But Cape Town’s gay village doesn’t, wouldn’t, and couldn’t exist in any other country on this continent, the majority of which outlaw homosexuality. Some have seen a recent increase in penalties for homosexual acts. In these places gay people and other sexual minorities are forced into lives of secrecy and fear. Coming out is an act of bravery and defiance: Far more than social awkwardness is at stake.
Homosexuality is illegal in 36 out of 55 African countries and carries the death penalty in four. The presidents of Nigeria and Uganda recently passed new laws strengthening existing anti-gay legislation. A parliamentary caucus in Kenya is demanding anti-gay laws be applied rigorously and one MP recently said homosexuality is “as serious as terrorism.”
South Africa runs contrary to these currents. The country’s 1996 constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation and gender. Pierre de Vos, a law professor at the University of Cape Town, says South Africa is different “because of the way in which it became a democracy.
“Equality was very important to some of those deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid and they successfully put the argument that the struggle is against the denial of dignity and against all discrimination,” said de Vos. “Part of the struggle was about human rights.”
Yes….. Gov. Brewer vetoed Arizona’s pathetically shallow ‘religious freedom to discriminate bill’
No, that does not mean Arizona deserves some sort of deference.
On This Week With George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning, National Review’s Rich Lowry defended Arizona’s SB 1062 — the just-vetoed bill that would have allowed business to refuse service to members of the LGBT community — from charges that it created Jim Crow-style laws against gay people.
“It’s different than the situation in Jim Crow south, when you had a state-sanctioned system of discrimination that was flatly unconstitutional,” Lowry said, “and you had a governmental interesting in ensuring that you could travel in South, which you couldn’t do if no hotel or no restaurant would serve you. In this case, the wedding industry is not bristling with hostility to gay people. You’re dealing with the occasional baker or florist who has a genuine conscientious objection. And if they do, you can find another baker or florist.”
The price one pays to live in a democracy is always having to say you’re sorry. In a system of government; of, for, and by, the people, the people are to blame. This is true of love and war.
No, The wedding industry is not full of ‘bristling bigot monsters’ but if someone suggests Arizona just might be, it is because through the act of legislation, Arizona earned it.
end of civics lesson….
Democracy, Texas style!
Rare is it that you get true bipartisan support on anything political these days, but that’s exactly what happened a few days ago when the Texas Senate and House sent the “Buy American” bill to Governor Rick Perry’s desk.
Passing the Senate by a vote of 23-7 and the House 145-0, the Texas legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill meant to give preference to American-made goods for purchase by the State of Texas when they are of equal cost and quality to foreign-made products.
In other words, if an American-made product and foreign-made product are of equal quality and cost, when the state is purchasing a good or service, the state would always give preference to the American-made product or service.
An important commentary by Mindy over at Skepchick.
This is a cross post from Teen Skepchick, originally published on May 12, 2012. Today is Human Rights Day, and, while my situation and the relevant global events have changed, the main thrust of the post is still relevant.
I haven’t always been very excited by the skeptic movement. It’s not like I believed in a lot of woo, but I just couldn’t get too worked up about Loch Ness or Bigfoot or UFO abductions. What’s more, as a non-scientist, I didn’t feel like I had anything to add.
As regular readers of this blog might know, I’m a lawyer by training, and I like to communicate to non-lawyers those legal concepts that aren’t immediately recognizable. My main passion has been human rights and I’ve spent a big chunk of my time since I graduated working to make the whole concept more popular in the United States. Skepticism and the promotion of science always took a back seat to my human rights work.
Then it occurred to me: Advancing human rights and promoting science and reason are the same thing. Let me explain.
Through the atrocities he committed, Anders Breivik put to test our democracy and our legal institutions. The calm and reasoned way in which the Norwegian judiciary, the audience in the court room, and indeed the population in general dealt with Breivik, allowing him to be heard, indicates to me that we passed the test.
Why should we not trust our system when it comes to access to education? Our rules say that an inmate, like any other citizen in this country, has a right to pursue higher education on the basis of merit. The fact that his application is dealt with in accordance with extant rules and regulations does not imply that Norwegians lack passion or that anger and vengefulness are absent. What it demonstrates is that our values are fundamentally different from his.
By sticking to our rules and not clamouring for new ones we send a clear message to those whose misguided mission it is to undermine and change our democratic system.
At the moment, the situation in Egypt is complex, fluid, and it is not at all clear what exactly will be the end result of the ongoing protests.
With demands that President Morsi steps down, and the Egyptian military issuing a 48 hours ultimatum (soon to expire), questions have been raised with regards to the motivations of the military leadership, and the consequences for Egyptian democracy.
