Thursday, March 22, 2012
Homosexual marriage is not a 'human right': European ruling torpedoes British government stance
Same-sex marriages are not a human right, European judges have ruled. Their decision shreds the claim by ministers that gay marriage is a universal human right and that same-sex couples have a right to marry because their mutual commitment is just as strong as that of husbands and wives.
The ruling was made by judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg following a case involving a lesbian couple in a civil partnership who complained the French courts would not allow them to adopt a child as a couple.
The ruling also says that if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.
It means that if MPs legislate for same-sex marriage, the Coalition’s promise that churches will not be compelled to conduct the weddings will be worthless.
The ruling comes just days after the Government published a consultation paper which promised marriage to same-sex couples and made clear that Britain is only catching up with other countries.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Put simply, it’s not right that a couple who love each other and want to formalise a commitment to each other should be denied the right to marry.’
However, the Strasbourg judges ruled that because the French couple were civil partners, they did not have the rights of married people, who in France have the sole right to adopt a child as a couple.
They declared: ‘The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.’
The judges added that couples who are not married do not enjoy the same status as those who are. ‘With regard to married couples, the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples.’
The French civil partners, Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, tried to secure marriage rights under clauses that prevent discrimination and protect privacy and family life. But the Strasbourg judges said there had been no discrimination against them because they were lesbians.
Lawyers said the decisions transformed the impact of David Cameron’s planned same-sex marriage law. Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, said: ‘Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage.
This means that if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.’
The Government’s consultation paper also said that no church would have to conduct gay weddings. It said there would be different legal categories of civil and religious marriage and same-sex couples would not be allowed religious marriages.
But Church of England lawyers have already warned that if same-sex marriage goes ahead, then equality law is likely to force churches to fall into line and perform the wedding ceremonies.
The Strasbourg ruling won praise from campaigners against same-sex marriage. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘For too long campaigners have been using the language of rights in an attempt to add moral force to what are nothing more than personal desires. ‘In many cases they have bypassed the democratic process and succeeded in imposing their views on the rest of the population by force of law.
‘We are seeing the same principle at work in the Government’s sham of a consultation on same-sex marriage.’
He added: ‘The ruling from the ECHR will embolden those whose concerns about same-sex marriage and adoption are not inspired by personal hatred and animosity, but by a genuine concern for the well-being of children and the welfare of society.
‘Instead of rushing to legislate without seriously considering the views of the electorate, the Government should be encouraging a measured public debate on the nature and meaning of marriage.’
The Stonewall pressure group called for same-sex couples to be allowed religious weddings if churches agreed.
It added: ‘The vitriol seen in statements by many political and religious figures, particularly some senior clerics, in advance of this consultation demonstrates the persistence of deeply worrying prejudice towards gay people.’
Baroness Ashton called on to resign after likening shooting at Toulouse school to troubles of Palestinian children in Gaza
A Labour Party appointee, a mediocrity clearly out of her depth
EU foreign minister Baroness Ashton is facing calls to resign after appearing to use the fatal shootings of three Jewish schoolchildren in France to criticise Israeli policy in Gaza.
In a speech on Palestinian affairs in Brussels, the British EU official suggested that the shootings outside a Jewish school in Toulouse were the same as the deaths of children inadvertently killed in Israeli attacks on Palestinian militants.
Lady Ashton also seemingly compared the deaths in Gaza to the slaughter of innocents in Syria, the rampage by a gunman in Norway last year in which dozens of teenagers were killed and the bus crash in Switzerland that killed 22 Belgian schoolchildren a week ago.
She said: ‘When we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.’
The Israeli government demanded that Lady Ashton step down, with defence minister Ehud Barak denouncing the mention of Gaza as inappropriate and demanding a retraction. He said: ‘The comparison made by Ashton between what is happening in Gaza to what happened in Toulouse, and what is going on in Syria every day, is outrageous and has absolutely no grounding in reality.’
Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai said Lady Ashton’s statement ‘further harms the ability of the EU to be an honest broker’ in the Middle East, adding: ‘She can no longer serve in her position.’ He was joined in his calls for a retraction by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign affairs minister.
A spokesman for Lady Ashton, who was a surprise appointment to the new post of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs in 2009, claimed the remarks had been grossly distorted. ‘In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza,’ he said.
But that explanation was not accepted by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said she wrongly sought to draw a parallel between the calculated murder of children and Palestinian casualties who have died in attacks on adult terrorists in Gaza.
‘What especially outrages me is the comparison between a targeted massacre of children and the surgical defensive actions of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces], intended to strike at terrorists using children as human shields,’ he said.
Tory MP James Clappison, vice-chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said: ‘It is entirely inappropriate for her to make a comparison between events in France and Gaza when she is speaking as the EU’s foreign minister. She needs to think again.’
Downing Street launched a lukewarm defence of Lady Ashton. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I’m not entirely sure that was the comparison she was making.’ He said Baroness Ashton’s team ‘feel her remarks were taken out of context’.
