On Friday Irish Citizens went to the polls to vote by referendum on a constitutional amendment allowing same-sex marriage. If passed Ireland will join nineteen other nation states who have legalized such marriages and will be the first to enact the petition by popular referendum.
The topic of the referendum garnered such strong interest it is expected that a large percentage of Ireland’s 3.2 million registered voters will go to the polls. In fact, reportedly, unexpectedly high numbers returned home at their personal expense to cast votes.
Absolute monarch Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei announced in January a harsh form of sharia law will be enacted. Effective in three phases beginning now and spanning two years, the edict eventually allows for the stoning to death of homosexuals, adulterers, and apostates; for amputation of limbs for those convicted of theft; and flogging for abortions and the consumption of alcohol. The capital offense provisions of the law reportedly apply only to Muslims.
Sultan Bolkiah claims this is a step in solidifying a long cultural tradition in the sultanate which was established in the fourteenth century. Increasingly conservative Muslim politicians and officials in Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia are beginning to move from sharia being limited to family matters to now criminal law and capital offenses. Acheh in Indonesia is included especially. While Brunei enjoys one of the highest per capital income in the world, has many social benefits such as effectively free health care and education, its population of over 416,000 individuals now is seeing human rights restricted in a trend that is generating international condemnation in the West. Al-Jazeera reported that many members of the Muslim ethnic Malay majority have voiced cautious support for the changes. However, non-Muslim citizens, who are fifteen percent of the population, led a rare burst of criticism on social media earlier this year, but largely went silent after the sultan called for a halt.
“Theory states that God’s law is harsh and unfair, but God himself has said that his law is indeed fair,” the sultan said.
But will Western governments be willing to isolate countries engaging in abuses of individuals and oppression of the human rights of populations or is trade and money going to become the focus and inconveniences such as abuse continue to be ignored?
June 30th, 2014 will mark a significant change in nomenclature and status for same sex couples who had previously registered their domestic partnership starting in 2012. After this date, these couples’ status will change automatically to “married.” This presents an opportunity to become married without the administrative overhead of now filing for a marriage license. Couples after June 30th who enter into a union will be considered married.
Facebook won much acclaim in the LGBT community by configuring their website to allow a great many choices their subscribers may use in their user profiles. Where most websites permit simply male or female, and perhaps a few all encompassing terms such as transgender or transsexual, Facebook consulted with the LBGT community to identify as many gender identities the community encompassed. Subscribers are also provided with additional tools such as which pronouns to use when they are referred to. Subscribers can use ten different options for gender or can choose to keep this information private.
Most outside the LGBT are not familiar with the nomenclature of these new identities but what Facebook is trying to accomplish is to provide as many choices for the individual to describe themselves in a manner as close as possible to what each of them can identify with. With as large a subscriber base as Facebook commands, many believe this will offer some insight and understanding of how analog gender is becoming. Continue reading “Facebook Subscribers Can Now Choose Among Fifty Six New Gender Identities”→