Sunday May 19, 2019
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Shashi Tharoor fails to introduce bill to decriminalize gay sex

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New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s bill to decriminalize gay sex could not be passed as members from ruling BJP and even his own party walked out on Friday’s Lok Sabha session.

The bill met with strong opposition and was also rejected by Law Minister Sadananda Gowda.

Only 24 lawmakers spoke in favour of the bill with a large number of lawmakers voting out the bill.

“Surprising to see such intolerance,” Mr Tharoor tweeted.

Former union minister Tharoor sought to introduce a bill to amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits sex “against the order of nature”.

This phrase was sought to be dropped by the proposed bill, along with legalizing consensual sex between adults, irrespective of sexuality and gender.

Lawmakers from Kerala gave the proceedings a miss due to the impending Kerala elections in a few months.

The Delhi High Court, in 2009, exempted consensual gay sex from Section 377, stating that the law went against the right to equality, privacy, and personal liberty.

However, in 2013, the Supreme Court, finding the law constitutionally valid, restored the ban and left it in the hands of the Parliament to remove or change the law.

At that time, the ruling Congress Party stood against the decision to restore the ban while the BJP supported Section 377. However, since the BJP came to power last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has supported calls for changing the law and ending the ban.

“When you have millions of people involved in this (gay sex) you can’t nudge them off,” said the minister at an event last month.

“When millions of people world over are having alternative sexual preferences, it is too late in the day to propound a view that they should be jailed. The Delhi High Court’s view appears more acceptable,” Jaitley commented.

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Belfast Demands Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in Northern Ireland

“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage, says UK citizens

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same-sex marriage
A mural featuring journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed in April, allegedly by republican paramilitaries, is pictured in central Belfast, May 7, 2019. On Saturday, McKee's partner marched for same-sex marriage rights. VOA

Thousands of people marched through Belfast Saturday to demand the recognition of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, the only region of the United Kingdom where it does not have legal status.

Attempts to legislate for same-sex marriage have been blocked by the Democratic Unionist Party, a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May, despite opinion polls in recent years showing most in the region are in favor.

Sara Canning, the partner of journalist and LGBT rights campaigner Lyra McKee who was killed in April, led the march alongside a number of gay and lesbian couples. Canning said that she and McKee had been planning to marry.

same-sex marriage
“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage”, says UK. VOA

“We pay our taxes, we are governed by the same laws, why should we not be afforded the same rights in marriage” as the rest of the United Kingdom, said Canning, who was wearing a “Love Equality” T-shirt. Protesters waved rainbow flags and placards saying “Love is a human right.”

ALSO READ: Taiwan’s Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Mass Weddings Planned

Protesters called on May’s government to bypass the DUP and introduce legislation in the British parliament in Westminster. The Northern Ireland power-sharing government has been frozen for two years because of disagreement between the DUP and the largest Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein.

“If Stormont is incapable of delivering equality for people here, then it is the responsibility of the Westminster to end discrimination against the LGBT community,” Amnesty International spokesman Patrick Corrigan said. (VOA)