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International News - Rex Wocknerx
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

No stay on Indian ruling that legalized Gay sex
India's Supreme Court on July 20 refused a request to stay the recent Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalized Gay sex nationwide, legalizing 17 percent of the world's Gay population.

The court said it wanted to wait to officially hear what the government thinks of the ruling  and gave the government eight weeks to reveal its hand in cases that have been filed seeking to overturn the decision.

Appearing before the court for the federal government, Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati argued against a stay, saying the ruling is not problematic because it only applies to consenting adults.

The forceful and poetic July 2 High Court ruling "read down" Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code so that it no longer applies to the activities of consenting adults. The section bans "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" under penalty of 10 years to life in prison.

The court smashed 377's application to Gay people in myriad ways, finding it violated a constitutional guarantee of equality under the law, a constitutional ban on discrimination based on sex, and constitutional promises of personal liberty and protection of life.

The High Court said: "The criminalization of homosexuality condemns in perpetuity a sizable section of society and forces them to live their lives in the shadow of harassment, exploitation, humiliation, cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of the law enforcement machinery. ... Section 377 IPC grossly violates their right to privacy and liberty. ..."

"Section 377 IPC targets the homosexual community as a class and is motivated by an animus towards this vulnerable class of people. ... It has no other purpose than to criminalize conduct which fails to conform with the moral or religious views of a section of society. The discrimination severely affects the rights and interests of homosexuals and deeply impairs their dignity. ..."

"We hold that sexual orientation is a ground analogous to sex and that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not permitted. ... '[R]ight to personal liberty' and 'right to equality' are fundamental human rights which belong to individuals simply by virtue of their humanity. ... A Bill of Rights does not 'confer' fundamental human rights. It confirms their existence and accords them protection."

Outer Hebrides see first Gay union
Scotland's Outer Hebrides islands saw their first Gay civil union July 20 when children's TV host Andrew Robertson tied the knot with partner Craig Atkins at a registry office in Stornoway.

The couple then slipped out a back entrance to avoid reporters.

The civil-partnership law has been in effect since 2003.

Robertson works for the BBC and Atkins is the marketing manager for Stornoway's An Lanntair art center.

Swedish Lesbians more likely to marry than Gay men
Statistics Sweden reported July 21 that 37 Lesbian couples and 11 Gay male couples have married since same-sex marriage became legal on May 1.

The agency also reported that in the past 10 years, the number of children being raised by couples who took advantage of the nation's civil-union law has increased from about 70 to 749.

Forty-three of the kids have two dads and 706 have two moms.

"It's easier for female same-sex couples to have children," a spokesperson for the national gay group RFSL told Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. RFSL's former initials are now its full name.

ILGA-Europe maps Euro equality
The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (aka ILGA-Europe) has created a map of the legal situation for European LGBs.

"The Rainbow Europe map reflects legal advances such as protection from discrimination, recognition of LGB families and parenting rights, inclusion of sexual orientation in hate speech/crime legislation," the group said. "The map also highlights the 'darker' corners of Rainbow Europe, where there is still criminalization of consenting same-sex acts, unequal age of consent and where Pride events have been banned during last 10 years."

Among the findings:

* Two countries ban anti-Gay discrimination in their constitutions -- Portugal and Sweden;

* Thirteen countries and one territory have laws banning anti-Gay discrimination in employment only, while 25 countries and five territories ban such discrimination in both employment and access to goods and services;

* Fifteen countries have hate-crime/speech laws that cover sexual orientation;

* Same-sex couples can marry in five nations (Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden) and can enter into civil unions in 13 nations and two territories;

* Nine countries let Gay couples adopt children together, 11 allow second-parent adoption, and 10 provide insemination services to Lesbian couples;

* Two countries (Greece and Cyprus) and two territories (Gibraltar and Guernsey) have unequal age-of-consent laws for male-male sex, one territory (North Cyprus) still bans Gay-male sex, and eight nations banned Gay pride or other public Gay events over the past 10 years  Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Russia and Ukraine.

JPEGs of the two-sided map can be downloaded at tinyurl.com/ilga-m-1 and tinyurl.com/ilga-m-2.

U.S. Gay magazine intercepted by Belarus customs
Pride, the annual magazine of the U.S.-based InterPride organization, has been intercepted by customs officials in Minsk, GayBelarus.by reported July 22.

Officials said the magazines, sent to the organization GayBelarus, were taken into custody because GayBelarus is not legally registered and the magazines were not intended for the personal use of the final recipient, Sergey Androsenko.

GayBelarus said the "rigid" process for registering is "complicated" and that numerous entities have been thwarted, including political parties, trade unions and activist groups.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly said last year, "The weapon of the most destructive forces is in the hands of mass media, so they should be supervised by the government," according to GayBelarus' translation.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - top: India story
below: Sweden
bottom: Outer Hebrides wedding
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