Spain legalized full same-sex marriage and gay adoption June 30. The vote in the Congress of Deputies was 187 to 147 with four abstentions. The Senate had rejected the bill, but it is the Congress that has final say. Gay couples were allowed to begin the process of getting married on July 3, when the law change was published in the BoletĂn Oficial del Estado.
Hundreds of thousands of people celebrated at Madridâs gay-pride parade July 2. âToday, Spanish society is responding to a group of people who for years have been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, their dignity offended, their identity denied and their freedom restricted,â Prime Minister JosĂ© Luis RodrĂguez Zapatero said June 30. âToday Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity and restores their liberty.
âWe are not the first [country to do this] but I am sure we will not be the last,â he said. âAfter us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality.[This is] a small change in wording that means an immense change in the lives of thousands of citizens. We are not legislating, ladies and gentlemen, for people who are far away and unknown to us. We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives. It is true that [gays] are only a minority but their triumph is a triumph for everybody. ... Their victory makes us all better, makes our society better.â
Gay campaigners were elated. âFinally, gays and lesbians are no longer second-class citizens,â said the Spanish COLEGAS Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. âWe pridefully see ourselves as citizens of this great nation that is Spain where liberty and equality have triumphed at last.
Gays and lesbians are now going to take a well-deserved rest after these past several months of suffering being viewed as strange animalsâand having ourselves and our families observed under a magnifying glass,â the group said.
The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association called the lawâs passage a blow to the Roman Catholic Church. âSpain proved that it is a modern and outward-looking society and there is no reason or justification for discriminating against LGBT people,â said Executive Director Patricia Prendiville. âIt has also proved that even strong Roman Catholic roots and heritage is not a barrier for building an inclusive and equal society. We believe the Spanish marriage victory will have a significant positive impact in other European countries where religious arguments are used to oppose the legal recognition for same-sex partners.â
Full same-sex marriage also has been legalized in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Numerous nations and regions/states/provinces grant same-sex couples many or nearly all matrimonial rights under registered-partnership or civil-union laws.
Canadian Lawmakers OK Same-Sex Marriage
Following rowdy debate, Canadaâs House of Commons voted 158 to 133 on June 28 to legalize full same-sex marriage nationwide.
Courts already had forced legalization of same-sex marriage in nine of Canadaâs 13 provinces and territoriesâeverywhere but Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island.
he measure now moves to the Senate, where it faces quick and easy passage. â[This] is about the Charter of Rights,â said Prime Minister Paul Martin. âIn a nation of minorities, it is important that you donât cherry-pick rights. A right is a right.â
âItâs about the right to love,â gay Bloc QuĂ©bĂ©cois MP RĂ©al MĂ©nard told The New York Times. âWhen you are in love, things are different, and everyone is entitled to that.â Foreign couples are welcome to marry in Canada, and only Quebec has any kind of waiting period.
Full same-sex marriage also has been legalized in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Numerous nations and regions/states/provinces grant same-sex couples many or nearly all matrimonial rights under registered-partnership or civil-union laws.
Czech Parliament Gives Preliminary Approval To Partner Bill
The Czech Republicâs Chamber of Deputies passed a same-sex registered-partnership bill on first reading and sent it to a committee June 27, the Prague Daily Monitor reported. The measure grants limited rights in areas such as health information and support payments. Civil unions would be registered and dissolved at the birth registry.Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek supports the bill. A similar proposal was rejected in February, by a single vote.
Ruling Extends German Partner Benefits
erlinâs Administrative Court ruled June 24 that people united under Germanyâs same-sex partnership law are entitled to each otherâs pension when one of them dies.
The court redefined the word âspouseâ in pension benefit plans. More than 6,000 same-sex couples have registered since 2002.
Pride Around The Planet
About 500 people marched in the first large-scale gay-pride parade in Athens, Greece. âThe only way to safeguard our rights is for everyone to understand that homosexuality is a reality and that people should not behave as if we donât exist,â marcher Maria Gouma told The Scotsman newspaper.
