By Rex Wockner
Gay weddings decline in UK

The number of same-sex civil partnerships taking place in the United Kingdom dropped 55 percent in 2007 over 2006 likely reflecting a decline in pent-up demand since the law took effect in December 2005.

More than 16,000 couples formed a civil partnership in 2006 but only 4,060 did so in the first half of 2007, agency records show. However, the total number of civil partnerships to date exceeds government estimates issued when the law took effect. Officials had expected to see a maximum of 22,000 partnerships by 2010.

Another anti-gay attack in Jamaica

Another in a string of violent attacks on Jamaican gays occurred Jan. 29 in the town of Mandeville, Human Rights Watch reported Feb. 1.

A mob of 15-20 men approached a house where four males lived and demanded they leave the community because they are gay, HRW said. The attackers later broke down the door and beat and slashed the inhabitants.

Police arrived 90 minutes after being called and rescued three of the men.

The fourth man fled, with the attackers in pursuit, and is feared to be dead. Blood was found at the mouth of a nearby pit, suggesting, HRW said, that the man fell into it or was killed nearby.

Two of the other three men were taken to a hospital. One had a severed left ear, spine damage and his arm broken in two places.

"This incident is the latest in a string of homophobic mob violence over the last year," HRW said.

"Roving mobs attacking innocent people and staining the streets with blood should shame the nation’s leaders," said Scott Long, director of the group’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program. "Official silence encourages the spread of hate."

Gay men arrested in Senegal

Up to 20 men have been arrested on suspicion of homosexuality in Dakar, Senegal, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Feb. 4.

A BBC report three days later said at least some of the men had been released from custody. The BBC had no further details.

The arrests occurred after the magazine Icône published photographs of a local gay wedding that took place more than 18 months ago.

IGLHRC said the sensationalistic magazine paid $3,000 to acquire the photos.

"We are afraid for our lives, especially those of us shown in the photographs," said local activist Jean R. "Some of us have gone into hiding and others are fleeing the country."

Palestinian gay group sets out on its own

Al-Qaws, the Palestinian LGBT project of Jerusalem’s Open House gay center, has spun off as an independent organization.

"With this decision, our community begins a new journey with a committed leadership group and widespread local activists, friends and supporters," the group said.

Al-Qaws achieved official status as a nonprofit organization in November, and renamed itself "Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society."

Netherlands warned on discrimination

The European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities has told the Netherlands to fix laws that permit anti-gay churches and religious schools to discriminate against gay people in hiring, local media reported Feb. 4.
Vladimír Spidla said the European Commission could haul the country before the European Court of Justice if it doesn’t beef up gay protections within two months’ time.

European Union law bans employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation, disability, age, race and religion. The European Commission is the executive branch of the 27-nation European Union.

Dutch OK with gay prime minister

Seventy-eight percent of Dutch people would be OK with having a gay prime minister, according to a poll of 21,000 members of TV program EenVandaag’s permanent opinion panel, NIS News Bulletin reported Feb. 6.

The panel also would be fine with a prime minister who is female (93 percent approval), unmarried (90 percent approval), atheist (87 percent), black (75 percent) or Jewish (53 percent).

But only 27 percent of the panel would support an Islamic prime minister and only 33 percent would be OK with a fundamentalist Christian prime minister.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 15, 2008

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