Monday, October 7, 2013

Kuwait Health Officials Intend To Use Exams To Detect Gay Expatriates Barring Them From Entering Country, Cyprus Amends Penal Code To Protect Individuals From Discrimination Or Forms Of Violence Because Of Their Sexual Orientation, Gay And Lesbian Couples Prevented From Adopting In Northern Ireland Since Confusion Remains Over Law, Political Action Committee Targets Liz Cheney Over Gay Marriage In Ad Running For Wyoming Senate Race, University Of Mississippi Officials Say All Audience Members Of October 1 Performance Of Laramie Project Must Attend LGBT Education Dialogue Session, Berkley California Dismisses Proposal To Close City's Domestic Partnership Registry, Jodie Foster Steps Out With Ellen DeGeneres-Ex, Smelling Harry Styles' Hair, Liam Payne's Pubic Hair

UPI reports that health officials in Kuwait say they may soon use "stricter" clinical screening of expatriates to "detect gays" and ban them from entering the country. Homosexuality is banned in Kuwait and punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Gulf News reported. Yousuf Mindkar, the director of public health at the Kuwaiti Health Ministry, said: "Health centers conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries. However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states."

The Cypriot government decided to amend the Penal Code in order to protect people from discrimination or psychological or other forms of violence because of their sexual orientation. According to the newspaper Fileleutheros, the decision of the Criminal Code Amendment has been made by adding a new article that seeks to criminalize incitement to violence or hatred against people or groups, based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The existing legal framework has already criminalized acts of public incitement to violence or hatred against people on other grounds, such as race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent , etc. The addition of the proposed offense, complements the criminal framework το cover all grounds of discrimination, in accordance with the motion of the Commissioner for Administration and Authority against Racism and Discrimination. Specifically, the new article provides as follows: “A person who publicly and in a threatening manner intentionally encourages or incites either verbally or with written texts or illustrations or any other way to violence or hatred directed against a person or group defined on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, is guilty of an offense and in case of conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding € 5,000 or to both such a fine and imprisonment."

In the United Kingdom, a gay couple have said they went to England to adopt because of confusion over the law in Northern Ireland. The Court of Appeal ruled that legislation which prevented gay, lesbian and unmarried couples from adopting children in N.I. was unlawful. It was the only part of the U.K. where the policy existed. However, reports the BBC, Stormont's health minister plans to go to the Supreme Court to try to overturn that decision and get the ban reinstated. John Davis and Jason Scorer, who live in County Antrim, had hoped to adopt children from Northern Ireland, but with uncertainty over the legal position they were advised to consider other options. "We were very lucky that our original social worker in Northern Ireland had done a lot of homework before she came, to say that we could not move things any further forward," said John, who has lived in Northern Ireland for 20 years. "The problem is a lot of people may not be aware there is another option." They contacted adoption and fostering charity PACT (Parents and Children Together). It helped the couple, who are in a civil partnership, go through the process in England with the aim of giving children from there a home in Northern Ireland. "There are children waiting in the system (in Northern Ireland) to find families but, unfortunately, we were not allowed to go down that route," said Jason. "And that is to the hardship of the children who are here." They adopted two boys at the start of the summer and they started primary school last month. "They are getting loved, they are getting looked after and they are getting cared for," said John. They say they know of other gay couples from Northern Ireland who are now considering going through the adoption process elsewhere in the UK, because the issue is still being debated in the courts. The Department of Health at Stormont confirmed that Health Minister Edwin Poots has now applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision that the ban was discriminatory. And he insisted the issue was about stability not sexuality. "Unlike other parts of the UK... we have a strong list of adoptive parents who want to take on adopted children," said Mr Poots. "I think we should be cautious about changing the system which actually provides the stability those children need. It is not a human right to adopt a child for either a mixed-sex couple or a same-sex couple." Gay and lesbian groups, as well as organisations like BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering), have criticised the minister's decision to continue fighting the issue in the courts. But he said surveys had shown support for his position. "What I look at it is where the Northern Ireland public are on these issues and what is in the best interests of the children," he said. "There is a lot of public opposition to it." In Belfast, there were people with strong views on both sides of the argument. Those against gay couples having the right to adopt argued that children needed both male and female role models and some claimed it was against their religious beliefs. However, many said that the only important thing was providing a stable home for a child, irrespective of whether the couple were married or their sexuality. "You could argue all day about the gay thing - whether it is right that someone who is gay should be gay," says John Davis."But I believe it goes back to the loving, caring environment and stability that you can give these children, that they have not had up to this point."

