13 Japanese Couples Filed Lawsuits This Valentine's Day Over Marriage Equality

Gay couples are fighting for marriage rights this Valentine’s Day.

According to Time Magazine, thirteen Japanese LGBTQ couples, five lesbian couples and eight gay couples specifically, have filed lawsuits on Valentine’s Day to pressure the government into recognizing marriage equality.

The couples are asking for one million yen’s ($9,000) worth of damages per person for being denied marriage rights.

“What we really want is a court ruling that says the failure to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional,” said attorney Akiyoshi Miwa, who is representing some of the couples, to AFP.

“The government’s failure to enact a law allowing same-sex marriage violates the constitutional principle that all people are equal under the law,” Miwa added.

Currently, a few cities and city wards offer “partnership” certificates to same-sex couples. Legally recognized partnerships are allowed some rights like medical treatment, property management, and more. That said, those rights are only recognized in specified cities or city sections.

In addition, Article 24 of Japan’s constitution currently states that “marriage shall be only with the mutual consent of both sexes.” This wording was created to prevent forced marriages, and lawyers for these thirteen couples say that the language doesn’t necessarily prohibit same-sex marriage.

Marriage Equality was not specifically banned under Japan’s constitution because it wasn’t predicted at the time of its creation. Historically, Japan has been fairly accepting when it comes to homosexuality. Not only are there recorded incidences of samurai warriors having male lovers, but several Japanese emperors did the same.

It wasn’t until Japan industrialized and opened up to Western culture (and religion) that homophobia and anti-gay tendencies spread.

Meanwhile, several polls show that Japan is becoming increasingly more supportive of marriage equality.

A 2015 survey by the Fuji News Network found 72 percent of respondents aged 20 and under supported gay marriage, according to the South China Morning Post. That said, only 24 percent of people aged 70 and over supported it.

But, things may be changing as a 2017 poll by national broadcaster NHK found that 51 percent of overall respondents supported same-sex marriage.

Despite the pushback against marriage equality in Japan, LGBTQ couples are adamant in the fight for their rights.

"Why don't we even have the simple choice of whether or not to get married?" asked
Yoko Ogawa, who’s one of the people that filed a Valentine’s Day lawsuit, to Channel News Asia.

Alexander Dmitrenko, a Canadian-born lawyer who currently lives in Tokyo with a Japanese partner, says he’s hopeful for these newly filed lawsuits.

“I am hoping that these cases will push the issue forward as a talking point,” he said. “The most beautiful thing in the world is to fall in love and be loved back. We need society to treat us equally and with respect and dignity.”

h/t: Time Magazine, South China Morning Post, China News Asia

This California Cop's Suing His Former Department For Years Of Discrimination

Yet another police officer is going to court to fight his police department for years of hostility and discrimination.

According to USA Today, gay officer Jay Brome is suing the California Highway Patrol for 20 years of alleged discrimination and harassment.

Brome says that he has dealt with mistreatment at the workplace for decades and in several ways such as finding hangers molded into the shape of penises on his locker, hearing homophobic slurs constantly, and having his name carved out of an award plaque.

Unfortunately, those are the tamest tactics used against Brome. Brome says his fellow officers would never respond to calls for backup while he was out in the field. If Brome called for hit-and-run investigations, car chases, vehicle impoundments, or even situations where he needed to pull out his gun, his co-workers would never come to support him.

Possibly Brome's worst memory was one of his first experiences while on the job. While attending the highway patrol academy, Brome was confronted by a fellow cadet. The cadet held a gun against Brome’s head and said, “I know you are gay. Tell me you are gay and I will pull the trigger.”

Brome tried to report several internal complaints about these acts of discrimination and harassment, but he says nothing ever happened. None of the situations or officers were ever investigated.

“They refuse to acknowledge there’s a problem and they refuse to do anything about it,” said Brome to USA Today.

