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Middle East LGBT rights and marriage equality news


Should We Report on Gay Men Executed by ISIS?

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

iraq-syria-map-isis-cnnToday when I awoke here in California my feed was abuzz with disturbing pictures and articles of (purportedly) gay men being thrown from a rooftop by ISIS, which appears to have taken place in Mosul. The internet is aflame right now with pictures of ISIS, displaying these horrors for the world to see and of course to share. And there are more pictures showing contorted bloody bodies on the ground, and others depicting the shooting of people on crucifixes, beheading, stoning and more and more and yes it is horrific.

Pictorial accounts of the murders were apparently disseminated on Twitter by Isis, and it was easy to find. It did not take long for the West to jump to their call. Almost every LGBT and progressive outlet will undoubtedly continue to do their bidding. Are we spreading the intended fear? Or will we simply be angry! What do we do – do we succumb, do we remain silent and is there a middle road?

This is indeed a predicament – one in which I find myself caught too. There is fine balance and I do not now how to play it. On the one hand compelled as we are to spread news and create awareness, we do their bidding, while we inflame outrage- which is precisely what they want – and at the same time outraged we should be.

Authored By Melanie Nathan – See the Full Story at O-blog-dee-o-blog-da

Saudi Arabian Man Sentenced to Three Years, 450 Lashes for Being Gay

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Saudi Arabia - Google MapsA man in Saudi Arabia was just sentenced to three years and 450 lashes for the crime of being gay,

Towleroad.com reports:

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to three years in prison and 450 lashes for “the practise of homosexuality,” after attempting to arrange to meet another man using Twitter, reports LGBTQ Nation. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transexual Rights UAEArabic newspaper Al-Watan said that “the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice…tracked down the owner of the account” of the man who was trying to arrange sex with another man. The man’s phone, which contained pornographic images, was also confiscated.

Prison for being gay is harsh enough, but to order a man to be whipped FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY TIMES is simply barbaric.

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Image via Google Maps

Lebanon: Judge Rules Gay Relations Don’t Contradict the Laws of Nature

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Lebanon - Apple Maps

Apple Maps

A positive ruling for LGBT rights in Lebanon.

Dot429 reports:

A transgender woman was accused by the state of having a same-sex relationship with a man. However, Judge Naji El Dahdah, of Jdeide Court, Beirut threw out the case on January 28, 2014. The woman on trial was born with an intersex condition but was assigned a male identity. However, after growing up feeling that she was female, she underwent gender reassignment surgery in the 1990s. Despite the surgery, she was still listed as a male on her identity papers, which led to Lebanese authorities believing she had breached Article 534 of Lebanon’s penal code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual intercourse and subsequently same-sex relationships. El Dahdah, however, rejected the case based on a previous ruling by Judge Mounir Suleiman in 2009.

One small step forward in a part of the world that usually sees very little progress on LGBT rights.

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Israel: President Shimon Peres Backs Civil Partnerships for Gays

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Israel - Google Maps

from Google Maps

The president of Israel has publicly backed a bill to give civil partnership rights to same sex couples.

The Washington Blade reports:

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples. “Even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights,” he told the news website Ynetnews during an interview while he was in Mexico on a state visit. “We cannot take away someone’s rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them.” Ynetnews reported Peres’ comments came in response to questions about a bill in the Israeli parliament that seeks to extend civil partnerships to same-sex couples.

Peres’s statement could give new life to the bill. Although, as the Blade notes, Peres’s role is largely ceremonial.

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Israel: Conservative Party Will Allow Civil Unions Bill to Advance, But Only For Straight Couples

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Israel - Google Maps

from Google Maps

Israel’s conservative, religious Habayit Hayehudi party says ok to civil unions, but only for straight couples.

Haaretz reports:

“There’s not a chance we’ll allow civil unions for gay couples, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a government-sponsored bill or a private member’s bill,” a senior party official said Monday. “We certainly recognize the need to institute civil unions in Israel, and we’re prepared to cooperate with such a move under certain conditions,” added the official, who has been involved in negotiations on the matter with Yesh Atid and Hatnuah. “But the issue of gay couples won’t happen.”

Okay, so first we don’t get full marriage equality. We have to settle for civil unions. And now were told that there’s some pressing need for civil unions for straight couples but not for same-sex couples. WTF?

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Israel: Yesh Atid Party Blocks Civil Unions Bill in Favor of Broader Measure

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Israel - Google Maps

from Google Maps

A political party in Israel has blocked a proposed civil unions bill for same sex couples in favor of a different version which would offer civil unions to everyone.

Gay Star News reports:

Ministers from Israeli Government coalition party Yesh Atid have torpedoed an attempt by the Labor Party to move a bill forward, which would have provided civil unions for same-sex couples, in favor of legislation they are developing themselves. Labor Member of the Knessit (MK) Stav Shaffir’s bill was rejected by Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation and would have allowed same-sex couples to wed via civil unions. Yesh Atid have civil unions as part of their political platform but are instead looking to extend civil unions to all Israeli couples that religious authorities refuse to marry or that do not want religious marriages.

