Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin strongly defended same-sex marriage Feb. 16 as Parliament began debate on the bill to legalize it nationwide. Courts already have legalized same-sex marriage in eight of Canadaâs 13 provinces and territories.
âI rise in support of a Canada in which liberties are safeguarded, rights are protected and the people of this land are treated as equals under the law,â Martin said. âOur deliberations will be not merely about a piece of legislation or sections of legal textâmore deeply, they will be about the kind of nation we are today, and the nation we want to be. This bill protects minority rights. [As] public legislators, we are responsible for serving all Canadians and protecting the rights of all Canadians. ... The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority. We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.
âSome have counseled the government to extend to gays and lesbians the right to a civil union,ââ Martin said. âThis would give same-sex couples many of the rights of a wedded couple, but their relationships would not legally be considered marriage. In other words, they would be equal, but not quite as equal as the rest of Canadians. ... âSeparate but equalâ is not equal.â
The bill is expected to pass this spring. Most Liberal, Bloc QuĂ©bĂ©cois and New Democrat MPs support it, along with a few Conservatives.
Spanish Support Same-Sex Marriage
A scientific poll by La Vanguardia newspaper found that 61 percent of Spaniards support extending full marriage rights to same-sex couples. Spainâs Parliament is expected to legalize same-sex marriage this year. Thirty-two percent of those questioned oppose the plan.
The poll also found that 44 percent of Spaniards favor letting same-sex couples adopt children but 50 percent do not. Pollsters questioned 1,000 adults by phone. The margin of error was +/- 3.16 percent. âWe are seeing in Spain a historic cultural and ideological change ... the result of a slow and sustained evolution by all of society toward respecting differences and diversity,â said veteran gay activist Jordi Petit.
Swiss To Vote On Partnership Law
Swiss voters will have their say on a same-sex partnership law June 5. The measure passed Parliament in June 2004 but religious conservatives then collected enough signatures to force a nationwide referendum on the law. It will be the first time an entire nation has voted on same-sex partnerships. The law extends many marriage rights to registered same-sex couples but withholds rights in the areas of adoption, in vitro fertilization and taking each otherâs last name, according to the newsletter of the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
Czech Republic Rejects Partnership Bill
A same-sex registered-partnership bill failed in the Czech Republicâs Parliament Feb. 11 by a single vote. It was the fourth time a partnership bill was defeated. Most of the 82 MPs who supported the bill are from the Social Democratic, Communist, Freedom Union and Civic Democratic parties. Most of the 83 no votes came from Christian Democrats.
Russian Supreme Court Rejects Same-Sex Marriage
Russiaâs Supreme Court refused to amend the Family Code to allow same-sex marriage Feb. 16, saying itâs a matter for other branches of government to consider.
The suit was filed by Eduard Mishin, editor-in-chief of the Gay.ru Web site, and Eduard Murzin, a member of the Parliament of the Russian internal republic of Bashkortostan, after officials rejected their attempt to obtain a marriage certificate. Murzin is heterosexual but wanted to help publicize the cause of gay equality.
âI do not belong to a sexual minority, but I am ready to stand up for the civil rights of gays and lesbians in Russia,â he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.
Murzin said the heterosexual definition of marriage violates the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. The couple plans an appeal to the Council of Europeâs European Court of Human Rights.
The day after Murzinâs and Mishinâs attempt to marry, Gay.ru was evicted from its offices. Police declared that the premises were âbeing used not in accordance with their purpose,â said Gay.ruâs Nikita Ivanov. The offices also housed Kvir magazine and the gay organization Together.
Anglican Church Will Recognize Partnered Priests
The Church of England will grant spousal pension rights to the same-sex partners of priests if the couple registers under the United Kingdomâs new civil-partnership law that takes effect later this year. The General Synod made the decision even though gays are technically barred from priesthood if they are sexually active. In the secular world, registered couples will obtain marriage rights in areas that include accident compensation, life insurance, immigration, inheritance, intestacy, pensions, taxation, tenancy, spouse and child support and workplace benefits.
Fiji May Legalize Gay Sex
Fijiâs Law Reform Commission will look at legalizing gay sex, Executive Chairperson Alipate Qetaki said Feb. 10. Sodomy is banned in public and private. Violators face up to five years in prison. Paradoxically, Fijiâs 1997 constitution is one of only a handful in the world that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Turkey Gets A Gay Radio Station
Turkeyâs first gay radio station has come online. Web-only Radio Rebel can be heard at www.direnis.radyosu.com. âOur main aim is to put the sound of homosexuals on the map,â one of the founders, Sanem Yurttas, told Roj TV. âWe are responding to the dominant system which tries to cut off our voice.â The station transmits music and programs in Turkish, Kurdish, Lazca, Circassian, Armenian, Syriac and Arabic.