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Ehe Fuer Alle ~ Germany Votes for Equal Marriage

30-germany.w710.h473Another European domino falls.

In a move which has surprised many, Germany has held a snap vote which has approved same-sex marriage and adoption.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, whose Christian Democrat Party (CDU) is in a coalition with the Social Democrat Party (SPD), has previously been strenuously against equal marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare” and admitted to having a “hard time” with the issue. However, on 26 June in an interview with women’s magazine Brigette, Chancellor Merkel said she had a “life-changing experience” when she had dinner with a lesbian couple who are fostering eight children, and would allow a free vote on the issue in the future.

As the news spread supporters of equal marriage spread the message on social media, including sharing the hashtag #EheFeurAlle (Marriage for all) on Twitter, and calling for a vote as soon as possible. The SPD seized this initiative by calling for a vote by the time the German parliament went into recess by the week ending 30 June 2017. Although the SPD are trailing the CDU in the polls for the upcoming German election, they had signalled that there would by no future coalitions unless marriage reform was agreed upon. The Green Party, the far-left Linke Party, and the pro-business Free Democrats said likewise.

So it was, amidst Angela Merkel claiming she had been “ambushed” that the vote took place on Friday, 30 June, and was passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Chancellor Merkel voted against, and said afterwards that she still believed “marriage was between a man and a woman” but did add that the passing of the bill would bring more “social cohesion and peace”.

Germany now joins the club of European nations which have legalised equal marriage. The others are;

Belgium (2003)
Denmark (2012)
England (2013)
Finland (2017)
France (2013)
Iceland (2010)
Ireland (2015)
Luxembourg (2015)
Netherlands (2001)
Norway (2009)
Portugal (2010)
Scotland (2014)
Spain (2005)
Sweden (2009)

Other types of civil partnerships are recognised by:

Andorra (2014)
Austria (2010)
Croatia (2014)
Czech Republic (2006)
Cyprus (2015)
Greece (2015)
Hungary (2009)
Italy (2016)
Liechtenstein (2011)
Slovenia (2006)
Switzerland (2007)

The tiny state of San Marino has recognised unregistered cohabitation since 2012.

There is no recognition of equal marriage in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Vatican City. Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine have specific constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Malta’s new Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has committed his government to passing same-sex marriage this summer.

In the UK, equal marriage is now law in the UK bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, in Gibraltar, the UK dependencies of Gibraltar, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Alderney recognises same-sex foreign marriage, the tiny island of Sark has no recognition, while the Bailiwick of Jersey and the province of Northern Ireland have civil partnerships, with the latter stalwartly holding out against equal marriage.

That’s Northern Ireland where the UK government just recently squeaked into power after giving a £1 billion bribe to the homophobic, transphobic, anti-abortion, Biblical creationist, climate change denying Democratic Unionist Party  to support them, dears.

Isle of Man passes Equal Marriage

$$-AAA-0001Northern Ireland last of British Isles to hold out.

The tiny Isle of Man has voted to allow same-sex marriage. The island in the Irish Sea, 221 square miles with a population of 84.500, is a UK Crown Dependency but retains autonomy over many aspects of legislature, which is overseen by the Manx parliament, the Tynwald. The upper house of the Tynwald, the Legislative Council passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Bill by six votes for to three against on Monday, 26th April 2016.

Famous for it’s TT motorbike races, tailless Manx cats, the last part of the British Isles to retain regular steam trains, and giving the world the Bee Gees (yes dears, the lovely Gibb brothers did indeed hail from the Isle of Man; betcha didn’t know that) the Isle of Man is surrounded by Scotland to the north, England to the east, Wales to the south, and Ireland to the west, all four of which can be seen on a clear day from the mountain of Snaefell, and thus has been at the crossroads of civilisation for millennia. Yet despite at one time or another being part of the Kingdom of Galloway, the Norse Lordship of the Isles, Scotland, and finally an English Crown Dependency, the Manx people have always been fiercely independent and insisted on doing things their own way, and in the Tynwald boast the oldest continual parliament in the world, dating back to the 8th century.

The Isle of Man was the last part of the British Isles to legalise homosexuality, which was hotly debated before finally being passed in 1992. Today the island also boasts the fact that the Chief Minister of Mann, Alan Bell, is openly gay. It is thought that England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland passing same-sex marriage have been the catalyst which have pushed marriage equality in the island through much quicker.

The main Channel Island dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey have also given the green light to same-sex marriage, which now leaves the Province of Northern Ireland to be the last part of the British Isles where it is still denied.

