Monday, 12 July 2010

Blog Catch Up: Onscenity, Gay Asylum, DOMA, HIV Vaccine and The Pansy Project

This will come as great news to those wanting to ban those in the public sector from tweeting and 'self promotion', but for the rest of you -apologies - I've not updated the blog for a bit and we've had some major stories. I've been desperately trying to get ahead with various writing projects and I'm finally making some progress.

This is therefore a quick 'catch up'. First off, last Monday I was down at the Onscenity Research network launch. Jane Fae wrote a great piece for The Register on the network launch which you can read here. The network has a website with more info about it here.

Two big legal developments occurred over the last week. Here, the Supreme Court made a sensible and over-due decision on asylum (that was then irritatingly miss-reported in many of our newspapers) and over in the US, a key decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) took place.

The case before our Supreme Court concerned asylum seeks from Iran and the Cameroon seeking to rely on the European Convention on Human Rights. You can see a clip from Lord Hope's judgment with the BBC report on the case here. The full judgment of the case can be viewed here and the Supreme Court press release accompanying the decision can be viewed here. The really interesting aspect of the case was the question of 'discretion' whether you could live somewhere and not be prosecuted if you were 'discrete', and the Supreme Court in this unanimous decision really squashed a previous decision of the Court of Appeal that sought to suggest that homosexuals could hide their identity. This is a terrific and historic judgment.

Speaking of terrific judgments - and possibly historic (we shall see), a federal judge in Boston has ruled in two separate cases that a critical portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Read more here. The case has already sparked an interesting debate surrounding states powers and constitutional law. Read more about that in a New York Times piece here.

A minor story with potentially big consequences that you might not have picked up concerns further progress on a possible HIV vaccine. According to the story, three antibodies have been discovered that neutralize 91% of HIV strains. Read the full story here. I've come to the view that the only way HIV will ever be effectively tackled is through a vaccine rather than through safer-sex campaigning so this is for me, a particularly welcome development.

Finally, I want to mention once again the wonderful Pansy Project. They have a website here and a blog here. I say 'they', I mean Paul Harfleet - an artist who seeks to plant a pansy at sights of homophobic abuse. It is a simple but touching project which also put in appearance at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year - winning a gold medal and Best Conceptual garden 2010. Well done to Paul - I'm so chuffed for him.

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