Uruguayâ€™s House of Representatives passed a civil-union law for gay and straight couples Nov. 29. The measure had passed the Senate in September. It is expected to become law before yearâ€™s end. Uruguay will be the first Latin American country to grant same-sex couples access to civil unions on the national level. Couples must live together for five years before they can take advantage of the law. Spousal rights will be granted in areas such as health care, pensions, parenting and inheritance.
Other Latin American localities with civil-union laws include the city of Buenos Aires, the Argentine province of RĂo Negro, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, Mexico City, and the Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas.
Aussie Activists Are Pleased Howard Lost
Australian gay activists expressed satisfaction with the Nov. 24 election defeat of anti-gay longtime Liberal Prime Minister John Howard. In 2004, Howard successfully pushed for a national ban on same-sex marriage and, in 2006, he squashed a civil-union law passed by the Australian Capital Territory, a jurisdiction similar to Washington, D.C. Losing both his PM job and his longtime seat in Parliament, Howard was replaced by Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party, which has pledged to end financial and legal discrimination against same-sex couples by modifying 58 federal statutes.
Activists said they will hold Ruddâ€™s feet to the fire on that promise and other gay-friendly Labor pledges, including the partyâ€™s stated support for the ACT civil-union law.
ILGA To Hold Asia Confab
The International Lesbian and Gay Association will stage its third Asia Regional Conference Jan. 24-27 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Titled Equality in Diversity Now!, the gathering aims to recognize â€śthe diverse ways by which genders and sexualities are experienced and defined in Asia and appreciate the different areas of activism LGBT groups focus on in their respective countries.â€ť â€śThis conference will further advance the struggle for visibility, social acceptance, and decriminalization of LGBT persons in Asian societies,â€ť the organization said. â€śA most significant part of this conference will be the creation of a clear organizational structure and action agenda through an ILGA-Asia regional board and secretariat.â€ť
Local organizers include Chiang Mai GLBT groups and the Committee on Lesbigay Rights in Burma. Sponsors include the Dutch organization HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation), the Dutch organization Oxfam Novib and the Global Fund for Women. Additional sponsors are needed.
ILGA is a 30-year-old federation of more than 600 GLBT organizations and associated members, such as city governments, from 90 countries. It has played a key role over the years in developments such as Amnesty Internationalâ€™s decision to adopt persecuted homosexuals as prisoners of conscience and the World Health Organizationâ€™s decision to remove homosexuality from its list of illnesses.
U.S. Gay Singers Allowed To Perform In Singapore
U.S. Christian singers Jason and deMarco, who are a gay couple, have received permission to perform in Singapore on Dec. 13. The decision was a surprise given that the government has been on a gay-ban spree this year, prohibiting a gay photo exhibition, a gay story-reading event, a forum on gay legal issues, and a speech by Metropolitan Community Churches founder Troy Perry.
Gay sex is illegal in Singapore and punishable with two years in prison. But Jason and deMarco, who were banned as recently as 2005, got a green light this time after organizers convinced the Media Development Authority that â€śthe aim of the concert is AIDS education and HIV prevention ... targeted at the high-risk groups,â€ť an MDA spokesperson said.
20,000 party in Santiago
Some 20,000 people turned out for a gay pride celebration in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 16. The organizers, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH), said it was the nationâ€™s largest pride event ever. Their demands included passage of anti-discrimination and civil-union legislation. The festivities on Paseo Bulnes featured 22 DJs performing on three stages, go-go dancers and drag shows. â€śIt was an incredible, emotional scene,â€ť MOVILH said in a statement. â€śA real charge of energy to continue fighting against discrimination. A thousand and one times we will say that moments like these are unique â€” seeing thousands of people exercising, not just demanding, their right to free expression.â€ť"
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet sent a letter to the festival supporting MOVILHâ€™s goals. â€śHer Excellency is conscious of your sustained effort for the acceptance of sexual minorities and supports you in this act of integration of equality,â€ť she said. â€śWe express to you, and to all who participate in this event, the best wishes for success and we send you an affectionate greeting.â€ť
A similar pride event in Santiago in July attracted some 5,000 people to the Plaza de Armas for seven hours of dancing, music and drag performances.
Brazilian TV Network Must Pay $42 Million For Outing Model
A SĂŁo Paulo court has ordered the Brazilian TV network Rede TV to pay $42.7 million to model Carlos Alberto Cunha GonĂ§alves after he was outed by a guest on the talk show Superpop, GayNewsWatch.com reported Nov. 23. Judge Carlos Dias Motta ruled that the remark invaded GonĂ§alvesâ€™ privacy. â€śPrograms that are notoriously sensationalist should at a minimum make sure to respect the dignity of individuals because freedom of expression, achieved at a high price, cannot justify violating privacy, which is also a principle of the Federal Constitution,â€ť Motta said.
Kyrgyzstan Sees 1st Gay Pamphlet
The first-ever Kyrgyz-language pamphlet on gay issues has hit the streets of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the BBC reported. Syinat Sultanalieva of the local LBT group Labrys said 5,000 copies of the brochure were printed. It â€śaims at providing objective and open information about homosexuals, and calls for an understanding attitude toward them,â€ť she said. â€śThe cases when such people are subjected to discrimination and beatings are not far apart. In our country the plight of those outside of traditional sexual orientation does not seem to touch anyone. They are considered outcasts.â€ť Sultanalieva hopes the pamphlet will educate society on gaysâ€™ lives, inner thoughts and feelings, and sorrows.
Labrys head Anna Kirey told the network that open homosexuals are rare in Kyrgyzstan because GLBT people â€śare afraid of those surrounding them.â€ť
Assistance: Bill Kelley