365 Without 377 – Movie Review

365 without 377Name of movie: 365 Without 377

Date: 2011

Length (hrs): 53 mins

Film genre: Documentary

Characters: Beena, Pallav and Abhenna.

Director: Adele Tulli, who graduated in South Asian Studies and has worked on several activist projects in India and Europe

Setting: India


Plot information: A documentary following the decriminalizing of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalized any sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex.

When does the movie take place? July 2009

What happens in the movie? Imposed under the British colonial rule in 1860, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalize any sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex, stigmatizing them as ‘against the order of nature’. On 2ND July 2009 the Delhi High Court passed a landmark judgement scrapping this clause, thus fulfilling the most basic demand of the Indian LGBTQ community, which had been fighting this law for the past 10 years. Three characters, Beena, Pallav and Abheena travel through the city of Bombay heading to the celebrations for the first anniversary of the historic verdict. ‘365 without 377’ is the story of their journey towards freedom. (IMDB)

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What makes the movie interesting? The chance to see a different culture handling a British imposed culture, and how they developed as people and overcame the challenges of being ‘gay’ in India, where even though the law as been annulled by the Delhi High Court, for many they still believe it will take much more than this to change the mindset of the Indian community as a whole

What is the best part? The best parts for me was looking at the three main characters lives, and how just like ourselves they are ordinary, but have developed as people and are willing to stand up for their beliefs and rights.

How do you feel when the movie ended? Neither sad or happy, but I did feel that I wanted to learn more, and hope that another documentary will do a follow-up say in 5 years time.

Who will like this move? People with an interest in LGBT activism, people with an interest in humanity, people who like India

On a scale of 1 (don’t like) – 5 (like), how do you rate this movie? For me definitely a 4

The Law is Equal for All

Law equality and the Gay Cake Case

Missing a slice of cake

This article is a concise and accurate report on the law surrounding the case known as the ‘Gay Cake’ case.  It wasn’t prosecutorial zeal which led to the court case, it was a company which failed understand the basic tenets of law and in particular contract law.

The court case was not brought by Gareth Lee, all he wanted was a cake, the case was taken up by the Equality Commission as it believed that the baker had broken the law. Subsequently, this has been proved correct by the original judgement and the Appeal Court.

No one is above the law, if we are to be a fair and equitable society we must ‘ALL’ comply with and live by the law.  If we don’t like a law, then we have legal remedies, and in the final resort, we can challenge the government.


Less prosecutorial zeal may be the easiest way to address such issues

Source: The great Belfast bake-off: Asher’s ‘gay cake’ decision

Park service releases LGBT history study

LGBT History

History to everyone is important, but for those who have not been able to have their full identity because of family or societal pressures, or laws which punished their very existence, history can become a poison chalice.  It is extremely comforting to know, that one country, which even though it still has its share of bigots and organisations which seek to continue this persecution, is moving forward and recognising the LGBT community and taking note of its history –  in this case it is the National Park Service of America.LGBT History

Positively, I have just heard that the Scottish Government is seeking to pardon all those LGBT people who have a criminal record due to draconian laws which punished you for being gay!

Unfortunately, due to government filibustering, England and Wales will have to wait for some time for Westminster to bring forward a possible legal instrument for doing the same job.

And for Northern Ireland, the political posturing of both the main parties, means that it is highly unlikely that any law will see the statue books within the next 5 years.

The laws were unjust within the UK, and because of them so much of our history has been lost, as people rightly seeked to protect themselves and their families; I hope that sometime soon we can stat to put together our own history and to have it incorporated into the mainstream history – it is jsut as valid, and when you consider people like Alan Turing and how he and others in other professions helped to win our freedoms, then we must strive to get equal.


Breaking news & opinion from the B.A.R.

Source: The Bay Area Reporter Online | Park service releases LGBT history study

Human Rights – The Legal Act in the UK

Human Rights ActI asked a friend who is retired with a wide set of experiences in dealing with Human Rights, to give me his impression on the removal of the Human Rights Act from the UK, and what impact it would have.

He believes that repealing this Act which brings into domestic law the European Convention on Human Rights, will be a difficult job for the UK Government. Attempts here (N Ireland) to have a Bill of Rights expanding on those rights conferred by HRA are doomed in the short to medium term, despite the Good Friday obligations. He is part of the Human Rights Consortium and during the past 10 years or more since he started to attend, virtually no progress has been made.

He believes that Brexit will further complicate matters as various parts of these islands work out relationships between each other and the EU.

On the Consortium, they have encountered a lack of interest in the Bill of Rights, with the UK Government, the Irish Government and the NI Executive playing each other off. The DUP, mean as usual, don’t really have much of an idea about the value of rights, unless they are to their narrow benefit. It’s rather depressing!

