Hong Kong court green-lights spousal visas for same-sex couples
Hong Kong’s highest court ruled in favor of a two British-national partners, which is expected to open residential visas to spouses regardless of gender in the partnership.
Without spousal visas, the same-sex partners of Hong Kong residents could only reside in the city on short-term tourist visas that prohibited work or access to public services.
While a recent poll showed more than 50% of Hongkongers support same-sex marriage, native Hong Kong residents still do not have access to same-sex marriage rights, though advocates and some legal experts have suggested the ruling could serve to expand their access to housing and family rights.
Carrie Lam was elected chief executive of Hong Kong by an electoral committee in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, inheriting growing divisions between a youth-led pro-democracy movement and increasing Beijing influence.
The election was mired in controversy as the committee is stacked with pro-China business and political figures, seen by critics as promoting more Communist Party control over Hong Kong affairs.
Lam led the failed effort to reform Hong Kong’s electoral process, in which Beijing sought to pre-screen candidates before presenting options for direct popular vote.
Clashes erupt as newly elected pro-democracy officials in Hong Kong ousted by Beijing
As many as 10 newly elected members to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council may lose their seats as the Chinese government has declared that improperly declared oaths of office disqualify them from office.
The Chinese parliament passed a resolution removing two newly elected Hong Kong officials for inserting a slur against China and a pledge to the “Hong Kong nation” in their oaths.
Thousands of protesters (including a large contingent of lawyers) took to the street, in demonstration against the government’s stance, clashing with police and denouncing increased intervention from Beijing into semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s affairs.
One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:
Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.
In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.
Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.
From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.
In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.
Middle East & Africa
Police in Egyptblocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.
South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.
2,000 march in silent protest against rejection of Hong Kong professor for top leadership position
In a controversial decision, University of Hong Kong law professor Johannes Chan was rejected for the university’s pro-vice-chancellor post.
Supporters viewed the denial as an encroachment of the Chinese government and Hong Kong’s chief executive on academic freedom in Hong Kong, with some calling for a judicial review of university governance structures.
Students, professors, and staff gathered in a massive silent march through the HKU campus before student leaders and academics spoke out against the decision.
Government and communities push to equalize gender representation in Hong Kong’s tech industry
Despite equal early interest in tech education, the proportion of girls in computer science courses drops to a third by the start of college.
In Hong Kong, where social pressure and negative images of tech culture push many into business, software development faces an uphill battle in capturing the career interests of young women.
Programs and organizations such as W Hub, Women Who Code, and First Code Academy are working to open opportunities to girls and young women in the tech field.
“Encouragement and support to study STEM needs to begin early both in school and at home. … Girls who show an early interest in the field often lose interest because of pervasive but underrecognised biases in the learning environment.”
China enacts sweeping new national security law, fortifying Communist Party powers and worrying rights advocates and political dissenters
The law expands China’s “core interests” to include economic development; polar, maritime, and extraterrestrial project protection; and a broad sense of national security encompassing culture, education, and politics.
With two complementary bills on foreign organization regulation and counterterrorism in the pipeline, security experts and human rights advocates expect the new law to lead to more activities categorized as national security violations and strengthened legal justification for crackdowns on dissent.
Under the agreements that led to their reintegration into China, Hong Kong and Macau will not be subject to application of the law.
“All these things are brought together in a way that links the idea of the nation or the state with the security of a political regime. … Everybody knows this is the understanding that the Communist Party has, but it’s rarely put this explicitly in national law. That’s just striking.”