Wednesday, February 27, 2013

World News

Canadian Supreme Court: "Hate Speech Laws Are Constitutionally Valid" 
OTTAWA, CANADA -- In a unanimous ruling Wednesday by a six-judge panel, Canada's highest court upheld provisions against hate speech in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, in a case of an anti-gay preacher who distributed homophobic fliers in the province.
In its decision, although the Supreme Court struck down some of the code's wording, it found that most of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code is constitutional. The court noted that the legislation does infringe rights to free expression and freedom of religion, it ruled allowing most of it as reasonable limits. 
Anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott published and distributed four anti-gay flyers in towns and cities in Saskatchewan in 2001 and 2002 which used words like "filth," "propaganda" and "sodomy" to describe same-sex relationships and discussions regarding his viewpoints on LGBTQ equality. Four people had filed complaints with the commission over the flyers.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits publishing or broadcasting anything that "exposes or tends to expose to hatred, ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of any person or class of persons on the basis of a prohibited ground." 
In its ruling, the high court struck down the part of that code, ["...ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity."] finding that those words are not rationally connected to the objective of protecting people from hate speech. The court left in place the ban on speech that exposes, or tends to expose, persons or groups to hatred.
Whatcott had won an earlier appeal of his conviction in the provincial court.
The first two sets of flyers were titled "Keep homosexuality out of Saskatoon's public schools" and "Sodomites in our public schools." The other two were photocopies of classified ads with Whatcott's handwritten comments on them stating the ads were for "men seeking boys."
In its decision, the court found the first two flyers did constitute hate speech and reinstated the Saskatchewan tribunal's finding, including $7,500 in fines against Whatcott. The court said that the offending passages portrayed homosexuals “as a menace that threatens the safety and well being of others,” and used “vilifying and derogatory representations to create a tone of hatred.” The court said the flyers also “expressly call for discriminatory treatment of those of same sex orientation,” adding, "It was not unreasonable for the tribunal to conclude that this expression was more likely than not to expose homosexuals to hatred.” 
The court explained that prohibitions on expression that expose anyone to hatred “is a reasonable limit on freedom of religion and is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
The Court then upheld an appeal court's decision on the second two flyers, ruling against the human rights commission. It found that it was unreasonable to find the second two flyers "contain expression that a reasonable person ... would find as exposing or likely to expose persons of same-sex orientation to detestation and vilification."
Legal watchers noted that this was the first time the high court had examined the Saskatchewan law.
Parents Of Gays & Lesbians Demand Marriage Equality Rights
PFLAG Guangzhou Offices * Courtesy of PFLAG China
GUANGZHOU, [Canton] CHINA -- Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays in China, (PFLAG) sent an open letter Monday to delegates of China’s National People’s Congress, which is scheduled to convene in March, written on behalf of over 100 parents of gays and lesbians from all over the nation of China demanding marriage equality for their children.
Under China's current marriage law, same-sex couples aren't allowed and are excluded from the civil rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
Ah Qiang, an associate worker at PFLAG's Guangzhou offices told media outlet the South China Morning Post Wednesday that many parents first came to the organisation for consultation after finding out their children were gay.
“Gradually they realised they wanted to do things to help their children live life as equals,” he said. He also noted that the letter has been widely circulated online and reported on by several major Chinese media outlets, adding that he hasn't had a response from any NPC delegates. Qiang said he was determined to keep reaching out to delegates by writing or calling them.
The Morning Post also reported that Li Yinhe, a leading Chinese sexologist and promoter of LGBT equality rights, had earlier this month asked NPC delegates to assist in submitting an amendment proposal to legalise same-sex marriages.  
"Homosexual people are Chinese citizens and there are homosexuals who want to get married. Their request should be addressed as it does not run against their civil rights as citizens,” read Li’s proposal.
Marriage rights for gay people became a hot topic on China’s social media this week after two Beijing lesbians were not allowed to register for marriage in Beijing on Monday.
The letter's text:
[February 25, 2013] 
Greetings, respected NPC delegates!
We are from all parts of China, and our children are homosexuals, so we are called “Comrade Parents” [“comrade” is slang for homosexual in Chinese]. Our children are unable to legally form a family with their beloved partners, becoming husband and husband or wife and wife, because of their sexual orientation, which has caused a great deal of inconvenience for them in a number of ways, including in everyday life and when they seek medical treatment.
It is widely accepted in the field of sociology that homosexuals represent 3-5% of the population. That means that China has about 60 million homosexuals, and because China’s Marriage Law defines marriage as a partnership between one man and one woman, they are unable to enter the halls of marriage. Some of our children have been with their same-sex partners for almost ten years; they care for and love each other dearly, but they are unable to legally sign for their partners when they are ill and in need of an operation. As the parents of homosexuals, we are often worried, because they cannot legally marry, and this impacts to various degrees their ability to adopt, sign [for a partner] in the event an operation is needed due to illness, inherit their partner’s assets, or even buy a house.
What is even more incredible is that our homosexual children have the right to legally marry opposite-sex partners, even if they do not love someone of the opposite sex. It is widely known that when homosexuals marry partners of the opposite sex, this leads to the serious societal problem of the heterosexual partner becoming a “beard,” leading even more people to live unhappy lives. Our laws can’t possibly be encouraging homosexuals to marry heterosexuals, can they?
Furthermore, homosexuality is not a violation of any Chinese law currently in effect; homosexuals have all rights afforded to citizens of the People’s Republic of China, and homosexuals cannot be denied the right to marry for long.
We strongly request that NPC delegates and CPPCC committee members give their attention to this matter, listen to the voices of 120 million “Comrade Parents,” acknowledge the wishes of 60 million homosexuals for equality and dignity, and call for a the Marriage Law to be changed as soon as possible, so that China’s 60 million homosexual citizens can have an equal right to marry.
Thank you for taking the time to pay attention to our request, and we wish you all the best in your work and health!
Best regards,
Some parents of PFLAG China