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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 8, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 41
International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Baja California moves to ban recognition of same-sex marriages
The unicameral Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican state of Baja California, where Tijuana is located, voted 18-1 on September 29 to amend the state constitution to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City, and the nation's Supreme Court ruled this year that all 31 Mexican states must recognize Gay marriages from the capital city.

As a result, the state legislature's move could set it on a collision course with the federal Supreme Court, although some amendment backers claimed they only want to prevent Gay marriages from taking place in Baja.

The amendment, however, does not make that clear. It reads: 'The State recognizes and protects the institution of marriage as a right of society oriented to guarantee and safeguard the perpetuation of the species and mutual support between spouses, satisfying this only through the union of one man with one woman.'

To be valid, the amendment has to be ratified by the city councils of three of Baja California's five municipalities - Ensenada, Mexicali, Rosarito Beach, Tecate, and Tijuana. Any municipality that fails to report the result of its vote within a month of receiving the amendment will be counted as having approved it. (All towns and areas of Baja California are within one of the five municipalities, which are somewhat similar to U.S. counties.)

The only vote cast against the amendment in the Chamber of Deputies came from PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) Deputy Ana María Fuentes.

'It is our conviction that the basis of human happiness is freedom and the recognition of rights, that any restriction imposed by one or various churches or some particular morality that signifies restriction of rights or persecution of people in the free exercise of their sexual preferences is profoundly wrong and has more to do with the past and nothing to do with the future,' she said. 'We oppose that the more conservative groups ... want to convert our state into some sort of medieval island with the double morality that comes with that.'

The legislative chamber was filled with equal numbers of LGBT people and their opponents. A video of the vote and the chaotic aftermath can be seen at tinyurl.com/bcgaymat.

UK finds that only 1.5% of population is GLB
The United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics has produced data suggesting that only 1.5 percent of UK adults are Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual.

As part of a yearly data collection effort, ONS questioned 247,623 people about their sexual identity. In the case of face-to-face interviews, respondents were shown a card that said 'heterosexual/straight, Gay/Lesbian, Bisexual, other' and told to read out a number beside the word that 'best describes how you think of yourself.' In telephone interviews, respondents were read the four categories and told, 'Please say 'yes' when you hear the option that best describes how you think of yourself.'

ONS then applied the results to the UK population and reported that 1 percent of adults are Gay or Lesbian, of which two-thirds are men, 0.5 percent are Bisexual, of which two-thirds are women, and 0.5 percent identify as 'other.' Just under four percent of actual respondents said they didn't know the answer to the question or refused to answer it or didn't respond in any way.

Of the 'other' category, ONS says: 'The 'other' option on the sexual identity question was included to address the fact that not all people will fall in the first three categories and that some people such as those that are asexual, may feel no sense of sexual identity at all. In addition, individuals who disagree with the simplistic male/female gender binary, or who were against categorization based on the gender of people to whom they were attracted or with whom they had relations, could also prefer to identify as other.'

The data also show that compared to straight people, GLB people are better educated, have better jobs (except for Bisexuals), are younger, are more likely to be smokers (33 percent), and are more likely to have no religion (34 percent).

London was found to have the highest percentage of Gay residents, 2.2 percent, and Northern Ireland the lowest, 0.9 percent.

Same-sex marriage bill introduced in Australian Parliament
The Greens party introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Australia's Parliament Sept. 29.

The group Australian Marriage Equality is calling for a 'conscience' vote on the bill, meaning individual MPs would be free to break from their party's official position.

'MPs should be free to represent the views of the 60 percent of Australians who support this reform,' said AME National Convener Alex Greenwich. '[The] bill is a simple and straightforward solution to those discriminatory sections of the Marriage Act which ban same-sex partners from officially declaring their love. Surely members of the federal Labor and Liberal parties have more important things to do than stop same-sex partners committing to each other.'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard opposes the bill and said she will not allow Labor MPs a conscience vote.

Meanwhile, the state of Tasmania on September 29 extended recognition to same-sex marriages and civil unions from other countries, becoming the first Australian state or territory to do so.

But marriages will be recognized only as state civil unions because of a national law that explicitly bans recognition of foreign same-sex marriages.

Three Australian states and the Australian Capital Territory have same-sex civil-union laws - and those partnerships are recognized by the federal government for purposes of the spousal entitlements associated with marriage.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome welcomed the development, saying, 'Couples in interstate and overseas unions should not have to re-register their relationship in order to secure the legal rights and protections most other couples take for granted.'

EU increases attention to gender identity
The European Union's commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, Viviane Reding, has received kudos from the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights for including gender-identity equality in the EU's 2010-2015 strategy for equality between men and women.

The plan commits the European Commission to promoting less-rigid gender roles, examining discrimination based on gender identity, and analyzing whether EU member nations adequately protect Transgender people's access to goods and services.

'This is a positive sign that the European Commission has started listening to both [the European] Parliament and civil society,' said Intergroup Co-President Ulrike Lunacek. 'I am optimistic that this strategy will ultimately have a positive effect on the lives of many Transgender people.'

Intergroup member Marije Cornelissen said she and other MEPs hope the commission 'will not only monitor the situation carefully, but also that it will be firm with member states violating European equal-treatment legislation.'

Euro MPs target Polish official
Following a row in Poland over comments by the government's minister for equality, members of the European Parliament have urged the European Commission to reconfirm that she has a responsibility to promote nondiscrimination against LGBT people.

During a televised debate September 21, Elzbieta Radziszewska opined that faith-based schools should be allowed to discriminate against teachers based on sexual orientation and that European Union law would permit such treatment.

She also outed another participant in the TV debate, who later said he will sue for invasion of privacy.

Anti-Gay Moscow mayor fired
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired anti-Gay Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov September 27, saying he had lost confidence in him.

Over the past five years, Luzhkov has banned Gay pride yearly, sent police to rough up and arrest small groups of activists who ignored the bans, called Gay parades 'satanic,' and called Gay people 'faggots' or 'Queers' ('gomiki').

Several lawsuits over the bans have been merged at the European Court of Human Rights and are expected to be heard this year.

Acting Moscow Mayor Vladimir Resin said September 29 that he does not support Gay pride parades either.

Euro court says UK discriminated against Lesbian
The European Court of Human Rights ruled September 28 that the United Kingdom discriminated against a woman in a same-sex partnership in the area of child support prior to the nation's civil-union law taking effect in 2004.

The case involved a British woman who divorced her husband and entered into a same-sex partnership. The law at the time did not recognize the partnership and the woman therefore was required to pay 33 pounds ($52) more per week in child support to her ex-husband than she would have had to pay if she had been recognized as being in a new partnership, married or otherwise.

The court said the higher assessment violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that protect property and prohibit discrimination, and it told the UK government to pay the woman 3,000 euros ($4,078) in damages and 18,000 euros in costs.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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