Japan court issues first ruling on same-sex marriage rights
- The Sapporo District Court found the government’s failure to recognize same-sex marriage violates Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law.
- Six plaintiffs had also sought damages for the lack of extension of marriage rights, which the court did not grant.
- While homosexuality has been decriminalized in Japan since the late 19th century, the country remains the only Group of Seven nation that has not recognized full marriage equality.
“In landmark ruling, Japan court says it is ‘unconstitutional’ to bar same-sex marriage” (Reuters | March 2021)
“Japan court says same-sex marriage should be allowed” (The Associated Press | March 2021)
“Japan court finds same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional” (BBC News | March 2021)
Report indicates attacks on asylum-seekers down in Germany
- According to police, there were 704 cases of anti-refugee violence from January to June, down more than a third from 2017.
- The 2018 attacks included 77 on asylum shelters and 627 direct attacks on refugees, resulting in 127 injuries.
- The reduction has come as immigration debates continue to erupt along political fault lines, including the introduction of “anchor centers” for asylum-seekers awaiting judicial decisions and the limited restart of family reunifications.
“Fewer attacks on refugees and asylum shelters in Germany” (Reuters | August 2018)
“Germany opens refugee ‘anchor centres’ amid criticism” (Al Jazeera | August 2018)
“Family reunification for refugees resumes in Germany” (Deutsche Welle | August 2018)
U.S. government loses nearly 1,500 children as administration directs separation of families at border
- Under direction from the Trump Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have begun separating children as young as 18 months old from their parents and shipping them to detention facilities at times more than a thousand miles from where their parents are held.
- The separation of children from their families effectively produces “unaccompanied minors,” who are then referred to the Office of Refugee Settlement (ORS) for placement.
- The head of the ORS reported to Congress that the office had lost track of some 1,475 children who had been placed in its charge.
“Testimony of Steven Wagner on the Care and Placement of Unaccompanied Alien Children” (Office of Legislative Affairs and Budget | April 2018)
“Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors” (The New York Times | April 2018)
“What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like” (VICE News | May 2018)
Singaporean gay man denied adoption rights for biological child
- A Singapore court ruled against a man seeking to adopt his biological son mothered by a surrogate in the U.S.
- The man, currently in a same-sex relationship, pursued international surrogacy due to his remote chances at adoption in Singapore, where male same-sex relations are still illegal.
- Surrogacy is prohibited and in-vitro services available only to married couples in Singapore, leading many Singaporean couples both same- and different-sex couples to seek assisted reproduction services abroad.
“Singapore court rejects gay man’s bid to adopt biological son” (NBC News | December 2017)
“More Singapore couples seeking surrogacy services” (The Straits Times | December 2017)
“Gay Singaporean loses bid to adopt biological son fathered via surrogate” (Agence France-Presse, via AsiaOne | December 2017)
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)
Australian Parliament legalizes same-sex marriage following postal referendum
- With a near-unanimous vote, the House of Representatives voted to amend the Marriage Act to remove the barrier to marriage rights for same-sex couples, following a similar vote in the Senate.
- A postal referendum, the result of a controversial decision by the Tony Abbott–led government in 2015 to put the marriage right question to popular referendum, returned 61.6% of Australians voting in favor of removing orientation-based discrimination in marriage law.
- The Marriage Act had been amended in 2004 to deny same-sex couples the legal right to marriage.
“Marriage equality law passes Australia’s parliament in landslide vote” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Same-sex marriage legalised in Australia as Parliament passes historic law” (The Sydney Morning Herald | December 2017)
“Same-sex marriage: First weddings take place in Melbourne, Sydney” (ABC News | December 2017)
Austria’s highest court recognizes same-sex marriage rights
- The Constitutional Court of Austria ruled that the country’s law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
- The law in question, introduced in 2009, allowed for registered partnerships but not full marriage for same-sex couples, creating discriminatory sex-based classes of partnership.
- The decision paves the way for same-sex couples in Austria to begin marrying in 2019, becoming the 16th European country to recognize same-sex marriage rights.
“Austria’s supreme court paves way for same-sex marriage from 2019” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Austrian Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage” (BBC News | December 2017)
“Austrian court rules same-sex couples can marry from 2019” (CNN | December 2017)
German parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage
- The lower house voted to ratify marriage equality 393-296-4 in a year that has seen Germany attempting to redress historical injustices against its LGBT community.
- The vote followed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s softening of her party’s position and allowance of a conscience vote, permitting members of her party to break ranks and vote in favor of marriage equality.
- The vote extends full marriage rights to LGBT citizens, including adoption rights.
“German lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in landmark vote” (Reuters | June 2017)
“German Parliament Approves Same-Sex Marriage” (The New York Times | June 2017)
“German parliament votes to legalise same-sex marriage” (The Guardian | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)
High court opens door to marriage equality in Taiwan
- The Council of Grand Justices ruled that the section of the Taiwanese Civil Code banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
- The decision compels the government to revise the Code in accordance with the ruling, though it leaves open the question as to how that will be done.
