News Roundup

Anti-gender ideology bus seized in Spain

A bus covered with anti-gender ideology slogans in Spain has been seized by police. An investigation is now underway into the group, HazteOir (‘Make yourself heard’), which commissioned the spraying of the bus with the message: “Boys have penises, girls have vaginas. Don’t let them fool you. If you’re born a man, you’re a man, if you’re a woman, you will continue to be so.” The group had hoped to use the bus to bring its message on a tour of Spanish cities, but police moved to seize the bus, citing potential ‘LGBT phobia’. The investigation now underway is seeking evidence that the bus’s message constitutes a hate crime.


Britain must accommodate traditional beliefs – former equality chief

Britain needs to learn to accommodate those who hold traditional views on marriage and gender, a former equality chief has said. Trevor Phillips, who led the country’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said Britain risks “failing the acid test of a democracy” in how it mistreats those who believe in marriage as between one man and one woman and those who oppose gender ideology. Phillips made his comments during a television documentary, Has Political Correctness Gone Mad?’, which heard from various individuals who spoke anecdotally of how voicing traditional beliefs in Britain now put people at risk of abuse. Phillips, who stepped down from his equality role in 2012 has acknowledged that he has begun to question his own views over the years.


US state of Iowa considers pro-life ‘personhood’ Bill

A Bill to recognise unborn life from the moment of conception has passed a key Senate stage in the US state of Iowa. The ‘personhood’ Bill recognising the unborn as human beings was passed by a Senate sub-committee, moving it on for further consideration before a final vote at state level. The document has the support of 20 Republican members of the Iowa Senate, and will need 26 votes to pass. Supporters of the measure from other states travelled to Iowa for the sub-committee’s announcement, with one, Rebecca Keissling, an attorney from Michigan, stating that the Bill provides an “excellent strategy” to overturn the “Roe v Wade” decision that legalised abortion nationwide. Pro-abortion advocates are threatening to launch a legal action against the Bill should it ultimately become law.


Christians flee Sinai after latest Coptic murders

Christians are fleeing the Sinai region of Egypt following the latest murders targeting the community, and just days after so-called Islamic State (ISIS) called for the slaughter of all Christians there. According to reports from the region, within days of a February 19 online video calling on supporters of ISIS to target Christians in Sinai, three Christians were murdered. One of those killed was burned alive. Over a single weekend at least 75 families arrived in the city of Ismailia on the Suez Canal, with many reporting they had received death threats on their mobile phones. The Christians of Sinai have endured a wave of murders since the start of 2017 – the latest bringing to six the number of dead.


President Trump revokes transgender toilet rule

US President Donald Trump has revoked an order issued by his predecessor requiring schools to permit students to use the toilets and changing room of the sex they self-identify as. The contentious requirement was already the subject of a court injunction following a backlash by authorities in 13 states, but the move by the Trump administration now puts an end to the federal order. It is now up to individual states or schools to decide their rules. Opponents of the original guidelines have welcomed Mr Trump’s move. A member of the Students and Parents for Privacy group, Vicki Wilson said: “Our daughters should never be forced to share private, intimate spaces with male classmates, even if those young men are struggling with these issues. It violates their right to privacy and harms their dignity.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – on behalf of one of the 13 states taking legal action on the guidelines – said: “Our fight over the bathroom directive has always been about former President Obama’s attempt to bypass Congress and rewrite the laws to fit his political agenda for radical social change.”


Islamic State calls for slaughter of Egyptian Christians

The terror group Islamic State (ISIS) has issued a video in which it calls for the slaughter of Christians in Egypt. In a video entitled ‘Kill all the Kuffar’ (unbelievers), the group urges militants and supporters to target the Christian minority across the country. The video also featured the testimony of Abu Abdallah al-Masri, the suicide bomber who killed 28 Coptic Christians in an attack on Cairo’s St Mark’s cathedral in December. Since the start of 2017 there has be a rise in the number of murders of Christians in Egypt, mainly random attacks on individual members of the community. Five died in knife attacks in January, while three were shot to death in separate attacks in Sinai in February.


Northern Ireland Bishops issue reflection ahead of Assembly elections

The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have issued an updated pastoral reflection in advance of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, set for March 2. In releasing the new version of A Better Future: Towards a Culture of Life, Care and Hope for All, the prelates address politicians and voters, urging them “to work towards creating a society that values all of its people”. Describing the “premature collapse of our political institutions is a serious matter for all of us”, the bishops warn that “the bitter language and tone of conflict have to some extent returned to the political discourse. We ask you to reject – and to leave behind – divisive language and actions which will make negotiations more difficult after the election.” Offered 10 questions derived from Catholic Social Teaching, politicians are urged “to recommit to working for the common good, especially for the vulnerable, the disadvantaged and all who struggle daily to bring up their families”, while voters are called on “to take seriously the responsibility of voting in the forthcoming Assembly Election.  As Catholics, we have a duty to be hopeful and, despite the challenges, to work towards creating a society that values all of its people.


Woman with no link to surrogate twins granted guardianship

The Family Law Court in Co. Clare has appointed a woman who brought surrogate twins from India as their legal guardian. The unnamed woman was granted the right despite being neither the birth nor biological mother to the twins. The children were born as part of a surrogacy arrangement involving the woman’s husband whose sperm was used to fertilise the eggs of a donor woman who was not the surrogate mother. In obtaining guardianship, the woman will legally have a duty to maintain and properly care for the children. She will also have the right to make decisions about the children’s religious and secular education, health requirements and general welfare. After the case, a spokeswoman at the Department of Health said: “Officials in the Department of Health are currently drafting the General Scheme of legislative provisions on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated research, which will include provisions relating to surrogacy.”


Washington DC passes assisted suicide law

Washington DC has become the 7th jurisdiction in the United States to permit assisted suicide after a last-minute challenge to legislation failed. Despite a 22-14 vote by members of the House Oversight Committee to overturn the Death with Dignity Act under existing legislation allowing for such action within a specified time period, Congress did not subsequently call a vote on the measure – the final necessary step – meaning that assisted suicide passed into law. Washington DC now joins the states of California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Montana in legislating for assisted suicide. Pro-life groups have lamented the Act’s passage despite control of Congress by the Republican party, normally more well disposed to life issues.


France curbs ability of pro-life websites to dissuade women from abortion

Pro-life advocates in France who seek to influence pregnant women on the issue of abortion could face two years in prison under a new law. Passed by the National Assembly, the new legislation bans pro-life websites which seek to dissuade women from termination if the sites do not proclaim themselves to be pro-life. Sanctions for breaching the law include prison time or a fine of €30,000. According to Minister for women’s rights, Laurence Rossignol, pro-life individuals and groups may still voice opposition to abortion but this is “under the condition they openly state who they are, what they do and what they want”. The law had drawn fierce opposition from pro-lifers, who took to the streets for a mass demonstration at the end of January as the law was being discussed. On behalf of France’s Catholic bishops, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, president of the French bishops’ conference, had written to President Francois Hollande to call for a halt to the law, describing it as a “serious infringement of democratic principles”.

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