Canada's Senate Legalizes Marijuana, Sales Will Begin Later This Summer

Today, Canada became the second nation in history to fully legalize marijuana.

Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, was approved by the Canadian Senate on Tuesday. It was previously passed by the House of Commons. C-45 legalizes marijuana possession, home growing and sales to adults. It is still a crime to sell cannabis to a minor, and the federal government will oversee such sanctions/boundaries. Governments of provinces will manage sales and distribution.

To date, nine states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 29 states allow it for medicinal purposes.

The black market of marijuana—just like any black market in the drug trade—has incited violence and conflicts around the world. Legalizing the drug takes power away from cartels and  other criminals, while creating several new, legitimate jobs. That part’s a win-win.


“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” declared Canada’s Liberal Party online. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

Marijuana is not without its risks: it can be habit-forming and if abused it can harm mental health. But it’s never been linked concretely to more serious problems like lethal overdoses. Marijuana is significantly less likely than alcohol, about tenfold, to cause serious accidents.

Last July, Uruguay became the first nation to legalize marijuana. Drug-related crime has plummeted.

Sales of marijuana in Canada should begin in within weeks.

h/t: https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621422290/canadas-house-votes-to-legalize-marijuana-sending-bill-to-senate

A Filipino Gay Man And His Friends Were Detained For "Loitering"

A gay man is sharing how he, his boyfriend, and his friends were arrested for “loitering.”

Ttam Nanaramid recently posted to Facebook the story of how a new Presidential order led to the arrest of him and his friends.

On Saturday, June 16, he, his partner, and his friends were waiting outside another friend’s apartment for her to come out and join them for a bar crawl.

As he wrote on Facebook:

“My partner and I were not even paying attention… and the police approached us and told us to get in the police car because we could not ‘hang out’ there.”

Nanariamid and his friends complied willingly and were taken to the Guadalupe Nuevo Station 7 in Metro Manila. There, they were thrown into a jail cell.

“We were quite anxious the moment they opened the cell. There were already people inside the cell and they were really horny and drunk. We’re all quite stressed out inside.”

"When they asked why they had been put in jail, one of the police officers responded, “Don’t; you wat TV?”

Earlier this month, Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, had announced a new war on loiterers or “tambays.” Since that June 13th announcement, more than 3,000 people have been detained. This is despite the fact that loitering is not officially against the law.

As for Nanaramid’s group, they were eventually let go around 2 or 3 am, but their names and contact info were recorded for future reference.

As Nanaramid wrote:

“I do not even know what lesson learned in this story and I still don’t know what’s wrong with waiting outside a house.”

“After that I do not feel safe and comfortable going anywhere and I am not sure if they have violated (our human rights).”

In addition, he questioned how this vague and unofficial law is even being followed.

“If they see you drinking soda outside the store, is that it? If they see you sitting in the gutter of the road because you’re heavy, do you think it’s a hangout? If they find you waiting in the waiting car waiting for the car, is that it? What is the true and clear meaning and measurement of tambay?”

h/t: GayStarNews

Homosexuality Declassified as a Mental Illness by Indian Psychiatric Society

Just in time for Pride Month, the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) declassified homosexuality as a mental illness last week.

The IPS was founded in 1929 and has about 3,000 members today. This is the first time the organization has publicly addressed the matter.

IPS president Dr. Ajit Bhide said:

“Certain people are not cut out to be heterosexual and we don’t need to castigate them, we don’t need to punish them, to ostracize them.


IPS chairperson Dr. Kersi Chavda stated:

“This statement is our official stand on homosexuality, that it is not a disease and should not be treated like one. This is the first time we have released an official stand.”

This is a small victory, though. Homosexuality is still illegal in India under Section 377, and conversion therapy is still common. India's Supreme Court is currently reviewing Section 377, and is expected to declare whether or not to uphold it by October. 

The law, which describes anal sex as an “unnatural offense” has stood since 1862 as a direct result of British colonization. The law was modeled from the British Empire’s buggery law. Britain decriminalized homosexual acts in 1967.

Breaking the long-standing Indian law can result in a 10-year prison sentence, an equivalent punishment to rape. It’s worth noting that oral sex, even between a man and a woman, is prohibited under the law.

Also, as we reported earlier this week, India’s Central Board of Film Certification has outright banned critical darling Love, Simon because it features a gay lead character.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/stop-treating-homosexuality-as-an-illness-says-indian-psychiatric-society/story-EqoFV1KjFE0mxAxOimX8oN.html


SD GOP Lawmaker Says Businesses Have a Right to Turn Away Blacks, Apologizes

The aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker’s refusal to serve a gay couple just keeps getting deeper and weirder.

GOP South Dakota state rep. Michael Clark was forced to eat his words on Tuesday after he typed a message proclaiming the Supreme Court’s ruling a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion”— and then took things to another level by saying he believes businesses should have the right to turn away black people if they want to.

“He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants,” Clark wrote. “If he wants to turn away people of color, then that(‘s) his choice.” 

Clark quickly took the post down, but it had already gone viral.

