Monday, July 29, 2019
July 23, 2019 (Human Rights Watch): India's Transgender Bill Raises Rights Concerns:
India's parliament introduced a new bill meant to protect the rights of transgender people on July 19 this year. Human Rights Watch ("HRW"), though, says that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill does not protect certain important rights upheld by India's Supreme Court in 2014--namely, the right of transgender persons to self-identify.
The human rights organization warns that "even though the bill says that a transgender person 'shall have a right to self-perceived gender identity,' its language could be interpreted to mean transgender people are required to have certain surgeries before legally changing their gender."
Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director at HRW, emphasized that "it's crucial the the law be in line with the Supreme Court's historic ruling on transgender rights." The proposed law, instead, "appears to mandate a two-step process for legal gender recognition," requiring a trans person first to apply for an initial certificate and then to apply for a "change in gender certificate," which many perceive as requiring gender-affirmation surgery along with medical confirmation.
The bill also gives discretion to the district magistrate to determine the "correctness" of the person's application for the certificates yet is silent as to how the decision of "correctness" should be made.
In 2014, the country's highest court ruled in NALSA v. India that transgender people are a recognized third gender, enjoy all fundamental rights, and are entitled to specific benefits in education and employment. The bill introduced this month does not address whether a trans person holding a male or female gender certificate, though, will have access to the government welfare meant for transgender persons.
Human Rights Watch further calls out the bill for not only seemingly violating India's Supreme Court holding, but also for violating international standards for gender recognition, which require separation of legal and medical processes of gender reassignment. "Self-declared identity should form the basis for access to all social security measures, benefits, and entitlements."
Notably, the bill also includes intersex persons; HRW calls for the parliament to rename the bill to make it clear that it includes intersex persons and establish additional explicit protections for intersex persons along with transgender persons.
Other changes parliament should make, HRW says, include: prohibiting medically unnecessary procedures on children, requiring the issuing of legal identity documents to interested persons that identify their preferred gender, and emphasizing training of teachers to "adopt inclusive methods" to ensure transgender or intersex children are not harassed, bullied, or discriminated against.
Says Ganguly: “To enact a law that meets international standards, it’s critical that parliament fully bring transgender people into the conversation."
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Jun. 11, 2019 (The New York Times): Botswana's High Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex, by Kimon de Greef:
A three-judge panel in the capital of Botswana voted unanimously to overturn a colonial-era law banning gay sex in the country.
"'Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,' Judge Michael Leburu said as he delivered the judgment, adding that laws that banned gay sex were 'discriminatory.'"
"Homosexuality has been illegal in Botswana since the late 1800s, when the territory, then known as Bechuanaland, was under British rule." The penal code outlawed “unnatural offenses,” defined as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Violations of this law could result in seven years in prison; a five-year sentence could be imposed just for attempting to have gay sex or engage in any other "homosexual acts."
The court had the opportunity to strike down the law, because an anonymous gay plaintiff challenged the law's constitutionality. The court had previously upheld Botswana's discriminatory laws in the face of a prior 2003 challenge.
Last year, India similarly struck down its anti-gay statutory vestiges of colonialsm.
Unfortunately, other African countries like Kenya have decided the opposite way, upholding laws that criminalize sexuality.
Homophobia is widely entrenched on the continent, with gay sex outlawed in more than 30 countries. In several northern African nations, including Somalia and Sudan, homosexuality is punishable by death; offenders in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda face life in prison.
Even in countries like South Africa with progressive gay rights legislation, the African continent continues to find "widespread rejection" of homosexuality.
Nonetheless, gay rights groups and LGBTQ activists in Botswana celebrate the historical moment this week that came with the High Court's decision.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
The Verge (Feb. 11, 2019): Campus vending machines offer emergency contraception without the stigma, by Lux Alptraum:
Thirteen years after a heated battle resulted in over-the-counter approval for emergency contraception, the product is finally shedding some of its stigma, and college campuses are leading the charge toward normalization.
In the fall of 2018, Yale’s Reproductive Justice Action League proposed a new plan to improve the health and wellness of its student population: emergency contraception vending machines. Unfortunately, the university announced that it was halting the plan because of a little-known state law banning vending machines from being used to distribute over-the-counter medications.
Similar laws exist around the country and are currently being challenged. This week, a bill was introduced in Maine at the request of students at the University of Southern Maine that would allow some over-the-counter medications — including emergency contraception — to be sold in vending machines.
But more broadly, says Alptraum, "there’s no denying that our national conversation about [emergency contraception] has undergone a major shift toward normalization: emergency contraception is now available at health clinics, drugstores, and, yes, in vending machines."
