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Irish constitutional commission backs same-sex marriage

79 percent of 100 members supported recommendation, 2014 referendum possible

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Brian Sheehan, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, GLEN, Ireland, gay news, Washington Blade

Brian Sheehan, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, GLEN, Ireland, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) Director Brian Sheehan. (Photo courtesy of Brian Sheehan)

A commission charged with reforming the Irish constitution on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a recommendation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Seventy-nine percent of the Constitutional Convention’s 100 members supported the recommendation to amend the country’s constitution on which they voted at the end of a two day meeting at a Dublin hotel. Eighty-one percent of them also recommended the government expand adoption and other rights to gay and lesbian couples and protections to their children that are not included under the country’s civil partnership law that took effect in 2011.

“We are delighted with today’s result at the Constitutional Convention on the issue of same-sex marriage,” Marriage Equality Director Moninne Griffith said in a statement. Her group worked with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to urge commission members to support the issue. “This proves that Ireland is ready for equality for same-sex couples and wants equal access to civil marriage for loving committed lesbian and gay couples.”

The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, which argued against same-sex marriage alongside the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Order of the Knights of Columbanus, criticized the vote.

“While the result of the Constitutional Convention is disappointing, only the people of Ireland can amend the constitution,” a spokesperson told the Irish Times. “The Catholic Church will continue to promote and seek protection for the uniqueness of marriage between a woman and a man, the nature of which best serves children and our society.”

The convention’s recommendation comes 20 years after the Irish government decriminalized homosexuality.

Ireland in 1996 began to grant asylum to refugees on grounds they suffered anti-gay persecution in their countries of origin. Laws that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and public accommodation took effect in 1998 and 2000 respectively.

Ireland’s High Court in 2006 declined to hear the case of a lesbian couple who wanted the government to recognize their Canadian marriage. They subsequently appealed the ruling to the country’s Supreme Court.

Irish overwhelmingly back same-sex marriage

Recent polls show roughly 75 percent of the Irish people now support the extension of marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

GLEN Director Brian Sheehan noted to the Washington Blade during an interview from Dublin on Sunday a number of factors have contributed to this increased support. These include the decriminalization of homosexuality in the country, the Catholic Church’s diminished influence in Ireland over the last two decades, and former Irish President Mary McAleese and President Obama’s public support of same-sex marriage.

Sheehan also pointed out more than 1,000 couples have thus far taken advantage of Ireland’s civil partnership law. He noted newspapers across the country have featured what he described as “really positive stories” about these celebrations.

“The vision of lesbian and gay people has radically altered,” Sheehan told the Blade. “I’m not by any means trying to say that [the movement for LGBT rights is] over, but we have come a long way in a very, very short period of time.”

The convention approved the recommendation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the Irish constitution two days after the French Senate approved a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot and adopt children.

Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal are among the countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry. The British House of Commons in February approved a bill that would allow nuptials for gays and lesbians in England and Wales.

The Scottish Parliament is expected to consider a similar measure later this year.

The Irish government will announce within the next four months whether a same-sex marriage referendum will take place.

Sheehan said he expects it would occur next year.

“It is seen as the next step in a remarkable journey,” he said in response to the Blade’s question about how the Irish people feel about the potential same-sex marriage referendum. “Referendums in Ireland are complex for very many reasons and we may be in the position of having a referendum. But rather than a referendum to remove something, this is a referendum to enable something.”

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Polish House passes bill echoing Russia “gay propaganda” law

Measure passed on Jan. 13 by 227-214 vote margin.

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The Polish parliament's lower House, the Sejm (Screenshot via Polish government Sejm RP YouTube)

A measure that would give school administrators and superintendents the power to remove books, lessons, and ban student participation in events or clubs that are LGBTQ affirming passed the lower house of Poland’s parliament, known as the Sejm, on Jan. 13 in a 227-214 vote.

The measure, dubbed “Lex Czarnek,” or “Czarnek’s Law,” after Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek,  who has been vehemently opposed to the LGBTQ rights and the country’s equality movement, now moves on to the upper house, the Senate where it faces opposition and likely will be rejected Polish broadcast media outlet RMF 24 reported.

According to RMF24, “The Sejm adopted the amendment to the Educational Law, prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science. The project is commonly known as ‘Lex Czarnek.’ The role of school superintendents will be strengthened, and the rules governing the functioning of non-governmental organizations in schools and educational institutions will be changed.”

Opposition to LGBTQ rights has an ally in the education minister whose role would determine the outcome of implementation of the measure:

“Pursuant to the amendment, the headmaster of the school or facility will be required — no later than two months before the commencement of classes conducted by associations or organizations —to obtain detailed information about the action plan in the school, the outline of classes and materials used in the offered classes, as well as obtain a positive the opinion of the education superintendent for the activities of such an organization at school or in an institution. The curator has 30 days to issue an opinion.”

