by Rex Wockner
Mexico City passes civil-union law
The Mexico City Legislative Assembly passed a civil-union law for same-sex couples Nov. 9. The vote was 43-17 with 5 abstentions.
The statute, which will take effect by March, grants spousal rights in areas such as property, pensions, inheritance, medical decisions and co-parenting.
Heterosexual couples and nonsexual couples also can register under the law.
The northern Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, also is considering a civil-union bill.
The Coahuila legislation, introduced by the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is supported by Gov. Humberto Moreira, who said “it would be discriminatory not to … respect the rights of every person regardless of sexual affiliation.”
Other Latin American localities with same-sex civil-union laws include Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; and the Argentine province of Rio Negro.
Spain’s Congress of Deputies passes transgender bill
The Justice Committee of Spain’s Congress of Deputies passed a bill Nov. 7 that allows confirmed transgender people to change their name and gender on official documents without undergoing sex-change surgery.
Individuals would need to be diagnosed as transsexual and receive two years of medical, surgical or hormonal treatment, but would not have to alter their genitalia.
The measure does not need passage by the full house to become law. It now advances to a similar Senate committee, where it likely will be approved. If it should fail in the Senate, the bill will return to the Congress of Deputies committee, which will have final say.
Scottish HIV project torched
Vandals torched the Fife Men Project in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, Oct. 31.
The agency provides information, advice and support on gay and gay-health issues, as well as direct support to persons infected with and affected by HIV.
Damage was estimated at about $37,000. The kitchen and meeting room suffered direct fire damage, and the rest of the facility had smoke damage.
Canadian Parliament to consider reopening marriage debate
Canada’s Conservative government will introduce a motion in Parliament in December allowing MPs to vote on whether to reopen debate on the 2005 legalization of same-sex marriage.
The motion is expected to fail, but the Conservatives pledged during the last election campaign to orchestrate a reconsideration of the issue, and are keeping their promise to do so.
St. Maarten bashers sentenced
Four people who bashed two gay CBS News journalists on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in April have been sent to prison.
Glen Cockly, Micheline Delaney, Allan Daniel and Michel Javois were found guilty of public violence and causing grievous bodily harm, and sentenced to between six months and six years.
Evening News senior producer Richard Jefferson and 48 Hours producer-researcher Ryan Smith, who were on vacation, were beaten with a tire iron outside the Sunset Beach Bar by up to six individuals who identified themselves as gay-bashers.
Smith suffered brain damage and had trouble speaking for several months.
Brit gay leader targets gay blood ban
Prominent British gay activist Peter Tatchell says the National Blood Service’s ban on gay blood donors is “unscientific” and “homophobic.”
Writing in The Guardian newspaper Nov. 3, Tatchell said the gay-rights group utRage! and the National Union of Students will fight to have the ban lifted.
“A man who has had oral or anal sex with another man only once in his life, perhaps more than 40 years ago … is prohibited from donating blood,” Tatchell said. “The ban also applies to men who have never had unprotected oral or anal sex; having always used a condom. Even a man whose same-sex experience is limited to a few sucks behind the bike sheds when he was a schoolboy is banned as a blood donor.”
On the other hand, “the NBS happily accepts donations from promiscuous heterosexuals who have lots of unprotected sex with many different partners,” Tatchell said. “A straight businessman who regularly travels to the U.S. and who has unsafe sex with large numbers of women in a city like New York … is at high risk of HIV. In contrast, a gay man on the isolated Shetland Islands who has had only a few same-sex encounters in his life — all limited to very low-risk active anal sex with a condom — has almost no chance of getting HIV.”
Faroes debate gay protections
The parliament of the Faroe Islands debated a bill Nov. 7 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Similar bills failed in 1988, when only one MP voted to protect gays, and in 2005, in a 12-20 vote.
“The Faroe Islands are the only Nordic country still not legally recognizing LGBT people in any way,” said Asta Osk Hloeversdottir, president of the Association of Nordic LGBT Student Organizations.
The new push for the law follows a homophobic attack in a bar in Torshavn, the capital, on popular local radio host Rasmus Rasmussen, who is openly gay. Rasmussen and his family also received threatening phone calls after local media reported on the beating.
The Faroes, population 47,000, are a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark located halfway between Norway and Iceland. In 1989, Denmark became the first nation in the world to pass a registered-partnership law granting same-sex couples the rights of marriage.
Police raid activist meeting in Belarus
Police in Gomel, Belarus, raided a Nov. 8 meeting of the organizing committee of an international conference called Perspectives for LGBT Movements in Repressive Political Regimes.
They seized conference materials and arrested gay activists Vyacheslav Andreev, Sviatlana Bortnik, Svyatoslav Sementsov, Tanya Ivanova, Aleksei Filipenko, Natallia Kavalchuk and Viachaslau Bortnik, said Ivanova.
The activists were taken to the Zheleznodorozhnyi District Police Station and quizzed about the conference’s participants, program and locations. Four of the individuals were released after a few hours, and the others the following day. No charges were filed. The conference, scheduled for Nov. 11 in Minsk, the capital, was canceled.
Gomel is Belarus’ second-largest city.