meet in Vienna
The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association will stage its annual conference in Vienna this year Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.Read more story below....
'The theme ... is 'Think globally, act locally,' and reflects the work of ILGA-Europe and its members on advocating for international human rights standards and practices and their implementation at the local level,' the group said.
The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, will take part in the gathering, and Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer are serving as honorary organizers.
For more information, see ilga-europe.org/conference.
ILGA-Europe photo: ILGA-Europe at last year's Budapest gay pride parade.
Norway plans to
legalize same-sex marriage
Norway's government announced plans March 14 to open marriage to same-sex couples. The nation has had a registered-partnership law that gives gay couples the same rights as marriage since 1993.
The government's minister of children and equality, Anniken Huitfeldt, said letting gay couples marry 'won't weaken marriage as an institution; rather, it will strengthen it.'
'Marriage won't be worth less because more can take part in it,' she told Aftenposten.
The law would permit same-sex couples to marry in churches, adopt children and receive state-funded medical assistance in getting pregnant.
The bill is expected to pass Parliament before summer, although two government ministers—Minister of Local Government Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa and Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete—said they oppose the part that would fund assisted fertilization for lesbian couples.
The state Lutheran Church of Norway, which counts 85 percent of the population as members, is conflicted on same-sex marriage and likely will allow parishes to choose whether to perform gay weddings.
Full marriage is open to same-sex couples in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Massachusetts. Numerous nations have civil-union or registered-partnership laws that grant same-sex couples some, most or all rights and obligations of marriage.
Brit bareback films
pulled from market
Two barebacking gay porn movies have been pulled from the British market by their maker after a BBC investigation suggested the performers may have been infected with HIV during filming.
Said the BBC: 'Two of the DVDs featured footage from a weeklong shoot during which eight British models had sex with each other in multiple combinations without condoms. Four of those who took part were diagnosed as HIV-positive soon after.'
One performer told the BBC he believed the movies showed him becoming infected and that was distressing.
The BBC report claimed that 60 percent of gay porn movies now depict barebacking—anal sex without condoms.
The constitutional arm of Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled March 4 that same-sex marriages cannot be constitutionally authorized even though the Constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The court said, 'If the 1999 constitutional body opted to protect monogamous matrimony between a man and a woman as the essential nucleus that gives origin to the family in the Venezuelan historic and cultural context, the extension of its [ marriage's ] effects to common-law unions ... should require, at the least, that these [ unions ] fulfill the same essential requirements—that they are stable and monogamous unions between a man and a woman who have no marriage impediment ... and that the union is based on the free consent of the parties.'
But the tribunal added, 'The court wants to emphasize that the constitutional norm does not prohibit or condemn common-law unions between persons of the same sex, which find constitutional cover in the fundamental right of free development of the personality; it simply does not grant them reinforced protection, which does not constitute a discriminatory act in regard to sexual orientation.'
Judge Carmen Zuleta de Merchán dissented from the decision, arguing that the Constitution grants implicit rights to same-sex couples, and that the other justices were influenced by ingrained social and religious prejudices.
The gay group Affirmative Union of Venezuela commented: 'We see this decision as an advance with respect to the previous situation in which we had no legal existence, we were invisibilized and our human condition was negated in this society. ... We commit ourselves to continue fighting, with all legal means within our reach, to obtain what should be common sense: the overcoming of discrimination in Venezuelan society.'
302 couples register
in Mexico City
Three hundred two couples have taken advantage of Mexico City's civil-union law since it came into force in March 2007.
Unions have been registered in 15 of the city's 16 boroughs, led by Cuauhtémoc, with 59 unions, and Iztapalapa, with 46.
Some 94 percent of the unions were between people of the same sex.
The law allows gay and straight couples—as well as two friends, roommates or extended family members—to register their relationship and receive spousal rights in areas such as inheritance, pensions, property, co-parenting and medical decisions.
Only one couple has dissolved a civil union, and one union ended when a partner died.
The state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, is the only other locale in Mexico with a civil-union law.
—Assistance: Bill Kelley