Poor old NI. I really don’t know what we are to do with them. Sectarianism between Protestants and Roman Catholics remain and sometimes still erupts into violence, but on both sides of the religious divide, the people can remain fiercely conservative, particularly on matters of sexuality, abortion, and other matters where religion is allowed to interfere; an exhibition at the Giant’s Causeway, hexagonal basalt chimneys forced up by volcanic pressure, claim that they were formed like that in the Noachian flood. The Protestant majority of NI, fiercely loyal to the UK and the Crown, are trying to cling onto a form of British political Calvinism which really no longer exists, while the Roman Catholic minority hold by the strict religious conservatism of their faith, while even the Irish Republic most of them long for the province to be reunited with is gradually releasing itself from church clutches. Northern Ireland is a prime example of just how deeply religion can poison people’s lives.

Yet, I hold out hope yet. I have met people from NI – Protestant, Roman Catholic, atheist – who are really downright decent and accepting of all, and now that it stands as the last official bastion of homophobia in the British Isles, change is inevitable and it too must sooner of later fall.

Meanwhile hats off and raise a glass to dear little ‘Ellan Vannin’, and congratulations to the Manx LGBT+ community.

Italian Lawmaker: Gays should change gender to marry

Paola Binetti - praying away the gay

Paola Binetti – praying away the gay?

Make the strange lady go away Mummy, she’s scaring me!

Paola Binetti, Italian “Union of the Centre” Party member and member of the Italian parliament’s Chamber of Deputies, thinks she has come up with the answer concerning equal marriage in Italy – gays should just change gender.

“Why do we need to pass a law on civil unions for homosexual couples, and to engage in a lengthy semantic debate around what ‘marriage’ means today?’”  Binetti asked in an interview with Huffington Post Italy, “Why must we embark on a bitter parliamentary battle on the value of the family, to decide whether certain reforms will strengthen it or weaken it further?  It would be a complete waste of time: all debate has now been rendered void by the recent verdict of the Supreme Court in the case of the individual who has demanded the right to change sex without surgical intervention.”

Yes dears, you did read that correctly – she did suggest that gay people need only undergo gender reassignment to get married.  Hang on for a bumpy ride, this is a woman with degrees in surgery and psychiatry.

“Sexual difference appears completely irrelevant. It is enough for an individual to claim not that they are a certain way or they look a certain way but merely they desire to be a certain way,” Binetti continued, “Just present your documents, declare how you feel and how you want to be considered and the die is cast.”

To steal a line from the BBC comedy series Blackadder Goes Forth, “I do believe the phrase rhymes with ‘clucking bell’.”

When I first came across this story, which appeared in The New Civil Rights Movement, I thought it had to be satire or a spoof.  Surely no politician could be that stupid? So I went searching the internet.  Sad to say that it is 100% genuine.

Some people really don’t get it, do they dears?  Hello Paola, gay men like men, lesbians like women – they are not interested in the opposite sex, and have absolutely no desire to change gender.  If any of my gay friends saw some muscled Adonis, say in a kilt, I could be  wearing my sexiest outfit – and they would trample over me to get to him.

Oh well, I suppose no-one can every accuse her of transphobia.

Her comments follow the European Court of Human Rights condemning Italy for denying same-sex couples their human rights by not offering them marriages or civil unions.

72-year-old Binetti is a devout Roman Catholic and a Numery member of the ultra-conservative and controversial Roman Catholic organisation Opus Dei (Work of God), which Dan Brown mistakenly called a “secret sect” in his novel and subsequent movie The Da Vinci Code.  As a member, Binetti has voluntarily asserted that she does indeed wear a cilice; a toothed metal belt worn around one of her thighs, to constantly remind her of the suffering of Christ (let me see; crown of thorns, scourged, crucified, spear in the side – nope, nothing there about wearing a toothed belt – they didn’t even break his legs because he was already dead).

This is not the first time Paolo Binetti has made homophobic statements.  In 2007 she stated on Italian TV channel La7 that gays and lesbians needed medical care, maintaining that homosexuality is a disease.

As well as holding a senior position in the Italian government, since 1991 Paolo Binetti has been overseeing the work of the medical facility of the Biomedical Campus of Rome.

Be afraid, dears – be very afraid.

