QUEBEC TO ESTABLISH CIVIL UNIONS
The Canadian province of Quebec will set up a civil unions procedure that grants gay couples every right of marriage except access to adoption, the government said Dec. 7.
The government will submit the plan to the Quebec National Assembly where it is expected to pass.
"We're aiming to erase the discrimination that exists in our laws and guarantee that same-sex couples have the same rights as others," said provincial Justice Minister Paul Begin.
A recent poll found that 76.5 percent of Quebeckers support letting gays formalize their relationships.
But some activists are not pleased with the proposal.
"This is not true equality," Rene Leboeuf told the Toronto Star. "The day we have access to marriage and divorce like other people, that will be a true legal status."
Leboeuf and his partner, Michael Hendricks, have sued Quebec for the right to marry under the ordinary marriage laws. The case is ongoing.
Irene Demczuk of The Coalition for the Recognition of Same-Sex Couples of Quebec told the CP wire service, "If we don't get parenting rights, we will be back in courts. Parental recognition is not a minor thing."
EGYPT DENOUNCES EUROPE OVER GAYS
Egypt's speaker of the Parliament, Ahmed Fathi Surur, denounced the European Parliament Dec. 1 for its criticism of Egypt's treatment of gays.
On Nov. 29, the EP approved the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement but added language committing Egypt to respect human rights, gay rights and democracy.
"The Egyptian Constitution stipulates respect for the fundamental rights of citizens and the Egyptian government respects their rights in practice," Surur said. "Only the Egyptian parliament has the right to monitor the respect of the government [ for human rights ] ."
On Nov. 14, Cairo's Emergency State Security Court handed down verdicts in the cases of 52 men detained since May because of alleged homosexual activity. Twenty-three of the men were sentenced to between one and five years hard labor and 29 were acquitted.
The men were charged with obscene behavior and contempt for religion. Police say they were arrested in and around the gay club Queen Boat on May 11. International human-rights activists maintain that many of the men were nowhere near the club when they were taken into custody on May 11 and following days, and have denounced the prosecutions as a sham.
COLOMBIAN SAME-SEX UNIONS BILL ALTERED
The same-sex unions bill that passed out of a Colombian Senate committee Nov. 21 was altered substantially in the process, activists report.
The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission said: "The bill had originally addressed a wide range of discrimination issues, with provisions criminalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and others requiring that homophobic content be eliminated from school curricula. However, those provisions were eliminated."
As passed, by a 9-1 vote, the measure allows one member of a registered same-sex couple to inherit half of the assets accrued by the other partner during the relationship, and extends spousal health, pension and alimony benefits to same-sex couples.
The bill now moves to the full Senate. If it passes there, it will go to a Chamber of Deputies committee, then to the full Chamber, and finally to the president of the nation.
"Despite the narrowing of the scope of the law, activists are satisfied that the proposal is moving forward and that an open and positive discussion is taking place in the halls of Congress and in Colombian society as a whole," IGLHRC said.
INDIAN SODOMY BAN CHALLENGED
The gay AIDS group Naz Foundation has filed suit in the Delhi High Court against India's ban on gay sex, Penal Code Section 377. The organization says the law violates constitutional rights to life, liberty and equal protection under the law, and impedes AIDS prevention work.
"Private, consensual adult sexual relation falls within the intimate associations protected from the State intrusions under Article 21 [ of the Constitution ] , the exercise of which lies at the core of individual autonomy and are key to development of one's personality," Naz said. "There exists no compelling State interest to justify the curtailment of such an important element in the fundamental right to life and liberty.
"The social effects [ of the statute ] drive gay men underground, with a devastating impact upon the AIDS prevention effort," the group added. "Once underground, they become extremely vulnerable to AIDS because it becomes difficult for them to negotiate safe sexual behaviours. It also becomes difficult to identify and target this population for AIDS prevention efforts through education and medical services."
Section 377 punishes "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" with up to life prison.
A KOREAN TRANNY STAR IS BORN
A woman who was a man until three years ago has become a major star in South Korea, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 23.
Harisu Hawith her impeccable figure, full lips, tight skirts and high heelshas taken the nation by storm with a movie, a dance album, an autobiography and numerous endorsements, all in the past 10 months.
Gay activists are surprised.
"Most homosexuals have to hide their sexual identity at work for fear of being disadvantaged, while most transsexuals are disowned by their families and unable to get [ respectable ] jobs," said Lim Tae Hoon, president of Seoul's Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Federation.
Ha said hard work made the difference.
"I think I have paved the way for [ social ] minorities, that it is possible to achieve anything if you work hard," she told the paper.
But some activists have a different take.
"People only like Harisu, not transsexuals," said Kim Jong Hwi of the Haja Center arts and music school. "Her debut hasn't led to the understanding of sexual minorities. It proves that if you're pretty, anything is possible."
SWEDEN TO BAN ANTI-GAY AGITATION
Sweden's government presented a bill to Parliament ( the Riksdad ) Nov. 28 to criminalize agitation against homosexuals.
"This is to be effected by extending the penal provision for agitation against a national or ethnic group to include threats or expressions of contempt alluding to sexual orientation," said the Ministry of Justice.
Serious agitationsuch as "hate speech alluding to homosexuals"would bring a six-month to four-year jail term.
The laws should take effect between July 1, 2002, and Jan. 1, 2003, the government said.