Legislation Watch

End to the Effective Ban on Openly Gay Men and Women Serving in the US Armed Forces

London, 5 October 2011

The repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay men and lesbians serving in the United States military came into effect on 20 September 2011, allowing members of the armed forces in the USA to openly acknowledge their sexuality for the first time. The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was enacted in December 2010, repealing a law which has resulted in the dismissal of more than 12,500 service members in 17 years.

Italy Fails to Protect LGBT Persons from Hate Crime

London, 4 August 2011
On 26 July 2011 the lower house of the Italian Parliament voted against legislation to protect victims of homophobic and transphobic hate crime. The legislation was rejected by 293 votes to 250. The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) is concerned about this failure to implement important aspects of the right to equality. 
The rejection of the Bill came despite reports of increasing attacks on LGBT persons in Italy. The 2010 OSCE report entitled Hate Crime in the OSCE Region – Incidents and Responses included reports of up to ten murders, 38 assaults and seven attacks on property directed at LGBT persons in Italy in 2009.

Missed Opportunity for U.S. Supreme Court to Rectify Discriminatory Nationality Law

London, 27 June 2011 

On 13 June 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States of America failed, in the case of Flores-Villar v United States U.S. 564 (2001), to recognise the discriminatory character of a nationality law that creates an unfair double standard which makes it more difficult for males, and particularly minors, to transmit their U.S. citizenship to their children born abroad and out of wedlock to foreign mothers. 

United Kingdom Passes New Equality Act

On 8 April 2010, the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament passed the Equality Act 2010. The Act harmonises existing equality law which previously had been spread across numerous separate pieces of legislation.

The new Equality Act not only combines existing equality legislation into a single comprehensive Act but levels up protection for several grounds of discrimination such as age, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief and sexual orientation. The Act provides protection from discrimination in employment, access to services and public functions, housing, education and health.

Some of the most notable aspects of the Equality Act 2010 include:
• The introduction of a new public sector duty related to socio-economic inequalities;

LGBT and Disability Rights Protected by New Law in Scotland

On 24 March 2010, the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 came into force. The Act, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 3 June 2009, creates new statutory offences to protect victims who are targeted because of their disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Articles 1 and 2 of the Act provide that if a crime is motivated by malice and ill-will towards a victim because of his or her actual or presumed disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity, then it constitutes an offence “aggravated by prejudice”. Under the Act if an offence has been found to be “aggravated by prejudice”, the court must:

Albanian President Signs Comprehensive Anti-discrimination Law

On 24 February 2010, Albanian President Bamir Topi signed Law No. 10 221 “On Protection from Discrimination” adopted by the Albanian parliament earlier this month. The entry into force of this law is a significant step forward for the protection of equality and non-discrimination in Albania. 

The new law puts in place a solid legal foundation guaranteeing the rights to equality and non-discrimination. It also represents a significant victory for Albanian civil society organisations who drafted the original bill, following advice and guidance from The Equal Rights Trust, and who have worked tirelessly to secure its adoption since it was submitted to parliament on 11 November 2009. The draft submitted by civil society was adopted by the parliament with only minor amendments.

Homophobic Bill is Unconstitutional and in Breach of International Law

The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) has submitted a legal brief to Ugandan President Yowere Museveni outlining how adoption of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being debated would breach both Uganda’s Constitution and its international treaty obligations. 

ERT’s submission calls on President Museveni and Ugandan parliamentarians to reject the Bill in its entirety, and to review the constitutionality of section 145 of the Ugandan Penal Code, which is currently used to prosecute homosexual conduct. 

USA: New legislation extends hate crime law to cover gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama signed new legislation which extends federal hate crime law to cover crimes motivated by actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act – named in recognition of two victims murdered on the basis of their sexual orientation – was first introduced to Congress in 2001. It was finally approved by 68 votes to 29 by the US Senate as an amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization Act on 22 October 2009.

The Act makes three key provisions:

Section 4707 amends United States Code Title 18, section 249, to include actual or perceived gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity in the list of hate crimes punishable under federal law.