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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 21:36 GMT
Transsexuals 'to get 2 ID cards' - BBC
Transsexuals who have yet to have a sex-change operation will be entitled to two ID cards, Home Office Minister Lady Scotland of Asthal has said.
One would be in their gender at birth and the other in their legally-acquired "gender of designation".
Lady Scotland spoke out as the controversial ID Cards Bill cleared its latest hurdle despite suffering two defeats in the House of Lords.
The bill's report stage was completed. A third reading is set for 6 February.
Disclosure of information
On Monday peers voted 155 to 138, - a majority of 17 - against the government to ensure the scheme's proposed watchdog - the National Identity Scheme Commissioner - is appointed by the Crown, rather than the home secretary.
Then peers voted by 145 to 139 - a majority of six - for the watchdog to report to Parliament rather than by the home secretary.
The government avoided another defeat when peers voted 155 to 155 on a Tory move to clarify the home secretary's role in authorising the disclosure of ID information.
Amendments by Tory Lord Crickhowell, the former Welsh Secretary Nicholas Edwards, would allow the watchdog to consult the home secretary on whether parts of his report should be left out on national security grounds or for the prevention or detection of crime.
Lady Scotland said the reports should be treated in the same way as those of the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the Surveillance Commissioner and the police inspectorate.
They were not in the same category as those of the Information Commissioner or the Immigration Services Commissioner, which are laid before Parliament, she said.
It should be the home secretary, not the commissioner, to decide what should be omitted because he or she had a "thorough overview" of issues affecting crime and national security.
She argued that the edited version of the report would be published by the home secretary, adding that security briefings would "significantly change" the nature of the commissioner's role.
Peers have already amended the bill to delay its implementation for a full cost-benefit analysis.
They have also called for a separate act of parliament before the voluntary ID scheme can be made compulsory.
After the bill's third reading in the Lords, it will return to the Commons where ministers are expected to ask MPs to overturn the Lords defeats.
The Washington Post
Gay Marriage Politics
Sunday, January 29, 2006; B06
POPULIST CHAMPIONS of intolerance in Virginia and Maryland are pushing constitutional amendments that would outlaw not only gay marriage but also civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other arrangement between consenting adults who happen to be homosexuals. Those amendments could have cruel and discriminatory effects, but that is of little moment to some of their advocates, who, confident that the wind of popular opinion is at their backs, assert a monopolistic claim on morality and God's law. We don't doubt that some state lawmakers genuinely believe that gay marriage somehow constitutes a threat to the traditional variety, or that they think that the children of gay unions may in some way be disadvantaged. But those views are tainted by an atmosphere of blatant political opportunism now seizing Richmond and Annapolis.
The push in Virginia is to amend the state's two-century-old Bill of Rights, from which the U.S. Constitution borrowed significantly, to prohibit homosexual marriage and other same-sex partnerships. The effort is especially gratuitous given that both already are banned by an overbroad state law. Backers contend that an amendment is necessary to preempt any state court ruling that might legalize gay marriage, as in Massachusetts. In reality, the chances of such a ruling by a Virginia court are close to zero. But posturing has trumped deliberation, and majorities of both houses of the General Assembly have voted to put the amendment on the November ballot. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who is opposed to gay marriage, nonetheless is balking at the amendment as written. Correctly, he has criticized it as being written so broadly as to pose a threat to partnership arrangements, contracts and other agreements between unmarried couples.
Maryland's debate is different but equally troubling. It was triggered by a Baltimore circuit judge's ruling this month that the state's 33-year-old ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory. The state immediately appealed the ruling, as was its right. But that wasn't sufficient for some lawmakers, who, unwilling to await the appeals court's ruling, are now insisting on a constitutional prohibition similar to Virginia's.
As a general principle, we believe that these matters are best dealt with by elected legislators, not judges. But the issue is corrupted when the basic questions of fairness and equity at the heart of the gay marriage debate are subsumed by election-year politicking, as is the case now in Maryland. Since when does a single ruling by a lower-court judge, especially one that is under appeal, trigger a rush to amend the state constitution? In polls, Marylanders consistently put health care, education and transportation atop their list of public priorities. But Republicans in Annapolis apparently see in the gay-marriage issue a chance to motivate their base voters and coax swing voters away from the Democrats ahead of this year's elections for governor and U.S. senator. Let's hope that a majority of lawmakers can muster the political nerve to resist the lure of divisiveness.
Klaus against same-sex bill
PRAGUE, Jan 28 (CTK) - President Vaclav Klaus will probably not sign the bill on registered partnership of homosexuals passed by the Senate on Thursday, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes writes today.
