GayLawNews™

March 2015

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31 March 2015

Arkansas legislature passes 'religious freedom' bill similar to one causing firestorm in Indiana

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 31 March 2015, the House passed 67-21 (non-voting 11, 1 present) the Senate amended HB1228 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that is nearly identical to the controversial Indiana law and transmitted it to Governor Asa Hutchinson for signature.
• Bill: Religious Freedom Restoration Act HB1228 PDF 191.15kb 26 MAR 15

In Japan first, Tokyo district recognizes same-sex partnerships

JAPAN, Tokyo: On 31 March 2015, the Tokyo Shibuya ward voted to recognize same-sex partnerships. With effect 01 April the Shibuya ward will issue paperwork recognizing same-sex partnerships, based on a number of conditions. This recognition should allow couples to rent apartments and visit each other in hospital.

30 March 2015

Slovenia: parliament denies plea for referendum on same-sex unions

SLOVENIA: On 30 March 2015, the Slovenian Parliament reportedly rejected 53-21 a citizens' petition for a nationwide referendum to test a new law granting legal recognition for same-sex unions.

28 March 2015

South African gay father wins right to maternity pay

SOUTH AFRICA: On 26 March 2015, Judge D H Gush in the Labour Court of South Africa, Durban ruled that “M I A” was discriminated against by the State Information Technology Agency refusing to give him the full customary four months of paid leave, arguing that maternity leave applied only to women who had recently given birth. MIA was married in a civil union in 2010. He entered a surrogacy agreement a year later and applied for leave in anticipation of the birth of the child in 2012.
• Judgment: MIA v. State Information Technology Agency (Pty) Ltd (D 312/2012) [2015] ZALCD 20 PDF 351.50kb 26 MAR 15

27 March 2015

Suit Over Adoption By Couple In Gay Marriage Case Dismissed

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 26 March 2015, US District Judge Callie Granade dismissed the Cari D Searcy v. Don Davis lawsuit on Searcy's motion to dismiss, saying Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis had removed disputed language from his order and recused himself from her case.

State of Wisconsin to pay more than $1 million to ACLU in attorneys' fees for same-sex marriage ban case

UNITED STATES, Wisconsin: On 27 March 2015, the State agreed to pay the ACLU $1.055 million legal costs for the State's failed attempt to defend its ban on same-sex marriage.
• Stipulation and Agreement: Virginia Wolf, et al., v. Scott Walker, et al. No. 14-CV-64 PDF 85.65kb, 27 MAR 15

Indonesia: Fatwa Prescribes Death Penalty for Same-sex Relations

INDONESIA: On 04 March 2015, the Majlis Ulema Indonesia (MUI), the central body of Islamic clerics, issued a fatwa (religious edict) that calls for whipping and even the death penalty for men or women engaged in same-sex relations. The MUI fatwas put some people at greater risk because of their visible gender expression (such as butch lesbians, women who appear masculine, transgender men or women and effeminate men).

Taunton street preacher Michael Overd found guilty of homophobic sermon

UNITED KINGDOM: England: On 27 March 2015, Judge Shamim Qureshi found Creech St Michael Michael Overd guilty of “bullying and berating” the public while giving sermons using a loudspeaker in Taunton town centre last year, quoting a verse from Leviticus at gay Christian Darren Chambers, during one of his sermons. Overd was fined fined £200 for offence, a victim surcharge of £20, £930 court costs and compensation to his victim of £250, in default 45 days goal.
• Case (unpublished): R V. Michael Overd No. U20150201, 23 MAR 15

Judge fines Washington florist who refused services for same-sex couple’s wedding

UNITED STATES, Washington: On 27 March 2015, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom fined Arlene's Flowers, Arlene's Flowers and Gifts and Barronelle Stutzman $1000 and $1.00 costs as a civil penalty, payable to the State of Washington within 60 days, for the florist's refusal to provide flowers for the same-sex wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.
• Judgment Summary: State of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers,et al. No. 13-2-00871-5 PDF 432.64kb, 27 MAR 15

Arkansas Senate passes 'religious freedom' bill permitting discrimination against gay customers

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 27 March 2015, the Senate passed 24-7 Bill HB1228 (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), allowing people and businesses to use religion to discriminate against others. To come into effect, the Senate-amended Bill must now pass the House and be signed into law by the Governor.

