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U.S. State Department Response to UN Human Rights Council Working Group UPR Report «

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

The US State Dept. published a response to the UN's Universal Periodic Review in full support of Recommendation 86, which says "no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on…their status as a person in prostitution". The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group who worked with the UN’s US delegation praised the statement. "We are especially happy to note that the Obama administration is taking human rights abuses against sex workers seriously," RJ Thompson, Woodhull's Human Rights Program Director said.

But many US sex workers, who face discrimination and violence from US police forces, expressed skepticism. A sex worker rights advocate and blogger who writes under the name elrond said: "Will this mean sex workers can get tested for STDs in the US without fear of arrest? While cities like New Orleans who imprison sex workers for long sentences, I some how don't think so."

Read brief source…[kot-contrib]. (Thanks, maymay!)[/kot-contrib]

13-year-old girl raped & impregnated in Peru, attempts suicide, and is still denied abortion

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on 13-year-old girl raped & impregnated in Peru, attempts suicide, and is still denied abortion

In Peru, a country with one of the most strict anti-choice laws in the world, 13-year old L.C. was raped and impregnated by a man close to her family. "She realizes she’s pregnant, climbs to the roof of a local building, and jumps," Melanie Abrahams writes, retelling the horrific story. But it gets worse, "The fall doesn’t kill [L.C.], but leaves her with a paralyzing spinal injury. Doctors say an operation could restore her ability to walk, but upon realizing she’s pregnant, they insist they cannot help as the procedure could endanger the fetus."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, L.C. eventually miscarries. Now that an abortion isn't required, doctors operate, but months of delay leave L.C. without the ability to walk, no bowel control and minimal use of her arms. "They fear something else: the stigma," Dr. Luis Távara, President of the National Commission for Ob-Gyn Certification, said of the doctors, "professional stigma, social stigma, or familial stigma [for providing abortion service]."

Read brief source…[kot-contrib]. (Thanks, maymay!)[/kot-contrib]

Is sex a human right? (via early to bed)

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Early To Bed has a great rundown of a recent controversy:

In England, a 21 year old man with learning disabilities is receiving government funding to take a trip to Amsterdam for the purpose of losing his virginity to a prostitute. … This is just one of the many people receiving sexual services funded through a £520million scheme introduced to empower those with disabilities.

[A social worker] claims, "Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights." Jezebel points out the sobering point that this is similar to language used by misogynists to defend rape. … [D]oes any one else find it odd that a country where prostitution is illegal has no problem sending a young man to see one elsewhere?

So, is sex a human right? No, but sexuality is. … Should taxpayers foot the bill for a 21 year old's sex holiday? Hell no.

This sheds some much-needed light on debates over acceptable sex and, more importantly, personal sexual responsibility.

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Russian dairy to fire women over abortions | World | News | Toronto Sun

Posted: August 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Wonder what the desegregation of Church and State would look like? Actually, you don't need to wonder, just look at Russian company "Russkoye Moloko" (Russian Milk), whose "ecologically safe" dairy products are sold all over supermarkets in the former Soviet Union. President of the company, Vasily Boiko-Veliky, has announced that his company will fire any woman who has an abortion because they "don’t want to work with killers," as well as any employee who refuses to be married in Russian Orthodox Church ceremonies.

Why the strict regulations? Well, "Boiko-Veliky said the record heatwave Russia has endured this summer was punishment for sin and that church weddings could improve things." Obviously. The crackpot Boiko-Veliky seems to think this will go over well: "I expect [my 6,000 employees] to be faithful and to repent," he said, adding he wants "to prevent future sins by employees" with the rules. He is apparently unconcerned his company's rules violate Russian labor law.

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COSTA RICA : Gays Unite Against Referendum on Civil Unions – IPS

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on COSTA RICA : Gays Unite Against Referendum on Civil Unions – IPS

Religious groups in Costa Rica have collected 150,000 signatures (mostly at Christian places of worship) petitioning the government to put a proposed law banning same-sex civil unions to popular vote, rather than have it decided by the legislature. Discussion of passing a same-sex civil union law has been ongoing in the predominantly Catholic nation since 2006.

Alexandra Loría, one of 4 lawyers who began the petition, said the referendum was timed to coincide with municipal elections and would therefore likely get a high voter turnout. She rejects opponents' arguments that the referendum is an attempt to violate human rights. "It is about human rights, which cannot be left in the hands of a group of homophobic Catholics," Ombudswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum said, adding "we are completely against" it. Meanwhile, the Costa Rican Coalition of Sexual Diversity Organisations and Groups (CONODIS) campaigns against it, and says it will take the legal fight to international courts, if it must.