I’m always a little suspicious when someone wants to provide civil unions for straights but not marriage for gays.

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Israel: Civil Unions Bill Introduced

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Israel - Google Maps

from Google Maps

Israel’s Yesh Atid Party just introduced a bill to legalize civil unions for same sex couples.

Pink News reports:

The legislation aims to avoid the religious constrictions placed on marriage for straight couples, as well as to provide benefits to same-sex couples. Israel does not currently allow any civil unions, and according a New York Times report, experts have estimated that over recent years, a quarter of Jewish couples have left Israel to marry, or cohabit without marrying.

The 15-page legislation, introduced in the Knesset on Tuesday, avoids using the word “marriage”, but would allow equal benefits for those entering the civil unions. The legislation specifies the unions as between “two human beings”, therefore making same-sex couples eligible. “We have no argument or clash with the religious establishment, but we do need to provide a civic solution for every person, Jew or non-Jew, gay or straight,” Yair Lapid, Israel’s finance minister and chairman of Yesh Atid, said in a statement. “One of the fundamental human rights is the right to love in any way that one sees fit.”

In related news, a former head of Israel’s Supreme Court is pushing for full marriage equality.

Pink News reports:

In his new book entitled ‘Human Dignity: The Constitutional Right and its Derivatives’, Aharon Barak writes that the lack of marriage equality in Israel is a violation of ”human dignity.” Mr Barak was president of the Supreme Court of Israel from 1995 to 2006. Prior to that, he served as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Israel. Same-sex marriages are recognised in Israel, but must be conducted overseas as only the religious authorities: Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Druze can perform marriages, and none offer gay couples the chance to marry.

A modest step forward for Israel’s same sex couples.

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Israel: The Real Obstacle to Marriage Equality

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Gay Wedding - HandsMy best friend from childhood made aliyah after high scool and at long last, met a wonderful Israeli woman to marry. Never mind the fact that I am a pulpit rabbi and he called me to tell me that the wedding date was being set for the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah. Months ago, even with all of the anxiety surrounding the holidays, I decided there was no way I was going to miss this special simcha.

However, a few days before the wedding that I received an email that in some ways created more anxiety than my advance Rosh Hashanah preparation. The email was from my friend asking me to honor him by signing his ketubah. In America, I would have been ecstatic about the opportunity. But as a shomer shabbat Conservative rabbi coming to Israel, where the rabbinate has exclusive control of religious affairs, I became immediately apprehensive about how my signing the ketubah would play out. If I signed my title, “Rabbi,” on the ketubah, would the chief rabbinate look into my background and invalidate the ceremony?

The groom and his family were supportive and said that I should absolutely sign with my title. However, I soon decided that as the ultimate mitzvah of a Jewish wedding was to misameyach hechatan ve hakalah (to rejoice with the bride and groom), and not to cause them stress, that I would sign the ketubah without the title.

Authored By Rabbi Dan Dorsch – See the Full Story at Haaertz.com

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Sweden: Pakistan Court Threatens Swedish Activist Over Marriage Equality Support

Friday, July 5th, 2013

SwedenIn a strange story that spans two continents, a court in Pakistan is threatening to imprison a Swedish gay activist for life because of her support of a transgender Pakistani man who married his partner in Sweden. Got all that? Pink News reports:

The head of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights (RFSL) Ulrika Westerlund, was threatened with life imprisonment by a Pakistani court, if the organisation does not stop supporting the union. She told the Local: “I have received a letter, on headed notepaper from someone who says he is a lawyer of the court stating that if our organisation does not desist in supporting the marriage then they will proceed with legal procedures that could result in lifetime imprisonment, “I have been in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for advice, but they haven’t got back to me. It is not as if they can act on the threat anyway.”

So a court in Pakistan thinks it has jurisdiction over a citizen of another country, and can imprison them for expressing an opinion that court doesn’t like. Wonder where they got that idea?

Israel: Bill to Allow Civil Unions Proposed

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Israel - Google Maps

from Google Maps

Israel’s Justice Minister is proposing allowing civil unions for LGBT couples. Pink News reports:

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, has announced that she is on Sunday to present to ministers a bill to allow civil unions for gay couples. The bill to recognise same-sex civil unions would also include provisions for civil marriage for straight couples who do not meet the religious standards for marriage, which is currently the only criteria recognised by the State of Israel. The bill, which is to be debated by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, was initiated by MK Meir Sheetrit of the Justice Minister’s Hatnua party.

However, another story, this one from Haaretz.com, says the vote will be delayed:

A vote scheduled for today on civil unions in Israel has been put off indefinitely, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said on Sunday. The Ministerial Committee for Legislation had been slated to vote on a bill that would have allowed civil partnership in Israel, including by same-sex couples. The delay was at the behest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of the government, in order to reach agreement about the bill’s phrasing.

So, as is too often the case with LGBT rights, two steps forward, one step back.

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