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TOPIC: law


Big Brother For The People: India's CCTV Strategy For Cracking Down On Police Abuse

"There is nothing fashionable about installing so many cameras in and outside one’s house," says a lawyer from a Muslim community. And yet, doing this has helped members of the community prove unfair police action against them.

MUMBAI — When sleuths of the National Investigating Agency suddenly descended on human rights defender and school teacher Abdul Wahid Shaikh’s house on October 11, he knew exactly what he needed to do next.

He had been monitoring the three CCTVs that are installed on the front and the rear of his house — a chawl in Vikhroli, a densely populated area in suburban Mumbai. The cameras told him that a group of men and women — some dressed in Mumbai police’s uniform and a few in civil clothes — had converged outside his house. Some of them were armed and few others with batons were aggressively banging at the door asking him to immediately let them in.

This was not the first time that the police had landed at his place at 5 am.

When the policemen discovered the CCTV cameras outside his house, they began hitting it with their batons, destroying one of them mounted right over the door. This action was captured by the adjacent CCTV camera. Shaikh, holed up in his house with his wife and two children, kept pleading with the police to stop destroying his property and simply show them an official notice.

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How Russia's Crackdown On LGBTQ+ Rights Has Spiraled Out Of Control

Some social activists believe that this sudden shift can potentially threaten not just human rights organizations but virtually any Russian citizen.

The Russian Ministry of Justice has called for the Supreme Court to categorize LGBTQ+ individuals as part of an "extremist international movement." This demand has sparked significant confusion and concern as the acronym LGBTQ+ refers to individuals—lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people—rather than an organized movement.

Merely four days prior, Andrei Loginov, the Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, stated at the UN that “Russia upholds legislative practices to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens”. He emphasized that “discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited under existing legislation”.

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The sudden strict stance appears to be linked to the upcoming presidential elections, according to a source close to the Kremlin cited by Russian news site Vorstka.

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Beyond Matrimony? Charting A New Course For LGBTQ+ Unions in India

In the wake of India's landmark decision to reject marriage equality, the authors suggest that the way forward for the queer community, perhaps, is not to insist on a right to marry but to challenge laws that put marriage over other forms of familial and kinship bonds.

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. This week, we feature an article by Aishwarya Singh and Meenakshi Ramkumar for New Delhi-based news site The Wire about how LGBTQ+ couples in India are looking at other forms of unions after the country’s decision to reject marriage equality. But first, the latest news…

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

TW: This content may address topics and include references to violence that some may find distressing

🌐 5 things to know right now

• Mexico's first openly non-binary magistrate found dead: Jesús Ociel Baena, Mexico's first openly non-binary member of the judiciary and prominent LGBTQ+ activist, was found dead in Aguascalientes, alongside their partner. Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said it was unclear whether the deaths were “a homicide or [...] some kind of accident.”

• Gay Israeli soldier displays LGBTQ+ flag in Gaza: A gay Israeli soldier held an LGBTQ+ flag in Gaza, reading: “In the name of love.” Yoav Atzmoni, an IDF soldier who was called up to fight after the October 7 massacre, said he displayed the flag in defiance of the territory's harsh anti-LGBTQ+ stances. Israel’s official social media accounts called it “The first ever pride flag raised in Gaza.”

• Latvia votes to allow same-sex civil unions: Latvian lawmakers recently voted to allow same-sex civil unions, providing same-sex couples with legal recognition for the first time. They will still have fewer rights than married couples. The legislation, due to take effect in mid-2024, allows same-sex couples to register their partnership, giving them hospital visitation rights and tax and social security benefits, but still not the right to adopt children or inheritance.

Austria to compensate gay people who faced prosecution: Austria has set aside 33 million euros to compensate thousands of gay people who, until two decades ago faced prosecution, the country’s justice minister Alma Zadić announced. Austria decriminalized homosexuality in 1971 but certain discriminatory provisions remained in place until the early 2000s. Zadić said that an estimated 11,000 people were eligible for compensation.

