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Unnamed Neo-Nazi demonstrators in Duisburg #wingnut #racist apnews.com

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s leading Jewish organization expressed alarm Thursday over footage of flag-waving neo-Nazis in self-styled uniforms marching through an eastern German town on May Day unhindered by police.

Footage of the march Wednesday prompted widespread outrage in Germany and calls for authorities in the state of Saxony, where far-right sentiment is particularly strong, to step in.

“The images of the neo-Nazi march by The Third Way party in Plauen are disturbing and frightening,” said Josef Schuster, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews.

Noting that the rally took place on the eve of Yom HaShoah , the day when Jews commemorate the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered in the Holocaust, Schuster added that “right-wing extremists are marching in Saxony in a way that brings back memories of the darkest chapter in German history.”

German security agencies say The Third Way, a relatively small party, has close ties to far-right extremists. The march in Plauen took place to the beat of heavy drums made to look like those used by the Hitler Youth. Participants shouted slogans such as “Criminal foreigners out!” and “National socialism now!”

Saxony police said several hundred people took part in the march. Counter-protesters were kept away.

Police said they are investigating nine people for illegally covering their faces during the event and another for insulting an officer, but described the day as a success from a policing perspective because there was no violence.

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Supreme Court of Japan #fundie apnews.com

Japan court upholds sterilization to register gender change

Human rights and LGBT activists on Friday denounced a ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court upholding a law that effectively requires transgender people to be sterilized before they can have their gender changed on official documents.

The court said the law is constitutional because it was meant to reduce confusion in families and society. But it acknowledged that it restricts freedom and could become out of step with changing social values.

The 2004 law states that people wishing to register a gender change must have their original reproductive organs, including testes or ovaries, removed and have a body that “appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs” of the gender they want to register.

More than 7,800 Japanese have had their genders officially changed, according to Justice Ministry statistics cited by public broadcaster NHK.

The unanimous decision by a four-judge panel, published Thursday, rejected an appeal by Takakito Usui, a transgender man who said forced sterilization violates the right to self-determination and is unconstitutional.

Usui, 45, appealed to the top court after he unsuccessfully requested that lower courts grant him legal recognition as male without having his female reproductive glands surgically removed.

Despite the unanimous decision, presiding justice Mamoru Miura joined another justice in saying that while the law may not violate the constitution, “doubts are undeniably emerging,” according to Usui’s lawyer, Tomoyasu Oyama.

The two judges proposed regular reviews of the law and appropriate measures “from the viewpoint of respect for personality and individuality,” according to Japanese media reports.

Japan is one of many countries with a sterilization requirement. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights said 22 of the countries under its jurisdiction still required sterilization as part of a legal gender change, and it ordered them to end the practice.

Maria Sjodin, deputy executive director of OutRight Action International, which monitors LGBT rights issues worldwide, said she was unsure if all 22 of those countries have fully implemented the court’s order. She noted that Sweden, which did away with the requirement in 2013, later became the first country to pay damages to anyone forced to undergo sterilization as a requirement for gender change.

The Japanese Supreme Court decision ends Usui’s legal battle, but he and his lawyer said the opinions in the ruling left them with hope.

“I think the ruling could lead to a next step,” Usui told a news conference.

Human Rights Watch said the Supreme Court ruling was “incompatible with international human rights standards, goes against the times and deviates far from best global practices.” The New York-based group said the ruling tolerates grave human rights violations against transgender people.

The ruling was also criticized by Japan’s LGBT community.

A transgender activist and writer, Tomato Hatakeno, tweeted that the decision shows that society’s interests still come before an individual’s right to freedom regarding one’s body.

“The ruling suggests that reproductive health is not recognized as a basic human right,” she said.

There is a growing awareness of sexual diversity in Japan, but it is often superficial and generally limited to the entertainment industry. In a country where pressure for conformity is strong, many gay people hide their sexuality even from their families because of a fear of prejudice at home, school or work. Obstacles remain high for transgender people.

