by Rex Wockner
Israel recognizes gay marriages from elsewhere
Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled 6-1 on Nov. 21 that same-sex couples who marry in places where it is allowed — Belgium, Canada, Massachusetts, the Netherlands or Spain — are considered married in Israel.
“The court held that there should be no gay exception to the standard rule of law that a marriage valid where celebrated should be honored elsewhere,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of the U.S. group Freedom to Marry.
The case was brought by five Israeli couples who were married in Canada. A couple does not need to live in Canada to get married there and, with the exception of Quebec, there is no waiting period between getting a license and tying the knot.
Moscow organizers sue to hold 2007 gay parade
Organizers of last summer’s banned Moscow gay pride parade have filed an appeal with the Moscow City Court’s presidium in hopes of being permitted to march next year.
They say the court rulings that upheld city officials’ ban on the parade were “illegal.”
If the activists fail at the presidium, they vow to push on to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Because of the ban, this year’s first-ever march was downsized to an attempt to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, then walk a few blocks for a rally across from City Hall. The participants were violently attacked by neofascists, skinheads, Christians and riot police.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said he banned the march because Russia’s “morals are cleaner” than those of “the West.” He called the attempt to lay flowers a “desecration … a provocation [and] a contamination. People burst through and of course they beat them up,” he said.
Straight people use Buenos Aires partnership law
Straight people are making ample use of Buenos Aires’ first-on-the-continent civil-union law that was designed primarily for same-sex couples, the Clarn daily reported.
In fact, as of June, slightly more straight couples had registered than gay couples since the law came into force in 2003 — 319 vs. 307.
The report said many heterosexual couples view civil union as a “halfway point” between just living together and getting married, or they have need of the rights granted to civil-union couples in areas such as social security, contracts, mortgages, pensions, insurance, sick leave, bereavement leave, visitation rights and relocation expenses.
Some also find it appealing that a civil union is much easier to terminate than a marriage, the newspaper said.
Ambassador quits as host of Swedish gay TV show
The cohost of The Gay Lobby, a new program on Sweden’s Sveriges Television 2 (SVT2) network, has quit, calling the show “vulgar and tasteless,” reported the Stockholm newspaper The Local and the gay Web site QX.se.
Sverker strm, a former United Nations ambassador who came out three years ago at age 88, taped only two episodes before resigning in protest against being portrayed “in a silly and humiliating light.”
strm had accepted the job in hopes it would “contribute to greater understanding for the continuing difficult situation for homosexuals, with discrimination in the workplace, defamation, gossip, threats of violence and even the risk of murder,” he said.
A spokesman for the show said producers are “sad” about strm’s departure but that “the guys and gays working on the show believe in it.”
Campaign urges U.N. to push decriminalization of gay sex
The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) organization has launched a major campaign to push for a United Nations resolution urging the 77 countries that ban gay sex to legalize it.
IDAHO founder Louis-Georges Tin has garnered support from hundreds of celebrities, politicians, writers, intellectuals and nongovernmental organizations.
“With more than 70 countries in the world still making homosexuality a crime by law — and punishable by death in 12 of them — this is a legal scandal which the petition for a proposed U.N. resolution decriminalizing homosexuality gives people a concrete way to fight,” Tin said.
Among the signatories to IDAHO’s U.N. petition are South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, Italian Nobel Prize winner in literature Dario Fo, Portuguese Nobel Prize winner in literature Jos Saramago, Austrian Nobel Prize winner in literature Elfriede Jelinek and Indian Nobel Prize winner in economics Amartya Sen.
Other well-known signatories include entertainment figures Bernardo Bertolucci, David Bowie, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Judith Light, Mike Nichols, Edward Norton, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Bruce Vilanch; and writers Edward Albee, Noam Chomsky, Michael Cunningham, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, Gore Vidal and Edmund White.
Political signatories include former European Commission President Jacques Delors, former French prime ministers Michel Rocard and Laurent Fabius, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammerberg, and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delano.
The petition — “For a Universal Decriminalisation of Homosexuality” — says, in part: “We ask the United Nations to request a universal abolition of the so-called ‘crime of homosexuality,’ of all ‘sodomy laws,’ and laws against so-called ‘unnatural acts’ in all the countries where they still exist.”
For more information, visit www.idahomophobia.org.
Euro MPs blast Latvian human-rights chair
The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights said Nov. 20 that it “deplores” the Latvian Parliament’s choice for chair of its Human Rights and Social Affairs Committee.
The Euro MPs said Janis Smits has a “history of hate speech and incitements to hatred and violence” against gays and others.
“In parliamentary debates, Mr. Janis Smits frequently quotes the Old Testament in defence of his old-fashioned values arguing in favour of a world-view that advocates sexual minorities should be put to death,” the Intergroup said.
Intergroup President Michael Cashman added, “Janis Smits has been a vocal opponent to universal human rights, advocating a world in which gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender peoples have no rights to protection, no rights to exist.”