Elderly transgender people find a home in Jakarta | Asia | DW.DE | 20.02.2013

Traditionally, the elderly in Indonesia are cared for by their families. But that’s not the case for transgender people, who often have nowhere to go. A new home created specially for them is about to change that.
The estimated three million transgender people living in Indonesia are often rejected by their families, who are ashamed of them. Many of these people survive as prostitutes, but when they grow old, they have nowhere to go and end up begging on the streets.
But now, what might be the world’s first ever elderly home for transgender people is being built on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
It’s a very small pink house at the end of a dusty alleyway. There are chickens running around and children playing. It is here that Indonesia’s first senior citizen’s home for transsexuals and transgender people, or waria, as they are known in Indonesia, is being built.
Inside, 51-year-old Yulianus Rettoblaut watches in the mirror as a friend goes through the daily ritual of applying her heavy make up – thick white foundation, fake eyelashes, bright red lipstick and a long black wig that is tied in a bun at the back.

Not alone, but often isolated 

 “I lived in a village in an isolated area on the island of Papua. There was no one there who was transgender, or gay,” she explains. “I started feeling attracted to men when I was around 11 years old. I thought: what is this feeling; is it an illness? It was not until I was 18, when a friend at university who was also transgender, took me to Jakarta to the prostitution beat for waria that I realized there was this whole other world that existed. I was so confused. There were so many people like me dressed up so beautifully.”
Suddenly, Yulianus realized she was not alone:
“I felt like a weight had been lifted from me – because I saw that if we wear beautiful clothes and make-up you could easily attract guys and be paid money for it! So you get satisfied, get to be beautiful and you earn money,” she says.

-continue reading – Deutsche Welt

Germany: Gay adoption laws strengthened for civil partners

Germany’s highest court ruled today that one member of a civil partnership should be able to adopt their partner’s stepchild or adopted child.

Until now, same-sex couples could only adopt their partner’s biological child.
The new gay adoption laws are now in line with rules that apply to heterosexual couples and judges ruled that this was discriminatory.
Government legislation is to be drawn up by June 2014.
The historic ruling has been hailed as “a breakthrough in equal treatment” by Volker Beck, an openly gay senior lawmaker with Germany’s opposition Green Party.
However, the ruling only means that same-sex couples can adopt the same child on an individual basis and not as a couple and they still cannot adopt unrelated children.
“Today’s decision marks a historic step finally to put rainbow families in Germany on a comprehensive, secure legal footing,” Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said. “Full adoption must be the next step.”
Same-sex civil partnerships have been legal in Germany since 2001.
In August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected calls to give to LGBT�couples�the tax breaks�enjoyed�by heterosexual married�couples.

"Respect for Marriage" Ad Campaign

A pro-gay marriage group is set to launch a $1 million media campaign in support of same-sex nuptials, with full-page ads in several major newspapers and a television spot featuring President Barack Obama, former first lady Laura Bush and former Vice ,President Dick Cheney.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition, co-chaired by the Human Rights Campaign, is behind the ad campaign, which begins with TV spots airing on national cable and the Sunday-morning talk shows, along with ads in POLITICO, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, officials with the group said.


The goal of the spot is to show voices from both sides of the political aisle supporting gay marriage, an issue which saw statewide victories in Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota on Election Day last November.

The spot doesn’t feature fresh sit-down interviews, but uses clips from Bush, Cheney, Obama and former Secretary of State Colin Powell discussing gay marriage.

In the ad, Bush is quoted as saying, “When couples are committed to each other and love each other, then they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has.”

Obama’s clip is from his inaugural address last month, in which he said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”

There are two major cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that relate to gay marriage — one about the California gay marriage ban, the other about the federal Defense of Marriage Act — and the ad campaign takes place in the context of landmarks in the pro-gay marriage movement.

