by Rex Wockner -
SGN Contributing Writer
Same-sex marriage bill introduced in Uruguay
Buoyed by the legalization of same-sex marriage in next-door Argentina, activists in Uruguay have arranged the introduction in Parliament of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
The measure was introduced by a member of the ruling Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition, Deputy Sebastián Sabini of the People's Participation Movement party.
'We are optimistic about the bill being voted into law, since the Frente Amplio has the majority needed to do so,' said Álvaro Queiruga of the activist group Black Sheep Collective. 'Also, a few opposition MPs have stated they are in favor of the bill.'
Irish partnerships begin
Gay and Lesbian couples began entering into civil partnerships in Ireland April 5.
The law took effect January 1, but requires couples to give three months' notice prior to tying the knot before a registrar.
Civil partners receive marriage rights and obligations in matters such as taxes, pensions, property, tenancy, inheritance, alimony, immigration, and social benefits.
To end a partnership, a couple must go before a court and prove they've not lived together for two of the last three years.
The law also recognizes foreign same-sex unions and provides some rights for unregistered couples who have lived together for at least five years.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern called the law 'one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation to be enacted since independence.'
Korean military sodomy law upheld
South Korea's Constitutional Court on March 31 upheld the army's ban on Gay sex, saying it is not 'unnecessarily discriminatory' and helps maintain order.
Violators of the ban can be imprisoned for up to two years.
'This is a great disappointment to everyone who has fought against the clause for years and a terrible disgrace to the nation's legal system and society at large,' said the Chingusai Korean Gay Men's Human Rights Group.
'Furthermore, it renders the situation even more dangerous for Gay soldiers because, due to the continuing tension between North Korea and South Korea, military service is mandatory for all able-bodied men.'
Gay sex is not illegal in civilian life in South Korea.
Liechtenstein OKs registered partnerships
Liechtenstein's Parliament has passed a registered-partnership law that will take effect in September.
The tiny European nation is between Switzerland and Austria.
All political parties supported the law, which could be, but probably will not be, subjected to a voter referendum, activist groups said.
Same-sex couples registered under the law will have the same rights as married people except in areas such as second-parent adoption, artificial insemination and surrogacy, according to the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association.
Euro Court hears another Russian Gay case
The European Court of Human Rights is hearing a case brought by the LGBT group Rainbow House in Tyumen, Russia, over local officials' refusal to register the group as a legal entity.
At present, the court has sent a series of questions to the Russian government that must be answered within three months.
In blocking the group's official registration, local Justice Ministry officials reportedly said its goals - protecting human dignity, rights and freedoms, and providing social and psychological support to LGBT people - contradict fundamental morality.
Last October, the Euro Court ruled against Russia in the matter of Moscow's ongoing bans of Gay pride events. The court found that the nation violated the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy, and prohibition of discrimination.
Tyumen, population 609,000, is about 1,300 miles east of Moscow.
Euro Parliament updates asylum system
The European Parliament on April 6 updated the European Union's system for examining asylum claims and now plans to categorize people fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity as a 'special needs' group.
The move will help protect unsuccessful LGBT asylum-seekers from being fast-tracked for deportation and create a process for training national asylum officials on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other changes.
'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people fleeing countries such as Iraq, Uganda, Honduras, or Indonesia must receive particular protection,' said MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, vice president of the Parliament's LGBT Intergroup. 'This is a major step towards fully complying with our engagements under international asylum law.'
Intergroup Vice President Rui Tavares added, 'The European Parliament is showing that asylum rules need updating to reflect reality: 76 countries criminalize homosexual acts, and seven foresee the death penalty.'
The rules will be officially amended once EU national governments examine them and agree to them.
Council of Europe to protect LBT women
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on April 6 adopted a convention to protect women from violence, including violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The convention, which will come into force when ratified by 10 member states, will be the first legally binding international agreement to directly cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
The European Region of ILGA - the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association - called the development 'a major step forward in the fight against gender-based violence and towards full protection of women across Europe from both domestic violence and in other circumstances such as violence in public places, forced marriage, rape, 'honor' crimes and genital mutilation.'
'ILGA-Europe warmly welcomes the adoption of the convention and the recognition that Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans women are particularly vulnerable to violence and require a specific measure of protection,' said board co-chair Linda Freimane.
She added: 'While celebrating this important advance, we are shocked that at all stages the Russian Federation and Holy See opposed specific inclusion of protection from violence for LBT women in the convention, raising disturbing questions regarding the extent of their commitment to such fundamental rights as the right to life and the right to protection from violence.'
The Council of Europe is the continent's main intergovernmental organization with a human-rights focus and is the seat of the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers represents the national governments of the council's 47 member countries.
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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