World Briefs

Posted on 14 Jun 2006 at 3:02pm
By Rex Wockner

Qantas recognizes gay employee’s marriage conducted in Canada

Qantas Airways has relented and will recategorize as married a gay employee who married in Canada. The Australian airline previously had refused to update the employee’s marital status in company records, saying it only recognized marriages between a man and a woman.

Qantas reportedly changed its stance after former Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson took an interest in the case and sent a disapproving e-mail.

Australian law bans same-sex marriage and prohibits the government from granting legal status to those conducted in other countries.

Ontario OKs 2 moms on birth certificates, suspends ruling for a year

Canada’s Ontario Superior Court struck down a provision June 6 that prevented lesbian couples from putting both their names on a birth certificate as parents of a child they conceived by artificial insemination.

The court said the unequal treatment causes lesbian couples pain and hardship, suggests “there is something wrong or unnatural about their families” and violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court suspended implementation of its ruling for one year to allow legislators to remedy the charter breach.

Australian government seeks to quash capital’s civil unions measure

Australia’s federal government is attempting to quash a civil-union bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory, a jurisdiction similar to Washington. The government has advised the Queen’s representative, Governor-General Michael Jeffery, to use his power to block the law.

“We are not prepared to accept something which is a plain attempt to equate civil unions with marriage,” Prime Minister John Howard said.

Australian law bans same-sex marriage.

Apparently angered by the federal move, Simon Corbell, attorney general of the Australian Capital Territory, said he will rush to implement the law before the process for quashing it can be completed so some couples can be united by then. The Australian Capital Territory government also issued a direct appeal to Jeffery to ignore the federal government’s plea.

The gay Australian Coalition for Equality “utterly condemned the Federal Cabinet’s decision . . . to override the ACT’s civil unions laws as a desecration of the democracy and self-governance granted to ACT electors and the human rights of same-sex couples.”

Denmark legalizes free insemination for lesbians in public hospitals

Danish legislators passed a law June 2 permitting lesbians and single women to obtain free artificial insemination in public hospitals.

The vote was 86 to 61 with 21 abstentions. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s right-leaning government opposed the measure.

Same-sex couples united under Denmark’s groundbreaking 1989 registered-partnership law have all other rights of marriage with the exception of access to adoption. Around 3,000 couples have tied the knot.

High Court hears lesbians’ plea challenging U.K.’s ban on same-sex marriage

In a landmark High Court case, a British lesbian couple married in Canada are challenging the United Kingdom’s ban on same-sex marriage.

University professors Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson were married in a civil ceremony in Vancouver in 2003. Their marriage is recognized in Canada but not in the U.K., where the Civil Partnership Act automatically converts foreign same-sex marriages into U.K. civil unions.

In some sense, the matter is only semantic, since U.K. civil partnerships grant the same rights and obligations as traditional marriage. But the couple say that’s not good enough.

“Our lawful marriage was converted against our wishes and without our consent into a civil partnership,” they wrote in an e-mail. “We believe that treating same-sex couples differently from heterosexual couples in this way is deeply discriminatory. We feel distressed, demeaned and humiliated by the U.K. government’s refusal to recognize our marriage.”

The couple’s lawyers say the reclassification violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The court did not indicate when it will issue a decision.

Dutch ambassador with black husband reassigned due to homophobia

The Netherlands’ ambassador to Estonia, Hans Glaubitz, has been reassigned to the consulate in Montreal because he and his black husband were being abused in the streets by racists and homophobes, European media reported.

“[Estonian] society is far from ready for two men, particularly if one of them is black,” Glaubitz said in a statement. “It is not very nice to be regularly abused by drunken skinheads as a “‘nigger’ and to be continuously gawped at as if you have just stepped out of a UFO.”

Reports said a local magazine fueled the abuse when it called the appointment of a gay ambassador with a black husband “a Dutch provocation.”

BBC rules broadcast announcers can use “‘gay’ to mean “‘lame’

The Board of Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation has OK’d use of the word “gay” as a synonym for “lame” or “rubbish.”

The board rejected a complaint filed against a disc jockey who said of a cell-phone ring tone: “I don’t want that one, it’s gay.”

Young people nowadays, the board said, routinely use “gay” as a pejorative in contexts unrelated to homosexuality. As such, the board said, on-air hosts may do the same.

It added, however, that announcers should reflect on their use of the word because its multiple meanings could lead to “unintended offense.”

Polish claims gay groups financed by drug dealers, pedophile organizations

The office of Poland’s state prosecutor has ordered prosecutors nationwide to investigate how local gay groups are funded, alleging they may be receiving support from drug dealers and pedophile organizations.

Attached to the order was a letter making such accusations written by a conservative member of Parliament, Wojciech Wierzejski.

The order is the latest in a series of attacks on Poland’s gay community by local and federal officials.

250 gay people march in first Pride parade held in Cork, Ireland

About 250 people marched in the first gay pride parade in Cork, Ireland, on June 4, the Irish Independent newspaper reported.

Although Cork has had a gay festival for 15 years, organizers believe the city only recently has become cosmopolitan enough to welcome a parade.

“The public really seemed to enjoy it and we will definitely be extending it next year,” spokesman Maurice Hayes told the Independent. “It just seemed to go down a treat with people.

Editorial assistance was provided by Bill Kelley.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 16, 2006.

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