|British brides Celia Kitzinger, right, and Sue Wilkinson, at their Canadian wedding. Photo courtesy of the couple.
Australiaâs federal government is attempting to squash a civil-union bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory, a jurisdiction similar to Washington, D.C. The government has advised the Queenâs representative, Governor-General Michael Jeffery, to use his power to block the law.
âWe are not prepared to accept something which is a plain attempt to equate civil unions with marriage,â said Prime Minister John Howard. Australian law explicitly bans same-sex marriage.
Apparently angered by the federal move, ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell said he will rush to implement the law before the process for quashing it can be completedâso some couples can be united by then. The ACT government also issued a direct appeal to Jeffery to ignore the federal governmentâs plea..
The gay Australian Coalition for Equality âutterly condemned Federal Cabinetâs decision ... to override the ACTâs civil unions laws as a desecration of the democracy and self-governance granted to ACT electors and the human rights of same-sex couples.â
BBC: Announcers Can Use âGayâ to Mean âLameâ
The Board of Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation has OKâd use of the word âgayâ as a synonym for âlameâ or ârubbish.â The board rejected a complaint filed against a disc jockey who said of a cell-phone ring tone: âI donât want that one, itâs gay.â
Young people nowadays, the board said, routinely use âgayâ as a pejorative in contexts unrelated to homosexuality. As such, the board said, on-air hosts may do the same. It added, however, that announcers should reflect on their use of the word because its multiple meanings could lead to âunintended offence.â
Qantas Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage
Australiaâs Qantas Airways has relented and will recategorize as married a gay employee who got married in Canada. The airline previously had refused to update the employeeâs marital status in company records, saying it only recognized man-woman marriage. Qantas reportedly changed its tune after former Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson took an interest in the case and sent a disapproving e-mail.
Australian law explicitly bans same-sex marriage and prohibits government recognition of foreign gay marriages.
Brit Marriage Case Reaches High Court
In a landmark High Court case heard June 6-9, a British lesbian couple married in Canada are challenging the United Kingdomâs ban on same-sex marriage. University professors Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson were married in a civil ceremony in Vancouver in 2003. Their marriage is recognized in Canada but not in the U.K., where the Civil Partnership Act automatically converts foreign same-sex marriages into U.K. civil unions. In some sense, the matter is only semantic, since U.K. civil partnerships grant the same rights and obligations as traditional marriage. But the couple say thatâs not good enough.
âOur lawful marriage was convertedâagainst our wishes and without our consentâinto a civil partnership,â they wrote in an e-mail. âWe believe that treating same-sex couples differently from heterosexual couples in this way is deeply discriminatory. We feel distressed, demeaned and humiliated by the UK governmentâs refusal to recognise our marriage.â."
The coupleâs lawyers say the reclassification violated the European Convention on Human Rights. The court did not indicate when it will issue a decision.
Denmark Legalizes Lesbian Insemination
Danish legislators passed a law June 2 permitting lesbians and single women to obtain free artificial insemination in public hospitals. The vote was 86 to 61 with 21 abstentions. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussenâs right-leaning government opposed the measure.
Same-sex couples united under Denmarkâs groundbreaking 1989 registered-partnership law have all other rights of marriage with the exception of access to adoption.
Around 3,000 couples have tied the knot.
Ontario OKs Two Moms on Babiesâ Birth Certificates
Canadaâs Ontario Superior Court struck down a provision June 6 that prevented lesbian couples from putting both their names on a birth certificate as parents of a child they conceived via artificial insemination. The court said the unequal treatment causes lesbian couples pain and hardship, suggests âthere is something wrong or unnatural about their familiesâ and violates Canadaâs Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The court suspended implementation of its ruling for one year to allow legislators to remedy the charter breach.
Polish Prosecutor Targets Gay Groups
The office of Polandâs state prosecutor has ordered prosecutors nationwide to investigate how local gay groups are funded, alleging they may be receiving support from drug dealers and pedophile organizations. Attached to the order was a letter making such accusations written by conservative Member of Parliament Wojciech Wierzejski.
The order is the latest in a series of overt attacks on Polandâs gay community by local and federal officials.
250 March in Corkâs First Pride Parade
About 250 people marched in the first gay pride parade in Cork, Ireland, June 4, the Irish Independent newspaper reported. Although Cork has had a gay festival for 15 years, organizers believe the city only recently has become cosmopolitan enough to welcome a parade.
âThe public really seemed to enjoy it and we will definitely be extending it next year,â spokesman Maurice Hayes told the Independent. âIt just seemed to go down a treat with people.â
Ambassador Reassigned Due to Homophobia
The Netherlandsâ ambassador to Estonia, Hans Glaubitz, has been reassigned to the consulate in Montreal because he and his black husband were being abused in the streets by racists and homophobes, European media reported. â[Estonian] society is far from ready for two men, particularly if one of them is black,â Glaubitz said in a statement. âIt is not very nice to be regularly abused by drunken skinheads as a âniggerâ and to be continuously gawped at as if you have just stepped out of a UFO.â
Reports said a local magazine fueled the abuse when it called the appointment of a gay ambassador with a black husband âa Dutch provocation.â
-Assistance: Bill Kelley