Marriage fight heats up

The fight for marriage equality in the UK has been given a boost with the country’s largest GLBT rights group finally joining the campaign.

Last month Stonewall founders Sir Ian McKellen and Labour EU MP Michael Cashman joined others in criticising the group for avoiding the issue.

Soon after, Stonewall announced it had widened its campaign objectives to include extending civil marriage to gay people.

“We seek to secure marriage for gay people as a civil vehicle on the same basis as heterosexual marriage, available in a registry office but without a mandate on religious organisations to celebrate it,” read a statement.

Stonewall will seek to retain civil partnerships for lesbian and gay couples but will not be campaigning to allow heterosexual couples who do not wish to marry to enter into such unions.

Stonewall has previously stated that, “campaigning to end heterosexual disadvantage is not one of its charitable objectives”.

Gay rights may stall
US Congressional election may put the breaks on gay rights reforms under the Obama administration.

Last week’s election saw the Democrats lose their majority in the Congress while retaining control of the Senate.

President Obama has said that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, banning gays in the military, and the Defence of Marriage Act which stops federal benefits going to gay married couples should be ended by the Congress not the courts in explaining why his Administration has filed court motions defending the policies he pledged to end.

Law repeal call
Leaders at the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV & AIDS (PANCAP) have called for the repeal of anti-gay laws in the region.

Former UN boss Kofi Annan told the meeting on the island of St Martin, “I think it is extremely important that this be done as quickly as possible… as we move forward we are going to need creativity, leadership and sustained effort.”

St Kitts & Nevis islands Prime Minister and outgoing PANCAP chairman, Denzil Douglas told the meeting that while gay rights remained unpopular with voters in the region, it was important that politicians revisited “laws that… discriminate against people who are living with HIV/AIDS and who have been affected as a result of HIV/AIDS”.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said that many Caribbean nations still numbered among the 80 countries with homophobic laws and the 51 countries which barred HIV positive people from entering their borders.

“It is a global issue and we need to address it in a very strategic manner,” said Siddibe.

“What is important in the case of the Caribbean is to review the laws because you have two-thirds of the countries in the Caribbean who have those punitive laws against most at risk populations.”

IN BRIEF

NO REFORMS

TURKEY: Representatives of Turkey’s ruling Justice & Development Party and opposition Republican People’s Party told a forum organised by European Greens parties that neither had plans for GLBT rights reforms as part of reforms offered to smooth the country’s entry into the EU. The pro-Kurdish minority Peace & Democracy Party were alone in expressing active support for gay rights.

GAY ADS BANNED
LITHUANIA: A law banning advertising containing homosexual content while banning advertising that discriminates against the religious and other groups has come into effect in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Gay League fears the law, which covers advertising to adults as well as children, will be used to restrict the provision of GLBT information.

TEACHER RULING
EU: The EU Justice Commissioner has stated that religious schools cannot fire or refuse to employ people based on their sexual orientation so long as they show a loyalty to the school’s ethos. The issue was raised by two gay members of the European Parliament after a Polish minister claimed Catholic schools were exempt from having to employ gay teachers under EU anti-discrimination law.

AIDS SLUR
BELGIUM: The head of the Catholic Church in Belgium has said that AIDS is “intrinsic justice” for homosexuality. In his recently-released book Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard also suggested that nature takes “vengeance” on those who “mistreat human love”, and called homosexuality a travesty of nature. Further, he said  elderly priests found to have sexually abused children should not be punished.

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