World briefs

Posted on 23 Mar 2006 at 7:12pm

Czech Parliament overrides president’s veto of partnership legislation

Vaclav Klaust

In an unexpected move, the Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies on March 15 overrode President Vaclav Klaus’ veto of a same-sex partnership.

Klaus called the vote “a defeat for all of us who believe that the family in our society is fundamental, unique, unrivaled.”

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, on the other hand, said legislators were “liberating one minority of … our fellow citizens.”

The bill passed 101-76 the minimum needed for an override in the 200-seat chamber. The original measure had passed 86-53.

A recent poll found that 62 percent of Czechs support same sex marriage.

Human Rights Watch criticizes Dutch threat to send gays back to Iran
A threat by Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk to end a moratorium on deporting gay asylum-seekers back to Iran rested on a misunderstanding of Iranian law, Human Rights Watch says.

The deportation ban was implemented last year after reports of executions in Iran for same-gender sexual conduct. But in a recent letter to Parliament, Verdonk stated: “It appears that there are no cases of an execution on the basis of the sole fact that someone is homosexual. … For homosexual men and women it is not totally impossible to function in society.”

The Code of Islamic Punishments allows for men and women to be executed for same gender sexual relations.

“Men and women suspected of homosexual conduct in Iran face the threat of execution,” said Scott Long of Human Rights Watch’s gay-rights program. “We have documented brutal floggings imposed by courts as punishment, and torture and ill-treatment, including sexual abuse, in police custody.

“The legal machinery of persecution is oiled, ready and operating in Iran and the Netherlands has a binding and absolute legal obligation not to send people back to face it,” Long said.

Amnesty “‘adopts’ 8 men jailed in Cameroon for homosexuality
Amnesty International USA said on March 8 that it considers eight men and a 17-year-old boy who are being tried in Cameroon on charges of homosexuality to be prisoners of conscience. The organization mobilized its members to petition for the detainees’ release.

“These defendants are being held unjustly solely on the basis of their alleged sexual orientation,” said Michael Heflin of Amnesty’s gay rights program. “Additionally, we fear that they are in grave danger of being subjected to intrusive medical examinations that would amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The High Court trial began in late February. If found guilty, the individuals could face five years in prison and a $350 fine. They were arrested at a nightclub in the capital, Yaounde, in May 2005 and have been jailed since in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions and with inadequate food, Amnesty said. Cameroon bans gay sex under Article 347 of its Penal Code.

New Zealand fertility service dropping ban on gays donating sperm
New Zealand’s largest fertility service is dropping its ban on sperm donations by gay men.

After consultation with the nation’s Human Rights Commission, which was investigating Fertility Associates’ rejection of a gay donor, the agency decided it will treat gays’ sperm the same as straights’ sperm testing it for HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Better to be a fascist than a fag, says granddaughter of Italian dictator
Alessandra Mussolini, a member of the European Parliament and granddaughter of the late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, said March 9 that it’s “better to be fascist than a faggot.”

The outburst occurred during taping of the TV talk show Porta a Porta when Mussolini was criticized by drag queen Vladimir Luxuria, who is running for Parliament.

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

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