HALF OF EU RECOGNIZES GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES
More than half of the European Union's 15 nations now legally recognize same-sex couples.
Two countries—Belgium and The Netherlands—let same-sex couples marry exactly like straight people do, under the same laws. The Netherlands allows foreign gays to get married there as well.
Three countries—Denmark, Finland and Sweden—have registered-partnership laws that give registered same-sex couples more than 99 percent of the rights and obligations of marriage. Two non-EU nations—Iceland and Norway—also have this type of law.
There are extensive partnerships laws in France (Civil Pact of Solidarity) and Germany (Registered Life Partnership) as well, but they do not offer the complete range of marriage rights.
Finally, Portugal recognizes same-sex couples via the legal concepts of 'union of fact' and 'common economy,' both of which offer considerably fewer rights than marriage.
The other seven EU nations—Austria, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and the UK—do not recognize same-sex partnerships on the national level. Spain and Britain have limited recognition in certain localities.
Other non-EU nations that recognize gay unions in a more or less comprehensive manner include Canada (Quebec's law is the most comprehensive) and Switzerland. In addition, gay couples have achieved hit-and-miss legal recognition in Australia, Austria, Hungary, New Zealand, South Africa and five U.S. states, with Vermont's laws being the most comprehensive.
DIANA TAPES SHOCK
Princess Diana's 'secret video diary' from the early 1990s reveals that she believed Prince Charles had an 'unhealthy relationship' with top aide Michael Fawcett, the Sunday Mirror reported March 16.
'He is too close to Fawcett,' the princess said. 'What can one do when your husband is in an unhealthy relationship?'
Diana also said Charles and Fawcett appeared 'uncomfortable' and 'uneasy' when disturbed while together in one of Charles' private rooms.
'I feel completely isolated,' Diana said. 'Charles confides more in Fawcett than he does with me. The whole situation is completely impossible.'
Fawcett recently was forced to resign for bending palace rules forbidding staff from accepting perks, hospitality and gifts. He will continue to work for Charles on a freelance basis.
The videos, which Diana made by herself, had been hidden in the loft of her former butler, Paul Burrell, until two years ago when police took them as evidence in a theft trial against him. Burrell was cleared mid-trial when Queen Elizabeth II said she had known he was guarding some of Diana's belongings.
FINNISH PRESIDENT CALLED LESBIAN
Right-wing Member of Parliament Tony Halme, a former boxer, called Finnish President Tarja Halonen 'a lesbian' March 18.
'We have a lesbian as president and me as parliamentarian,' Halme said. 'Everything seems possible.'
President Halonen, 58, is married to a man but in the early 1980s she was president of SETA, the Finnish national gay-rights organization. She was also a follower of revolutionary icon Che Guevara.
LESBIAN ALLOWED TO WEAR PANTS
The education department in the South African province of Bloemfontein ordered Lereko High School to let lesbian Soliwe Ndamane, 17, come back to school on March 14 even though she refuses to wear a skirt.
Ndamane had been wearing pants for three years but teachers decided about a month ago that she was a bad influence.
The education department told the school to stop discriminating based on sexual orientation, which is banned by South Africa's Constitution.
EQUAL BENEFITS FOR S.A. GAYS
South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled March 17 that gay couples must receive the same financial benefits as straight couples.
Lesbian High Court judge Kathy Satchwell had sued to obtain work-related benefits, such as travel allowances and pensions, for her partner. She pointed out that the South African constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.