Posts Tagged ‘LGBT rights’

StandUp: LGBT Awareness Week

This week is LGBT Awareness Week, during which–among other things–BelongTo, a fantastic organisation for LGBT youth, are running their StandUp campaign. According to their website, the campaign “is aimed at creating positive understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people and their issues”.

Awareness of the needs of younger LGBT people in our schools, universities, sports clubs and society in general is vital to ensuring full flourishing. Being young and being gay, bisexual, trans or intersex is not a whole lot of fun for many people, particularly before they go to university and discover lots of other people “like” them. If you work somewhere with younger people, why not print out one of the posters or logos and put it in your office space or on your door. Show the young people in your environment that you support them and their friends and colleagues who are not LGBT that they should support them too. Even if there are not many younger people in your work place, put the poster up. The likelihood is that one of your colleagues or friends has an LGBT child, relative or friend. Supporting their children supports them. If you are a parent, this might be an opportune time to ask the principle or teachers in your child’s school about their policies on homophobic bullying and diversity within the school and express your support for ensuring a safe educational space for all young people.

Stand Up and support your LGBT friends and colleagues.

Combating Hate Crimes Perpetrated Against LGBT Persons and Persons with Disabilities

March 31, 2010 6 comments

The Commencement Order for the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 was issued last week bringing the Act into force.  The legislation creates new statutory offences that protect victims who are attacked on the basis of their disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity in Scotland.   Specifically section 1 of the Act makes provision for offences aggravated by prejudice relating to disability (or presumed disability).  Section 2 of the Act makes provision for offences aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) or transgender (or presumed transgender) identity.  Under the Act where it is proven that an offence was motivated by malice or ill will towards a victim on the basis of their identity the court is required to take that motivation into consideration when determining the sentence to be imposed.   This legislation builds upon Scottish law on hate crimes carried out on the basis of race and religion or belief under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003.  Similar legislation is in force in England and Wales.

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Update on the Civil Partnership Bill 2009

March 23, 2010 2 comments

The progress of the Civil Partnership Bill 2009 through the Oireachtas continues and today’s Irish Times contains two pieces on the cohabitation provisions of the Bill. As we have documented here and here the cohabitation provisions (i.e. for cohabiting couples who are neither married nor in civil partnerships) attempt to establish a kind of safety net. However, they apply only to ‘qualifying cohabitants’ and there is a serious fear—articulated in the Irish Times by Professor John Mee of UCC—that non-qualifying cohabitants will assume themselves protected when in fact no such protection exists.

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Irish Aid, Malawi and Gay Rights

January 5, 2010 3 comments

In 2007 Irish Aid—the international aid branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs—establish bilateral aid programmes with Malawi. This action was a follow-up to the commitment in the White Paper on Irish Aid to establish more partner countries in the African continent. At the moment, the programmes are conducted by means of the funding of Irish NGOs working in Malawi. Slightly out-of-date information on the Malawi programme is available here. Of course, Irish Aid has important agreements with a number of countries in Africa and carries out very valuable work in partnership with NGOs and governmental agencies, but reading this news story this morning brought Malawi to mind.

The story concerns a same-sex couple that was arrested following the first public (and, of course, symbolic as opposed to legally binding) same-sex wedding in the country. Today they were refused bail while the police investigation proceeded. If they are tried and prosecuted for homosexuality and sodomy—both of which are offences in Malawi—the couple could be sentenced to up to 14 years in jail. Notwithstanding the fact that homosexuality is a crime in Malawi, it is perhaps a little surprising to see this action being progressed by the police and courts as the government of Malawi, as part of its attempts to tackle HIV/AIDs in the country, has at times encouraged gay people to come out. Read more…

Civil Partnership Bill Second Stage This Evening

December 3, 2009 4 comments

The second stage debate on the Civil Partnership Bill takes place this evening starting from 6.45 pm. We have already blogged about the bill herehere and here. Maman Poulet has been providing excellent coverage of the politics around the Bill here. Of particular interest is discussion of the addition of a so-called ‘religious freedom optout‘ to the bill. Padraig has blogged on that issue here. Maman Poulet carries details of a liveblog of the debate, which is hosted here and will kick off at around 6.30 pm. You can join in on twitter, where the hashtag is #cpbill. And, as Suzy says ‘if you just want to watch the debate without the wit, banter and outrage of the viewing masses then you can watch it here.

