A same-sex partnership bill passed the Czech Republic Senate Jan. 26. The vote was 45 to 14 with six abstentions. Sixteen senators were absent.
The measure previously passed the Chamber of Deputies and now awaits a decision by President Vaclav Klaus, who has hinted he might veto it.
The legislation extends to registered same-sex couples many of the rights and obligations of marriage, but does not provide access to marriage itself or to adoption.
“I think the most important thing was that [MPs] actually saw us and that they saw that we are no different, that we are just normal people,” activist Tereza Kodickova told Radio Prague.
“And then of course we used the argument of the European Union a lot and of equal rights and equal treatment and the fact that registered partnerships of this kind exist in other countries,” she added. A recent poll by the Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) found that 62 percent of Czechs support same-sex registered partnership.
Canadian Same-Sex Marriage Faces Threat
Canada’s new Conservative government, elected Jan. 23, is threatening to try to undo the nation’s legalization of same-sex marriage. The Conservative Party platform promises to “hold a truly free vote on the definition of marriage in the next session of Parliament [and] if the resolution is passed, [to] introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage while respecting existing same-sex marriages.”
But the move apparently is not an immediate priority and, according to polls, would not be supported by a majority of Canadians. The party’s press officer told the San Francisco Chronicle that “things like same-sex marriage [are] on the back burner.”
Turning back the clock also may not be possible. The government probably does not have the votes to pass the resolution and, even if it does, the fact remains that courts in nine of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have ruled that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violates the nation’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
To get around that, the government would have to utilize the charter’s “notwithstanding clause,” which has never been used. It allows provinces or the federal Parliament to enact temporary laws (for five years) that violate the charter’s protections.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Sued Over Attempted Outing
Former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim sued former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for about $27 million Jan. 27 for allegedly defaming him by calling him gay.
Mahathir has “outed” Anwar repeatedly over a period of several years—and did so again last September, saying he fired Anwar in 1998 to prevent Malaysia from ending up with a homosexual leader.
“I cannot have a person who is like that in my cabinet who may succeed and become the prime minister,” Mahathir said. “Imagine having a gay prime minister. Nobody would be safe.”
Anwar was jailed for nine years in 2000 for allegedly engaging in same-sex sodomy but he was released in 2004 after the Federal Court ruled the evidence against him had been unreliable.
Anwar and human-rights groups have said the charges were bogus and that he was framed because Mahathir feared Anwar was scheming to replace him.
Anwar recently won more than $1 million in a lawsuit against publishers of a book that repeated the sodomy allegations.
“I will not allow this lie and slander to continue,” he said at the time. “My sacking from the government [was] part of a high-level political conspiracy.”
The maximum punishment for having gay sex in Malaysia is 20 years in jail and a flogging.
Jerusalem Pride Parade Stabber Convicted
A man who stabbed three marchers at last year’s Jerusalem gay-pride parade was convicted of attempted murder Jan. 31, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Yishai Schlissel, 30, will be sentenced at a later date. The State Attorney’s Office is seeking a 10-year prison term. “I came to murder on behalf of God. We can’t have such abomination in the country,” Schlissel told police. None of the victims was seriously injured.
Mayor Uri Lupolianski had tried to prevent the parade, which drew about 10,000 marchers, but he was thwarted by the Jerusalem District Court. Gay activists blamed Lupolianski’s “incitement” for the violence.
Portuguese Lesbians Try To Get Married
Two Portuguese lesbians were turned away when they tried to get married at the Lisbon public registry office Feb. 1. The rejection had been expected and Teresa Pires, 28, and Helena Paixão, 35, already had launched a legal case based on the Constitution’s prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation—a protection that was added in 2004.
At the same time, the Portuguese Civil Code states that “marriage is a contract celebrated between two persons of opposite sex.”
The matter will wind through the Portuguese and possibly the European court systems.
Neighboring Spain is one of four nations in the world where same-sex couples have access to regular marriage, along with Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands. A court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in South Africa will take effect next Dec. 1 unless Parliament makes the change sooner.
Cameroon Newspapers Out Alleged Gays
Three newspapers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, have published lists of more than 50 prominent personalities outing them as allegedly gay. The articles appeared over the past month in La Météo, Nouvelle Afrique and L’Anecdote.
According to Radio France Internationale, the lists included government officials, business executives, celebrities and other public figures—living and dead.
According to the German wire service Deutsche Presse Agentur, one named individual, Minister of Communication Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, commented: “People do not engage in these practices in public so where do the journalists get the names? Either they participated or they are themselves homosexual.”
Gay sex is illegal in Cameroon, punishable with up to five years in prison.