by Rex Wockner
Colombia passes partnership law, then kills it
Colombia’s Congress passed then killed a same-sex partnership bill in June. President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative Catholic, had promised to sign it into law.
The measure passed the House of Representatives by a 62-43 vote on June 14, and had passed the Senate in April. It granted spousal rights in the areas of social security, health insurance and inheritance to same-sex couples who have been together at least two years.
But on June 19, in a vote to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill, four senators from Uribe’s La U party broke ranks and opposed merging the bills, thereby killing the measure.
The project’s sponsor, Sen. Armando Benedetti, was furious and demanded that the turncoats be expelled from the party.
Although a small number of Latin American cities and states or provinces have passed gay partnership laws, Colombia was the first Latin American nation to do so.
Jamaican singers agree to halt anti-gay music
Top Jamaican reggae-dancehall singers Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have signed an agreement to stop bashing gays in their music.
Under the Reggae Compassionate Act, written by reggae promoters working with activists from the international Stop Murder Music campaign, the three performers will not release new anti-gay songs or re-release or perform their earlier gay-bashing material.
The document states, in part: “There’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia. We agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.”
Stop Murder Music’s campaigning has resulted in the cancellation in several countries of concerts by the three singers and fellow gay-bashing dancehall singers Elephant Man, TOK, Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton, who have not signed the agreement. Some of the singers also have lost sponsorship deals because of the campaign’s initiatives.
“This deal will have a huge, positive impact in Jamaica and the Caribbean,” said activist Peter Tatchell, who coordinates the campaign from London. “Having these major reggae stars renounce homophobia will influence their fans and the wider public to rethink bigoted attitudes. The beneficial effect on young black straight men will be immense.”
Gareth Williams, co-chair of the Kingston-based Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, said he hoped the singers who signed the pledge meant it.
“We hope it is not commercially motivated by the singers’ desire to maintain their concert revenues, but a sincere commitment that will encourage an end to homophobic violence and to all violence against everyone,” Williams said.
Half of Irish gays, lesbians not out at work
Irish gays and lesbians are more out to friends and family than they are to workmates, a Gay Community News/Out Now poll has found.
The survey of 1,900 GCN readers found that 79 percent are out to friends, 60 percent are out to family, but only half are fully out at work.
Other findings included: 10 percent of the respondents have children, 10 percent of couples have gone to another country to get married or register a civil union, and 90 percent of couples would formalize their partnership in Ireland if it were allowed.
Skinheads attack Chilean gay group’s Web site
Self-identified skinheads hacked the Web site of Chile’s leading gay group twice in June.
The hackers changed the site’s monthly survey to include rude sexual questions and rewrote news headlines, according to the Santiago Times.
They posted a note which read: “We meet in the plaza near 36 Santa Rosa. We don’t support something that isn’t natural.”
The same people apparently also sent threatening e-mails to the organization, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, or MOVILH, and to the Santiago Times.
One received by the newspaper said: “First and last warning. We fight against dangerous scum: MOVILH. First the hacking, next the theft of [MOVILH’s] database. Now comes the best part. We’re going to turn everything on its head in the Plaza de Armas. Faggots dressed as women dancing in front of children are dangerous. They can kiss and fuck if they want to, but they shouldn’t confuse men for women.”
MOVILH leader Rolando Jimenez commented: “A group of skinheads? They’re not going to intimidate us.”
Cuba considers same-sex partnership rights
Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and the Federation of Cuban Women have drafted a same-sex partnership bill and submitted it to the Political Bureau of the Communist Party Central Committee.
“I can’t guarantee that it will reach Parliament this year,” CENESEX director Mariela Castro Espin told Inter Press Service. “That is our hope, but it does not depend on us, and of course, it is facing a great deal of resistance.”
The proposal would extend spousal rights to same-sex couples in inheritance, housing, adoption and other areas.
Castro Espin is the daughter of Raul Castro, the nation’s current acting president.
100,000 march in Rome
About 100,000 people took part in Rome’s gay pride parade June 16.
The march, lead by transgender MP Vladimir Luxuria, began at St. Paul’s Gate and ended two miles away in the square of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, site of the pope’s office in his capacity as bishop of Rome.
Organizers called for passage of Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s civil-union bill that has been languishing in Parliament.
For the first time, the national government’s Council of Ministers sponsored some pride events, though not the parade.
Aussies support same-sex marriage -photo
A poll by Galaxy Research for the progressive campaigning group Get Up! has found that 71 percent of Australians support full spousal rights for same-sex couples and 57 percent support same-sex marriage.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard successfully pushed for a national ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.
“These polls show that ordinary Australians have opened their hearts to the needs and aspirations of same-sex couples in a way our national leaders have yet to do,” said Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rodney Croome.
Although there is minimal recognition of same-sex couples in Australian federal law, all six states and two territories give spousal entitlements to same-sex couples in key areas of law under their control, including inheritance, wills and, in some cases, adoption. In addition, Tasmania offers same-sex couples access to civil unions.
The poll questioned 1,100 people.