International News


British Airways joins wave of airlines introducing “non-binary” gender options 

British Airways is the latest international airline to announce it will offer a non-binary gender option when booking tickets for passengers who identify outside of male or female.

The British carrier’s announcement follows similar moves from major U.S. airlines, as well as Air New Zealand, which recently said it was looking to introduce more gender options.

The change has been welcomed by LGBTQ groups, who say it will help make travel less stressful for trans, intersex and non-binary passengers, as well as those who don’t wish to disclose their gender.

A spokesperson for British Airways said, “We know how important it is for all of our customers to feel comfortable and welcomed no matter how they self-identify. We are working to change our booking platform to reflect this.”

Air New Zealand said this week it was “exploring how we can introduce non-binary gender options across our various digital environments.”

Kenya court postpones ruling on anti-gay laws

A Kenyan court Feb. 22 postponed a ruling on whether to decriminalize same sex relationships, disappointing many in the country’s LGBT community.

The ruling will not be made until May 24 because some judges had been busy, Justice Chaacha Mwita of the High Court said.

Several activists who went to the court for the landmark ruling expressed their dismay.

“To say we are disappointed would be an understatement,” the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which is among the petitioners in the case, said in a tweet.

A case so important should have been should have been given the time it deserves, said activist Grace Mbijiwa outside the courtroom.

“However we are looking forward because we have a date in May 2019,” said Mbijiwa. “We are looking forward and hoping for the best, looking forward for LGBT being legalized.”

Activists argue that the colonial-era law which criminalizes same consensual sex-relations between adults is in breach of the constitution because it denies basic rights.

Taiwan unveils Asia’s first draft law on same-sex marriage 

Taiwan has proposed Asia’s first law to allow same-sex marriage. The legislation, however, was criticized by rights activists and conservative groups alike as a heated debate continues over marriage equality in the country.

Voters opposed marriage equality in a series of referendums late last year, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and calling for a special law to be enacted for same-sex unions.

The draft law unveiled by cabinet on Feb. 21 would give same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, but marriage in civil law would remain defined as between a man and woman.

Premier Su Tseng-chang said the bill respected the referendum results, although activists had said a separate law for gay marriage was discriminatory.

“Controversies are expected about the proposal, but I really hope our homosexual friends can wait a bit longer,” Su said in a statement. “This might fall short of expectations, but after all, it’s a start,” he said.

Jennifer Lu, coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, said the draft did not give complete legal protections to same-sex couples. She acknowledged the pressure on the government from all sides, but said activists will continue to fight for equal rights.

Taiwan’s parliament is expected to vote on the draft bill by late May, a deadline for legislation set by the constitutional court in May 2017 when it ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.

The divisive issue has been a challenge for President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party suffered a major defeat in local elections in November amid criticism over her reform agenda, including marriage equality.

Conservative groups that opposed same-sex marriage during the referendum said they will fight the draft bill too. The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation on Feb. 21 called the draft “unacceptable.”