News Roundup

Australian firm becomes first to offer third gender category on forms

An insurance company in Australia has become the first in the country to recognise customers who do not wish to be listed as male or female. HIF insurance of Perth has stated that it is to allow for customers to tick a box for ‘other’ on official forms and will offer the title ‘Mx’ in addition to traditional titles. “HIF members may select the ‘other’ gender option if they choose to identify as neither male nor female, including (but not limited to) those who are agender, androgyne, bi-gender, gender fluid, intersex, neutrois, non-binary, pangender or transgender,” said HIF director Grame Gibson. In altering its forms, HIF is following the example set by the Australian government which has already allowed for M, F, X on passports and this year changed the census form to offer a third gender category.

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Cabinet to consider legislation against forced marriages

Proposed legislation to outlaw forced marriage has been presented to the Cabinet. In bringing the proposal, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald hopes to gain approval for inclusion of the legislation in the draft of the Domestic Violence Bill. If passed, the new law will criminalise any act which causes others into a forced marriage. This will include where the marriage subsequently takes place outside the State. Government sources have reportedly stated that forced marriage is a “very hidden” practice for Ireland but a real one. The new legislative proposal is the result of a strategy begun earlier in 2016 against sexual and gender-based violence, which will allow Ireland to ratify the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

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Russian Patriarch backs massive anti-abortion petition

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill has backed a massive petition aimed at outlawing abortion in the country. From a position of unrestricted abortion, a legacy of communist-era rule, a growing number of Russian citizens are voicing pro-life sentiments. One result of this is a 300,000-strong petition urging the government to enact legislation to combat the rate of terminations, together with a ban on morning-after pills. Supporters of the petition argue that abortion harms both women and the demographics of the nation. Signing the petition, Patriarch Kirill called abortion “a national catastrophe”.

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‘World at war’ on marriage – Pope

“Today the whole world is at war trying to destroy marriage,” Pope Francis has said. Speaking during his official visit to Georgia on October 1, the Pontiff departed from his prepared speech to speak once again on marriage and to again warn that there are “certain ideologies that destroy marriage”. “So we need to defend ourselves from ideological colonisation,” he said. He added: “Matrimony is the most beautiful thing God created,” he said, explaining that since man and woman have been created in God’s image, “it is when the two become one that his image is reflected.”
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Primate issues rallying call to pro-life supporters

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland has issued a rallying call to supporters of the pro-life movement. With the campaign against constitutional protection for the unborn growing, the Primate used his Day for Life message at the weekend to “call on all those who believe in a better future for humanity to preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life in all its stages and conditions, as an affirmation of our human capacity for tenderness and love”. On the abortion campaign, he said: “The Eighth Amendment is fundamentally a declaration of tenderness and love for the equal right to life of both a mother and her unborn child.  It is an undertaking to respect, defend and vindicate that right here in Ireland.  This amendment is precious and wonderful – it places as the very foundations and substructure of our laws a clear conviction that all human life is worth cherishing.”
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Hormonal contraception linked to depression risk – study

The use of hormonal contraception increases a woman’s risk of depression, a new study has found. Undertaken by Danish researchers, the study looked at over one million women aged 15-34 and tracked their contraceptive and antidepressant use from 2000 to 2013, finding that, compared to non-users, users of hormonal contraception had a 40% increased risk of depression after six months of use. Some types of hormonal contraceptive carried an even greater risk, with users of progestin-only pills more than doubling their risk of depression, and tripling the risk through use of a particular Intrauterine device.
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Atheist demand removal of God from Constitution

The Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) has called for all references to God to be removed from the Constitution. This is one of a number of demands made by the group in a statement to mark International Blasphemy Day (September 30), an unofficial date on which non-religious individuals and groups are urged to challenge religious beliefs and religious provisions in law. Among the demands made by the HAI are a removal from the Constitution of those clauses which it claims prevent non-religious persons from being appointed a judge or becoming President without swearing a religious oath, and the repeal of the 2009 Defamation Act, under which blasphemy is punishable with a fine up to €25,000.
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Cardinal urges Canadian Bishops to resist assisted suicide

A Dutch Cardinal has warned Canada’s Bishops to maintain their resistance to assisted suicide to prevent their nation becoming like the Netherlands, where that method of dying is now offered to psychiatric patients and the disabled. Addressing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Willem Eijk said Canada, and other nations, have much to learn from the Dutch experience. “We had 50 years. You’ve only had one year,” he said. Recalling how the debate on assisted suicide had originally dealt with those with serious suffering at the end of life, that had become much broader over time. “One must always be aware of the risk of the slippery slope. When you leave the door ajar, it will always open more.”
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Sperm donor app ‘denigrates fatherhood’

On online app which allows women to select sperm donors by education and eye colour has been denounced as a “denigration of fatherhood”. The London Sperm Bank, believed to be a world first and already legal in Britain, allows users to peruse a ‘wish list’ of desired characteristics such as skin tone, height and race. The company behind the app says the aim is to make sourcing a sperm donor just like any other online purchase. The app has been criticised as “reproduction via the mobile phone” by medical ethicist and pro-life campaigner Josephine Quintavalle who added that it was another step in the “trivialisation of parenthood”.
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Big majority of US Catholics pray regularly

An overwhelming majority of self-identified Catholics in the United States still believe in God and pray regularly, a new study has revealed. Conducted by the US-based CARA group, and building on the same study carried out in 2008, the study found that 96% of Catholics believe in God, which includes 74% who do so without doubt. Covering numerous areas of faith and practice, CARA’s research further revealed that in the eight years since 2008, there has been no change in Mass attendance figures. Of those polled, 40% stated they pray at least once a day, 19% once a week, 17% once a month. One interesting finding was an increase in the numbers of children baptised after their first birthday, with 23% of those born in 1982 or after being baptised this way, as against just 13% of those born before 1943. CARA states that the reasons behind this shift “remain an open question” at this point.
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