Tag Archives: human rights commission

Irish court rules against anti-abortion laws

The Belfast High Court, in a judicial review case, found laws governing abortion in Northern Ireland in cases of serious malformation of the fetus and sexual crime are in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Judge Mr Justice Mark Horner told Belfast High Court that women’s human rights were being breached by current laws: “In the circumstances, given this issue is unlikely to be grasped by the legislature in the foreseeable future, and the entitlement of citizens of Northern Ireland to have their Convention rights protected by the courts, I conclude that the Article Eight rights of women in Northern Ireland who are pregnant with fatal fetal abnormalities or who are pregnant as a result of sexual crime are breached by the impugned provisions.”

It is illegal in Northern Ireland for an abortion to be carried out, except when the life or mental health of the mother is in danger. Anyone who performs an illegal abortion could be jailed for life.

The judicial review was taken by Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and was joined by Amnesty International and Sarah Ewart, whose first pregnancy was given a fatal fetal diagnosis. She had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy as Northern Ireland laws did not permit her to receive medical treatment within the region.

Grainne Teggart, campaign manager for Amnesty’s My Body My Rights campaign said: “Today’s High Court decision is a hugely significant step towards ensuring the right to access abortion for women and girls in Northern Ireland who have been raped, are victims of incest or whose pregnancies have been given a fatal fetal diagnosis.

“Northern Ireland’s laws on abortion date back to the 19th century and carry the harshest criminal penalties in Europe.

Teggart continued, “Northern Ireland’s abortion laws must be brought into the 21st century and into line with international law as a matter of urgency.” 

Ewart said, “I hope that today’s ruling means that I, and other women like me, will no longer have to go through the pain I experienced, of having to travel to England, away from the care of the doctors and midwife who knew me, to access the healthcare I needed.”

“I, and many women like me have been failed by our politicians. First, they left me with no option but to go to England for medical care. Then, by their refusal to change the law, they left me with no option but to go to the courts on my and other women’s behalf.

“I am an ordinary woman who suffered a very personal family tragedy, which the law in Northern Ireland turned into a living nightmare.”

Motions heard in Maine case of transgender child barred from girls bathroom

A Maine judge will decide whether a lawsuit filed by an Orono family over the school district’s treatment of a transgender child will go forward.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Justice William Anderson heard oral arguments on motions for summary judgments on Sept. 19.

The family and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued the district in November 2009. They are seeking damages, claiming the mother and identical twin boys were forced to move to Portland, Maine, to find a more supportive school environment. The father remained in Orono.

The child’s parents sued over their child’s access to the girls bathroom and the school’s treatment of her. The lawsuit was filed five months after the state commission found the school had discriminated against the girl, who also alleged bullying and harassment.

Defendants in the lawsuit include a former superintendent of the Orono School District and officials at Asa Adams and Orono Middle schools.

The suit claims that the district discriminated against the girl when officials had her use a staff bathroom when she was in the fifth grade and enforced an “eyes-on” policy to monitor her activity in the sixth grade.

The child told the Daily News last year: “An adult would stand 15 feet away from me wherever I went,” she said. “When I would go to the bathroom, they would follow me. When I would go to the lunchroom, they’d follow me. It was like I had an invisible string attached to me and they were on the other end. It was ridiculous.”

A school district lawyer has denied the allegations in the claim.

The case is Doe v. Clenchy.

The child and her family are represented by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders.

Kissing lesbian couple kicked out of Kentucky park

A lesbian couple and a photographer say they were asked to leave a park in Richmond, Ky., after the couple kissed.

WKYT-TV and The Richmond Register report that Cheri Chenault and her partner, Destiny Keith, were having maternity photos taken by photographer Jessica Miller-Poole when a gatekeeper at E.C. Million Memorial Park told them they had to leave due to inappropriate behavior.

A park employee told the newspaper this week that manager Adam Arvin was not available for comment.

Richmond Human Rights Commission Chairwoman Sandra Anez-Powell says there’s no law against telling the couple to leave because the city doesn’t have a non-discrimination ordinance. She said the commission has tried unsuccessfully for four years to get such an ordinance passed.

The Fairness Coalition said in a statement that local residents are planning to call attention to the need for protections in Madison County.

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