Civil Partnership Bill 2009…Countdown to the Debate

October 30, 2009 1 comment

ringsVia Maman Poulet comes news that concerted lobbying is now commencing around the Civil Partnership Bill 2009, which the renewed Programme for Government commits to introducing and is due to be debated before Christmas. The Civil Partnership Bill 2009 will, when passed, introduce civil partnerships available to same-sex couples only and provide some (primarily property-based) protections for unmarried and un-civilly-partnered couples on the breakdown of their relationship. In addition, s. 5 of the Bill provides that the Minister for Justice may, by order, recognise a relationship from another jurisdiction as a civil partnership in Ireland is he is satisfied that the extra-jurisdictional relationship form has equivalent characteristics to a civil partnership. Foreign marriages between same-sex couples, where they exist, will therefore not be recognised as marriages which, to me at least, means that the Bill does not address the net point in the Zappone & Gilligan v Revenue Commissioners case (for recognition of a Canadian same-sex marriage).

Civil partnerships will not be the same as marriage and marriage will in fact remain the exclusive domain of opposite-sex couples. That said, there are a variety of situations in which the Bill when enacted will provide significant protections to civil partners in areas around taxation, ‘shared’ home, pensions and so on. What is notably absent from the Bill, however, is any provision relating to children. Civil partners will not be permitted to adopt as a couple. Neither will the non-biological parent of a child being parented by both civil partners be able to carry out a second-parent adoption or to have recognised legal connections to the child. Children do become relevant on the dissolution of a civil partnership as their needs can be taken into account in relation to, for example, property adjustment orders and so on.

A number of points needs to be made here from a human rights perspective:

  1. Civil partnerships are unlikely to answer equality concerns from the LGBT community as they are not equal in status (constitutional, legal and social) to marriage
  2. Civil partners will not have the same range of protections as married couples in all circumstances, although there will be in most circumstances
  3. The rights of children to meaningful, legally-recognised and protected relationships to the people who parent them are not promoted by this Bill
  4. The exclusion of opposite-sex couples from civil partnership discriminates against couples who want legal protections but who do not want to marry for ideological or other reasons

There are whispers that the Bill will be debated on November 2nd, but it does not appear on the Order Paper. However, the debates ought to commence relatively soon and we will follow and reflect on them here on HRinI. While there are plenty of difficulties with civil partnerships as proposed in terms of scope, substance and basic equality principles we must recognise that civil partnerships themselves do represent an important advancement for LGBT rights in Ireland and should be welcomed as a step in the right direction but certainly not the final destination.

On October 19th I spoke about civil partnerships in the UCC Philosoph in a debate co-sponsored by the UCC LGBT Soc. You can hear my speech here, although as the motion was worded (by the Society) as ‘This House would Reject Civil Partnerships in Favour of Civil Marriage’ my support for partnerships as a protective paradigm that can be used by vulnerable couples now does not perhaps come through as clearly as it would have done if the motion were differently worded.


Tobin on Same-Sex Couples and the Law in UK & Ireland

September 26, 2009 1 comment

BrianTobinBrian Tobin, of Trinity College Dublin, has just published “Same-sex Couples and the Law: Recent Developments in the British Isles” in the International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. Here’s the abstract:

This article chronicles the treatment of same-sex couples in England and the Republic of Ireland in recent years in order to ascertain (i) the impact that incorporation of the European Convention into the domestic law of each State has had on the rights of same-sex couples, (ii) what the introduction of civil partnership legislation might mean for the future of the same-sex marriage debate, (iii) the position of prospective same-sex adoptive parents in each jurisdiction, and (iv) what the law is proposing for those couples who do not formalise their relationship, whether same-sex or opposite-sex. Through a comparative analysis of the many recent developments that have taken place in each jurisdiction, the article concludes (i) that when interpreted correctly by the national courts the European Convention has been of little benefit to same-sex couples since its incorporation, (ii) that civil partnership may sound the death knell for same-sex marriage, (iii) that the Irish stance on adoption by same-sex couples may be illogical in light of a recent decision handed down in Strasbourg, and (iv) that significant progress has been made as regards those opposite-sex and same-sex couples who do not marry or register their partnership, with a redress scheme for such couples at the legislative stage in the Republic of Ireland.