He feels that one possibility is that Scotland, opposed to repeal or amendment of the HRA, might have its own Bill of Rights. It has vehemently opposed the “regressive” proposals for a British Bill of Rights.

On a case by case basis, any repeal of the HRA will be aired by the UK courts, ending up in the Supreme Court. The courts will not want to have to do what is essentially the work of Parliament. That relationship between Parliament, Government and Judiciary can be fractious at times, particularly here (N Ireland) where issues such as sexual orientation and abortion grab the attention of a very religious and conservative Attorney General.

hr-actN Ireland is still awaiting the reserved judgements in the two marriage cases and the Ashers appeal. And it looks like the current Attorney General in N Ireland is being very wide in his interpretation of his role, and there have been requests that he stand down or stop pursuing his own agenda which seems to definitely have a very select bias from my own and others  observations.

As with all these things we will have to wait and see how things develop, but of one thing I am certain the removal of the current Human Rights Act will not be to our benefit, and I honestly believe that LGBT rights and other diversity groups will suffer if it is taken away.

Links to further reading

High Court rules NI abortion legislation breaches Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights

City Hall

by Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast) 

This morning’s High Court judgement [summary] held that the abortion legislation in Northern Ireland breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an exception to the prohibition on abortion in cases of a foetal fatal abnormality (at any time during the pregnancy) or where the pregnancy is the result of sexual crime (up to the date when the foetus is capable of existing independently of the mother).
The application by Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission also covered the rights of women in Northern Ireland where there is a serious malformation of the foetus. However, the judgement concluded that there is no agreement amongst medical practitioners on what constitutes a serious malformation of the foetus.
NIHRC’s chief commissioned Les Allamby described it as a “landmark ruling”. The commission sought to change the law “so that women and girls in NI have the choice of accessing a termination of pregnancy locally in circumstacnes of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest, without being criminalised for doing so”.

We are pleased that today the High Court has held that the current law is incompatible with human rights … Today’s result is historic and will be welcomed by many of the vulnerable women and girls who have been faced with these situations.

Around thirty members of the public and ten journalists listened to large chunks of the long judgement being read out in court over ninety minutes this morning. With only three rows of pews, a Catholic priest and a prominent ant-abortion campaigner sat alongside Amnesty staff and the Human Rights Commissioner.
Amongst the judgement’s references to international law, individual Articles within the European Convention and its appliance in other European jurisdictions, a mini-critique of an opinion piece by Fintan O’Toole, mention of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the waiving away of the significance of opinion polling to gauge societal, there was mention of the local political situation.

It was noted that in an April 2015 interview, First Minister Peter Robinson indicated that the Department of Justice’s proposals for the reform of the law in Northern Ireland were “doomed”. Mr Justice Horner commented:

This unavoidable inference from the inaction of the Department to date and the comments of the First Minister is that the prospect of any consultative paper, never mind legislative action on pregnancies which are the consequence of sexual crime, is even more gloomy.

Later in his judgement, Mr Justice Horner noted that this application fell into the category of “difficult or unpopular” decisions that can be more easily grasped by the judicial system that legislatures, providing a detached view, albeit not accountable to the electorate.
Amnesty’s My Body My Rights campaign manager Grainne Teggart reacted to the judgement saying:
Today’s court decision is a damning indictment of the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to prioritise women’s healthcare. It’s shameful that the Courts have had to step in because politicians have repeatedly failed Northern Ireland’s women. Northern Ireland’s abortion laws must be brought into the twenty-first century and into line with international law as a matter of urgency.
Sarah Ewart’s first pregnancy was given a fatal foetal diagnosis and had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy since NI laws didn’t permit her to receive medical treatment. She reacted to the judgement:
I hope that today’s ruling means that I, and other women like me, will no longer have to go through the pain I experienced, of having to travel to England, away from the care of the doctors and midwife who knew me, to access the healthcare I needed.
Mr Justice Horner noted that while pre-natal life does not enjoy full Article 2 protection in the UK, there is a legitimate aim to protect it where that foetus will be viable but the unborn child faces non-fatal disability:
There should be equality of treatment between, on the one hand, the foetus which will develop into a child without physical or mental disability and, on the other hand, the foetus which will develop into a child with a physical and/or mental disability which is non-fatal. However, it is illegitimate and disproportionate to place a prohibition on the abortion of both a foetus doomed to die because it is incapable of an existence independent of the mother’s womb and the viable foetus conceived as a result of sexual crime.
While there was evidence that forcing young women to travel to GB can have the consequence of imposing an intolerable financial and mental burden on those least able to bear it, there was “not one iota of evidence” that the imposition of criminal sanctions on these women in these exceptional cases has resulted in the saving of any pre-natal life.
For women without family or charitable support, such criminal provisions requiring them to travel to have an abortion would impose a heavy financial burden upon them which would weigh heavier on those with limited means:
The protection of morals … should not contemplate a restriction that penalises the impoverished but can be ignored by the wealthy. It is surely not controversial that requiring women in these exceptional categories to go to England, that is those carrying FFAs and those pregnant as a result of sexual abuse, will place heavy demands on them both emotionally and financially.
While the matter could be left to the Supreme Court to decide, it was better to for the High Court to give a “local” view. [Ed – Perhaps a veiled reminder that a London court would be less likely to understand or take into account the local sensibilities in NI, with a greater likelihood that GB legislation would be applied to NI.]
No party to the application and no argument made in court addressed whether it is possible to read the current legislation in such a way to ensure no offence is committed in respect of the termination of FFAs and pregnancies due to sexual crime before the foetus is able to exist independently of the mother.
Parties have until 9 December to make further submissions on this topic, and a final view on the what relief should be applied is expected before Christmas.
It is thus possible that it may not even be necessary for the Assembly to legislate in reaction to this judgement.
Photo – Kenneth Allen via Wikipedia


