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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Colombian court grants Gay couples common-law-partner rights
Colombia's Constitutional Court on January 27 granted common-law same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex common-law couples.

According to the activist group Colombia Diversa, the ruling encompasses "civil, political, social, economic, criminal and immigration rights" in areas that include civil service, contracts with the government, housing protection and assistance, naturalization, social security, death indemnification and nonincrimination of a partner.

"It is equality," said Colombia Diversa Executive Director Marcela Sánchez Buitrago. "We have all the rights of a common-law union, minus adoption."

Police raid Cairo apartment used for sexual liaisons
Egyptian police raided a Cairo apartment in January and arrested eight men on sodomy charges, according to information provided by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Officials said the apartment was set up as a location for men to have sex, IGLHRC said, citing local media reports.

The alleged ringleaders of the operation included a top TV producer, an accountant, a fabric merchant and a man who worked with foreign media.

Police also reportedly confiscated porn found on the detainees' computers and cell phones.

Residents of Queensland support same-sex marriage
Sixty percent of residents of the Australian state of Queensland support same-sex civil unions that grant all the rights of marriage, and 54 percent support simply opening marriage itself to same-sex couples, a Galaxy poll has found.

"Queensland now lags behind the rest of Australia and we call on all parties contesting the Queensland election in 2009 to make a clear commitment to remove the remaining discriminatory state laws," said Louise DuChesne of Action Reform Change Queensland.

The state's largest city is Brisbane.

Moscow Pride sends 6th case to Euro Court
Moscow Pride organizers have filed a sixth complaint with the European Court of Human Rights over the city's repeated bans on public actions by Gay rights advocates.

The new complaint concerns the ban of a demonstration on May 17, 2008 - the International Day Against Homophobia - during which protesters planned to demand that Mayor Yuri Luzhkov be prosecuted for systematically and unlawfully blocking all public events staged by Gays and Lesbians.

In prohibiting the IDAHO protest, Deputy Prefect Galina Boryatinskaya reportedly said, "The aims of the picketing provoke negative reaction of society and the conduct of the picketing can lead to group violations of public order which create a threat to the security of the participants."

Moscow Pride says the city's various bans violate provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights concerned with freedom of assembly, discrimination and court protection. The group seeks 100,000 euros in damages.

Mayor Luzhkov has blocked pride celebrations for three years running, calling them "satanic" and, reportedly, "weapons of mass destruction." He also has claimed that Gay "propaganda" contributes to the spread of HIV.

Irish GLBTs at high risk for suicide
A survey released by Ireland's Health Ministry has found that almost one-fifth of GLBT people have tried to kill themselves because of abuse and isolation related to their sexual identity.

Eighty percent of respondents reported they'd experienced anti-Gay verbal abuse, 58 percent said they'd been bullied in school, 40 percent reported threats of physical violence, and 25 percent said they'd been beaten up for being Gay.

The study was done by University College Dublin's School of Education and Trinity College's Children's Research Centre.

Group launches International Business Equality Index
The International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is urging major international corporations to participate in the first International Business Equality Index survey to measure how they are performing on "LGBTI" issues.

"The index is a unique tool allowing corporations to draw external comparisons, which illustrate how their competitors are doing, as well as internal comparisons that provide a better understanding of their own performance," the group said. "In this challenging time of economic uncertainty, participation in an index of such broad scope provides the exact edge that corporations might need to be ahead of the curve."

The deadline for completion of the survey is April 30. Results will be announced in late July at the World Outgames' International Conference on LGBT Human Rights in Copenhagen.

"This index sends a signal to international businesses that they have a responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion, and to ensure that LGBT employees have equal access to the same benefits and rights as all other employees," said Linda Freimane, co-chairperson of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe). "It addresses the need for the inclusion of the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity during diversity training, and also the tackling of LGBT harassment in workplaces."

ILGA-Europe Co-chairperson Martin K.I. Christensen said the index will "serve as an educational tool as well as a yardstick."

"The intention is ... to reward the international corporations that have consistently adopted a positive outlook towards LGBT people's inclusion and equality, and at the same time use this opportunity to assist companies that may this time score a little lower to perform better in the future," he said.

Correction
This column recently reported that same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. states of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Nepal was included in the list based on an incorrect reading of a Jan. 18 press release from Human Rights Watch that referred to "seven countries that have understood the principle of equality to require equal access to marriage for same-sex couples ... the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Nepal, and Norway." A follow-up inquiry to Scott Long, head of HRW's LGBT Rights Division, revealed that Nepal does not yet belong on the list. He explained: "The Supreme Court found in effect that it [same-sex marriage] should be [allowed], but mandated that a panel study the issue and recommend legislation guided by the equality principles the court laid down. So: probably coming but not quite yet."

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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