Showing posts with label Gay Adoption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Adoption. Show all posts

November 19, 2019

Are You and Your Male Partner Adoptive Parents? Israel Would Like to Know Which One Is The Mom?

"History tells us without any doubt when religion controls the government the worse injustices take place based on a book or a high up in their hierarchy, Why do people still choose to live controlled by those forms of government?" (Adam)

Guy Sadaka and Hai Aviv were preparing to enroll their 2-year-old twins in preschool in Tel Aviv. The program is subsidized by the government, so the couple, who have been together for 12 years, applied with the Ministry of Labor and Social Services for tuition assistance. But the agent who answered the phone on Wednesday told the two men that one of them would have to declare himself the children’s “mother” on the paperwork, as first reported by the Israeli news site Ynet.

"I understand that you are both fathers and that you run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more ‘the mother,’" the representative said, according to Sadaka. "I am just asking for a written statement declaring which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work — who works less than the father? Like in a normal family.”

Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.
 Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Etty Gennis

Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Etty Gennis

Sadaka, 33, said the agent was sympathetic but claimed her department was subject to archaic guidelines from the Ministry of Economy. “Don’t think about it too much,” she advised. “We are not going to investigate this, we are not going to check, we are only examining your eligibility.”

Aviv and Sadaka were both stunned by the absurdity of the request and shocked that they were being asked to lie to the government.

“It kind of made me laugh,” Sadaka told NBC News. “But this ignorance in a government office when it’s just about 2020 just seems crazy to me. I felt frustrated that I have to give answers that don’t make any sense."

By Wednesday afternoon, the ministry had issued an apology, stating it was addressing the family’s case “immediately" and would be updating procedures with its call center to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“We emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all,” a representative said in a statement. 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict tears into LGBTQ Jewish community
But Ohad Haski, director of Israeli LGBTQ organization Aguda, called the apology “insufficient.”

"Shame that even in 2019 discrimination against the gay community continues to exist in our government offices,” Haski told Ynet.

Israel is often praised as the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East, but LGBTQ people still face significant hurdles in building families: Same-sex marriage is still not legally recognized and, until 2017, gay couples were only allowed to adopt children who were older or had special needs. From 2008 to 2017, when the Israeli government announced opposite and same-sex couples would be treated equally in the adoption process, just three gay couples were approved to adopt.

And it wasn’t until December 2018 that both parents in a same-sex couple could be listed on a child’s birth certificate, thanks to a landmark decision from Israel’s High Court.

Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Guy Sadaka (left) and Hai Aviv with their 2-year-old twins.Etty Gennis

While the country legalized gestational surrogacy in 1996, it is only available to straight couples. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports surrogate parenthood for the LGBTQ community, but he opposed an October 2018 bill that would have legalized surrogacy for same-sex couples and single women, claiming his coalition government didn’t have enough votes to pass it. “When we do, we will do so,” he added.

Until then, prospective same-sex parents must go outside the country, devoting small fortunes and massive resources to create their families. After multiple attempts at surrogacy across three different countries, Sadaka and Aviv estimate they spent close to $250,000 in travel, medical bills and other expenses.

And they’re relatively lucky — in Tel Aviv, Sadaka said, families like theirs aren’t uncommon. Neither they nor their children have faced much in the way of discrimination.

“Outside Tel Aviv, it’s not the same situation,” he explained. “And even in the city, there are landlords who won’t rent to gay couples.” 

The couple’s twins, a boy, and a girl were born in the U.S. via surrogate in 2017. While Israel immediately recognized the children as citizens, each child was conceived using a donor egg and sperm from each of the two men. As a result, Sadaka and Aviv still have to undergo a bureaucratic procedure to “unify our family” and grant parental rights to each other’s biological child — an extra step Sadaka said straight couples don’t have to deal with.

“As long as the religious parties still control the government, we won’t see a real change,” Sadaka said.

For now, he and Aviv are just glad neither has to be listed as their twins’ mother.

