1. Belgium Elected Trans Woman as Deputy Prime Minister
2. Egyptian police using dating apps to imprison LGBT+ people
3. Tennessee Public School District Must Stop Promoting Religion
4. N*zis lose in Greece; Golden Dawn declared criminal organization
5. Pakistani Court Frees Christian Man Sentenced To Death For Blasphemy
6. Two Supreme Court justices say marriage equality decision should be overturned
Location: United States of America
7. Atheism on the rise in Kazakhstan
8. YouTube Removes Nation of Islam Channel
Location: United States of America
9. Church of England failures 'allowed child sexual abusers to hide'
Location: United Kingdom
10. Mubarak Bala meets with lawyer #FreeMubarakBala
1. Petra De Sutter, who is a gynecologist and Green party member, has been appointed deputy Prime Minister of Belgium. She tweeted: “Incredibly grateful for the support I have received from my party!” De Sutter is a longstanding activist on sexual health and trans issues. She is currently the most senior transgender politician in Europe. The list also includes Mary Cau, the first openly trans mayor in France, Gianmarco Negri, the first trans mayor in Italy, plus members of parliament in Spain, Sweden, Germany and Poland.
2. In a crackdown on the LGBT+ community, Egyptian security forces are entrapping citizens using dating apps, throwing them into jail, and subjecting them to systematic torture and abuse, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Reportedly, police are creating fake accounts to meet people in the LGBT community, at which point they are detained and their phones subjected to unlawful searches. One gay man reports that "They beat me and cursed me until I signed papers that said I was ‘practicing debauchery’ and publicly announcing it to fulfill my ‘unnatural sexual desires’.” All 15 people interviewed by HRW reported various forms of torture and abuse while imprisoned, including forced "virginity" and anal exams.
3. In Smith County, Tennessee, two atheist families assisted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were successful in their lawsuit filed against the public school district for violating church-state separation by encouraging Christianity and proselytizing to its students. Over several years, their children were subject to a number of unconstitutional actions such as; prayer during mandatory school assemblies, distribution and display of Bibles during classes, Bible verses posted in hallways, prayers broadcast through loudspeakers at sporting events, coaches leading prayer with student-athletes, and a large cross painted on the wall of the school's athletic facility. The court has made it clear that the school district can no longer include or promote prayer in any of its school events, and that school officials may not impose their personal beliefs on to the student body.
4. At least 20,000 people gathered outside a court in Athens to hear the verdicts in the trial of Greek neo-N*zi party Golden Dawn. A guilty verdict was announced and the party was declared a criminal organization. Eighteen former lawmakers were among those declared criminals. For four years in an economically suffering Greece, the party successfully combined major electoral advance with terrorizing neighbourhoods of immigrants with its “battalion squads” of armed gangs. While criminal actions, not ideas, were at the heart of this trial, the lawyers representing the victims demonstrated that the N*zi ideology and organization at the core of Golden Dawn explain the choice of targets, the intention, and overall motivation linking scores of crimes.
5. A Pakistani court has recently acquitted a Christian man, Sawan Masih, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in a "daring" judgement. Masih was a street sweeper from Lahore, and he was acquitted on October 5 after spending more than six years on death row. He received the death penalty for blasphemy in 2013. His alleged blasphemy sparked protests and a mob torched more than 100 Christian homes in the Joseph Colony of Lahore. Reportedly, his family still remains in hiding. This is only the second case in which a Christian has been acquitted, after Asia Bibi, on blasphemy charges in the country.
6. Recently, United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued an opinion that attacked the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that federally legalized marriage equality, as unconstitutional as it “bypassed” the “democratic process” and caused people “with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage” to “find it increasingly difficult to participate in society.” “By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the Court has created a problem that only it can fix,” wrote Thomas, who was joined by Justice Samuel Alito. “Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’” Thomas made the statements about Obergefell while denying a petition from Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who has been involved in litigation ever since she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples while citing her Christian beliefs.
7. 10 years ago, only 6% of Kazakhstanis were atheists, according to Ainur Abdirasilkyzy, the director of the Research Centre for Religious Affairs of the Committee on Religious Affairs. Now, this figure has tripled. As of 2019, the share of non-believers in Kazakhstan is now an estimated 18.8% of the total population. Just over 75% of the population consider themselves to be believers, but do not perform regular religious rites and are not frequently involved in the activities of any religious associations.
8. According to YouTube, the Nation of Islam (NOI) channel was removed on Oct. 2 for violating YouTube’s policies against hate speech, specifically the notion that members of a protected group are part of an evil conspiracy theory. A YouTube spokesperson spoke to The Jewish Journal, stating “We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies.” The spokesperson continued, “After updating our guidelines last year to better address content that spreads hateful conspiracy theories, we saw a 5x spike in video removals and have terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies.”
9. A recent report from The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) concluded that the Church of England (COE) failed to protect children from abuse and created an environment that kept abusers hidden. The report said 390 clergy members and church leaders were convicted of abuse between the 1940s and 2018. The latest data comes from 2018, in which there were 449 concerns raised about child sexual abuse. A significant number of these cases involved possession or downloading of indecent images of children. The COE said it felt "shame" over the failings detailed in the report.
10. For the first time since his arrest, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria and atheist activist Mubarak Bala has met with his legal team. Bala was arrested on April 28th, 2020 for a Facebook post allegedly blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad. This meeting represents a significant step forward in Bala’s case and most importantly serves as confirmation that Bala is alive. Humanists International and several other atheist organization continue to call on the Nigerian government to guarantee Bala’s rights:
- Bala must have uninhibited access to his team of lawyers.
- He should be charged either with a crime or released.
- If charged with a crime, he should be transferred to neutral territory to ensure his right to a fair trial.