Shirley Richards support Uganda “Kill Gays Bill?”

Popular anti-gay activist Shirley Richards decides to appear in a documentary made by a coalition called “Stand for Families Worldwide” which claims it exists to “expose the cultural imperialism pushed by the United Nations and by Western countries—especially the United States—and stop them from pushing a destructive sexual rights agenda on families and children worldwide“.

On their website they claim that criminalising homosexuality is a tool to help to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Consider the fact that once a behavior is legalized and destigmatized, whether sexual or otherwise, that behavior is likely to increase, not decrease. Therefore, destigmatizing homosexual sex and prostitution will likely increase these behaviors, and if these high-risk behaviors increase, there will likely be more sexually transmitted infections.

http://www.standforfamiliesworldwide.org/sffww/aids-lies/

We are not sure what proof they have that this works as Jamaica has had a buggery law since the 19th century and Jamaican MSM have one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world at 32%, which is also higher than every other country without a buggery law. Contrary to their uncited facts there is a study published in the Lancet which disproves that logic. It said:

Disparities in the prevalence of HIV infection are greater in African and Caribbean countries that criminalise homosexual activity than in those that do not criminalise such behaviour.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60722-3/abstract

Why ruin a good story with facts though?

In the video below Mrs. Shirley Richards and some other selected African orphans speak about what they call ‘cultural imperialism” because their dear anti-sodomy laws are threatened. Despite the fact that these laws were implemented by former European colonial powers and had Christianity forced on their societies they claim that removing laws against homosexuality is “imperialism” and a threat to their religious and cultural values as a way to lure viewers into feeling sorry for religious extremists and those with pro-criminalisation agendas.

Watch documentary: https://vimeo.com/49435981

49435981

In the video she claims that the US embassy in Pakistan holding a “gay party” for “local homosexuals” was “insensitive” and a “total disregard for the culture of a people”.

Lets look at how the Pakistani culture that Shirley defends is sensitive towards homosexuals. Under Pakistani Sharia laws, which were introduced in 1990, homosexual acts can draw punishments of whipping, imprisonment or even death.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14010106).

Mrs. Shirley Richards doesn’t realise also that she would be stoned to death in Pakistan for converting someone to Christianity as this would violate the country’s apostacy laws(http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=9218). This is what is involved in the “culture of a people”. She claims that human behaviours cannot be a human right which means the right to engage in Christian practices is not a human right. According to Shirley’s logic, she would support her own execution.

Shirley Richards claims that anal sex must be illegal because it is “unnatural”. How many things can you spot in her portrait that would land her in prison if we were to outlaw everything considered “unnatural”?

Towards the end of the video an Ugandan woman defends the anti-gay laws and policies of Uganda by claiming that seeing people dying from AIDS gave them the duty to put the “right policies in place” because homosexuality erodes the very fabric of their society.

The Jamaica Observer gives a report of the “right policies” Uganda intends to put in place:

The Ugandan parliamentarian who first introduced an anti-gay bill that carried the death penalty for some homosexual acts reintroduced the bill yesterday, raising concerns among rights activists who have been fighting the legislation.

Homosexuality, already illegal under Uganda’s penal code, is highly stigmatised in Uganda. Opinion polls frequently show the bill’s wide support among Ugandans. Lawmakers other than Bahati have sometimes spoken passionately about the need for such a law, and none have condemned it.

Anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage [in] acts of homosexuality” would face seven years in prison. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to gays also could get seven years.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Uganda-s-anti-gay-bill-reintroduced-in-parliament_10727280#ixzz29OwuZrZ0

Shirley Richards claims that opposing laws against homosexuality is “deception” and “a total disregard for the culture of a people”.

Is she tacitly supporting the policies to execute homosexuals in Uganda?

hhhhmmm interesting take

News and Views by Dionne Jackson Miller

Jamaica House and the People’s National Party (PNP) have been making much of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s inclusion on Time Magazine’s List of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. The list comprises, Time says, “the people who inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world… the breakouts, pioneers, moguls, leaders and icons.”
It sounds really great for the Prime Minister of a small country like Jamaica to be included on the list. She is one of 38 women listed, more, the BBC reports, than ever named before.  And after all, she’s not in the rogue section populated by people like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or Syrian president Bashar al-Assad!

But why is she there?