Klaus has repeatedly voiced reservations about the legislation giving the right to conclude official partnership unions to the people of the same sex.
Klaus told Mlada fronta Dnes on Friday that journalists could speculate about his decision "on the basis of quite clear indirect evidence."
"I will speak about the registered partnership bill at the right moment. After I receive it and have the 15-day time to sign it. However, I have sufficiently voiced my views on it in the media," Klaus told the paper.
Klaus presented his disagreement with the legislation last February when it was debated by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech Parliament.
"I consider the marriage a traditional institution of one type. Let them arrange their relationship in any way. But I am absolutely against mixing this with family and marriage," Klaus said then.
If he signs it into law, the Czech Republic will be the first post-communist and 13th European country to embed homosexual partnership.
Supporters of the bill say the bill will make homosexual partners' life easier in contact with offices. The opponents say it threatens the maintenance of heterosexual family.
The bill defines the establishment and termination of a partnership union that will be entered in the identity card.
The bill ensures the partners' right to information on the health condition of their partners and a chance to inherit property as married couples.
The bill also counts with the obligation to pay maintenance and allows the homosexual partners to raise children, but it does not allow them to adopt them.
中大・読売リレー講座「今日の青少年の性意識」 矢島教授が講義＝多摩 (読売・多摩版 2006/01/29朝刊)
Article Last Updated: 1/28/2006 02:57 AM
Trio sentenced for Araujo slaying
Transgender's family tells of pain that hasn't eased with case's closure
By Ben Aguirre Jr., STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area - Oakland Tribune
HAYWARD — Two men were sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison and another was given a six-year sentence for their roles in the 2002 slaying of Newark transgender teenager Gwen Araujo.
Michael Magidson of Fremont, 25, and Jose Merel of Newark, 26, were remanded to the custody of the California Department of Corrections on Friday, four months after a jury convicted them of second-degree murder in the killing of Araujo, who was beaten, bound and strangled after it was learned that she was biologically male.
A third defendant, 26-year-old Jason Cazares of Newark, was ordered to spend six years in state prison, a term he and his attorney, J. Tony Serra, agreed to in December when he pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.
But Cazares will not begin serving his timeuntil March because Judge Harry Sheppard is allowing him to witness the birth of his child. He remains free on $1 million bail.
Cazares likely will be released from prison when he is 30, while both Magidson and Merel will be eligible for parole in 2017.
Many of Araujo's relatives were on hand Friday and spoke during the sentencing phase at the Hayward Hall of Justice, but they first had to sit through failed last-minute efforts from defense attorneys who sought a new trial and hoped that the
judge would reduce the verdict of second-degree murder to manslaughter.
Attorneys Michael Thorman and William Du Bois asked for new trials for Magidson and Merel, arguing that the wording of the jury instruction may have misled the panel. Thorman reasoned that if the eight-man, four-woman jury interpreted the instructions as they were read, then jurors had no choice but to convict the defendants, and therefore Magidson "was deprived of his defense, his only defense."
Sheppard denied the motions because the same instructions have been used statewide in murder trials for nearly two decades.
With the motions out of the way, Araujo's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, and several other relatives addressed the court, speaking to the defendants for the first time since charges were filed in the slaying.
Reading from a prepared statement, Guerrero said she had hoped that a guilty verdict would help ease her pain, but it has not.
"I had hoped that I would feel some satisfaction that justice had been done when I finally got in front of you," she said, speaking to Sheppard. "Instead, I just feel sick.
"Nothing anyone does is going to bring Gwen back to me. ... I guess I just hoped that knowing that these men, who so callously ended her life, were going to pay for their actions would ease the pain. But it doesn't. I'm not sure anything ever will."
She went on to say that Araujo was robbed of the opportunity to live a full life, and that her family will not be able to share experiences with her.
"Because of these men, none of us will get to do those things," Guerrero said. "Instead, we've each been given a lifetime sentence of loss and sadness."
Although Guerrero knows the full truth will never be told in court, she said she does not think the three defendants and a fourth man, 22-year-old Jaron Nabors, were equally culpable.
Nabors, the prosecution's key witness, accepted a plea deal only a week after his arrest in 2002 and is expected to be sentenced in March to 11 years in state prison for voluntary manslaughter.
"While any one of them could have stopped this from happening, none of them did. I know that two of them (Merel and Nabors) regret those decisions very much. ... I applaud their bravery for coming forward in different ways and at different times. That is what real men do. They take responsibility for their actions, no matter how imperfect," Guerrero said.
