Hate Crime Bill Moves Forward
A federal bill to amend the hate crimes law to include crimes against people because of their sexual orientation has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee, opening the way for its consideration by the full House of Representatives. Known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and similar to one passed by the House two years ago, it has been criticized by those concerned that the legislation could be used to persecute Christians who do not approve of homosexual practices.
Social Security Benefits Granted to Gay Father
After a three-year legal battle, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has reversed a decision to deny benefits to the children of disabled gay father Gary Day. He submitted the required applications and paperwork for Child Insurance Benefits for his children in February 2006. SSA had promised to provide a response in 45 days, but never replied. In May 2008, Lambda Legal, along with cocounsel from McDermott, Will & Emery, filed suit against SSA. Finally, SSA sent a letter to Lambda recognizing the legal relationship between Day and his children without discrimination based on his sexual orientation or family status.
Burundi Criminalizes Homosexuality
The Republic of Burundi has become the latest African nation to outlaw homosexuality, which now will be a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison and heavy fines. The measure is part of a sweeping reform of the country’s criminal code that also bans capital punishment; protects women and children from all forms of violence, especially sexual violence; and toughens laws on genocide. Amnesty International Africa Program Director Erwin van der Borght said the government’s decision to criminalize homosexuality “flies in the face of Burundi’s constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy.”