• Gay Games in Hong Kong: It’s a wrap for this year’s Gay Games in Hong Kong, with participants celebrating the end of the week-long sporting competition. Taking place in the special administrative region of China for the first time, the games featured events like dragon-boat racing and Mahjong. Despite political challenges and strict LGBTQ+ laws in both Hong Kong and China, the week was hailed as a celebration of inclusion and diversity.

Beyond Matrimony? Charting A New Course For LGBTQ+ Unions in India

NEW DELHI — The recent judgment of the Indian Supreme Court on marriage equality was, without a doubt, a disappointment for India’s queer community. With a 3:2 majority, the Supreme Court held that queer couples in non-heterosexual relationships do not have a fundamental right to marry and denied legal recognition to their relationships. The court’s judgment placed heterosexuality at the centre of marital relationships by holding that marriage between persons of opposite gender is the only valid form of marriage under Indian law.

Thus, while transgender persons identifying within the gender binary who are in heterosexual relationships are entitled to marry, queer couples who do not find themselves in what can be classified as heterosexual relationships are left without any legal remedy.

But perhaps in rejecting that there is any fundamental right to marry under the Constitution for queer couples or otherwise, the court has opened a portal (especially in the minority opinions) for re-imagining the existence of what were understood to be matrimonial entitlements (like succession rights, adoption, guardianship, financial entitlements that accrue to spouses, etc.) beyond marriage.

The petitioners had primarily mounted a challenge to the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 arguing that the non-recognition of non-heterosexual marriages under the Act violated their fundamental right to marry and discriminated against them on the basis of sexual orientation. An important prong of the petitioners’ argument was that they are denied the matrimonial benefits listed above.

Indeed, the queer community’s quest for marriage is either grounded in either the belief that marriage is a normative ideal to which queer people should also have access to; or that marriage provides a bouquet of entitlements, the absence of which significantly disadvantages those in queer relationships. Some queer individuals will agree with both propositions. But many challenge the elevation of marriage as the norm and as an ideal that all of us should aspire towards. They highlight the oppressive foundations of marriage, specifically its heterosexist nature and foundation in caste endogamy, which is difficult to dismantle. Further, they argue that marriage as an institution, through the bundle of rights and entitlements it provides, privileges married partners over others who choose to not marry or cannot marry.

It is difficult to contest that marriage is founded on heterosexist norms. Marriage continues to be imagined primarily as a heterosexual union (even if the social reality may be different or is changing). Queer people across jurisdictions have won marriage rights after much suffering and only after being able to prove that their love/relationship conforms to a heterosexual ideal.

The majority opinion authored by Justice Bhat in the marriage equality judgment also highlights and reinforces the heterosexist values that are attached to marriage. He says, "marriage, however, has been regarded for the longest time, as a relationship of man to woman" and at another place, he reiterates that, "traditions of marriage per se may not support the basis of recognition of marital relationships between non-heterosexual couples".

Examples of weddings between same-sex couples in India or of relationships that are functionally identical to marriage between same-sex couples (in the absence of legal recognition) are not enough to displace the normative assumption that marriage is a heterosexual union. Social marriages that deviate from the heterosexual script are considered only as exceptions, not as evidence of a pluralist understanding of marriage. They remain exceptions because the norm that the marriage establishes is of the heterosexual union.

Even if we say that queer couples, by gaining the legal right to marry, can somehow displace these heterosexist assumptions of who can marry and whom, they cannot dismantle the privilege of committed coupledom that marriage prescribes over other forms of adult associations and kinship. This is because these other forms of adult associations veer off the course of heteronormativity in ways that same-sex committed coupledom does not. As Katherine Franke has argued: same-sex marriage can still fall under the ambit of traditional family values that promote nuclear family, bourgeois respectability and privatized dependency.

Marriage’s place as the normative ideal creates symbolic harm for individuals, queer or otherwise, who refuse to participate in marriage. In fact, feminist critiques of marriage as an oppressive institution have been the most trenchant. They have highlighted how marriage continues to be a patriarchal institution, even if many of the marriage laws that discriminated against women (like the law of coverture) have been removed.

