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International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Portugal to legalize same-sex marriage
Sources close to Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates, who is forming a new government following September elections, said October 23 that legalizing same-sex marriage will be one of the new team's first actions.

"The measure is part of the official program of the party and according to government sources, the move will be done as soon as [formation of] the government is complete," writes correspondent João Paulo from PortugalGay.pt.

Sócrates' Socialist Party captured 97 of Parliament's 230 seats. With 31 additional votes from members of the Left Bloc and the Communist Party, both of which support Gay marriage, Sócrates should be able to pass the bill easily.

Portugal has had a "de facto unions" law for opposite- and same-sex couples since 2001 that grants limited rights to couples who have lived together for at least two years.

Gay cop Gay-bashed in Liverpool, England
A 22-year-old off-duty trainee police officer was seriously Gay-bashed outside the Gay bar Superstar Boudoir in Liverpool, England, on October 25.

James Parkes was set upon by a gang of 20 youths and suffered multiple skull fractures and a broken cheekbone and eye socket. He was hospitalized in critical condition before being released October 30 to recuperate at home.

Citing language used by the bashers, police have deemed the assault a homophobic hate crime.

Twelve of the alleged assailants, some of whom are as young as 13, have been arrested.

Brazilian man barred from living in U.S. with American husband
The Obama administration let the clock run out October 23 on helping a Brazilian man who wants to return to Massachusetts to live with his U.S. husband.

Tim Coco and Brazilian Genésio Oliveira married in Massachusetts in 2005 and own a home together in a Boston suburb. Oliveira was sent home in August 2007 after losing an asylum case based on anti-Gay persecution he said he experienced in Brazil. He later also lost a case in which he sought to return to the U.S. based on his marriage to Coco. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had until Oct. 23 to overrule that decision on humanitarian grounds. He had been urged to do so by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

The anti-Gay Defense of Marriage Act, passed during Bill Clinton's presidency, prevents the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex spouses for any reason.

President Obama has said repeatedly that he supports DOMA's repeal and the extension to same-sex couples of every right and obligation of marriage - but he has taken no concrete steps to achieve his stated goals.

Coco and Oliveira have said they may sue the federal government over DOMA in hopes of being reunited.

Government threatens to close Turkish Gay group
The Black Pink Triangle Association in Izmir, Turkey, has become the latest Turkish GLBT organization to face a closure threat from the government.

The Izmir governor's office filed suit against the group, calling it illegal, immoral and anti-family. A hearing is scheduled for February 19, 2010.

The association plans to fight back.

"The prosecutor's demand for closure of our association is clearly a violation of civil rights," the group said in a statement. "Establishing an organization is a constitutional right and they want to take that right from us."

Previous governmental attempts to abolish GLBT organizations in Ankara and Istanbul failed after lengthy court proceedings.

Maltese president meets with ILGA-Europe
The president of Malta, George Abela, met with the executive board and staff members of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (aka ILGA-Europe) October 27 as the group prepared to open its 13th annual conference in the island nation.

During the meeting at the presidential palace, Abela said that information and education are important in tackling discrimination and fostering acceptance of differences - and that Malta has seen progress in GLBT acceptance.

He also said love is the most important thing there is and that it can't be "graded" based on sexual orientation.

It was the first time a head of state met with ILGA-Europe members during one of the group's annual conferences.

Kenya to count its Gays
Kenya, which bans Gay sex under penalty of 14 years in prison, is planning to count its Gay population as part of its efforts against HIV.

Officials don't expect the numbers to be accurate, but figure the results could help with projects such as condom distribution, safe-sex education and HIV testing.

Reports said Gay men will be expected to identify each other to government officials.

Argentina considers legalizing Gay marriage
Argentina's Congress has begun debate on legalization of same-sex marriage.

The bill is expected to survive a committee vote and advance to the full Chamber of Deputies. If passed there, it would move to the Senate.

Several Argentine cities, including Buenos Aires, and one province have local civil-union laws that grant some of the rights and obligations of marriage.

U.N. Human Rights Committee blasts Russia's treatment of Gays
The U.N. Human Rights Committee blasted Russia's treatment of Gay people October 29, saying they face "systematic discrimination" by the government.

"The Committee is concerned about acts of violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons, including reports of harassment by the police and incidents of people being assaulted or killed on account of their sexual orientation," it wrote in its periodic review of the nation. "The Committee notes with concern the systematic discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation in the State party [Russia], including hate speech and manifestations of intolerance and prejudice by public officials, religious leaders and in the media. The Committee is also concerned about discrimination in employment, health care, education and other fields, as well as the infringement of the right to freedom of assembly and association and notes the absence of legislation that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

The committee urged Russia to pass a national law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, launch a "sensitization campaign aimed at the general public ... to combat discrimination against LGBT persons," provide "appropriate training to law enforcement officials," and "take all necessary measures to guarantee the exercise in practice of the right to peaceful association and assembly for the LGBT community."

For the past four years, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has banned Gay pride events and sent riot police to violently arrest small groups of activists who ignored the bans. He has called Gay parades "satanic" and "weapons of mass destruction."

A group of combined lawsuits over the bans should see a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights sometime in 2010.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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picture: top - Malta
below: Russia
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