While Guerrero originally had expected the defendants to serve more time than they likely will under the sentences handed down, she said she hopes the terms will give them time to think about their actions.
"I know that putting these men in jail for a long time won't change any of these things, but if they miss birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, if they miss their children growing up, maybe they'll better understand what they have taken from us. And even if they are celebrating these events in prison or watching the world from their cell, at least they are able to celebrate and watch. Gwen isn't."
Several other relatives — including Araujo's sister and brothers, numerous aunts and an uncle — also addressed the court, expressing hatred for the defendants, and sadness for the situation.
"When they killed Gwen, they killed us too," Araujo's brothers, Brandon and Michael, said in a prepared statement that was read by Guerrero's attorney, Gloria Allred. "They are murderers, cowards and losers."
Araujo's aunt, Imelda Guerrero, expressed anger toward the defendants.
"I hate all of them," she said. "I hate them all because they took her. I hate all of them because they hurt my family."
During the statements, Merel wept openly and often used a tissue to wipe away his tears. He occasionally looked at the family members as they spoke.
Meanwhile, Magidson remained stone-faced most of the time with a dead stare into space, his only visible emotion an occasional tight-lipped gulp.
Cazares, for the most part, kept his eyes fixed on the courtroom carpet, occasionally glancing at the person addressing the court. He shook his head slightly in disgust as Araujo's mother read a statement prepared by uncle David Guerrero.
"Jason Cazares, I want to share with you that I hate you the most," the statement said, later calling him the group's ringleader. "All in all, you got a slap-on-the-hand sentence."
After nearly an hour of victim-impact statements, both Magidson and Merel addressed Araujo's family, while Cazares decided to let his attorney, J. Tony Serra, speak for him.
"This case was based entirely on lies ... I received nothing close to a fair trial," Magidson said, later telling the court that regardless of the outcome, "you'll never break my spirit."
After reading a letter he received from a gay man who supported Magidson during the trial, the defendant said, "I've accepted my responsibility in Eddie's death," referring to Araujo's birth name.
Merel spoke after Magidson and apologized to Araujo's family.
"I know no matter how many times I say I'm sorry, it won't change anything," Merel said, adding that he didn't kill Araujo. "I wish I could go back and erase that day, but I can't. None of us would be here if I hadn't become so deeply saddened that night."
Magidson and Merel both had sex with Araujo, according to testimony. During the trial, Merel said that he questioned Araujo's gender and became distraught when he learned Araujo was biologically male. This was the spark that ignited the vicious attack on her, according to testimony.
Before sentencing Magidson and Merel, Judge Sheppard addressed both men.
"I don't find you remorseful at all," Sheppard told Magidson. "Based on your comments, you haven't expressed to me that you're at all sorry."
He went on to say that Merel's demeanor and statements showed exactly the opposite emotion.
Once the two men were sentenced, they were removed from the courtroom.
Cazares' attorney then spoke for his client because he was too shy to do so himself. Serra said the plea bargain was acceptable.
"(Cazares) is taking responsibility by pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter," the attorney said.
The sentencing is the final chapter of a three-year saga that began on the morning of Oct. 4, 2002, when the men killed Araujo — whom they came to know as a flirtatious and attention-craving 19-year-old woman named Lida — and buried her in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills.
The dramatic story, which garnered national media attention, spanned two jury trials before reaching its climax with the convictions of Magidson and Merel, as well as Cazares' plea agreement, and ultimately concluding Friday with the sentencing.
The defendants stood trial in 2004, but a jury was unable to render unanimous verdicts, leading Sheppard to declare a mistrial.
A second trial began last May and lasted until September, when a jury found Magidson and Merel guilty of second-degree murder. The panel deadlocked on Cazares, with nine of the jurors voting to convict him of first-degree murder, Prosecutor Chris Lamiero said.
Three sentenced to prison in Araujo slaying
- Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, January 27, 2006
(01-27) 15:45 PST HAYWARD -- An Alameda County judge sentenced three men to prison today for their roles in the 2002 slaying of a Newark teenager who was biologically a boy but lived as a girl, ending a nationally watched case that focused attention on violence against transgender individuals.
At a packed hearing at the Hayward Hall of Justice, Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard sentenced Michael Magidson, 25, and Jose Merel, 26, to 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder in the killing of Gwen Araujo. Jason Cazares, 26, who struck a deal with prosecutors last month by pleading no contest to a lesser charge, received a six-year sentence.
A fourth defendant, Jaron Nabors, 22, who testified against the others, is expected to be sentenced on May 22 to 11 years in prison.