Queer participation in marriage reinforces its status as the most sacred form of commitment, as the only relationship form that can confer dignity to queer lives and something that saves individuals from the doom of loneliness. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court relied on similar tropes stating that marriage has some transcendental importance and it’s the only institution that can fulfill our most "profound hopes and aspirations". [...]

Read the full piece by Aishwarya Singh and Meenakshi Ramkumar for the Wire here.

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Glass Half-Empty For India's LGBTQ+ After Landmark Ruling

Although it emphasized the rights of India's LGBTQ+ to live free of discrimination, India’s top court declined to legally recognize same-sex marriage, leaving the decision to Parliament. What does verdict mean in real terms for the people affected.

NEW DELHI — For a majority of people in our cultures, a marriage has a husband and a wife. According to many people, the absence of one entity out of these two does not make it a marriage.

That is exactly what the Supreme Court bench seems to have based its verdict on.

From what I understood, the apex court, with a 3:2 majority, is against the marriage or even legal union of people having the same gender. This in spite of the Chief Justice of India’s comment saying same sex union is “natural and old.” And there is nothing “urban and elite” about it.

According to the country’s top court, spouses have to be a man and a woman – whether they are cisgender (affirm the gender they are born with) or trans gender (not affirming to the gender they have been assigned at birth. However, being in a same sex relationship is neither forbidden nor illegal according to this judgement. So same-sex partners can cohabit, but will not have the same rights as a spouse.

They cannot adopt together as a couple and have no rights when it comes to property, inheritance or even insurance. The judges also refused to annul or tweak the provisions of the Special Marriage Act to include non-heterosexual couples within its fold.

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Nakisanze Segawa & Beatrice Lamwaka

Anti-Gay Law Leaves Nowhere To Turn For Uganda’s LGBTQ+

Disowned by their families, evicted by their landlords, and persecuted by the state, LGBTQ Ugandans have fewer and fewer places to turn.

KAMPALA — Just two days after the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in March, Sam received a call. Her landlord asked her to leave the house she had been renting for almost two years in Kyebando-Kanyanya village, about 4 miles from Kampala.

When Sam, a lesbian who prefers to be identified by one name for fear of stigmatization, asked why she was being evicted, her landlord asked to meet her the following day in the presence of the local chairman (a village leader). She declined, asking for a one-on-one meeting. At the meeting, Sam’s landlord told her that her son, a human rights lawyer, warned her the new law would punish landlords who rent rooms to “homosexuals.”

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Pierre Haski

Gabon And Niger Coups Are A Wake-Up Call To Confront Kleptocracy In Africa

After a series of coups in West Africa, what will happen to the corrupt systems set up by past rulers — will they endure, or could reform be ahead?


PARIS — In a video captured more than 10 years ago, Cameroonian President Paul Biya can be seen surrounded by other heads of state, complaining to his peers about the so-called "ill-gotten gains" investigation in France.

He accused his opponents and the media of being behind the investigation, which stemmed from complaints that the president had embezzled public funds. He brushed off the allegations as a mere nuisance, if not the work of conspiracy theorists.

The "ill-gotten gains" case originated from a complaint filed in 2007 by non-governmental organizations in France against several African heads of state, regarding real estate properties in Paris allegedly purchased with embezzled funds.

This scene gains new significance in light of the recent coup that toppled President Ali Bongo of Gabon. The Bongo family is central to this extensive investigation launched in France into the origin of the funds that allowed several ruling families in central Africa to acquire real estate holdings in Paris.

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Hannah Luhmann

After Rammstein Singer's Sexual Assault Probe Is Dropped, Germany Faces Cold Reality

The German public prosecutor's office has dropped its sexual assault investigation against Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann. The singer could not be proven to have committed any criminal misconduct. You may be angry about that, but that's how the rule of law works.


BERLIN — The hairs on your neck stand up when you read the news: The public prosecutor's office has dropped the investigation against Till Lindemann, lead singer in the popular German band Rammstein.

Several victims have reported to the media, including Die Welt, that they were deliberately brought to singer Lindemann at Rammstein concerts for sexual acts, often without knowing the real reason for these meetings. The band's drummer himself later said "things" happened "that I personally don't think are okay."

