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Australia high court strikes down same-sex marriage law

27 gay couples tied the knot in capital territory over last five days

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Gay News, Washington Blade, Australia

Gay News, Washington Blade, Australia

Lawmakers in the Australian capital in October approved a same-sex marriage bill.

Australia’s highest court on Thursday struck down the Australian Capital Territory’s same-sex marriage law.

The Australia High Court unanimously ruled the statute that ACT lawmakers narrowly approved nearly two months ago cannot remain in effect alongside a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“Only a marriage conforming to that definition may be formed or recognized in Australia,” the decision reads. “The provisions of the ACT Act which deal with the rights of parties to marriages formed under that Act and with the dissolution of such marriages can have no valid operation.”

The Star Observer, an Australian LGBT newspaper, reported 27 gay and lesbian couples married in the ACT in which the country’s capital of Canberra is located since the same-sex marriage law took effect on Dec. 7. The Australia High Court decision nullifies these unions.

Ivan Hinton of Australian Marriage Equality married his partner, Chris Teoh, on Dec. 7.

The Associated Press reported the couple on Wednesday applied to change their last names to Hinton-Teoh once they received their marriage certificate.

“It is personally devastating that my marriage to Chris has only enjoyed legal significance for five days,” Hinton told the Washington Blade. “But our commitment to one another is lifelong and our resolve to achieving marriage equality for all Australians is only more resolute.”

Australian Marriage Equality National Director Rodney Croome further categorized the ruling as “just a temporary defeat.”

The decision said only the federal government can decide whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Star Observer reported a group of Australian senators on Wednesday pledged to form what the newspaper described as a “working group” to push the issue of nuptials for gays and lesbians in the country’s Parliament. Prime Minister Tony Abbott opposes marriage rights for same-sex couples, even though his sister is a lesbian and his wife and daughters back the issue.

“We now have a clear political and constitutional path forward for marriage equality, and call on the prime minister to grant his party a free vote on the reform,” said Croome.

Amy Coopes, an Australia-based correspondent for Agence France-Presse, told the Blade that advocates remain optimistic about the prospects of marriage rights for same-sex couples in the country in spite of their obvious disappointment with the ruling.

“It ruled that the Parliament does have the power to change the Marriage Act and that gay marriage is, in effect, legal if they want it to be,” said Coopes. “Seems to be common sense, but this is the first time it’s been stated.”

Miles Heffernan, who is the features editor for the Star Observer, noted to the Blade during a telephone interview from Sydney the decision in fact opens the door to adding same-sex couples to the federal marriage law.

“So they were part very conservative, part a little bit activist,” said Heffernan.

New Zealand is among the 15 countries in which gays and lesbians can legally marry.

Same-sex couples will be able to legally marry in England and Wales on March 29. The Irish government last month announced a referendum on whether to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians will take place in 2015.

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District of Columbia

Pannell resigns in protest from Ward 8 Council member’s LGBT Commission

Says Trayon White has no out member of his staff

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Phil Pannell resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights activist Phil Pannell announced on May 6 that he has resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on grounds that White does not have an LGBTQ person on his Council staff.

White’s office has said the Council member created the commission to “focus on the specific needs of this community” in his role as a supporter of LGBTQ equality.

“For me, this is a major issue of inclusion, affirmative action and diversity,” Pannell said in an email message announcing his resignation. “I as a Black Gay man cannot in good conscience continue to be a member of my Councilmember’s LGBT Commission when he has no one from my community on his staff,” Pannell’s announcement message continues.

“This is hypocritical at best and structurally homophobic at worst,” he said. “I deeply resent and refuse to be used as anyone’s homosexual prop for any purposes. Therefore, I resign from the commission effective immediately.”

In response to a request by the Washington Blade for comment on Pannell’s resignation, Julia Jessie, White’s director of communications, said White’s Council office “follows all legal HR procedures and hires based on experience and skillset.” Jessie added, “As an employer, we do not discriminate or consider a person’s race, color, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity, when making decisions about employment qualifications.”

According to Jessie, “We do, however, harvest a safe and inclusionary work environment where employees who wish to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation of gender identity feel comfortable doing so.”

White’s office released a statement from the Ward 8 LGBT Commission’s chair, Marvin ‘Rahim’ Briggs, saying the commission “regretfully accepts” Pannell’s resignation.

“The Commission will continue to focus on and address issues affecting Ward 8 LGBTQ,” Briggs says in the statement. “We’ll continue to organize to promote acceptance of LGBTQ community diversity and to foster respect and appreciation for each member of the community residing in Ward 8.”