November 12, 2019

Gay Discrimination Denies over 400K Kids a Loving Family

By Marissa Miller 

Nineteen years ago, when Greg Thomas and Ron Preston adopted Samantha, they didn’t expect the process to run so smoothly. “A lot of that had to do with the attorney we had,” says Thomas, who lives with his family in Wichita Falls, Texas. “His wife was one of our best clients. And she was rooting for us and pulled every string in the system to make sure this was going to happen.” 
Same-sex couples looking to adopt in the future might not be in so lucky. On November 1, the first day of National Adoption Month, the Trump administration issued a notice of nonenforcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposing to override the Obama administration’s anti-discrimination law, which included gender identity and sexual orientation as federally protected classes. If the rule becomes final after an upcoming 30-day comment period, Department-funded faith-based adoption or foster care agencies would be within their rights to deny same-sex couples or LGBTQ persons from adopting a child, a decision many belief treats children as commodities to be traded rather than people deserving of safe and loving homes.
When we talk about selective adoption, we often concentrate on the injustice of denying the rights of same-sex couples. But more than 100,000 children in foster care cannot be returned to their biological families and thus await adoption. Is their right to the best chance at a family not also denied when adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community? Prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting a child not only bottlenecks the adoption process but also sends children the message that identifying as anything other than cisgender is inherently wrong. Compounding this trauma is the fact that many LGBTQ youths entered the child welfare system because they had been rejected by their families, according to research from the Child Welfare League of America.
“Young people in foster care are now being subjected to living in this fear that their identity is something wrong or bad, and that because of it, they will have less of a chance of finding a safe, loving home,” Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an LGBT advocacy and support organization, tells Well+Good.
Same-sex couples are valuable assets to child welfare since they’re more likely to adopt children of color or those with disabilities, both of which are overrepresented in the foster care system, according to Abbie Goldberg, PhD, author of Open Adoption and Diverse Families and psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. “LGBTQ parents are a resource for, not a drain on, the child welfare system,” she says. 
Of the estimated 442,995 children in foster care, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, racial and ethnic minorities comprise 53 percent of the population. A study published in the journal Children and Youth Services Reviewfound that up to 47 percent of the child welfare system population has some form of disability (compared to less than eight percent of the general youth population), with same-sex couples more likely to adopt children with special needs. In the child welfare system, children with disabilities are also more likely to be mistreated, abused, and overlooked, warranting an even greater pressing need for committed adoptive parents.
“Barring LGBTQ people from adopting or fostering makes no sense from a child welfare or economic perspective.” —Abbie Goldberg, PhD
Numerous large bodies of research cite equivalent parenting styles across a variety of orientations and identities, with a landmark study from the Journal of Marriage and Familyshowing that children adopted into same-sex or LGBTQ families are equally well adjusted both socially and academically. “Trump is not basing his agenda on empirical research, period,” says Dr. Goldberg. “Barring LGBTQ people from adopting or fostering makes no sense from a child welfare or economic perspective.”
Thomas, a devout Christian, explains that he proudly raised his daughter Samantha with his partner even at the expense of his relationship with his traditional parents. “I was raised in the Church of Christ so all of this was craziness to my parents, and they didn’t know that we were going to do this,” says Thomas. “So the day Samantha was born, I called to tell them. My mother said, ‘Oh, did you get another dog?’ and I said, ‘No, mom, it’s a little girl.’ ‘Well, what are two gay guys doing with a little girl?’ and I said, ‘Mom, we’re just going to love her.’”
And love her they did. “They have always treated me like they gave birth to me themselves,” Samantha tells Well+Good. “Never missed a basketball game or a dance recital. Been there for homework and boy troubles. Gave me a roof my head and unconditional love.” 
If the ruling does become final, Dr. Goldberg says not all hope is lost for youth in the child welfare system and their prospective same-sex parents. “Many agencies and social workers do recognize LGBTQ people and parents as incredible resources when it comes to fostering and adopting, and this cannot be overstated,” she says. “Not all agencies want to engage in and nor will then engage in discriminatory practices.”
And if the ruling does not make it past the 30-day comment period, Brogan-Kator says the administration’s proposal still raises an important question: “If the government allows us to be discriminated against here, where else can we be discriminated against?”

November 5, 2019

Adoption Families Will Be Turn Away Under Trump New Rule

A proposed rule by the Trump administration would allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to L.G.B.T. families on faith-based grounds.

