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LGBTQI News Roundup – 15th July 2022

Ukraine to consider legalising same-sex marriage amid war 

A petition in Ukraine calling for same-sex marriage to be legalised has gained enough signatures for the president to consider the proposal. The petition has more than 28,000 signatures, meaning President Volodymyr Zelensky now has 10 days to respond. Homosexuality is not illegal in Ukraine, but same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised.

This has caused particular problems for LGBT people signing up for the military following Russia’s invasion. For example, under Ukrainian law if someone in a same-sex relationship dies, their partner cannot collect their body or bury them. One LGBT organisation has described the petition as an “important moment” for members of the community. 

“It is important that LGBTQ people have the right to see their partner and take their body from the morgue, and seek compensation if needed,” Oksana Solonska, media communications manager at Kyiv Pride, told the BBC. “All married couples have these rights. We really hope that same-sex marriage will be legalised, so people will be able to take care of each other,” she added.

Any petitions in Ukraine that gather more than 25,000 signatures automatically trigger the president’s consideration. However this does not guarantee any changes to the current law, and it is not clear whether Mr Zelensky will move to legalise same-sex marriage.

Calls to rename James Webb telescope amid links to LGBT abuses

The release of the first images from the James Webb space telescope, the most powerful ever launched into space, has renewed calls from astronomers for Nasa to rename the instrument amid allegations Webb was complicit in historical persecution of LGBTQ+ people.

The $10bn telescope is named in tribute to James Webb, an American official who was the second administrator of Nasa. Webb led the space agency during many of the Apollo missions in the 1960s and also served as the US undersecretary of state from 1949 to 1952.

The telescope’s name has been criticised by many scientists amid allegations that Webb was linked to persecution of LGBTQ+ people in the 1950s and 1960s. The Lavender Scare witch-hunt resulted in the mass dismissal of gay and lesbian people from the US government service in the mid-20th century.

Researchers have been calling on Nasa to rename the telescope (JWST) since early 2021. A petition has been signed by more than 1,700 people in the astronomy community.Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, an assistant professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire and one of four researchers leading the renaming petition, tweeted on Monday: “As one of the people who has been leading the push to change the name, today feels bittersweet, I’m so excited for the new images and so angry at Nasa HQ.

Thousands march in Romania as law censoring LGBTQ community looms 

More than 15,000 people have marched in Romania’s capital Bucharest for equal rights for gender and sexual minorities as the country’s lower chamber of the parliament is set to vote on a law later this year that bans discussion of homosexuality and gender identity in public spaces. An amendment to the Romanian Child Protection Law that was proposed by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), an ethnic minority party that is part of the ruling coalition, was inspired by a similar law which was adopted by Hungary in 2021.

After being passed by the Senate in April and approved by the Romanian Human Rights Commission, the bill needs the backing of the lower chamber of parliament. “The way it looks like at the moment, this bill is completely anti-democratic from many points of view, mainly because it hinders the freedom of expression and because it stands against all treaties, conventions, and international recommendations regarding LGBT rights,” said Ionela Baluta, who participated in Saturday’s Bucharest Pride to support the community and oppose the bill.

Baluta, a professor at the political sciences faculty of the University of Bucharest, with expertise in gender studies, political representation and gender equality policies, is concerned about the ambiguous formulation of the bill.She thinks it could lead to consequences as far-reaching as gender studies being banned in universities and individuals being incriminated for posting information related to gender identity on their personal social media accounts.

The  European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup expressed their concerns about the bill in a statement, urging members of the Romanian legislature to be “clear and resolute in striking it down”.


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