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Civil Rights

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Kelly Marie Tran to star in biopic about Nobel-nominated activist Amanda Nguyen

Kelly Tran and Amanda Nguyen
  • Kelly Marie Tran will produce and star in a biopic about civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen.
  • The film will cover Nguyen’s story as a sexual assault survivor during her time at Harvard University and her path to becoming a champion of survior rights.
  • Nguyen’s work culminated as the Sexual Assault Survivors' Rights Act, which become U.S. federal law in 2016 and led to her Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
  • Tang Yi is in talks to direct and write the biopic, while Nina Yang Bongiovi and Nguyen herself are set to produce alongside Tran.

Kelly Marie Tran will be juggling acting and producing in a biopic about her friend: civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen.

Tran, who is best known for her work in the “Star Wars” franchise and “Raya and the Last Dragon, will star as Nguyen in a story about her journey as a survivor of sexual assualt while attending Harvard University and then a civil rights activist for survivor’s rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Gov. Newsom signs No Place for Hate Bills to combat hate and harassment in California

  • The No Place for Hate Bills — SB 1161 and AB 2448 — were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in California on Tuesday.
  • The Increase Safety for Public Transit Riders bill (SB 1161), authored by State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), will require the Mineta Transportation Institute to create a community survey for California transit operators as a way to gather data in creating solutions and strengthening passenger safety.
  • The Protect Customers’ Civil Rights at Businesses bill (AB 2448), authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), will direct the state’s Civil Rights Department to create a pilot program that will incentivize businesses to create safe and welcoming environments.
  • The bills will be effective starting Jan. 1, 2023.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two Stop AAPI Hate-backed bills aimed at combating hate and harassment in public spaces in California. 

The No Place for Hate Bills — SB 1161 and AB 2448 — were signed into law by Newsom in California on Tuesday. The bills will be effective starting Jan. 1, 2023.

Sri Lanka’s president says government will not oppose bill to decriminalize homosexuality

  • Newly elected Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced Sunday his government would not oppose the motion submitted by Member of Parliament and attorney-at-law Premnath C. Dolawatte to decriminalize LGBTQ-plus rights.
  • “We are for it, but you have to get the support of individual members. It’s a matter of their private conscience,” Wickremesinghe said, addressing Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power.
  • The bill, titled “Penal Code (Amendment) (19th Act) bill to amend the Penal Code,” was first submitted by Dolawatte on Aug. 24.
  • Under sections 365 and 365A in Sri Lanka’s Penal Code, those who are caught having voluntary intercourse with the same sex can face a prison sentence of not less than 10 years and up to 20 years with fines.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took office in July, said Sunday that the Sri Lankan government would not oppose the motion to decriminalize consensual sexual relations between same-sex couples in the country.

Speaking to Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power, Wickremesinghe said the bill, which would amend sections 365 and 365A of the Sir Lanka Penal Code, will still require support from parliament members.

Trans woman in Japan denied status as parent of her own daughter

  • A Japanese court has ruled that a trans woman in her 40s cannot be recognized as the legal parent of her second daughter due to her transition.
  • The court legally recognized the woman as the parent of her first daughter but not her second child as she was born following the woman’s transition.
  • The woman’s original request was denied in February, and after appealing against the ruling, the Tokyo high court denied her request once again on Friday.

A trans woman in Japan was denied parental rights and recognition as the legal parent of her second daughter by the Tokyo high court due to her transition.

It was ruled on Friday that the trans woman in her 40s was only recognized as the legal parent of her first daughter. Since her second daughter was born after her transition, the court denied the woman’s rights as the girl’s legal parent.

California’s Siskiyou County accused of discrimination against Asian Americans in new class action lawsuit

  • A federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice in San Francisco accuses California’s Siskiyou County and Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue of racial harassment against the Asian American community.
  • Asian American residents in Siskiyou County have been harassed by deputies through traffic stops, wrongly accused of criminal activity and discriminated against in public meetings, according to the class action suit filed on Wednesday.
  • County officials have since denied any racial bias against Asian Americans; however, a controversy surrounding the June 2021 fatal shooting of Soobleej Kaub Hawj, a 35-year-old Hmong farmer, has escalated tensions.
  • Siskiyou County is home to fewer than 45,000 people, with Asian American residents only representing 1.6 percent of the county.

California’s Siskiyou County and Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue are accused of racial harassment against the Asian American community in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California.

The federal lawsuit claims the county and its sheriff engaged “in a sweeping campaign to harass and intimidate Hmong and other Asian Americans.” 