For students on isolated college campuses, though, distance is an additional hurdle, says Rachel Samuels, the Stanford alumna who led the charge for more accessible on-campus emergency contraception. At Stanford, Samuels says, the nearest pharmacy is about a 25-minute walk away with no guarantee that emergency contraception will be in stock. On rural campuses, access to pharmacies is usually even more limited.
When Stanford students began petitioning for on-campus access to emergency contraception a few years ago, they looked to vending machines as a solution. The result of that organizing is a small, high-tech vending machine called a Vengo that is located in the all-gender restroom in Stanford’s student center. It allows students to confidentially access My Way brand emergency contraception (and condoms) at any hour of the day. The pill costs $25, which is less than the $26 that the student health center charges or the $40 or $50 Plan B tends to retail for at pharmacies, though that’s more than twice what the same brand retails for on Amazon.
Still, in 2018, the machines sold 329 units of emergency contraception, and Stanford plans to add a second Vengo machine on campus in 2019. Vengo machines have also started dispensing EC at Columbia University in New York and George Mason University in Virginia.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the opening of a new division in January of this year: The Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR's primary mandate is to enforce refusal of care laws.
Refusal of care laws essentially empower medical providers to deny care to patients if they disagree with the ethics of a particular procedure based on their religious grounds. The purported goal of these laws is to protect a healthcare provider from being forced into providing care that "violates their conscience."
This is an Executive-ordered decision that does not require legislative or judicial approval to go into effect or to implement its new rules and regulations.
Critics of refusal of care laws express concern that these requirements do not simply "protect" health care providers consciences, but can instead seriously harm patients. These laws may lead to a pharmacist refusing to fill a birth control prescription, a doctor refusing hormone therapy to a transgender patient, limitations placed on services to LGBTQ persons and partners, and of course abortion services may also become more limited.
HHS does not require providers who refuse treatment to refer patients to other providers or provide any information at all on other providers.
The OCR further has authority to initiate compliance reviews of any organization receiving federal funding to ensure conformity to the new rules.
Earlier this month, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) filed a lawsuit against HHS for refusing to release records pertaining to the creation of the OCR. The organizations initially requested these records via a FOIA request in January 2018. The CRR and NWLC seek knowledge of why the new division was needed, how the OCR operates, allocates funding, and may be influenced by outside groups.
"We’re filing this lawsuit to force the Trump-Pence administration to justify why it’s using resources to fund discrimination, rather than to protect patients," said Gretchen Borchelt, NWLC Vice President for Reproductive Rights and Health.
HHS's new Office of Civil Rights follows additional moves by the Trump administration to limit equitable access to reproductive health care, including promoting the "Global Gag Rule," its domestic counterpart, and establishing regulations aimed at severely limiting funding to Title X programs.
July 26, 2018 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Medical News, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, March 8, 2015
The Huffington Post: Why Is LGBT-Inclusive Sex Education Still So Taboo?, by Alexandra Temblador:
Only 22 states plus the District of Columbia requires sex education in schools. Twelve of those states require sex education teachers to discuss sexual orientation. Three of those 12 states require teachers to impart only negative information on sexual orientation to students. Yes, three states in the United States make LGBTQ youth listen to discriminatory information directed at them by their own teachers. Take Alabama, whose sex education instructors are required to teach that homosexuality “is an unacceptable, criminal lifestyle.”
Out of 50 states and one district, only nine states have any form of positive LGBT-inclusive sexual education, a number that is very disheartening for the overall well-being of many youth in the United States. . . .
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Obama's Anti-Discrimination Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees Will Not Exempt Religious Groups
The New York Times: Obama Set to Bar Federal Contractors From Anti-Gay Discrimination, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis:
President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, fulfilling a promise to a crucial Democratic constituency, White House officials said on Friday. But the directive will not exempt religious groups, as many of them had sought. . . .
Thursday, February 6, 2014
U.N. Committee Report Blasts Vatican for Policies on Sexual Abuse and Attitudes on Sexuality, Contraception, and Abortion
The Huffington Post/AP: UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality, by Nicole Winfield:
The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed. . . .
Saturday, October 26, 2013
In recognition of Intersex Awareness Day, I'm pleased to publish this commentary by Courtney Fraser, Fall Intern at Advocates for Informed Choice (’15, University of California, Berkeley School of Law):
There’s no “I” in LGBT: How Reproductive Justice can (and must) end intersex invisibility
“Intersex? What’s that?” – so begins a series of questions I have become quite accustomed to fielding in my Civil Externship seminar. My classmates, some of whom are avid social justice advocates, are all familiar with reproductive rights; many of them even support LGBT causes, but few have ever heard the word “intersex” before. Most people probably haven’t. In honor of International Intersex Awareness Day, October 26, I’d say there’s no time like the present.