Massachusetts Education Department Accommodates Transgender Students

There is good news for in Massachusetts-based transgender students and and their parents.
Last week, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandated that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms and play on the sports teams that coincide with their gender identification, reports The Boston Globe.
“These students, because of widespread misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives, are at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying,”the new directives read, according to the Globe. “Some students may feel uncomfortable sharing those facilities, but this “discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”
The decree was put in place to help schools follow the state’s 2011 equal opportunity law that protects transgender residents. Similar policies in various states, advocacy groups, parents and students were also consulted by the Education Department, reports GLAAD.
“Research shows that transgender and gender non-conforming students suffer higher rates of verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault in school,” Gunner Scott of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition said in a statementon his group’s website, acknowledging that there “is a lot of misunderstanding about transgender students and that some schools may not have the internal expertise to address all issues of concern as they arise.”
Scott salutes the effort, but acknowledges that there has been some opposition. The Massachusetts Family Institute has argued that the bathroom policy endangers other students and violates their privacy.
“Fundamentally, boys need to be use boys’ rooms and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity,” Andrew Beckwith, general counsel for the institute, is quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
– continue reading Huffington Post

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It appears the battle over same sex marriage in Minnesota may start to heat up earlier than expected. 

While talking with Esme Murphy on WCCO Sunday Morning, Minnesota Senator Scott Dibble said he plans to introduce a bill to legalize gay marriage this week. 
Dibble believes this legislation has the momentum to pass after voters defeated a constitutional amendment that would’ve strengthened the existing gay marriage ban. 
“It’s just simply an amendment that removes the restriction that disallows some couples from getting married,” Dibble said. “My strong sense, even from folks in greater Minnesota, is that they’re comfortable with this, they know that Minnesota has changed a lot and is continuing to change at a very rapid pace.” 
State Representative Karen Clark is expected to introduce a similar bill in the House. Neither she nor Dibble expect a vote on their bills until later this session after the Minnesota Legislature passes budget bills. 
Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage if it reaches his desk. 
Minnesota for Marriage, the group against the legalization of same-sex marriage, plans to rally at the State Capitol on March 7.

Lest We Forget: Remember the Ashes of Our Martyrs

Ash Wednesday is a solemn time in the liturgical year, above all a time for repentance and renewal, individually and collectively.

So it was entirely appropriate and welcome some years ago, that at the start of the season Pope John Paul II spoke of the horrors that had been perpetrated by the church in the past, apologised for the evils it had done to certain communities,   and asked for forgiveness. This was important and welcome:  I do not wish to belittle it in any way.  However, there is an important category of offence which was omitted from the list, for which he did not apologise, and for which there has never been any apology: the persecution of “sodomites”.

For the first thousand years of its history, the Church was disapproving of homoerotic relationships, as it was of all sexual expression, but showed varying degrees of tolerance, culminating in what John Boswell described as a flowering of a gay sub-culture in the high medieval period.  During the 11th century,  Burchard, the Bishop of Worms in Germany,

classified homosexuality as a variety of fornication less serious than heterosexual adultery. He assigned penance for homosexual acts only to married men. In civil legislation regulating family life in the diocese of Worms there is no mention of homosexual behaviour

In 1059, the Lateran synod accepted all of the reforms for the church proposed by St Peter Damian – exceptfor his proposal for harsher penalties against monks engaged in homosexual affairs.

All that changed within a few decades. In 1120, the Church Council of Nablus specified burning at the stake for homosexual acts. Although this  penalty may not immediately have been applied, other harsh condemnations followed rapidly. In 1212, the death penalty for sodomy was specified in in France. Before long the execution of supposed “sodomites”, often by burning at the stake, but also by other harsh means, had become regular practice in many areas.

Templars

Historical research to date has been patchy, and in many places the records have not survived. Even so, the evidence from the modest research we do have is horrifying.  In the largest scale, and best known, single incident, over 400 hundred Knights Templar were burned in the early 14th century. This is usually discussed in terms of trials for “heresy”, but in fact the charges were of both heresy and sodomy.  (These terms were often associated and confused at the time, but much of the evidence in the templar trials made it clear that specifically sexual offences were meant).

To modern researchers, it is clear that the trials were deeply flawed, with the procedures seriously stacked against the accused.  In marking the 700th anniversary of the trials in 2007, the Vatican explicitly cleared those killed of the charges of heresy – but said never a word about the charges of sodomy.