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Carolina Drüten

How The Greek Shipping Industry Is Cashing In On Putin's War

Moscow relies on international shipping companies to ship its oil, especially tankers flying the Greek flag. To protect its lucrative business, Athens is resisting tougher sanctions — and thus playing right into Vladimir Putin's hands.

ATHENS — The world knows by now how much oil revenues help finance Russia's war against Ukraine. Around one-quarter of Russia's budget is still fed by its sale, compared with around one-third before the war. The country requires foreign companies to ship the oil internationally. Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, one European country has been profiting particularly well from the dynamic: Greece.

Greek tankers in particular ship the oil from Russia, especially from Russian ports in the Black Sea. Athens has also made sure to defend its business interests at the European Union level — and thus helped water down the sanctions against Russia, to the great dismay of Ukraine.

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"Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, Greece deliberately relocated its tanker fleet to Russian ports to transport Russian oil," says Robin Brooks, chief economist at the International Finance Federation (IIF).

In a recent analysis, Brooks examined the routes Russian oil takes through the Black Sea. "Other Western shipping companies withdrew, so margins went up, the business became very profitable," he says.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

Le Weekend: Barbie Ban, Sziget Festival Kicks Off, Salvator NFTi

👋 Oraire ota!*

Welcome to Saturday, where we take a look back at what’s been happening in the culture world this week, from the Barbie movie getting banned in Kuwait and Lebanon to the start of Hungary’s Sziget Festival and the transformation of a famous painting into an NFT. For our special Summer Reads edition of Worldcrunch Today, we feature an article by Wieland Freund in German newspaper Die Welt — and three other stories from around the world on animals.

[*Nkore, Uganda]

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Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.

Trump Indicted: The High Stakes Of Prosecuting A Former President

Prosecuting a former president is never an easy decision. A criminal law professor at Harvard University, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., explains why.


WASHINGTON — The question of whether to indict a former U.S. president is a difficult one.

And yet, a state prosecutor has charged Donald Trump with violating New York business laws. And a federal prosecutor has charged Trump with violating national security laws as well.

On one hand, the U.S. judiciary system is based on a basic principle of English law that dates back to the early 1200s, that no one is above the law. As medieval jurist Henry de Bracton explained in “On the Laws and Customs of England,” the law makes the king, and thus, the king must be subject to the law.

“The king should be under no man, but under God and the law,” de Bracton wrote.

In his brief public statement, Special Counsel Jack Smith paraphrased that concept in announcing his decision to indict Trump on charges of violating national security laws as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

“We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone,” Smith said. “Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle. … And our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world.”

But a strong case can be made for a prosecutor to exercise discretion and not charge a former president.

Part of that argument is based on the perception such a decision would have among some of the American public, that the criminal justice system had been weaponized to punish political rivals.

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This Happened

This Happened — May 9: Rodrigo Duterte Was Elected President

On this day in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte was elected as the 16th President of the Philippines.

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eyes on the U.S.
Emma Shortis*

The Weight Of Trump's Indictment Will Test The Strength Of American Democracy

The U.S. legal system cannot simply run its course in a vacuum. Presidential politics, and democracy itself, are at stake in the coming weeks and months.


Events often seem inevitable in hindsight. The indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump on criminal charges has been a possibility since the start of his presidency – arguably, since close to the beginning of his career in New York real estate.

But until now, the potential consequences of such a cataclysmic development in American politics have been purely theoretical.

Today, after much build-up in the media, The New York Times reported that a Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Trump and the Manhattan district attorney will now likely attempt to negotiate Trump’s surrender.

The indictment stems from a criminal investigation by the district attorney’s office into “hush money” payments made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels (through Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen), and whether they contravened electoral laws.

Trump also faces a swathe of other criminal investigations and civil suits, some of which may also result in state or federal charges. As he pursues another run for the presidency, Trump could simultaneously be dealing with multiple criminal cases and all the court appearances and frenzied media attention that will come with that.

These investigations and possible charges won’t prevent Trump from running or even serving as president again (though, as with everything in the U.S. legal system, it’s complicated).

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