Latvian parliament votes for marriage ban
Latvia's parliament, the Saeima, voted preliminarily to amend the nation's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Sept. 15.
The measure faces three more votes in parliament and approval by special commissions before it could come into force.
Fifty-five of the Saeima's 100 members supported the amendment, which was introduced by the right-wing Christian First party, a member of the governing coalition.
At Latvia's first pride parade in July, the 150 marchers were targeted by around 1,000 antigay protesters who hurled insults, bottles and rotten eggs; blocked the streets; and forced the procession to be rerouted.
The protesters chanted 'No sodomy' and 'Gays fuck the nation.'
In the end, police formed a human chain around the marchers to keep them safe.
UK gov't launches
The United Kingdom government has begun advertising the new Civil Partnership Act in the gay press and elsewhere.
'It is ridiculous that we have had a system that does not recognize the relationship of a gay couple who may have lived together for 20 years,' said deputy equality minister Meg Munn as she launched the publicity drive. 'One partner could be excluded from the funeral if the other died, or lose their joint home because of inheritance tax.'
Same-sex couples will be able to register their relationships starting Dec. 21. The act takes effect Dec. 5 but requires couples to give advance notice of their intention to tie the knot.
Registered partners will receive all the rights and obligations of marriage—in areas such as accident compensation, life insurance, immigration, inheritance, intestacy, pensions, taxation, tenancy, spouse and child support and workplace benefits. Couples who have entered a legal same-sex union overseas will not need to re-register in the UK to be recognized. There will be a formal, court-based process for dissolution of a civil partnership.
Cuba stages gay
The Cuban government staged a gay film festival this month.
The five-day event was sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry and the National Center for Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS.
The festival kicked off with Neil Jordan's The Crying Game. As patrons entered the theater, employees of the National Prevention Center handed them condoms and safe-sex pamphlets and posters.
German European Parliament member Lissy Gröner, 51, married her girlfriend in Brussels Sept. 10. Mayor Freddy Thielemans conducted the ceremony.
Germany has a domestic-partnership law for same-sex couples but Belgium allows gay couples access to regular marriage.
'In Belgium, the law offers the same statute to hetero and homosexual couples. That is a positive signal for Europe,' Gröner said.
Full marriage also is available to gay couples in Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Massachusetts.
targets gay group
The deputy governor of Ankara, Turkey, has launched a court action to shut down the 11-year-old group Kaos GL Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Organization.
The group incurred Selahattin Ekremoglu's wrath when it applied for and received official registration as a nongovernmental organization from the Ministry of the Interior. He said the group's existence violates Turkish Civil Code articles that prohibit organizations that threaten morality.
Banning the group likely would violate European law.
'We would like to remind the Turkish authorities about their obligation to provide freedom of association under their own constitution as well as under the European Convention on Human Rights and accession-negotiation process with the European Union,' said Patricia Prendiville, executive director of the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
Lisbon neo-Nazis march against gays
About 200 neo-Nazis marched against 'the gay lobby and pedophiles' Sept. 17 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The protest was organized by the National Renovation Party with support from the far-right National Front.
Renovation President José Pinto Coelho told reporters the marchers were 'not against gay people.'
'We oppose ideologic homosexualism ... the imposition of deviant behavior upon society as if it were normal,' he said.
In other Portuguese news, a citizens' petition calling for same-sex marriage will be presented to the government Nov. 7, reports PortugalGay.PT. There's a Web site about the project at CasamentoCivil.org .
Manitoba gays not rushing to the altar
Manitoba gays have not exactly rushed to the altar in the year since the Canadian province legalized full same-sex marriage.
With a population of 1.1 million, Manitoba has seen 76 same-sex weddings—29 between men and 47 between women, the Vital Statistics Agency reported.
Courts forced legalization of full same-sex marriage province-by-province ( and in the Yukon Territory ) over the past two years until the federal Parliament finally legalized it nationwide this past July.
By that time, the only holdouts were the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Massachusetts also let same-sex couples marry.
Panamanian gays present antidiscrimination measure
Panama's New Men and Women's Association has presented a bill to the National Assembly that would criminalize discrimination, stigmatization and physical and verbal abuse based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
'We want them to prohibit and penalize discrimination in the workplace, schools and public services, along with the commission, instigation or promotion of hate crimes based on these two categories,' said Ricardo Beteta, president of the organization.
The proposed punishment is six months to one year in prison and a fine of 50 to 100 days' salary.
leads to lawsuit
Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says he is suing former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for nearly $27 million for calling him gay.
Mahathir has outed Anwar repeatedly over a period of several years—and did so again this month, saying he fired Anwar in 1998 to prevent Malaysia from ending up with a homosexual leader.
'I cannot have a person who is like that in my cabinet who may succeed and become the prime minister,' Mahathir said in late September. 'Imagine having a gay prime minister. Nobody would be safe.'
Anwar was jailed for nine years in 2000 for allegedly engaging in same-sex sodomy but he was released in 2004 after the Federal Court ruled the evidence against him had been unreliable.
Anwar and human-rights groups have said the charges were bogus and that he was framed because Mahathir feared that Anwar was scheming to replace him.
Anwar called Mahathir's latest comments 'defamatory,' and noted that he recently won $1.55 million in a court case against publishers of a book that repeated the sodomy allegations.
'I will not allow this lie and slander to continue,' Anwar said. 'From the very beginning I have stressed that my sacking from the government [ was ] part of a high-level political conspiracy.'
The maximum punishment for having gay sex in Malaysia is 20 years in jail and a flogging.
Assistance: Bill Kelley