The proposal would have “enormous” effects and touch the lives of a large number of people, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, said on Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discrimination regulation instituted by the administration of President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

Any organization — including foster care and adoption agencies or other entities that get department funding — is “now free to discriminate” if it wants to, Ms. Brogan-Kator said.
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The proposed rule could be published in the Federal Register as early as Monday, followed by a 30-day comment period. After that, the comments will close and it will become final rule.

Critics, such as Ms. Brogan-Kator, said the rule would allow organizations to place their personal religious beliefs above the needs of children in their care, but the administration countered that it was not preventing L.G.B.T. people from adopting.

“The administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday. “The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith.”

According to the Adoption Network, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. More than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found. 

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement, called the proposal “horrific” and said it would “permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding.”

“The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against L.G.B.T.Q. people and other communities,” he said.

Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council, a group that supports socially conservative and Christian causes, said on Friday that the news was “tremendous” for children, birth moms and adoptive families.

“Thanks to President Trump, charities will be free to care for needy children and operate according to their religious beliefs and the reality that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad,” Mr. Perkins said in a statement.

October 6, 2019

Gay Parents Apply for Permanent Asylum in the US After Harassment and Threats to Take Away The Kids

Gay Parents Who Fled Russia Seek Asylum in America

"We know Trump's unfair and racist attitude towards all of the LGBTQ community and towards asylum seekers. But the couple is white so they might have a shot."(Adam)

Two gay parents from Russia have applied for asylum in the United States following harassment from Russian authorities and threats their children could be taken away.

This summer Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev took their adopted sons and fled Russia, where they had lived for over a decade. The decision to leave was made under advisement from their attorney, as Out previously reported. 

The couple, who married in Denmark in 2016, had been raising their two children with no problem for years. But when their son, Yuri, was hospitalized for a stomach ache, doctors learned they were gay. The hospital’s medical team reported the family, and Russia's Investigative Committee began harassing the couple, as well as investigating the social workers who facilitated their adoptions. 

Authorities said it was negligent for those social workers to allow the adoption to go ahead. The parents were ordered to report for a “pre-investigation check” into their lives, and their kids were forced to undergo a physical exam.

Things further escalated from there. An attorney advised them to spend some time outside of Russia, lest their kids be taken into state custody.

“A representative from the adoption center then called and asked us to voluntarily put the children in a rehabilitation center until the results of the examination were available,” Vaganov told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. “My lawyer told me, 'Now you have to leave the country.' 

Vaganov said he and his husband left Russia “less than two hours later.”

Vaganov and Yerofeyev decided that it was unsafe to return to Russia after someone ransacked their home and they eventually settled in the United States. According to the Russian LGBTQ+ groups Coming Out and Stimul the couple’s children “are studying in America and are successfully adapting to new living conditions with the start of the school year.” 

Now the family is applying for asylum to stay in the U.S. permanently. If they are denied, they could have their children taken away, as well as facing further persecution and harassment.

Same-sex couples have been barred from adopting children in Russia since 2012, the year before it passed an anti-gay “propaganda” law banning the spread of information on “non-traditional sexual relationships" to youth. That law is widely seen to have been imposed as retribution for a U.S. law that prevents human rights abusers from entering the country.

Russia’s “propaganda” law has been deemed to be improper by the European Court of Human Rights on at least three occasions. That court has limited authority to enforce its decisions, however.

Despite the looming threat of what happens if they return to Russia, the couple may have difficulty obtaining asylum in the United States. Though millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, climate disaster, and oppressive regimes, the Trump administration plans to block record numbers of asylum seekers

May 8, 2019

Judge’s Decision Allows Twins Sons Of Gay Male Couple To Get Citizenship

Image: Elad Dvash-Banks, Andrew Dvash-Banks, Ethan Dvash-Banks
Elad Dvash-Banks, left, and his partner, Andrew, with their twin sons, Ethan, center right, and Aiden in their apartment on Jan. 23, 2018, in Los Angeles.Jae C. Hong / AP file