In the political year 2014, the marquee show will be the battle for control of Congress, with Democrats and Republicans each waging tough fights to seize back control of the House and Senate, respectively. But, reports the Los Angeles Times, for sheer pop-some-popcorn-and-sit-back-and-watch entertainment, few contests can measure up to the Republican primary fight in Wyoming, where insurgent Liz Cheney, daughter of the former vice president and longtime state congressman, is bidding to unseat three-term incumbent Sen. Michael B. Enzi. With little separating the two staunch conservatives on issues, the contest has become a test of personalities and personal connections, celebrity vs. familiarity, and the question of when compromise — like Enzi’s involvement in bipartisan healthcare talks early in the Obama administration — amounts to capitulation. Now, an outside group is jumping into the contest with the first TV spot of the campaign, a 30-second advertisement that attacks Cheney for, one is led to believe, backing same sex marriage. The spot features clips of Cheney from a 2009 appearance on MSNBC — identified as "the go-to network for Barack Obama and Washington’s liberal elites" — in which she expressed opposition to a constitutional amendment banning the marriage of same-sex couples and support for a State Department move extending benefits to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service employees. The spot, which ends with the tag line "Wrong for Wyoming," takes a generous share of creative license. Cheney provoked a sisterly spat by declaring in August her opposition to same sex marriage. "I am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage," Cheney said in a statement issued by her campaign. "I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves." Her younger sister, Mary, who is gay and married to a longtime partner, responded: "For the record, I love my sister. But she is dead wrong on the marriage issue." In a small state like Wyoming, where politics is an intimate affair, such a negative spot runs a risk of backfiring, even if it is being broadcast without coordination or consent from the Enzi campaign.The primary dust-up has already divided Republicans and strained both personal and political allegiances inside the state. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a spokeswoman for the political action committee behind the spot, American Principles Fund, defended the ad by noting that Cheney said same sex marriage was an issue best left to individual states. "It’s very clear she doesn’t support a constitutional amendment" banning same sex marriage, Sanders said. "There’s not one thing she would do to protect traditional marriage at the federal level." The ad, Sanders said, is set to run for two weeks across Wyoming.

In Oxford, Mississippi, the University of Mississippi says it has not been able to verify reports that athletes led the disruption of a campus play with gay slurs and inappropriate laughter. University officials said earlier that some freshman athletes participated. No one provided names or accused specific students of misbehaving during “The Laramie Project,” a play about the beating death of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, the six-person Bias Incident Response Team reported Friday. The report says the dark theater made it hard to identify specific people, and early reports differ about the frequency, volume and source of comments. “Although initial reports indicate that student athletes led the action, it is important to note that this has not been verified, and they were not the only students present,” it said. “Reports indicate that comments were made by student athletes and students, but no report has singled out a specific student or mentioned any names.” Every student in the October 1 audience will have to attend an “educational dialogue session” led by faculty and Allies, a university organization that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. “The cast and crew stressed that they did not want to see punitive action, but rather make this an educational opportunity,” the committee said. Cast members also were invited to participate. The audience of about 100 people included 25 freshmen football players and other athletes, The Clarion-Ledger reported. The Ole Miss athletics department is still gathering facts and any additional penalties would be based on new information, a spokesman told the newspaper. Michael Barnett, the assistant theatre chair, said last week that a group of football players apologized after the play, but several actors seemed to feel that the athletes “didn’t realize what it was that they were apologizing for.

In California, Berkeley City Council will no longer consider closing the city’s Domestic Partnership Registry after adopting a revised version of the proposal at its October 1 meeting. The revised proposal, submitted by Councilmember Darryl Moore after public backlash against his original recommendation, dropped the motion to close the registry and instead suggested celebrating the registry’s 22-year anniversary by declaring October 11 Marriage Equality Day. The City Council established the Berkeley Domestic Partnership Registry in 1991 as a means of helping same sex couples and opposite sex unmarried couples obtain the same benefits as married couples. Councilmember Kriss Worthington praised the adoption of the revised proposal, calling the original “one of the most grotesque, offensive and discriminating policies I have seen.” The initial recommendation aimed to close the registry as a celebration of same sex marriage becoming legal earlier this year. Moore, who drafted the proposal, wrote that the registry “only functions as a matter of ceremony” because same sex marriages are recognized by the state. But Worthington argued that the registry remains a necessity because both homosexual and heterosexual couples still use it if they choose not to marry. According to Worthington, California law allows homosexual couples to enter a domestic partnership at any legal age but forbids it for opposite sex couples unless one partner is older than 62. “If you’re gay, you can be a domestic partner at any age, but if you’re straight, you have to be over 62?” Worthington said. “This is not marriage equality.” Worthington said the proposal to close the registry, which allows both heterosexual and homosexual couples to obtain a domestic partnership regardless of age, “offended me deeply," adding, “In our celebration of a victory for the rights of the gay community, we can’t take away the rights of the straight community." Other citizens and council members pointed to the popular use of the registry as a reason it should stay open. More than 1,000 couples have used the registry since its creation, including 15 after the legalization of same sex marriage, according to Councilmember Jesse Arreguin. “The registry is not just symbolic,” Arreguin said. “It’s important because it provides couples a variety of legal rights and protections, including medical insurance coverage and protection from eviction.” Berkeley resident Steve Freedkin and his domestic partner are not a same sex couple but rely on the legal benefits of the registry. Unwilling to get married while “friends in other states can’t,” Freedkin said the registry prevented his landlord from evicting his partner, a protection that would disappear if the registry were closed. While Freedkin said he believed the proposal was motivated by good intentions, he said Moore didn’t seem “to have all the information” when proposing it. To commemorate Marriage Equality Day, Moore and Worthington plan to officiate marriages at Old City Hall between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. “We’re going to have the party,” Worthington said. “We’re going to have the party without taking away anyone’s rights.”

Still not out Jodie Foster spotted Sunday with new girlfriend Alexandra Hedison, former partner of Ellen DeGeneres.

Always wanted to know what Harry Styles' hair smells like?

Speaking of hair and One Direction, Liam Payne seen on a hotel balcony in Sydney, Australia (where the group is on tour) offers quite the view of his pubic region.

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