Japan does not legally recognize same-sex marriages. As LGBT rights awareness has gradually grown in recent years, some municipalities have begun issuing partnership certificates to ease problems in renting apartments and other areas, but they are not legally binding.

Lawmakers in the conservative ruling party have repeatedly come under fire for making discriminatory remarks about LGBT people. Earlier this year, Katsuei Hirasawa, a veteran lawmaker, was widely criticized for saying that “a nation would collapse” if everyone became LGBT. Last year, another ruling party lawmaker, Mio Sugita, was condemned after saying in a magazine that the government shouldn’t use tax money for LGBT rights because same-sex couples aren’t “productive.”

Separately, more than a dozen people with disabilities have filed lawsuits against Japan’s government for having been sterilized against their will under a 1948 Eugenics Protection Law that was in effect until 1996.

At least 16,500 people were sterilized without consent under the law, which allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities and was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants.” Some orphans were also sterilized.

The government has maintained the sterilizations were legal.

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Nxivm #sexist apnews.com

Secretive group’s leader charged with sex-trafficking

NEW YORK (AP) — The leader of a secretive group in upstate New York turned female followers into brainwashed “slaves” who were branded with his initials and coerced into having sex, authorities alleged on Monday in a criminal complaint charging him with sex-trafficking.

Keith Raniere, co-founder of the group called Nxivm, was arrested in Mexico and returned to Texas Monday, authorities said. He was to appear in court on Tuesday in Fort Worth on the charges filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

According to the complaint, Raniere — known within the group as “Vanguard” — oversaw a barbaric system in which women were told the best way to advance was to become a “slave” overseen by “masters.” They also were expected to have sex with him and do menial chores for masters, and to keep the arrangement a secret or be publicly humiliated, the complaint says.

The name of Raniere’s attorney wasn’t immediately available on Monday. In a letter attributed to Raniere previously posted on a website related to Nxivm, he denied the practices were sanctioned by the self-described self-help group.

“These allegations are most disturbing to me as non-violence is one of my most important values,” the letter said.

The complaint said that many victims participated in videotaped ceremonies where they were branded in their pelvic area with a symbol featuring Raniere’s initials.

“During the branding ceremonies, slaves were required to be fully naked, and the master would order one slave to film while the other held down the slave being branded,” the complaint says.

Investigators said Raniere preferred exceptionally thin women, so “slaves” had to stick to very low-calorie diets and document every food they ate. As punishment for not following orders, women were forced to attend classes where they were “forced to wear fake cow udders over their breasts while people called them derogatory names,” or threatened with being put in cages, court papers say.

Raniere left the United States late last year after The New York Times reported the stories of some women who defected from their secret sorority and the government began interviewing potential witnesses. He sought to cover this trail by using encrypted email and ditching his phone, court papers say.

He was ultimately found staying with several women in a luxury gated community in Puerta Vallarta where villas can run $10,000 a week to rent, investigators say. After authorities took him into custody on a U.S. warrant, investigators said the women got into a high-speed car chase.

The website related to the group describes Raniere as a “scientist, mathematician, philosopher, entrepreneur, educator, inventor and author” who has “devoted his life to studying the human psychodynamic and developing new tools for human empowerment, expression and ethics.”

Nxivm’s Mexican affiliate is headed by Emiliano Salinas, a son of that country’s former president. Several women who belong to the group in Mexico have traveled to Albany, where they were branded, two former Nxivm members told the Times.

Salinas has also denied that the sorority is affiliated with Nxivm.

Raniere and Nxivm have been the subject of criticism for years, dating back to at least 2012 when the Times Union of Albany published a series of articles examining the organization and allegations that it was like a cult.

Over the years, Nxivm has attracted a following that includes Emmy Award-winning actress Allison Mack. Authorities also say Raniere has been bankrolled by Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune.

Bronfman gave millions of dollars covering expenses like private air travel costing $65,000 flight, court papers say.