By Tim Fitzsimons of NBC News
The Department of State is appealing a California judge’s decision to grant U.S. citizenship to only one of the twin sons of a same-sex couple.
The couple, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks of Los Angeles, were married in Canada in 2010. Their sons were born via surrogacy in Canada in 2016. Each boy was conceived using a donor egg and sperm from one of the two fathers.
When the couple tried to obtain U.S. citizenship for their sons, Ethan and Aidan, they were told they needed to submit to a DNA test to prove the children's paternity. When they finally received a response from the State Department, only Aidan received a passport, because his biological father is Andrew, who is an American citizen. The couple sued.
“The agency’s policy unconstitutionally disregards the dignity and sanctity of same-sex marriages by refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of the children of married same-sex couples,” the initial Dvash-Banks lawsuit stated. “The State Department’s policy is arbitrary, capricious and serves no rational, legitimate, or substantial government interest.”
In February a judge ruled in their favor and ordered the State Department to issue a passport for Ethan, 2, whose biological father is Elad, who is an Israeli citizen. Now, the State Department is appealing that ruling. “Once again, the State Department is refusing to recognize Andrew and Elad’s rights as a married couple," said Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality. "The government’s decision to try to strip Ethan of his citizenship is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and morally reprehensible."
Morris noted that this is settled the law in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which "has already established that citizenship may pass from a married parent to a child regardless of whether or not they have a biological relationship.”
Morris noted that the underlying constitutional principle at stake is: “Do you have the right to have your marriage recognized as a same-sex couple, just like all other couples?”
“That was a question answered by Windsor and Obergefell since 2015, that there is a constitutional right to marriage and to have that right recognized regardless of the gender of the person you marry,” Morris said. Immigration Equality has represented the couple as their case winds through the court system. Morris said that the next step was for the 9th Circuit to hear oral arguments, but that, in the meantime, Ethan still has an American passport, because the Los Angeles judge ordered the government to give him one.
“Until and unless the 9th circuit overturns the decision, Ethan remains a U.S. citizen,” Morris said.
In an email, the State Department said it does not comment on pending litigation, but guidance on its website says “a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent” in order to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.

December 14, 2018

In Israel The Court Rules for Gay Parens in Birth Certificate

Illustrative: The High Court of Justice in session. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Thousands protest in support of the right of LGBT couples to adopt children at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Thousands protest in support of the right of LGBT couples to adopt children at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on July 20, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
In a victory for same-sex parents, the High Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that the Interior Ministry cannot refuse to write an adoptive parent’s name on a child’s birth certificate because of the parent’s sex.

The ruling came in an appeal by two gay men who jointly adopted a son. They attempted to procure a birth certificate from the Interior Ministry for the child, but ministry officials refused to write both the men’s names as the boy’s parents on the certificate, the Haaretz daily reported.

The couple, who filed their appeal together with The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force, a major gay rights advocacy group, argued that the refusal to record both legal guardians in the certificate could hurt both parent and child in the future, as it would make simple administrative and legal actions that required proof of the parent-child relationship more difficult in the case of the unrecorded parent. 
The judges noted that the case did not only concern the parents’ right to be recognized as parents irrespective of their same-sex relationship, but also, and more importantly, the child’s right to recognition as their child.
“The principle of ‘the good of the child’ argues for the recording of his entire family unit,” Hendel wrote, “and doesn’t permit us to limit ourselves to only one of his parents in the birth certificate…. The contrast with the treatment of a child adopted by a heterosexual couple, who has the right to have both adopted parents written in a birth certificate, is a contrast that applies both to the child and to the parents.”

From a simple administrative perspective, too, Hendel wrote, “it is unreasonable for the couple to be [legally] recognized as parents but for the certificate not to give expression to that fact.”

The court ordered the Interior Ministry to produce a birth certificate with both fathers’ names.

The ruling puts to rest an ongoing dispute between Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, of the conservative Haredi political party Shas, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit over the question. Deri has defended his ministry’s refusal in recent months to register same-sex couples on their children’s birth certificates, leading Mandelblit to openly come out against the policy. Once two individuals legally adopt a child, Mandelblit has argued, there are no legal grounds for refusing to register both parents on a birth certificate on account of the parents’ sex or sexual orientation. The policy amounted to illegal discrimination, Mandelblit has told Deri. 

Wednesday’s ruling is expected to influence two additional cases before the court, Haaretz reported. In one, a lesbian couple is appealing to force the Interior Ministry to have both women listed as parents on a birth certificate, for a child born to one of the women. In the other, a transgender man who was born a woman is asking the court to force the ministry to change his designation in his child’s birth certificate from “mother” to “father.”