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District of Columbia

Two gay candidates disqualified from D.C. primary ballot

Republican, Libertarian activists withdraw from races

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(Blade archive photo by Aram Vartian)

A member of the Capital Stonewall Democrats, D.C.’s largest LGBTQ local political group, mounted a successful challenge before the D.C. Board of Elections earlier this month that resulted in a gay Republican and a gay Libertarian Party activist withdrawing as candidates for public office in the city’s June 21 primary.

James Harnett, 24, a member of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee and a member of the staff of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), filed challenges to the candidacy of gay Libertarian Party activist Bruce Majors, who was running unopposed in the June 21 primary for the office of both D.C. Delegate to the U.S. House and chair of the Libertarian Party of D.C.

The Board of Elections upheld Harnett’s challenge claiming that Majors failed to obtain a sufficient number of valid petition signatures needed to be placed on the ballot for both offices, according to elections board spokesperson Nicholas Jacobs. Majors withdrew his candidacy for both offices rather than contest the challenge.

The Board of Elections also upheld a challenge filed by Harnett against the candidacy of gay Republican and D.C. Log Cabin Republicans organization member Andrew Desser, who was running unopposed in the primary for the position of Ward 1 Chairperson of the D.C. Republican Committee.

Desser told the Blade he acknowledged that he fell short in obtaining the needed number of valid petition signatures and would not contest the challenge.

Harnett, who appeared to be acting on his own behalf and not representing the Capital Stonewall Democrats in his challenges to Majors and Desser before the election board, did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Board of Elections records showed that he also successfully challenged six other candidates seeking ballot placement in the June 21 primary, one of whom, Lori Furstenberg, was running for mayor as a Republican and another, Corren Brown, was running for mayor as a Statehood-Green Party member.

The others Harnett mounted a successful challenge against were GOP candidates running for the Ward 2, Ward 4, and Ward 7 GOP Chairperson positions; and Leniqua ‘Dominique’ Jenkins, a Democrat running for the at-large D.C. Council seat, who was the only Democrat challenged by Harnett.

Harnett, a former ANC commissioner in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, ran unsuccessfully in 2020 for the nonpartisan office of D.C. Board of Education for Ward 2. Among the candidates he ran against was gay education advocate Allister Chang, who won that race.

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En Espanol

La homosexualidad no es una enfermedad

Activistas en Honduras conmemoran el Día Internacional contra la Homofobia, la Transfobia y la Bifobia

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(Foto cortesía de Leonela Paz/Reportar sin Miedo)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 16 de mayo.

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — El comité LGBTIQ+ del Valle de Sula conmemora el trigésimo segundo aniversario de la eliminación de la homosexualidad como enfermedad mental en la Clasificación Internacional de Enfermedades (CIE) por parte de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS).

La OMS consideró que la homosexualidad debía de salir del apartado de enfermedades mentales, una lucha de años para las personas diversas. Una vergonzosa historia de patologización, institucionalización, “conversión” y esterilización finalmente se cerró.

Durante 22 años, este comité conformado por 13 organizaciones de sociedad civil ha promovido el reconocimiento y respeto de los derechos humanos de las personas de la diversidad sexual del Valle de Sula y Honduras.

Según el observatorio de la Red Lésbica Cattrachas, desde el 2009 hasta la fecha se contabilizan 410 muertes violentas de personas LGTBIQ+, con un índice de impunidad del 87 por ciento. Es por esta razón y teniendo en cuenta el marco del 17 de mayo, Día Internacional de la Lucha en contra de la Homolesbobitransfobia, que se llevarán a cabo algunas actividades en lugares estratégicos de la ciudad de San Pedro Sula para hacer visible esta causa.

“Esto nos ha asesinado”, dijo el presidente del comité LGTBIQ+, Osman Lara, haciendo referencia a todo el odio en contra de las personas de la diversidad sexual. 

Como principal actividad, izarán las banderas LGTBIQ+ y trans en la Plaza José Cecilio del Valle, localizada en la Ciudad de los Zorzales. Seguidamente, habrá una caminata por la primera calle de la capital industrial de Honduras, finalizando en el parque central, enfrente de la alcaldía sampedrana.

Las actividades contarán con la participación de líderes de la región, organizaciones defensoras de los derechos humanos, organismos internacionales, representantes de gobierno y corporación municipal. Todo esto con la finalidad de conseguir respuesta por todas las muertes violentas y para seguir luchando en contra de la homolesbobitransfobia en Honduras.

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