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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Meet Iran's gay mullah forced to flee the country

Taha, one of the over 1,000 Iranian LGBT refugees in Turkey
Taha, one of the over 1,000 Iranian LGBT refugees in Turkey
In a country where gay sex is punishable by death, Taha dared to do the unthinkable.

BBC journalist Ali Hamedani visited Istanbul, Turkey where Taha—an Iranian mullah, or cleric—has fled after performing same-sex wedding ceremonies in one of the most dangerous nations on the earth for LGBT people.

Homosexuality is illegal in 73 countries, nine of which prescribe the death penalty, including Iran.

Mullahs are highly powerful and respected in the Islamic nation, advising people on religious matters, which also means enforcing homophobia. So for Taha, life became very difficult when his fellow mullahs became suspicious of him and the gay men with whom he was associating.

Taha is one of the over 1,000 Iranian LGBT refugees the UN estimates is in Turkey waiting to be resettled abroad—his final stop will be Canada. 

Istanbul is one of the few places in the Muslim world that's tolerant of homosexuality, and Taha takes Hamedani out on the gay town.

Though life in Istanbul isn't easy by any means, Taha's presence is comforting to fellow queer refugees, who seek out his services to wed them.

For two such refugees, Ramtin Zigorat and his partner, a gay mullah is a big deal.

Source: OUT, June 8, 2016





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