World News Briefs
Published Thursday, 12-Aug-2010 in issue 1181
Mexico City gay marriage law upheld
Mexico City’s five-month-old gay marriage law was upheld by the nation’s Supreme Court on Aug. 5. The vote was 8-2.
The justices said marriage is a matter of equal rights and states’ rights — and federal district rights. Mexico City is a federal district like Washington, D.C.
“Those of us who are in favor of this are in favor of diversity and tolerance,” said Justice Arturo Zaldívar.
Justice Fernando Franco added: “Procreation is not an essential element of marriage and neither does (same-sex marriage) interfere with the protection that the Constitution grants to the family and to procreation, because those who want to conceive are fully able to do so.”
The court next will take up the question of whether the city’s approval of gay adoption also is constitutional, and examine whether gay couples married in Mexico City are married elsewhere in the country.
The conservative national government had challenged the law, claiming it violated a vague clause in the Constitution that says, “Men and women are equal before the law. This protects the organization and development of the family.”
The court determined that the clause does not amount to a definition of “family.”
According to the NotieSe news agency, 173 male couples and 147 female couples have gotten married. In 27 of the marriages, one partner was a foreigner — from Austria, Canada, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Panama, Romania, Spain, the United States or Venezuela.
Marriage: Next stop, Chile
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was introduced in Chile’s Congress Aug. 3.
Sen. Fulvio Rossi, president of the Socialist Party, said the bill would rewrite the Civil Code to remove the heterosexual definition of marriage along with language that says the objective of matrimony is procreation. The bill would not explicitly legalize gay adoption.
Santiago Roman Catholic Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz was annoyed by the news.
“Maybe ... two men or two women want to live together and share life but to call this marriage is an aberration into which some countries have fallen,” Errázuriz said. “I lament that Argentina has fallen into this.”
The move is considered by some to be a long shot in Chile, which is not as liberal as neighboring Argentina, where same-sex marriage became legal in July.
Same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Mexico City, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.
High-school girls arrested in Zimbabwe
African media outlets reported that some 15 high-school girls in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, were arrested for alleged homosexual activities July 30.
The students, reportedly all soccer players, attend the girls-only Eveline High School.
Police reportedly took the girls into custody at school and held them for a day before releasing them to their parents.
The authorities are said to be considering the possibility that a feud among pupils could have led to false allegations of lesbian sex.
Australia blocks gay couples from marrying overseas
There will be no change in Australia’s policy of attempting to block its gay citizens from getting married in other countries, the government said in late July.
Australia will continue to withhold the “Certificates of Non-Impediment to Marriage” that sometimes are needed before foreigners are allowed to marry in other nations.
In an Aug. 2 media release, the group Australian Marriage Equality called the policy “mean-spirited” and said AME is contemplating a challenge before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
“As if it’s not bad enough that the government’s ban on same-sex marriages forces hundreds of Australians to marry overseas every year, often at great expense and without their families and friends present, the government still wants to reach around the world in an effort to stop these Australians marrying,” said AME convener Alex Greenwich.
Sudan flogs cross-dressers
Nineteen young men in Sudan were lashed 30 times each Aug. 3 immediately after being convicted of wearing women’s clothes and makeup, local media reported.
They had been arrested in a police raid of a private party in Khartoum and charged under Shariah law.
Tewksbury heads Canadian 2012 Olympics team
Openly gay former Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury will lead Canada’s team to the 2012 Games in London.
The Canadian Olympic Committee selected the three-time medalist as the nation’s “chef de mission.”
Tewksbury won a silver medal swimming the backstroke in the medley relay in 1988 in Seoul, a gold in the 100-meter backstroke in Barcelona in 1992 and a bronze in the relays in Barcelona.
In a 2001 interview with this reporter in Montreal, Tewksbury talked about his coming out.
“They were grooming me to become the next IOC (International Olympic Committee) member for Canada (but) I just felt I couldn’t be myself in that environment,” he said in the interview. “I left the country in 1994 and moved to Sydney, Australia, to come out, essentially — to explore my own sexuality. Finished my degree in political science and studied gender politics as well. I was studying the theory and living the practice in Sydney. It was a great time.”
“I came back to Canada in 1996 because of the IOC,” he said. “You have to live in the country you represent. By 1998, I just couldn’t stand it — some people knew, some didn’t — it wasn’t spoken about. And I just thought, I can’t keep pretending not to live my life anymore. So I came out Dec. 15, 1998. I did a one-man show. That’s how I chose to do it. A good friend of mine worked for the Globe and Mail, which is our national newspaper, and just kept hounding me to let him do the story. The morning of the opening of the show it appeared on the front page of the Globe and Mail. I had 96 calls from the national media by 9:30 in the morning.” l
Assistance: Bill Kelley