Gay marriage law comes into effect in Scotland

Douglas Pretsell, from Edinburgh, and Peter Gloster, from Melbourne, formalised their marriage in SydneyDouglas Pretsell and Peter Gloster formalised their marriage in Sydney

Scotland’s new law on same-sex marriages has come into effect.

Existing civil partnerships can now be converted to a marriage and other same-sex couples can give notice of their intention to wed.

The new legislation was used for the first time shortly after midnight when one couple upgraded their civil partnership at the British consulate in Sydney.

The first gay weddings in Scotland will take place on Hogmanay.

Because Australia is 11 hours ahead, Douglas Pretsell, from Edinburgh, and Peter Gloster, from Melbourne, completed the paperwork to formalise their marriage hours before registrars open for business in Scotland.

The couple have been together for seven years and had their civil partnership in August 2010 at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, East Lothian.

‘It’s official’

Mr Pretsell told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It was kind of coincidental. we weren’t originally intending to be the first at all.

“We sent an email to the consulate asking how long after the weddings came in that we would be able to change our certificate.

“We got an email back from them, asking if we would be able to come in at 11am on the 16th and saying we would probably be one of the first in the world.”

Leanne and Marie Banks signing the documentsLeanne and Marie Banks were one of the first gay couples in Scotland to become married

The couple earlier said: “We always considered our civil partnership to be our marriage, but in the eyes of the law and society it wasn’t held in the same regard.

“Prior to today, same-sex couples were deliberately treated as though our relationships were inferior and not worthy of the same recognition or respect.

“Well, from today it’s official, we are married and we have the certificate to prove it.”

‘Day of celebration’

One of the first gay couples to become married in Scotland were Leanne and Marie Banks.

They were at Dundee Registrars’ office at 08:45 to sign the documents.

A number of other Scots couples, already in civil partnerships, are also planning to make the conversion.

Others wishing to become married must give the normal 15-day notice period, meaning the first weddings can take place on 31 December.

Tom French, from the Equality Network, which ran the campaign for equal marriage in Scotland, said: “Today is both a day of celebration and a hugely important step forward for LGBTI rights in Scotland, both in terms of equality in the law and the way in which same-sex relationships are viewed in society.

“In recent years Scotland has become a leading light on LGBTI equality, with one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world, helping to create the fair and equal society we all want to see.”

Holding handsThe first gay weddings in Scotland will take place on 31 December

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “Many of the couples celebrating today and in the weeks and months ahead have been together for decades and in a civil partnership since they were introduced in 2005.

“While there is still lots to do before the lived day-to-day experience of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is truly equal in Scotland, this is a day of celebration and we know these ceremonies will be a wonderful early Christmas present for many couples, their friends and families.’

The law on same-sex marriages has already changed in England and Wales.

The change in Scotland comes as a survey revealed a huge rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past 12 years.

More than two-thirds of people (68%) agreed that gay couples should have the right to marry, according to the figures from the Social Attitudes Survey, which tracks public opinions on a range of subjects.

The figure compares with just two-fifths of the public (41%) in 2002.

The 2014 survey suggested fewer than a fifth (17%) of Scots were against same-sex marriage, compared to 29% in 2002.

Younger people were more likely to believe gay couples should be allowed to wed than older Scots, with 83% of 18 to 24-year-olds in favour compared to 44% of those aged 65 and above.

MSPs approved the Marriage and Civil Partnership Act at Holyrood earlier this year.

The Scottish government said the move was the right thing to do, but Scotland’s two main churches – the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland – are opposed.

The legislation will see religious and belief bodies opting in to perform same-sex marriages, and ministers have stressed that no part of the religious community would be forced to hold such ceremonies in churches