“We’re happy that the court reminded the Interior Ministry of something that should have been self-evident — that parents are parents, no matter their sex, sexual orientation or gender,” the couple’s attorneys, Hagai Kalai and Daniella Yaakobi, said in a statement Wednesday.

“The court clarified that this policy of nitpicking, which abridges the rights of LGBT parents for no reason, cannot stand. We can hope that the court’s clear statement will lead the Interior Ministry to reconsider its policy of refusing to register two parents of the same sex in their children’s birth certificate, and refusing to register transgender parents in their children’s birth certificates with their correct gender.” 
Hen Arieli, chair of Aguda, said the decision “pulls the rug out from under the state’s strange arguments whenever LGBT parenthood comes up. It’s time to end the illegitimate discrimination against us. We will continue to fight in the streets, in the courts and in the Knesset until we are no longer second-class citizens.”

September 29, 2018

US Congress Rejects Anti LGBT Adoption Amendment!

These are great news!


Ryan Thoreson 

Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people planning on fostering or adopting children in the US have a victory to celebrate.

The US House of Representatives approved an appropriations package for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Defense on Wednesday – but only after a  discriminatory amendment was removed. That amendment would have allowed child welfare providers to refuse to place children with LGBT parents.

The “Aderholt Amendment,” introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), would have forced the federal government to fund adoption and foster care agencies that discriminate against LGBT people for “religious” or “moral” reasons by refusing them services.

In July, an appropriations committee in the House unexpectedly inserted the Aderholt Amendment into the funding package.

Human Rights Watch expressed alarm about the harm this amendment would inflict on LGBT parents seeking to foster or adopt children and joined with hundreds of other organizations to oppose the amendment. Our research has documented how these types of religious or moral exemptions function as a “license to discriminate,” allowing providers to turn away LGBT people, deterring LGBT people from seeking out services, and violating the dignity of LGBT people. These exemptions also jeopardize children’s rights, and unduly limit children’s chances of being placed with loving, qualified parents.

Following the House vote, the US Senate passed its own appropriations bill without this discriminatory amendment. Finally, the Aderholt Amendment was excluded from the conference report reconciling the House and Senate versions, and effectively died when the House agreed to that report on Wednesday.

While the defeat of the Aderholt Amendment is a positive development, more work remains to be done. Currently, ten US states – Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia – have laws in place that are similar to the Aderholt Amendment. By contrast, only three states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination in foster care based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and five more states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation alone.

In the upcoming year, lawmakers at the federal and state levels should reject these licenses to discriminate and strengthen nondiscrimination protections so that no loving, qualified parents are turned away solely because of who they are.

July 14, 2018

Under House Panel US Agencies Could Refuse Gay Couples Trying To Adopt

By Daniella Diaz, CNN

The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment on Wednesday that, if implemented, would allow adoption agencies to refuse gay couples based on their moral or religious beliefs. 
The amendment, which was introduced by GOP Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, would allow child welfare providers to decline to "provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions," according to the congressman.
Because of this provision, the amendment would allow more religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services -- examples Aderholt provided -- to operate child welfare agencies.
"The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples," he said in a statement.
    He continued: "The amendment I introduced seeks to prevent these (state) governments from discriminating against child welfare providers on the basis that the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions," he said in a statement. 
    The amendment could have consequences for LGBTQ-friendly states. It would require the US Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15% of the federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities don't meet the same standards for protecting religious adoption groups.
    Progressive Democrats in the House are speaking out against the amendment, saying it would deny same-sex couples the right to adopt.
    "Same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster and four times more likely to adopt. Denying kids loving parents is wrong," Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, a gay congressman from Wisconsin, said in a tweet.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the amendment a "disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort." 
    "House Republicans chose to sacrifice the well-being of little children to push a bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda, potentially denying tens of thousands of vulnerable children the opportunity to find a loving and safe home," the California Democrat said in a statement.
    The office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    May 21, 2018

    Czech Supreme Court Allows Gay Partners To Adopt ~Another First~When Professional Surfer in China Comes out as Gay

    The Czech supreme court has ruled for the first time that two gay partners should be legally recognised as the fathers of a surrogate child, the daily Mladá Fronta reported on Saturday. 
    The child was born a few months ago to a surrogate mother in California through artificial insemination. In its ruling, issued at the beginning of May, the Czech supreme court sustained a decision issued by a court in California, which recognised the two men as the baby girl’s parents.
    Since 2006, gays and lesbians in the Czech Republic can live in an officially registered partnership. However, they are still prevented from adopting children as a couple, which means that the non-biological partner does not have the same legal rights to the child.

