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This article shared 3252 times since Wed Dec 15, 2004
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Canadian Supremes OK

Gay Marriage

Asked for its thoughts on the matter by the federal government, Canada's Supreme Court declared unanimously Dec. 9 that there are no obstacles to nationwide legalization of full same-sex civil marriage.

'Several centuries ago it would have been understood that marriage should be available only to opposite-sex couples,' the court wrote. 'The recognition of same-sex marriage in several Canadian jurisdictions as well as two European countries belies the assertion that the same is true today. ... Our constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.'

In response to the ruling, the government said it will introduce a same-sex marriage bill in Parliament promptly. It is expected that the measure will pass.

'We will move ahead ... with all deliberate speed to introduce legislation which will extend civil marriage to gays and lesbians,' said Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.

'Fundamentally it comes down to equality rights,' said Prime Minister Paul Martin. 'I do not believe you can have two classes of citizens.'

Eighty-six percent of Canadians already live in places where courts have legalized same-sex marriage: British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec and the Yukon Territory.

Federal action will extend same-sex marriage rights to the other 14 percent of the population in Alberta, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island.

The Supreme Court also said that churches should not be forced to marry same-sex couples.

'State compulsion on religious officials to perform same-sex marriages contrary to their religious beliefs would violate ... the [ C ] harter [ of Rights and Freedoms ] ,' the court said.

Full same-sex marriage also is available in Belgium, the Netherlands and Massachusetts. Numerous nations grant same-sex couples some, most or all the rights of marriage under registered-partnership or civil-union laws.

New Zealand passes civil-unions law

New Zealand's Parliament passed a civil-unions law for gay and straight couples Dec. 9 by a vote of 65 to 55.

Registered couples will receive the same rights and responsibilities as married people.

Recent polling showed that New Zealanders opposed recognizing gay relationships by a margin of three to one.

The measure takes effect in April.

Partner bill passes Polish Senate

A bill granting registered same-sex couples some marriage rights passed Poland's Senate Dec. 3 by a vote of 38-23 with 15 abstentions.

It now moves to the Sejm, the lower house of Parliament, where it may face strong opposition, says correspondent Slawek Starosta.

The measure would grant gay couples spousal rights in areas such as taxes, hospital visitation and inheritance.

A spokesman for the Polish Roman Catholic hierarchy said the measure is unconstitutional because Poland's Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Aussies stage kiss-in for partner rights

About 500 gays, lesbians and supporters staged a kiss-in outside the South Australia state Parliament in Adelaide Dec. 6 to protest possible delaying tactics on a partnership bill.

Antigay MPs are trying to banish the Relationships Bill to a committee, which could slow it down or kill it.

The legislation would amend more than 80 laws to give gay couples a host of marriage rights.

'I sometimes wish the intolerant fundamentalists who oppose this bill would come out and say they want to turn the clock back 30 years and reintroduce criminality for same-sex relationships,' said Greens MP Kris Hanna, according to the Australian Associated Press. 'I wish they would come out and say it so we could confront them head on as the intolerant bigots they are.'

Lesbian activist Kerryn Phelps, a former president of the Australian Medical Association, also blasted the Christian activists.

'For too long people have been getting away with using the Bible and using organized religion as an excuse ... for continued injustice, for continued inequality, for continued disrespect for our lives, for our relationships and our love,' she said at the rally, according to AAP.

Israeli court affirms men's relationship

Tel Aviv's Family Court recognized a child-support agreement drafted by a male couple, overruling a government decision on the matter, the Ha'aretz daily newspaper reported Dec. 7.

The men, a couple for 19 years, impregnated a female friend and one of the men legally married her. The woman gave birth to twins and the men then created a financial agreement with her for the babies' care.

Family Court Judge Yehuda Granit ruled that the government's refusal to recognize the agreement violated the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty.

'One would expect an attorney general in a democratic society to work to adjust the law to the reality of life; to defend the rights of all members of society, regardless of their sexual orientation; to be aware of existing and developing realities in society; and not to serve as an automatic mouthpiece for those with conservative ideologies,' Granit wrote.

Rio gays protest $

for ex-gay programs

Hundreds of GLBTs protested outside the Rio de Janeiro state Legislative Assembly Dec. 7 against a proposal to fund programs designed to turn gays straight, Britain's The Independent reported.

The plan was drafted by legislator Edino Fonseca, a fundamentalist Christian.

'There exist people who want a new direction—an exit from homosexuality to heterosexuality,' he said. 'Those who opt for this don't have any support.'

Rio is considered to be one of South America's gay-friendliest cities, but activists say fundamentalist Christians have increased their numbers and strength in recent years.

The city bans antigay discrimination and recognizes same-sex partnerships, The Independent reported.

China issues estimate of gay population

There are 5 million to 12.5 million gay men in China—2 percent to 4 percent of the male population—the Ministry of Health said Dec. 2.

It estimated that around 1.35 percent of them are infected with HIV, based on limited testing.

The statistics were a first for China.

According to People's Daily, 'information on gay people is being collected in each province' via 42 'monitoring spots.'

The paper said condoms are being given away for free and HIV-prevention information is being disseminated.

'The number of female homosexuals, also called lesbians, is much less than that of males,' according to a version of the story that ran on the News Guangdong Web site.

This article shared 3252 times since Wed Dec 15, 2004
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