Elsewhere, the trials and punishments were of individuals, or of small groups – but with equally flawed judicial procedures. (Typically, the prosecutor was also judge; torture was widely used to extract confessions;  and church and state benefited by sharing the property of those convicted).  These were sometimes under the auspices of the Inquisition, sometimes of the state – but always inspired by church preaching against the “sodomites”.

The severity of the pursuit and punishments varied from place to place.  Venice was one of the harshest, with several hundred executions from 1422, until the persecution finally ended. In Spain, it was calculated that in total there were more burnings for homosexuality than for heresy. Executions also applied in the New World – in both North America (where some of the colonists were accused and convicted) and South (where it was the indigenous locals who suffered for the Spanish prejudices) .  Altogether, it is likely that executions in Southern Europe, either by or with the collaboration of the Church, amounted to several thousand men.

Protestant Europe

After the Reformation, the practice of burning homosexuals spread to Northern Europe and some of the new Protestant territories, where the practice was sometimes use as a pretext to attack Catholic clergy: in Belgium, several Franciscans were burnt for sodomy, as was a Jesuit in Antwerp (in 1601).

The persecution finally began to ease from the late 17th century, when some “softening” became evident by the Inquisition in Spain. Nevertheless, some executions continued throughout the eighteenth century, to as late as 1816 in  England. The statutory provision for the death penalty was not removed in England until 1861.

Obviously, the Catholic Church cannot be held directly responsible for the judicial sentences handed down by secular authorities in Protestant countries.  It can, however, be held responsible for it part in fanning the flames of bigotry and hatred in the early part of the persecution, using the cloak of religion to provide cover for what was in reality based not on Scripture or the teaching of the early Church, but on simple intolerance and greed.

It is important as gay men lesbians and transgendered that we remember the examples of the many who have in earlier times been honoured by the Church as saints or martyrs for the faith.  It is also important that we remember the example of the many thousands who have been martyred by the churches – Catholic and other.

Sources:

"Can you be gay and Catholic?" (I Go Head to head with "Catholic Voices")

church and rainbow flagf

Terry Weldon
Some time ago, I described how Catholic Voices arranged a supposedly public discussion on how Catholics should respond to the political debates on same – sex marriage – but when I and a friend attempted to register for the event, we found that at a Catholic Voices discussion about Catholics and gay marriage, gay Catholics were not welcome. I was therefore interested when I was contacted by the BBC religious affairs department recently, about participating in an email debate with a representative of the orthodox Catholic view, on that very subject. The original intention was for the discussion to be completed for publication on the BBC website for Sunday 10th, last week – but it seemed to take the producer a remarkably long time to track down someone willing to debate that topic with me. By the time he did have a volunteer (in the end, representing Catholic Voices), it was too late for publication last week, and the topic had somehow transformed into the more general one – “Can you be gay and Catholic?” Continue reading "Can you be gay and Catholic?" (I Go Head to head with "Catholic Voices")

In Valentine vote, Illinois Senate approves gay marriage

 The Illinois state Senate approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage on Thursday in a Valentine’s Day vote spearheaded by Democrats, as gay couples around the country used the romantic day to dramatize their quest for the right to marry.

Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn addresses the first session
 of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, 
North Carolina, September 4, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

The Illinois Senate, which is heavily Democratic, voted 34-21 to advance the measure to the House in President Barack Obama’s home state. The fate of the bill in the state’s lower chamber remains uncertain.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign any bill legalizing gay marriage, which would make Illinois the 10th state to legalize same-sex nuptials, in addition to the District of Columbia. It would also become the first Midwestern state to approve same-sex marriage through legislation. Iowa’s Supreme Court legalized such marriages there in 2009.

Obama has encouraged the drive to legalize gay marriage, authorizing a White House statement recently saying that if he were still in the Illinois legislature, he would vote for it.

The Illinois drive to legalize gay marriage coincided with a national campaign by a coalition of gay rights groups to highlight the issue on Valentine’s Day.

