International News: June 2014
Japan’s First Lady Marches in Pride Parade
Japan’s first lady Akie Abe joined the annual gay parade in Tokyo to show her support for the LGBT community. The Agence France Presse reported that the 51-year-old wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo wrote on her Facebook page that she strives to “help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facing discrimination.” Abe also wrote that she has been involved in LGBT activism since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year.
France Sees Spike in Anti-Gay Violence
Hate crimes in France have risen drastically in the past year following the country’s legalization of same-sex marriage.
According to SOS Homophobie, an LGBT group that helps people who have been the victim of hate crimes, a physical anti-gay attack was reported every two days, a rise of 54 percent from the previous year. Attacks on the whole rose by 78 percent. The organization also said that the number of distress calls to its helpline has increased by 25 percent from 1,977 in 2012 to 3,500 in 2013.
Australian Lawmakers Consider Same-Sex Marriage Recognition
The Australian Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Committee will hold an inquiry on legally recognizing same-sex marriages performed overseas. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced a bill that would recognize them if passed, Gay Star News reports. The senate inquiry will examine the legal and constitutional aspects of recognizing overseas same-sex marriages while Australia’s Marriage Act continues to ban them at home and also the economic and social aspects of any reform. The Australian government already recognizes heterosexual marriages performed in other countries.
California Activist Takes Pride to New Heights
A California activist and business owner expressed disdain for Uganda’s Draconian anti-LGBT laws in a unique way. Neal Gottlieb, the founder and owner of San Rafael-based Three Twins Ice Cream, planted a rainbow flag atop Mount Stanley’s 16,753 foot tall Margherita Peak, the highest in the East African country. Gottlieb said that he planted the flag to protest the recent passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which calls for life imprisonment for LGBT people and criminalizes the so-called promotion of homosexuality.
School for Trans Students Reopens
An Islamic school in Indonesia, which is exclusively for transgender students, has reopened after a brief closure when the school’s founder died. According the Jakarta Post, the school – known locally as a Pesantren Waria – opened in 2008 and was the first of its kind. It is now housed in the home of a local LGBT activist and serves 35 students who learn Islamic studies and are given a chance to work and earn money.
Proposed Law Addresses Homophobia
Lawmakers in Cyprus are considering a bill that would punish homophobic behavior with fines and possible jail time. The legislation, introduced by the House Legal Affairs Committee, proposes offenders face a €5,000 – approximately $6,800 – fine and a prison sentence of up to three years.
AKEL MP Aristos Damianou told the Cyprus Mail that the time has come to address homophobic behavior, especially because racist and xenophobic behavior are already criminalized. A bill regarding civil unions should also be ready for vote some time this summer.
by Rachel Roth