The blurb about her is written by US Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, daughter of former NY city councilwoman Una Clarke, herself a Jamaican, and a longtime friend of…

View original post 918 more words

Another geographic change blow dealt to the cruising community

Cruising is nothing new. It’s been going on for hundreds of years, and its history is a part of the history of our cities and public spaces. As cities grew and populations became more anonymous, new opportunities for chance encounters arose, for straight and queer people alike, and the figure of the stranger took on an erotic allure. Parks have always been places where strangers meet for overlapping and divergent reasons. By day, children play, families picnic, tourists take respite, neighbours walk their dogs, joggers jog. By night, teenagers hop fences to snog, hookers and rent boys ply their trade, lovers admire the moon, addicts shoot up, and gay men fuck, jerk and suck

These encounters are embedded in our cultural history. Thanks to Mark Turner for reminding us of that, it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

So valued are these outdoor spaces and the need for pleasure that the slightest adjustment, aesthetically or otherwise shakes up the mind of the experienced cruiser, imagine my surprise when I got a frantic call from a member of that active community expressing shock, some outrage and near rage that his stomping ground has been bulldozed, the cruising community in 2010 had a tumultuous year with spot after spot being literally changed or totally annihilated right before their eyes with some fallout in the process some of which I dare say look rather psychologically troubling as persons seem to just be lost or in some sort of shock knowing they cannot act out their fetishes or desires in these former active open year concealed to the public spaces. The death of one of their members also sent shock waves for months as many of the men refused from visiting the areas namely in West Kingston and onwards. Multiple near misses by inexperienced newcomers were also a cause for concern for some of the more elder statesmen.

see:  Some cruising challenges ………. and The Cruising community’s dilemma ….. also:  Outdoor sex and the issues to being caught and: Cruising community challenges continue …………

Of course as the previous administration, the JLP were the representatives for that area it was not surprising to see infrastructure development taking place after decades of neglect. It is safe to name the spots now seeing they are now defunct, the old railway station and its environs was one spot for decades used by generations of cruisers young and old alike, thugs and effeminates alike, gay and bi-curious alike including gay for pay or trade members as well. These members are not exposed to the rest of the LGBT community and subsequent advocacies that exist and most are not keen to come forward to present their grouses except to persons they feel won’t humiliate them due to their tastes in sexual contact outdoors preferably.

The frantic caller this morning was a long time friend and he insisted I came to Kingston for him to show me the new look of the wooded area now turned a backhoe and dumper truck parking spot as renovations continue in that part of town by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, KSAC and with the former active mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie crossing over to representational politics and winning the sure JLP seat in the constituency there is bound to be far more adjustments to the area knowing his style. We met in Kingston early this morning along with another younger thug he introduced me to, he again expressed his frustrations of the missing spot as he did on the phone prior to my arrival. We walked to the section leisurely and as was told to me the spot was indeed gone but the reaction of the gentleman is still puzzling to me, it’s a public space, there is bound to be changes in the long run so why this attachment to it along with the need for cruising in that specific area could affect someone so much? There must be an explanation for this. The other spots across town have also been disappearing fast and with no serious LGBT spots available with dark rooms etc for this kind of intense sexual release what are cruisers both active or secretive ones to do?

When the thug friend of the troubled cruiser suggested renting an overnight room for pleasure he expressed the refusal of many of the cheaper priced motels do not allow same sexed guests so easily these days and the more affluent hotels who do not question guest’s gender before booking are too expensive, typical four star Kingston hotel room is at $8000/night average he also made a very important acknowledgement to the whole world of cruising where he said it takes away from the thrill when one rents a room for sex, there is no excitement knowing you may be caught but gets away with it anyway.

There has been an ongoing discussion with some influentials to provide some more sexually charged entertainment to offset some of the wants of some of these brothers whether they will absorb these proposed offerings is another matter seeing that the erotic elements maybe missing and that thrill factor our brother alluded to, plus they may not have the money in all cases to pay the admission fees.

