COURT OKs CANADIAN MARRIAGE BAN
The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled Oct. 3 that Canada's ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory but permissible.
"The objective of limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is sufficiently important to warrant infringing the rights of the petitioners," Justice Ian Pitfield ruled. "The gain to society from the preservation of the deep-rooted and fundamental legal institution of opposite-sex marriage outweighs the detrimental effect of the law on the petitioners."
The 16 plaintiffs and their lawyers were taken aback.
"Our clients knew when they started that this would be a case that would go on for five years," lawyer barbara findlay told the Canadian Press wire service. findlay does not capitalize her name. "But the anguish of being told that we recognize that you're being discriminated against but that discrimination is acceptable, is very difficult to describe."
"It is disheartening," plaintiff Shane McCloskey told the National Post. "In our minds it was a pretty simple case. One of the main things that we were arguing was that by not being allowed to get married it was discrimination. The ironic part of the judgment is that the judge agreed with us, but said that is justifiable. That is really hard to take. None of us think that discrimination is justifiable in any circumstance."
The plaintiffs will appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal and, if necessary, to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"This is just the beginning," said plaintiff Robin Roberts.
The ruling did have a silver lining, the plaintiffs said, in that it marked the first time a Canadian court admitted the ban on same-sex marriage is indeed discriminatory.
"I am very encouraged," said plaintiff Tess Healy. "The court has made a groundbreaking decision in finding that it is contrary to the charter to exclude us from marriage. ... We believe that we are right, and we are in this case for the long haul."
The court relied on Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to hold that it is discriminatory yet legally acceptable to exclude gays and lesbians from marriage. Section 1 permits breaches of the charter when the breach is justifiable.
AMBASSADOR'S HOMOSEXUALITY A BIG DEAL IN ROMANIA
The United States' new openly gay ambassador to Romania, Michael Guest, has been greeted in Bucharest with "homophobic hysteria," Britain's The Guardian reported Oct. 3.
Romanian newspapers reported Guest's sexual orientation in banner headlines and the nationalist Union of the Romanian Hearth called his appointment an "affront to Romanian traditions," the newspaper said.
Officially, the government warmly welcomed Guest. Romanian political leaders believe his particular areas of expertise will speed the nation's entry into the European Union and NATO.
In Washington, Romania's ambassador to the U.S., Sorin Ducaru, told the Washington Times: "This was no surprise to the Romanian government. This is a non-issue. He is a highly respected diplomat, and we knew he would come with his partner. Knowing Ambassador Guest, I very much appreciate his character and his great professionalism."
South Africa's Johannesburg High Court Sept. 28 struck down laws that prevented gay couples from adopting children.
The ruling came in a case launched by lesbian judge Anna-Marie de Vos who adopted two children six years ago and wanted her partner, Suzanne du Toit, to be able to adopt them also.
The ruling will not take effect until it is confirmed by the Constitutional Court. Du Toit said that should be a formality.
South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first constitution in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
TUTU: YOU ARE
WHAT YOU ARE
The Bible's determinations regarding "natural" and "unnatural" aren't worth much, former Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu said Sept. 30.
Addressing a conference on homophobia in Cape Town, Tutu said: "I want to say sorry to you and all the others who have been made to suffer so horribly. We in the church have a great deal to answer for.
"Sometimes the Bible says these things are unnatural. But, I ask, unnatural to whom? I support and firmly stand with those who say, 'We are as we are and don't want to apologize for that.'"
The future of New Zealand's biggest annual gay-pride celebration, the Hero Parade, is in doubt after its chief executive moved to Australia leaving the organization up to $NZ100,000 in debt.
The next parade is scheduled for Feb. 23.
PANAMANIAN GROUP FINALLY REGISTERED
After a three year legal battle, the New Men and Women Association of Panama has achieved legal registration.
The gay organization had been denied official status by the Ministry of Government and Justice on the grounds that its aims were contrary to "morals and good habits."
The ministry relented, according to the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, after the association received support from the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States.
The world's first openly transsexual member of parliament, New Zealand's Georgina Beyer, has decided not to retire after all.
Beyer had said in May that she would not seek a second term because she wanted to spend more time with her Maori tribe and family, and work on gay and human-rights issues.
"It was not my intention to be in politics forever," she said. "There are other things that I want to do in my life."
Beyer changed her mind after voters across the political spectrum urged her to stay, she said.
Beyer represents the conservative Wairarapa region in the southeastern corner of the North Island.
Before becoming a politician, she was a nationally known actor and, before that, a prostitute, stripper and drag queen.