Thursday, December 12, 2013

Observations from the Window 12.12

This is just an update to my post on International Human Rights Day which you can read here. On Wednesday, the day after International Human Rights Day, the Supreme Court of India threw out a four year old ruling by a lower court, the Delhi High Court, which had decriminalized gay sex. Section 377 of India's penal code bans "sex against the order of nature" and dates to the 19th century. The Supreme Court said the lower court had no authority in the matter and that only the Indian government could change the law.

The ruling stunned even the federal government. Several ministers openly criticized the court's verdict and the home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said they would propose a new law that would negate the court ruling. Also the United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said today that the ruling violates international law.

After the ruling was announced protests erupted in various cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. Activists have threatened to continue the protests until the judgment is overrules either by further court review or through a new law in parliament.

But for now my list of countries in which homosexuality is crime now includes India.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Observations from the Window 12.10.2

Today was International Human Rights Day which marks the 1948 signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A sign of how far we have come is the little noted use of three words in President Obama's remarks at today's memorial for Nelson Mandela:

"Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love."

"It always seems impossible until it is done," Nelson Mandela.

Observations from the Window 12.10.1

Today was International Human Rights Day which marks the 1948 signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A measure of how far the world has to go in one category is the fact that homosexuality is still illegal in 76 countries:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

In addition to that, in five countries, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, being queer can get you executed.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


"It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones."

Nelson Mandela who died today in his Johannesburg home, he was 95.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Observations from the Road 12.1

Something happened a few days ago that I found so funny I had to share the even if it says way too much about today's world and not in a good way. If you don't know I'm originally from a smallish town in Pennsylvania. I was at the final Penn State home game last weekend and due to the weather forecast decided to just go to my dad's afterwords, there was nothing I needed to do that I couldn't do from there. To understand why I found this story so funny you have to try and imagine it happening in a small town, one with a large elderly population, and in an area not exactly known as a hotbed of a liberal agenda. On top of that it happened the day before Thanksgiving.

I was driving through town when I saw three county sheriffs in riot gear standing outside a one chair barber shop. There is a small apartment above the barber and the black clad sheriffs seemed to be pointing up at it. My one uncle works in law enforcement so I texted him to see if he knew what was going on.

This is the quick version of the story I got by text over the next hour as I laughed hysterically. Apparently the sheriffs had shown up to serve a warrant to the man who lives in the apartment. He didn't answer the door and the sheriffs thought they heard a shotgun being loaded so they called for support. My uncle informed me the county rapid response team, read that SWAT team, was staging on a parking lot a block from the barber shop. This is where I couldn't stop laughing because all I could imagine is the scene in Home Alone where Macaulay Culkin  uses the TV for sound effects. As my uncle said, waste all that money, storm the building, and all they find is an empty apartment with a TV blaring what I hoped was Scarface (warning, clip is not approved for all audiences). On my way home I drove a back way to avoid the bedlam but at the last minute swung into town because I just had to see, only there was nothing to see but the original sheriffs. Apparently the long deceased suspect had been found before the team could fully assemble and the coroner had been called but hadn't yet arrived. However the event did make all the local news shows.

I can only imagine the conversations around the town's dinner tables the following day.

note - If you didn't understand what I meant by this little episode saying something about today's world it's this. Police departments, down to the smallest town it seems, are way too well armed and they look for any excuse to use their toys. Imagine what could have happened had the suspect simply been passed out drunk as the 'rapid response team' stormed his apartment.