- Once legally enshrined, the ruling will make Taiwan the first Asian country to secure marriage equality for its LGBT citizens.
“Same-sex Marriage: Marriage restrictions ‘unconstitutional’” (The Taipei Times | May 2017)
“Taiwan Is Set To Become The First Asian Country To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)
“Court Ruling Could Make Taiwan First Place in Asia to Legalize Gay Marriage” (The New York Times | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Tyrone Siu/Reuters, via The New York Times)
Same-sex marriages commence in Slovenia
- The first lesbian wedding was scheduled in the country’s second-largest city, Maribor.
- The law establishing marriage equality in the country was passed in December 2015 after a contentious debate over same-sex adoption, although it was subsequently repealed by referendum.
- While able to marry, same-sex couples cannot jointly adopt a child or, for lesbian couples, undergo artificial insemination.
“Slovenia allows same-sex marriage, but not adoption” (Reuters | February 2017)
“Slovenia allows same-sex marriage” (POLITICO | February 2017)
“Slovenia will expand civil partnership rights after gay marriage defeated in referendum” (Gay Star News | March 2016)
(Image Credit: Jure Makovec/AFP, via POLITICO)
Putin signs law reducing punishment for domestic violence in Russia
- Perpetrators who physically assault family members but do not cause broken bones will now only be subject to 15 days in prison or a fine if the violence only occurs once a year.
- Previously, the crime had carried a maximum jail sentence of two years, but conservative politicians and advocates argued the state was intruding in private affairs.
- A spike in reports of domestic violence in Russia’s fourth-largest city following the passage of the law has sparked concerns that the law has increased women’s vulnerability to violence in a country that sees 12-14,000 women die a year as a result of domestic violence.
“Putin approves legal change that decriminalises some domestic violence” (The Guardian | February 2017)
“Domestic violence reports soar in Russian city following partial decriminalisation” (The Independent | February 2017)
“Majority in Russia See Domestic Violence as Serious Problem” (Gallup | February 2017)
South Australia approves bill to recognize same-sex partnerships
- The South Australia Legislative Council approved a bill to establish a relationship registry for same-sex couples in the state and recognize overseas same-sex marriages, including of Australian nationals who travel to New Zealand to be married.
- The new law will allow same-sex couples to enjoy some of the partnership rights of opposite-sex couples, including recognition of next-of-kin status, and introduces protections for intersex people.
- The bill followed the death of British national David Bulmer-Rizzi on honeymoon in South Australia, which prompted international outcry after his marriage to his husband Marco went unrecognized for end-of-life decisions and on the death certificate issued.
“South Australia Has Passed A Law Recognising Same-Sex Relationships After Honeymoon Death” (BuzzFeed News)
“Marco Bulmer-Rizzi welcomes relationships register bill passing SA parliament” (ABC News)
“Premier Jay Weatherill makes apology in Parliament for past LGBTIQ discrimination” (news.com.au)
“This British Man’s Husband Died On Honeymoon But Australia Refuses To Recognise Their Marriage” (BuzzFeed News)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via BuzzFeed News)
Hungarian city council adopts mayor’s proposal to ban Islamic and pro-LGBT expression
- The ban encompasses the construction of mosques or other places of worship in the town of Ásotthalom that “undermine” the Catholic Church as well as forms of devotional expression including face- and hair-coverings and the call to prayer.
- The ordinance also bans “public propaganda” depicting marriage as anything but the union of a man and a woman across all media forms.
- The mayor of the town, site of a fence along the Hungarian-Serbian border, defended the ordinance as protection against the two “pagans” of migration and liberalism, but the Hungarian Islamic Community (MIK) was quick to denounce it as xenophobic.
“Burqas, mosques, ‘gay propaganda’ all banned in Hungarian village” (RT)
“Hungarian Muslim group criticises town’s ‘xenophobic’ decree” (The Guardian)
“Hungarian City Bans Mosques, Burqas And Gay Marriage” (NewNowNext)
“In Hungary’s migrant vote, only the turnout is in doubt” (Reuters, September 2016)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via NewNowNext)
Taiwan inches closer to becoming first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage
- Three separate bills have begun moving through the Taiwanese legislative process to extend family and partnership rights to same-sex couples in the country, with advocates cautiously optimistic for passage in the spring 2017 legislative session.
- At the municipal level, multiple cities—including Taipei—have recognized same-sex couples and families through “partnership cards,” a sign of growing acceptance in the island nation.
- Marriage equality and adoption rights are currently favored by both the ruling and major opposition party along with a growing share of the Taiwanese population, although public opposition by religious and conservative groups remains strong.
“Taiwan May Be First in Asia to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage” (The New York Times)
“Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country with marriage equality” (The Washington Post)
“10,000 rally at Legislature against gay marriage” (The China Post)
(Image Credit: Ritchie B. Tongo/European Pressphoto Agency, via The New York Times)