About 300,000 people turned out for pride in Paris. The procession snaked from the Montparnasse train station to the Bastille. The parade was so massive that some marchers waited hours to step off from the Left Bank starting point.
About 250 people marched in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, âdressed in gaudy, revealing clothes,â said Rediff.com. Police made no effort to halt the parade even though homosexuality is illegal. âWe want to tell the world we exist,â said Teesta, a 27-year-old student.
More than 125,000 people turned out for Torontoâs 25th paradeâincluding Police Chief Bill Blair. According to CTV.ca, âThe parade showcased everything from bronzed, scantily-clad dancers gyrating on floats to pounding dance music to the more sedate groups, like Grandparents for Gays and Lesbians.â Mayor David Miller told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: âTo me, it sums up so much of what Toronto is about. Everyoneâs welcome here, everyoneâs respected. Weâre very proud weâre the place where same-sex marriage, the first one [in Canada], was performed.â Members of the Ontario Provincial Police marched for the first time, including two female officers holding hands, the CBC said.
About 4,000 people marched in Edinburgh, Scotlandâfrom Waverley Station, down Princes Street to the Gay Village. Asked what happened after the parade, Pride Scotia (Edinburgh) Convener John Hein said: âLots of people got very drunk, a few went to the Health and Community Fair, and then there was a big loud-popular-noise thing called Ocean Pride held from 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Ocean Terminal.â
Panama saw its first gay-pride parade June 25. About 70 people marched, with at least an equal number walking along on the sidewalks, out of view of media cameras. Six newspapers, five radio stations, two TV stations and numerous Web sites covered the parade.
âFor being our first-ever march, that was quite a turnoutâdefinitely beyond what we were expecting,â said Javier RodrĂguez of the New Men and Women Association of Panama, which organized the parade. âThis, for me, is the first time that Iâve been able to gauge an actual âgay communityâ in Panama,â RodrĂguez said. âAll these years, everyoneâs been talking about such a community. To me, it had never existed until now. ... This is the first time that the different actorsâfrom the clubs to the boutique to the bathhouse to the bars to the Web sitesâhave responded to the call of one actor, our group, and joined efforts to make something, anything, happen!â
At the end of the parade, 600 balloons were released, 100 for each color of the rainbow flag.
Pride Marchers Stabbed In Jerusalem
An ultra-Orthodox man stabbed three marchers during Jerusalemâs fourth gay-pride parade June 30, the Jerusalem Post reported. The attack occurred at Ben Yehuda and Hahistradrut streets.
A woman was stabbed in the arm; a man was stabbed in the arm, hand and chest; and a third marcher received a minor injury. All three were taken to Bikur Holim Hospital. Two were treated and released. Adam David Russo was moved to Shaare Zedek Medical Center where he is recovering from deep gashes to his arm, the back of his hand and his chest. âThey tried to murder me because Iâm gay,â Russo told the Haaretz newspaper. âIn the ambulance I thought I wouldnât dare set foot again in Jerusalem. Now Iâve calmed down, but I still think I wonât go downtown alone. On the other hand, now I view my community activism almost as a mission, so I want to stand out.â
Yishai Schlissel, 30, was arrested for the attack and police say others may have been involved. Separately, police arrested 13 religious Jews who tried to block the march. More than 1,000 people demonstrated against the paradeâthrowing bottles of urine and bags of feces at the marchers, the Post said.
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 Lupolianskiâs âincitementâ for the violence. Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz agreed, saying, âThe heads of the Jerusalem municipality should self-reflect on their contribution to the incitement leading up to todayâs violence.â
Muslims Disrupt Transvestite Pageant
About 10 members of Indonesiaâs Islamic Defendersâ Front barged into a Jakarta nightclub during the Miss Transvestite pageant June 28.They left after 20 minutes, when pageant organizers agreed to wrap up the contest earlier than planned.âWe were all traumatized. They said we were immoral, but God created us this way,â organizer Megi Megawati told the AP.