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Tel Aviv LGBT Pride parade takes over 100,000 people to streets

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Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv witnessed its largest ever LGBT Pride parade and the largest throughout the entire Asian continent, with more than 100,000 people marching through the city streets celebrating a day dedicated to the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially transgender community under the slogan “Tel Aviv loves all genders.”

Despite the scorching heat on Friday, a parade of colors and tens of thousands of people flooded the main thoroughfares in downtown Tel Aviv, which blocked several roads and brought in a significant security presence before the event.

“We take pride in our country, that gives us rights and equality,” 17-year-old Oren said, who marched with his friends to the Charles Clore Park.

Eurovision winner of the year 2014, Austria’s Conchita Wurst, performed a concert to conclude the parade.

One of Oren’s friends told Efe, “We are now fighting for gay marriage and we hope to succeed,” explaining that civil marriages are not allowed in Israel, and therefore gay marriage is forbidden as well.

In this respect, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai brought the attention of Israeli politicians to the fact that “there is still much legislative work to be done to promote the LGBT community.”

While there is no same-sex marriage in Israel, as only religious marriage is recognized, the state does recognize marriages officiated outside Israel, including gay marriages. (IANS)

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‘In Standing up for Herself, Edie Also Stood up for Millions of Americans’, Tweets Bill Clinton as the World Mourns the Death of Gay Rights Activist Edith Windsor

Paying his tribute to Edie, former US President Barack Obama rightly said, "Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor - and few made as big a difference to America."

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Edith Windsor
Edie dearly loved the LGBTQ community which loved her right back and held her in reverence for her fight for freedom, equality, and justice. Wikemedia

New York, September 13, 2017 Gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose same-sex marriage fight led to a landmark US ruling, has died aged 88.

Her death was confirmed to the New York Times by her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor. She died in New York.

“The world lost a tiny but tough-as-nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” the BBC quoted Kasen-Windsor as saying.

“Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back,” she added.

Edith Windsor’s Supreme Court case struck down the Defence of Marriage Act in 2013, granting same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.

She had sued the US government after being ordered to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died. The couple had been partners for 44 years and had married in Canada in 2007.

Windsor, known as Edie, argued that the provision of the law which defined marriage as between a man and a woman prevented her from getting a tax deduction due to married couples – and was “unconstitutional”.

In the landmark 2013 ruling, the US Supreme Court agreed – and that decision became the basis for a wave of further court rulings increasing the rights of same-sex couples.

In 2015, another crucial Supreme Court ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

Remembering the gay rights trailblazer Edith Windsor, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also paid their tributes.

“Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America,” Obama said. While Clinton tweeted: “In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Americans…” (IANS)

 

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Countries with Stricter Rape Law Limit Chances of Civil War: Study

Rape laws can be another proxy to look at gender equality in society

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Rape law
Rape law in country. Pixabay
  • Stricter rape law that punishes rapists with long punitive sentences are less likely to have a civil war and strife
  • The transmission of rape laws across countries correlates with democratization and a general trend toward progressive laws
  • The findings support research that has identified political liberalism and progressive, individualistic and emancipatory ideas, including gay rights

New York, Sep 07, 2017: Countries that punish rapists with long punitive sentences are less likely to have a civil war and strife, new research has found.

“The transmission of rape laws across countries correlates with democratization and a general trend toward progressive laws. It proceeds then that countries are more likely to adopt gender-neutral laws and stricter laws against rape,” said the study’s lead author Nazli Avdan, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Kansas in the US.

The researchers paired a statistical analysis of data on rape legislation for 194 countries across the world from 1965 to 2005 with the number of civil wars over that time span.

The study, published in the journal Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, addresses an expanding body of research that argues that gender inequality heightens the probability of intrastate conflict by creating a structure of violence.

The researchers argued that nations that have laws that are gender neutral in how they protect citizens, especially in granting equal protection and rights to women, increase the chance that the state’s society would embody liberal and progressive norms.

Also Read: What Gives Husbands The Licence to Rape? Decoding Marital Rape in the Indian Legal Scenario 

“These norms cohere with ideas about peaceful conflict resolution,” Avdan said.

“These ideas in turn mitigate civil conflict,” she added.

The researchers found that countries that did little to punish perpetrators of rape likely include exemptions for the crime of rape if the perpetrator and victim are married, or possibly they treat genders differently under the law.

In other cases, some penal systems exonerate the assailant if he agrees to marry the rape victim.

“A so-called marriage loophole is a situation with a perpetrator is married to a victim would exonerate the assailant,” Avdan said.

“That is at its core a misogynistic policy. Countries with these policies – for example, Middle Eastern countries like Jordan and Lebanon but also other countries such as the Philippines — have received condemnation for not reforming these laws,” Avdan added.

The findings support research that has identified political liberalism and progressive, individualistic and emancipatory ideas, including gay rights, for example, tend to correlate with reduced propensities of armed conflicts.

“Rape law showcases an angle about gender norms,” Avdan said.