Brome is one of several police officers who have filed similar lawsuits against their respective police departments. For instance, 28-year-old Brendan Mannix filed a lawsuit last year with the San Francisco Superior Court.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Mannix was bothered frequently by two sergeants at the Central Station in San Francisco. He alleges that they would constantly berate him for being a “queen” or “too dramatic”

When Mannix tried to talk to the sergeants privately and settle the matter, one responded by saying, “If you think I am a bully, file a f***ing complaint.”

When Mannix did file a complaint, he says that the officer in charge omitted several incidents from the report. Mannix says he was then assigned to jobs like watching a suspect for more than 12 hours as unofficial punishment.

Bromes is one of 11 LGBTQ officers who have filed complaints of discrimination in 2016 and more officers like Mannix have appeared since then. In most of these cases, several attempts at filing complaints or initiating internal investigations were ignored or thwarted. As such, these court cases are the last results at justice.

Will these LGBTQ servicemen and women get justice? Hopefully so, but we’ll see in time.

h/t: USA Today

Married Man Becomes First Indian Citizen Acquitted Of "Gay Sex" Charges Since The Crime Was Decriminalized

India is seeing a lot of changes as of late. Not only have business started to cater towards LGBTQ people, but the law is now trying to reverse past injustices placed upon its citizens.

The Times of India recently reported on the first case of a citizen being acquitted for “gay sex” crimes.

A man, whose identity has been withheld, was initially charged for “unnatural offenses” after his wife filed a complaint to the police in 2009. Fast forward to this Wednesday, the Bombay High Court ruled that the man should not be held to the 377 charge.

“In the present case, both had an extra-marital consensual relationship,” said Judge Bhaktar.

“Though it may be a ground for divorce for cruelty to the wife, it does not constitute an offence under section 377 because both are adults and had sexual relations by consent.”

“The complainant is an aggrieved person but she cannot be called a victim under 377.”

Gay Star News reports that the wife first learned of her husband’s sexual exploits a few years after their marriage in 1994. She then tried to file several other complaints against her husband. Some include cruelty to wife by husband or his relative, and punishment for causing voluntary harm.

Eventually, her husband was charged for having gay sex. This “ gay sex crime” was charged in relation to the Section 377 rule in the Penal Code. The law was left over from British Colonial rule, but the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional last year.

Hopefully, there will be more men and women, like this anonymous man, who will have their charges dropped in the near future.

h/t: Times of India, Gay Star News

Angola Becomes First Country To Legalize Homosexuality In 2019

LGBTQ people are celebrating after one African country recently decided to legalize gay sex and gay people.

The country of Angola decriminalized gay sex on Wednesday (January 23). Lawmakers in the Southwestern African country passed a bill to update their penal code.

155 politicians voted in favor of the update which eliminated a section prohibiting “vices against nature.” That law, which was established during Portuguese rule over the country, was largely interpreted as a ban on gay sex.

Even better, the law also places protections against discrimination to LGBTQ people in the workplace. This is a great step up from other countries that simply legalize gay sex without offering any protections or rights for LGBTQ people.

With Angola now on the journey towards protecting its LGBTQ citizens, the number of countries that ban homosexuality has decreased. There are now 69 countries that ban gay sex and homosexuality, according to the Human Rights Watch. Hopefully, some of the others will follow in Angola’s footsteps.

Denver's City Council Voted To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors

The city of Denver is doing right by its LGBTQ citizens.

The Denver City Council has unanimously passed a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors, according to KKTV’s 11 News.

“This proposal is aimed at state-licensed therapists, operating their practice in the city, who are falsely claiming that being gay or transgender is a mental illness, and therefore taking advantage of parents and harming vulnerable youth,” said the city in a statement on Monday.

“This is a very proud moment for my administration, for members of City Council, and for everyone in Denver who values inclusion and acceptance,” Mayor Michael Hancock added.

Hancock was a big advocate for getting the practice banned, and orchestrated this city council vote.

As Hancock expressed before the vote:

“When my brother came out to our family all those years ago, we knew that our love and support was what he needed. All our LGBTQ+ youth here in Denver deserve the same, and they should be proud of who they are. We celebrate who they are, and they should feel welcome and that our city is open to them. Their safety, wellbeing and happiness are our highest priority with this proposal.”