No sympathy for Decatur County Clerk’s Office staff

Decatur County Clerk's Office

Decatur County Clerk’s Office

They’ve saved the state the trouble of firing them

In the wake of the US Supreme Court declaring that all 50 states in the USA must recognise same-sex marriage, the entire staff of Decatur County (Tennessee) Clerk’s Office have announced their resignations.

Clerk Gwen Pope and her employees Sharon Bell and Mickey Butler announced their resignations on religious grounds, with Ms Pope (oh the irony) first claiming that it wasn’t for publicity but then stating “It’s for the glory of God. He’s going to get all the glory.”

Well dears, I certainly am not going to shed any tears for Ms Pope, who has been Clerk since 2008, or her two underlings.  In fact, they have done Decatur County, the state of Tennessee and the USA a favour by jumping before they were pushed.

In most civilised, developed countries today, showing prejudice in your place of employment is frowned deeply upon, and in some countries it is against the law.  There are few nowadays who would show prejudice on the grounds of binary gender, race, ethnicity, creed, colour, physical / mental disability, social class, income, or many other criteria.  Sexuality and alternative gender should then be no different.

As one who has worked in customer services, I am disgusted that anyone should allow their prejudices to interfere with their work.  In any public-facing role, there are two rules; 1, you treat every customer not as equals, but you do not allow any personal feelings to make any distinctions between customers; 2, the most important customer is whosoever you serve.  In other words, you treat everyone with respect.  And anyone who allows prejudices, whether they be religious-based or not, is neither following the above rules, nor treating customers with respect.

Anyone who does neither is not fit to be in a public-facing role.

Asides from the above, given that this ruling took place in the USA, if the three are not willing to grant marriage licences on religious grounds, then they would be contravening the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  I don’t know if they think that the USA is a Christian country, and frankly I do not care whether they do or not.  The facts say different.  The US Constitution is the supreme law of the USA, which is by law a secular state with a wall between church and state.  Therefore, if this three allowed their faith to interfere with their state employment, then they are doubly unfit for the offices they held.  In fact, by contravening the First Amendment, they would in fact be committing a criminal offence.

I’ll go further, and publicly call the Clerk’s Office staff out as being hypocrites to their own Christian faith.  Ms Pope has been in her job for seven years.  It is probable she employed the other two.

They claim to be resigning over same-sex marriage on religious grounds, because it contravenes the Bible (as they interpret it).  Really?  Well, one wonders just how many divorcees they have married?  And what does the Bible have to say about that?  Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (Luke 16:18, KJV).

And of course there is one thing we can be more than fairly sure of in this day and age, that the overwhelming vast majority of people getting married have had sex before marriage.  And the Bible is very clear about that; I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide (celibate) even as I.  But if they cannot contain (their lust), let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9, KJV).

In the USA only a judge can grant divorce.  However the process begins by applying to the County Clerk’s Office to get the necessary paperwork or enquire where to get the said paperwork.  In doing so therefore the three must have abetted people in gaining divorces, only for the same people to marry others, despite the Bible being very clear on this matter; And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.  And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12, KJV)

It is worth noting here that the commandment against homosexuality which conservative Christians always fall back on comes from the Levirate Law of the Old Testament;Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22, KJV),  The verses I quote above however come from the New Testament, represent the New Covenant, which was allegedly God’s new message for mankind, and the verses from Luke and Mark allegedly being the words of Jesus Christ himself, the very man who Christians are supposed to worship and follow.

Neither can the Decatur County staff feign ignorance upon this, for Mark chapter 10 contains the very verses which opponents of same-sex marriage fall back on to claim that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman; But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;  And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:6-8, KJV)

We therefore see that the resignations are not “for the glory of God”, but just plain old-fashioned homophobia dressed up as religion, from three bigots who were unfit to hold their posts in the first place, unfit to hold any US governmental posts, and who actually do their faith a disservice than any honour through their blatant hypocrisy.

They have therefore done Decatur County a huge favour by resigning; they have saved Mayor Mike Creasy the trouble of firing them for contravening their terms of employment, and possibly committing criminal acts.

Decatur County Commissioner David Boroughs stated “That’s a personal individual decision, but I strongly support them if their faith is that strong,  I’m proud of them that their faith is so strong and well-rounded that they feel they can do that.”

Well, I for one do not share Commissioner Boroughs sentiments.  Rather I say good riddance.  I hope that the homophobic hate the three are displaying does not go unnoticed by future prospective employers and that they have difficulty finding any future employment in public facing roles.