26 March 2015

Gay Egyptian man granted refugee status

NEW ZEALAND: On 24 November 2014, A N Molloy (Chair) and Judge P Spiller in the Immigration and Protection Tribunal allowed an appeal granting refugee status to gay Egyptian man AM, who was bullied and ostracised in his home nation due to his “appearance” and “demeanour” and, having a well-founded fear of being persecuted in Egypt, AM was a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Convention and cannot be deported.
• Decision: AM (Egypt) [2014] NZIPT 800656 PDF 63.24kb, 24 NOV 14

Court blocks implementation of FMLA rule for same-sex couples

UNITED STATES, Texas: On 26 March 2015, US District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas granted a preliminary injunction staying the Department of Labour final rule revising the regulatory definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to include married same-sex couples, pending determination of the matter.
• Memorandum Opinion and Order: State of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska v. United States of America, et al. No. 7:15-cv--0056-O PDF 179.41kb, 26 MAR 15

24 March 2015

Lawmakers approve new birth certificates for transgender people

UNITED STATES, Maryland: On 24 March 2015, the House passed 85-50 Bill HB0862 and the Senate passed 31-16 Bill SB0743, that would enable transgender people to apply to change the gender on their birth certificates to reflect their identity if a medical practitioner certifies it is warranted. It is not clear whether Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign the bill, which still must undergo procedural votes before being sent to him for his signature.

Maryland Senate OKs artificial insemination healthcare bill for same-sex couples

UNITED STATES, Maryland: On 24 March 2015, the Senate passed 37-10 bill SB416 that will require health insurers to extend to married same-sex couples the same health care benefits for artificial insemination as heterosexual couples. On 22 March 2015, the House passed 94-44 a similar Bill HB838. If signed into law by the Governor the Act will come into effect 01 July 2015.

23 March 2015

Former civil partner granted permission to appeal financial settlement

UNITED KINGDOM, England & Wales: On 23 March 2015, Lady Justice Black was reported to have granted Helen Roocroft permission to appeal against the Estate of her former partner, the late property developer and entrepreneur Carol Ann Ainscow, it being alleged that Ms Ainscow misrepresented the extent of her wealth during court proceedings brought in connection with the dissolution of their civil partnership, causing Ms Roocroft to accept a significantly lower settlement than she was entitled to. The hearing was listed for 05 July 2016.
Indiana House OKs controversial religious freedom bill

UNITED STATES, Indiana: On 23 March 2015, the House approved 63-31 (6 excused) Senate Bill 101 (the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill), that would prevent state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person's exercise of religion unless the government can prove it has a compelling interest and is doing so in the least restrictive means. On 24 February the Senate passed the Bill 40-10 and must now approve House amendments. The Governor has indicated he plans to sign the Bill into law.

21 March 2015

Court Rules That Transgender Patient Tortured By Doctors Is Protected Under Obamacare

UNITED STATES, Minnesota: On 16 March 2015, US District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled on a motion to dismiss that Fairview Southdale Hospital and medical staff discriminated against f2m transgender man Jakob Tiarnan Rumble because of his gender identity, which discrimination is prohibited under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The case will proceed through interlocutory proceedings to trial.
• Memorandum Opinion and Order: Jakob Tiarnan Rumble v. Fairview Health Services No. 14-cv-2037 (SRN/FLN) PDF 214.21kb, 16 MAR 15

20 March 2015

Governor signs bill letting clerks opt out of same-sex marriages on religious grounds

UNITED STATES, Utah: On 20 March 2015, Governor Gary Herbert signed Bill SB297 into law, establishing that county clerks have an affirmative duty to perform all lawful same-sex marriages or to designate a clerk available who will do so if other county clerks opt out on religious grounds. Clerks opting out for any reason may not perform ANY marriages.
• FAQ: SB 297 | Utah's New Law on the Solemnization of Marriages 18 MAR 15

Puerto Rico ends defense of same-sex marriage ban

PUERTO RICO: On 20 March 2015, Puerto Rico officials have filed a brief in the First Circuit Court of Appeals abandoning support for their ban on same-sex marriage and requesting the Court reverse the judgment of the District Court that dismissed the same-sex marriage ban complaint for lack of a substantial federal question.
• Brief for Defendant-Appellees: Ada Mercedes Conde Vidal, et al. v. Dr Ana Rius Armendáriz, et al. No. 14-2184 PDF 412.18kb, 20 MAR 15

19 March 2015

Surrogate parenting expansion approved by N.J. Assembly panel

UNITED STATES, New Jersey: On 19 March 2015, the Assembly Human Services Committee approved Bill A2648 (the “New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act”) that would enable couples to enter into a protective legal agreement with a gestational surrogate - having no biological link to the foetus because the egg belongs to another woman - and willing to bear their child. The Bill now moves to the full 80-member Assembly. On 05 February, the identical bill S866 passed the Senate 21-13.

18 March 2015

Oregon House Approves Bill Banning Gay Conversion Therapy

UNITED STATES, Oregon: On 17 March 2015, the House passed 41-18 (1 excused) Bill HB2307 that would make unlawful a therapy that purports to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of young people under 18. The Bill has been transferred to the Senate and referred to the Committee on Human Service and Early Childhood.

