Lesbians Call for Laws; Sport Equality Falls Short




In Mabuto, Mozambique, attendees at a conference organized by the Coalition of African Lesbians called on African governments to stop criminalizing homosexuality, the BBC reported Feb. 27. The coalition was formed in Namibia in 2004. Homosexuality is outlawed in 38 African countries, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and is punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigerian states. African homosexuals face stiff penalties, ranging from 14 years in jail to life imprisonment, in Uganda, Kenya, Gambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

South Africa is the only African country with legal guarantees for lesbian and gay people.

In the United States, the estate of Ric Weiland, an early Microsoft employee who died in 2006, made the largest-ever single gift-$65 million-to support the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement. The Pride Foundation of Seattle received $19 million and will administer an additional $46 million to 10 national LGBT and HIV-AIDS organizations.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a campaign to battle global violence against women on Feb. 25. He noted that "at least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime." The campaign, which will run until 2015 to coincide with targets to improve women's status, health and education established by the U.N.'s millennium development goals, calls on member states to adopt comprehensive laws for the prevention and punishment of violence against women.
  • The Judicial Council of California, comprised of state judges, lawmakers and attorneys, is spearheading an effort to keep firearms out of the hands of spousal batterers, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Feb. 23. Domestic violence restraining orders that prohibit abusers from owning firearms or ammunition would be enforced. The council also recommended that gun ownership by people convicted of domestic violence crimes be banned and that new judges be required to take classes on domestic violence.
  • A proposed constitutional amendment to specify that state law does not protect abortion rights was killed by a Tennessee legislative subcommittee, the Tennessean reported Feb. 27. Opponents considered the proposal a precursor to anti-choice legislation. And in Georgia, lawmakers tabled a proposed constitutional amendment that would have established personhood rights for fetuses at conception, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Feb. 24.
  • India will recruit and deploy 750 female law enforcement officers to secure its West Bengal and Punjab border regions, the Times of India reported Feb. 28. Women in India already participate in two paramilitary battalions and a company of 100 women is currently assisting the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Liberia.
  • Men in Italy are no longer allowed to touch their genitals in public after a Supreme Court ruling outlawed the common habit, which is believed to ward off the evil eye, the London Telegraph reported Feb. 29. The court said if men needed to grab their genitals, they should wait until they get home.

For more information:

College Sports Council:

Judicial Council of California,
Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure Task Force report

"Barbara Seaman Raised Alarms, Answered Every Call":

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Historically black colleges and universities are finding it difficult to maintain Title IX standards that require schools to provide equal opportunities in athletics, USA Today reported Feb. 26.

The College Sports Council, a national coalition of students and coaches based in Washington, D.C., found that 72 of 74 historically black colleges do not comply with requirements under Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds. Although many of these schools are in compliance the sports programs do not offer athletic opportunities that are proportional to the gender ratio of the overall student body.

John Cheslock, professor of higher education at the University of Arizona, said colleges and universities are more likely to not meet requirements if they are in the South and have football teams, less selective admissions, fewer financial resources and smaller enrollments with a high share of women. "All those traits are associated with historically black colleges and universities," Cheslock told USA Today, adding that predominately white schools that share those traits are also likely to be noncompliant.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The Virginia General Assembly approved a bill to require federal welfare recipients to be tested for illegal substances, the Washington Post reported Feb 19. A failed test would require recipients to attend and complete drug treatment programs and a second failed test would eliminate their benefits completely. Kentucky and Arizona have also moved to restrict benefits for drug users.