The United Kingdom‚Äôs Royal Navy is partnering with leading gay-rights group Stonewall in an effort to increase gay enlistment and encourage more sailors to come out of the closet, The Sunday Times reported.
Vice-Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent said sailors‚Äô coming out would contribute to a culture in which ‚Äúall our people are valued for themselves and are thus able to give 100 percent to their job.‚ÄĚ As a part of the campaign, the Navy will advertise in the biweekly gay newspaper The Pink Paper. ‚Äú[The ads] will show those who are gay and are uncomfortable about the environment [here] that our position on diversity is not just empty talk,‚ÄĚ said Commodore Paul Docherty. ‚ÄúIt is quite possible that we will have a gay admiral in the fullness of time. ... We have had gay admirals in the past but they haven‚Äôt come out. ‚ÄúThe UK lifted its military gay ban in 2000.
In related news, the Ministry of Defense announced Feb. 20 that same-sex couples who register under the Civil Partnership Act that comes into force in December will be allowed to live in military family housing. An MoD spokesman told the Telegraph newspaper, ‚ÄúIf same-sex couples commit themselves to a registered civil partnership that is founded in statute and provides rights and obligations that are comparable to a marriage, the MoD would expect to afford the same recognition in its own policies towards service personnel.‚ÄĚ
In Malaysia, meanwhile, the head of the Royal Malaysian Navy, Adm. Datuk Sri Mohamed Anwar bin Haji Mohamed Nor, told the New Straits Times that Malaysia absolutely will not follow the UK‚Äôs lead. ‚ÄúWe do not condone such acts,‚ÄĚ Anwar said. ‚ÄúThe RMN will never accept them [gays] as we have to protect the Navy.‚ÄĚ
The RMN is in the process of distributing 10,000 copies of an Islamic education book from the Army‚Äôs Religious Corps to all Muslim Navy personnel, Anwar said. The 152-page book covers the basic principles of the faith and offers detailed instructions on how to conduct prayers while on a ship or the battlefield, the New Straits Times said.
Brazil Grants A Gay Divorce
A judge in Brazil‚Äôs Rio Grande do Sul state, which registers same-sex civil unions, has granted a divorce to a formerly unioned couple. Government prosecutors had argued against allowing the divorce saying it would imply there had been a marriage.
But Family and Inheritance Court Judge Roberto Arriada Lorea declared that ‚Äúto assign a differential treatment to homosexuals would be disrespectful to the principle of equality.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt would be absurd to accept that the judicial power closes its eyes not only to changes that are taking place in our society, but also to the federal Constitution that rules our nation,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIn the absence of explicit legislation, there is no reason to unfairly judge what happens in ‚Äėsocial minorities‚Äô that are already heavily discriminated against.‚ÄĚ
Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the U.S.-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, commented: ‚ÄúEquality does not exist for LGBT people without a recognition of our intimate relationships, whether when we start them or end them. Brazilians are truly in the forefront globally in promoting respect and dignity for our family relationships.‚ÄĚ
Miffed Anglicans Punish Americans, Canadians
Still upset over the ordination in New Hampshire of a gay bishop who lives with his lover and over church blessings of gay unions in British Columbia, the worldwide Anglican Communion Feb. 24 urged the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to withdraw their representatives from the Anglican Consultative Council, a key governing body of the communion. The decision came at the end of a meeting in Northern Ireland of most of the 77-million-member church‚Äôs primates.
In 1998, Anglican bishops declared gay sex to be ‚Äúincompatible with Scripture.‚ÄĚ
The U.S. and Canadian church hierarchies said they are studying the request, which many news reports mischaracterized as an order.
Bookstore That Battled Customs Loses Funding
Canada‚Äôs British Columbia Court of Appeal Feb. 18 rescinded more than $1 million in government funding that had allowed the Vancouver gay bookstore Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium to mount ongoing challenges to Customs seizures of gay erotica from the United States.
‚ÄúLittle Sisters assumed the role of watchdog over Customs,‚ÄĚ Justice Allan Thackray wrote. ‚ÄúThe fact is that the public has not appointed Little Sisters to this role. Little Sisters not only wants to have Customs found to have incorrectly classified the books in question but wants to be financed as the instrument to reform Customs.‚ÄĚ
A trial court had given the bookstore the money to challenge seizures of books and comic books depicting homosexual sadomasochism. Canadian courts can order public funding of seemingly solid legal challenges that raise issues of public importance if a litigant cannot afford to pay for the process.
UK Partnership Law To Take Effect In December
Same-sex couples in the United Kingdom will be able to register their relationships and receive a variety of spousal rights after the Civil Partnership Act comes into effect Dec. 5. Couples can get hitched at a register office starting Dec. 21‚ÄĒ15 days after giving notice to the office of their intention to do so.
‚ÄúThis legislation is going to make a real difference to these couples and it demonstrates the government‚Äôs commitment to equality and social justice,‚ÄĚ said Deputy Women and Equality Minister Jacqui Smith. ‚ÄúIt opens the way to respect, recognition and justice for those who have been denied it for too long.‚ÄĚ
Registered partners will receive rights and obligations in areas such as accident compensation, life insurance, immigration, inheritance, intestacy, pensions, taxation, tenancy, spouse and child support and workplace benefits. Couples who have entered a legal same-sex union overseas will not need to re-register in the UK to be recognized. There will be a formal, court-based process for dissolution of a civil partnership.