Singapore says those ‘engaging in gay sex’ will not be prosecuted despite archaic law that bans it

  • Singapore Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in an interview on BBC’s “Hardtalk” that their government will not prosecute citizens under its colonial-era law against consensual same-sex sexual relations.
  • Section 377A of Singapore’s penal code criminalizes acts of “gross indecency” between men, or the procurement or attempted procurement thereof, with a penalty of up to two years of imprisonment.
  • Shanmugam explained that while “attitudes are shifting somewhat,” the controversial law remains because a “significant proportion of our population, the middle ground as it were, don’t want that law repealed.”
  • During the interview, Shanmugam also highlighted Justice Clarence Thomas’ position that the U.S. Supreme Court must reconsider its rulings in the Obergefell and Lawrence cases, which extended marriage equality to same-sex couples and the right to private, consensual sex.

Singapore will not prosecute citizens under its colonial-era law against consensual same-sex sexual relations, a local government official has claimed. 

During an interview on BBC’s “Hardtalk” on June 29, 2022, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said, “People engaging in gay sex will not be prosecuted, even though there is this old piece of law which makes gay sex among males an offense.”

Queer California man faces risk of deportation to Fiji after living in the US for 44 years

  • Salesh “Sal” Prasad, 50, is facing deportation to his birth country, Fiji, where he is at risk of violence and abuse for being a queer person.
  • Prasad, who arrived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident in 1978, had a troubled childhood growing up in Modesto, California.
  • At age 22, he was convicted of second-degree murder after killing a person during an altercation. He was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
  • After serving 27 years of his prison sentence, the state determined that he was not a public safety risk and granted him parole. However, he was handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the day of his release on August 19, 2021.
  • “If I’m deported, I won’t survive. I won’t make it in Fiji. There’s no protection there for me. There’s no support,” he was quoted as saying in a call from the detention center. “I’d be forced to be somebody I’m not. I don’t want to hide again. I should be able to love who I want to love.”
  • Lawyers representing Prasad have argued that he should be set free since state authorities have considered him safe for release, but ICE has maintained that Prasad falls under President Joe Biden's Immigration Enforcement Priorities for deportation due to his past criminal conviction.

A 50-year-old Californian is facing deportation to his birth country, Fiji, where he is at risk of violence and abuse for being a queer person.

Salesh “Sal” Prasad arrived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident in 1978 and grew up in Modesto, California. Prasad had a troubled childhood, having suffered severe physical and sexual abuse as a young child. One beating even led to him losing his hearing.

SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade: AAPI Democratic lawmakers speak out on ruling; Republicans silent

  • Asian American Democratic lawmakers condemned the Supreme Court’s official overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, noting that now is the time for action.
  • With the ruling, access to abortions is no longer guaranteed on a federal level, giving states the right by default to dictate reproductive healthcare.
  • The news did not come as a surprise to some considering a leaked draft of the decision was widely circulated in early May.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris participated in a roundtable yesterday with state attorneys general, posting on her Twitter that “we need every federal, state, and local leader working to protect reproductive health care access.”
  • Other Democratic lawmakers, such as Rep. Grace Meng (D, NY-6) and Rep. Andy Kim (D, NJ-3), echoed similar outrage for the overturning of half a century’s precedent on reproductive rights.

Asian American Democratic lawmakers condemned the Supreme Court’s official overturning of Roe v. Wade on Friday, noting that now is the time for action.

With the ruling, access to abortions is no longer guaranteed on a federal level, giving states the right by default to dictate reproductive healthcare. 

Unity March: First Asian American-led march on National Mall will bring together thousands

A historic first-ever multicultural march led by Asian Americans on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to take place this week on June 25. 

The Unity March will bring together a coalition of over 50 nonprofit organizations representing various AAPI communities as well as Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Arab and other historically marginalized groups in the U.S. to demand progress toward societal equity. 

Why activism for many AAPIs starts with their voice in the classroom

In recent times — with the rise of Asian culture and the COVID-19 pandemic — my identity as an Asian American is suddenly in the spotlight. 

From articles celebrating the many cultures that make up my community to the social media posts featuring Asian models, there seems to be a sudden wave of faces that look like mine. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the #StopAsianHate movement, this increase in Asian visibility seems to be more important than ever. 

Urvashi Vaid, influential LGBTQ activist and leader, dies at 63

Loved ones and members of queer activist communities are mourning the sudden passing of pioneering LGBTQ Indian American activist, attorney and author Urvashi Vaid.

Vaid, 63, died from cancer at a hospital in New York City on May 14, according to a news release from the National LGBTQ Task Force. Vaid’s sudden death was also confirmed by people close to Kate Clinton, her life partner of 33 years.