Friday
September 8, 2006
SGN.org
Volume 34
Issue 36
 
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Rex Wockner
International News
SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE CIVIL-UNION LAW

South Africa's cabinet will introduce a bill in Parliament to create same-sex civil unions.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said the proposed law will complement the Marriage Act, giving same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married people.

But that may not go far enough. On Dec. 1, 2005, the nation's Constitutional Court gave lawmakers one year to change laws to allow Gay couples to marry under the Marriage Act itself. It said if Parliament failed to act by the deadline, the court would rewrite the act.

The court said prohibiting same-sex marriage violated South Africa's post-apartheid Constitution. The ruling was essentially unanimous, with the sole dissenter opposing only the one-year delay, arguing that the ruling should take effect immediately.

"The exclusion of same-sex couples from the benefits and responsibilities of marriage is not a small and tangential inconvenience resulting from a few surviving relics of societal prejudice destined to evaporate like the morning dew," the majority said. "It represents a harsh if oblique statement by the law that same-sex couples are outsiders, and that their need for affirmation and protection of their intimate relations as human beings is somehow less than that of heterosexual couples. It signifies that their capacity for love, commitment and accepting responsibility is by definition less worthy of regard than that of heterosexual couples. [T]he intangible damage to same-sex couples is as severe as the material deprivation."

Currently, same-sex couples have access to traditional marriage in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Massachusetts. Numerous nations, states and provinces around the world have enacted civil-union or domestic-partnership laws that grant registered same-sex couples some, most or all of the rights of marriage.

NEPALI GAYS LOBBY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION

Gays, Lesbians and Transgender people in Nepal are seeking protection in the new constitution that is being prepared, the Indo-Asia News Service reported Aug. 24.

They have demanded decriminalization of "unnatural sex," political representation, access to marriage or civil unions, and the addition of a Transgender category - in addition to male and female - on the citizenship card and other government certificates.

Organizations pushing for the changes include the GLBT Blue Diamond Society and the Lesbian group Mitini Nepal.

CANADIAN PARTY TO STAND FIRM ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Canada's Bloc Québécois political party has promised to stand united against Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to initiate parliamentary reconsideration of the 2005 vote that legalized same-sex marriage.

All of the party's 51 members in the 308-member House of Commons will be expected to vote in favor of same-sex marriage in any reassessment of the matter.

The 29 members of the New Democratic Party are planning to do the same.

Recent polling found that 62 percent of Canadians oppose any attempt to take away same-sex couples' access to marriage.

LATVIANS WHO ATTACKED GAYS PUNISHED

Some of the protesters who pelted Latvian Gays with excrement on pride day have been punished.

The July 22 attacks in Riga occurred outside a Gay religious service and meetings at a hotel - events which replaced the planned Gay pride parade after it was banned by the City Council and a court.

GLBT people coming and going from the events were confronted by Christian fundamentalists, ultranationalists and neo-Nazis, some of whom threw eggs, rotten food and human feces.

To date, seven of the protesters have been fined from $42 to $92 for petty hooliganism.

Linda Freimane, spokeswoman for the pride organizing group Mozaika, called the punishments inadequate, saying the attackers should have been charged with criminal hooliganism.

"This is not petty hooliganism but an incitement to hatred," she said. "The punishment for such activities must be heavier so the others would [see] clear that similar activities carry heavy punishment and the state considers them as serious offences."

Latvia's general prosecutor has agreed with Mozaika and is attempting to have the decisions annulled and the attackers retried under criminal statutes.

BRIT PRO SOCCER TEAM EMBRACES GAYS

In an unprecedented move, top-level British professional soccer team Manchester City Football Club has paid "four figures" to join the Diversity Champions program of the leading national Gay-rights group Stonewall, The Observer reported Aug. 27.

The action commits the team to recruit Gays to work at the stadium, reach out to Gay fans, ban homophobic language and implement other "Gay-friendly" initiatives.

"We want to send a welcoming message to Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual supporters, be inclusive and be a progressive employer," said Alistair Mackintosh, the club's chief executive.

The Observer, which said Mackintosh's sister is an open Lesbian, commented, "The move could lead to a dramatic change of attitude in the macho world of football, which is regarded as one of the last bastions of homophobia."

WORLDPRIDE PARADE RESCHEDULED

The WorldPride parade, scheduled for Aug. 10 in Jerusalem but cancelled because hundreds of police officers needed to protect it were unavailable due to the war in Lebanon, will take place Sept. 21, organizers have announced.

But the Jerusalem police department has stated it will not allow the march to occur so close to the Jewish New Year holiday season. Officials said they're open to considering other dates.

Pride organizers responded that they won't back down a second time and will go to court to secure the Sept. 21 date if necessary.

Orthodox Jews had threatened a massive counterdemonstration against the August parade, which also was opposed by Christian and Muslim religious figures, the mayor, and right-wing politicians in the "holy city."

At last year's local pride parade, an ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed three marchers and was later convicted of attempted murder. Orthodox Jews tried to block the march, and some 1,000 antiGay militants staged a rowdy action during which some threw bottles of urine and bags of feces at the marchers.

WorldPride, which was last held in 2000 in Rome, is licensed by InterPride, the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Coordinators.
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