Repeating a section of a previous post – Some sort of intervention is needed I feel but if we can’t even get any honest moves to deal with issues directly infront of our eyes especially with the least amongst us that being the homeless msms then how are we going to deal with a population that is for the most part clandestine even to the rest of the LGBT community’s eyes. My few interactions with these men has also revealed that these aren’t the typically profiled brothers but are men who sometimes are bisexual or have the occasional female partner or that male from the lower economic strata who uses the Kingston proper region to earn a living near the market district but are same gender loving or willing to practice some sort of sexual contact with other men. Stealth is a crucial tool in this game as these brothers are mostly very masculine and it may not be known how they are in their natural state in a few instances.

Keep a cruising carefully brothers.

Peace and tolerance

H

Buju Banton’s battle with Babylon …..

The career of Jamaican reggae dancehall artiste Buju Banton is associated with antipathy towards gays and informers. Though it is his Boom bye bye song that has brought him most infamy by calling for the killing of gay men, he has been no less graphic in prescriptions of violence against informers or snitches.

It seems somewhat ironic, then, that in his impending trial before a Florida court on federal drug charges, his two co-defendants have offered guilty pleas and decided to give evidence against the four-time Grammy nominated singer. Defendant Mark Myrie (Buju Banton’s real name) finds himself faced with charges that carry a minimum sentence of 20 years, if convicted. The case against him relies on a criminal justice practice against which he has often railed as a reggae performer.

Perhaps no community ever likes a snitch. From mafia movies to hip hop, popular culture disdains any violation of communal trust in favour of law enforcement. Hip hop queen Lil’ Kim did a year in prison, rather than “rat on” colleagues in a criminal case. Jamaican dancehall music is no exception in upholding this tradition. Like the reggae music of Bob Marley, dancehall has its roots in the mean streets of Kingston, where anti-authoritarian sentiments are common and the police are sometimes indistinguishable from other enemies. Street credentials are maintained by demonstrating these values.

If such thinking makes for a counter-orthodoxy of sorts, Buju Banton, asthe self-styled Gargamel, has preached its message with pious rage. He cites his ancestral origin as a maroon – runaway slaves that fought against the British colonisers in Jamaica – as the psychic foundation for his fight against modern-day ills. In his view, this includes an uncompromising war with the gay community and all forms of Babylon – that is, the state and its law enforcement arms.

Buju Banton’s sense of righteousness also comes from his Rastafarianism. His unwavering opposition to homosexuality, for example, taps into the native morality of that faith: it’s not just about the bible and a clear understanding of right and wrong, but also the nationalist fervour in protecting the island of Jamaica from the corrupting forces of foreigners.

That Buju Banton has ended up in a court of law in the US on cocaine-related charges must seem like the work of evil forces, given his worldview. Unlike marijuana, which is part of the Rastafarian sacrament, cocaine is not seen as imbuing any spiritual purpose or authenticity. It is the drug of hedonism, which entangles Jamaica as a transshipment point for moneyed narco-barons. Unsurprisingly, the singer’s arrest immediately sparked wild rumours of a setup – with the bizarre suspicion trail leading to his fight with gay rights groups in the US.

However Buju’s case is decided, it has already cranked up massive tensions. There is the obvious mutual suspicion, if not downright hostility, between communities of urban music – dancehall reggae, in particular – and law enforcement agencies. It may be nigh impossible, to have any credibility within the value system of these communities and simultaneously cooperate with the criminal justice system. It is not clear how that gap can be closed, but these are serious concerns for law and order.

Then, too, Buju Banton has never apologised for Boom Bye Bye, which many hold out as the pre-eminent anthem of violent homophobia. Rightly or wrongly, this case is now seen by some gay rights activists as a proxy for settling old grievances – a chance that the singer will finally get his comeuppance, as they see it. Since there is no sustained dialogue between the dancehall establishment and gay rights groups, it is likely that whoever perceives themselves being the “losing side” in this proxy war will simply dig in deeper and become more embittered. That will be unhelpful, to say the least, for any dialogue of respect and reconciliation.

Source

A glimpse into the lives of Taboo Yardies

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

TABOO YARDIES, a documentary that examines Jamaica’s indifference toward homosexuals, will have a screening at the General Theological Seminary in New York City next week.

Selena Blake, a 49 year-old Jamaican filmmaker who is producing Taboo Yardies, says persons attending the April 24 event will see 17 minutes of the film which is expected to be released in late 2009.

“I hope that the documentary will be a springboard in the way we as Jamaicans conduct ourselves in the name of God,” Blake told The Gleaner this week from her home in New York.

