The Indian Supreme Court is to announce the result of its review of Section 377 of the Penal Code which criminalises homosexual sex. The announcement of the Court will be made no later than October 2018. In early 2016 the Court announced that they would be renewing the provision, giving hope to LGBT activists that the infamous section, a hangover from British colonial rule, would be struck down. In August 2017 the Court ruled that the right to privacy was “intrinsic” and “fundamental” which galvanised the LGBT rights movement in India. India is more tolerant of LGBT people than in other parts of Asia but it is by no means a country that is welcoming to sexual and gender minorities.
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.
The Kenyan Supreme Court has nullified the result of last month’s presidential election result. In that election incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta won re-election much to the frustrations of Raila Odinga’s opposition. After a day of calm parts of the country, especially in opposition strongholds, erupted into violence amid calls of vote tampering. I must confess that I was skeptical of Odinga’s case because at the last election he also contested the result and the Supreme Court dismissed Odinga’s case for lacking evidence. Evidently the Supreme Court has seen compelling evidence this time around and the time has come for change.
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.
On 1st December there was an election held in The Gambia which pitted incumbent President Yahya Jammeh against Adama Barrow, a former property developer. The results came in and Jammeh, who had originally taken power in a military coup in 1994, lost the election. Initially, and much to everybody’s surprise, Jammeh accepted the result and said he was going to peacefully transfer power to the President-elect. However this conciliatory mood didn’t last and on 9th December he formally disputed the election result by submitted an application to the Gambian Supreme Court that people should start paying attention to the small West African republic.
Since the election nearly two weeks ago a chorus of Democrats have come out and argued that people should ‘give Trump a chance’. This has come from people of the Left like Bernie Sanders and people pretending to be of the Left like Hillary Clinton. Both of them are wrong. I understand that this is part of the peaceful transition of powers but if they legitimately mean that the entire country should essentially let their guard down to see what Trump will do then they are wrong. It is important that everyone who opposes what Trump has said he will do doubles down.
On Sunday Bryton Mellott of Urbana, Illinois decided to send a political message to his social media followers. In order to do this, Mellot decided to take a photo of himself burning an American flag and uploaded to social media. Underneath the photo was a caption outlining his reasons and was finished with the hashtag ‘ArrestMe’. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the local police department decided to do. The wider point here is about how law enforcement is ignorant the law they are supposed to uphold, and that authoritarianism in all its forms needs to be combated.