Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law Struck Down!

Victory

tinyurl.com/p5l8g8n

Today, people all over the world are celebrating the good news from Uganda:

A Ugandan court on Friday invalidated an anti-gay bill signed into law earlier this year, saying it was illegally passed and is therefore unconstitutional.

Sarah Jackson, Africa Deputy Regional Director at Amnesty International, echoes the thoughts of all the activists who protested against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act:

“Even though Uganda’s abominable Anti-Homosexuality Act was scrapped on the basis of a technicality, it is a significant victory for Ugandan activists who have campaigned against this law. Since it was first being floated in 2009, these activists have often put their safety on the line to ensure that Ugandan law upholds human rights principles.”

Bravo!

h/t: @cficanada

Alexander Sodiqov

Alexander Sodiqov, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto, is the subject of a Change.org petition:

[Alexander Sodiqov] was conducting research on conflict prevention in his home country of Tajikistan when he was suddenly detained on June 16th. He remained in detention for more than a month, and his release is conditional on his remaining in the country.

He is also the focus of an online article in Maclean’s, written by four former U of T students. In the article, “U of T fails to act for PhD student arrested in Tajikistan,” the writers claim

Universities need to step up when it comes to Alexander Sodiqov and other unlawfully held scholars. . . .

The writers argue that “universities seem to lack a clear or accessible protocol to secure the freedom of unlawfully held scholars,” and they strongly suggest that universities

develop clear and coherent protocols. When a scholar is arrested in another country on dubious grounds, the university should set in motion a series of actions that will help secure a speedy release.

Today, the same day the Maclean’s article was published online and 45 days after Sodiqov was arrested, Edward Schatz, Sodiqov’s PhD supervisor, started the Change.org petition,

calling on the government of Tajikistan to allow Alex to return to Canada, and on the government of Canada to do everything in its power to secure Alex’s full release and safe return to Canada.

The four former U of T students explain why you should sign this petition:

In an increasingly globalized world, research is being conducted in a wide variety of geographic areas. The areas of particular academic concern are often the least friendly to prying eyes and critical analysis. This intimidation should not be allowed to serve as a barrier to academic research, and universities should stand vehemently behind those who choose to conduct work in unstable regions. Some of us are able to conduct our research from the safety of our offices or homes, but others should not be abandoned or penalized for choosing to conduct riskier research in the field.

I agree; please sign the petition:

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If Only It Were True

The headline for Hans Rollmann’s July 25th article for his column “To Each Their Own” in the The Independent promises “Harper Government to Revoke Charitable Status of Catholic Church.” If only it were true, this would be a fitting punishment for an organization that is politically active across Canada in attempting to influence politicians at all levels of government to either promote or change existing legislation, for example, same sex marriage, stem cell research and physician assisted dying. It would be a fitting smack down for Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, who unfortunately has too much influence over the Ontario government, an influence that means the Ontario government favours the Roman Catholic Church by funding its discriminatory Catholic schools. As Spencer Lucas points out in a July 26th post:

Ontario is anachronistic with its fully funded Catholic school system. We spend about 22 billion dollars a year on public school in this province and a major chunk goes to the Catholic Church – I mean, Catholic school system. A third of Canadians live in Ontario and the 6.66 million non-believers here are largely unwittingly funding an institution that we not only do not agree with, but probably have actively left.

Unfortunately, the Harper Government is not revoking the charitable status of the Catholic Church. The editor’s note at the bottom of the article explains,

This is satire, but we hope you figured that out already.

However, Hans Rollmann’s article is fun reading even if it is satire.

h/t: Malcolm

This is satire, but we hope you figured that out already. – See more at: http://theindependent.ca/2014/07/25/harper-government-to-revoke-charitable-status-of-catholic-church/#sthash.ixd0gM20.dpuf

Honest Liar in TO

James Randi was in Toronto recently, sorry if you missed that, but if you are in Toronto area, you can still see his new movie in a theatre: An Honest Liar.

James “The Amazing” Randi is an 85-year-old magician and escape artist who has been enchanted with illusions from a young age. Dedicating his life to learning the tricks of the trade, Randi became a sensation who toured the world, always honest about being a “liar, cheat and charlatan.” When people start using the same tricks but calling themselves “psychics”—like spoon-bender Uri Geller or “faith-healing” like televangelist Peter Popoff—Randi is angry and afraid for the people who are duped. Devoting himself to a new cause, Randi follows the deceivers from city to city, publicly debunking their claims. But when the FBI arrests Randi’s partner of 26 years for identity fraud, the layers of deception become blurred.

Thems the perks of living at the centre of the universe, I guess :)

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