U.K. elects most diverse parliament in history
- 51 MPs of color (black and minority ethnic, or BME) were elected to the House of Commons, an increase of some 25% from the 41 elected in the previous election cycle.
- 208 women were elected, an electoral record though still only 32% of Parliament, and more than 40 LGBT MPs now form the largest cohort of openly queer politicians in the history of the House of Commons.
- The new parliament also features the first Palestinian, first female Sikh, four black female, first turban-wearing Sikh, and four openly disabled MPs.
“Election results: Record number of black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament” (The Independent | June 2017)
“The New Parliament Has More Black, Asian, And Women MPs Than Ever Before” (BuzzFeed News | June 2017)
“Election 2017: Record number of female MPs” (BBC News | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Facebook, via The Independent)
Irish governing party elects first out gay, Indian-descendent PM
- The Fine Gael voted Leo Varadkar its new leader, a gay, half-Indian man set to become the youngest PM in Irish history.
- Varadkhar, 38, was born to an Indian immigrant father and an Irish mother and has become a polarizing conservative firebrand in Irish politics since his first election in 2007.
- The election has been lauded as a monumental moment for the predominantly Catholic country that in 2015 became the first in the world to codify marriage equality into law through referendum.
“Varadkar becomes Irish PM-in-waiting in social, generational shift” (Reuters | June 2017)
“Leo Varadkar wins: Ireland set to install first openly gay Prime Minister” (The Independent | June 2017)
“From Enda (66) to Leo (38): Ireland set to replace oldest EU leader with youngest” (The Irish Times | June 2017)
(Image Credit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
- The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
- The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
- Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
“Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)
“New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)
“Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)
Indigenous leaders in Australia seek formal legal and political representation with government
- More than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander leaders met to discuss political recognition in Uluru, agreeing formal treaties were necessary beyond proposed symbolic representation in the constitution.
- The government issued an apology for historical injustices in 2008, although community leaders and activists have sought legal commitments to reparative measures beyond symbolism.
- The push is likely to face strong opposition as the Australian Constitution has only been amended eight times in 44 attempts in its 116-year- history.
“Uluru talks: Indigenous Australians reject ‘symbolic’ recognition in favour of treaty” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Australia’s Aborigines seek treaties in drive for more than symbolic change” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Why doesn’t Australia have an indigenous treaty?” (BBC News | May 2017)
The Australian Constitution
(Image Credit: Calla Wahlquist/The Guardian)
Mandisa Maya first woman appointed President of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal
- Justice Maya was named to the third-highest post in the South African judicial system by embattled President Jacob Zuma.
- Maya has been on the Court since 2006 and is the first woman to be appointed its leader in its 107-year history.
- The Supreme Court of Appeal is the nation’s highest appellate court and the second-highest court in the country.
“Justice Maya makes history as first female SCA head” (South African Broadcasting Corporation | May 2017)
“South Africa gets first female president of second highest court” (africanews | May 2017)
“Judge Mandisa Maya is new president of the Supreme Court of Appeal” (Times LIVE | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Simphiwe Nkwali/Gallo Images/Sunday Times, via Times LIVE)
First female chief executive chosen in Hong Kong
- 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.
“Carrie Lam Wins Vote to Become Hong Kong’s Next Leader” (The New York Times | March 2017)
“Hong Kong’s first female leader a ’tilted bridge’ over troubled water” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Newly elected Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vows to unite sharply divided city” (South China Morning Post | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters)
U.S. issues first birth certificate acknowledging intersex status
- Sara Kelly Keenan was issued a revised birth certificate by New York City acknowledging her intersex identity, which follows a California ruling earlier in the year that allowed Keenan to change her legal status to non-binary.
- The reality of 55-year-old Keenan’s biological identity was long hidden from her by her parents and doctors, who made a series of decisions regarding gender assignment and hormonal therapy without her consent.
- The movement for non-binary gender options on birth certificates has gained momentum in recent years in parallel with the increased visibility of the trans, queer, and nonbinary communities.
“Nation’s First Known Intersex Birth Certificate Issued in NYC” (NBC News | December 2016)
“First intersex birth certificate issued in the US” (The Independent | December 2016)
“‘The protocol of the day was to lie’: NYC issues first US ‘intersex’ birth certificate” (CNN | December 2016)
LGBTQ Community: Glossary of Key Terms (The Trevor Project)
(Image Credit: via The Independent)