Sheppard denied motions from Merel and Magidson seeking a new trial and their requests that he reduce their convictions to voluntary manslaughter.
Sylvia Guerrero, Araujo's mother, was among many relatives who spoke in court today about how the killing has affected them.
"We each have been given a lifetime sentence of loss and sadness," Guerrero said. "While any one of them could have stopped this from happening, none of them did.
"If they miss birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, if they miss their children growing up, maybe they'd better understand what they've taken from us."
As she spoke, Merel, who had admitted hitting Araujo with a can and frying pan, cried and dabbed his eyes with a tissue.
The Araujo family's attorney, Gloria Allred, also read statements on behalf of the victim's siblings, Brandon Guerrero, 17, and Michael West, 13, who called the three men "murderers, cowards and losers."
Araujo's aunt, Imelda Guerrero, cried as she described how "we have told hold our Gwen in a box" while the convicted killers will be able to receive visits or phone calls from prison.
"I have no shame in saying that I hate all of them," she said.
Merel and Cazares looked at some of the speakers as they spoke, but Magidson did not.
In September, the jury in the second trial in Araujo's slaying concluded that Magidson and Merel had beaten and strangled Araujo after learning that the person they had had oral and anal sex with was biologically male. The same panel deadlocked in favor of a second-degree murder conviction on Cazares, who in December agreed to plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter.
Araujo was born Edward Araujo but lived and identified as a girl. The four men had known Araujo as Lida and expressed doubts about her gender after Merel and Magidson had sex with her in the weeks before the killing, according to trial testimony.
They discovered her gender after cornering her in the bathroom during a party at Merel's house in October 2002, prosecutors said. Araujo's killers beat her savagely and strangled her before burying her in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills east of Placerville in El Dorado County.
Araujo's last words before she died were, "Please don't. I have a family," Lamiero said, citing witnesses.
Nabors, who led police to Araujo's body, agreed to testify against the other defendants and pleaded guilty in 2003 to voluntary manslaughter.
Defense attorneys argued that their clients were at most guilty of manslaughter committed in the heat of passion caused by Araujo's sexual deception.
The first trial ended in June 2004 with the jury deadlocked on charges against Merel, Magidson and Cazares. The jury in the second trial rejected allegations that the slaying was a hate crime stemming from Araujo's gender orientation.
In his statement to the court, Magidson said he had not received a fair trial because witnesses and his co-defendants lied on the stand with help from prosecutor Chris Lamiero.
"The truth hurts," Magidson said. "It seems nobody can handle the truth or is willing to accept the truth."
That brought a sharp rebuke from Sheppard, who accused Magidson of showing no remorse and blaming everyone but himself.
"You haven't explained to me at all that you're sorry," the judge said.
Magidson's attorney, Michael Thorman, and Merel's attorney, Bill Du Bois, argued for probation for their clients, saying the slaying resulted from "unusual circumstances that are unlikely to recur."
Sheppard agreed, noting that neither Merel nor Magidson had a previous criminal history, but said the circumstances of the crime outweighed any consideration of probation.
"This crime was a brutal beating of a vulnerable victim," the judge said.
Cazares did not address the court, and the judge gave him until March 30 to begin serving his sentence so as to allow him to witness the birth of his third child.
Merel expressed regret for his actions.
"I am truly and sincerely sorry," he said. "I wish I could go back to that terrible day and erase it. I realize you may never forgive me, but I ask that all of you at least try."
E-mail Henry K. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Fri, Jan. 27, 2006
Three sentenced in Gwen Araujo slaying
HAYWARD, Calif. - Two men convicted of killing a transgender teenager after discovering the pretty girl they'd had sex with was biologically male were sentenced to prison Friday following an emotion-filled court hearing.
Michael Magidson, 25, and Jose Merel, 26, were sentenced to the mandatory terms of 15 years-to-life for second-degree murder. A third man, Jason Cazares, 26, who pleaded no contest to manslaughter in a plea bargain, was sentenced to six years.
The men were accused of killing 17-year-old Gwen Araujo, who was born a boy named Edward but felt her true identity was as a woman. The defendants met Araujo in the summer of 2002 and Magidson and Merel had sexual encounters with her. The two grew suspicious that Araujo was not a woman after comparing notes.
In October 2002, Araujo's biological identity was revealed in a confrontation at Merel's house in Newark, a San Francisco suburb. Chaos ensued as the teenager, 5-feet-7 and about 100 pounds, was beaten, tied up and strangled.
A jury convicted Magidson and Merel of second-degree murder in September. Cazares reached his plea bargain after two juries deadlocked on his fate.