The law also contains a stipulation that “if the head of the school or educational institution fails to comply with the recommendations issued by the school superintendent, he will be able to summon him to explain why he did not do so. If the principal still does not follow the recommendations, the probation officer may apply to the governing body of the school or facility with a request to dismiss the principal during the school year, without notice.”

A member of the Sejm, Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, a progressive leftist politician who in addition to protesting against abortion laws, has also been active in protests for LGBTQ rights, tweeted her outrage; “The voice of the curator Nowak, as if it were not stupid and dangerous to health and life, is more important for PiS deputies than the voice of students, parents and teachers.”

The MP and Czarnek, target of Dziemianowicz-Bąk’s anger, has staked out several public vitriolic anti-LGBTQ positions that has included an attack on the LGBTQ community in West Hollywood.

Speaking with a reporter on Serwis Info Poranek with the national state-run TVP Info (TVP3 Polska) last June, the newly appointed education minister said (translated from Polish):

“Let’s end the discussion about these LGBT abominations, homosexuality, bisexuality, parades of equality. Let us defend the family, because failure to defend the family leads to what you see.

As he spoke these words, he was holding a phone in his hand, on the display of which he showed a picture of several people.

“These are the Los Angeles guys in downtown last June. I was on a delegation there, I was passing through, there was a so-called gay pride parade there,” he added. “We are at an earlier stage, there are no such things with us yet, but such chaps shamelessly (sic.) Walk the streets of the western city of Los Angeles,” he added.

Przemysław Czarnek (Screenshot via Serwis Info Poranek)

Serwis Info Poranek also noted that according to Czarnek, “Europe is also heading for this, Poland is heading for this … These people are not equal to normal people, let’s end this discussion.”

During the ongoing battles over the so-called LGBTQ “Free Zones” with the European Commission Czarnek weighed in comparing the LGBTQ community to the Nazis.

“There’s no doubt, that LGBT+ ideology grew out of … the same root as Germany’s Hitlerian National Socialism, which was responsible for all the evil of World War II,” Czarnek said as PinkNewsUK reported.

Renew Europe, the liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament tweeted its outrage over the actions by the Sejm:

Observers think that the law will be rejected by the senate although under the Polish constitution there is still a possibility it could be signed off on by the anti-LGBTQ Polish President Andzej Duda.

PinkNewsUK reports:

“Although it seems that Lex Czarnek is on track to becoming law, Rémy Bonny, executive director of pan-EU LGBT+ rights organisation Forbidden Colours, insists that all is not lost.

With pressure from politicians both in the EU and around the world, Poland could be forced to backtrack.

He told PinkNewsUK that “in September, after threats by the European Commission to take away funding, four out five provinces that declared themselves ‘LGBT+ free zones’ withdrew their anti-LGBT+ resolutions … International pressure on Poland works.”

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Murdered Honduran transgender activist buried

Thalía Rodríguez shot outside her home on Monday

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The funeral of Thalía Rodríguez in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan. 11, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Reportar sin Miedo)

The Washington Blade on Thursday published a Spanish-language version of this story from Reportar sin Miedo, the Blade’s media partner in Honduras.

A prominent transgender activist in Honduras who was murdered on Monday has been buried.

Reportar sin Miedo reported activists are among those who attended Thalía Rodríguez’s funeral that took place in Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, on Tuesday.

Rodríguez led Asociación Cozumel Trans, a Honduran trans rights group.

The U.S. Embassy in Honduras, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras and the U.N. Refugee Agency have all condemned Rodríguez’s murder. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power in a tweet said she was “horrified” by the murders of Rodríguez and Pablo Hernández, a leader in Honduras’ indigenous Lenca community who was killed on Sunday near San Marcos de Caiquín, a municipality in the country’s Lempira department, while he was on his way to church.

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France, Greece to end restrictions for MSM blood donors

Calls for U.S. to remove abstinence requirement grow

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gay blood ban, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

France and Greece this week announced they will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood without restrictions.

Têtu, a French LGBTQ magazine, noted men who have sex with men previously had to remain abstinent for four months before they could donate blood in France.

French Health Minister Olivier Véran on Tuesday announced this requirement would no longer be in place as of March 16. Têtu also noted officials will no longer ask potential blood donors about their sexual orientation.

“It’s a whole new relationship with the blood donor that we want,” said Véran.

Greece on Monday also said it would allow MSM to donate blood without restrictions.

Greek Health Minister Thanos Plevris and Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga issued a decree that will become official once the Government Gazette publishes it.

Greece and France are the latest countries to lift restrictions for MSM who want to donate blood.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently allows MSM to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for three months.

The American Red Cross this week declared a blood crisis because of the surge in COVID-19 omicron variant cases. The declaration sparked renewed calls for the U.S. to allow MSM to donate blood without restrictions.

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