Blake, who was born in Old Harbour, St Catherine, started work on Taboo Yardies in 2007. Through interviews with gay Jamaicans in the United States and Canada, she attempts to show the un-initiated a look at the prejudice homosexuals face in Jamaica.

The documentary also has interviews with businesspersons who have suffered because of the anti-gay themes of some Jamaican dancehall acts. Businesspersons like show promoter D’Niscio Banks of the annual Carifest concert who was strongly criticised by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg for inviting Buju Banton and Bounty Killer on that show last year.

Thumbs-up from gay advocates

Taboo Yardies has already got the thumbs-up from gay advocates like Wayne Besen who has called for Americans to boycott Jamaica and Jamaican products, due to persistent violence against gays in the country.

“I strongly urge all people interested in stopping the anti-gay violence in Jamaica to see Taboo Yardies, a film-short on the issue. I saw a preview of the movie and I highly recommend it,” said Besen, author of the book, Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.

Same-sex unions are illegal in Jamaica. Intolerance for homosexuality in the country has been played out in many dancehall songs, the most infamous being Banton’s 1994 underground hit, Boom Bye Bye.

Blake has lived in New York City since 1979 and made a living as an actress and catalogue model before branching out into filmmaking. Her first film, 2005’s Queensbridge: The Other Side, is a documentary about the Long Island housing project where she lives.

Beyond Blood Identities, by Dr Jason D Hill interview by the Observer

Beyond Blood Identities by Jamaican-born American philosopher Jason D Hill hits the bookstores. Campion College alumnus and former Jamaica Gleaner staff reporter, Dr Jason Hill has put himself at the centre of controversy. In his new book, he argues that our obsessions with racial, ethnic and national identities are a form of psychosis and damages our moral fibre. I caught up with Dr Hill, who is on sabbatical with his partner in Berlin, on the eve of the publication of his new book.

Beyond Blood Identities by Dr Jason D Hill hits the bookstores this week. Its controversial thesis that tribalism is a form of psychosis which damages our 20091024T060000-0500_162495_OBS_BEYOND_BLOOD_IDENTITIES_1moral fibre is already garnering fervent supporters and strident detractors around the world. Book cover shows photo of a woman receiving the light of knowledge.
Pondi Road: Congratulations on your second book: Beyond Blood Identities. What is your primary thesis or main themes in this book?

Jason D Hill: Thank you. My main thesis is that clinging to a very strong racial, ethnic, or national identity is akin to having an addiction. It is a psychological crutch that bolsters self-esteem while adding nothing to your moral character. It gives people some kind of biological prestige, if you will, and prevents them from truly relating to others outside their groups in a deeply profound manner.

Pondi Road: Are you saying that it is a bad thing for someone to be proud of being Jamaican or American or Jewish? Right now a lot of Jamaicans are celebrating the ongoing achievements of Usain Bolt as the fastest man in the world. On the other hand, there are also many of us who are ashamed every time there are headlines of hoodlum Jamaicans going on badly at home and abroad. Is there something wrong with identifying with other Jamaicans and being proud or ashamed of being Jamaican depending on what our fellow countrymen do?

Jason D Hill: Pride comes from individual achievement and accomplishment. I’d like someone to identify what is there to be uniquely proud of being Jamaican. Any trait associated with being Jamaican: resilience (which we have), hard-working, dignified, don’t-take-crap-from-nobody – all these are universal traits which every other ethnic group claims as theirs. Why are we trying to cling on to Bolt’s achievements? Because they give us national prestige. But in truth they have nothing to do with us as individuals. We should be proud of human achievements, period-wherever we find them in the human community. As a lover of humanity, that is the code I live by.

20091024T060000-0500_162495_OBS_BEYOND_BLOOD_IDENTITIES_2Jamaica-born American Philosopher Dr Jason D Hill decked out in Indian garb in the promotional photo for his new book Beyond Blood Identities. Dr Hill is a Campion College graduate and former Gleaner staff reporter who earned his phD in Philosophy from Purdue University and is currently an Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago.
Pondi Road: Are you saying that you feel no difference between a Jamaican winning an Olympic medal and some other country winning that medal? Or that as a black man you felt no particular sense of anything when Obama was elected president of the USA?

