Mexico City legalizes same-sex marriage
Mexico City's Legislative Assembly voted 39-20 to legalize same-sex marriage Dec. 21.
Mayor Marcelo Ebrard supports the measure and will sign it. It redefines "marriage" as "the free uniting of two people." The bill also explicitly legalizes adoption by gay couples.
Federal benefits, such as pension, inheritance and social-security rights, will remain off-limits to married gay couples without changes in federal law to recognize the Mexico City marriages.
Politicians from Mexican President Felipe Calder�"n's conservative National Action Party have threatened to try to overturn the new law via a challenge in the Supreme Court, arguing that it violates the federal constitution.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. It also is legal in the United States in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
UK rugby legend comes out
United Kingdom rugby legend Gareth Thomas, 35, came out Dec. 18 in an interview with the Daily Mail.
The move was particularly noteworthy because Thomas is not retired. He still plays for the Cardiff Blues.
"I was like a ticking bomb," he told the Mail. "I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself, but I couldn't. It was who I was and I just couldn't ignore it anymore. ... It's been really tough for me hiding who I really am, but I don't want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby, or some frightened young kid."
Thomas said he didn't come out publicly earlier "because I knew I would never be accepted as a gay man and still achieve what I wanted to achieve in the game."
He married his high-school sweetheart, Jemma, in 2002 but the couple split in 2006 because of his gayness.
Thomas said he had been so depressed and despondent over living a double life that he repeatedly contemplated suicide.
"I used to go to the cliffs overlooking the beach near our cottage in St. Brides Major and just think about jumping off and ending it all," he said.
Thomas told the Mail he doesn't know of any other professional gay rugby players, but "statistically I can't be the only one."
The full, lengthy article is worth the read. See tinyurl.com/garethout.
Portugal to have same-sex marriage soon
Portugal's Socialist government has formally presented its legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, and gay weddings likely will start in April.
Parliament will vote on the bill Jan. 8. A majority of MPs belong to the government party or other parties that support same-sex marriage, so there is no question the bill will pass.
Some gay activists have criticized the bill because it specifically excludes access to adoption for gay couples.
The group Panteras Rosa accused the government of "cowardice" and called the bill "second-class marriage."
Other gay groups praised the measure, with one leading organization calling it "historic."
PEI finally fixes laws related to same-sex marriage
The Canadian province of Prince Edward Island has finally fixed 29 laws that have needed modifying since same-sex marriage became legal nationwide in 2006.
Several of the statutes referred to married couples only in opposite-sex terminology.
Officials said the delay created a backlog of paperwork in some areas, including changing the birth certificates of children who have two moms or two dads.
3rd World Outgames go to Antwerp in 2013
The third World Outgames, the Olympics-style extravaganza that competes with the Gay Games, will be staged in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2013, the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association announced in late December.
GLISA's Tatjana Eggeling said the city and province of Antwerp and the Flemish government "have taken partnership in the project and will provide both financial and in-kind support now and in the years to come."
GLISA said 2009's second World Outgames in Copenhagen saw "a positive financial result," following the financial disaster of the first games staged in Montreal in 2006.
The Outgames were born after the Gay Games organization had a falling-out with its local organizers in Montreal, who responded by launching the duplicate international games.
GLISA said its regional "continental" Outgames in Calgary, Canada, in 2007 and Melbourne, Australia, in 2008 also ended up in the black. Additional continental Outgames will take place in Vancouver, Canada, and Wellington, New Zealand, in 2011.
Hillary Clinton denounces Ugandan 'kill the gays' bill
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denounced Uganda's "kill the gays" bill in an appearance at Georgetown University.
She also addressed anti-gay activity in Iraq and Iran.
"Over this past year, we have elevated into our human rights dialogues and our public statements a very clear message about protecting the rights of the LGBT community worldwide," Clinton said. "And we are particularly concerned about some of the specific cases that have come to our attention around the world. There have been organized efforts to kill and maim gays and lesbians in some countries that we have spoken out about, and also conveyed our very strong concerns about to their governments -- not that they were governmentally implemented or even that the government was aware of them, but that the governments need to pay much greater attention to the kinds of abuses that we've seen in Iraq, for example."
"We are deeply concerned," she continued, "about some of the stories coming out of Iran. In large measure, in reaction, we think, to the response to the elections back in June, there have been abuses committed within the detention facilities and elsewhere that we are deeply concerned about. And then the ... piece of legislation in Uganda which would not only criminalize homosexuality but attach the death penalty to it. We have expressed our concerns directly, indirectly, and we will continue to do so. The bill has not gone through the Ugandan legislature, but it has a lot of public support by various groups, including religious leaders in Uganda. And we view it as a very serious potential violation of human rights.
"So it is clear that across the world this is a new frontier in the minds of many people about how we protect the LGBT community, but it is at the top of our list because we see many instances where there is a very serious assault on the physical safety and an increasing effort to marginalize people. And we think it's important for the United States to stand against that and to enlist others to join us in doing so."
The Ugandan legislation, the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009," would imprison for life anyone convicted of "the offense of homosexuality"; punish "aggravated homosexuality" -- including repeat offenders, or anyone who is HIV-positive and has gay sex -- with the death penalty; forbid "promotion of homosexuality" and incarcerate rights defenders who work on LGBT rights; and imprison anyone for up to three years if they fail to report within 24 hours anyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or who supports GLBT human rights.
A Dec. 9 news report by Bloomberg said officials plan to "drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays ... to attract the support of religious leaders who are opposed to these penalties." But on Dec. 13, the bill's author told Britain's The Observer there is no such plan. On Dec. 22, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported that anti-gay Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni privately assured U.S. officials he will veto the bill.
In Iraq, according to Human Rights Watch, militias are torturing and murdering men suspected of engaging in gay sex or of not being manly enough, and the authorities have done nothing to stop the killing.
The organization has documented a campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings and torture that began in early 2009 in the Baghdad district of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, then spread to other locations.
The killers invade homes and grab people on the street. Victims are interrogated for names of others before being murdered. Torture practices include supergluing victim's anuses shut, then feeding them laxatives.
Iraqi gays say they also face "honor killings" by homophobic parents and brothers who believe "unmanly" behavior shames the family or tribe.
"Hundreds of men may have died," according to HRW, though the precise figure is "almost impossible" to determine.
Consensual adult gay sex is not illegal under Iraqi law but the militias have claimed to be enforcing Islamic religious law.
Iran has the death penalty for sodomy and has used it, although in nearly all the cases that have been publicized, the teens and men who were hanged were accused of additional crimes as well, such as homosexual rape.
In a 2008 interview, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied that people are executed solely for having gay sex.
"Homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hanged," he told the Democracy Now! radio program. "So, we don't have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment."
A year earlier, speaking in New York City, Ahmadinejad had claimed that "we in Iran don't have homo-play ( hamjensbaz ) like you have in your country."
"In our country, there is no such thing," he said. "In Iran ... absolutely such a thing does not exist as a phenomenon. I don't know who told you otherwise."
"Hamjensbaz" -- "same-gender play/player" -- is a derogatory term for people who chase after those of the same sex in pursuit of sexual pleasure. A newer word, "hamjensgara" -- "same-gender-oriented" -- refers to gay folks.
Assistance: Bill Kelley