National News: February 2016
by Rachel Roth
TRANSGENDER RIGHTS ACTIVIST ATTACKED
A transgender activist was attacked and received “inhumane” treatment from doctors and police officers. According to The Nation, men on motorcycles shot and injured Adnan, a member of Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He was taken to a hospital in Peshawar, where he was refused treatment for nearly two hours. Police arrested the attackers, and the two men had allegedly been harassing Adnan for months.
JAMAICAN ACTIVIST, ATTORNEY CHALLENGES THAT LAW
A Jamaican gay rights activist is legally challenging the Caribbean Island’s anti-sodomy law that criminalize consensual sex between men. The Guardian reported that attorney Maurice Tomlinson filed a claim in Jamaica’s supreme court challenging the constitutionality of the “rarely-used” 1864 laws that ban anal sex and anything interpreted as “gross indecency” between men. In addition to working with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Tomlinson is a senior policy analyst with the Toronto-based advocacy organization.
STUDENTS RECEIVE MAXIMUM SENTENCE FOR HOMOSEXUALITY
Six Tunisian students were found guiltåy of homosexuality and each sentenced to three years in prison. The court in Kairouan also banned the men from returning to the city for five years after they complete their sentences. The young men were arrested in November and December and made to undergo anal examinations after their neighbors reported them.
LESBIAN WOMAN RAPED AND MUTILATED IN BRUTAL KILLING
The body of a young, South African lesbian woman has been found after she disappeared shortly before Christmas. Motshidisi Pascalina – thought to be aged between 18 and 20 – was discovered in a field close to her home in Gauteng province and was allegedly tortured and raped several times before being burned. Authorities indicated that they thought the brutal murder and assault was the result of ‘corrective rape’ – in which men try to ‘cure’ lesbian women of their sexuality by raping them. Four men have since been arrested in connection with Pascalina’s murder but have yet to be charged.
FIRST OUT TRANS CANDIDATE TO RUN IN IRELAND
Activist Ellen Murray has officially announced her candidacy for the Green Party elections in Belfast in May this year, making history as the first openly transgender candidate to run for office in all Ireland. The 22-year old woman, will stand for the Green Party in West Belfast in May’s Stormont Assembly poll.
FDA lifts ban on gay blood donors
The Food and Drug Administration lifted the 30-year ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood in late December. There are still stringent restrictions that limit who can donate. In place of the ban, the FDA announced new policy barring donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year. While activists say the new policy is a “step in the right direction,” it still stigmatizes gay and bisexual men. The FDA considered eliminating all restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, but concluded that would increase the transmission of HIV through the blood supply by 400%.
Alabama’s top judge tries to block marriage equality law
Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has ordered state officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Moore issued an administrative order saying the Alabama Supreme Court never lifted his directive to probate judges to refuse licenses to gay couples. According to the Associated Press, the majority of the judges in Alabama’s 67 counties are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, although at least three Alabama counties suspended all marriage license operations Wednesday in response to Moore’s order.
Indiana bill would impose fines for using “wrong” bathroom
A bill has been introduced in Indiana that would fine people $5,000 for going to the bathroom. The Single-Sex Facilities Act, written by Republican Senator Jim Tomes, would effectively ban any toilets that aren’t designated “male” or “female”.The bill specifically targets schools, saying; “student facilities in school buildings must be designated for use by female students or male students, and may be used only by the students of the biological gender for which the facility is designated.” The bill could also result in a misdemeanor for a transgender man or woman to “knowingly or intentionally enters a single sex public facility that is designed to be used by [the opposite gender].”
New York will fine for willful, wanton misuse of gender pronouns
The New York City Commission On Human Rights has officially banned willful misuse of gender pronouns as part of a new update to the city’s 1945 Human Rights Law. The new guidance, released on December 21, will fine employers, landlords and service providers up to $250,000 for deliberately addressing individuals by the wrong name or gender pronouns. The penalty amount will be determined based on the severity of the violation, a history of previous violations, knowledge of the NYC Human Rights Law and the violating company’s size.
Pioneering psychiatrist who shed light on homosexuality, dies
Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, known for his successful effort to stop treating homosexuality as an illness died on Dec.25. According to The New York Times, Dr. Spitzer died from complications of heart disease. He was 83. In 2012, Dr. Spitzer publicly apologized for a 2001 study he authored claiming that so-called reparative therapy could be successful. Because of his work, homosexuality is no longer classified as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (D.S.M.), the handbook used by health care professionals.
SCOTUS denies parental rights to unmarried lesbian
The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a woman who says Florida’s same-sex marriage ban deprived her as parental rights. The woman, Peggy Willis, claimed that the now defunct Florida ban on same-sex marriage stopped her from having the same rights as opposite-sex parents. A lower court in Florida had ruled that Willis had no parental right to the child conceived by a previous female partner.
School for LGBT youth to open in Atlanta
A private school for LGBT youth and their allies is slated to open in Atlanta by September of this year. Pride School Atlanta is a K-12 institution designed to be an alternative for LGBT students, though the school is open to any student who feels like they’re not getting the support they need for “being different,” Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Zsilavetz, and educator for 25 years, said that teachers donors will also have the freedom to “be who they are.” The school would be modeled after the Harvey Milk school in New York City and other education centers across the country designed for, but not limited to, LGBT youth. Pride School would be a so-called Free Model school with a setup more unstructured than traditional schools, where students’ interests are supposed to drive what they learn.