Before the sentences were handed out Friday, Araujo's relatives addressed the court, wiping away tears as they talked about their loss.
"Gwen deserved the right to live her life," her mother, Sylvia Guerrero, told the defendants.
Four men were charged in the case, the three defendants and 22-year-old Jaron Nabors who pleaded guilty to manslaughter early in the case and testified for the prosecution. He was expected to be sentenced later to 11 years in prison.
At trial, Cazares said he was outside when the killing took place and only helped bury the body. Magidson acknowledged hitting and tying up Araujo but said he didn't kill her. His attorney asked for a manslaughter verdict, saying the killing was not murder but a crime of passion provoked by deception, a defense that infuriated Araujo's family and many in the transgender community.
Merel said he vomited and wept when he discovered Araujo's biological identity, slapping her and hitting her with a glancing blow with a pan. But his attorney said that was the extent of Merel's involvement.
In her remarks, Guerrero touched on Nabors and Merel, who provided much of the information about what happened that night and identified Magidson as the ringleader. Nabors was not in the courtroom, but Merel cried freely as Guerrero called the testimony brave.
Merel spoke briefly, telling Araujo's family that "from the bottom of my heart I am truly and sincerely sorry."
Magidson also spoke, saying the case was "based entirely on lies." He read a letter he said had been sent to him by a stranger that took shots at Magidson's co-defendants and the prosecutor and essentially blamed Araujo for what happened.
Magidson remarks drew a rebuke from the judge.
"I don't find that you're remorseful at all," Alameda County Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard said. "You're blaming co-defendants, you're blaming the district attorney for events that you participated in."
Magidson and Merel were already in custody. Cazares, who is out on $1 million bail, was allowed to delay the start of his prison sentence until March 30 so he can be present for the birth of his child.
Posted on Fri, Jan. 27, 2006
Emotional sentencing in slaying of transgender teen
By Yomi S. Wronge
San Jose Mercury News
Emotions spilled over in a Hayward courtroom Friday before a judge handed down maximum sentences to two of the Bay Area men convicted of killing transgender teenager Gwen Araujo in October 2002.
``Gwen deserved the right to live her life. To grow up into a woman, to love, to succeed, to fail and to get back up again just like all of the rest of us,'' Gwen's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, said in a sad but eloquently written statement she's waited more than three years to read.
When Gwen's family had spoken, the defendants had their turn. But not all of them used the opportunity to express remorse.
``This case was based on lies . . . lies by the witnesses, by the defendants and perpetuated by the prosecution,'' a defiant Michael Magidson said -- moments after his lawyer insisted to the judge that the Fremont man was remorseful.
Magidson and his friend Jose Merel were given maximum sentences -- 15 years to life in prison -- for second-degree murder.
A third man, Jason Cazares, had pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison. But not just yet. Judge Harry R. Sheppard told the young father that he could begin serving his sentence March 30, after the birth of his third child.
Contact Yomi S. Wronge at email@example.com or (408) 920-5744.
The New York Times
January 27, 2006
Rights Groups Fault U.S. Vote in U.N. on Gays
By WARREN HOGE
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 26 — Human rights organizations and the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus protested on Thursday a decision by the Bush administration to back a measure introduced by Iran denying two gay rights groups a voice at the United Nations.
In a vote Monday, the United States supported Iran's recommendation to deny consultative status at the United Nations' Economic and Social Council to the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, based in Belgium.
Nearly 3,000 nongovernmental organizations have such status, which enables them to distribute documents to meetings of the council.
Among countries with which the United States sided were Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe, nations the State Department has cited in annual reports for their harsh treatment of homosexuals.
Representative Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who is co-chairman of the caucus, wrote a letter to John R. Bolton, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, saying the move was "a major setback" for "a core component of our nation's human rights diplomacy."
Matt Foreman, executive director of the Washington-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, "It is an absolute outrage that the United States has chosen to align itself with tyrants — all in a sickening effort to smother voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world."
Mark P. Lagon, a deputy assistant secretary of state, said in an interview that the vote did not stem from "being against gay rights groups" but was based on "the controversial history of the International Lesbian and Gay Association — an affiliate of the North American Man/Boy Love Association, was associated with it in the past and openly condoned pedophilia."
Scott Long, a Human Rights Watch director, said that the association had publicly expelled the man/boy group in 1994.
Martin Thümmel, the German delegate at the vote, protested that "those delegations that claim that this organization is supporting pedophilia are using this as a pretext in order to shirk the real issue of sexual orientation."
2006/01/26 23:45 GayJapanNews