World News Briefs
Published Thursday, 02-Sep-2010 in issue 1184
Australian election seen as good for gay marriage
Australian marriage equality advocates welcomed the Aug. 21 federal election results, saying the nation is “a huge step closer” to allowing same-sex marriages.
Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Alex Greenwich said that with the balance of power now held by independents in the House of Representatives and by the Greens in the Senate, chances for reform have increased dramatically.
“If a major party can be persuaded by the Greens and/or independents to have a conscience vote, it’s game on,” Greenwich said. “The 2010 election campaign saw the issue of marriage equality move to the center of the political stage, and now the result has seen achieving marriage equality move into the realms of real possibility.”
Greenwich said the overall national swing from Labor to the Greens “is partly because Labor betrayed its own principles by opposing marriage equality while the Greens have been the only party representing the 60 percent of Australians who support marriage equality.”
He said his group’s heavy leafleting in gay neighborhoods also cost Labor votes and gained votes for the Greens.
“The swing against Labor and to the Greens is particularly pronounced in the ... inner-city seats of Grayndler, Sydney and Melbourne where we distributed 75,000 leaflets highlighting Labor’s anti-equality stance,” Greenwich said.
Gays, Catholics clash in Guadalajara
Gays and Catholics clashed outside the Roman Catholic cathedral in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Aug. 21 and 22 after Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez called gays “faggots” (“maricones”) and accused Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard of bribing the Mexican Supreme Court to uphold Mexico City’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption.
Hundreds of LGBT people staged protests and hundreds of Catholics formed what one local report called “a human shield” to protect the church.
“Honestly, I was worried that they would damage the building, throwing things at it or matters of that sort,” said cathedral defender Emilio González Guzmán, son of Jalisco Gov. Emilio González.
The Supreme Court also ruled that same-sex marriages and adoptions by married gay couples that take place in Mexico City must be recognized in all 31 of Mexico’s states.
Thousands march in Dublin for same-sex marriage
Several thousand people marched in Dublin, Ireland, Aug. 22 demanding legalization of same-sex marriage and denouncing the nation’s new same-sex-partnership law for conferring a second-class status.
The march, from City Hall to the Justice Department, was organized by the LGBT activist group Noise.
Organizers said the gay community cannot be pacified with a separate system because that does not create equality.
2,000 at Kathmandu pride parade
Some 2,000 people turned out for the first large-scale gay pride parade in Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 25.
Openly gay Member of Parliament Sunil Babu Pant led the procession, riding an elephant.
British Ambassador John Tucknott joined the march and U.S. Ambassador Scott DeLisi sent a message of solidarity.
Tucknott told The Times of India, “It is about saying yes to embracing diversity.”
In an e-mail interview, Pant said: “This festival is to be established as an international one, which it did from this year on. We had foreigners from 15 countries, including India, Japan, U.S., UK, Denmark, France, Norway and Australia, and we expect more international participants from next year on.”
EU lawsuit seeks equal employment benefits
A case before the European Court of Justice seeks spousal employment benefits for same-sex couples in the 27 nations of the European Union.
The case, Jürgen Römer vs. City of Hamburg, argues that an EU anti-discrimination directive requires that employers treat straight and gay couples identically regardless of whether a particular nation allows same-sex marriage or registered same-sex partnerships.
Römer, a retired Hamburg city employee, has been with his partner, Alwin Ulrich, since 1969 and they registered their relationship under Germany’s national same-sex-partnership law in 2001.
Because the couple are not married, Römer receives a smaller pension from the city, his attorneys said.
Moscow activists file Euro court case
Moscow Pride organizers filed suit against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights on Aug. 23 alleging violations of their right to freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
A year ago, gay activists were denied permission to stage pickets against Moscow Northern District Prefect Oleg Mitvol after he waged a campaign, ultimately successful, to close down the city’s oldest gay bar, Body and Soul. Russian courts upheld the bans.
“Such places, which lead to the moral degradation of citizens and become the source of troubles, should be closed,” Mitvol said at the time.
Leading gay activist Nikolai Alekseev said he has “no doubt” Moscow Pride will win the case.
“As soon as the Strasbourg court gives a decision on the ban of the Moscow gay prides in 2006, 2007 and 2008, we will have a new basis for the improvement of the right of all citizens to freedom of assembly in Russia,” he said.
To date, Alekseev and associates have filed 18 lawsuits with the Euro court complaining of discrimination based on sexual orientation. All of the cases remain to be decided.
Scott Long leaves Human Rights Watch
Scott Long resigned Aug. 23 as director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program.
In a note to friends, Long wrote: “In mid-July I suffered a pulmonary embolism of a fairly unpleasant sort. While running to catch a bus on a New York street, I saw a blinding effusion of white light, amid which several spangled and bell-bottomed figures vaguely resembling ABBA beckoned me to an eternal disco complete with spinning ball. Yanked back from their blandishments by a superior fashion sense, I spent a couple of weeks in intensive care. I had plenty of time lying in a bendable bed with an IV dripping, to compose, like Woody Allen, lists of the things that make life worth living: the last movement of Bruckner’s Third Symphony; ‘Sit Down, I Think I Love You’ as covered by the Staccatos, with that harpsichord and those violins; the closing pages of ‘Lolita’; W. H. Auden as sung by Cleo Laine. Somewhere in the middle of the lists, I realized that working for Human Rights Watch wasn’t on them.”
Long said he likely will pursue a fellowship at Harvard University, from which he received his Ph.D., and write a book “about what’s moral and what’s immoral about ‘international solidarity,’ and what’s worked and what hasn’t in campaigns for sexual rights.”
“Scott’s exemplary dedication and diligence has been an inspiration to us all,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and a member of HRW’s LGBT Advisory Committee. “His articulate and relentless defense of LGBT rights everywhere is unparalleled, and his tremendous efforts on this front have been a guiding voice for justice and equality.”
In addition to amassing a long list of accomplishments during his eight-year tenure at HRW, Long occasionally sparked controversy. In June, HRW issued an apology to British gay leader Peter Tatchell for what HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth called Long’s “inappropriate and disparaging comments” about Tatchell in recent years.
Assistance: Bill Kelley