If that sounds harsh, cold, spiteful, or bitchy, I make no apologies for that dears.  I am more concerned about the people who may have to deal with them than three self-righteous bigots who may let their personal prejudice and their faith interfere with the public they deal with.  Neither do I care that they have lost their livelihoods, which was their own doing.  They took that choice when they decided to put their faith above their employment.  They’ve made their beds, now let them lie in them.

It would not look good on a curriculum vitae (what you lovely people across the pond call a resumé)  for public roles here in the UK.  One can only hope the same applies in the USA.

Ireland votes for Same-Sex Marriage

Celebrations at Dublin Castle

Celebrations at Dublin Castle

Overwhelming majority approve equality

The Republic of Ireland has voted to allow same-sex marriage.  Ireland is the only country to date which has actually held a referendum on the issue.  This was wholly necessary as to allow equal marriage was a constitutional matter, and it must now be enshrined in the Irish republic’s written constitution.

The Irish people could not have made themselves clearer either.  There was a 60% voter turnout, over 62% of which voted Yes.  In voter terms, 1,201,607 people voted in favour of same-sex marriage, while 734,300 voted against.

Ireland had allowed same-sex civil partnerships in 2010.  However, the ‘protections’ under these could be changed by the government.  Now couples in same-sex marriages will have the same constitutional and legal rights and protections as heterosexual married couples.  Those rights and protections can now only be removed by another majority vote.

The vote marks a huge cultural change for Ireland, where the Roman Catholic Church once had not inconsiderable influence, with views towards sexuality and families tended to be extremely conservative.

Come on, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; time to join the club, drag yourselves into the 21st century and quit being the embarrassment on the doorstep of these isles.

No same-sex unions in the Bible? Someone better tell Noah!

Noahs-Ark3

I pinched this from Pink News.  Someone posted this picture to Twitter, an illustration from a children’s book about the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark – complete with two male lions going into the Ark.  Lionesses are of course much more slender and cannot grow manes.

Just a thought, if there was a large collective of homosexual lions, would that make for “gay pride”?

Oh, come on dears, you love my puns.

Scotland best for LGBTI legal equality

$$-129737-same-sex-marriage-rally-outside-parliamentScotland meets 92% of LGBTI rights criteria

The highly respected International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) has named Scotland as the top European country for legal LGBTI rights.

IGLA is an association of 1100 organisations from 110 countries around the world, campaigning for IGLA rights.

The 2015 IGLA ‘Rainbow Index’, which judges nations on legal rights fo LGBTI people against 48 standards of criteria, placed Scotland with 92%, compared to 86% for the UK as a whole.

The criteria nations are measured by include legal protections from discrimination in work and services, measures to tackle hate crime, rights and recognition for transgender and intersex people, and equality in family law including same-sex marriage and parenting rights.

The Scottish LGBTI charity, Equality Network, released the news on Sunday, 10 March, stating that it was their belief that the success was largely down to the devolved Scottish Parliament’s willingness to engage with the Scots LGBTI community over matters of legislation.  Scotland’s LGBTI laws include same-sex marriage under the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act, 2014, which had cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament and only came into Scots Law on 31 December 2014, after a long consultation with Equality Network.  The result was some of the most LGBTI-inclusive marriage legislation in the world.

Equality Network also stated that the rest of the UK fared poorer due to inadequate provision for intersex people in English and Welsh legislation, and Northern Ireland’s “failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas including its refusal to legalise same-sex marriage”

Equality Network’s Policy and public affairs coordinator, Tom French, welcomed the news but also cautioned that there is still room for improvement.

“The fact that Scotland now ranks best in Europe overall on LGBTI legal equality is welcome recognition for the efforts of campaigners and the willingness of our politicians to properly consult with LGBTI people and then act on the evidence by passing progressive measures,” Tom French stated, “However, the Equality Network warns against any complacency, as we know there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland. As ILGA’s review shows there are still areas where Scotland is failing to respect LGBTI human rights and falling behind the progress in other countries, particularly when it comes to the rights of trans and intersex people.”

He concluded, “There is also a big difference between securing legal rights and full equality for LGBTI people in their everyday lives. Despite real progress in the law, LGBTI people in Scotland are still facing unacceptable levels of prejudice, discrimination and disadvantage throughout their lives.”

Scotland now takes pride of place at the top of the IGLA European table, with the rest of the UK on 86%, Belgium on 83%, Malta on 77%, and Sweden on 72%.

The lowest countries for LGBTI rights are Azerbaijan (5%), Russia (8%), Armenia (9%), Ukraine (10%) and Monaco (11%).