    [This Page is reposted from Out Sports By 
    Xu Jingsen, or ASam, is a surfer from China.  

    A professional surfer in China has come out publicly as gay, believed to be 
    the first Chinese athlete who has come out as LGBT. 
    The surfer, Xu Jingsen, or ASam in an Anglicized translation, will attend 
    the August Gay Games in Paris. 
    In a post on China’s popular messaging service Weibo, read by more than 360,000 people, ASam explained his decision (as translated by the Federation of Gay Games and Bing)
    While homosexuality is legal in China, LGBT people still face societal and legal pressure. We can’t find another example of a Chinese athlete who has come out as LGBT. We also don’t know how extensive ASam’s athletic background is, though the World Surf database lists a Xu Jingsenwho competed professionally in 2013. 

    Surfing is not a sport at the Gay Games, but a photo from the Federation of Gay Games indicated ASam will be swimming and playing basketball. Regardless, he is taking a brave step forward for LGBT athletes from China.

    July 21, 2017

    In Tel Aviv Celebs Decry Israel Refusal to Allow Same Sex Adoptions

    In TEL AVIV (JTA),  Israel may pride itself on being an oasis of LGBT tolerance in the otherwise hostile the Middle East, but many gay citizens are less than wowed.

    On Sunday, the government came out in favor of effectively preventing adoption by same-sex couples. Responding to a petition to the High Court of Justice challenging the current policy, it said that given the “reality of Israeli society,” same-sex parents put an “additional burden” on their adopted children.

    Led by some gay celebrities, Israel’s LGBT community and its allies have launched a campaign against the government’s declared position, earning widespread public support. The Israeli media have been filled with criticism of the country’s right-wing leadership alongside accounts of loving same-sex parenting.

    Many have accused politicians of touting Israel’s LGBT bona fides to the world while failing to stand up for gay rights at home. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in a U.N. speech in 2016 talked about gay rights, was singled out. But the top target of criticism has been Cabinet minister Ayelet Shaked, whose Justice Ministry, along with the Welfare Ministry, helped make the government’s case against same-sex adoption. 

    On Sunday, gay Israeli pop star Harel Skaat urged young LGBT Israelis to vote politicians like Shaked out of office. He further suggested they protest the government’s position by refusing to contribute to the country, or even by leaving. 

    “I call on you not to join the army! And you know what, not even to pay taxes on the money you will earn,” he wrote on Facebook. “Go and disperse all the great and varied good that you have to give in places that accept you and not those that don’t.” 

    Singer Amir Frischer-Gutman declared on television that gay Israelis were done making the country look good without getting government support in return. Pro-Palestinian activists over the years have accused Israel of “pinkwashing” its conflict with the Palestinians by promoting its gay-friendly laws and culture.

    “We as people have for years felt they are not accepting us. We are good only for speeches at the United Nations and to be the fig leaf of this country,” Frischer-Gutman told Israel’s Channel 2 on Monday. “I will not have an answer for my child the day he asks me why I have to pay taxes to this country. And why should I go to the army for a country that does not respect you and me?”

    Ohad Hitman, 40, a top Israeli singer and composer, told JTA that gay artists like him are stepping up because they are “dreamers” who want to create a better world. He said he personally felt an obligation to “speak his truth.”

    On Monday, Hitman, who is married to TV commercial producer Ran Hurash, 30, wrote a Facebook post addressed to Shaked from the perspective of their 2-year-old twins, Eva and Berry. The tongue-in-cheek message purported to agree that gays are bad parents, saying the children’s “emotional burden” includes limited TV watching privileges and an early bedtime.

    The post concluded with a call for an “in-depth dialogue of love” and national unity. By Wednesday it had received 24,000 “likes” and hundreds of mostly supportive comments.

    Hitman described himself as mostly apolitical but said representatives of several Israeli lawmakers have called to consult with him. Meanwhile, other members of the gay community have publicly pushed the government to change its position on adoption.

