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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 20, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 20
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Euro court slaps Hamburg over pensions
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice slapped the city of Hamburg, Germany, on May 10 for paying smaller pensions to same-sex registered partners than to married people.

Retired city employee Jürgen Römer claimed that his reduced pension violated European Union anti-discrimination law, and the court agreed.

Römer's case now returns to German courts, which will be expected to issue a decision in accord with European law.

The Euro court said that provisions of European law 'preclude a provision of national law ... under which a pensioner who has entered into a registered life partnership receives a supplementary retirement pension lower than that granted to a married, not permanently separated, pensioner, if in the Member State concerned, marriage is reserved to persons of different gender and exists alongside a registered life partnership ... which is reserved to persons of the same gender, and there is direct discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation because, under national law, that life partner is in a legal and factual situation comparable to that of a married person as regards that pension.'

The ruling is applicable to any EU nation where marriages and civil unions are legally similar.

Austrian activist Helmut Graupner, who was involved in the case, called the determination 'groundbreaking.'

'If a member state ... has a registered partnership putting same-sex couples into a legal position comparable to married couples, exclusion from marriage benefits constitutes direct discrimination,' he said.

Martin K.I. Christensen, board co-chair of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, said: 'We welcome the Court of Justice of the European Union's judgment as its reaffirmation of equal treatment of married different-sex partners and registered same-sex partners in the area regulated by the EU Employment Framework Directive. We also welcome that the court made it clear that as long as married or registered same-sex partners have legal duties towards supporting each other, they should be treated equally irrespective of specific differences between the institution of marriage and registered partnership.'

Southeast Asian LGBTIQs stage summit
Forty people from eight nations attended the first ASEAN Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer People's Caucus from May 3 to 5 in the run-up to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The caucus was part of the 7th ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People's Forum.

The group told their individual governments 'that the status quo is not acceptable and that the recognition, promotion, and protection of LGBTIQ rights is long overdue,' according to a statement.

'In Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Burma, authorities arrest, detain, and persecute individuals because of colonial laws that criminalize their sexual orientation or gender identity,' the group said. 'In other ASEAN countries, certain laws are abused with impunity to harass or persecute individuals whose sexuality or gender is deemed unacceptable, immoral, or unnatural.'

The attendees demanded repeal of anti-Gay laws, recognition of Gay rights as human rights, and depathologization of LGBT people in psychological circles, among other things.

Activists attended from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore. The caucus was supported by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Gays march in Scotland
Some 2,000 people took to the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland, May 7 for Gay pride. The procession began on East Market Street and ended at the Omni Centre.

Officers from several Scottish police forces marched in uniform along with Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen of the Lothian and Borders Police, who is the diversity and equality chair for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.

Newly elected openly Gay parliamentarian Marco Biagi also joined the parade.

The Lothian and Borders Police area includes Edinburgh and about a quarter of Scotland's population.

Argentine Gay leader honored by city
The president of the long-standing organization Argentine Homosexual Community, César Cigliutti, was recognized May 17 by the Buenos Aires City Council as a Distinguished Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires.

The council cited Cigliutti's outstanding career in the field of human rights.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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