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  WINDY CITY TIMES

WORLD ROUNDUP
by REX WOCKNER
2004-06-16

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Swiss Partner Law

May Face Referendum

Switzerland's Parliament has given final approval to a gay partnership law that reportedly will include all marriage rights except for access to adoption, in-vitro fertilization and marriage itself.

However, the small, right-wing Federal Democratic Union party has promised to collect enough signatures to force a national voters' referendum on the measure.

Gay groups said they are hopeful the law will not be overturned.

Full same-sex marriage is allowed in Belgium; the Netherlands; the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec; and the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Partnership laws are on the books in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and the U.S. states of California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Vermont. Gay couples also have access to some spousal rights in Argentina, Australia, Austria, elsewhere in Brazil, Hungary, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Transsexual denied asylum commits suicide

An Iranian transsexual denied asylum in Sweden committed suicide in Stockholm, Aftonbladet reported June 3.

In Iran, the woman, Fatemeh, had been sentenced to 50 lashes for homosexuality, and she feared for her life if she were forced to return home, the report said.

But the Swedish Migration Board rejected her application for asylum and the decision was upheld by the Aliens Appeals Board.

Gay organizations demonstrated outside the offices of the two boards on June 2.

Aussie marriage ban passes lower house

Prime Minister John Howard's proposed bans on same-sex marriage and adoption of foreign babies by gay couples passed Australia's lower house on June 17 and now move to the Senate.

'This is merely affirming what people understand to be the law,' said Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. 'We are of the view that people can have their relationships, it's just that they can't have their relationships ascribed the characteristic of marriage when marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.'

Thirty-eight percent of Australians approve of same-sex marriage and 44 percent oppose it, according to a new SBS World News survey of 1,200 adults. Eighteen percent of those questioned lacked an opinion.

Younger people polled more gay-friendly. Fifty-five percent of those between 18 and 34 favor gay marriage, as do 43 percent of those between 35 and 49. Only 23 percent of people over age 50 want to see gay marriage legalized.

Women (47 percent) are much more likely to approve of gay marriage than men (29 percent).

1.1 million at

São Paulo pride

Police said 1.1 million people turned out in São Paulo, Brazil, June 13 for the city's eighth gay pride parade, which would make it the world's largest gay pride celebration.

São Paulo is South America's largest city and boasts about 85 gay bars and restaurants.

Mayor Marta Suplicy gave a speech to kick off the march, which featured 24 sound trucks and a 50-meter rainbow flag.

Some marchers called for the legalization of same-sex marriage. A single Brazilian state, Rio Grande do Sul, presently offers civil unions. A national civil-union bill has been stalled in Congress for years.

Health Ministry employees distributed 50,000 condoms during the parade, reports said.

French mayor

suspended

French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin suspended Mayor Noël Mamére of the Bordeaux suburb of Bégles for one month on June 15 to punish him for performing the marriage of a gay couple.

France has a partnership law for same-sex couples but does not allow them to marry.

Villepin said Mamére gravely misunderstood his duties and 'willingly aggravated the fault he committed' by repeatedly publicizing his plan to marry the couple and refusing to back down after warnings from the national government that same-sex marriage is illegal.

Prosecutors have moved to annul the marriage of shopworker Bertrand Charpentier, 31, and nurse Stéphane Chapin, 34. The couple plan to fight back, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, their lawyer said.

Vancouver

councilor marries

Gay Vancouver, Canada, city councilor Tim Stevenson married his partner of 22 years, Gary Patterson, June 15.

Stevenson said he felt it was important to tie the knot now in case the political winds shift.

Full same-sex marriage is allowed in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario, where, over the past 14 months, top courts declared the opposite-sex definition of marriage unconstitutional. The current federal government favors opening up the institution nationwide.

Computer inventor Turing honored

Alan Turing, the gay man who is considered the 'father' of the modern computer, was honored with a plaque erected outside his Wilmslow, England, home on June 7, the 50th anniversary of his suicide.

According to the BBC, Turing's idea of creating a machine to turn thought processes into binary numbers was one of the key turning points in the history of the computer.

Turing killed himself by eating a cyanide-laced apple two years after being convicted of homosexuality and agreeing to a year of estrogen injections to curb his libido.

Thailand cracks down on TV gays

Thailand's Culture Ministry has told television stations to reduce their portrayals of gay behavior, Bangkok's The Nation reported June 5.

The ministry's deputy permanent secretary for culture, Kla Somtrakul, said several TV programs have gotten so gay they risk crossing the line to obscenity.

'Many parents told me that they are worried that their children would have sexually deviant behavior after viewing such behaviors on TV,' he said.

Somali gays fear death

The group Queer Somalia has told the African gay Web site Behind the Mask that the biggest problem for Somali gays is fear they will be murdered.

Islamic law is applied haphazardly in the nation, which continues to lack a central government.

'My people don't understand what a homosexual is,' activist Faro told the Web site. 'They only know that through their religious law, the solution is to kill. There is no law to protect or help queers in Somalia, and Queer Somalia cannot be public or make demands on the government because there is no government with whom we can talk. The situation for queer people in Somalia is very dangerous.'

Faro also said Somali gays seem to have a higher suicide rate than the general population, in part due to extremely homophobic family situations.