Largest Presbyterian group in US approves gay marriage

UNITED STATES: On 17 March 2015, 86 out of 171 regional bodies of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to broaden their constitutional definition of marriage with effect from 21 June to “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives”. Clergy have the right to refuse to support same-sex weddings.

17 March 2015

East Grand Rapids adds LGBT protections to non-discrimination law

UNITED STATES, Michigan: On 16 March 2015, the East Grand Rapids City Commission voted unanimously in favor of the proposed sexual orientation and gender identity clause being added to its non-discrimination ordinance in providing housing, employment and public accommodation, with effect from 19 March.

Transgender inmate petitions Supreme Court for sex reassignment surgery

UNITED STATES, Massachusetts: On 16 March 2015, an appeal was filed in the US Supreme Court on behalf of transgender inmate Michelle Kosilek seeking a review of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruling against providing her with taxpayer-funded sex-reassignment surgery.
• Petition for Writ of Certiorari: Michelle Kosilek v. Carol Higgins O'Brien No. PDF 408.09kb, 16 MAR 15

Supreme Court Judge Calls Same-Sex Union Groundless

GREECE: On 16 March 2015, Supreme Court Judge Charalambos Machairas said unions between same-sex couples are groundless and that the Court should sustain a previous ruling by an appeals court nullifying the marriage of two women by the former municipal authority on the island of Tilos.

DC bill against gay conversion therapy becomes law

UNITED STATES, Washington DC: On 11 March 2015, Bill B20-0501, the 'Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act' passed unanimously by the District of Colombia Council in December 2015, became law following its review by Congress. The law prohibits the practice of “sexual orientation change efforts” that seek to change an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

13 March 2015

European Parliament Declares Gay Marriage and Abortion 'Human Rights'

EUROPEAN UNION: On 12 March 2015, the European Parliament sitting in Strasbourg voted to approve its “Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union's policy on the matter” which declares both same-sex marriage (para 162) and abortion (para 15) to be fundamental human rights.

Same-sex couple's adoption bid rejected: report

TAIWAN: On 13 March 2015, the Shihlin District Court rejected the adoption application of “Ta Kuei” and “Chou Chou” (pseudonyms) who have been together for about 15 years. One of them gave birth to two children in Canada via artificial insemination>. The decision cited Taiwan's Civil Code, which defines spousal and marital statuses as a union between a man and a woman, and that “diverse family formations” have yet to garner approval by society and the children would likely be negatively impacted by the experience of growing up in an unconventional family.

Alabama judge grants divorce to same-sex couple

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 12 March 2015, Madison County Circuit Judge Karen Hall certified the uncontested divorce application of Shrie Michelle Richmond (Tinsley) and Kirsten Allysse Richmond. Hall cited the couple's stated “incompatibility of temperament”. The couple married in Iowa in 2012, where a residency of one year must be established to meet divorce requirements.

Utah governor signs church-backed anti-discrimination bill

UNITED STATES, Utah: On 12 March 2015, Governor Gary Herbert signed SB296, the Antidiscrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments Bill into law.

12 March 2015

German court fines relatives for abducting gay Muslim

GERMANY: On 12 March 2015, after a five minute hearing a Berlin Court imposed 1,350 euro fines on the father and two uncles of 18-year-old Muslim citizen Nasser El-Ahmad for abducting and depriving him of his personal freedom when he was a minor, in an attempt to force him into marriage with a woman despite his homosexuality. The Court did not deal with allegations of torture or forced marriage.

Switzerland votes for law to protect LGBTIs from prejudice

SWITZERLAND: On 12 March 2015, it was reported that the Swiss Parliament parliament voted 103-73 in favor (with 9 abstentions) to ensure nobody is targeted with hate speech and discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender identity.

11 March 2015

Utah House passes Mormon church-backed LGBT anti-discrimination bill

UNITED STATES, Utah: On 11 March 2015, the House of Representativespassed Bill SB296 65-10, introduced 03 March and passed by the Senate 06 March. If and when signed by the Governor, the bill would make it unlawful to base hiring, firing and other employment decisions or to refuse to sell or rent, to deny a home loan, or to base other housing decisions based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity. Religious organizations and their affiliates such as schools and hospitals are exempt and, absent harassment or interference with company business, there is a limited exemption for people to express their beliefs in the workplace.
• Bill SB296: Antidiscrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments (Accessed 13 MAR 15)

Canada: Alberta gov't makes gay-straight alliances mandatory after year of fighting them

