When Taiwan became the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage last year, university professor Lois was among thousands of gay people who cheered and waved rainbow flags on the streets of the capital Taipei.
A year on, she and her Chinese partner still have no right to legally wed, like hundreds of such couples who face restrictions over international same-sex unions.
As Taiwan marked a year since passing its historic law in a region where gay rights progress is slow, LGBT+ rights groups have called for a full recognition of same-sex marriage to protect couples and families.
“I was so proud a year ago. Now I feel like I’m treated like a third-class citizen,” said Lois, 42, who refused to give her surname because she is not out at work.
MISSING PIECE OF PUZZLE
Same-sex marriage became legal in Taiwan on May 24 last year, a week after its parliament passed a bill offering similar protections of marriage to heterosexuals.
But gay people could only marry foreigners from a country where same-sex marriage is also legal, and adopt children biologically related to at least one of them.
Lois’s partner, who is from China where gay marriage is not recognised, had to give up her job in 2017 and become a student so she could stay on the island and raise their three-year-old son.
Because they are not legally married, Lois’s partner cannot get a spouse visa, and they have been apart since she and the couple’s son returned to China on holiday before Taiwan closed to visitors to control the spread of the coronavirus.
“Under the law, my son and I are strangers. I want us – my wife, my son – to be recognised as a family,” Lois told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Taipei.
Long seen as a beacon of liberalism in Asia, Taiwan became the first place in the region to allow gay marriage, although the move faced stiff opposition and divided the self-ruled island.
More than 3,500 gay couples have married since last year, official figures show. About 1,000 more could not due to restrictions on foreigners, LGBT+ groups estimate.
A petition this month calling for full recognition has been signed by more than 10,000 people, said the organiser, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, a charity.
“Many people have had to resort to using student or travel visas to stay here. It’s causing a lot of anxieties and uncertainties,” said Chien Chih-chieh, its secretary-general.
“It’s the final missing piece of the puzzle that we need to achieve marriage equality,” she added.
President Tsai Ing-wen, who won January’s election by a landslide and was sworn in for a second term on Wednesday, said society had become more diverse and open since passing the law.
“One year has passed, the values we want to protect still exist and at the same time, we have let more people embrace happiness together,” Tsai wrote on her official Facebook page.
“There are still a lot of measures that need to be adjusted after the law was approved,” she added, without specifying.
Her office did not reply to a request seeking comment on calls to allow all international gay marriages.
GAINS, SETBACKS IN ASIA
Elsewhere in Asia, progress towards gay marriage has been slow.
A court in the Philippines rejected a same-sex marriage petition last year and Hong Kong has upheld a ban on civil partnerships, although gay couples have made small gains in public housing and spousal visa rights.
Thailand drafted a bill that would recognise same-sex couples as civil partners, but progress since has stalled. Japanese gay couples meanwhile sued the government over the right to marriage last year.
“We understand changes in society take time,” said Jennifer Lu, a representative for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Asia.
She said the law passed in Taiwan was a breakthrough as it shows gay marriage does not contradicts “Asian values”.
Taiwanese publisher Lai Kai-li is optimistic that same-sex unions will be accepted more widely in Taiwan and other parts of Asia.
Her partner of six years is Malaysian and has been on a student visa in Taiwan since 2016, the same year they held a symbolic “wedding” under Chinese traditions to celebrate with families.
“We are hoping to settle down and have a family,” said the 37-year-old. “I’m confident it’s a matter of time, the law will accept us.”
(This story has been published from a wire agency without modifications to the text)
Coronavirus complications: Placentas from Covid-19- positive pregnant women show…
Researchers have found evidence of injury in the placentas from 16 women who tested positive for COVID-19 while pregnant, pointing to a new complication associated with the deadly disease.
The type of injury seen in the placentas shows abnormal blood flow between the mothers and their babies in the womb, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology.
