Tunisia is often portrayed as the poster-child of the Arab Spring as the revolution was peaceful and a relatively open democracy has been formed by the Tunisian people. As with many countries in North Africa, a key problem that has dogged their societies has been how women have been treated by regressively-minded citizens and conservative figures of authority. However a democracy can only truly function if all members in that society are free to express themselves without fear of repercussions. This requires a raft of civil liberties that are inalienable and defended by the judiciary and so long as women are subject to coercion and prejudice, Tunisia will not represent the views of all its citizens. Thankfully action has been taken.
Nigeria is a significant power in West Africa and what happens in the country is noted by people in other parts of the region, especially when it comes to Nigerian culture. But an area where Nigeria is similar to other parts of Africa is in its society’s anti-LGBT attitudes. Christian and Islamic conservatism in Nigeria has largely been peddled because of fundamentalists traveling to the country to reinforce existing anti-LGBT views with theological justifications. In Nigeria it is socially acceptable to persecute LGBT people and this is illustrated by the news coming out of Lagos state this week when 42 men were arrested for having homosexual sex.
Employment tribunals are a key way for workers to protect themselves against unscrupulous employers but in recent years the number of people going to tribunals has dramatically fallen. This is largely because of the introduction of tribunal fees, whereby workers had to pay, in some cases, thousands of pounds up front in order to have their cases heard. According to figures from the Ministry of Justice quoted by the BBC, the number of cases going to tribunals has dropped from around 5,000 per month before tribunal fees were introduced in 2013, to around 1,600 per month after the introduction. However this situation has finally been remedied, as the Supreme Court has ruled that these punitive fees are against the law.
The Secretary of State for Women’s and Equalities Justine Greening has announced that there will be a consultation on a piece of legislation that would significantly change the legal status of transgender people in British society. The government have also announced a change to the rules regarding blood donation that will benefit gay and bisexual men. These measures are important and should be welcomed, however that should not mean that pressure on the government should be alleviated. Additionally, some aspects of society are still hostile towards the very idea of transgender equality and conversations need to be had so that so that our fellow citizens feel welcome in society.
There is much discussion in Labour Party circles about the merits and pitfalls of mandatory reselection. The opponents of this idea are exclusively in the more moderate wing of the party and these individuals fear that if primaries were to be held for all Labour candidates for Parliament, the party would swing to the left. This is a well-founded fear as if left-wing membership were truly empowered to take these decisions, as opposed to a moderate group of party insiders, Corbyn’s leadership would be secured for the foreseeable future and his successor would likely oppose any attempt at modernisation, which is simply a euphemism for moving Labour away from socialist roots. But nevertheless, mandatory reselection should be introduced.
It is widely known that United States government is unapologetically pro-Israel and this has normally resulted in the favourable press coverage of the right-wing government of Israeli, even in supposedly liberal publications. However this has gone one step further. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) has introduced Senate Bill 720, also known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Bill, and already the bill has 45 cosponsors- 31 Republican and 14 Democrat. Not only is this an attempt by the pro-Israel lobby to continue comparing opposition to the Israeli government as the same as anti-Semitism, but this bill shows that many members of the Senate do not understand the US constitution.
Another day and another Brexit problem for the government. In order for Theresa May to begin legislating on Britain’s exit from the European Union, the government must receive a legislative consent motion (LCM) from the devolved administrations. Due to the breakdown of the power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland, this therefore means that the Scottish and Welsh governments need to consent to Brexit legislation. However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have said that unless they have a role in the Brexit talks, they wouldn’t pass an LCM. Whilst Westminster can, legally speaking, begin legislating on Brexit without LCMs from Holyrood and Cardiff, this would be politically problematic for the government to say the least.