Big turnout for Nunavut Pride

The far northern Canadian territory of Nunavut, population 29,384, saw hundreds turn out for the June 13 gay pride celebration in Iqaluit, the capital city, which has a population of 6,000.

The Pride and Friends of Pride picnic was so well-attended that organizers nearly ran out of meat for barbecue, said CBC North News. Attendance has doubled annually for the past four years.

Territorial Premier Paul Okalik joined the festivities.

'It's been a struggle, but I'm very proud of my fellow Nunavummiut that were with us during a difficult time in trying to get our human-rights legislation which recognizes everyone's rights,' he said.

The territory extended antidiscrimination protections to gays and lesbians last November following a 10-8 vote by the Legislative Assembly. It was the last Canadian province or territory to do so.

Nunavut was created in a split from the Northwest Territories in 1999, settling the largest land-claims dispute ever between native peoples and the Canadian government.

Chilean Supreme Court takes lesbian's children

The Chilean Supreme Court June 2 denied a lesbian custody of her daughters because she's gay, Human Rights Watch reported.

Karen Atala, a judge from the town of Los Andes, had been awarded custody of her three daughters by an appeal court. Her former husband contested the decision, arguing the court wrongfully put Atala's rights before those of her children.

In a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court panel agreed, saying the children's emotional and sexual development could be harmed by the absence of a father in the home and 'his replacement by another person of the female gender.' It also expressed concern that Atala's children could suffer discrimination and rejection since 'their exceptional family situation is significantly different from that of their classmates and neighborhood peers.'

The justices also criticized the lower court for 'a serious fault or abuse' because it chose not to uphold 'the preferential right of the children to live and grow up in a normally structured and socially reputable family, according to the proper traditional model.'

No further appeal is possible.

GLBTs march

in Jerusalem

Jerusalem's third gay-pride parade attracted thousands June 3, Ha'aretz reported. Two antigay demonstrators were arrested for throwing eggs.

Dozens of armed police officers escorted the march from the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall to Liberty Bell Park, via King George and Keren Hayesod streets. A 'happening' and party followed in the park.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski later told reporters he tried to prevent the parade but lacked the power to do so.

'If I had the legal means for stopping a parade that harms the city and its residents, I would prevent the parade,' he said. 'I tried to do so, but it was made clear to me that I don't have the authority.

'This parade is not only ugly, it's also a provocation,' the mayor said. 'Even people distant from Jerusalem must grasp that this is a sacred city for the Jewish people and the world as a whole. This isn't Paris, and it isn't London. I'm not talking about what a person does privately in his home — a parade in public is something else. ... If somebody has some sort of deviant trait, it doesn't mean that he has to raise its banner in public.'

Lupolianski likened the parade to Jews marching with pork in the middle of an Arab neighborhood.

'They came just to arouse anger, to fight and bring about disgusting things,' he said.

Philippines

warns TV shows

The Philippines' Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) sent a warning to the GMA Network talk show S-Files and the ABS-CBN network talk show The Buzz for broadcasting a lesbian wedding, the Inquirer News Service reported May 24.

MTRCB chairman Marissa Laguardia said gay and lesbian relationships are 'an abnormality of human nature' and 'to show such kind of abnormality/aberration on prime time TV programs gives the impression that the network is encouraging lesbian and homosexual relationships and [is] tantamount to saying lesbianism and homosexuality are all right.'

'If we are not mistaken,' her memo continued, 'even churches of different denominations consider lesbianism and homosexuality an aberration, not only of the normal state of man (woman), but also from the point of view of morality. ... We respectfully ask the network to kindly be aware of the Filipino's clamor for wholesome programming, devoid of aberrant utterances and actions.'

Anna Leah Sarabia, a Filipina who directs the women's secretariat of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, said Laguardia's warning to the network 'show[ed] a glaring lack of knowledge on basic scientific matters.'

'We hope that the next time the board makes any decision regarding matters of gender and sexuality, or the normality of certain human affairs, your office will take care to find out the veracity and morality of your assumptions,' Sarabia wrote.

A few days later, Laguardia expressed remorse over her words.

'[I did not intend] to hurt the sensibilities of lesbians/gays/bisexuals/transgenders or demean their sexual preferences,' she said. 'In fact, I have friends, and I also know professionals, who are lesbians and gays. I have always accepted and respected them as they are. I may have acted quite rashly or impulsively in approving a draft memorandum, which has now become the subject of controversy.'

Musician jailed for flirting with 'boy'

A 66-year-old concert pianist was jailed in London June 2 for propositioning via e-mail a Sri Lankan cop posing as a 15-year-old male prostitute, The Guardian reported.

Brian Parnell will spend two years behind bars for attempting to incite an under-age male to commit buggery and gross indecency.

Parnell posted a request for a young boy in a Sri Lankan gay-teens chatroom prior to traveling to the island in October 2002. He promised a 'good time in bed.'

The Sri Lankan National Child Protection Authority intercepted the posting and the police agent then provoked Parnell into sending increasingly explicit e-mails and photos.

Once in Sri Lanka, Parnell did not attempt to actually meet the 'boy.'

UK police can pursue British citizens suspected of committing sex crimes abroad under the 1996 Sexual Offenses Act.

A similar law exists in the United States.


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