Jason D Hill: As a huge Obama fan I felt pride in the capacity of the United States to continually renew itself, to finally abide by the fundamental principles of its constitution. It was first and foremost rational pride I felt in America and in that moment, yes, in being an American. America proved itself worthy of emulation. It had overcome immense prejudice and carried through on its constitutional principles. I would have felt the same pride if a woman or an openly gay candidate had won. But yes, as a person of colour Obama’s presidency carries special resonance for me. But let us be clear on one thing. It is America and the American people first and foremost that deserve praise for executing this extraordinary historical phenomenon.

Pondi Road: So it is OK for us to feel a “special resonance” when someone in our tribal group like race or country achieves something significant. How or when then does tribalism go awry and damage our moral fibre and interpersonal exchanges?

Jason D Hill: No, I don’t mean to say it is alright when someone in our tribal group achieves something to feel this special pride. Psychologically, it is understandable. The special resonance comes from knowing that in a race-conscious society such as the United States you are implicated in the achievements and the failures of a member from your category when you are a minority. Tribalism goes awry when we imbue morally neutral features of a person like race, ethnicity and nationality with moral significance. Being German tells us nothing about a German’s character at all. The problem is that we denigrate the characters of those who are not like us because we imagine that their race or ethnicity lacks the high-prestige value and moral salience of ours. We demonise them in order to feel special – not like them – about ourselves.

Pondi Road: OK. Understood. Early leaks to the press about your book revealed that you have problems with the notion of Jews as a “chosen people”. The history of Judaism is wrapped up in their special and unique relationship with God.

20091024T060000-0500_162495_OBS_BEYOND_BLOOD_IDENTITIES_4Jason out and about in Manhattan with mother Diane Hill (to his left) and her posse Dorothy Simmonds and Sheila Timoll.

Jason D Hill: Yes. And that relationship is over. Jewish history has come to an end. The Promised Land was delivered in 1948. Jews can no longer continue this infantile relationship to a God that forced them to repeatedly prove themselves in a most sado-masochistic manner. It’s time to end the drama and claim equal status among all of God’s children. Jews actually are dehumanised by being exceptionalised: a special humanity is conjured up for them and this, I believe, may partially explain some of the hostility directed towards them throughout history: sibling rivalry is at play here. All monotheistic religious groups have been envious of this special relationship between Jews and God. Let us not forget they were related by blood to the most famous Jew: Jesus; and that it was a Jew, Paul, who created Christianity.

Pondi Road: But why would they give up that special status? If God has chosen them but their Promised Land remains under threat, how can you argue that Jewish history has come to an end? God did not exactly deliver them to a problem-free land.

Jason D Hill: They give up the special status because the historical circumstances that led to them being chosen have expired. They are no more. The Jews are ordinary and just like everyone else. Nothing special about them anymore. It is their responsibility to protect the Promised Land. God cannot guarantee eternal protection from external threats. Exactly who has that luxury? Every nation is potentially under threat from any rogue state that chooses to exercise illicit power. The idea of being chosen is offensive. I’m sorry. They will need to correct a mistake that God apparently made in having favourites among his children.

Is it time for Jews to end their special and unique relationship with God since the Promised Land was delivered? Dr Hill says that the idea of being a ‘chosen people’ is offensive and this notion has to end. Here is Domenico Fetti’s painting of Moses confronting the burning bush when the special relationship between the Jews and God was first forged. ‘Remove your shoes for this is hallowed ground.’ (Photos: Pondi Road)
Pondi Road: As we move into the twenty-first century, do you see an increase or decrease in the significance of tribal identities?

Jason D Hill: I feel that as globalisation spreads we are seeing the resurgence of nationalism across the globe. Globalisation is perceived as having a levelling effect, and I fear that in order to hold on to their particularity people are going to bolster their tribal identities. As someone who lives in Europe six months each year I see the political right galvanising the European working classes into an Us – versus – Them mentality – the them, of course, being the Muslims, the immigrants, the Arabs. Nationalism concerns me the most because it speaks to the nostalgia in people’s hearts. People imagine some magical past when they were invulnerable and it’s always a despised Other that is now present which prevents them from retrieving this past. Serbian nationalism was based on this premise, as was National Socialism (NAZISM).

Pondi Road: How do you understand tribalism in Jamaica? Are we affected by it in any serious way?

