Germany has become a world leader when it comes to renewable energy and climate action. According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, over 31% of the country’ energy needs come from renewable energy which is significant given how many countries in the developed world are nowhere near that level. The consequence of this has been that air pollution emanating from Germany has declined but the nature of air pollution is that it crosses national barriers and as a result German cities are looking at new ways to reduce air pollution further. One such announcement made in the last week was that some are considering making public transport entirely free.
In many ways 2018 could be a titanic year for LGBT rights and knowing where advances could be made can be a cause for spurring on activists on the ground and increasing the international attention paid to these struggles. In the first article on this subject, I looked at four countries that could see significant progress made in the coming year. These four were examples of nation-states where I would be actively surprised if something substantial didn’t happen in the next 12 months. The four countries at the focus of this article are still noteworthy, but would require a bigger push by campaigners and activists. This distinction in no way means that the follow countries are out of reach in 2018 as anti-LGBT attitudes are softening and the prospects for equality have never been better. In each instance there is either increasing public support for LGBT equality but an absence of political or new policy-makers are coming to the fore that would be sympathetic to a pro-equality agenda. Sustained international pressure could both force legislators into action and provide much needed solidarity to those activists on the ground. Continue reading →
Despite some alarming trends of world politics in the last year or so, such as ongoing religious extremism and the rise of the far-right, there is some cause of optimism going into the next 12 months. The LGBT rights movement around the world went from strength to strength in 2017 and 2018 has the potential to be another landmark year in the struggle for liberation. Activists across the globe have been agitating for a number of years and the fruits of their labour are close to be being realised in the weeks and months ahead. But what is especially noteworthy about the political contexts of their potential success is that many are in less developed countries and/or are quite quite socially conservative in other areas. 2018 could therefore be the year when social conservatives in all corners of the world are markedly less hostile to LGBT people. In this first article, I’ll be looking at countries where I believe the cause of equality is almost certain to gain ground.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said that the new session of the Catalan Parliament will begin on 17th January 2018, but this by no means will solve the ongoing political crisis in Catalonia. The announcement was made on Friday after discussions between Madrid and the parties in Catalonia. Despite whisperings of abstentionism, it is overwhelmingly likely that all pro-independence parties will take their seats and this will cause an ongoing headache for the Madrid government. The election solved nothing and now the prospects of a solution seem further away than ever. The ball is in Rajoy’s court.
Elections to the Generalitat have thrown up a result that will only continue the ongoing political crisis. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalan parliament back in October by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Regional elections were scheduled to take place as a result of this invocation and Rajoy hoped that this would undermine the ability of separatists to claim that they were acting on behalf of the Catalan people. The election results, however, have thrown a spanner in the works as the Catalan people have endorsed parties opposed to the status quo.
The Austrian Supreme Court has ruled that existing laws making provision for civil partnerships and civil marriages violate non-discrimination rules. As a consequence same-sex couples have been permitted to get married and heterosexual couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships. The court case was brought by a lesbian couple who had been prohibited from entering into a same-sex marriage, however the Supreme Court ruled that the distinction between civil unions and marriages couldn’t be legally upheld. According to Reuters, the court said in its ruling “people living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations, in which it is not relevant”. The ruling will allow for same-sex marriages to take place from 2019.
After the German election in September it was widely expected that Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance would form a coalition with the Greens, a centre-left environmentalist party, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a centrist party of classical liberals. The so-called ‘Jamaica coalition’ would likely have been a formal agreement between the CDU/CSU and one of the smaller parties with the third party brought in on a confidence and supply arrangement. As the weeks have passed the news about the negotiations has been that in some areas they have been contentious but nobody expected the news out of Berlin today. The coalition talks have failed and now it is unclear what lays ahead.