Thailand News | Gay American

Thai surrogate attempts to block departure of gay couple with infant
  • A U.S.-Spanish binational couple has retreated to a secret location with their infant daughter after the surrogate they contracted through a Thai surrogacy agency refused to sign the papers for the child’s passport.
  • The woman alleges she was unaware the child was going to a gay couple and is not obligated to turn over her rights to the couple, despite contracts regulating the process and her lack of biological connection to the child.
  • After the present situation’s process had already begun, surrogacy was banned in Thailand following high-profile scandals that drew attention to the largely unregulated industry.

“She said she thought she was doing this for an ‘ordinary family’ and when she found out that it wasn’t an ordinary family she was worried for Carmen’s wellbeing.”

Read the full story at the Guardian.

(Image Credit: Gordon Lake/Facebook, via the Guardian)

U.S. News | Undocumented Immigrants

Immigrants file suit against Texas for denying birth certificates to their U.S.-born children
  • Texas has cracked down on the documentation required to obtain a birth certificate for U.S.-born children, accepting only a U.S. driver’s license, visa, or home-country voter identification.
  • State registrars are no longer allowed to accept the popularly held matriculas, or consular-issued identification cards, because of alleged verification concerns.
  • The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizenship to children born on U.S. soil, which has formed the basis of the legal claim by immigrant parents.

“It says we need a U.S. license we don’t have; a [Mexican] passport we have, but with a visa we don’t have; voter ID card I have, but it expired. … It’s not fair. She has a right to her birth certificate. What are we supposed to do?”

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

(Image Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske/Los Angeles Times)

Pakistan News | Christian Women

Death sentence temporarily stayed for Pakistani Christian woman charged with blasphemy
  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued the decision as they prepare to hear an appeal against the conviction of Asia Bibi, a mother of four who became the first woman sentenced to death under the law.
  • Blasphemy laws are ill-defined in Pakistan and often connected to personal conflicts and extortion, making the rate of convictions high.
  • Two politicians who intervened on behalf of Bibi were murdered, inhibiting calls for legal reform.

Read the full story at Al Jazeera.

(Image Credit: EPA, via Al Jazeera)

Russia News | Advocates

MacArthur Foundation closes shop in Russia following placement on government watchlist
  • The US-based NGO supporting academic freedom and human rights has operated in Russia since 1992, but a new
  • The organization’s departure comes amidst an ongoing crackdown on “foreign agents” by the Russian government, which has seen academics fined and deported and human rights groups’ operation permits revoked.
  • The anti-NGO law passed in May claims to target international organizations operating against the sovereignty and national security of Russia.

“The recent passage and implementation of several laws in Russia make it all but impossible for international foundations to operate effectively and support worthy civil society organisations in that country.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Germany News | Refugees

Rise in anti-refugee violence in Germany endangers efforts to provide safe havens for the displaced
  • In the first half of the year, 150 arson and other attacks were recorded by the government, putting 2015 on track for a significant increase over the 170 recorded in 2014.
  • One anti-immigrant demonstration in Rostock saw Albanian and Egyptian refugees attacked during a festival.
  • Germany is expected to provide shelter to 450,000 asylum-seekers this year, and at least one poll indicated 50% of Germans would like to see the country take in more.

“The right’s populist ideas are spreading like wildfire in the CSU [Christian Social Union] and it’s extremely dangerous.”

Read the full story at Reuters.

South Africa News | Women

South African woman awarded country’s first drone pilot license
  • Nicole Swart, 23, was awarded the license by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
  • Already a holder of the highest pilot’s license, Swart is certified to pilot planes in-person and remotely and also works as a testing standards officer.
  • The licensing comes as countries begin to build regulations for the operation of drones, controlled remotely from the ground or via another aircraft.

“It was important for me to get an RPAS pilot’s licence, as I believe technology is advancing rapidly and in the near future this mode of transport will be as common and necessary as cellular phones are in this era.”

Read the full story at News24.

(Image Credit: Facebook, via News24)

Japan Feature | Black Women

The Life and Love of Black Women in Japan

Part of her “Black Eye” series in The Japan Times examining life in Japan for black immigrants, this Baye McNeil piece shines a light on the hardships of romantic life for black women in the country.  From fetishism to “friend-zoning,” McNeil finds black women face challenges particular to the intersection of their identities in the search for romance and familial security in Japan.

Read the full feature at The Japan Times.

(Image Credit: Matsui Family/Courtesy, via The Japan Times)

Philippines News | LGBT

Manila church provides haven for gay Filipinos
  • The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) offers sanctuary to Manila’s downtrodden in the red-light district of Cubao.
  • While other religious proscriptions like divorce and abortion are legally enforced, the Catholic-majority Philippines has seen a gradual increase in the social visibility and acceptance of its gay population.
  • The Manila church is one of five operated in the Philippines by the MCC, a network of churches founded in the U.S. under the mission of social justice and inclusion.

“I don’t have illusions of assimilation into the mainline Catholic Church. They will always resist anything that disrupts their order. … We have a long way to go… but we must never lose hope, fighting for what is right and what is ours.”

Read the full AFP story at The Jakarta Post.

(Image Credit: Noel Celis/AFP, via The Jakarta Post)