Why prostitution should be legal
April 23rd, 2012
02:07 PM ET

Why prostitution should be legal

Editor’s Note: Ronald Weitzer is a professor of sociology at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and an expert on the sex industry.  He is the author of Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business and editor of Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry.

By Ronald Weitzer – Special to CNN

Prostitution is in the news because it is legal in Colombia, where U.S. Secret Service and military personnel have been implicated in a sex-for-pay scandal. And just a few weeks ago, a Canadian court threw out two of Canada’s three prostitution laws – laws that criminalize brothel owners and individuals who “live off the avails” of someone else’s prostitution (see my earlier piece in GPS on this ruling). The court ruled these laws unconstitutional, thus raising the possibility that Canada might legalize prostitution in the future.

What many people do not know is that prostitution is legal in many nations. According to ProCon.org’s review of laws in 100 countries, 61% have legalized at least some kind of prostitution. Since 1971, it has been legal in rural counties in Nevada, where about 300 women work in brothels regulated by local ordinances. FULL POST

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Topics: Law • Sex
April 21st, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Andrew Sullivan on his struggle to become an American

On my show tomorrow at 10a.m. and 1p.m. EST, I speak to a man who lives a life of contradictions. He is British but he writes about American politics. He's a political conservative (self-identified) but he was named one of the 25 most influential liberals in America by Forbes magazine.

Andrew Sullivan is a blogger for The Daily Beast. He's the former editor of The New Republic. In the follow excerpt from our interview, we discussed his struggles to get a Green Card as a gay and HIV-positive man.

Fareed Zakaria: Andrew, I've known you for almost 30 years now. And you were always passionately interested in America - in American politics.  Like me, you're an immigrant. But you have only very recently been able to get a Green Card - be a permanent resident of this country that you love, that you've identified with. Why?

Andrew Sullivan:  There are two reasons.  One, because I'm HIV positive and have been since 1993.  And, secondly, because I'm gay.  And my marriage, which is legal in both my resident states - Massachusetts and Washington, DC - is not recognized by the federal government. So I am not granted an automatic Green Card by virtue of marriage, along with everybody who happens to be in a same-sex marriage. FULL POST

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Topics: Politics • Sex
How much should sex matter?
Miss Universe competitor Jenna Talackova (right), shown here in 2010, underwent sexual reassignment surgery four years ago.
April 16th, 2012
10:30 AM ET

How much should sex matter?

Editor's Note: Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Agata Sagan is an independent researcher living in Warsaw. For more , visit Project Syndicate's new website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter

By Peter Singer and Agata Sagan, Project Syndicate

Jenna Talackova reached the finals of Miss Universe Canada last month, before being disqualified because she was not a “natural born” female. The tall, beautiful blonde told the media that she had considered herself a female since she was four years old, had begun hormone treatment at 14, and had sex reassignment surgery at 19. Her disqualification raises the question of what it really means to be a “Miss.”

A question of broader significance was raised by the case of an eight-year-old Los Angeles child who is anatomically female, but dresses as, and wants to be considered, a boy. His mother tried unsuccessfully to enroll him in a private school as a boy. Is it really essential that every human being be labeled “male” or “female” in accordance with his or her biological sex? FULL POST

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Topics: Sex
March 30th, 2012
02:12 PM ET

Legalize prostitution in Canada?

Editor’s Note: Ronald Weitzer is a professor of sociology at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and an expert on the sex industry.  He is the author of Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business and editor of Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry.

By Ronald Weitzer - Special to CNN

A remarkable court decision took place in Canada this week. The Ontario Court of Appeal, hearing an appeal of a lower court’s 2010 ruling, affirmed much of the latter’s decision invalidating the nation’s prostitution laws. If left intact, the appeals court’s ruling essentially decriminalizes two prostitution-related activities.

The lower court ruled that Canada’s three main prostitution laws were unconstitutional because they, in effect, increased the risks to prostitutes and thus contradicted the Canadian Charter’s guarantee of "life, liberty and security of the person.” That court threw out the laws against running a brothel, third parties “living off the avails” of prostitution, and the prohibition on solicitation. FULL POST

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Topics: Law • Sex
Are U.S. senators really pro-homophobia overseas?
Mari Carmen Aponte. (Getty Images)
December 15th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Are U.S. senators really pro-homophobia overseas?

Editor's Note: Christopher Sabatini is the Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly.

By Christopher Sabatini - Special to CNN

Citing an op-ed she wrote condemning violence against gays and lesbians, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) for weeks led the charge in the U.S. Senate to block the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to be the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador.  On Monday, the Senate voted 49 to 37 to block Aponte’s nomination, 11 votes short of the 60 needed to break a Republican-sponsored filibuster.  Lost in the lead-up to the vote and the outcome was a key question: why is a position against violence targeting homosexuals and in defense of gay rights a valid reason to reject a nominee to an ambassadorship?

