gay Marriage On Hold

The State of Utah has reinstated its ban on same sex marriage.

On December 20, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the state’s ban on same sex marriage violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. Following this, over 900 same sex couples obtained marriage licences in the state of Utah. However, the Supreme Court has since put these marriages on hold while a federal appeals court further considers the issue.

James Magleby, a lawyer for couples who sued to overturn the ban, has stated that while the halt to same sex marriages may be temporary, it is disappointing because it leaves Utah families waiting to marry until the appeal is over.

UK

Adoption Ban Lifted for Gay Couples in Northern Ireland

Same sex couples may now apply to adopt children in the same way as heterosexual couples. Health Minister Edwin Poot tried to challenge an appeal court decision to allow adoption rights for gay couples, but the Supreme Court said the appeal did not meet the criteria. Until the ban was lifted, a single gay, lesbian or bisexual person could adopt children, but a couple in a civil partnership could not. Northern Ireland was the only place in the UK where such a ban existed, and they are now in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

According to a Department of Health Spokesperson: ’Following the Court of Appeal judgement in June 2013, unmarried couples, including same sex couples, and those in a civil partnership may apply to adopt. The final decision regarding the granting of an adoption order will lie with the court.’

UK

Same Sex Weddings to Begin in March

It was first thought that the first same sex marriages would not take place until the next British summer. It has recently been decided that the first same sex weddings will be able to take place from the 29th of March onwards. Those wishing to be amongst the first to marry will need to give formal notice by the 13th of March. The proposals were backed by Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat leaderships alike.

Equalities Minister Maria Miller said ‘Marriage is one of our most important institutions, and from March 29th 2014 it will be open to everyone, irrespective of whether they fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite sex.’

Germany

First Out Lesbian Cabinet Minister

Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks came out in a newspaper and became the country’s first openly lesbian cabinet minister. Ms Hendricks has been a member of the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament, for 19 years and a member of the Social Democrats for 20. The sixty two year old practising Catholic mentioned in an interview with the Rheinische Post that she would “be spending New Year’s Eve with her life partner”. Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s former foreign minister, became the country’s first openly gay cabinet minister in October 2009.  A February 2013 poll found that 74% of the German population support same sex marriage.

Bahrain

Court Gives Gender Reassignment Approval

The court has granted two trans men who work for the government the initial approval for gender reassignment. The lawyer of the two men stated that they had been referred to a medical examiner by the High Administrative Court. This is expected to lead to them being legally recognised as male, and allowed to undergo gender reassignment surgery abroad. They have both sought permission to go abroad for surgery, but needed the approval of authorities in order to acquire legal recognition of their gender identities. Both men will be asked to see a medical examiner before and after the surgery. According to their lawyer, Fawzia Janahi, “The medical examiner does not choose if the two women will undergo a sex change operation, he only examines them and records their medical situation. This is just a start for them to be able to live their lives normally.”

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