Gay marriage scrapes by in Canada
Canada’s House of Commons narrowly approved of same-sex marriage Sept. 16 in a nonbinding test vote engineered by conservatives who wanted to gauge opposition to the concept.MPs voted 137 to 132 to reject a Canadian Alliance party motion which read: “That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary, in light of public debate around recent court decisions, to reaffirm that marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that Parliament take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.””All necessary steps” refers to a very rarely invoked measure called the “notwithstanding clause” that allows provinces or the federal government to override the protections of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms for up to five years. The federal parliament has never used the law.This summer, courts in Ontario and British Columbia declared the federal definition of marriage in violation of the charter, and same-sex weddings began taking place immediately. The federal government later announced its agreement with the court rulings and has begun the process of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.There is no residency requirement to get married in Ontario and British Columbia. Foreign gay couples can buy a license and marry the same day.
Married Canadian couple denied entrance to U.S.A
Canadian gay couple married in the province of Ontario, where full same-sex marriage was legalized by court order this summer, was refused entrance into the United States Sept. 18 when they insisted on using a “family” form to clear customs and immigration.U.S. officials said that Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell were legally single and needed to fill out separate forms. The incident occurred at the Toronto airport, where the Department of Homeland Security clears U.S.-bound passengers in order to avoid operating customs and immigration facilities in smaller U.S. cities where the only international flights arrive from Canada.”We were not going to divorce ourselves in order to enter a country,” Bourassa told The New York Times.The couple was headed to speak at a human-rights conference in Georgia. They may sue over the matter if their lawyer can figure out who and how to sue.
Canada bans hate speech
Canada’s House of Commons extended the nation’s hate-crime laws to cover gays and lesbians Sept. 18. The vote was 141 to 110.The change to the Criminal Code protects homosexuals from incitement of hatred and genocide. The code already banned hate based on color, ethnicity, race and religion.The measure still requires Senate approval and royal assent. Violators could be jailed for up to five years.Opponents of the change fear it will criminalize the Bible, which says people who engage in gay sex commit an abomination and should be put to death. But the measure exempts individuals who espouse anti-gay beliefs based on a religious text.Opponents also are concerned the law could interfere with free-speech guarantees.
Britain to pay military pensions to gay partnersSame-sex partners of British military personnel killed in the line of duty will receive a military widows’ pension, the Ministry of Defence announced Sept. 15.The surviving partner will have to prove the relationship was “substantial” to qualify for the benefit.
No men or trannies allowedLesfest 2004 has received an exemption from human-rights laws in the Australian state of Victoria so the January event can limit attendees to female-born lesbians and hire only lesbian service providers, The Age reported.The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal said that allowing the festival to violate the law would give “a sense of security and wellbeing for those attending and participating in the festival program.”The tribunal also recently allowed men-only sessions at a swimming pool after Muslim men claimed the presence of women violated their religious beliefs.
Gay day at Disneyland ParisDisneyland Paris will see its first “Gay Day” Oct. 4.Disney is not involved in organizing the influx of homosexuals, who will wear white T-shirts to enhance their gaydar.”It’s a day like any other,” a park spokesman told Reuters. “There is no discrimination at Disney either on the grounds of politics, religion or indeed sexual orientation.”In the U.S., Christian political groups routinely fume about unofficial Gay Days at Disneyland and Disney World.
Bulgaria bans discriminationBulgaria’s parliament banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and a number of other factors Sept. 16.A nine-member commission will hear discrimination cases, require the accused to prove the discrimination did not occur, and mete out penalties when appropriate.All nations planning to join the European Union are required to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Section 28 deadThe anti-gay British law Section 28 will be officially dead on Nov. 18 when recent legislation passed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons takes effect.Enacted by the Tory government in 1988, the section states: “A local authority shall not (a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality; (b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”The section was repealed locally in Scotland three years ago.