News Briefs 4/4/2013

Arizona Approves New Version of “Bathroom Bill”

On March 27, the Arizona House Appropriations Committee approved a version of an anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” technically SB 1045, after voiding parts of the original proposal. Representative John Kavanagh introduced the original bill in response to a locally-passed anti-discrimination measure in Phoenix. That bill prevented businesses from prohibiting transgendered individuals from using public bathrooms. Kavanagh argues this would expose children to “naked men in women’s locker rooms and showers,” (The Huffington Post,“Arizona Transgender Bathroom Bill Reconsidered By Lawmakers,” 3.27.13).

If it had passed, Kavanagh’s initial proposal would have made it a crime for anyone to use the bathroom of a gender not on their birth certificate. This would be considered a class one misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison (Arizona Daily Star, “Arizona panel says no liability for bathroom refusal,” 3.28.13).

Amid national backlash, Kavanagh altered the bill to focus on businesses. The new version protects businesses that ban people from using bathrooms that do not match their birth sex. Establishments would not be under criminal liability when they enforce this ban.

The Huffington Post explained that this new version would also create a state law prohibiting local governments from passing regulations that allow public access to “privacy areas” based on gender identity or expression (“Why Arizona’s Bathroom Bill Is Unconstitutional,” 3.28.13).

200 protestors sat in on the seven hour-long hearing for the revised bill. After hours of testimony by both trans- and cis-gendered people, the Committee passed the new proposal with a 7-4 vote as protestors chanted “shame, shame, shame.”(Washington Post, “Amid national outcry, Arizona House panel passes softened anti-transgender bathroom bill,” 3.28.13)

The constitutionality of the bill is already under scrutiny. Its language contradicts Supreme Court rulings in several cases, notably Glenn v. Brumby, which officially extended the Equal Protection Clause to include transgendered people; and Hopkins v. Price Waterhouse, which ruled that one could not discriminate against those who do not adhere to gender stereotypes.


—Anna Iovine, Reporter


UN General Assembly Approves Arms Trade Treaty

On Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly approved the Arms Trade Treaty, a resolution that attempts to regulate the $60 billion international trade of what the UN defines as ‘conventional weapons.’ Before the treaty can take effect, however, fifty nations must ratify it.

“This is an historic day and a major achievement for the United Nations,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague. (The Washington Post, “UN adopts landmark treaty to regulate multibillion-dollar global arms trade,” 4.2.13) Australian Ambassador Peter Woolcott echoes Hague’s enthusiasm, stating the treaty will “make an important difference by reducing human suffering and saving lives.”

According to the treaty, conventional weapons include battle tanks, combat vehicles, combat aircrafts, warships, and small arms (The Boston Globe, “U.N. adopts treaty to regulate global arms trade,” 4.2.13). Should it be ratified, involved states are required to independently create and enforce national regulations to curb weapons transfers. This resolution, the first treaty aimed at regulating global arms trade, does not control how nations handle domestic use of weapons.

The treaty calls attention to the relationship between human rights violations and the international arms trade. The treaty mandates creating criteria that link exporters of weapons to human-rights records in an effort to avoid terrorism and human rights abuses. (The New York Times, “U.N. Treaty Aims to Limit Arms Exports for Rights Abusers,” 4.2.13).

The General Assembly voted 154-3 in favor of the treaty with 23 abstentions. Iran, Syria, and North Korea voted again the resolution, calling the treaty unfair. Among those abstaining were Russia and China, two of the world’s major exporters of weapons. The United States, the world’s biggest arms exporter, voted in favor of the treaty, although speculation remains as to wheter the Senate will ratify the treaty. (The New York Times).


—Anna Iovine, Reporter

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