International News: December ’14/January ’15
Cuba’s Bid to Host GLBT Conference Not Without Controversy
Critics are calling foul on Cuba’s efforts to host an annual GLBT conference in 2016, arguing that the sentiments “lack merit” given the country’s poor record on human rights. “In Cuba there are no rights for the GLBT community or for anyone else,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said, calling the effort “unconscionable,” the Washington Blade reported.
According to the article, Cuban GLBT rights advocates who are associated with the country’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) – of which Mariela Castro Espín (left), daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, is director – made an elaborate pitch during the ILGA World Conference in Mexico City. It featured several video clips of events associated with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia that took place throughout Cuba in May.
Malaysia Court Rules in Favor of Transgender Rights
A three-judge panel unanimously ruled in Malaysia that a ban on cross-dressing is discriminatory, overturning a Sharia rule that was in place in the Negeri Sembilan state. The court called the law “degrading.” Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called for a review of the ruling, as did the Minister of Islamic affairs Jamil Khir Baharom.
Armenian Activists’ Suit Dismissed
A court in the Armenian capital of Yerevan dismissed a suit against the editor of a newspaper who published an article in May naming more than 50 “homosexual lobbyists” as part of a “blacklist of [the] country’s and nation’s enemies.” The suit was brought by 16 of those named, including Mamikon Hovsepyan, head of the LGBT organization PINK Armenia.
The article, which was titled; “They serve the interests of international homosexual lobbying: the blacklist of country’s and nation’s enemies,” called for the people named to be ostracized and fired from their jobs.
Lamda Legal Challenges Puerto Rico’s Marriage Ban
Lambda Legal appealed a ruling by a federal judge in Puerto Rico that upheld the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage. The motion for appeal was filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston a week after U.S. District Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez ruled in favor of Puerto Rico’s ban.
New Zealand Could Expunge Homosexuality Convictions
Officials in New Zealand are considering wiping the criminal records of men convicted under an anti-homosexuality law that became obsolete in 1986. Justice Minister Amy Adams, who recently assumed the post, signaled a willingness to discuss the convictions telling the Dominion Post that expunging the records was “a good thing to do, because the law as it used to be was grossly wrong.”
GLBT Couple Circumvent Russian Marriage Laws
A lesbian couple got married in Russia and it’s believed to be the country’s first same-sex marriage. The women were able to wed in a country known for its Draconian anti-LGBT legislation because one was born male but lives as a woman and is undergoing hormone therapy, Agence France-Presse reported.
In related news, a memorial to the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, which resembled a giant iPhone, was taken down in St. Petersburg, in part due to Apple CEO’s Tim Cook’s announcement that he is gay.
Slovak Court Advances Anti-GLBT Referendum
Slovakia’s Constitutional Court allowed a referendum on the rights of GLBT citizens to proceed to a popular vote. The referendum identifies marriage as between a man and a woman and addresses same-sex couples’ right to adopt, and proposes an opt-out option for sexuality education.
By Rachel Roth