1. ‘Marry-your-rapist’ bill to be introduced by lawmakers in Turkey
2. Newly-opened Sikh temple property is vandalized with swastikas and graffiti
Location: California, USA
3. Sikhs will no longer be fined for not wearing a bike helmet in Canberra
Location: Canberra, Australia
4. Donald Trump dismisses injuries of US military troops, proves (again) there is no bottom
5. Geneva (NY) City Councilor Stays Seated During Pledge of Allegiance
Location: New York, USA
6. Curriculum Bill, If Passed, Would Allow Missouri Schools To Teach LGBTQ History
Location: Missouri, USA
7. ISIS leader ‘Jabba the Jihadi’ captured, accused of enslaving women
8. In first bill of the year, Tennessee Senate passes legislation allowing adoption agencies to deny gay couples
Location: Tennessee, USA
9. Sex and religious education to be compulsory in Wales
10. N. Korean Mom Faces Jail by Rescuing Her Kids From House Fire While Leaving Kim's Portrait to Burn
Location: North Korea
1. A law which would allow men accused of having sex with girls who are under 18 to avoid punishment if they marry their victims is set to be introduced to parliament in Turkey. The controversial so-called “marry-your-rapist” bill, which lawmakers are planning to introduce to Turkish parliament at the end of January, has sparked fury among women’s rights campaigners in the country. A similar bill was defeated in Turkey in 2016 after national and global outrage. The legislation would have only pardoned men if they had sex without “force or threat”.
2. The day after a Sikh temple in California held its official grand opening, someone spray-painted a swastika and the words "white power" on its property. A neighbor found the vandalism, CNN affiliate KCRA reported, on a stone at the entrance to the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, northeast of Sacramento. The neighbor was out walking his dog and put a tarp over the vandalism, KCRA reported. The graffiti was removed.
3. Australians will no longer be fined for wearing religious headwear instead of a helmet while bike riding in Canberra, under new rules aimed at making cycling more inclusive. The exemption, which came into effect quietly in December, was introduced after a Canberra man wrote to ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury with a problem. Sikhs struggle to wear standard bike helmets over their turban, an important religious symbol. The decision brings the ACT in line with Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, which all have similar regulations in place.
4. In a press conference, President Donald Trump was asked about the clear discrepancy between his initial claim that no Americans had been harmed in Iran's retaliatory strikes against a US base in Iraq and reports of 11 military personnel diagnosed with concussions and an unnamed number of others also being treated in the wake of the attack. "No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it's not very serious," Trump said dismissively. When pressed about the potential for traumatic brain injury among those concussed, Trump added: "They told me about it numerous days later, you'd have to ask Department of Defense. I don't consider it very serious relative to other injuries that I've seen. I've seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops. I've seen people with no legs and with no arms. I've seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war. No, I do not consider that to be bad injuries, no."
5. When the Geneva City Council in upstate New York gathered for the first meeting of the year, newly elected Ward 5 Councilor Laura Salamendra chose to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. There’s the usual grumbling on social media, especially from one right-wing Facebook page that compared her to Colin Kaepernick (as if that’s a bad thing), but Salamendra defended her decision to the Finger Lakes Times: “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and my allegiance is with the people of Geneva and the world, not the flag. I have felt this way since I was in the fourth grade and have exercised my constitutional right to do so ever since.”
6. A bill introduced in the Missouri legislature could see LGBTQ history and culture added to the state’s curriculum. The proposed subject matter outlined in the bill, HB 2153, recommends covering LGBTQ social movements and contributions to society, while also making students aware of the history of anti-LGBTQ persecution that inform current cultural markers like Pride parades, visibility campaigns, and new legislation. The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Martha Stevens says it could create a more positive school experience for a group that’s at high risk for bullying, ostracism, and mental health problems, particularly in a state that has become increasingly red over time.
7. The morbidly obese ISIS militant, captured by Iraqi forces, is one of the main architects of the enslavement and sexual exploitation of Yazidi minority women. The 254kg Abu Abdul Bari — nicknamed “Jabba the Jihadi” by Iraqi forces after Jabba the Hutt, the slug-like gang leader in Star Wars — was known as the Mufti of Mosul. Abdul Bari was also one of the main leaders of ISIS, known for his incendiary religious decrees or fatwas, Iraqi security officials said. Bari, also known as Shifa al-Nima, provided the religious justification for the enslavement of hundreds of Yazidi girls and women after ISIS forced thousands of the religious minority group to flee their home in August 2014.
8. The Tennessee state Senate started the 2020 legislative session passing its first bill of the year: a controversial measure that protects religious adoption agencies if they choose to discriminate against same-sex couples. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Paul Rose, R-Covington, declares that no licensed adoption agency would be required to participate in a child placement if doing so would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies." It also prohibits the state from denying an agency's license or grant application for public funds because of the group's refusal to place a child with a family based on religious objections. The adoption agency would also be protected from lawsuits for such a refusal. The Senate passed the bill 20-6, with five Republican members declining to vote on the measure, including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.
9. Parents will no longer have the right to withdraw children from lessons about relationships, sexuality and religion, the Welsh Government has confirmed. Education Minister Kirsty Williams said the move would be tested next year before becoming statutory when the new curriculum is launched in 2022. Parents are currently able to request their children do not take part in sex and religious education. Parents have greeted the announcement with mixed opinions.
10. A North Korean mother has been threatened with jail after saving her two children from a house fire but allowing portraits of North Korea's leaders to burn. The woman has been placed under investigation by the country's Ministry of State Security after a fire broke out in a home shared by two families in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, close to the Chinese border. Both sets of parents were out at the time the fire started, but raced back to save their families after seeing smoke. In the process, one set of portraits was destroyed. North Korea demands that every home display paintings of its past leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and sends inspectors to ensure that they do. If found guilty, the mother is facing a lengthy prison sentence with hard labour.