International News - 7/12/19

International News - 7/12/19

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Japan grants refugee status due to homophobia for first time

The Japanese government granted refugee status to a foreigner in 2018 over fears of persecution owing to the person’s homosexuality.

This is the first time for Japan to have recognized a foreigner as a refugee for such a reason, according to the Immigration Services Agency.

The agency did not disclose the nationality, gender or other personal details of the foreigner in question.

Same-sex sexual behaviors are subject to imprisonment in the home country of the foreigner. The person was arrested and held in prison for two years in the country.

The person applied for refugee status after being freed on bail and arriving in Japan.

Botswana to appeal ruling decriminalizing homosexuality

Botswana’s government will appeal against a landmark High Court ruling that decriminalized homosexuality, the attorney general said.

Last month the court rejected colonial-era laws that imposed up to seven-year jail terms for same-sex relationships, saying they were unconstitutional.

The ruling was viewed by many as a step toward improving LGBT rights in Africa.

But Attorney General Abraham Keetshabe said the judges had made a mistake.

“I have thoroughly read the 132-page-long judgment and I am of the view that the High Court erred in arriving at this conclusion,” Keetshabe said in a statement on July 5.

He added that he would take the case to the Court of Appeal, but did not give further details on the basis for the appeal.

The High Court ruling last month was reached unanimously by three judges.

“Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,” Judge Michael Elburu said at the time. “Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”

The case had been brought to court by a student who argued that society had changed and homosexuality was more widely accepted, and the ruling was celebrated by human rights groups and activists around the world.

Angola, Mozambique and the Seychelles have all scrapped anti-homosexuality laws in recent years.

But laws outlawing same-sex relations still exist in many African countries, and it is punishable by death in northern Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Mauritania.

In May, Kenya’s High Court ruled against overturning a law banning gay sex.

Boisterous London Pride marks 50 years since Stonewall

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London for Britain’s biggest LGBTQ pride parade.

This year’s event marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York, a turning point in the modern gay rights movement.

The July 6 celebration included a parade with 30,000 participants from 600 groups, including uniformed police and firefighters. Many more are lining the streets, cheering and waving rainbow flags.

Organizers said they’ve aimed to increase the event’s diversity, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he hoped it would be the biggest-ever Pride parade.

Alison Camps, cochair of Pride in London, said, “It’s vital that we remember that Pride is not just one day a year, we must fight for the rights of all members of our community all year round.”

Indian high court dismisses plea for gay marriage

The Delhi High Court has turned down a plea urging it recognize equal marriage and other LGBT-plus rights in India.

The court had been asked to amend the Hindu Marriage Act and other family laws in order to usher in equal marriage and adoption rights.

Tajinder Singh, the petitioner, argued “the constitution treats everyone equally without any discrimination. It is the duty of the state to ensure that no one should be discriminated.”

Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Harishankar turned down the request, arguing that the court was not in the business of drafting laws.

Singh had also asked that the court form a committee to look into LGBT-plus rights.

In its ruling, the court said that while it would not do this, the government is free to form such a body.

“It is incumbent upon the legislature and not the court to recognize the familial relations of LGBTQ community,” the court said.

Gay sex was decriminalized by India’s Supreme Court in September 2018.

Under a colonial-era law, men, women and nonbinary people who had same-sex relations faced up to life in prison.

The law was briefly repealed in 2009 after the Delhi High Court ruled that it violated citizens’ human rights. 


Reporting via Associated Press

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