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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

New Ecuadorean Constitution gives Gay couples marriage rights
Sixty-five percent of Ecuadoreans approved a new constitution September 28 that, among much else, grants all the rights of marriage to stable, monogamous same-sex couples who live together.

At the same time, the document bans Gay adoption and says marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The constitution also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV status; imposes upon Ecuadoreans a duty to respect and learn about sexual orientation and gender differences; and requires schools to teach about sexual rights.

President Rafael Correa has spoken forcefully in favor of equality for Gay couples.

"Jesus of Nazareth never preached hatred, homophobia or segregation; instead he knew to say, 'Love one another,'" Correa said in July.

"It is false that [the constitution] is recognizing as family the union of homosexuals. What we are doing is recognizing the dignity of all people without discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, etc."

"Let's hope, now that there's been so much talk about moral incompatibilities between the new constitution and the Gospel, sometimes utilizing falsehoods, that we also can talk with equal force about the profound incompatibility of the social situation - of that inequality, of that existing social injustice - with the Gospels," Correa said.



British Treasury minister enters civil partnership
British Treasury junior minister Angela Eagle and her partner of 18 years, Maria Exall, entered an official civil partnership September 27.

Civil partnerships in the United Kingdom carry the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. Eagle and Exall tied the knot in South London at the Southwark Register Office, accompanied by about 50 guests. A reception at Eagle's home and then a party at a bar followed.

Eagle, a Labour member of Parliament and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, is the only open Lesbian in the House of Commons.



18,000 at Taipei Pride
Some 18,000 people marched in the rain in the Taipei, Taiwan, Gay pride parade September 27.

It was believed to be the largest Gay pride parade in Asia to date, and was the city's ninth pride march.

Organizer Wang Ping said it's great that more Gay people are daring to be out but that they need to also take part in Gay rights activism.



Ahmadinejad: We don't execute homosexuals
In a September 26 interview with the radio program Democracy Now!, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation does not execute people for the crime of engaging in Gay sex.

There have been persistent, though unconfirmed, reports for years that Iran hangs men for committing sodomy.

Interviewer Amy Goodman showed Ahmadinejad a photo of the 2005 hanging of teens Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, widely reported to have been executed for engaging in Gay sex together, and asked: "July 19 is a day that is honored around the world, where two Gay teenagers, Iranian teens, were hung. This is a picture of them hanging. They were two young men, named Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Do you think Gay men and Lesbians should die in Iran?"

Ahmadinejad responded: "No, there is no law for their execution in Iran. Either they were drug traffickers or they had killed someone else. Those who kill someone else or engage in acts of rape could be punished by execution. Otherwise, homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hung. ... So, we don't have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment. It's basically an immoral act. There are a lot of acts that can be immoral, but there's no capital punishment for them."

"I don't know where you obtained these pictures from," he continued. "Either they're a network of drug traffickers or some other - or people who generally might have killed someone else. You know that we take our sort of social security seriously, because it's important."

Ahmadinejad also again denied that he'd said in New York last year that there are no Gay people in Iran.

"I didn't say they don't exist; I said not the way they are here [in the U.S.]," he said. "In Iran, it's considered as a very unlikable and abhorrent act. People simply don't like it. Our religious decrees tell us that it's against our values, and all divine laws, actually, believe in the same. Who has given them permission to engage in homosexual acts? It's considered as an abhorrent act. It shakes the foundations of a society, the family foundation. It robs humanity. It brings about diseases.

"It should be of no pride to the American society to say that they defend homosexuals and support it. It's not a good act, in and by itself, to then hold others accountable for banning it. And it's not called freedom, either. Sure, if somebody engages in an act in their own house without being known to others, we don't pay any attention to that. People are free to do what they like in their private realms. But nobody can engage in what breaks the law in public."

"Why is it that in the West all moral boundaries have been shaken?" he asked. "Just because some people want to get votes, they are ready to overlook every morality? This goes against the values of a society. It is the divine rule of the prophets. And then, of course, in Iran, it's not an issue as big as it is of concern here in the United States. There might be a few people who are known. In general, our country would not accept it. And there's a law about it, too, which one must follow."

Iran is known to have executed several teens and men accused of engaging in sodomy, but in the cases that have been publicized in recent years the individuals were accused of other crimes as well, such as rape.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has said it suspects that other charges often are tacked onto sodomy cases to prevent the public outrage that would accompany executions carried out solely for the crime of consensual adult Gay sex. The group also has said it believes executions solely for Gay sex are taking place out of the public eye.

"Our suspicions [are] that their current practice really is to rid society of Lesbians and Gay men," the organization said last year.

Human Rights Watch, on the other hand, has said it cannot fully document any executions in Iran in recent years carried out solely for the crime of consensual adult Gay sex.

Democracy Now! airs daily, among other places, on Pacifica, NPR, community and college radio stations.



Portuguese PM not interested in civil unions
Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates is not interested in creating civil unions for same-sex couples.

"Homosexual unions are not on the political agenda," he said September 27. "It is not in the government's program and the [Socialist Party] will not be instructed by other parties."

Two civil-union-related bills were slated for discussion in Parliament on October 10.



Comic who blasted pope won't be prosecuted
Famous Italian comic Sabina Guzzanti will not be prosecuted for saying in July that Pope Benedict XVI will go to hell for the church's treatment of Gay people.

The decision not to pursue an investigation was made by Justice Minister Angelino Alfano. A local prosecutor in Rome had suggested Guzzanti's comments broke a law that protects the dignity of Roman Catholics.

A Vatican spokesman said the church approved of the decision to drop the matter.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top: Rafael-Correa
bottom: Angela Eagle MP

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