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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

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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