The British government will count gays, lesbians and bisexuals in a survey by the Office for National Statistics, The Times reported. The decision follows lobbying by gay groups and government officials who need the information to adequately provide services. âLGB individuals and the community as a whole have historically suffered discrimination and there are concerns that this group is currently ignored in terms of policy and service provision,â the office said.
Current government estimates are that 6 percent of the population is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Officials have hesitated to ask about sexual orientation in the census â as opposed to in a survey â because, said census coordinator Joy Dobbs, âWeâre still not sure what it is we are trying to measure â is it behavior, inclination, identity, lifestyle?â So the research will, instead, likely be part of the General Household Survey, which targets 20,000 homes nationwide.
Meanwhile, the 2011 census will count people who have entered into a same-sex civil partnership or marriage, officials said.
Gay singer âmarriesâ
Steven Gately, a singer in the defunct British boy band Boyzone, âmarriedâ partner Andy Cowles March 19 in London, under the United Kingdomâs Civil Partnership Act. The ceremony was held at the Goring Hotel near Buckingham Palace. In the 1990s, Boyzone sold more than 10 million records and had six No. 1 singles in the U.K.
British gay MP to get âmarriedâ
British Member of Parliament Ben Bradshaw and BBC Newsnight journalist Neal Dalgleish will âmarryâ in June under the United Kingdomâs Civil Partnership Act, the BBC reported. Bradshaw, who represents Exeter for the Labour Party, was the first member of Parliament to come out as gay before being elected for the first time.
Gay film wins Canadian awards
The Quebec gay film C.R.A.Z.Y. won 10 of Canadaâs Genie film awards March 13. Jean-Marc VallĂ©eâs coming-of-age drama snagged best film, director, actor, supporting-actress and original-screenplay awards along with technical honors. The film, made for $6 million, was the nationâs top-grossing Canadian-made movie in 2005.
U.K. navy: The closet is unhealthy
Itâs a good thing that gays in the United Kingdomâs Royal Navy can be out of the closet now, personnel chief Vice Admiral Adrian Johns said March 16. Leading a âsecret life [is] an unhealthy way to be ... in the armed services,â he said, according to The Daily Telegraph. âThose individuals need nurturing so that they give of their best. Our mission is to break down barriers of discrimination, prejudice, fear and misunderstanding.â Johns spoke at a London conference on gays in the workplace organized by the gay lobby group Stonewall.
The armed forces dropped its gay ban in 2000.
Partnership bill introduced in Croatia
Debate on a bill to expand the rights of same-sex couples is under way in Croatiaâs Parliament. In response to demands by the gay organizations Iskorak and Kontra, gay-supportive legislators hope to beef up the existing Law on Same-Sex Unions to reduce the number of areas in which it provides fewer rights than marriage. Gay activists have denounced the current law as self-contradictory, saying it both prohibits antigay discrimination and embodies the discrimination âit was designed to prevent, through a narrow, almost nonexistent scope of rights ... for same-sex partnerships.â
Dutch same-sex marriages level off
Fewer Dutch gays and lesbians are getting married now compared with 2001 and 2002, right after the Netherlands legalized full marriage for same-sex couples. But activists say itâs logical that there would be a leveling off after an initial burst of weddings of long-term couples, local media reported. According to Statistics Netherlands, there were 1,166 same-sex marriages in 2005 and 1,210 in 2004 compared with 2,414 in 2001 and 1,838 in 2002.
The Netherlands was the first nation in the world to grant same-sex couples access to ordinary marriage. Since then, Belgium, Canada and Spain have followed suit, and South Africa will do so in December when a court decision takes effect.
South Korea to OK gays in the military
South Koreaâs Ministry of Defense will lift its ban on gays in the military in April, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported. The decision follows a recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission that the forces eliminate antigay discrimination and prejudice. Under the new policy, the military will not out gay members of the armed forces â and anyone who comes out voluntarily will receive special supervision to protect his or her human rights, personal life and living situation, the report said.
Ireland may recognize unmarried partners
Ireland is considering legal moves to recognize and protect cohabiting couples, the Irish Examiner reported March 22. The Department of Justice will set up a working group to lay out options for the government. A government spokesperson told the paper the working group will not directly address same-sex partnerships but will âsee what they can do to give a legal basis to partnership.â
Rights groups criticize Nigeria
Sixteen human-rights groups wrote to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on March 23 demanding he withdraw legislation that will criminalize gay relationships and same-sex marriage, and ban gay organizations and activism. They said the bill violates both the African Charter on Human and Peoplesâ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. âThe bill criminalizes public expressions of love and any defense of lesbian and gay rights, denying fundamental freedoms,â said Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watchâs gay-rights program.
The measure has been approved by the Federal Executive Council and awaits action by the National Assembly. It calls for five yearsâ imprisonment for anyone who âgoes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,â âperforms, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriageâ or âis involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations.â It also criminalizes public displays of a âsame-sex amorous relationshipâ and bans gay adoption.
The U.S. State Department also has denounced the bill, saying it âwould restrict or prohibit citizens from assembling, organizing, holding events or rallies, and participating in ceremonies of religious union, based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.â
âThe freedoms of speech, association, expression, assembly, and religion are long-standing international commitments and are universally recognized,â the U.S. government said. âNigeria, as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has assumed important obligations on these matters. We expect the Government of Nigeria to act in a manner consistent with those obligations.â
Gay sex is already illegal nationwide in Nigeria â and in several northern states ruled by Islamic Sharia law, it is punishable with stoning. Nigeria is Africaâs most populous nation, with 130 million residents.
The letter to Obasanjo was signed by Africa Action (U.S.), the African Human Rights Organization (Cameroon), Alliance Rights (Nigeria), Amnesty International, the Center for Democracy & Development (Nigeria), the Centre for Human Rights, Democracy and Transitional Justice Studies (Congo), the Civil Liberties Organisation (Nigeria), Global Rights (U.S.), Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists (Switzerland), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (U.S.), International Service for Human Rights (Switzerland), the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (Nigeria), the National Black Justice Coalition (U.S.), Support Project in Nigeria, and the University of Pretoria Centre for Human Rights (South Africa).