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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner SGN Contributing Writer Irish civil-partnership bill to pass this month
Ireland's Parliament is widely expected to pass a same-sex civil-partnership bill before the end of the year.

It will extend marriage rights in areas such as inheritance, health care, property, alimony and pensions.

Some Gay groups have denounced the bill as creating a discriminatory second-class status for Gay couples.

They have called for legalization of same-sex marriage instead.

Austria passes registered-partnership law
Austria's Parliament passed a registered-partnership law for same-sex couples December 10. The vote was 110-64. It takes effect January 1.

Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI Wien) said the law grants 95 percent to 98 percent of the rights and obligations of marriage, including in the areas of immigration, social insurance, inheritance and pensions.

Excluded from the law were access to adoption and artificial insemination.

"Another flaw ... is that registration will not take place at the same venue as marriage - city hall - but at a so-called administrative authority at the district level," said HOSI Wien President Christian Högl. "However, in cities such as Vienna these authorities coincide in place and therefore registration will take place in the same buildings and even rooms."

HOSI's secretary general, Kurt Krickler, called the law "a great success."

"We have been fighting for this piece of legislation for more than 20 years," he said. "And we are quite happy that we succeeded to get more progressive divorce rules. For example, a registered partner will only be able to block the dissolution of the partnership up to three years, while a spouse can block the divorce of a marriage up to six years."

Krickler said the partnership law also has no "state-imposed fidelity duty ... and consequently adultery will not be considered a reason for dissolving a registered partnership."

The group said it will continue to fight for access to adoption and artificial insemination, and for the registrations to take place in the government offices where marriages are conducted.

YouTube suspends account of Canadian Gay newspaper chain
Canada's Pink Triangle Press, which publishes the Xtra! chain of Gay newspapers in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, had its YouTube account suspended for two weeks recently for posting "inappropriate" videos.

The videos featured footage from the Church Street Fetish Fair and the Northbound Leather Fetish Party.

Notices sent by YouTube reportedly cited "nudity" and "sexually gratuitous" imagery. Xtra! Toronto said "YouTube did not respond to multiple requests for comment" on the matter.

"YouTube is clearly more strict when it comes to fetish or BDSM videos," said Xtra.ca Managing Editor Brent Creelman. "The Church Street Fetish Fair was a public event and our video was a fun, campy news report."

Another PTP editor, Matt Thomas, said there seemed to be no way to appeal the suspension.

"They do not provide a means to appeal. I can contact no one," he said.

Seven arrested for homosexuality in Maldives
Seven men were arrested for suspected homosexual activity on the Maldives island of Maalhos in Northern Ari Atoll, the Haveeru Daily newspaper reported December 8.

The Maldives Police Service said officers arrested the men based on "information the police had received," the newspaper reported.

Haveeru quoted an island resident as saying that two of the arrested men were imams of district mosques and that the group's actions "finally came out into the open when a video of their activities was leaked."

The report said police are investigating "reports" that additional men are part of the Gay-sex "network."

The Republic of Maldives consists of 26 atolls and some 1,192 islands in the Indian Ocean. Two hundred of the islands are inhabited. The nation's population is about 309,000.

With an average elevation of less than five feet (1.5 meters), the country may drown as global warming raises sea levels. President Mohamed Nasheed has said he is looking into buying land in India, Sri Lanka or Australia should the Maldivian population need to relocate.

Gays stage approved protest in Russia
Nine Gay and Lesbian activists staged a protest in St. Petersburg, Russia, December 5 over stigmatization of - and discrimination against - HIV-positive people.

The city administration OK'd the protest - which is noteworthy given the ongoing bans on Gay pride in Moscow.

Members of GayRussia.ru, the force behind Moscow Pride, took part in the demonstration.

The activists distributed red ribbons and handed out flyers that said, "Tolerance," "Be human" and "We can play together."

"Prevention and education directed to homosexuals and Bisexuals is nonexistent from governmental agencies," the organizers said. "Doctors do not know how to properly advise homosexual patients. The efforts of NGOs are clearly insufficient. We urge the government to fight stigmatization and to respect the rights of citizens."

For the past four years, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has banned Gay pride events and sent riot police to violently arrest small groups of activists who ignored the bans. He has called Gay parades "satanic" and, reportedly, "weapons of mass destruction."

A group of combined lawsuits over the bans should see a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights sometime in 2010.

Albanian first lady speaks at Gay-rights event
Albania's first lady, Teuta Topi, spoke December 11 at the 2nd Albanian National Human Rights Debate, which had as one of its three tracks "Homophobia and Discrimination of LGBT People in Albania."

The other two tracks concerned children's and women's rights.

Attendees drew up "a set of recommendations and action plans for the improvement of women, youth and sexual minorities' rights in Albania."

The conference received funding from the Dutch Embassy.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures: Kurt Krickler
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