That said, gay conversion therapy is only banned in the city of Denver. Anyone in another Colorado town/city is not so safe.

In addition, Colorado’s lawmakers have made four proposals to ban conversion therapy statewide, and all four proposals have failed so far.

h/t: KKTV 11 News, The Governing

Costa Rica Is Creating New Decrees For LGBTQ Rights

Carlos Alvarado, Costa Rica’s President, has signed multiple ordinances that give rights and protection for LGBTQ people.

According to AFP, Alvarado signed several decrees into law this past Friday. Some of these decrees include allowing same-sex couples the same allowance for housing that low-income families receive, recognizing gay couples that consist of mixed nationalities, extending recognition of the gender identities of migrants, and more.

Costa Rica has been making a larger effort to support it’s LGBTQ citizens as of late. For instance, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage this Summer, and a directive from Alvarado ordered the government to recognize the gender identities of transgender citizens earlier this year.

"We are recognizing that there are some rights enjoyed by the majority of the population, while others don't enjoy those rights," said Alvarado.

"What these measures are doing is implementing the equality that was missing."

h/t: AFP

TV Producer Ryan Murphy To Give Millions To Support Pro-LGBTQ Politics

TV producing star Ryan Murphy is using his money to help LGBTQ initiatives yet again.

Being in charge of several tv shows like Pose, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Fued, and more hasn’t stopped TV producer Ryan Murphy from helping LGBTQ causes.

Earlier this year, Murphy announced that he would be giving all of his personal profits from creating the FX show Pose to LGBTQ charities and organizations.

Now, Murphy is working on supporting pro-LGBTQ politicians and opposing their political rivals.

According to The Hill, Murphy is creating the program “Pose Gives Back,” which will officially launch in 2020.

“I’m going to create and fund, with corporate sponsorship, a multimillion-dollar organization that targets anti-LGBTQ candidates running for office,” Murphy said during his acceptance speech for the Hero Award at this year's Trevor Projects Gala.

Related: The Trevor Project Raises $1.5 Million To Help LGBTQ Youth

During his speech, Murphy noted how he wants to send a message to anti-LGBTQ politicians who push laws supporting discrimination.

“Senate and congressional candidates who think they can get votes hurting and discriminating against us — well, we can get votes, too,” he said.

“I want these hateful and wrong politicians to go, and to stop polluting our moral and ethical ether,” he later added.

“We are going to send a message which says you cannot make discrimination against us a political virtue anymore,” he continued. “You can’t keep killing our vulnerable young people by promoting and nationalizing your rural, close-minded anti-constitutional viewpoints.”

Taiwan To Create A Gay Unions Law Instead Of Legalizing Gay Marriage

The battle in Taiwan over marriage equality continues with another blow to the side for same-sex marriage.

After Taiwan’s Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Code’s definition of marriage being between a man and a woman was unconstitutional, the court told lawmakers to offer gay couples marriage. That said, they never specifically stated how they wanted lawmakers to enact this.

In the two years that lawmakers had to deliberate and stall, conservative groups led by anti-gay Christian mentalities pushed for a referendum and public vote. Unfortunately, that public vote resulted in a majority voting against gay marriage.

Now, politicians have decided how they will navigate these choppy waters to find a solution they think will appease both sides.



A post shared by Gay 18+ Confession (@gay18cfs) on

According to France24, Taiwanese lawmakers have decided on making a separate law for same-sex unions in order to respect the majority’s vote against updating the Civil Code.

William Lai of the Democratic Progressive Party announced the plan this past Thursday.

"We have to respect public opinion and abide by the referendum outcome. We have to revise a law other than the Civil Code, which is (to enact) a separate law," cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka told reporters.

"As for the characteristic of the separate law and what it will be called... we will propose a bill that reflects and meets public consensus," she added.

The plan was always for lawmakers to either update the Civil Code or create a separate law for gay marriage. That said, it looks like gay unions are now the goal and not marriage. In this vein, this separate marriage law could work much like the UK’s Civil Partnership Act.

No matter what though, everyone involved is concerned with bringing a state of peace on both sides. This is especially true after three gay citizens committed suicide after the referendum vote and a dozen more attempted the act.