At issue for Senator DeMint and the 48 Republicans (and one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson [NE]) was Aponte's op-ed titled “For the Elimination of Prejudices Wherever They Exist” in the El Salvadoran daily La Prensa Gráfica on July 28th this year.   The offending op-ed declared that everyone has a responsibility to “inform our neighbors and friends about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender” and praised El Salvador for signing - along with the U.S. and 80 other nations - a U.N. declaration for the elimination of violence against gays and lesbians. FULL POST

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Topics: Latin America • Sex
December 9th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

As Obama overrules the FDA on Plan B One-Step, access to emergency contraception in Asia grows

By Krista Mahr, TIME

The first time that I asked my GP in Hong Kong for a prescription for birth control pills, she stopped scribbling down her notes in my file and looked up at me. “You don’t need a prescription for that,” she said, bemused. In Hong Kong, as in some other parts of the world, birth control pills are available over the counter; you can pick up your favorite brand in the drug store aisle next to condoms and pregnancy tests. Sitting there in the doctor’s chair, I felt 1) a little guilty of the beloved American habit of assuming U.S. policy is the global norm and 2) a little surprised at being the person in the room with the most conservative notions about contraception. FULL POST

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Topics: Asia • Sex
Should U.S. aid be used to promote gay rights abroad?
Supporters take part in an annual gay pride march in Manila, Philippines. Saturday is Human Rights Day.
December 7th, 2011
06:59 PM ET

Should U.S. aid be used to promote gay rights abroad?

Editor's Note: Dr. James M. Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter

By James M. Lindsay

The Obama administration announced this week that it would use U.S. aid to promote gay rights abroad. President Obama issued a memorandum laying out the new policy, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that “gay rights and human rights are… one and the same.”

Rick Perry was the first GOP presidential candidate to criticize the new policy:

Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.

But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong. FULL POST

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Topics: Aid • Foreign Policy • Sex • United States
'Foxy Knoxy': Sex, violence and media hysteria
Amanda Knox. (Getty Images)
October 5th, 2011
12:58 AM ET

'Foxy Knoxy': Sex, violence and media hysteria

Editor's Note: Sarah Stillman, a visiting scholar at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, is the recipient of their inaugural Reporting Award. She recently published The Invisible Army in The New Yorker. Check out her website here.

By Sarah Stillman – Special to CNN

There is something about pretty white girls, bloody knives and the slightest whiff of sex that gets the international news machine humming like nothing else.  All three factors merged explosively Monday in a crowded appeals court in Perugia, Italy. There, before several hundred journalists and other spectators, American college student Amanda Knox, 24, was cleared of murdering her study-abroad roommate, Meredith Kercher, in a sexually-motivated crime four years ago.  Already, feature film rights to Knox’s story are flying, and book publishers, too, are salivating.

Until recently, the prevailing explanation for “Foxy Knoxy’s” guilt had been a surreal one.  A game of rough sex went terribly wrong that evening in 2007, alleged Italian prosecutors.  The young American student, her boyfriend and a local immigrant man were behind the perverse ordeal - or so echoed tabloids and reputable papers on both sides of the Atlantic - ending up in Kercher’s bloody death.

This orgy-centered narrative was bandied about by lawyers in the Italian courtroom, as were terms like “she-devil” and “witch.”  But was any of it true?  After four years of Knox’s incarceration based on an increasingly shaky set of extracted confessions and problematic forensic evidence, prosecutors’ made-for-late-night version of the crime has finally been snuffed this week.  Knox, now officially freed, is heading home to Seattle.

All this has left the press to ask, somewhat sheepishly: were mainstream theories about Knox’s guilt driven primarily, as Slate.com’s Katie Crouch argued last month, by our collective lust for a kinky tale?  FULL POST

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Topics: Media • Sex • Women
September 20th, 2011
09:25 AM ET

Debate: Should gay marriage be legal?

Gallup polled the nation in May 2011. Take a look at the results:


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Topics: Culture • Debate • Law • Sex
Australian passports now offer gender option 'X' for intersex people
September 15th, 2011
05:09 PM ET

Australian passports now offer gender option 'X' for intersex people

By Mallory Simon, CNN

In a move the Australian government hopes will help remove discrimination against intersex or transgender people, the country's passports will now offer three options: male, female and indeterminate, the government said Thursday.

"This initiative is in line with the Australian Government’s commitment to remove discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or sex and gender identity," according to the Australian Passport Office. "The policy removes unnecessary obstacles to recording a person’s preferred gender in their passport."

Those who do not identify themselves as male or female will no longer be required to check off the "M" or "F" box under gender, but instead will have the option of checking "X," according to the new passport rules. FULL POST

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Topics: Sex
Record-high 86% approve of black-white marriages
September 12th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Record-high 86% approve of black-white marriages

By Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup

Americans are approaching unanimity in their views of marriages between blacks and whites, with 86% now approving of such unions. Americans' views on interracial marriage have undergone a major transformation in the past five decades. When Gallup first asked about black-white marriages in 1958, 4% approved. More Americans disapproved than approved until 1983, and approval did not exceed the majority level until 1997. FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Poll • Sex
Sex education in the Islamic Republic of Iran
September 8th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Sex education in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Editor's Note: Michelle Moghtader is a graduate student at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. To submit pieces for consideration, email the Global Public Square's managing editor at amar[dot]bakshi[at]turner.com.

By Michelle Moghtader – Special to CNN

Sex is a taboo subject in Iran, but in a rare, progressive move, the Iranian government has released a sex-ed DVD entitled Ashenayeh Mahboub or “The Beloved Companion”.

The video starts with two flowers flirtatiously swirling around each other. Then, one flower encapsulates the other. This is followed by a shot of hundreds of swimming sperm. (You don’t have to understand Persian to enjoy the first few minutes of this video, set to the sound of Richard Strauss’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, better known as the theme from 2001: Space Odyssey). FULL POST

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Topics: Iran • Odd • Sex
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