As part of what they call “Freedom to Marry Week,” same-sex couples will request marriage licenses in 18 places around the country, including a number of states where same sex-marriage is not legal.

“These laws are unjust and immoral, and we are confronting those laws head-on across the country,” said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL, a gay rights group

– continue reading at  Reuters:

Catharina Margaretha Linck, Executed for Sodomy

In the tragic history of executions for “sodomy”, most trials and executions were of men. In the popular mind, the word today is associated primarily with male anal sex, but this has not always been so. In the original biblical texts, the “sin of Sodom” had nothing to do with sex at all, but referred rather to excessive fondness for luxury, over-indulgence, and a failure to care for travelers and the poor. When in the Middle Ages it began to be associated with sexual sin, it applied to any form of sexual actions that were considered unnatural, including homosexual acts, masturbation, oral sex, heterosexual anal intercourse, even heterosexual intercourse not in the missionary position – and lesbian sex.

Many courts and legislative bodies since then have debated whether sodomy laws do in fact apply to women, with widely differing conclusions. In some cases, the conclusion was that they did – especially in those cases where one of the woman dresses and lived as a man, which provoked particular popular hostility.

At Jesus in Love, Kittredge Cherry has included in her post for Ash Wednesday some notes about the last lesbian executed for Sodomy in Europe, Catherine Linck.

Linck-1 by Elke Steiner500 px

In the image at the top of this post, German artist Elke R. Steinerillustrates the last known execution for lesbianism in Europe. Born in 1694, Catharina Margaretha Linck lived her life as a man under the name Anastasius. She was beheaded for sodomy on Nov. 8, 1721 in Halberstadt in present-day Germany. Linck worked at various times as a soldier, textile worker and a wandering prophet with the Pietists. She married a woman in 1717. Her mother-in-law reported her to authorities, who convicted her of sodomy with a “lifeless instrument,” wearing men’s clothes and multiple baptisms. The subject is grim, but Steiner adds an empowering statement: “But even were I to be done away with, those who are like me would remain.”

Steiner’s work is based on Angela Steidele’s book “In Männerkleidern. Das verwegene Leben der Catharina Margaretha Linck alias Anastasius Lagrantinus Rosenstengel, hingerichtet 1721.” Biographie und Dokumentation. Cologne: Böhlau, 2004. (“In Men’s Clothes: The Remarkable Life of Catharina Margaretha Linck alias Anastasius Rosenstengel, Executed 1721.”)

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Pennsylvania Voters support Gay Marriage

A slim majority of Pennsylvania voters supports legalizing gay marriage, an issue that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next month.

Fifty-two percent support gay marriage, a Franklin & Marshall poll made public Thursday shows, up from 33 percent support measured by the college in a 2006 poll. The increased support mirrors a national trend and the results of a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll in December 2011.
Muhlenberg pollster Chris Borick has been watching views on gay marriage shift dramatically. Support rose from 35 percent in 2004, to 42 percent in 2009, to 52 percent in 2011. In polling terms, he said, that’s “meteoric.”
It’s also largely generational. Of Pennsylvanians younger than 35, 79 percent support gay marriage, while those over 55 back gay marriage by 42 percent, said G. Terry Madonna, pollster for F&M in Lancaster.
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“I think in 25 years this is not going to be much of an issue,” Madonna said.
The issue has seen significant turning points in just the last year. President Barack Obama voiced his support for gay marriage ahead of the 2012 election, the national Democrats added it to their party platform and the president’s inaugural address last month was the first to include mention of gay rights.
At the end of March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionality of two laws, one federal and one from California, that define marriage as between one man and one woman. Nine states — Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington — have legalized gay marriage.
Adrian Shanker of Bethlehem, president of Equality Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that advocates for gay equality, said Pennsylvanians and most Americans, particularly younger ones, are now viewing the gay marriage issue as a matter of civil rights.
“In six years, which is not that long in terms of public opinion on most issues, we’ve just seen a sea change,” he said. “I think hearts and minds have been changing. … Those who actively oppose it are shrinking every single day.”

– continue reading at  F&M 

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