CANADA, Alberta: On 10 March 2015, the Assembly amended and passed Bill 10 making the support groups such as gay-straight alliances mandatory in all publicly-funded schools in the Canadian province if requested by one or more students. The law is expected to come into effect on 01 June.
• Bill 10: An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect Our Children Amendment A6 PDF 578.49kb, 10 MAR 15

10 March 2015

Europe ends law requiring trans people be sterile before seeking treatment

TURKEY: On 10 March 2015, the European Court of Human Rights, in a unanimous judgment, ruled that a law requiring trans people be permanently infertile before they undergo treatment is incompatible with human rights. The ruling only specifically relates transgender man Y.Y. in Turkey though it may have wider implications.
• Press Release (in English): Refusal to authorise transsexual to have access to gender reassignment surgery breached right to respect for private life ECHR 075 (2015) PDF 103.60kb, 10 MAR 15
• Judgment (in French): Affaire Y.Y. v. Turquie No. 14793/08 PDF 451.27kb, 10 MAR 15

07 March 2015

Woman in the UK becomes surrogate mother for gay son

UNITED KINGDOM, England & Wales: On 13 February 2015, Mrs Justice Theis in the Family Court granted the application of biological father Kyle Casson to legally adopt his son Miles although he's the infant's brother in the eyes of the law. The child was conceived via IVF after an anonymous donor egg was fertilized with sperm from Kyle whose mother was the gestational surrogate.
• Judgment: B v C (Surrogacy - Adoption) [2015] EWFC 17 PDF 331.68kb 13 FEB 15

06 March 2015

Supreme Court Sets a Date for Marriage Cases

UNITED STATES, Washington DC: On 06 March 2015, the US Supreme Court set 28 April for oral argument in four consolidated marriage equality cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, to address the questions “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?” and “Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”.

US army is ordered to stop referring to Chelsea Manning as a man

UNITED STATES, Virginia: On 04 March 2015, the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals ordered that 'future formal papers filed before this court and all future orders and decisions issued by this court shall either be neutral, e.g., Private First Class Manning or appellant, or employ a feminine pronoun'.
• Order: US v. Bradley E Manning Army 20130739 PDF 222.36kb, 04 MAR 15

05 March 2015

Nebraska same-sex marriages put on hold, oral arguments set in Eighth Circuit

UNITED STATES, Nebraska: On 05 March 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ordered a stay of the Susan Waters, et al v. Pete Rickets same-sex marriage case pending disposition of the appeal. Oral argument was set for 12 May 2015.
• Order: Susan Waters, et al v. Pete Rickets No. 15-1452 PDF 87.85kb, 05 MAR 15

Singapore Court Fines Blogger for Comments on Gay Sex Cases

SINGAPORE: On 04 March 2015, Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean found Au Wai Pang in contempt of court, ordering him to pay 8,000 Singapore dollars (US$5,845) for wrting on the Yawning Bread site that the high court engaged in “strange calendaring” in scheduling the hearing two constitutional challenges to the city-state's ban on gay sex.
• Judgment: Attorney General v. Au Wai Pang [2015] SGHC 15 PDF 356.89kb, 21 JAN 15

04 March 2015

Slovenia allows same-sex couples to marry, adopt children

SLOVENIA: On 03 March 2015, the Parliament passed 51-28 a law giving same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children, becoming the 11th European Union country to do so when the President signs the Bill into law.

03 March 2015

Alabama Supreme Court orders probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 03 March 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered (7-1) all probate judges to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples, and they added all probate judges to the petition to make sure they comply. Couples will still be able to sue in federal court for the right to get married in the state.
• Order: Alabama Policy Institute v. King No. 1140460 PDF 468.73kb, 03 MAR 15

02 March 2015

Nebraska same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

UNITED STATES, Nebraska: On 02 March 2015, US District Court Judge Joseph F. Bataillon declared Nebraska's “Defense of Marriage” Constitutional Amendment, Section 29, an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens. An injunction effective 09 March 2015 was ordered. The state has filed a notice of appeal.
• Injunction: Susan Waters, Sally Waters, et al. v. Pete Ricketts, et al. No. 8:14-cv-00356-JFB-TDT PDF 22.17kb, 02 MAR 15
• Memorandum and Order: Susan Waters, Sally Waters, et al. v. Pete Ricketts, et al. No. 8:14-cv-00356-JFB-TDT PDF 312.05kb, 02 MAR 15

Nebraska Stops Enforcing Ban on Gay Foster Parents

UNITED STATES, Nebraska: On 01 March 2015, the Governor's office reportedly announced that the Department of Health and Human Services would no longer consider the sexual orientation or marital status of individuals wanting to be foster parents or adopt wards of the state and will no longer bar children from being placed with licensed foster parents simply because of the sexual oreientation of the parents.

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