Belgium's lower house OKs gay adoption
The lower house of Parliament in Belgium, one of five countries where gay couples can get married, voted 77 to 62 on Dec. 2 to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
The bill now moves to the Senate where it should see action in March.
'There are already a lot of children who live with homosexual couples,' Justice Committee Chairman Fons Borginon told the Reuters news agency. 'We want them to have two parents with whom they have full, legal rights.'
In general, gay adoption in the European Union is more controversial and less available than in the United States.
More than 800 of the 5,000 active and retired ministers in Sweden's state-funded Lutheran church have signed a declaration promising to resist the Church Assembly's decision to offer blessings to same-sex couples who have registered their partnership.
The Church of Sweden Assembly voted 160 to 81 in favor of the policy Oct. 26.
'We are bound by the promises of faithfulness to Holy Scripture and to the confession of the church which we made at our ordination,' the 863 preachers declared. 'We therefore totally reject this order.'
Sweden has offered registered partnerships—which bestow nearly every right and obligation of marriage—since 1995.
A Pentecostal pastor who had been convicted of a hate crime for delivering an antigay sermon was cleared by Sweden's Supreme Court Nov. 29.
Preaching in 2003, Åke Green, 64, called homosexuality 'a deep cancerous tumor on the body of society' that leads to bestiality and pedophilia. A district court convicted Green of 'agitation against a group' and sentenced him to a month in prison.
The Supreme Court upheld the Göta Court of Appeal's reversal of the original decision, agreeing that Green's homily was protected by freedom-of-speech and -religion provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Knights of Columbus lose lesbian case
The Human Rights Tribunal in Canada's British Columbia ruled against the Knights of Columbus organization Nov. 28, saying it injured the dignity, feelings and self-respect of a lesbian couple by canceling their reservation to hold their wedding reception in the Knights' hall in the town of Port Coquitlam.
Deborah Chymyshyn and Tracey Smith were turned away once the organization's leaders became aware of the nature of the event. They already had sent out their wedding invitations.
The Knights must pay the women $2,000 ( US$1,720 ) plus expenses.
The tribunal said the Knights do have a general right, under religious-freedom guarantees, to refuse to rent their hall to homosexuals, but 'that right is not absolute.' The organization should have met with the women, apologized for the cancellation, reimbursed them for their costs, and helped them find a new location, the tribunal said.
Not to have done so offended the women's 'inherent dignity' and amounted to 'discrimination,' the judges said.
to tie the knot
George Michael and longtime partner Kenny Goss will get 'married' under the United Kingdom's new Civil Partnership Act, which took effect this month.
'I'm not very romantic about it, to be honest,' Michael told reporters. 'I think Kenny probably would be if I let him, but it's just not me. ... We want to do it, just in case. You never know, I could get hit by a bus and the poor man could have nothing.'
The Partnership Act became law Dec. 5 and normal registrations begin Dec. 21—the day the first couples who filled out paperwork will have completed the mandatory waiting period between announcing their intentions and tying the knot.
Registered partners will receive all the rights and obligations of marriage.
Australian Capital Territory to recognize gay couples
The government of the Australian Capital Territory will introduce civil-union legislation in March to recognize and protect same-sex couples.
A spokesman said the law would grant gay couples all the rights and responsibilities of matrimony.
At present, Tasmania is the only Australian state or territory with similar legislation.
Danish ambassador slept with lover
on first date
Denmark's openly gay ambassador to Israel, Carsten Damsgaard, told the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that he slept with his partner of more than 12 years, Esben Karmark, the night they met.
'I saw a very attractive man, we started to talk, and we knew immediately that that was that,' Damsgaard said Nov. 30. 'Our internal worlds were identical. We read the same books. We saw the same films. We spoke in a similar way. I was 37. I had had earlier relationships, so I could compare, but he was only 25, and in any case he had something adult [ about him ] , and he saw he was like me.
'We went to bed on the first night, which I didn't always do, and I don't recommend that everyone have sex on the first night, but in our case it was the correct thing to do. Since then, essentially, we haven't been apart.'
Damsgaard said he and Karmark are happy in Israel, citing 'the unmediated warmth, the temperament, the climate, the sea, the smells, the fruits and vegetables.'
'The young men here also seem excellent,' he said. 'It is true that Israel is a place where everyone interferes with your private space, but this does not really bother me. I come from a very restrained culture, and I am not seeking to duplicate it everywhere I go.
'Tel Aviv is a very cosmopolitan city with great nightlife, terrific restaurants, beautiful people,' Damsgaard added. 'A regular party town. It's more of an international city than many places in Europe. It's the most exciting place I've ever been.'
Switzerland elects gay House speaker
Members of Switzerland's House of Representatives elected an openly gay speaker Nov. 28.
Lawyer Claude Janiak, a Social Democrat, received 154 of the 177 votes cast.
In his first address to the body, Janiak called on fellow MPs to eschew political posturing and vote their convictions, swissinfo.org reported.
Janiak is best known for lobbying for an easier citizenship procedure for young foreigners, pushing for legalization of marijuana, and denouncing the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex partnerships.
He will serve in the position for 12 months.
Thousands march in Buenos Aires
Thousands of people marched from the Plaza de Mayo to Argentina's Congress in Buenos Aires' 14th gay-pride parade Nov. 20.
A lead banner declared, 'We want the same rights.' Activists are pushing for a national civil-unions law to match the one in effect in the capital city.
Six people were arrested when a small group of antigay Catholics tried to prevent the marchers from getting too close to the Metropolitan Cathedral, which sits on one corner of the Plaza de Mayo, where the famous Casa Rosada also is located.
Marcher Mariano Lago joked: 'At one point, it started raining and we figured God was castigating us for being sodomites and that the end of the world was upon us. But the rain stopped quickly and a rainbow appeared!'
Quebec separatists elect gay leader
Quebec's separatist Parti Québécois elected a gay leader Nov. 15.
André Boisclair, a former Cabinet minister, trounced former Finance Minister Pauline Marois 54 percent to 31 percent in a telephone vote by some 107,000 of the party's members.
Boisclair, 39, hopes to see a new referendum on Quebec independence if the party beats the Quebec Liberals in the next election.
'The Parti Québécois will seek the mandate to hold ... a referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec as rapidly as possible,' he said. 'Let us all work together to achieve the country of Quebec.'
In 1995, Quebec voters came within 1.2 percentage points of choosing to separate from Canada.
Assistance: Bill Kelley