Rome, November 30, 2016: The word “homosexual” is now a neutral word and can no longer be considered offensive, Italy’s highest appeals court said on Tuesday, quashing a libel conviction against a 60-year-old man.
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“Unlike other words with the same meaning that are clearly intended to be derogatory, the term now has a intrinsically neutral meaning,” the Court of Cassation said in its ruling.
“The term ‘homosexual’ has not retained an inherently offensive connotation that it could perhaps have had in a not even too distant past,” the ruling stated.
“Merely attributing this quality to an individual to describe their sexual orientation does not in itself harm their reputation,” the ruling continued.
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The court cancelled a fine that the defendant had been ordered to pay by a lower court in Trieste last year after he was convicted of slander when he called another man “homosexual” during an argument.
Gay rights groups slammed Tuesday’s ruling however, saying it could be interpreted as sanctioning slurs against gay people especially youngsters who are vulnerable to victimisation and bullying in schools.
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“In Italy there is no law against homophobia that bans discriminatory insults as exist in other countries,” said the Gay Centre’s spokesman Fabrizio Marrazzo.
“This ruling would be clearer if such legislation was in place,” he added (IANS)
Serbia, September 18, 2017 : Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s first openly gay prime minister, joined several hundred activists at a gay-pride march in Belgrade on Sunday.
Brnabic, who is also the first woman in top-level job, said she is working “one step at a time” toward building a more tolerant society.
Serbian riot police cordoned off the city center with metal fences early Sunday to prevent possible clashes with extremist groups opposed to the gay-pride march. Similar events have been marred by violent clashes in the conservative country.
“The government is here for all citizens and will secure the respect of rights for all citizens,” Brnabic told reporters. “We want to send a signal that diversity makes our society stronger, that together we can do more.”
Members of Serbia’s embattled LGBT community face widespread harassment and violence from extremists. Violence marred the country’s first gay-pride march in 2001, and more than 100 people were injured during a similar event in 2010 when police clashed with right-wing groups and soccer hooligans. Several pride events were banned before marches resumed in 2014.
Brnabic, who was elected in June, has tried to shift the focus away from her sexual orientation, asking “Why does it matter?”
Serbia is on track to join the European Union, but the EU has asked the country to improve minority rights, including for the LGBT community.
The marchers Sunday said they hoped Brnabic will bring about legislative changes for same-sex couples. (VOA)
Washington, August 9, 2017: An eight-year-old Indian-American transgender girl and her family are suing a private school in California for forcing her to dress as a boy and preventing the child from expressing her preferred gender identity.
Nikki Brar, who was designated male at birth, was a student at Heritage Oak Private Education in Yorba Linda. The lawsuit alleges that the school violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.
The school didn’t allow Nikki Brar to wear the school’s girls’ uniform, use the girls’ bathroom, or be called a “she”. It said that the move would “create an imbalance in our environment”, the report said.
The lawsuit alleged that Nikki Brar experienced social isolation. The girls would not play with her because she had to dress like a boy, and she found the boys’ games too rough. Boys would bully the youngster, calling her “a loser”, it said. Nikki left the school in February 2017.
The suit is noteworthy because it is “the first (transgender rights) case to use a state anti-discrimination law as one of the grounds for relief,” said Mark Rosenbaum, Director of the pro bono Public Counsel Opportunity Under Law.
“In light of the Trump administration’s inaction on taking a stand against discrimination against trans individuals… this is a terribly important case,” he told the the Los Angeles Times.
Nikki Brar’s parents filed the suit against the school, its Executive Director Phyllis Cygan and the school’s parent group, Nobel Learning Communities. They seek damages for “emotional distress and discrimination” as well as more than $10,000 for school tuition and fees.
They also asked Heritage Oak school to write a non-discrimination policy specifically for transgender students, and demanded that the school teach lessons on transgender identity in the classroom.
The child’s mother, Priya Shah, said the family thought long and hard before filing the lawsuit. “It honours our child’s commitment to being who she is despite adversity,” she said.
“It is our small contribution towards ensuring that other transgender and gender expansive children do not go through the same hardship and trauma.”
The school’s parent group Nobel Learning Communities released a statement following the lawsuit, saying: “We believed it was extremely important to respond… to decide when and how to inform and educate our entire elementary school community… about the mid-year change of gender identity expression of a young child… Unfortunately, these accommodations were rejected and the parents withdrew their child.”
Nikki is expected to join a public school in Orange County later this year, the report said. (IANS)
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS
June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.
Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.
Confusion leads to mistakes
All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.
Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.
“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”
Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.
Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.
“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.
In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.
IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.
IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.
Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.
“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.
IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.
Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.
IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.
Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.
Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.
Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.
“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.
IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.
Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.
“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)