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Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Norway legalizes same-sex marriage
Norway's Parliament legalized same-sex marriage June 11 in an 84-41 vote.

Support came from the three-party ruling coalition as well as two opposition parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals. The Christian Democrats and the Progress Party opposed the move.

Norway has had a registered-partnership law that gives Gay couples nearly all rights of marriage since 1993, but some new rights will come along with the word "marriage." They include access to church weddings, adoption and state-funded artificial insemination.

The legislation requires that sperm donors be identified so that children born to Lesbian couples will be able to find their fathers if they want to.

Gay couples will be allowed to begin marrying in about six months.

Same-sex marriage also is allowed in Belgium, California, Canada, Massachusetts, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain. Canada and California have no residency requirement for marriage and visitors often can complete the process in a single day.

OAS condemns violations of GLBT human rights
The General Assembly of the Organization of American States unanimously adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity June 3.

Human Rights Watch praised the move and called on the 34 OAS member nations to ensure that the resolution is implemented.

"This resolution is a bold first step toward ending violence and discrimination," said Scott Long, director of HRW's LGBT Rights Program. "For the resolution to have an impact, concrete changes in law and policy must follow."

The OAS adopted the Brazil-sponsored "Resolution on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity" during its 38th session in MedellĂ­n, Colombia.

The nations also agreed to hold a special meeting "to discuss the application of the principles and norms" of the inter-American system to abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

More than 20 GLBT activists from 16 Latin American and Caribbean organizations met with OAS members during the session to advocate for the resolution.

In a separate process, OAS nations are negotiating the text of a proposed Inter-American Convention Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.

The resolution that was adopted expresses concern about violence and human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, asks a key OAS committee to address the topic before next year's session of the General Assembly in Honduras, and urges the organization's Permanent Council to report to the Honduras gathering on implementation of the resolution.

Deputy speaker of Polish lower house disparages Gays
Stefan Niesiolowski, a deputy speaker of Poland's lower house of Parliament, the Sejm, disparaged Gays June 5 during a televised debate on a court decision that deprived a Lesbian mother of custody of her 4-year-old daughter.

"The court didn't bow down to the pressure of the aggressive homosexual community, which came to make a scene as they usually do," Niesiolowski said. "This community is so compulsive that they tried to influence a court decision. & It's unacceptable for [the child] to have two mothers or fathers. If they [Gays] want to live together, then fine, but get the hell away from children."

Niesiolowski vowed to "fight the serious pathology which is a pair of Lesbians with a child."

"Not too long ago homosexuals said 'don't persecute us' and now they demand adoption and the right to raise children, and that will never be allowed," he said.

Ugandan activists arrested at AIDS conference
Three AIDS activists were arrested in Kampala, Uganda, June 3 for disrupting the 2008 HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting.

Onziema Patience, Valentine Kalende and Usaam Mukwaaya were seized by the Uganda Police Force for entering the conference without permission. They were carrying posters and handed out a press release.

The trio was charged with criminal trespass and released three days later. A hearing on the charges was scheduled for June 20.

The activists were protesting a statement by Uganda AIDS Commission Director General David Kihumuro Apuuli. On June 2, Apuuli reportedly said, "Gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda, but because of meager resources we cannot direct our programs at them at this time."

About 1,700 delegates from all over the world attended the meeting.

Thousands march in Tel Aviv
Thousands of people marched in Tel Aviv's 10th Gay pride parade June 6.

The march, funded by a $75,000 grant from the city, also was a celebration of the new gay community center in Gan Meir park.

A small group of counterdemonstrators carried signs that said: "Animals! You have nothing to be proud of - take your medication," local media reported.

Thousands march in Warsaw
Several thousand people marched in Warsaw's fourth Gay pride parade June 7 with the theme "Live, Love, Be."

Counterprotesters from All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp yelled insults at the marchers but there were no physical altercations.

A recent poll found that more than two-thirds of Poles wish Gays wouldn't broadcast their sexuality.

In 2007, pride organizers won a European Court of Human Rights case against former Mayor Lech Kaczynski, who is now Poland's president, over his attempted ban of the 2005 parade.

The court said the city breached European Convention on Human Rights provisions on discrimination, freedom of association and assembly, and access to an effective remedy.

Asian GLBT groups form new organization
GLBT groups from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have created a network to work jointly on issues that arise in the individual countries, The Jakarta Post reported June 9.

Representatives of the groups met June 2-6 in the Bali tourist resort area of Dusa Nua.

A spokesman for the Indonesian GLBT group Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Flag) told the Post that Gay people in those nations face similar problems of discrimination, stigmatization and persecution from religious groups.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

picture top: Tel Aviv Pride

picture bottom: Tel Aviv Pride,

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