WORLD BRIEFS

Posted on 23 Feb 2006 at 8:57pm
By Rex Wockner

United Arab Emirates sends 12 to prison for roles in gay wedding
Eleven of 26 men who were arrested in November at an alleged gay wedding in Ghantout, United Arab Emirates, were sentenced to six years’ imprisonment on Feb. 11, media in the tiny oil-rich nation reported.

The men were convicted under laws that ban obscenity and homosexual activity. A 12th man was convicted only on obscenity charges and jailed for one year. The 14 others were acquitted.

At the time of the arrests, a government official had threatened that the men could also face hormone treatments.

“Because they’ve put society at risk, they will be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone injections to psychological therapies,” Interior Ministry spokesman Issam Azouri said.

On Nov. 28, the State Department in Washington denounced the arrests.
“The arrest of these individuals is part of a string of recent group arrests of homosexuals in the U.A.E.,” the department said in a written statement. “We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law.”

Later, Colonel Mohammed Ibrahim Al Hajiri, of the Interior Ministry, said that Issam Azouri is not the ministry’s official spokesman and dismissed his remarks as irrelevant.

Czech president vetoes gay partnership bill, cites concerns about values
Czech President Vaclav Klaus vetoed a same-sex registered-partnership bill Feb. 16, Czech news outlets reported.

He said the bill should have been approved by a majority of the members of the Chamber of Deputies rather than by a majority of those who were present for the vote. He also said gay unions undermine traditional values.

The bill passed the Chamber of Deputies 86 to 54 on Dec. 16. Seven deputies abstained and 53 were not present. The Senate approved the measure on a 45-to-14 vote on Jan. 26. Six senators abstained and 16 were absent.

The veto can be overridden by a vote of 101 members, a simple majority, of the Chamber of Deputies.

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek denounced the veto, saying Klaus was “unable to overcome his prejudices.” The legislation extended to registered couples many of the rights and obligations of marriage.A recent poll found that 62 percent of Czechs support same-sex registered partnerships.

Scotland sees average of 3 gay civil partnerships created per day
Scotland has seen at least three gay “weddings” a day since the United Kingdom’s comprehensive Civil Partnership Act took effect in December, the Scotsman reported Feb. 12.

The newspaper called the demand “astonishing.” The largest numbers of ceremonies have occurred in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Gay men have tied the knot at a rate more than double that of lesbians, the report said.

Israeli court OKs lesbian couple’s adoption of each other’s children
The Ramat Gan Family Court has allowed a same-sex couple to adopt each other’s biological children, a first for Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported Feb. 13.

The case had been in the courts for nine years.
“It’s a very good feeling,” one of the kids, 15-year-old Arel Jarus-Hakak, told the newspaper. “We were waiting for this for a very long time and now we are recognized as a family by the government.”

Parents Tal and Avital Jarus-Hakak gave birth to one child each, using in-vitro fertilization. The children were born in 1994 and 1997.

Mayor opposes Moscow pride, religious leader calls for beatings of marchers
One of Russia’s most prominent Islamic muftis said Feb. 14 that gays should be beaten if they stage a planned pride march in May, according to print, broadcast and online media.

“The parade should not be allowed, and if they still come out into the streets, then they should be bashed,” said Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin of the Russian Muslim Central Directorate, according to one translation. “Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.”

On Feb. 16, a spokesman for Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said the city will not allow the parade to take place because reports about plans for the parade have outraged society and religious leaders. He said an unauthorized parade or rally would be “resolutely quashed.”

Pride co-organizer Nikolai Alekseev, who also runs GayRussia.ru, called the mufti’s comments “unacceptable.” Coordinators vowed to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights.

“We have never heard yet so strong words of hatred towards sexual minorities from influential public figures,” Alekseev said. “We will do the legal analyses of mufti’s statements and will take a decision concerning the application to the general prosecutor.”

Finland set to allow single women, lesbians access to insemination
Finland’s government has signed off on a bill currently before Parliament that would grant single women and lesbians unfettered access to fertility treatment, the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported Feb. 11.

Minister of Justice Leena Luhtanen drafted the measure to lift the restrictions that have impeded the procedures.

The bill also grants people aged 18 and above the right to learn the identity of their biological mother or father in cases of sperm or egg donation, the report said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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