News Roundup

FF Senators want law to recognise ‘two-spirit’ as a gender

Two Fianna Fail Senators are proposing a new education bill that would recognise multiple genders including ‘two-spirit”.

Fiona O’Loughlin and Malcolm Byrne launched the private members’ bill last week. It would prevent a school’s ethos from having any influence on the RSE or SPHE curriculum, even when a school is faith-based.

The bill would also require the Education Minister to publish a report on “the need to include the voice of LGBTQU+ students” in RSE lessons.

“LGBTQU+” is defined in the bill as including “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, unsure, two-spirit, intersex and asexual”. The term “two-spirit” allegedly originated with some Native Americans as a way to describe gender or sexual identity among their community.

Carol Nolan, an independent TD for Laois-Offaly, said she believed the use of the term by non-indigenous people was a form of cultural appropriation.

“The bill… is an absurd waste of parliamentary time,” said Ms Nolan.

“It reeks of opportunism and a desperation… to attach themselves to the latest woke nonsense,” she said. “I also understand that Native Americans consider use of the term ‘two-spirit’ by those who are not members of the community to be a form of cultural appropriation. If so, this is a case of the two Fianna Fáil senators being hoist by their own woke petard.”

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Prosecutors say ​​​​​​ ‘no longer appropriate’ to quote parts of Bible in public​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A statement by the UK’s main prosecution service that it is “no longer appropriate” to read parts of the Bible aloud in public has been dubbed “ill-judged” and “concerning”.

David Smyth of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland was reacting to a little-noticed statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), made during a recent attempt to prosecute a street preacher.

John Dunn, a soldier-turned-evangelist, was arrested in Swindon two years ago after exchanging words with two lesbians on the subject of homosexuality.

While pressing their case against him though, the CPS said: “Whether a statement of Christian belief or not, the court is being asked to consider whether the language has the potential to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

“There are references in the bible which are simply no longer appropriate in modern society and which would be deemed offensive if stated in public.”

David Smyth said it is not the role of the CPS “to govern what is ‘appropriate’ or ‘offensive’”.

“These comments are unwise and concerning, revealing a lack of understanding and faith literacy.”

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100 MEPs and assistants try to shut down pro-life meeting at European Parliament

A group of over 100 MEPs and parliamentary assistants tried to block participants from attending a conference on abortion at the European Parliament last week.

Organised by the pro-life European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the conference featured leading speakers in the fields of law and politics, including Spanish MEP, Margarita de la Pisa, Grégor Puppinck, ECLJ Director, and Dr Andrew Ekonomou, an attorney at the American Center for Law and Justice, ACLJ, in Washington.

However, according to a press statement from the ECLJ, the conference “triggered the anger of the left which tried to intimidate us with illegal demonstrations both inside and in front of the European Parliament”.

“In the end, the conference could take place and the public could participate by entering through a back door, protected by the security of the Parliament,” the spokesperson said.

He added: “The fight for abortion is global. In each country, active and noisy minorities try to impose an ideological vision of abortion. Pressure groups are working at different levels to liberalise abortion in Europe. Without fear of contradiction, they present abortion as a harmless medical act that should be protected as a fundamental right. This ideological bloc that promotes abortion as a fundamental right does not respond to the real needs of women. It does not listen to them, it does not really want to help them”.

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Majority believe pornography causes serious harm, study reveals

A majority of Irish citizens (71pc) believe pornography is causing serious harm to society – while 81pc of young people believing it leads to more demands for violent sex, a new study from Women’s Aid reveals.

The research entitled “Time to Talk About Porn” includes statistics from a recent RedC poll which reveals that most of the Irish citizens polled believe porn is linked to gender inequality, unrealistic sexual expectations, sexism and normalisation of requests for sexual images as well as coercion and violence against women and girls.

Women’s Aid CEO Sarah Benson said the domestic abuse charity frequently hears from women accessing its services who believe that pornography is implicated in the “verbal, sexual and physical abuse they are subjected to by their male partners.”

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Women praying outside abortion exclusion zone warned to move away

A legal complaint has been made against police who warned a woman to move away from where she was praying near an abortion clinic, even though she was outside of a so-called exclusion zone.

Livia Tossici-Bolt was praying quietly with a friend in a public space in Bournemouth when they were warned by Council “community safety” officers that their prayer could cause “intimidation, harassment or distress”.

With support from ADF UK, Tossici-Bolt subsequently filed a complaint against the authorities for breaching her freedom to pray on a public street.

“Everyone has the freedom to pray quietly in a public place. I would never dream of doing something that causes intimidation and harassment. We complied with the new rules instituted by the council and didn’t pray within the censorship zone. Yet nevertheless, these prayer-patrol officers tried to intimidate us out of exercising our freedom of thought and of expression – in the form of prayer -which has been a foundational part of our society for generations,” commented Livia Tosici-Bolt.

