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  WINDY CITY TIMES

World News
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
2011-01-05

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Chilean court to rule on same-sex marriage

Following a referral from the Santiago Court of Appeals, Chile's Constitutional Court will take up a same-sex marriage case this week.

The court will consider a protection demand from MOVILH, the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement, and three same-sex couples who want the nation's opposite-sex definition of marriage struck down on constitutional grounds.

The plaintiffs also seek to negate a law that blocks recognition of same-sex marriages entered into abroad.

MOVILH President Rolando Jiménez called the case a historic before-and-after moment for Chile's LGBT movement.

All three plaintiff couples seek to marry in Chile. In addition, one couple seek recognition of their legal Canadian marriage, and another seek recognition of their legal Argentine marriage. The couples attempted to marry in Chile but were turned away by civil registry officials.

The lawsuit claims that Chile's ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize foreign same-sex marriages infringe a constitutional promise that all people "are born free and equal in dignity and rights" and a constitutional guarantee of "equal protection of the law in the exercise of rights," among other violations.

Should the Constitutional Court rule against same-sex marriage, activists plan to appeal to the Supreme Court and, if necessary, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Irish civil-partnership law comes into force

Ireland's new same-sex civil-partnership law took effect Jan. 1.

Couples can unite before a registrar after giving three months' notice of their intention to tie the knot.

Civil partners receive marriage rights and obligations in matters such as taxes, pensions, property, tenancy, inheritance, alimony, immigration and social benefits.

To end a partnership, a couple will go before a court and prove they've not lived together for two of the last three years.

The law also recognizes foreign same-sex unions and provides some rights for unregistered couples who have lived together for at least five years.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern called the law "one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation to be enacted since independence."

"Persons in committed gay relationships who wish to share duties and responsibilities now have the choice to register their partnership and become part of a legal regime that fully protects them in the course of that partnership and, if necessary, on its termination," he said. "The new law recognizes and supports diversity."

An informational booklet on the registration process is available at www.groireland.ie.

UK to expunge gay sex 'crimes'

The United Kingdom is preparing legislation to expunge the "crimes" of adult men who were prosecuted for having consensual sex with adult men in earlier eras.

The slate will be wiped clean for men whose partners were at least 16 years old.

At present, such "crimes" must be disclosed when applying for certain jobs or volunteer positions.

England and Wales decriminalized gay sex in 1967 for people over age 21, lowered the age to 18 in 1994 and lowered it to 16, the age that applies to heterosexual sex, in 2000.

Scotland and Northern Ireland decriminalized gay sex in the early 1980s. The subsequent age reductions applied to all four UK political entities.

Brits quit God

The latest British Social Attitudes survey from the National Centre for Social Research has found that 51 percent of respondents have no religion and 42 percent say they are Christian.

Just 25 years ago, 63 percent were Christian and only 34 percent had no religion.

The gay humanist group Pink Triangle Trust "warmly welcomed" the findings.

"The country has become much less religious and more secular in its outlook," said PTT Secretary George Broadhead. "Nevertheless, the powers that be, including politicians and the media -- especially the BBC -- choose to ignore the findings and continue to give special privileges to the churches and other religious institutions as if they had overwhelming support."

The Guardian newspaper editorialized: "This Christmas, for perhaps the first time ever, Britain is a majority non-religious nation. Most of us have probably seen this moment coming, but it is a substantial event nonetheless."

Russian top judge disses Euro court ruling on gays

The chairman of Russia's Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, said Dec. 23 that the recent European Court of Human Rights decision that struck down Moscow City Hall's annual bans of gay pride disrespected Russian sensitivities, especially those of predominantly Islamic republics within the Russian Federation.

Zorkin accused the Euro court judges of sitting in a "glass building and throwing stones."

In a group of cases brought by Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev, the court determined that Moscow's pride bans violated guarantees of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.

Russia was ordered to pay Alekseev 12,000 euros ($15,928) in damages and 17,510 euros in costs and expenses.

The ruling has not yet come into force, but will be finalized before next summer's sixth attempted Moscow pride parade. It is unknown if the city will accede to the decision.

Malta fights trans marriage

Malta's attorney general is appealing a ruling that transgender woman Joanne Cassar must be allowed to marry her boyfriend.

The constitutional arm of the First Hall of the Civil Court had ruled that European Law and European Court of Human Rights decisions establish the right of post-operative transgender people to enter into an opposite-sex marriage as a member of their new sex.

Cassar is no longer engaged but will continue to pursue the case.

Elton John, partner become parents

Elton John and David Furnish became parents Dec. 25. Their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, was born to a surrogate in California. The couple previously tried unsuccessfully to adopt a Ukrainian child.

Assistance: Bill Kelley


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