French high court allows gay parents to extend parental rights to partners
France’s highest court ruled Feb. 28 that gay and lesbian parents may extend parental rights to their partners.
The Cour de Cassation approved such shared rights when the couple is living in a stable union and when it is in the child’s best interests. The judges upheld a 2004 decision by an appeals court in Angers in central France.
It was the first time the high court granted such broad rights to a same-sex couple in France.
The case centered on two women who registered a civil union in December 1999, after 10 years of living together. One of the partners gave birth to two daughters through artificial insemination, and the birth mother sought legal permission to grant parental rights to her partner. A court in Angers ruled against her, but the appeals court ruled in her favor, saying that the absence of a legal father left the girls at risk in case their birth mother were incapacitated.
Consulate in Hong Kong eager to perform unions, waiting for OK
Hong Kong’s British consulate is eager to perform same-sex unions under the United King-dom’s new Civil Partnership Act, The Standard newspaper reported on Feb. 15.
But the diplomats are waiting for Hong Kong’s government to confirm that it does not object to the ceremonies.
The British law allows embassies and consulates to register same-sex unions of British nationals if the local jurisdiction does not oppose the move. A Hong Kong Home Affairs Bureau spokeswoman told The Standard the government is reviewing the matter.
The newspaper said some 3.5 million Hong Kong citizens hold British National (Overseas) passports a travel document given to those who chose not to become citizens solely of China. In addition, about 200,000 British citizens live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Human Rights Watch: Polish stances on gays threaten human rights
Human Rights Watch said on Feb. 16 that Poland’s official opposition to gays and lesbians “threatens human rights.”
The new government of President Lech Kaczynski “brings to power officials with long records of opposing gay and lesbian rights,” the group said in a letter to Kaczynski.
Scott Long, director of the organization’s gay-rights program, said: “As mayor of Warsaw, President Kaczynski opposed the right of lesbian and gay people to basic freedoms and equal respect. As president, he will determine whether Poland protects rights or chips away at them.”
In 2004 and 2005, while mayor of Warsaw, Kaczynski banned gay-pride parades, accusing them of “propagating gay orientation.” He refused to meet with the coordinators, reportedly saying, “I am not willing to meet perverts.”
Since Kaczynski was elected president last November, anti-gay rhetoric from members of his Law and Justice Party has escalated, Human Rights Watch said.
Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski reportedly complained that Polish “gay people are allowed to conduct perverse demonstrations in the streets, but it is forbidden to discuss the issue of moral censorship.”
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said that if a gay person “tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom.”
Wilson leads MCC delegation to World Council of Churches assembly
Eleven representatives of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, an association of GLBT congregations, attended the Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre, Brazil, for 10 days ending Feb. 27.
The delegation, led by the Rev. Nancy Wilson, who replaced Metropolitan Community Church founder the Rev. Troy Perry last October, advocated for broader inclusion of GLBT people by the 350 or so Christian denominations and church groups in attendance.
Delegation members conducted workshops, hosted religious services, sponsored an exhibition booth and met one-on-one with delegates.
The assembly, which is held every seven or eight years and attracts some 5,000 people, is one of the broadest global gatherings of its kind. Most member churches are Protestant or Orthodox. The MCC fellowship was granted observer status in 1991.
Malaysian police raid massage parlors suspected of being “‘gay haunts’
Police in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, raided three massage parlors suspected of being “gay haunts” on Feb. 10, the Malay Mail newspaper reported.
They conducted urine tests on 25 men and released them after the results were negative for illegal drugs.
The police reported seeing condoms, lube, nudity and men about to engage in what the Mail called “immoral activities.” Operators of two of the massage parlors were ticketed for operating without a license, the newspaper said.
Portugal’s Parliament gets petition from gays seeking to marry
Portuguese activists on Feb. 16 handed Parliament a petition urging lawmakers to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
It was signed by more than 5,000 people, including many public figures and politicians. By law, any petition with at least 4,000 signatures must be considered for debate.
Two lesbians were turned away when they tried to get married at Lisbon’s public registry Feb. 1. They launched a legal case based on the constitution’s prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation, which was added in 2004.
Neighboring Spain is one of four nations where same-sex couples have access to marriage. The others are Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands. Massachusetts also permits gays to marry.
A ruling by the Constitutional Court extending marriage to same-sx couples in South Africa will take effect Dec. 1 unless Parliament makes the change sooner.
South Korean army discharged 8 gays in 2005; all said they were gay
South Korea’s army discharged eight people in 2005 after they disclosed that they are gay, the Korea Times reported on Feb. 17.
The army bans soldiers with abnormal sexual identities, the newspaper said.
Gay groups recently urged the military to try harder to protect gay conscripts from anti-gay abuse or to offer them an alternative form of military service.
“‘Brokeback Mountain’ wins British “‘Academy Awards’ in 4 categories
The gay-cowboy movie “Brokeback Moun-tain” won four awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts at a ceremony held Feb. 18.
The awards are the British equivalent of Oscars.
The hit film received honors for best movie, best director (Ang Lee), best supporting actor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and best adapted screenplay.
“It’s made a social impression, and that social impression to me is the aftermath of an artistic impression, and so much more important,” Gyllenhaal said.
In the United States, “Brokeback Mountain” has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. The ceremony is scheduled Sunday from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. It will be televised live on Channel 8 beginning at 7 p.m. Central time.
Cameroon court jails 2 men for year each for having man-man sex
A court in Cameroon jailed two men for a year on Monday after they admitted to having sex with each other despite a ban on homosexuality in the central African country.
Their relationship became apparent when they took a dispute over a stolen cellular telephone to the police, according to Reuters. One of the men testified that he had been duped into having sex on the false promise that he would be given help getting to Europe.
Tabloid newspapers in Cameroon sold out last month after publishing lists and photos of politicians, businessmen and musicians the papers accused of being gay. Their editors said the tabloids were on a crusade against “deviant behavior,” the Associated Press reported.
The publishers of two of the newspapers are standing trial for defamation after they named senior members of President Paul Biya’s administration to the lists, according to Reuters.
Rights group urges Moscow mayor to rescind Pride parade ban
Human Rights Watch, a New-York based group, said it had written a letter to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkhov asking him to reverse his decision to ban the Russian capitol’s first gay Pride parade.
Luzhkov’s office said in February that the gay parade could not take place because the proposed May 27 event had “evoked outrage in society, in particular, among religious leaders.”
He “is giving prejudice a veto over the rights to peaceful expression and assembly,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The freedom to speak out and demonstrate publicly is not just a reflection of diversity. It is essential to democracy,” he said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 3, 2006.