    Although adoption by same-sex couples has been legal in Israel since 2008, in practice it has been nearly impossible. Because opposite-sex couples have been given priority, only three same-sex couples have adopted in Israel out of 550 applicants. More than 1,000 opposite-sex couples have adopted in the past nine years.

    In its petition to the High Court, the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, together with the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform movement, called these policies discriminatory. In its response, the government essentially agreed but called them justified.

    Meanwhile, surrogacy has grown increasingly popular. In 2013, Israelis had 227 births by surrogate mothers; 87 of them were gay couples.

    Hitman and Harush paid a surrogate mother. In April 2015, they were among a group of gay male couples that made a high-profile flight to pick up their children from Nepal following a massive earthquake there.

    Gay couples cannot marry in Israel, but the state recognizes unions performed abroad. Hitman and Harush married in New York.

    Amid the public outcry over the government’s position against same-sex adoption, the National Association of LGBT in Israel quickly organized a protest of the policy to take place Thursday outside the Kirya government compound in Tel Aviv.

    “We will not be silent when our government calls us ‘exceptions,’” the group said on Facebook. “We will not say thank you because here we are not thrown from the rooftops.”

    On Tuesday, Amir Ohana, the only openly gay lawmaker in the ruling Likud party and Hitman’s neighbor, said he would refuse to vote with coalition lawmakers until the government changed its stance on adoption.

    There are signs the pressure was having an effect. The High Court on Tuesday gave the state two months to reconsider its position on adoption. Welfare Minister Haim Katz had asked the court for time to do so, saying the state’s response was unfortunately worded.

    Supreme Court Gives Israel Two Months To Rethink Gay Adoption Policy
    JTAJuly 18, 2017
    Spokeswoman Sharona Mann said the Welfare Ministry is recommending a “complete overhaul of the outdated law” on adoptions, though she said her suggestion is not immediately “connected to same-sex parents.”

    A poll commissioned last month by the Israeli religious pluralism group Hiddush found 76 percent of Israelis, an all-time high, support gay marriage, compared to 53 percent in 2009.

    Tom Canning, the associate director of the Jerusalem Open House — the LGBT group behind the Jerusalem Pride March — said such attitudes could ultimately make it difficult for the government to sustain its “regressive” positions.

    “We’re seeing overwhelming support in Israeli society for same-sex marriage and acceptance of LGBT people in different walks of life, even outside Tel Aviv,” he said. “Even regarding the latest adoption decision, there has been a huge outcry not only from LGBT people but from all Israelis, who feel it does not reflect their beliefs.

    “I don’t know if it’s enough to change government policy, but I think it’s going to be a concern for the government to manage public opinion.”

    Still, Hitman said he and his friends in the gay community are not optimistic about their future in Israel. He said they feel under siege by the country’s growing and increasingly powerful Orthodox Jewish population and by right-wing politicians they say are unwilling to stand up for democratic values.

    “People are worried and angry about the situation. They see Israel becoming like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’” he said, referring to the hit Hulu TV series about a right-wing religious cult that takes power in the United States. “Everyone knows that 20, 30, 40 years from now, the most religious people will be the majority. All of us are afraid for the first religious prime minister.”

    Eventually, Hitman said, he plans to live outside of Israel — in New York or London, where he hopes to stage his musicals – and believes his children will have more opportunities there. He is worried the Israeli government will make them, and their parents, “second-class citizens.”

    Hitman noted another challenge faced by gay couples: All children of non-Jewish surrogate mothers must undergo an acceptable conversion if they are to be considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate, which controls Jewish marriage and divorce. While this is little more than a formality for babies of opposite-sex couples, the Chief Rabbinate does not allow the conversion of those who will be brought up in gay households.

    “In Israel, they are not Jewish, they can’t even get married in a normal way,” Hitman said of his children. “Abroad, I believe they will be respected for who they are.”

    Despite his worries, Hitman said he has received dozens of positive messages about his Facebook post from religious Jews. Even several who oppose gay adoption told him they admired him and his family and wished them the best. He read JTA a message from a well-known religious musician, who told him that his Facebook post had inspired him to move toward coming out as gay. Hitman said he planned to offer counsel to his fellow musician.

    “These aren’t bad people,” he said. “I just want my kids to grow up in a decent country.”

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