The Argus Leader published a story about the comment, and an hour later Clark issued an apology to the reporter who broke the story via email.

"I am apologizing for some of my Facebook comments," he wrote. "I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race." 

In an interview with the Argus Leader, Clark had said that business owners with “strongly based beliefs” should be able to turn away customers.

“If it’s truly his strongly based belief, he should be able to turn them away,” Clark said. “People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business.”

Clark is running unopposed for reelection to represent District 9.

h/t: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/05/s-d-lawmaker-says-businesses-should-able-turn-away-customers-based-race/673317002/

Kansas Governor Signs Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Into State Law

On Friday, Kansas governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill into state law legalizing discrimination against LGBT persons looking to adopt. This news comes just one week after Oklahoma’s governor Mary Fallin signed a similar bill.

Senate Bill 284 enables adoption agencies in Kansas, even those which receive taxpayer funds, to deny children placement into homes with LGBT parents over “religious objections.”

Both houses of the legislature approved the bill this month. 

It’s worth mentioning that technically the law could also permit these agencies to subject LGBT children in foster care to conversion therapy.

According to The Wichita Eagle, Colyer said: “What I want Kansans to know is this is about fairness and that we are protecting everyone. It’s not about discrimination; it’s about fairness. We’re looking after those kids that need a forever home.”

JoDee Winterhof, senior VP of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, condemned the bill in a press release: “Kansas now joins Oklahoma as the only states to allow anti-LGBTQ state bills to become law this year. Kansas lawmakers, from the legislature to the governor, are clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate against their own constituents than it is to find loving homes for children in need. Make no mistake: this law will harm the kids, families and reputation of this state.” 

Kansas is the ninth state to enact an adoption law permitting agencies to deny placement into homes over religious objections; the others are Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma.

The new adoption law isn’t the only current anti-LGBT law in Kansas. In 2016, former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing student organization’s at public universities in the state to deny membership to LGBT students. Brownback is now United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom under the Trump Administration.

Earlier this week, Colyer and six other Republican governors signed a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee saying president Trump should get the Nobel Peace Prize for “his transformative efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula."

h/t: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2018/05/18/kansas-governor-signs-anti-lgbt-religious-freedom-adoption-law/

Illinois's State Senate Passed A Bill Asking For LGBTQ History To Be A Requirement In Public Schools

Illinois’s state Senate has approved a bill that asks for LGBTQ history to be a requirement in public schools.

Senate Bill 3249 is the bill that was passed on the floor earlier today. The bill was approved by a vote of 34 to 18.

The bill was first introduced by Chicago Democrat Heather Steans who says the bill would enlighten and better Illinois students.

“By teaching students an inclusive curriculum, Illinois classrooms will promote acceptance and a more accurate portrayal of history,” she said. “LGBT students also will learn about people who had some similar qualities to them and became historical role models.”

If the bill were to be signed into law, it would require schools in the state to take some time in the year to teach LGBTQ history. Specifically, students would learn about contributions LGBTQ people made to society.

Steans says that the bill would work with already established laws that require students learn about specific races and ethnicities like African-American history, Asian-American history, Hungarian history, and French history.

That said, this is only the first step in the bill’s journey towards hopefully becoming a law. The bill would need to be passed by the state House and then be signed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Of course, there’s plenty of opposition to the bill. For instance, some education advocates are lobbying against it for multiple reasons. Some see it as an offense to religious freedom and some see it as an offense to the jurisdictions of school boards.

“We have a clear directive from our membership to oppose all curricular mandates that come before the General Assembly,” said Zach Messersmith, director of government relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards, to the State Journal-Register. “We believe that locally elected school boards should be able to determine curricula for their students as long as it meets Illinois Learning Standards.”

Again, we’ll see if the bill will be able to hurdle over all of the obstacles before it. If it does, Illinois will only be the second state to require LGBTQ history for public school students. The only other state to do so is California.

h/t: the Associated Press, The State Journal-Register

A High Court In Trinidad And Tobago Ruled That Criminalizing Homosexuality Is Unconsitutional

Yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago ruled that criminalizing homosexuality was unconstitutional.

While Trinidad and Tobago has no law outright banning same-sex love/relationships, Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act criminalize buggery (anal sex) and indecency between adults.

Trinidad gained this law from the United Kingdom when it was colonized by the British. Even though the UK later got rid of this law, Trinidad, which gained its independence in 1962, has kept it ever since.

But in the past few years, there has been an increase in cries for the country to change the ruling. This has caused lots of controversy in the country such as Christian protestors outspokenly objecting to a change and LGBTQ advocates lobbying with political officials to gain protections for citizens.

One such advocate, named Jason Jones, filed a lawsuit in February 2017 that eventually led to this new court ruling.

According to Erasing 76 Crimes, Trinidad and Tobago’s High court ruled that the laws against homosexuality were unconstitutional.

Justice Devindra Rampersad stated:

“The court declares that sections 13 and 16 of the [Sexual Offences Act] are unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.”

While Justice Rampersad’s ruling now states that Sections 13 and 16 are unconstitutional, an additional judgment will be held in July to figure out what will happen to the two sections.

