Russian Lower Parliament Approves Ban On "Gay Propaganda"
On Tuesday, Russia's Lower Parliament called the Duma unanimously passed a bill outlawing the distribution of LGBT "propaganda" to minors, essentially banning any form of support for LGBT rights in the country. 436 deputies voted in favor the bill, only one deputy abstained from the vote.
The bill bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" from being distributed to minors. However, the broad language of the bill could be interpreted to ban any public support of gay rights or face serious fines. Many cities already have such bans in place, but this bill would apply the ban nationwide.
During the debate, LGBT rights protesters held a "kiss-in" outside the Duma. Anti-gay protesters were also present, and some threw rotten eggs at LGBT activists. Other LGBT activists were physically assaulted. About 20 LGBT rights protesters were detained by the police.
The Duma also passed a bill that would outlaw religious offenses. In a vote of 308 to 2, the parliament approved a ban on "public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed to the goal of offending religious feelings of the faithful" punishable with fines and in some cases prison terms. This comes in response to the protest by Pussy Riot which condemned the ties between the Orthodox church and President Vladimir Putin.
Both bills still have to be approved by the Upper Parliament and signed into law by President Putin before they can be enacted nationally.
Media Resources: Al Jazeera 6/11/2013; Associated Press 6/11/2013; Reuters 6/11/2013; Wall Street Journal 6/11/2013
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .