World Briefs

Posted on 26 Jan 2006 at 10:30pm
By Rex Wockner

Australia tries to stop citizens from marrying overseas
Australia’s government is trying to stop its citizens who live overseas from entering same-sex marriages in countries that allow them, The Age newspaper reported on Jan. 14.
The Australian government is interferring with those wedding plans by refusing to provide written proof to the other nation that the Australian in question is free to marry, the newspaper said.
In one case, Peter Kakucska, an Australian living in Vienna who wanted to marry his Austrian partner in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage is allowed, was given stamped certifications of the anti-gay policies by Australia’s Austrian embassy.
One certification said: “Following the advice of the Australian Attorney-General’s Department we herewith certify that Australian law does not allow the issue of a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage to persons wishing to enter into a same-sex marriage.”
A second document refused to confirm that Kakucska was single.
The Netherlands ultimately let the couple marry anyway, when presented with the Australian refusals and Kakucska’s affidavit that he was single.
Gay activist Rodney Croome of the Australian Coalition for Equality called the government’s actions “mean-spirited and bloody-minded.”

Euro Parliament demands clampdown on homophobia in member states
The European Parliament passed a resolution on Jan. 17 demanding that its 25 member states clamp down on homophobia, protect GLBT people from discrimination and extend them full equal rights.
The vote was 468 to 149 with 41 abstentions.
The resolution was aimed in particular at nations such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania where governments, religious leaders and anti-gay organizations have stepped up oppression of the gay community in recent years.
The document cited “a series of worrying events … in a number of EU member states … ranging from banning gay pride or equality marches to the use by leading politicians and religious leaders of inflammatory or threatening language or hate speech, failure by police to provide adequate protection or even breaking up peaceful demonstrations, violent demonstrations by homophobic groups, and the introduction of changes to constitutions explicitly to prohibit same-sex unions.”
The parliamentarians urged the European Commission “to ensure that all member states … are correctly implementing Directive 2000/78/EC (establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation) and to start infringement proceedings against those member states that fail to do so.”
They also told the commission “to consider the use of criminal penalties in cases of violation” of directives based on Article 13 of the European Community Treaty, which empowers the Council of the European Union to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and other factors.
In a press release coinciding with the parliamentary debate, the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association stated: “Last year the European Union witnessed the most appalling manifestations of homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people. Peaceful LGBT marches promoting equality and tolerance were banned or hindered by authorities in Poland, Latvia and Romania. Appallingly extreme and hateful statements humiliating, ridiculing and discriminating against LGBT people came out from some senior politicians and religious leaders in Poland and Latvia.
“Poland closed the nation’s equality body, which dealt with various forms of discrimination including on the grounds of sexual orientation,” the group continued. “Latvia remains the only EU member state which, despite the requirement of the EU Employment Equality Directive, did not explicitly ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment and has now amended its constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A similar proposal is being debated in Lithuania.”

Case against student who called
policeman’s horse gay is dismissed
A college student in Oxford, England, who was arrested for calling a policeman’s horse “gay” saw his case dismissed by the Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Jan. 12.
The court cited a lack of evidence that Sam Brown’s remark violated the Public Order Act, which prohibits homophobic statements that are “likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.”
Brown, 21, had said to a mounted policeman, “Excuse me, do you realize your horse is gay?”
He was hauled off to jail for the night and later taken to court for refusing to pay a $140 fine.

Few couples taking advantage of Tasmania’s relationships register
Only 58 couples have taken advantage of the relationships register in the Australian state of Tasmania during its two years of existence, The
Mercury newspaper reported on Jan. 16.
Forty-three couples registered in 2003 and 15 in 2004. Forty-six were same-sex couples and 12 opposite-sex. Of the same-sex couples, 24 are male and 22 are female.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome blamed the slow move by couples to register on the government, saying it has failed to promote the register.
The register also is available to nonsexual partnerships, such as when one person is a caregiver to another. It grants spousal rights in areas such as pensions, taxes, insurance, health care, hospital visitation, wills, property, parenting and bereavement leave.
Tasmania has a population of 484,700.

Churches in Czechoslavakia publish
letter opposing partnership bill
Ten religious denominations published a letter on the Czech Bishops Conference Web site Jan. 16 urging Parliament and President Vaclav Klaus to reject a same-sex partnership bill that has passed the lower house and awaits consideration in the Senate.
The letter said such a law would “weaken family life” and “cause chaos in values.”
It was signed by Czech officials of the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church and eight Protestant churches.
Observers believe the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate anyway.
Andalusia favorite location for same-sex couples getting married in Spain
Since Spain legalized same-sex marriage last June, 55 percent of same-sex marriages there have occurred in Andalusia, where Seville is located.
Of the 425 same-sex marriages recorded by the Justice Ministry, 235 took place in the southern region, according to the Andalusian COLEGAS Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals.
The group called Andalusia “a land of tolerance and coexistence.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 27, 2006.

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