That said, many people in Trinidad and Tobago, and outside of it, are celebrating.

A Federal Judge Just Made An Important Decision Concerning Job Discrimination in Texas

If you thought that nationwide, all American citizens were protected from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity, you’d be wrong.

In the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which are run by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, no federal court has made employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. But, someone just got really close.

In Austin, Texas, an engineer by the name of Nicole Wittmer went through a case against energy company Phillips 66 who Wittmer says didn’t hire her because she’s transgender.

The end of that court case happened recently. Unfortunately, Wittmer didn’t win as the chief judge, Judge Lee Rosenthal of the Southern District Court of Texas, says that Wittmer’s specific case didn’t have enough evidence.

That said, Rosenthal also said that if Wittmer’s case was stronger, she would have had cause to sue under federal law and the court would have ruled with the integrity to fight employment discrimination based on gender identity.

"We're certainly disappointed that this particular ruling did not fall in her favor," Wittmer’s lawyer Alfonso Kennard Jr. told The Dallas Morning News. "The silver lining here is it has helped to define the landscape for people who have been discriminated [against] in the workplace due to their transgender status."

"This ruling is earth-shattering — in a good way."

As for Rosenthal, who was appointed in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush, she says that it was decisions made by other jurisdictions that has helped her come around the to idea of extending Title VII, which protects citizens from job discrimination based on sex, to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Within the last year, several circuits have expanded Title VII protection to include discrimination based on transgender status and sexual orientation," Rosenthal wrote. "Although the Fifth Circuit has not yet addressed the issue, these very recent circuit cases are persuasive. ... The court assumes that Wittmer's status as a transgender woman places her under the protections of Title VII."

While this is a loss for Wittmer, this could be the start of a major win for LGBTQ workers in Texas (and maybe Louisiana and Mississippi too).

h/t: The Dallas Morning News

Tasmania is the Latest Australian State to Erase Criminal Convictions Based on Homosexuality

Another section of Australia has now made it so that gay men can erase past convictions against them that are based on their homosexuality.

The Australian state of Tasmania started the process of eliminating these convictions back in 2015, but has taken the long way around. As PinkNews reports, the government took so long that it had to apologize back in 2017.

Now, if any of the 500,000 people living in the state want to see their past convictions or the convictions of their loved ones go away, they can apply to do so.

Of course, these convictions have to be attached to homosexuality, which was decriminalized in Tasmania back in 1997 (it was the last state in the country to do so).

Former Anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks spoke on the new legislation.

“We went from being very much behind the eight ball, in terms of attitudes to homosexuality, to, I think, probably the most progressive state, when it comes to our response to homosexuality and to transgender issues.”

“And I think that’s a real testament to everybody who’s been involved in the debate, particularly from the (LGBTIQ) community, reaching across what was a very wide divide.”

Banks also shared the opinion that laws against homosexuality should have never happened.

“It doesn’t hurt anybody,” she said, “It was a victimless crime, and that’s really important thing to remember. And it wasn’t a crime all over the world.”

“It was particularly in common-law countries, so the countries that came out of England (the British empire), where we’ve had this history of criminalizing homosexuality.”

“I really ask people to think, ‘Well, what difference does it make to you if somebody loves a person of the same gender as themself?'”

Tasmania now joins several countries and states that have also erased past convictions concerning homosexuality.

Last week, we shared with you the news that New Zealand had taken the plunge towards this process. Even before that, Germany, the UK, and Canada had done so. As for other Australian states, New South Wales, and Victoria have all removed such convictions.

h/t: PinkNews

New Zealand's Erasing Gay Men's Archaic Convictions For Homosexuality

In 1986, Homosexuality was decriminalized in the nation of New Zealand, but many men went on with having their convictions for homosexual activity for many decades later. Bu now, the New Zealand parliament is righting that wrong.

On Tuesday night, the nation’s parliament passed a bill that will allow around 1,000 men to apply to have their past convictions for homosexual activity removed from their criminal records.

Specifically, the five convictions that are being targeted are sodomy, indecency between males, keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts, and two other offenses from the early 1900s involving “unnatural offenses” committed with another male.

"I would like to apologize again to all the men and members of the rainbow community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offences," said Justice Minister Andrew Little.

"This bill sends a clear signal that discrimination against gay people is no longer acceptable, and that we are committed to putting right wrongs from the past," Little said.

Not only can men who were directly affected apply for these changes, but family members of men, both alive and dead, can apply too.

Applicants only need to show that the sexual conduct that led to the conviction is no longer seen as illegal in the country.

The bill was first introduced to New Zealand’s parliament last year in July by Amy Adams, who was the Justice Minister at the time. After introducing the bill, she apologized to New Zealand men who were convicted of these crimes.

New Zealand now follows several other countries that have done the same act of removing past convictions tied to homosexuality. Last year, both the United Kingdom and Canada apologized to gay men who were convicted for their sexuality and removed those convictions to those who applied for such services.

On top of that, Germany and the Australian regions of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia all removed such convictions as well.

h/t: DW.com