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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

The Debate on whether Women should be able to Freely Breastfeed in the UK

Chelsea Seals, University of Manchester

There has been uproar this December as a woman, Louise Burns, was asked to cover herself up with a napkin whilst breastfeeding in Claridge’s, London.  A group of 25 mothers stood outside the five star hotel and breastfed in protest what they consider to be outrageous and ‘embarrassing’ behaviour by Claridge’s.  The group ‘Free to Feed’ organised the demonstration. This is group who believe that women should have the right to breastfeed their child wherever, and whenever it is necessary. Emily Slough, the founder of the Free to Feed organisation started up the movement after she was called a ‘tramp’ for breastfeeding her chid in public. She made the comments ‘We are here to show Claridge’s they are not above the law. But they have said nothing to us, they are pretending we’re not here’. Slough continued, ‘Every time something like this happens, many women are put off for life from breastfeeding. We’re here to challenge that stigma and show women it’s normal and natural’. Claridge’s responded to this by saying that they support breastfeeding, however they would prefer it was done discretely.

The Claridge’s debacle has raised the debate once again as to whether it is appropriate for women to breastfeed in public. Nigel Farage of UKIP commented that women should sit in corners to avoid offending people. However, while the display of breastfeeding is usually discreet in most cases anyway, when celebrities such as Rhianna and Miley Cyrus expose their breasts in public for ‘fashion’ or publicity reasons there is no outcry or offended people. (more…)

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Neil Cobb

The coalition government has begun its consultation on equal marriage for gay people in England and Wales, after announcing it is already persuaded by the arguments in favour of same-sex civil marriage. This follows the Scottish Government’s own proposals last year in which it also gave its provisional support for equal rights to civil marriage in Scotland.

“I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative,” David Cameron said in a recent speech. “I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

Of course, Cameron’s soundbite will feed fears that the right to marry is a retrograde step for gay people that ignores the institution’s oppressive history and assimilationist power.

For many others, though, equal marriage will be welcomed for finally challenging the symbolic inequality in relationship recognition that has persisted in the UK since the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

That the coalition and Scottish government are both broadly in favour of equal marriage marks a significant shift in UK gay politics. In particular, the consultation positions the coalition in direct opposition to extreme religious forces, especially a virulently homophobic Catholic church.

(more…)

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Lou McGolpin & Bhavna Bhagwan

A FEW CHOICE WORDS …

In an eventful first half of the month, some pearls of wisdom have hit the newswires …

In the third ever sexual harassment claim against a male employer in Russia, the presiding judge offered this insight: “If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children”.

 Meanwhile, upon joining the campaign calling for a rethink of the legal aid cuts, Joanna Lumley observed that: “Justice is only justice if it is available to everyone” … truer words have ne’er been spoken.

THE MONTH TO DATE

Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Partnership

Topical coverage from the BBC on 14 February reported that proposals before the coalition government to implement s202 of the Equality act 2010 are being discussed. The amendment, passed in the Lords last year, would remove the ban on civil partnerships carried out in religious locations. It is noteworthy that religious organisations will not be forced to allow the civil partnerships ceremonies to take place within their religious places. The tension arises again on whether the religious bodies’ rights and beliefs can override the right of civil partners to exercise their choice. The discussion promises to be rich in light of the Equality Act 2010. (more…)

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