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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Gay marriage is legal in Mexico City
Mexico City's law legalizing same-sex marriage took effect March 4 and hundreds of Gay and Lesbian couples applied for marriage licenses at civil-registry offices.

The first weddings are expected around March 12 when the couples' documents have been processed.

The law, which passed the Legislative Assembly in a 39-20 vote on December 21, redefined marriage as "the free uniting of two people." It also legalized adoption by same-sex couples.

By law, marriages entered into in Mexico City must be recognized elsewhere in the nation.

On March 14, a mass Gay wedding is planned in the city's Cuauhtémoc district. Local officials said some 300 couples will tie the knot.

Euro Court considers same-sex marriage case
The European Court of Human Rights held its first-ever hearing in a same-sex marriage case February 25.

The hearing considered the admissibility and merits of a case from Austria, Schalk and Kopf v. Austria. A decision on those points will be forthcoming.

The court granted permission to Prof. Robert Wintemute to make oral submissions on behalf of four intervening parties: the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association; the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Center; the International Commission of Jurists; and the Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme.

Horst Michael Schalk and Johann Franz Kopf are a Gay couple in Vienna. They were denied a marriage license in 2002 by the Vienna Municipal Office, which said people of the same sex can't marry.

The couple appealed to Vienna's regional governor and then the Constitutional Court, losing both times.

Their European case argues that in refusing them a marriage license, Austria violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantee the rights to marry, protect one's property and not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.

The sometimes notoriously slow ECHR has been sitting on the case for more than five years.

UK Gay humanists denounce government's "kowtowing" to religion
England's Pink Triangle Trust, a Gay humanist group, denounced the House of Commons on February 24 for passing an amendment to the Children, Schools and Families Bill that would allow sex education to be taught in a way that "reflects" a school's "religious character."

"This bill ... will shift the focus of the law as it applies to faith schools away from the needs of children, towards the religious prejudices of the school," said PTT Secretary George Broadhead.

A recent study by the Gay lobby group Stonewall found higher levels of anti-Gay bullying in religious schools, Broadhead noted.

"How is this going to be tackled if such schools are permitted to teach pupils that Gay sexual relationships are sinful?" he asked.

Hundreds of thousands at Sydney Mardi Gras
Several hundred thousand people turned out for Sydney's 33rd Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on February 27.

Nearly 10,000 people took part in the parade, and there were 135 floats. One entry featured 150 dancing George Michaels.

Transsexual U.S. model Amanda Lepore led the procession which, despite its overwhelming frivolity, also was a protest against the federal Senate's recent rejection of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Cyprus may legalize same-sex marriage
Cyprus is going to look at legalizing same-sex marriage, Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Lazaros Savvides told the Cyprus Mail on February 28.

He said a large group of government officials will meet in March to tackle the topic.

A Gay resident of the island sparked the moves by complaining that his not being allowed to marry his partner amounted to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden; in Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province; and in Washington, D.C., and the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. It will become legal later this year in Portugal.

Homophobe appointed Russian deputy justice minister
An anti-Gay member of Russia's upper chamber of Parliament has been appointed deputy minister of justice, GayRussia.ru reported March 1.

Vasily Likhachev has expressed support for the Ministry of Justice's recent refusal to register the Gay organization Marriage Equality Russia, saying, "The steps taken by the representatives of the Gay community contradict the general state of morality of Russian society because it is not our culture and our form of relations."

In 2006, Likhachev said: "Already in seven countries of the European Union, homosexuals are allowed to adopt children. The number of countries where same-sex marriages are permitted continues to grow. That's why in questions concerning Gays, there shouldn't be maximum permissiveness; otherwise, we will go too far and the development of the world will go in the wrong direction."

He has defended Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's perennial bans of Moscow Pride, saying: "City authorities are absolutely right in not following the interests of sexual minorities. There could not be any other discussion here. ... The respect of human rights must not violate the moral and ethical."

Moscow Pride denounced Likhachev's appointment.

"The new deputy minister of justice does not consider the rights of homosexuals to depend on the constitution or the law of this country," said spokesman Nikolai Baev. "Morals, ethics and the interest of the majority of the population are sufficient in his eyes to discriminate against us."

Correction India's Aligarh Muslim University is in the city of Aligarh, not Lucknow, as incorrectly stated last week.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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