International News: October 2015

New Australian PM Insists on Public Vote for Marriage Equality


The newly appointed Australian Prime Minister has announced that he plans to go ahead with a public vote on same-sex marriage.  Malcolm Turnbull’s (right) announcement signals a change from his predecessor, Tony Abbott, who staunchly opposed marriage equality.

Turnbull’s plan to go through with a plebiscite, or public vote, on marriage equality, is not without criticism.  Opponents of the plebiscite argue that it will be expensive, lament its long time scales, as well as the fact that it is not legally binding.

Anglican Church of Kenya conducts anti-gay purge, suspends priests

The Anglican Church of Kenya has suspended five priests suspected of engaging in homosexual activity. Mt. Kenya West diocesan Bishop Joseph Kagunda said the clergymen were found guilty by an appointed tribunal, but they still have a right of appeal. If the five priests do not appeal, they will be excommunicated, according to the Daily Nation.  Rev. Kenneth Changes, Nairobi-based director of Changing Attitude Kenya, an organization that seeks acceptance of LGBTI people in the church, criticized the decision, saying “from where I stand, it is unchristian to discriminate against others in church.”

Thai University Introduces Mandatory Class on Transgender Issues

jimmyBangkok’s Thammasat University has made a Social Life Skills class mandatory for its incoming freshman.  Among music, arts and sports, the course will also include a three-hour session on sexuality, with part of the focus on gender identity issues.

Kritipat (Jimmy) Chotidhanitsakul (left), president of the Transmen Alliance of Thailand, is among the guest lecturers, Asian Correspondent reported.


Uber Driver Allegedly Calls Cops on Men Kissing in London

Two gay men in London claim an Uber driver booted them out of his car and called the police after they exchanged a “peck on the lips” in the backseat.  According to Metro the driver allegedly said “man should not kiss man,” and told them to get out of the car.  When the men refused, the driver called the police.

Metro reported that when the officers arrived, the driver was making kissing noises and pointing at the two men. Police calmed the situation and helped the two men order another ride.  One of the men, Sam Simons, took to Twitter to vent about the situation.

The car service took swift action, and in a statement to the Evening Standard an Uber spokesperson said: “As a company we do not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever, and we have been in contact with this rider to offer our support. In any incident, such as this, we suspend the driver in question while we investigate.”

European Parliament Demands Action on LGBTI Rights

Rainbow-Heart-HandsThe European Parliament adopted a new report on fundamental rights in the EU, which includes an extensive section on the situation for LGBTI people. For the first time, a parliament report condemns medically unnecessary genital surgery on intersex infants.  It also speaks out in favor of making legal gender recognition procedures easier for transgender people, highlights that same-sex couples everywhere should have access to marriage or registered partnerships and demands for a comprehensive strategy against homophobia.

By Rachel Roth

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