Jason D Hill: Not in any original way. Jamaicans tend to be clannish but so are several other groups.

Pondi Road: How about pigmentism with shades of black and brown as societal markers? PNP vs JLP politicism? Classism? Would these not count as our tribal pathologies?

Jason D Hill: Sure, but those are standard tribal pathologies. Nothing particularly unique or interesting about those. But deep down a ‘brownas’ in Jamaica still sees a black-skinned person as a true Jamaican and not some animal! And that is a difference. In the United Sates and NAZI Germany, blacks and Jews, respectively, were seen as sub-human. It is to the credit of the Jamaican people that despite the ruling pigmentocracy – there is no such word as pigmentism – of the country, brown Jamaicans will still defend a black Jamaican as a Jamaican. I would exclude political parties from the domain of tribalism. However irrational people are in coming to hold their political allegiances, they are value-based and are open to all. Anyone can choose to become a JLP or PNP. In that sense it would be an open tribe, which is a contradiction in terms.

Pondi Road: The choice for the cover of the book is interesting. What is the image? What are you trying to convey?

Jason D Hill: The image is of a woman looking into the light and receiving almost superhuman knowledge. She gets it. I mean, the meaning of life. I am trying to convey a heroic image of humanity, to say that we can go beyond the conventions, the binding norms, and the oppressive mores of our cultures and be completely transformed.

Pondi Road: As part of your global tour of lectures and signings to promote the book, will you be coming to Jamaica or taking part in our literary festival Calabash, next year?
Jason D Hill: No, I will not, unfortunately. I am in principled self-exile from Jamaica. I have not been to Jamaica in 15 years and will not return until homosexuality is de-criminalised. That is my moral stance and I intend to stand by it.

Pondi Road: Why have you taken that stance with respect to Jamaica? There are tons of countries at different stages of political and social development where human rights of different groups are not fully guaranteed whether it is based on race, religion or sexuality. Why single out Jamaica for special self-exile?

Jason D Hill: Well, there are some truly pernicious countries like Saudi Arabia which practises gender apartheid, and even Russia, which is lapsing into a state of incivility that I would never visit. Jamaica is the country of my birth. I left there when I was 20 years old. I’ve singled it out, of course, because as a gay person I certainly would not be comfortable living there or even visiting with my partner of twelve years. I think that in an era when half of Europe is in the process of legalising gay marriage, to have a country in which you can be arrested for your sexual orientation is regressive. But things will change when gay people and people who stand for human rights take ownership of morality and defend the rights of gays on moral grounds. This is a moral battle, and only in the crucibles of implacable moral principles can this battle be won. The homophobes cannot have an exclusive monopoly on moral discourse. Morality is on our side.

Pondi Road: Noted, but it is still unfortunate that you will not be coming to Jamaica as part of your promotional tour. What are you working on now?

Jason D Hill: Well, I am under contract to write my third book which is about how to achieve moral clarity in our lives. And I just finished a novel, a massive multi-generational political and family saga about Jamaica from the 19th century up to the 1970s.

Pondi Road: Both sound quite interesting. Congrats on all your success and good luck with this book and all future endeavours. Allow me to be tribal and say that I am certainly proud to see Jamaicans pushing out in all kinds of different disciplines beyond music and sports for which we are already well-known. Thank you for taking the time to share your sociological and philosophical insights.

Jason D Hill: Thank you for giving me a forum to share my views. Good night.

Source

Germany gives pension rights to gay civil partners

Germany gives pension rights to gay civil partners

gay marr germanyGermany’s high court today ruled that civil partners of government employees are eligible to receive the same pension rights as their straight married counterparts.
 
Germany’s high court strengthened the rights of gay couples on Thursday, ruling that government employees with registered civil unions are entitled to the same pension plans as married couples.
 
The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, the highest court in the country, heard the case of a Hamburg public servant who had been in his job since 1991.
 
The public-sector pension company VBL had refused to consider him in the same way as a married person, despite the fact he had been in a civil partnership for eight years.
 
Under VBL’s stance, he would have received €74 less each month than a heterosexual married man, while his partner would receive no surviving dependants’ pension if he died.
 
The court ruled today that VBL’s position was unconstitutional.
 
According to The Local, the unnamed man’s lawyer Dirk Siegfried said: “I see this as a very big step for the equality of homosexual marriage not only for employee pensions, but in many other areas too.”
 