Andrew Sullivan, a writer I very much admire, writes that the prospect of a democratically elected government in Egypt being prematurely overthrown by a popular military coup as deeply ominous for Egypt’s democratic future.
Though he is, in my opinion, correct in his assessment, it is vital to understand the role that the Muslim Brotherhood has created for itself in Egypt over the last year.
Democracy falls within a framework that is wider than just the ballot boxes, and the rule of a group that has constantly defied democratic principles cannot be accepted under the pretext of honouring the “democratic process” or “electoral legitimacy”.
Importantly, the Muslim Brotherhood has
positioned itself as an organised force that stands as an alternative to state apparatuses such as the army and the police … case in point is the ongoing anti-June 30 protests being led by the Muslim Brotherhood, allegedly in defence of “constitutional legitimacy” - as if the constitution and the legitimacy derived from it belonged to the Brotherhood and not to the collective Egyptian people.
Listing further examples, Khorshid argues that these, and other examples show that
the 80-year-old movement has been playing a role that would have been otherwise played by the nation state. The fact that state institutions are dominated by Mubarak loyalists who refuse to accept the result of the revolution and accept Morsi’s rule provides no justification for the Brotherhood to fill in for these bodies. It is Morsi himself who refused to restructure state institutions, and has often wooed them, stating that they played an honourable role in the revolution.
In sum, It is difficult to disagree with her assessment that:
Military rule runs contrary to democracy and it should be rejected and overturned by civilian, democratic rule. At the same time, the Brotherhood’s attempt to replace state apparatuses and seize the nation state’s role in society is clearly undemocratic and cannot be justified on the grounds of advancing the revolution.
As the situation in Egypt is currently ongoing, and events are quickly happening in succession, it is difficult to determine the final outcome of these events.
However, one should not conflate support for Morsi as support for Egyptian Democracy, nor underestimate the Muslim Brotherhood in the coming hours, days or weeks.
Here’s what we know about a National Security Agency program that collects vast amounts of data on the electronic activity of Americans: While controversial, a leaked secret document authorizing the collection makes it clear that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has decided that the collection of metadata for every call made in and into the United States is legal under Section 215 of the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
What we don’t know is why. That’s because the opinion of the FISC is secret.
In an effort to get some kind of answer, we asked legal scholars to interpret the so-called business records section of the post-Sept. 11 legislation to determine what in it could — or could not — justify the government collection of three months’ worth of all Verizon phone calls made in and into the United States.
Here are their answers, with some of our annotations added for clarity and background:
Kent Greenfield, professor of law at Boston College:
By all appearances, the program does not easily fit within the Patriot Act. The provision cited by the court allows the government to petition for access to “business records” that are “relevant” to “an authorized investigation” to “protect against international terrorism.” If the NSA is gathering billions of daily phone records, only a sliver will be relevant to any specific investigation. The gathering of the rest would seem to go too far.
Having said that, I could imagine a reasonable interpretation of the statute that allows for the data dump, especially if bound by so-called minimization procedures that control how the data are actually used. The problem is that the FISA court’s interpretation of the statute is secret. We do not have access to the court’s explanation of how the law allows this surveillance.
So the secrecy of the surveillance is not nearly as troubling as the secrecy of its justification. Democracy can survive the former and could be eroded by the latter.
New York state has passed a bill that sets up a fund that can be drawn upon to run for office in the state.
I think the ways they fund it are creative and wise.
Who says democracy doesn’t work?
War hysteria took out one of the few antiwar voices in the major media as the country abandoned some of it most basic values in the lead-up to the war on Iraq.
In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. “They were terrified of the antiwar voice,” Donahue says.
Some revelations from the report by the always-consistent Democracy Now:
-Chris Matthews claims ignorance that Donahue was fired over politics when Amy Goodman confronts him
-Donahue says MSNBC’s decision was based on a Republican focus group, when in fact he had top ratings
housands of Hungarians took to the streets on Saturday to protest against proposed changes to the country’s constitution that they believe will take away important democratic rights. The vote is set to take place in the parliament in Budapest on Monday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government hope to introduce restrictive measures affecting unmarried couples including those in same-sex relationships. Changes in higher education are also proposed. Students receiving state grants would be required to stay and work in the country after they finish their studies. The defense of the poor and homeless is also of concern to the opponents with a ban on sleeping in the streets among the proposals.
Election campaigning would also only be permitted on state media, a change that critics say would damage Hungary’s democracy.
The European Commission, the Council of Europe and several human rights organisations have expressed concern over Monday’s vote.