TWO SMALL STEPS towards gay rights have been taken in the last week – one in Asia, and one in London – while another report indicates that LGBT people are still subject to persecution.
•Taiwan has laws which define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and which prevent same sex marriages – or at least it used to have. The country’s highest court has ruled that these laws are unconstitutional because they violate the right to equality of those who wish to enter into same sex marriages.
The Court said, “disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders” meted out different treatment to these people which had now rational basis. It went on, “such different treatment is incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the [constitutional] right to equality”.
The Court has given the Taiwanese Parliament two years to put things right by amending the current law or bringing in a new one. The instruction means that Taiwan could be the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage. Local campaigners are now working hard to ensure that couples in same sex marriages are not just tolerated but win full equality with those in mixed sex marriages.
•Back in London, radical LGBT bookshop Gay’s The Word in Camden is now proudly displaying a blue plaque in honour of Mark Ashton and Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. LGSM used to hold its meetings in the bookshop and was probably the first time the lesbian and gay community had identified so strongly with an industrial struggle.
•To find out more about lesbian and gay public figures who are commemorated by blue plaques, go to:
•Sadly, it’s not all good news on the lesbian and gay front. The last week two gay men in Aceh, Indonesia, were publicly flogged for engaging in consensual sex. The couple had been found by a lynch mob and were hauled out to face punishment.
The men were sentenced to 85 strokes each – far more than the sentence given to heterosexual adulterers who suffered their punishment on the same day. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia where gay sexuality is illegal, and anti-gay bandits are busy trying to stoke up more prejudice towards gay people.
•Read more about it:
•Flash kissathon challenges homophobia at Hackney Sainsbury’s
•Owen Jones rocks: why Muslims must stand and cheer