"We hope the social turmoil can come to an end soon and cause no more division and harm to any more families," rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan said in a statement.

h/t: France24

Let's Look At The Contributions George H. W. Bush Made To LGBTQ Rights

Earlier today, we shared with you the news of the United States of America’s 41st President’s passing.

George H.W. Bush was announced dead earlier today and several politicians have noted his accomplishments for the American people and the world. But, what were his contributions and influence on LGBTQ citizens?

Before Bush Sr. followed Ronald Reagan’s disastrous exit from the White House, he was the Vice President.

Bush Sr. was ridiculed for his connection to the inactive Regan administration during the AIDS crisis. That said, Bush advocated for mandatory HIV testing during the time. In addition, Bush pushed for the protection of people living with AIDS from discrimination. Unfortunately, it was Reagan who failed to act.

“Once disease strikes, we don’t blame those who are suffering . . . We try to love them and care for them and comfort them. We don’t fire them, we don’t evict them, we don’t cancel their insurance,” he told Congress when the Disabilities Act was signed according to a Washington Post article from 1990.

According to Pink News, Bush also signed in the Hate Crime Statistics Act, which was the first federal bill to put “sexual orientation” under protection of discrimination.

But Bush wasn’t always an advocate for LGBTQ rights and issues.

In 1992, the U.S. President shared with the New York Times that he opposed same-sex parenting.

“I can’t accept as normal life style people of the same sex being parents. I’m very sorry. I don’t accept that as normal,” he said.

This eventually led to LGBTQ citizens turning away from Bush, which factored into his loss against Bill Clinton.

This was also the time when Chicago-based drag queen Joan Jett Blakk ran for president against Bush. Blakk then became the first drag queen to become a US Presidential Candidate. 

Blakk also penned the phrase, "Lick Bush in '92!"

Later, Bush started to lighten up on his views of LGBTQ rights and life. Bush spoke to the New York Times in 2015 and shared that he approved of the right for same-sex couples to marry.

 “Personally, I still believe in traditional marriage,” Mr. Bush wrote at the time. “But people should be able to do what they want to do, without discrimination. People have a right to be happy. I guess you could say I have mellowed.”

The former president even acted as an official witness to a wedding of a close friend in 2013.

While he certainly wasn’t a hero for gay or LGBTQ rights, Bush Sr. helped in some aspects of LGBTQ rights and wasn’t an aggressively anti-LGBTQ leader.

In today’s world of politics, that’s something to recognize.

h/t: Pink News, New York Times,

The European Court Of Human Rights Ruled Against Russia's Gay Events Ban

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia’s ban on LGBTQ rallies violates the human rights of protestors.

The Strasbourg, France based court made the decision earlier today that Russia is violating the citizen’s freedom of assembly rights and rights to “not be discriminated against.” According to AP, this is primarily by Russia’s rejection of any LGBTQ themed events.

As the court said at the ruling, “the ban on holding LGBT public assemblies imposed by the domestic authorities did not correspond to a pressing social need and was thus not necessary in a democratic society.”

This ruling came after 51 applications were filed by seven activists earlier this year to have the European Court of Human Rights look into the matter.

But according to the Moscow Times, theses activists weren’t into submitting those applications just for the good of the people. In their applications, they asked to be compensated a range of pay between 5,000 euros ($5,600) to 500,000 euros ($566,000). Thankfully, the ECHR did not give into this greediness and instead said the ruling itself constituted “sufficient just satisfaction.”

The court also sees that Russia is violating the European Convention of Human Rights, of which Russia is a participant.

The European Court of Human Rights says that Russia cannot excuse the outright rejection and banning of LGBTQ themed public events as a precaution against public disorder.

This would also affect the Gay Propaganda law that Vladimir Putin signed into law in 2013, which is the main excuse used to ban gay events.

Despite the law being created to prevent the spreading of LGBTQ themed content to youth both online and in public, the law has already targeted one Russian youth.

We'll see how, or if, Russia responds to the ruling.

h/t: AP, Moscow Times