The researchers from Northwestern University in the US said the findings, though early, could help inform how pregnant women should be clinically monitored during the pandemic.
“Most of these babies were delivered full-term after otherwise normal pregnancies, so you wouldn’t expect to find anything wrong with the placentas, but this virus appears to be inducing some injury in the placenta,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University.
“It doesn’t appear to be inducing negative outcomes in live-born infants, based on our limited data, but it does validate the idea that women with COVID should be monitored more closely,” Goldstein said.
This increased monitoring might come in the form of non-stress tests, which examine how well the placenta is delivering oxygen, or growth ultrasounds, which measure if the baby is growing at a healthy rate, said study co-author Emily Miller, assistant professor at Northwestern University.
“Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me,” Miller said.
Previous research has found that children who were in utero during the 1918-19 flu pandemic, which is often compared to the current COVID-19 pandemic, have lifelong lower incomes and higher rates of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.
Flu doesn’t cross the placenta, Goldstein said, so whatever is causing life-long problems in those people is most likely due to immune activity and injury to the placenta.
“Our study, and other studies like it, are trying to get on the ground floor for this exposure so we can think about what research questions we should be asking in these kids and what can or should we do now to mitigate these same types of outcomes,” Goldstein added.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed. )
Yoga for holistic health: Tackle obesity, depression and other mental health issues…
Yoga can play an important role in restoring health in a holistic manner and promoting better physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It is unfortunately a misunderstanding that since yoga is a passive fitness activity, it may not bring about desired weight loss results. In reality, even though yoga doesn’t involve rigorous exercise like a HIIT session or fast-paced aerobic activities, it can still help your body burn fat fast.
Yoga is a one-size-fits-all solution to stress and also helps alleviate other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Following a diet and eating in the right proportions can also aid in controlling blood pressure levels.
Yoga improves the functioning of your organs, strengthens your immunity, uplifts your mood and brings a plethora of additional benefits. To support a healthy lifestyle, you can adopt a healthy diet, cut down on your salt intake, and get quality sleep in order to feel refreshed and energetic each morning, says yoga expert Grand Master Akhsar.
If you are on a weight loss journey, there is nothing more effective than yoga for overall health benefits. “The evidence of its effectiveness is in yogis who have been lean and healthy for centuries. In fact, the weight loss yoga trends like hot yoga and hath yoga are all based on the traditional form of yoga,” says Dr Partap Chauhan, director Jiva Ayurveda. Apart from regular practice of yoga, one must also follow mitahara (measured eating), which is not the same as dieting. “To follow mitahara, one must eat as a form of devotion to the temple that is our body,” he adds.
In a fast-paced and results-driven world such as ours, we suffer from severe imbalance in work-life routines, and also desk-bound sedentary lifestyle giving rise to lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, hypotension, diabetes, PCOS, obesity, mental health issues and more. Hypertension is caused by stress, excess alcohol consumption, excess weight and excess salt/sugar within the diet and dehydration etc. High blood pressure can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, strokes, renal disorder and vascular dementia.
Weekly sessions of yoga with each session lasting between 20 and 90 minutes over a period of around 2.5 months, on average may help ease depressive symptoms in people with other mental health issues, proves a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 340 million people. And depressive symptoms often go hand in hand with other mental health issues, such as generalised anxiety and psychotic disorders, say the researchers.
Yoga practice involved a mixture of movement, breathing exercises, and/or mindfulness, but with the movement component comprising more than half of each session.
Regular yoga practice through asanas, pranayama and meditation can put you on the path to holistic well-being. Follow these asanas to alleviate the hypertension conditions and keep your mind and body calm.
Tadasana or Mountain pose
Stand tall with your feet together
Keep your spine aligned and posture erect
Relax your shoulders
Interlock your fingers, inhale and come on your toes
Exhale and bring your heels down
Try to repeat 3 sets of every posture and hold each asana for up to 30 seconds.
