|South African Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Edwin Cameron ascends to the South African Constitutional Court, that nationâ€™s supreme court.
South African Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Edwin Cameron, who is openly gay and openly HIV-positive, was appointed to the nationâ€™s highest court, the Constitutional Court, by President Kgalema Motlanthe on New Yearâ€™s Day. The South African Lesbian and Gay Equality Project said Cameron is the first openly gay or HIV-positive person â€śto hold such a position in the highest court of any country.â€ť
â€śHe was among the few lawyers who defended anti-apartheid activists against the old regime,â€ť the group said, â€śand he is known for his criticism of the SA government on HIV/AIDS policies. Judge Cameron also set the legal strategy for the countryâ€™s constitutional and legal reform on the rights of lesbian and gay people.â€ť
South Africaâ€™s post-apartheid constitution was the first one in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and South Africa is one of six nations where same-sex couples have access to full marriage.
In a January 2006 interview with the U.S. magazine POZ, Cameron said, â€śIf I go into a gay bar or club â€” which I do â€” thereâ€™s almost no one who doesnâ€™t know me, black or white. But that hasnâ€™t affected my personal interactions. Iâ€™m a loner. Iâ€™ve run away from intimate commitment my entire adult life.â€ť In January 2008, Cameron sported eye glitter as he officiated at the wedding of AIDS activist Zackie Achmat and husband Dalli Weyers.s.
Ethiopian Religious Leaders Call for Gay-Sex Amendment
A group of Ethiopian Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox religious leaders meeting in Addis Ababa on Dec. 22 called for a constitutional amendment criminalizing gay sex. The head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Patriarch Adune Paulos, said having gay sex is â€śstupid, like animals,â€ť and that homosexuals need to be taught a lesson. Ethiopia already has a law banning gay sex, under penalty of up to three years in prison, according to Human Rights Watch.
Anti-Gays Target Serbian Web Site
The Serbian Web site queeria.com says it has come under assault from anti-gay forces following a decision by the Ministry of Culture to give it $4,200 in funding. â€śOur collaborators and activists have been constantly receiving death threats and threats of physical violence,â€ť said editor Predrag M. Azdejkovic. â€śEvery day threats are being sent to the Web siteâ€™s official e-mail address to the effect that the Web site is going to be hacked, that we are sick people who should be treated, that all of us should be killed.â€ť
Azdejkovic said the site, which is run by the Belgrade organization Queeria Center, also is being targeted in two anti-gay Facebook groups, one of which has 2,500 members. â€śMembers of these groups are openly uttering death threats to the Queeria Center activists whose pictures circulate among the groupsâ€™ members,â€ť he said. â€śThey are advocating breaking and entering the premises of Queeria Center and its activistsâ€™ private apartments.â€ť
Azdejkovic asked journalists â€śto rise in defense of their gay colleagues working for the Queeria Web site and put pressure on the Republic of Serbia authorities in order that they protect us.â€ť
Brit Adoption Agencies Change Mind About Closing
After receiving a nearly two-year exemption from a British law that bans anti-gay discrimination by adoption agencies, five of 11 Roman Catholic agencies that suggested they would shut down rather than obey the law have decided to remain open. The exemption expired Jan. 1.
Of the other six agencies, one will close, two are pursuing new tactics to circumvent the law, and three have not made their intentions known. The Equality Act, which came into force in April 2007, banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services in England, Wales and Scotland.
Aussie Gay Partners Gain Access to Military Pensions
Australian gays and lesbians will have access to their deceased partnersâ€™ military pensions starting in July. The move follows a 2003 ruling by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which found Australiaâ€™s refusal to grant the pensions in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The case was brought by Edward Young of Sydney, whose partner of 38 years died 10 years ago. â€śWhat I wanted was to take on the little man, (former Prime Minister John) Howard, and fight,â€ť Young told The Sydney Morning Herald. â€śWhat I wanted was something that would apply right across the board.â€ť
After the 2003 ruling, the former Howard government procrastinated in reviewing its policy. Howard was replaced by Kevin Rudd in December.
Queen to Knight British AIDS Activist
Queen Elizabeth II announced on New Yearâ€™s Eve that she will knight leading AIDS activist Nick Partridge, chief executive of the AIDS organization Terrence Higgins Trust. Partridge told the BBC he was â€śabsolutely delightedâ€ť by the honor.
He will be â€śinvestedâ€ť later this year when Elizabeth lays a sword on his shoulders.
British MP Enters Civil Partnership
British Member of Parliament Nick Herbert, who serves as justice secretary in the Conservative Partyâ€™s â€śshadowâ€ť cabinet, entered into a civil partnership with his spouse, Jason Eades, at Lambeth Town Hall in South London in late December. Herbert, 45, and Eades, 36, have been together for 10 years.
Herbert represents the predominantly rural constituency of Arundel and South Downs, which is north and east of the gay resort city of Brighton.
One other Conservative MP, Alan Duncan, is known to have tied the knot with a same-sex partner. British same-sex civil partnerships carry the same rights and obligations as a marriage.
-assistance: Bill Kelley