A veteran party leader in Hungary’s governing coalition, Free Democrat Klára Ungár, came out March 10 on the TV talk show Strucc. “It is simpler for me to say that I am homosexual rather than having others saying this to me,” Ungár, 46, said. A former member of Parliament, Ungár now serves on the Free Democrats’ management committee and is a party spokeswoman.
Saudi ‘Gay Wedding’ Party Raided
Saudi Arabian police arrested 110 men at a “gay wedding” party in Jeddah, the Al-Wifaq Web site reported March 17. The report said security forces raided a wedding hall after receiving a tip and found the men dancing and “behaving like women.”
Seventy-seven of the men reportedly used influential connections to secure their release while 33 appeared in court March 16 to face charges. Under Saudi law, gay sex can be punished with flogging, imprisonment or death.
White South Africans Tour Black Pubs
This year’s gay-pride festivities in Cape Town, South Africa, included a pub crawl by white gays in the nearby black townships, the BBC reported March 8. Five minibuses of gay white folks visited three gay-friendly “shebeens” in the townships.
“Being black and gay is a very different place to being white and gay in Cape Town,” said Juanita Jacobs, one of the pride organizers. “This year we decided to take Pride into the townships to engender understanding. ... A lot of people don’t come out to these areas because of fear.”
Black gays can find it difficult to visit the bars in Cape Town’s gay village due to the expense of transportation, cover charges and drinks.
Chief Constable Apologizes For Slur
The chief constable of North Wales, Richard Brunstrom, apologized for calling gays “queer,” the BBC reported March 12.
Brunstrom used the word during an internal department meeting, was challenged on it by one of his officers, and immediately apologized, the report said. The Gay Police Association said it was “shocked and disappointed” at Brunstrom’s “abusive and insulting language.”
“His words will have affected the confidence that his lesbian and gay staff and the gay communities in North Wales he serves have in him,” the group said. “He should act quickly to demonstrate that this error of judgment is not indicative of a homophobic culture within his force.”
New Zealand Reconsiders Treatment Of De Facto Couples
When New Zealand’s Civil Union Act comes into force next month, the idea had been to treat married, civil-unioned and de facto couples the same under the law. But now that’s changed due to concerns that closeted same-sex de facto couples may not want their closet doors knocked down by the government.
De facto couples are couples who have never married or entered a civil union but live in a partnership nonetheless. According to the New Zealand Herald, same-sex de facto partners will escape being treated as couples for social-welfare purposes for two years as officials mull the problem. The extension also is designed to allow de facto couples to “reorganize their affairs,” the Herald said.
Israeli Attorney General Orders Partner BenefitsIsraeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered the National Insurance Institute to begin paying survivor benefits to same-sex partners March 15. The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by Giora Raz who quit working to care for his cancer-stricken partner of 23 years, who had worked for El Al Israel Airlines. Mazuz’s ruling also will apply to areas such as work accident insurance, childbirth allowances and disability pensions.
Alberta Gives Up On Opposing Same-Sex Marriage
The premier of the Canadian province of Alberta, Ralph Klein, has abandoned his long-running fight against legalization of same-sex marriage. Eight of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have legalized same-sex marriage, and the federal Parliament is expected to legalize it nationwide this spring.
Klein said March 17 that the province has tried every tactic available to resist same-sex marriage and now “will have to abide by the law of the land,” the Edmonton Sun reported.
Klein considered invoking the “notwithstanding clause,” a very rarely used section of Canada’s Constitution that allows provinces or the federal government to enact temporary laws that contradict the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Such temporary provincial laws, however, cannot usurp federal power—and the definition of marriage is a federal matter.
Same-sex marriage currently is allowed in British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory.
Theater Chain Caves Under Pressure
Canada’s largest movie theater chain, Famous Players Media, will no longer run “issue-driven advertising” after a boycott threat by the Canadian Family Action Coalition, the Ottawa gay newspaper Capital Xtra! reported. The threat followed screening of $15,000 worth of ads favoring same-sex marriage, paid for personally by the chain’s president, Salah Bachir. The ads were produced by Canadians For Equal Marriage.
The family coalition is still not satisfied and has demanded the chain run an equal number of free ads opposing same-sex marriage, Capital Xtra! said.
Poll Links Marriage Debate, Discrimination
Thirty-nine percent of Canadians think the ongoing same-sex marriage debate has caused a rise in antigay discrimination. Eight of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have legalized same-sex marriage, and the federal Parliament is expected to do so nationwide shortly.
An Ipsos-Reid survey for the Dominion Institute found that 48 percent of those questioned have not noticed any change in discrimination levels while nine percent think they’ve seen a reduction in discrimination as a result of the marriage debate.
The results varied by location, with a high of 58 percent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba seeing more discrimination and a low of 28 percent in Quebec seeing more discrimination. Same-sex marriage is legal in all three of those provinces.
Pollsters randomly questioned 1,001 people by telephone. The results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.