Thursday 23 October 2014

Reasons to Be Cheerful 13

Florence Prag Kahn
1845 First Jewish US Congressman elected. (First Jewish Congresswoman, 1925.)

1885 Medical Relief Disqualification Removal Act means that people who have accessed medical care funded by the poor rate are no longer disqualified from voting in elections.

1914 Welsh Church Act disestablished the Church of England in Wales (the Welsh were fed up with paying tithes).

1917 UK's first black commissioned officer, Walter Tull.

1941 The last first-class carriage disappeared from the Underground.

1967 Butler Act, forbidding the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools, is repealed.

1970 Britain’s first visitor centre opens at Carrbridge near Aviemore in Scotland.

1970s UK government limits lead in paint.

1979 Marital rape outlawed state by state in the US 1979-1993.

1980 The diagnosis “hysteria” is dropped from the DSM.

2003 Sexual Offences Act outlaws “causing a person to indulge in sexual activity without consent”.

2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act outlaws "stirring up hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".

2010 Catalonia bans bull-fighting.

2011 The FBI changes its official definition of rape (which spoke of the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”) to require penetration “without the consent of the victim”.

2013 In the UK, there were 40% fewer emergencies of all kinds for the fire service than ten years ago. (Could it be Health ‘n’ Safety?)

2013 The UN committee against torture said the UK must prohibit all techniques designed to inflict pain on children. (Letter to the Guardian, Aug 2014)

2014 Egypt outlaws sexual violence and harassment for the first time.

2014 June UK Government bans all existing and future Academies and Free Schools from teaching creationism as science.

2014 Judith Weir is first woman Master of the Queen’s Musick in 400 years.

2014 Civil partners can upgrade to marriage (with the changes they requested).

2014 Latest research shows that single mothers do just as good a job as couples. It’s poverty that’s bad for kids.

2014 Uganda’s anti-gay law ruled illegal by its Supreme Court.

2014 Evolution is on the UK primary school curriculum from September.

2014 Royal and Ancient Golf Club votes to accept women members.

2015 Sex with animals to be made illegal in Denmark.

1890 Mormon church ends polygamy (after the Federal government “escheated” its property and applied other sanctions like not giving Utah statehood).

1978 Black men are allowed to become Mormon priests (But in both cases, the Mormon church did not “change its mind” or “give in to pressure”, but “received revelations”.)

2014-09-01 A Utah Judge, Clark Waddoups, has ruled that the law against polygamy is unconstitutional. However, polygamous marriage is still illegal. In a polygamous family only one wife is married to the husband.


Schools are still required to hold a religious assembly every morning.

The Church of England controls thousands of state schools in a way which is democratically unaccountable, and it has a block of votes in the House of Lords.

Sami people (Lapps) are being displaced from their reindeer lands by a British company given rights to dig for iron. The Sami say the Swedish children get taught about Native Americans in schools, but not their own indigenous peoples. (via HC)

Every 30 seconds, the UK police receive a call about domestic violence.

There are still men who think that all domestic violence is the fault of the woman.

In South Africa, a woman is killed by her partner every eight hours. (Guardian)

The Philippines is the only country in the world, apart from Vatican City, that lacks divorce laws.

Twelve children die from violence every hour (says UNICEF).

Black literacy was illegal for the majority of American history.

“There are legal reforms that give daughters the right to inherit equally, and laws against dowries and sex-selective abortions” in India, says a New Scientist interviewee, but “enforcement can be difficult”. Changing laws changes minds, but some people take a long time to get it.


In my lifetime, schools and colleges have become more and more coed.

It’s much easier now for single women to obtain artificial insemination (in the olden days they used a friend and a “turkey baster”).

Thirty countries around the world have banned spanking in all settings. ( Dan Arel/Patheos)


Hotels no longer require unmarried couples to sign in as Mr and Mrs Smith.
Criminals are no longer condemned to “hard labour”.
Begging is no longer a crime.
People are no longer charged with being "rogues and vagabonds".

More here, and links to the rest.

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