America's Real War on Women
There is a war against women. It is something comparatively new in our national life, and we have to start noticing it.
It is not a "Republican war on women." It has nothing to do with White House attempts to paint conservative efforts to protect religious liberty as a war against women's rights to contraceptives. That is a mischievous fiction, and the president's polls this week suggest it isn't working. Good.
But the real war is against women in American public life, in politics and media most obviously, but in other spheres as well. In this war, leaders who are women are publicly demeaned and diminished based on the fact that they are women. They are the object of sexual slurs, and insulted in sexual terms. The words used are vulgar, and are meant to tear down and embarrass.
Every woman in American public life knows of it. They talk about it in private. They've all experienced it.
Here are some of the words that have been hurled the past few years at public figures who are female: "slut," "whore," "prostitute," "bimbo." You know the other, coarser words that have been used. But the point is, these are not private insults. They are said in public. This is something new in American political life, that women can be spoken of this way.
Eleanor Roosevelt was probably the most controversial first lady ever, but no one ever felt they could speak of her in these terms in public. Dorothy Thompson may have been the most controversial commentator of the 20th century, but no one felt free to take to the airwaves, to go on the radio, and oppose her in such a low and vulgar way.
But you don't have to go back 60 and 70 years to see how much things have changed. Twenty years ago the discourse was higher.
All this has devolved into a political argument about who's worse, the right or the left. I don't think that's the most important question, but since it's on the table the answer is the left. We all know about Bill Maher, David Letterman, Ed Schultz. A liberal radio host a while back accused the Republican lieutenant governor of Wisconsin of performing "fellatio on all the talk show hosts in Milwaukee."
Two nonconservative columnists recently nailed it. Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post wrote that what Rush Limbaugh said two weeks ago—Sandra Fluke was a "slut" and a "prostitute" who owed the public videotapes of her having sex—was bad indeed, but "Some of the more blatantly sexist attacks I have personally felt have come from the left."
Prize pig is left-wing journalist Matt Taibbi who becomes emotional and can't control himself when writing about women. Here he is on a conservative media figure: "When I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text . . . with [male genitals] in her mouth." Democrat Kirsten Powers, in brave pieces in the Daily Beast, called out "the army of swine on the left." Keith Olbermann, who still exists, attacked her for defending Mr. Limbaugh, which she hadn't done. He took to Twitter. One of his followers called her "just another brainless plastic doll Fox puts on camera to appease the horned up 60-year-old white dudes at home." Ms. Powers wryly notes, "Don't forget: liberals are the feminists, it's the GOP who hates women."
Why would the left be worse? Let me be harsh. Some left-wing men think they can talk like this because they're on the correct side on social issues such as abortion. Their attitude: "I backed you on the abortions you want so much, I opposed a ban on partial birth. Hell, I'll let you kill kids at any point until they're 15, I'm cool. And that means I can call women in public life t - - - s, right? Because, you know, I think of them that way."
Australian Federal Territory passes laws to force removal of burqas
New laws that will allow police to force the removal of burqas, helmets, hats and other clothing concealing a person's identity have been passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly.
The road transport legislation, approved yesterday, will give ACT authorities greater power to order the removal of head coverings in circumstances including random roadside drug tests, traffic offences, and applications for a driver's licence. But women who wear a head covering, such as a burqa, for religious or cultural reasons will be allowed to request that it only be removed in the presence of a female police officer or in a private place in accordance with their beliefs.
Attorney-General Simon Corbell said yesterday the laws were not meant to target certain cultural or religious groups in the ACT and had been developed in response to incidents where motorists had refused to remove items of clothing such as motorcycle helmets, balaclavas, large sunglasses and hoodies when police were trying to establish their identity.
"Where drivers or riders continue to refuse to remove the item, sometimes it has been necessary to resort to the arrest power and take the person into custody to establish his or her identity," Mr Corbell told the Assembly. "A new direction to remove the obscuring item is a more efficient and less heavy handed solution."
People wearing facial coverings as part of medical treatment will not be required to remove them under the legislation.
The Canberra Liberals and the ACT Greens voted in favour of the laws, with both parties saying the legislation was sensitive to drivers who concealed their faces for cultural, religious or medical reasons.
However, Greens MLA Amanda Bresnan called for an amendment to part of the legislation that protects police who do not comply when a driver makes a reasonable request for a female officer or a private location to remove a facial covering.
The amendment was voted down by the government and the Canberra Liberals.
Mr Corbell said the laws did not impose an "absolute obligation" to comply with a request because there were circumstances where "all or even part compliance with a request may not be safe or reasonably practical."
Yesterday's amendments to the ACT's traffic laws also tightened the definition of a repeat offender for serious traffic offences, such as culpable or negligent driving.
The change will ensure that a person who commits a second offence when a conviction for a first offence is still being finalised will be charged as a repeat offender and can have their licence automatically disqualified.
Mr Corbell said that the amendment would make ACT roads safer and encourage better driver behaviour.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.