Tentative steps forward

There’s actually quite a few recent, optimistic stories I thought might be worth highlighting. In France, the Senate passed a legal expansion of marriage rights to include same-sex and same-gender couples. The bill hasn’t quite become law, but the last major chance for opposition has come and gone. I think it’s important not to view such acts in and of themselves as cause for celebration exactly, as they’re merely instances of basic human decency on a very specific issue being carried out. This is not the end of heterosexism or cissexism in any sense, but a good blow against the first especially (much like the British version of marriage equality, we’re apparently settling for depressingly little in terms of protecting the rights of transgender and genderqueer people, however).

(Green French Senator Esther Benbassa, whose car was vandalized, seemingly in connection with anti-marriage protests, from here. She voted for the new marriage laws.)

That said, I do think it is something worthy of praise that a majority of the French Senate voted for this given the climate of physical threats to them that surrounded it. They were given every excuse imaginable by bigots to cave, but a slim majority didn’t. More than the actual results, that tenacity is something to appreciate.

In other news, the Malaysian government has at long last announced the date of the coming national election (as well as organizational due-dates for candidates proceeding that). There’s an interesting situation developing with the currently governing political party, which has maintained power since independence, has started to offer specific economic reforms as part of a way of undercutting opposition reformers. Of course, the opposition has been promising even greater reforms and to examine racist inequalities within Malaysian society. This is the kind of democratic competition the world could do with more of.

Meanwhile, Colombia seems to be moving in the direction of not only a ceasefire but substantive negotiations between the leftist FARC rebels and the government. This is particularly important as the on-going conflict has fueled violence against indigenous peoples, most recently the Nasa. While unfortunate in that it has taken this much time and require so much public outcry, the end of the de facto civil war will hopefully benefit Colombian civilians. Likewise, weakened by the longstanding conflict, the resultant government might need to acquiesce to the demands of various indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups. The future of Colombia is still uncertain, but there seems to be cause for optimism today.

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