In August, the same court confirmed that gay and lesbian people can adopt their partner’s children, overturning a previous court ruling.
 
It rejected the argument that to allow the female partner of a child’s mother to adopt would undermine the rights of the other biological parent.
 
A recent study revealed that 6,600 children in Germany are being raised by gay and lesbian parents.
 
However, gay or lesbian people or couples cannot adopt children they are not related to.
 
Social Democrat politicians, including Germany’s Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, have called for a change to the law.
 
Gay and lesbian couples can register their partnerships and their rights include most of those of marriage, including the possibility of stepchild adoption, but they are denied the same tax benefits.
 
A failure to give gay partners the same benefits infringes the basic right to equal treatment, the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said.
 
The decision nullified an earlier ruling from the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) regarding a Hamburg man who has been a public servant since 1991 with a supplementary pension. The public-sector pension company VBL – the largest such company in the nation – refused to give the man married status, despite the fact that he’d been living in a registered civil union for eight years. This meant that his retirement benefits would be €74 less each month, and his partner would receive no surviving dependants’ pension in the event of his death.
 
But constitutional law forbids privileging one group above another, the court found. VBL is now required to adjust its benefits.
 
“I see this as a very big step for the equality of homosexual marriage not only for employee pensions, but in many other areas too,” the Hamburg man’s lawyer Dirk Siegfried said.
 
Openly gay Green party MP Volker Beck called the decision a “conclusive breakthrough.”
 
The legal protection of marriage and family can no longer be used to discriminate against homosexual couples, Beck added, calling the ruling a “clear defeat for the conservative ideologists” in among Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
 
He also encouraged the German government to give homosexual couples equal treatment in tax law.

SCJ Summer Camp 2008

Couples & Singles Camp 2008

It is here for the first time

~ When ~

SunshineCathedralJamaica

~Presents ~

Summer Camp 2008

August 29-31 2008

$JA3500.00/$US50 per person

Come and enjoy a wide range of fun filled activities for the
weekend

Contact your Chapter coordinator(s) at:

8538271(Kingston) 8897617(Ocho Rios),

853-9303 (Montego Bay),

853-9280 (Mandeville)

sunshinecathedraljamaica@gmail.com

Cuban law may recognise same-sex partners, say officials

The proposed change to Cuban family law would put members of same-sex unions on a par with heterosexual couples, said psychologist Mariela Castro, who is the daughter of acting President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel.
By Gemma Pritchard • January 21, 2008

The Cuban Communist Party is considering granting legal recognition to same-sex unions, as health officials prepare to authorise sex-change operations, the director of the Cenesex sex education centre in Cuba has said.
The proposed change to Cuban family law would put members of same-sex unions on a par with heterosexual couples, psychologist Mariela Castro, who is the daughter of acting President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel, told EFE.
Cenesex, which was founded in 1989 as a department of the Public Health Ministry, approached Cuba’s parliament two years ago with a proposal to overhaul the 1975 Family Code to recognise the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals. But it is the Communist Party that will decide whether the proposal becomes law.
“We are receiving suggestions and debating adjusting the proposal so it is more flexible and has more chance of being approved,” Mariela Castro told EFE.
The principal needs of Cuban homosexuals “are related to the right to their recognition as consensual couples, as non-matrimonial couples, but that authorities recognise their property and inheritance rights in those non-legalized unions,” she said.
“That is their principal interest. They are not interested in marriage, they are not interested in adoption, because in Cuba there are hardly any children to adopt.”
She added that besides legal recognition, gays, lesbians and transsexuals in Cuba want respect: “Let no one feel the right to humiliate them, nor harm them, nor exclude or reject them, that we strengthen within the family this ethic of accepting everyone and of not being discriminated against for sexual orientation.”
The Public Health Ministry in Cuba is currently in the process of approving regulations that would allow sex-change operations.
Mariela Castro said that a team of Cuban physicians is already in training to perform such procedures.
In an interview with EFE last August, the 45-year-old psychologist said her struggle for the equality of the sexes and gay rights would “enrich the Cuban Revolution.”
But she added that the task is not an easy one in a “patriarchal” society where many remember the UMAP labour camps where homosexuals and the ideologically suspect were interned in the late 1960s.