The warning came as parliamentarians raised concerns in Westminster this week that instituting exclusion zones around abortion facilities across the country (in clause 9 of the Public Order Bill) could create a “slippery slope” of increasing censorship in UK legislation.

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Court orders surrogacy website to be made inaccessible in France

A Spanish website selling surrogacy services to French people will be banned in France by court order.

Last  week, the Court of Cassation ruled in favour of Juristes pour l’Enfance, which asked OVH, a website hosting company, to make the Spanish site inaccessible on French territory.

A 2004 law says a host who is given formal notice to remove illegal content is liable if he does not do so promptly.

But, the Constitutional Council previously specified that the responsibility of the host can only be engaged if the information denounced as illicit presents “manifestly” such a character, the litigation related to the point to know if the content of the Subrogalia company site was merely “unlawful” or “manifestly unlawful”.

In this decision, the Court of Cassation approves the Court of Appeal for having found the “manifestly illicit” nature of a site addressed to French people and offering surrogacy services.

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Religious symbols in State schools must reflect ‘entire community’

Religious symbols across 200 State-run primary and secondary schools must in future be reflective of the “entire community” in a new blueprint for the sector. This may include 50 formerly Catholic schools now under the Education and Training Board (ETB).

It follows a decade-long consultation, and a review which highlighted confusion over whether some former vocational schools were “de jure multidenominational, but de facto Catholic”.

This stems from legally binding agreements with the Catholic Church, dating back to the 1970s, which oblige a quarter of these schools to maintain a Catholic ethos and provide students with religious instruction. Some of these schools, for example, still have graduation Masses, symbols from the Catholic faith only and facilitate visits from Catholic religious representatives.

However, under the ETB Ireland patrons’ framework on ethos, all State schools in future will be underpinned by five core values. Under the heading of “equality”, the framework states that this should be evident in the “visual images, resources and displays” used in schools. It adds that “religious and belief celebrations which take place throughout the school year are equitable in relation to symbolic representation, time spent and emphasis”.

Where religious symbols are displayed, it says they should be “reflective of the religions and beliefs of the entire school community” and that the community is consulted on the identification of such symbols.

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Appeal to follow as UK court rejects case against abortion of the disabled

The UK’s Court of Appeal has rejected a landmark case against the UK Government which says that the law allowing abortion up to birth for Down’s Syndrome is discriminatory.

Heidi Crowter, the 24 year old woman with Down’s Syndrome behind the case is now considering seeking permission for it to be taken onto the Supreme Court.

A large group of people with Down’s syndrome and their families had rallied outside the Court today in support of the appeal.

Paul Conrathe, the claimant’s solicitor called the judgement “disappointing and perplexing”.

“Rather than affirming the equal value of those with disabilities, it further adds to the stigmatisation they suffer. This is for the simple reason that the court concluded that the perceptions of people with disabilities about a law which allows the ending of a life because of disability are irrelevant. Yet the law protects the unborn without disabilities, leading to the understandable perception that disabled lives are of lesser value or no value at all”, he said.

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Bishops object as Indian Court echoes Govt on ‘anti-conversion’ laws

The Supreme Court of India has asked the government to tackle the issue of “forced conversions”, prompting a leading Catholic archbishop to warn that freedom of religion is at stake.

On Monday, the Supreme Court directed the government to handle the “very dangerous” issue of forced conversions, saying the issue may “affect the security of the nation”.

Hindu nationalists often accuse Muslims and Christians of ‘targeting’ marginalised low caste and Tribal Hindus to convert through illicit means, such as offering them food or money.

Several states have already passed anti-conversion laws, which impose fines and jail terms for anyone convicted of a “forced conversion.”

However, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore said there is a problem with “wild accusations against Christians”.

Father Anand Mathew, a Varanasi-based priest engaged in interfaith dialogue, said anti-conversion laws are used to harass Christians. “The truth is that so many Christians have been harassed and persecuted in the name of this very stringent and cruel law. But till today no one has been found guilty of this. No conviction has taken place,” he told Crux.

“So this is a myth created of forced conversions which is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court, the topmost institution of the country and the judges there also have fallen victim to this,” the priest said.

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State’s human rights watchdog wants abortion totally decriminalised

Legal avenues must be provided for abortion in all cases where fatal conditions are diagnosed, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has said. It also wants abortion totally decriminalised, which is not the case even in Britain. In addition, it wants an official register of conscientious objectors to be established.

It made the call in its submission to the Review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.

The legislation allows for abortion in cases where two medical practitioners form a reasonable opinion the child will likely die before, or within 28 days, of birth.

It has also recommended the mandatory three day waiting period be removed, saying time can cause delays in accessing services and affect the completion of care, especially if the initial termination of pregnancy fails and the woman is close to the 12 weeks gestation limit.

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