India’s top court: Instant divorce among Muslims unlawful | Religion News Service

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday (Aug. 22) struck down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce their wives as unconstitutional.

The bench, comprising five senior judges of different faiths, deliberated for three months before issuing its order in response to petitions from seven Muslim women who had been divorced through the practice known as triple talaq.

Indian law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on NDTV that since the court deemed the practice unconstitutional there is no need for any further legislative action by the government.

Full report: Religion News Service

"Catholic Hierarchy Is a Shining Light in Dark Moment for LGBT Rights in India"

India’s Supreme Court reinstated a law that bans homosexuality as a “crime against nature” earlier this week, intensifying divisions between LGBT advocates and the religious communities they blame for this development. Catholic leaders have varied in responding to the Court’s decision, but there are hopeful signs as at least one bishop spoke out against the law.

FILE - In this March 4, 2013 Cardinal Oswald Gracias, of India, arrives for a meeting, at the Vatican. Pope Francis marked his first month as pope on Saturday, April 13, 2013 by naming nine high-ranking prelates from around the globe to a permanent advisory group to help him run the Catholic Church and study a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, a bombshell announcement that indicates he intends a major shift in how the papacy should function. The members of the panel include Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican city state administration, a key position that runs the actual functioning of the Vatican, including its profit-making museums. The non-Vatican officials include Cardinals Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean Patrick O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston; George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; and Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, bishop of Albano, will be secretary while Maradiaga will serve as the group coordinator. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Outlawing homosexuality in India dates to British colonial rule more than a century ago. Recent legal debates began after a New Delhi court overturned the law in 2009. Anti-LGBT organizations, including faith-based ones, have sought to re-criminalize homosexuality since then. The Supreme Court’s ruling now says it is up to the nation’s legislators to repeal the law if that is what is desired.

The Times of India reports that religious groups have welcomed the ruling, with leaders using extremely homophobic language and advocating “ex-gay therapy” in their statements. Relative to these, Catholic leaders’ remarks have seemed muted and even positive. Archbishop Anil J T Couto of Delhi merely reaffirmed the hierarchy’s position on marriage equality and a spokesperson stated the archdiocese opposed any law that would criminalize homosexuality. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai is quoted by as saying:

– continue reading at Bondings 2.0.

Lifting of gay ban must come from people says Sri Lankan activist

Sri Lankan activist Rossana Flamer-Caldera says the only way to end the ban on gay sex in the former war-torn country is to appeal to ordinary people who ‘know what it’s like to have their human rights trampled on’.


Activists from around the Commonwealth met in London today (4 July) to discuss how the global community can work towards decriminalizing homosexuality in countries where former British colonial laws which banned being gay are still alive.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell opened the World Pride conference by slamming the Commonwealth as a ‘bastion of homophobia and transphobia’.

He called on leaders of member states to stand up for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, before Sri Lankan activist Rossana Flamer-Caldera joined the panel to talk about her efforts to lift anti-gay laws in the island nation.

The founder of rights organization Equal Ground said LGBT people in Sri Lanka are criminalized under penal codes 365 and 365a, very similar to that of India’s now overturned section 377.

She said: ‘Nobody has actually been convicted or charged under this code. But the fact that this criminal code does exist leads to a lot more homophobia.

‘Our cultures were so different before colonization and before the British brought their laws into our countries.

‘Now homophobia is being embraced as part of Sri Lankan culture rather than as something which was introduced by the West many years ago.’

She added that although the campaigners’ priority is the decriminalization of homosexuality, the greatest obstacle to their cause is the emergence of Buddhist fundamentalism and nationalism which rose following the end of the country’s civil war two years ago.

‘Like an amoeba, nationalism has now built itself into this huge movement which sees anything which is against their sensibilities as something Western and something which has to be stopped and that includes homosexuality,’ Flamer-Caldera explained.

‘Now that the war is over, we are their next targets. The more visible we get, the more they push harder.’

She says the LGBT rights movement in Sri Lanka receives little support from both the government and the state influenced media.

The only way forward in the battle to end the gay ban is not through the courts and police, which she says are corrupt and homophobic, but by reaching out to the country’s ordinary people.

– more at Gay Star News.

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Mumbai Showcases Gay and Transgender Films

This could be any other courtroom scene from a mainstream Indian drama except that the heroine the audience is cheering for is a hijra, or eunuch, named Anu (based on the real-life transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi), demanding to know why hijras aren’t allowed ration cards, even voting rights, merely because the government can’t decide which gender they belong to.

-full report at New York Times

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Queer film fest to be part of Pride Month celebrations

CHENNAI: Recently, transgender activist Anil Sadanandan, also known as Mariya, was murdered in Kerala. Fellow activists say it was a hate crime. Two years ago, trans-woman Sowmiya from Chennai committed suicide. Unable to complete her education, she had turned to sex work and begging to eke out a living and was dependent on alcohol.

Short documentaries on the lives of Sowmiya and Mariya will be screened at Colors of Sexuality: Chennai Queer Film Festival 2012 to be held from June 1 to 17. The festival is part of the Pride Month celebrations to be organised by Chennai Rainbow Coalition, a collective of groups that work for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

“Films help us take our concerns to a wider audience,” said Kalki Subramaniam, founder, Sahodari Foundation, which works for the transgender community, at a press meet on Friday. “I had spent time with Sowmiya and Mariya and had video footage of them. So I thought of making films on their lives.”


-full report at Times of India

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