Latviaâ€™s parliament, the Saeima, voted preliminarily to amend the nationâ€™s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Sept. 15. The measure faces three more votes in parliament and approval by special commissions before it could come into force. Fifty-five of the Saeimaâ€™s 100 members supported the amendment, which was introduced by the right-wing Christian First party, a member of the governing coalition.
At Latviaâ€™s first pride parade in July, the 150 marchers were targeted by around 1,000 antigay protesters who hurled insults, bottles and rotten eggs; blocked the streets; and forced the procession to be rerouted. The protesters chanted â€śNo sodomyâ€ť and â€śGays fuck the nation.â€ť In the end, police formed a human chain around the marchers to keep them safe.
New Zealand P.M. Wonâ€™t Support Gay Marriage
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Sept. 14 that she doesnâ€™t plan to support legalization of same-sex marriage, GayNZ.com reported. She made the remark in response to a question at a meeting with the senior-citizens organization Grey Power. Clark reportedly acknowledged that the Marriage Act discriminates against gay and lesbian couples, but said the people of New Zealand support that.
A comprehensive civil-union law took effect in April. It grants registered same-sex couples all rights and responsibilities of matrimony.
UK Govâ€™t Launches Civil Partnership Publicity Drive
The United Kingdom government has begun advertising the new Civil Partnership Act in the gay press and elsewhere. â€śIt is ridiculous that we have had a system that does not recognize the relationship of a gay couple who may have lived together for 20 years,â€ť said deputy equality minister Meg Munn as she launched the publicity drive. â€śOne partner could be excluded from the funeral if the other died, or lose their joint home because of inheritance tax.â€ť
Same-sex couples will be able to register their relationships starting Dec. 21. The act takes effect Dec. 5 but requires couples to give advance notice of their intention to tie the knot. Registered partners will receive all the rights and obligations of marriageâ€”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.
Cuba Stages Gay Film Festival
The Cuban government staged a gay film festival this month. The five-day event was sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry and the National Center for Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS.
The festival kicked off with Neil Jordanâ€™s The Crying Game. As patrons entered the theater, employees of the National Prevention Center handed them condoms and safe-sex pamphlets and posters.
Lesbian MEP Marries Girlfriend
German European Parliament member Lissy GrĂ¶ner, 51, married her girlfriend in Brussels Sept. 10. Mayor Freddy Thielemans conducted the ceremony. Germany has a domestic-partnership law for same-sex couples but Belgium allows gay couples access to regular marriage.
â€śIn Belgium, the law offers the same statute to hetero and homosexual couples. That is a positive signal for Europe,â€ť GrĂ¶ner said. Full marriage also is available to gay couples in Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Massachusetts.
Gay Pop Star To Marry
Newly out pop star Mark Feehily of the British boy band Westlife says he and boyfriend Kevin McDaid of the boy band V are getting married, the Belfast Telegraph reported Sept. 10.
Coming out was â€śthe best thing I ever did, like a massive weight off my shoulders,â€ť Feehily told the newspaper. â€śMy family and friends always knew who I was but now I donâ€™t have to hide my identity any more.â€ť
Feehily came out in an interview with Londonâ€™s Sun newspaper Aug. 19. â€śI am gay and Iâ€™m very proud of who I am,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™m not asking for any sympathy or to be a role model to anyone else.â€ť
Westlife has sold 34 million albums worldwide including five that went multiplatinum. The band has had 12 No. 1 singles in the United Kingdom and has won two Brit awards and an MTV Europe award, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Gay Movie Wins Venice Film Festival
The gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain won the Venice Film Festivalâ€™s â€śGolden Lionâ€ť for best film Sept. 10 in Italy. Set in Wyoming, the movie by Ang Lee tells the 20-year story of two cowboys in love. It stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film was adapted from a short story by Annie Proulx.
Manitoba Gays Not Rushing To The Altar
Manitoba gays have not exactly rushed to the altar in the year since the Canadian province legalized full same-sex marriage. With a population of 1.1 million, Manitoba has seen 76 same-sex weddingsâ€”29 between men and 47 between women, the Vital Statistics Agency reported.
Courts forced legalization of full same-sex marriage province-by-province (and in the Yukon Territory) over the past two years until the federal Parliament finally legalized it nationwide this past July. By that time, the only holdouts were the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Massachusetts also let same-sex couples marry.