Vajrasana or Thunderbolt pose
Drop your knees down on your mat
Place your pelvis on your heels and point your toes outward
Here, your thighs should press your calf muscles
Keep your heels close to each other, and big toes together
Place your palms on your knees facing upward
Straighten your back and look forward
Note: This is the only pose that can be done on a full stomach, for all others a gap of atleast 4 hours between meals must be maintained.
Padamasana or Lotus Pose
Sit in Ardha Padmasana with your right foot over your left thigh
Lift your left foot and place it on your right thigh facing up
Pull your feet closer to your hips
Drop your knees to the floor
Place your palms on your knees facing up
Hold the asana for a while
Repeat with the other leg
Try to repeat 3 sets of every posture and hold each asana for up to 30 seconds.
Steps to curtail obesity and related ailments during lockdown
Proper nutrition and hydration are vital: Those who consume a well-balanced diet are healthier and are able to build stronger immune system. A healthy diet limits the risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases. It is recommended to eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day to accomplish the body’s requirement of necessary vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, proteins and antioxidants.
Consume whole grains and legumes: This also reduces the risk of Diabetes
Drink plenty water: At least 5 liters per day
Avoid sugar, fat and salt and do not consume sugar-sweetened beverages or oily food to significantly lower your risk of being overweight, and obese
Avoid sitting or slouching all the time: Even though we’re confined to our homes, it is important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible. Every 20 minutes, move around for 3-5 minutes; walk or stretch-this will help reduce the strain on a muscle, relieve any form of mental tension and will help circulate blood to the body
In current times focusing on good health, food habits and maintaining some level of physical activity will go a long way in warding off obesity and related ailments.
(Recommendations by Dr Sharad Sharma, Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, Mumbai)
— with IANS, ANI inputs
Romance makes a return amid social distancing
“I am only looking to get married now. I’ve wasted enough time playing the dating game,” says Sahil. He’s deleted all his dating apps and says he’s sure of what he wants. He’s asked his parents to help introduce him to eligible women. He’s even created a profile on a matrimonial website, something he’d sworn he would never do.
About 70% of the people I have coached since the lockdown began echo similar sentiments. They’re seeking a life partner, ASAP. Even though we have more time now, almost no one wants to ‘explore’ and ‘see where things go’. They want to establish the intent of long-term commitment upfront. As the world gets ready to welcome a new normal, a few other relationship trends have also emerged…
A decline in hook-ups: In the good old days, you could swipe, chat, meet over a drink and get lucky. At a time where people are scared to meet their loved ones and friends, getting intimate with a stranger is too risky. Not being able to meet and date offline, because of Covid-19, has helped shift the focus back to serious relationships. This is a direct by-product of social distancing.
More meaningful connections: Anaya is fatigued with being online for hours every day, and yet the urge to be with someone draws her to various apps. She’s noticed a definite shift in her attitude, though. If a guy tries to be witty, she feels literally enraged. Pointless small talk has become equally annoying. She feels herself becoming ruder, her fuse getting shorter, and has become hesitant to chat with new people. What she desires is something beyond the superficial. This makes sense. In times of stress and uncertainty, we are programmed to seek meaningful connections and shun superficial ones. Idle chitchat feels like a waste of time and energy. It’s an almost evolutionary response.
Greater permanence: Many of us have large chunks of time freed up and this has allowed for true introspection. For many, slowing down has led to a realisation that what they really want is a solid, enduring relationship — with one person. This is altering how people interact on online platforms, with more effort invested in fewer interactions, and a tendency to be less flippant and less judgmental.
The fundamental shift has been that romantic interactions in the new normal are more thoughtful. It’s a very different approach from the endless swiping. Covid-19 is a major catalyst, and whether its effects endure or not, it has already created one of the most rapid shifts in romantic behaviour since the advent of online dating.
Simran Mangharam is a dating coach and founder of floh.in, a real-world community for singles seeking a meaningful relationship
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