arvan's picture

After Speaker, now a first woman additional solicitor general

NEW DELHI (Dhananjay Mahapatra, Times of India): The Manmohan Singh government is all set to break another gender barrier that existed in the Supreme Court for nearly six decades.

After choosing Meira Kumar as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, the UPA government has decided to reserve one post of additional solicitor general (ASG) for a senior woman advocate.

The ASGs play an important role in the higher judiciary as they represent the Centre before the Supreme Court and the High Courts in important cases or those involving constitutional questions.

This path-breaking decision will go a long way in initiating a process to reverse the trend of light representation of women in important posts connected to the judiciary, especially the higher tiers. Take for example the number of women judges in the SC, it had just three in the last 60 years — Justices Fatima Beevi, Sujata Manohar and Ruma Pal

Though the think tank in the Congress-led coalition government had little debate in taking this important decision, there appears to be a mad scramble for the remaining posts of ASGs among noted senior advocates, barring a few who are virtually sure of making it.

After getting back with a thumping mandate, the Congress-led government had decided not to continue with its previous term's `ally quota' system for distribution of ASG posts that in 2004 had seen nominees of NCP, DMK and even CPM get into the elite panel.

Having got wind of the decision, the allies started exerting pressure on law minister Veerappa Moily for accommodation of their nominees as ASGs. Adapt at handling such pressures, Moily is running a tight ship giving little away even as he has been holding consultations for finalisation of the list of ASGs.

With the top slots already filled — G E Vahanvati as attorney general and Gopal Subramaniam set to be appointed as solicitor general — the government is not in any undue haste as it has almost three weeks to complete the process of appointment ASGs, for the SC reopens only on July 6 after the summer break.

arvan's picture

India to re-think British Colonial anti-gay law: Section 377 of IPC

NEW DELHI(Times of India)

Even as the Delhi High Court is close to giving its verdict on a 19th century colonial law that treats homosexual activity as a crime, here’s a shot in the arm for gay rights. In an interview to a television channel on Thursday, law minister Veerappa Moily indicated that the government may do a rethink on the controversial Section 377 of IPC that criminalizes private consensual sex between adults of the same sex.

Moily admitted that some sections of the IPC are outdated and Section 377 may be one of them.

Those part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights movement say a rethink by the government on Section 377 of IPC would be a big step forward. ‘‘It will be the best thing for the national Aids control programme since efforts to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS will no longer be impeded by the law,’’ said Ashok Row Kavi, consultant for UNAIDS and UNDP.

Moily’s statement comes at an interesting juncture as the high court has already finished hearing arguments on the petition filed by New Delhi-based non-profit group Naz Foundation in 2001, seeking a reading down of section 377. While the health ministry had supported the petition, the home and law ministries were against it. If the law ministry is indeed willing to do a rethink, experts say it has two options. It could submit before the court that it had changed its position and ask for hearings to be reopened.

NOTE: If you would like to contact Mr. Moily directly to voice your support of the change in the IPC, he can be reached at

arvan's picture

LA City Council Condemns Iraqi Torture of Gay Men

Unite The Fight posted a detailed and compelling post: LA City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning Iraqi Torture of Gay Men.  

On Wednesday, after hearing several emotional speeches, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution that "calls upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States and for them to pass this resolution is anything but a token gesture of empathy.  This is a demonstration of the civic population of one country exercising its political weight to alter the national and international awareness of this brutality.

arvan's picture

Empathy and Eugenics on the Supreme Court

Posted by Pete Shanks (BioPoliticalTimes)

Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes

In 1927, involuntary sterilization was legitimized by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the notorious case of Buck vs. Bell, which stains the reputation of the great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes. Technically, that decision still stands, though the laws it upheld have been overturned.

President Obama was absolutely correct when he said that "justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook, it is also about how laws affect the daily realities of peoples lives," and went on to describe "empathy" as "an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes." In today's Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik pushes back hard against criticism of "empathy" as a qualification, using Buck vs. Bell as his case study:

Certainly Holmes' background showed. His upbringing as the son of an eminent Boston physician, his Harvard education and experience as a commercial lawyer arguably blinded him to the humanity of those whose lives fell outside the scope of his experience.

Supporters of eugenics were often distinguished people. But they were arrogant and blind to the worth of (some) others. That's a continuing problem; empathy is a good antidote.

arvan's picture

Bill 44: Alberta allows bigot parents to substitute gay bashing for education


OUTRAGE. Rob Wells at the June 1 protest. While Bill 44 adds sexual orientation to the province's human rights act, many argue that the "parental rights" clause threatens lessons on sex and sexual orientation in the province's classrooms.  (Ted Kerr photo)

Alberta became the last Canadian province to recognize sexual orientation under its human rights provisions.  Alberta's gay bashing is well entrenched.  After all, over 11 years ago a teacher in Alberta, Delwin Vriend was dismissed because he is gay.  This led to the landmark ruling Vriend vs. Alberta, in which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that each province is compelled to add 'sexual orientation' to its own human rights act.

arvan's picture

Russia Gays to Take Mayor to Court Over “Queer” Jibe

Yuri Luzhkov expressed his insults during TV program


Gay rights activists in Moscow plan to take the city's rampantly homophobic mayor to court for insulting their dignity during an interview in which he said "queers" undermined a morally healthy society.


A Moscow court rejected a previous case made by gay rights campaigners against 72-year-old mayor Yuri Luzhkov in 2007 after he described their marches as "satanic" and banned one.


Prominent gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said on Wednesday that lawyers would present a new case against Luzhkov to a Moscow court this week and later to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.


"Nobody in Russia can win against the authorities. This is about raising awareness," he told Reuters by telephone.


Annabelle River's picture

The Mary Kay Epilogue


I love Susie Bright. I first discovered her essays when I was in college, and I give her a lot of credit for my college epiphany that being a feminist and being a slut were not, after all mutually exclusive: That not only could I be an empowered woman and a masochist cock-craver, but that I could only become an empowered woman if I let go of the shame for my honest sexual desires. Thank you Susie Bright. I still follow her blog eagerly, although most of the time now it makes me feel like her proverbial preacher's choir.

Then, a couple weeks ago, Susie Bright covered the current whereabouts of Mary Kay Fualaau, better known to people who had access to television in the 1990's as Mary Kay Letourneau. For those who don't remember, Mary Kay Letourneau was imprisoned in 1997 for having sex with and becoming impregnated by her thirteen-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. She was released in January 1998, but by February she went back to jail for planning to run away with boy, and that October she gave birth to their second child. In 2001, Vili Fualaau's mother sued the school and police for failing to keep her son safe, but she lost: Police attorney Anne Bremner successfully convinced a jury, "Fualaau and Letourneau still 'see themselves as Romeo and Juliet' and want to get married... adding that there was nothing anyone could have done to keep the two apart." Letourneau finished her second jail sentence in 2004, at which point Fualaau, then 21, successfully petitioned the court to let him see her again. They married in 2005, in a ceremony covered by Entertainment Tonight. And now they have celebrated their fourth marriage anniversary, and host an event in a Seattle bar called "Hot for Teacher."

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