“Intersex” describes those who are born with ambiguous genitalia, or bodies that otherwise do not match societal ideas of “typical” male or female configurations. My externship this fall is with Advocates for Informed Choice, an (read: THE) organization working to protect the rights of intersex people. Right now, I have the honor of being involved with AIC’s groundbreaking litigation on behalf of a child (identified as M.C.) who suffered unnecessary genital surgery while he was still a baby. When I am called upon to explain my work to the class, invariably someone is shocked. That happens? All the time. To how many people? As many as 1 percent of live births are intersex, and 0.1 or 0.2 percent become victims of “normalizing” surgical mutilation.
So why aren’t more people outraged? Why do so few people even know about this?
Sunday, August 18, 2013
The Raw Story/The Guardian: Germany will be first European country to recognize babies as gender ‘undetermined’ come November:
Germany will become the first country in Europe to join a small group of nations which recognise a third or “undetermined” sex when registering births, according to a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
From November 1, babies born in Germany without clear gender-determining physical characteristics will be able to be registered without gender on their birth certificates, according to the report. . . .
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance announces:
The 2013 Honorees
Mandy Carter is one of the leading African-American lesbian activists in the country. She has a 45-year movement history of social, racial and lesbigaytrans justice organizing since 1968 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She helped co-found two ground breaking organizations. Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). Read more here.
Heather Corinna is the founder ofScarleteen.com, the inclusive and progressive online resource for teen and young adult sexuality education and information founded in 1998. An author, educator and activist, Heather is considered one of the pioneers of positive human sexuality on the internet. Read more here.
Matt Foreman has been a leader in the LGBT rights movement for over 25 years. Matt has served as Executive Director of the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the nation’s then-largest statewide LGBT political advocacy organization, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (The Task Force), the nation’s oldest and second-largest national LGBT rights organization.Read more here.
The Vicki Sexual Freedom Award, established in 2010, is named after Victoria Woodhull, the namesake of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. Ms. Woodhull was an American suffragist born on September 23, 1838, who was described by Gilded Age newspapers as a leader of the American women's suffrage movement in the 19th century. She became a colorful and notorious symbol for women's rights, free love, and spiritualism as she fought against corruption and for labor reforms. A strong advocate for collaboration and for full equality rather than "just" individual rights, Woodhull was generations ahead of her time.
The New York Times: Unexcited? There May Be a Pill for That, by Daniel Bergner:
Linneah sat at a desk at the Center for Sexual Medicine at Sheppard Pratt in the suburbs of Baltimore and filled out a questionnaire. She read briskly, making swift checks beside her selected answers, and when she was finished, she handed the pages across the desk to Martina Miller, who gave her a round of pills.
The pills were either a placebo or a new drug called Lybrido, created to stoke sexual desire in women. . . .
. . .“Female Viagra” is the way drugs like Lybrido and Lybridos tend to be discussed. But this is a misconception. Viagra meddles with the arteries; it causes physical shifts that allow the penis to rise. A female-desire drug would be something else. It would adjust the primal and executive regions of the brain. It would reach into the psyche. . . .
See also Jezebel: How a Women's Libido Pill Could Actually Save Monogamy, by Lindy West.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Lavender Law 2013, San Francisco, CA - August 22-24 - Invitation and Call for Papers:
Junior Scholars Forum
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This year the Lavender Law® Conference & Career Fair will be held August 22-24, 2013 at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, CA. Lavender Law brings together the best and brightest legal minds in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
To celebrate our community of scholars, Lavender Law® is hosting a Junior Scholars Forum again this year. If you are a junior law professor (teaching 6 years or fewer), or a recent law school graduate or fellow who is writing scholarship focusing on the nexus between the law, gender, and sexuality, we encourage you to submit a proposal for consideration. Proposals can be in the form of a full draft or in the form of an expanded abstract (approximately 1-2 pages in length).
If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to present your work at the 2013 Lavender Law conference.
The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2013.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
judicial decision that vindicates minority rights inevitably give birth to a
special kind of backlash, a more virulent reaction than legislation achieving
the same result would produce? We examine this question with respect to Roe v. Wade, so often invoked as the
paradigmatic case of court-caused backlash, and with the pending marriage cases
in mind. As we have shown, conflict over abortion escalated before the Supreme
Court ever ruled in Roe, driven
by movements struggling over legislative reform and Republican Party efforts to
recruit voters historically aligned with the Democratic Party. These and other
features of the abortion conflict suggest that the Court's decision in Roe was not the abortion conflict's
sole or even its principal cause.
When change through adjudication or legislation threatens the status quo, it can prompt counter-mobilization and "backlash." We do not doubt that adjudication can prompt backlash. But we do doubt that adjudication is distinctively more likely than legislation to prompt backlash and that the abortion conflict illustrates this supposed property of adjudication. Advocates concerned about these questions have to make in-context and on-balance judgments that consider not only the costs but also the benefits of engagement.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: States are cracking down on abortion—and legalizing gay marriage. What gives?, by Sarah Kliff:
Tuesday marked for a watershed day for gay rights activists as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case with the potential to legalize same-sex marriage across the country.
Across the country and 1,500 miles west of Washington, an equally notable event took place: North Dakota enacted the country’s most restrictive abortion law, barring all procedures after six weeks.
For decades, support (or opposition) for gay marriage and abortion went hand in hand. They were the line-in-the-sand “values” issues that sharply divided the political parties.
Not anymore. . . .
Monday, March 25, 2013
Below, another article that assumes that Roe v. Wade nipped inevitable state reform in the bud and fueled the anti-choice movement. As mentioned in Friday's post, it's far from clear that this is true. Reform had largely stopped by 1973, and those few reform laws that were enacted were not even as protective as the Roe decision. (New York's pre-Roe reform law, for example, is still on the books, and it bars all but life-saving abortions after 24 weeks, regardless of viability and with no health exception. This is one of the reasons why the Reproductive Health Act, championed by Governor Cuomo, is needed.) And there are surely many conservative states -- including those now passing early abortion bans, like Arkansas and North Dakota -- that would never have liberalized their laws. When a right is fundamental, it's the Supreme Court's job to ensure that it is protected nationwide and is not subject to the state in which a person resides.
The New York Times: Shadow of Roe v. Wade Looms Over Ruling on Gay Marriage, by Adam Liptak:
When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. . . .
See also: The Los Angeles Times - LA Now: As Supreme Court considers gay marriage, abortion comparisons rise, by Robin Abcarian.
Friday, March 22, 2013
The Economist - Democracy in America blog: A hard Roe to hoe, by J.F.:
TO WHAT extent does the debate over same-sex marriage resemble the debate over abortion? Both involve thorny, intersecting questions of religious freedom, personal liberty and sex. Both involve conflicting narratives and costs. The division between the two sides is wide, and like many debates fuelled by religious fervour; at times it risks becoming absolute. But not always: witness the conversion of Rob Portman, a conservative senator from Ohio, from gay-marriage opponent to supporter thanks to the coming-out of his son. Mr Portman came to realise that gay marriage represents not "a threat but a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution." Indeed. . . .
This author adopts the common (but, I think, questionable) position that Roe v. Wade "short-circuited a growing state-level trend toward liberalisation of abortion laws" and "galvanised, perhaps even created, the pro-life movement." For a different perspective, see Before (and After) Roe v. Wade: New Questions About Backlash, by Linda Greenhouse & Reva B. Siegel.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The Guardian: The War on Women, by Heather Long:
2012 was a tough year for American females as various aspects of female health and reproduction repeatedly took center stage. Politicians and pundits, mainly Republican, made degrading and factually incorrect remarks about rape and contraception. But Democrats also left their mark with an ill-timed snipe at stay-at-home mom Ann Romney, reinvigorating the "mommy wars".
Here are the key moments in the 2012 War on Women . . . .
March 5, 2013 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Contraception, Fetal Rights, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Parenthood, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Sexuality, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Sex ed bill nixes 'gender stereotypes', by Elise Viebeck:
A new sex education bill would give grants to programs that reject gender stereotypes and embrace LGBT students.
The legislation from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and 32 other Democrats encourages a "comprehensive" approach to sex ed. . . .
Feminist Majority Foundation: UN Condemns "Normalization" Surgeries of Intersex Children:
Last week the United Nations released a report condemning the practice of performing "normalization" surgeries on intersex children.
The Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) to the United Nation's Human Rights Council submitted a report to the General Assembly that addressed the practice of surgically altering children born with ambiguous genitalia.According to the report [PDF], "Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, 'in an attempt to fix their sex', leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.". . .
Monday, February 11, 2013
The New York Times: Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg:
MISSOULA, Mont. — This funky college town, nestled along two rivers where five mountain ranges converge, has long been a liberal pocket, an isolated speck of blue in a deeply red state. Now Montana is electing more politicians who lean that way, thanks to a different-minded generation of young voters animated by the recession and social issues. . . .
Here in Missoula, young people who voted for Mr. Obama last year said in interviews that they would be open to voting Republican, particularly if a candidate supports same-sex marriage. Young Republicans, too, hope their party will shift on that issue.
“The social issues are hard,” said Ashley Nerbovig, a 19-year-old who backed Mr. Romney. “It’s not realistic that you can be against gay marriage and abortion.” . . .