World briefs

Posted on 07 Jul 2006 at 12:28am
By Rex Wockner

6,800 couples united in U.K. under civil partnership law since December

More than 6,800 same-sex couples have married under the United Kingdom’s Civil Partnership Act since it took effect in December.

The law grants civil partners all the rights and obligations of traditional marriage.

In England and Wales, male couples tying the knot vastly outnumbered female couples, 4,311 to 2,205.

In Scotland, 343 ceremonies have taken place. Male couples lead there also, 220 to 123.

“Local registrars have been exemplary in introducing this new legislation, helping same-sex partners to have a relaxed and happy experience on their important day,” said Scottish Registrar General Duncan Macniven.
In Exeter, England, a member of Parliament, Ben Bradshaw, married his longtime partner, BBC journalist Neal Dalgleish, on June 24.

Bradshaw told the BBC: “The sort of things I worried about were things like being able to visit my partner in hospital, being treated as next of kin, not being clobbered for inheritance tax, which were some of the things that were inflicted on same-sex couples before we had civil partnership.”

British papers must pay libeled soccer star and D.J., court rules

English professional soccer player Ashley Cole and Choice FM disc jockey Ian Thompson, known as Masterstepz, must be paid damages by the News of the World and Sun tabloids, of London, for articles that falsely suggested the two are bisexual.

In separate suits, they accused the newspapers of harassment, breach of privacy and libel, even though the articles in question did not name them. They argued that a deliberately blurred photo that accompanied one article in the News, as well as followup reports in The Sun, led members of the public to speculate that the two were involved in a gay-sex incident mentioned in the reports.

The February articles said two unnamed bisexual Premiership soccer stars had engaged in what the News called a “gay sex orgy [and] made some very dirty phone calls using a mobile [phone] as a gay sex toy.”

They “were caught on camera cavorting with a pal well-known in the music industry in a homosexual orgy,” the News said.

At the time, Cole’s lawyer, Graham Shear, protested, “The newspapers knew there was no basis to name Ashley but arranged the articles and pictures in such a way that readers would identify him.”

In apologizing and agreeing to pay damages, the News said: “Although the photograph was pixellated, some readers have understood Mr. Cole to be one of the footballers and Masterstepz to be the D.J. concerned. We are happy to make clear that Mr. Cole and Masterstepz were not involved in any such activities. We apologize to them for any distress caused, and we will be paying them each a sum in the way of damages.”

Cole reportedly will receive around $190,000. The newspapers also will pay legal fees for both men.

Gay pride celebrations culminate around the globe on June 24-25

June 24-25 were popular days for gay pride parades around the world.

Among numerous other locales, GLBT people marched in Athens, Dublin, Lisbon, Paris, Rome, Toronto, Valencia, Zagreb, and Zwolle.

Some 800,000 people turned out in Paris, organizers said. Police said there were 400,000 marchers and 200,000 spectators. Marchers demanded access to marriage rather than the civil unions that are now available.

Several thousand people marched in Rome, including cross-dresser Wladimiro Guadagno (who performs under the drag name Vladimir Luxuria), a member of Parliament. A larger Italian parade took place in Turin the week before.

Four hundred people marched in Lisbon. They, too, called for access to full marriage. About 50,000 people turned out in Zwolle, more than a thousand marched in Athens, and 200 paraded through Zagreb.

It was Zagreb’s fifth parade, and the marchers were accompanied by an equal number of police officers protecting them from anti-gay counterdemonstrators.

It was Athens’ second parade. At a festival in Klathmonos Square, activists called for access to civil marriage and gay-neutral sex education in all schools.

Five thousand people marched through drizzly central Dublin before thousands of spectators. It was Ireland’s largest gay parade ever.

Hundreds of thousands converged on central Toronto, news reports said.
“Joining the revelry were many corporations, banks, car companies and phone service providers to name a few as well as politicians of all stripes, including a pack of Liberal leadership hopefuls,” reported the Toronto Star.

GLBT Valencians paraded under the theme “For Diversity: All Families Matter” and celebrated the first anniversary of Spain’s move to legalize same-sex marriage.

South Korea OKs gender change in official records of transsexuals

South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled June 22 that postoperative transsexuals can change their gender in the government’s all-important family registry.

“Gender should be decided by not only physical appearance but also the person’s mentality and psychology, and society’s attitude to that person,” the court said, according to a translation by The Korea Times. “This means that gender is decided by diverse factors, and that a person’s mental and social gender, which he or she did not recognize at birth, can be found during his or her social life.”

The court said bureaucrats should look at five criteria before changing a record.

The person needs to have felt that he or she belonged to the opposite sex throughout adulthood, must have undergone counseling and surgery, needs to be living biologically and socially as a member of the new gender, and must be recognized as such by family and friends.

When those conditions are met, the registry will be modified, and the individual will obtain all rights and obligations of the new gender, including, in the case of female-to-male transsexuals, vulnerability to the draft.

However, any legal obligations acquired prior to the change in status will persist. A married man with children who becomes a woman will still legally be a husband and father to her wife and children.

Editorial assistance was provided by Bill Kelley.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 7, 2006.

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