Queer Notes, May-June 2014

by Dee Perkins

“We don’t discriminate. If you’re buying, we’re selling,” read Mississippi storefront decals. LGBT rights group Equality Mississippi (EM) partnered with businesses to counter the swift April 1 passage of Arizona-style SB2681, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which states that “government shall not substantially burden religious exercise,” thereby giving businesses the right to discriminate. EM’s April 9 press release underscored the commitment to equality for all. So-called religious freedom laws are on the books in 18 states and pending in Missouri and Oklahoma, while North Carolina is likely to take one up in May.

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India’s Aam Aadmi (literally, Common Man) Party (AAP) is putting Gay rights at the center of its platform in the country’s general election to elect members to the Lok Sabha (House of the People), Parliament’s lower house. Key to AAP’s Manifesto on Swaraj (rule of the people) to “end corruption and ensure accessible justice for the people” is its support of the Delhi High Court decision to legalize gay sex, overturned by the Supreme Court, as well as gender justice. Formed about a year and a half ago, AAP won 28 of 70 seats in 2013 in the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

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All sixth, seventh and eighth graders (12- to 14-year-olds) in Nepal will learn about sexual and gender diversity in their Health and Physical Education classes. A five-year effort, which began with LGBT rights advocate Sunil Babu Pant when he was a Member of Parliament, resulted in the national education board’s including sexual orientation and gender identity in syllabi and textbooks. Believing the root cause of discrimination to be ignorance and prejudice, Pant and his team explained again and again the issues to various officials. In 2007 the Supreme Court negated anti-LGBT laws.

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