Taiwanese LGBT campaigners are hopeful that the country may soon embrace same-sex marriage, making Taiwan the first country in Asia to do so. The optimism comes in the wake of the suicide of Jacques Picoux, a gay professor at the National Taiwan University. Picoux’s story is heartbreakingly familiar. He and his long-term partner, Tseng Ching-chao, were living together but following his death, Picoux was not given the same legal recognition in relation to inheritance and shared assets. The story has galvanized public opinion, and activists now believe that marriage equality may soon come to the country.
In the 2015 Queen’s Speech the Tories said that they would introduce measures to academise more schools, believing that academies, in and of themselves, were inherently good. The government then specified that it would go about doing this by forcibly academising all secondary schools in England. However the government have announced that the Education Bill will now be amended to encourage local authorities to convert schools, rather than impose it from Westminster. Not only is this a victory for local communities, but it is also a victory for people who understand the education system.
The Spanish Constitutional Court in Madrid has overturned Catalonia’s ban on bullfighting. The vote was an 8-3 decision. The justices argued that the autonomous community cannot outlaw the practice because it was “enshrined in the cultural patrimony of the Spanish state”. Unsurprisingly the decision was met with anger from animal rights activists and Catalan secessionists, both of whom have vowed to fight this decision by appealing to the European court system. If this issue remains unresolved it is likely that bullfighting could be weaponised to promote the secessionist cause.
The largest Muslim-majority country in the world is Indonesia, a country in which 87.2% of the population is Muslim and contains 12.7% of the world’s Islamic population. When people think about tackling religious fundamentalism, particularly in an Islamic context, very few people think about Indonesia but there are parts of civil society that explicitly endorse incredibly extreme views. Not only is the existence of very conservative religious views a dangerous thing in a country that officially supports religious pluralism, but the dominance of one set of religious views is having real-life consequences that can be only be described as disgusting.
A few days ago the King of Thailand died and I wrote an incredibly irreverent piece about the continued existence of the monarchy. The first half was essentially covering the news and the second half was talking about how much Thailand could be economically and socially if they replaced their hereditary head of state with a democratically elected president. I also have previous with the Thai royal family. I cited the institution’s fragility in a piece bemoaning the existence of the country’s lèse-majesté laws, and I have also written a case study on the flaws of the Thai monarchy. Why do I bring this all up? The Thai government have begun cracking down on anti-monarchy sentiment and someone who doesn’t live within that government’s jurisdiction must continue to speak, even if it means repeating myself.
A significant number of people in the world support democracy but there are some instances where democracy comes with an asterisk. By an asterisk I mean that a democratic decision made by people may be deemed illegitimate by others for a number of different factors. The purpose of this piece is to take hypothetical examples, and some real-world instances, to ascertain if the democratic decision reached in these scenarios could be regarded as legitimate. The default position of many ordinary people is that democratic decisions should be respected but I contend that in some instances there is a grey area that needs to be made more clear.
Donald Trump has dedicated a large amount of his campaign deriding the media and the Clinton campaign. This wasn’t especially surprising as there is a vast industry on the American Right castigating the ‘liberal media’, even though the US media is more biased in favour of corporate entities that prop up both Republicans and Democrats. Regardless of the truth of the statement, the idea of the US media being in the tank for the Democrats has become a famous talking-point and negative coverage of the GOP or conservative politicians can be linked back to this falsehood. For a very long time this has been a dormant concept and in some cases has just been a throw-away line by the Right, but Trump has now used this mistrust of the media to jettison facts.