|Corine Mauch was elected mayor of Zurich on March 29. Sheâ€™s an out lesbian.
Swedenâ€™s Parliament legalized same-sex marriage April 1. Gay couples can begin marrying May 1. The vote was 261 to 22 with 66 abstentions and absences. Six of the seven political parties in Parliament supported the decision, with the Christian Democrats the sole holdout.
Sweden has had a registered-partnership law since 1995 that grants registered same-sex couples the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage. That law no longer will be used, though currently registered couples will have the option of maintaining that status or converting their partnership into a marriage.
Same-sex marriage is also legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. states of Connecticut, Iowa (starting APRIL 94), Vermont (starting Sept. 1) and Massachusetts.
Zurich Gets A Lesbian Mayor
Voters in Zurich, Switzerland, elected an openly lesbian mayor March 29. Corine Mauch, 48, won the seat after her predecessor took an early retirement. She has agreed to deliver a speech in May at the opening ceremony for EuroPride, which is being held in Zurich this year. EuroPride spokesman Michael RĂĽegg called Mauchâ€™s election â€śa real stroke of luck (that) none of us really expected.â€ť
Other European cities with openly gay mayors include Berlin (Klaus Wowereit), Paris (Bertrand DelanoĂ«) and Hamburg (Ole von Beust). Iceland has an openly lesbian prime minister, JĂłhanna SigurĂ°ardĂłttir.
French Senate Recognizes Foreign Same-Sex Unions
Franceâ€™s Senate voted March 25 to recognize foreign same-sex unions. The measure now moves to the National Assembly. â€śWe congratulate the French Senate for finally moving forward to solve this unfair situation which is discriminatory on the grounds of nationality as well as a hindrance to freedom of movement within the (European Union),â€ť said Michael Cashman, president of the European Parliamentâ€™s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights.
â€śWe have been approached by many European citizens, especially British, who suffer discrimination because their same-sex partnership is not recognized in France,â€ť Cashman said. â€śOne man was forced to sell his house after his partnerâ€™s death because he could not afford to pay 60 percent inheritance tax. Otherwise this tax is not applicable to same-sex married spouses or couples in a French partnership.â€ť
British Hotel Sued For Not Letting Gay Couple Sleep Together
Gay couple Martyn Hall and Steve Preddy have sued the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall, England, for not letting them stay in the same room. They seek ÂŁ5,000 (US$7,374) in compensation from owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull for â€śdirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.â€ť
The hotel openly flouts the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which prohibit such discrimination. â€śDouble bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples,â€ť confirms the hotelâ€™s Web site. â€śAs Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others).â€ť
Morocco Targets Promotion of Homosexuality
According to various news reports, Moroccoâ€™s government has launched a crackdown on promotion of homosexuality, saying it threatens religious and moral values. The Interior Ministry said activities that go against such values will be â€śrepressed.â€ť The move apparently is a response to increased media coverage of gay issues, couples and weddings.
The ministry denounced media outlets â€śthat defend ignoble behaviors that constitute a provocation of national public opinion and fail to take account of the moral values and doctrines of our society.â€ť
Japan OKs Same-Sex Marriages Abroad
Japanâ€™s Justice Ministry said March 26 that it has begun issuing marriage-eligibility certificates to Japanese citizens who plan to marry someone of the same sex in a foreign country where same-sex marriage is legal. Japanese citizens are required to obtain the certificate before marrying a foreigner abroad - submitting information about both parties such as name, birthday, sex and nationality. The latest version of the certificate will confirm that an individual is single and of legal age.
Gay activists said the change also means Japanese gays will be able to bring a foreign spouse to live with them in Japan.
Euro Court: No Expedited Hearing For Russian Pride Cases
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a request for expedited hearing of several cases stemming from Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkovâ€™s repeated bans of gay pride marches. Some of the cases are more than two years old. The court has a huge backlog of cases of all kinds from Russia.
â€śIf no action is taken, the Moscow Pride bans will take five to six years to be overturned by the European Court,â€ť said chief pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev. â€śWhether through the court or via the Committee of Ministers, a solution has to be found in Strasbourg (at the Council of Europe). We are in contact with several diplomacies.â€ť
In a similar case from Warsaw, the court issued a ruling within 18 months mandating that city officials let gays march. â€śCouncil of Europe officials write wonderful letters to Russian authorities about the necessity to respect the rights of LGBT people,â€ť said Moscow Pride co-organizer Nikolai Baev. â€śBut year after year we see the same violence, the same aggressions and the same breach of human rights.â€ť
This yearâ€™s pride march is scheduled for May 16, the same day the popular, campy Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Moscow. The contest - a high holiday for many European gays - is staged in the country that won it the previous year.
Mayor Luzhkov has called gay parades â€śsatanicâ€ť and â€śweapons of mass destruction,â€ť and said he will never allow one to take place in Moscow.
Moscow Pride Organizers Arrested
Two Moscow Pride organizers were arrested in Ryazan, Russia, March 30 for presenting â€śpropaganda of homosexuality to minors.â€ť Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet, along with two activists who were not arrested, were carrying pro-gay banners near a school and library in the city center when they were taken into custody. The action was a deliberate challenge to the local regionâ€™s 2006 law against gay propaganda, which prohibits any discussion of homosexuality with children. Violators can be fined. It is the only law of its kind in Russia.
â€śWe came here to denounce a law which is not only homophobic but which is also against the constitution of this country,â€ť said activist Nikolai Alekseev. â€śThis action was a necessary step to appeal the cancellation of this law to the Constitutional Court.â€ť The arrested activists appeared in court and the case was delayed so officials can study it.
Ryazan is 200 km (120 miles) southeast of Moscow.
-assistance: Bill Kelley