“And we know that masculine norms tend to support militarism and militant nationalism as well. Rape law can be another proxy to look at gender equality in society,” she added. (IANS)

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India becoming more Transgender- Friendly: Read this report

Male-to-female "hijras", the most visible group in the transgender community, feature in Hindu mythology and are seen as auspicious oddities whose blessings are sought at weddings and births.

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Transgenders in India
People belonging to the transgender community take a picture with a mobile phone before the start of a rally for transgender rights in Mumbai, India, January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade - RTX2YSL4
India's Supreme Court gave transgender people "third gender" recognition in 2014.
A growing number of Indian companies are now actively hiring transgender people.
India's 2011 census recorded half a million transgender people, 
but campaigners estimate the number at about 2 million.

By Roli Srivastava

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – During a training session for its first set of transgender recruits, officials from the new metro rail company in the southern Indian city of Kochi asked them if they had any concerns. They had just one: bathroom access.

“The project construction was complete by then and the stations were ready,” said Reshmi Chandrathil Ravi, a spokeswoman for Kochi Metro Rail, a new network in the port city launched at the weekend by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“So we are now turning the big bathrooms for the differently-abled into all-gender bathrooms to be shared with the disabled,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The washroom signs have now been removed and sent for a fresh “inclusive design”. And the company has allowed its transgender recruits to choose a male or female uniform.

Kochi Metro Rail is the first government-owned company to recruit staff from the transgender community as part of Kerala state’s initiative to give the marginalised group better access to job opportunities.

Since India’s Supreme Court gave transgender people “third gender” recognition in 2014, a growing number of Indian companies have actively hired transgender people and drafted policies to ensure they are not discriminated against in the workplace.

India’s 2011 census recorded half a million transgender people but campaigners estimate the number at about 2 million. Less than half are literate and even fewer have jobs, according to the census. Traditionally, transgender people in India have been confined to the margins of society.

Male-to-female “hijras”, the most visible group in the transgender community, feature in Hindu mythology and are seen as auspicious oddities whose blessings are sought at weddings and births.

Male-to-female Hijras are considered auspicious by Hindus. Click To Tweet

This popular perception of transgender people has meant they have struggled to find regular jobs, campaigners said.

But attitudes are slowly starting to change.

“At least 12 to 13 of our member companies already have all-gender bathrooms. This started happening since last year,” said Rashmi Vikram, senior manager with Community Business, a charity that supports firms seeking to be more socially inclusive.

“Some companies have turned the disability restroom to all gender, all-abilities restroom, promoting it in a way that there is no stigma attached to it. It didn’t require a big infrastructural change, but it sent out a positive message.”

BUDDIES AND BENEFITS

A handful of firms have gone beyond ensuring bathroom access.

Global technology firm ThoughtWorks hired a transgender person in its Bangalore office as part of a diversity initiative last year and went on to provide an office buddy and an external counsellor to its new employee to smooth the settling-in period.

And in a first, IBM – named as the world’s most LGBT-inclusive company by Amsterdam-based Workplace Pride Foundation – will from this year cover gender affirmation surgery under its corporate health benefit plan, a spokeswoman for IBM India said.

Another major Indian IT firm that opened a new campus in Mumbai last year ensured at the planning stage it would have a unisex bathroom following requests from transgender employees.

Some firms are also hand-holding transgender staff during the initial employment period and keeping their identities discreet on request, but campaigners say the trend is restricted to big companies.

MANY CHALLENGES

Nyra D’souza, a transgender woman, never took a bathroom break when she worked at a Mumbai outsourcing firm – uncomfortable in the men’s washroom and not allowed in the women’s facility.

It meant holding on for 15 hours before she reached home.

At job interviews, she had been told to consider fashion, beauty or films for a job “where I could be myself”.

But when she was interviewed at Mumbai-headquartered Godrej – a leading Indian conglomerate with interests ranging from consumer goods to real estate – she was asked about her work experience, not gender.

This, a Godrej spokeswoman said, was in tune with the company’s policy to make all interactions gender-neutral.

“Such experiences are limited only to big companies, not small,” said D’souza, who finds others from her community struggling to find jobs, or dignity in the workplace if they do.

After the Supreme Court ruling, campaigners said more companies are coming forward to recruit transgender people, but are reluctant to make adaptations.

“Over the past year, we have got nearly 15 requests from companies that wish to hire a transgender, but they retreat when I ask them about bathroom access,” said Koninika Roy of the Mumbai-based Humsafar Trust that works with the LGBT community and tries to match them with jobs.

The trust had one successful placement in the last year.

But Solidarity Foundation, a Bangalore-based rights group that works with sexual minorities, had more success – it placed 15 transgender people over the last year.

“Companies are becoming more open and talking about these issues, but integration is still not part of their DNA,” said Shubha Chacko, executive director of Solidarity Foundation.

Chacko cited the case of a transgender person detained at the office gate by security guards on his first day at work.

“The biggest challenge in India is the mindset. They connect transgender to people who beg on the streets, do sex work or sing at weddings,” said Vikram of Community Business.

“We still have a long way to go. A lot more work needs to be done.”

(Reporting by Roli Srivastava @Rolionaroll; Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)