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Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California –

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

“Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians,” Judge Vaughn Walker wrote in his decision overturning Proposition 8, the controversial ban on same-sex marriage in California. He concluded that the measure, approved with voter ballot by a slim margin of 52.3%, “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Â… Because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Supports of “Proposition Hate” repeatedly used “think of the children”-style arguments in testimony at the 2 and a half week trial.

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‘I was scared to sleep’: LGBT Youth Face Violence Behind Bars | The Nation

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘I was scared to sleep’: LGBT Youth Face Violence Behind Bars | The Nation

"Many judges in rural Louisiana still conflate sex offenses with sexual orientation and gender identity," says Wesley Ware of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana in an article by Daniel Redman. "50 percent of the gay youth picked up for nonviolent offenses in Louisiana in 2009 were sent to jail to await trial, while less than 10 percent of straight kids were." This heart-wrenching piece is just painful to even read.

"Sending LGBT victims of violence into isolation, instead of punishing their attackers, is common practice across the country, even though a federal court has held the practice to be unconstitutional and the American Psychological Association opposes it," and "In an East Coast state that's the subject of an ongoing investigation, prison authorities permit religious volunteers to enter a youth facility to lead explicitly antigay Bible classes. Lesbian youths who refuse to attend the programs have had their sentences extended from nine to upwards of thirteen months."

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The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights |

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights |

We don't always know much about the people we want to help; that's why it's important that we listen to them just as much, if not more, than we talk to them. Meena Seshu, co-founder of SANGRAM, a rights-based organization that helps vulnerable groups in India to mobilize and protect themselves against HIV/AIDS, discovered this when she first spent time with sex workers. She found that when she cleared her vision from the clouding of her background, she saw a community of women who knew how to manage themselves, their families, and their clients. They didn't need to be taught anything – all they needed were the proper tools, and they could manage the epidemic as well. This experience lead to the creation of SANGRAM's bill of rights – which includes "People have the right to say YES or NO to things that concern them," and "People have the right to reject harmful social norms." A bill of rights exceptional not only for HIV/AIDS vulnerable populations, but for everyone, everywhere.

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French National Assembly approves ban on face veils –

Posted: July 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on French National Assembly approves ban on face veils –

In what I hope will be judged by history as one France's most idiotic moves ever, "The French lower house of Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing face-covering veils in a public place," Alison Culliford reports. "[T]he ban would affect only an estimated 1,900 of the millions of Muslim women in France," like Kenza Drider, an outspoken critic who said, "The government can accept my decision or not, I am not an outlaw. If I’m fined by the police, I will take it to human rights in the name of my freedom."

French politicians are calling the ban a victory for "values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals." Y'know, like the freedom to choose one's own clothing. If the new ban survives a test of constitutionality, wearing a veil (a niqab) and "covering one's face in a public place will be subject to a fine of about $185 or community service."

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Ugandan Gay Activist Found Beheaded :: EDGE Boston

Posted: July 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ugandan Gay Activist Found Beheaded :: EDGE Boston

This week, "some in Uganda are not waiting for the [Anti-Homosexuality 2009] bill to pass into law: a priest has vanished after delivering a sermon urging compassion for gays, and a young GLBT equality activist, who had also disappeared, has been discovered dead—his head severed from his body and thrown down a latrine." Although mainstream US media outlets have been silent on this issue, "[o]ne or more suspects had been arrested before the head’s discovery, according to a news report that has subsequently been posted at YouTube. The report noted that 'blood stained clothing' was discovered along with the head."

Killan Melloy reports, "The dismembered head of Pasikali Kashusbe, who, together with his partner—referred to only as "Abbey"—worked with GLBT equality group Integrity Uganda." Make absolutely no mistake: such horrors are partly the result of American conservatives' spewing hatred.

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Update: SayenCroWolf points us to this retraction by Box Turtle Bulletin: “We’ve worked hard at BTB in establishing our credibility, and I believe that a key component of that is also to maintain an atmosphere of transparency and accountability when we get it wrong. Along the way, I’ve learned that some sources on the Internet are trustworthy, and others are not worth the electricity it takes to power their servers.” It sounds like there’s still some mystery over what happened in Uganda but, either way, I’m really glad to see how quickly reputable sources can self-correct themselves when they receive new information. Good on you, BTB, and thanks to SayenCroWolf for the stunningly fast pointer, too!

Update: xMech points us to an even fuller explanation from Box Turtle Bulletin. Thanks!