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Thai cabinet backs bill allowing same-sex unions

If passed, Thailand would follow Taiwan as the second place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

 

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat

 

Reuters (08.07.2020) – https://bit.ly/3jc6bPx – Thailand’s cabinet approved a civil partnership bill on Wednesday that would recognise same-sex unions with almost the same legal rights as married couples, in one of the most liberal moves yet for a largely conservative nation known for its tolerance.

 

If passed by parliament, the legislation would make Thailand only the second place in Asia to allow registration of same-sex unions, with couples able to adopt a child and afforded rights to inheritance and joint property ownership.

 

“The Civil Partnership Bill is an important step for Thai society in promoting equal rights and supporting the rights of same-sex couples to build families and live as partners,” Ratchada Thanadirek, a deputy government spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook.

 

The bill, however, stipulates that one party in a same-sex union must be Thai.

 

A largely conservative Buddhist society, Thailand has a reputation for openness and free-wheeling attitudes.

 

It has long been a draw for same-sex couples, with a vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender social scene for locals and expatriates, and targeted campaigns to attract LGBT travellers.

 

The bill was introduced in 2018 but the previous legislature was unable to pass it before last year’s election.

 

Taiwan last year became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Vietnam has decriminalised same-sex weddings but does not recognise unions of the same sex.

 

Kittinan Daramadhaj, president of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, said the bill essentially allows same-sex couples to marry but stops short of calling it a “marriage”, which is legally defined as being between a man and woman.

 

“What’s in a name? It’s the content that matters,” he told Reuters.

 

“‘Civil partnership’ shouldn’t distract from the fact that it’s about the legal registration of unions.”

 

Kittinan said the bill, if passed, would “sufficiently alleviate pains and support the human rights of LGBT people”.

 

A Thai lawmaker representing LGBT groups is pushing separately for marriage to be redefined as being between “two persons”.





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Montenegro legalises same-sex civil partnerships

The Balkan country is the first European country outside Western Europe and the European Union to legally recognise gay and lesbian couples.

 

By Rachel Savage

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (01.07.2020) – https://bit.ly/2O02Fcs – Montenegro voted to legalise same-sex civil partnerships on Wednesday, becoming the first European country outside of Western Europe and the European Union to legally recognise gay and lesbian couples.

 

The law received 42 votes in the 81-seat parliament, Blanka Radosevic Marovic, a director in the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, after it was rejected by parliament in July 2019.

 

The vote in the Balkan country, which is in advanced negotiations to join the European Union, was welcomed by its leaders on Twitter as affirming “European values”.

 

“A great step in the right direction for (Montenegro) society, its democratic maturity and integration processes,” Prime Minister Dusko Markovic tweeted.

 

Montenegro “is one step closer to joining the most developed world democracies,” President Milo Dukanovic said on Twitter. “Born free and equal in dignity and rights!”

 

The country, with a population of about 620,000 people, becomes the 32nd United Nations member to recognise some form of civil partnership for same-sex couples. Gay and lesbian couples can marry in 28 U.N. countries.

 

Three Serbian lesbian couples launched legal cases last year challenging their country’s lack of same-sex civil partnerships, while Bosnia’s government is considering whether to introduce similar legislation.

 

LGBT+ campaigners welcomed the law, which will come into force in a year’s time after regulations have been finalised and government clerks trained.

 

“I honestly I wasn’t expecting it,” said John Barac, executive director of LGBT Forum Progress, an advocacy group. “It’s really extraordinary, it’s a big day for all of us.”

 

Montenegro’s government has promoted LGBT+ rights with an “action plan” for 2019-2023 including proposals such as anti-discrimination training for police and health workers but faced opposition from a socially conservative society.

 

Opposing members of parliament described same-sex civil partnerships as imposed by “global world Satanists” during the lawmakers’ debates on Tuesday, Barac said.

 

Lawmakers who opposed the bill did not vote on Wednesday, a spokesman for Montenegro’s prime minister said.





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Swiss gays hope for marriage equality ahead of parliamentary vote

By Emma Farge

 

Reuters (03.06.2020) – https://reut.rs/30qZ3b3 – When civil partnerships were legalised in Switzerland in January 2007, gay couple Laurent Marmier and Yves Bugnon completed the paperwork that same month, making them among the first to take advantage of the new law.

 

Thirteen years later, they hope a parliamentary vote will open the door for them to finally marry and enjoy full equality with heterosexual couples. Debate began on Wednesday but the vote was delayed to an unspecified date, a parliament official said.

 

“We don’t have the same rights, not quite. And this is what is bothering us,” said Bugnon, a music teacher in the French-speaking city of Lausanne.

 

Conservative Switzerland lags many countries in Western Europe on gay rights and is slowly catching up. In February, voters backed an anti-homophobia law giving lesbians, gays and bisexuals legal protection from discrimination.

 

A survey commissioned by gay rights association Pink Cross showed more than 80% of Swiss support same-sex marriage.

 

However, the country’s political institutions tend to be more conservative than the general public, Socialist lawmaker Mathias Reynard told Reuters. “Swiss people are in favour – but everything takes time.”

 

The same-sex marriage proposal is expected to pass the lower house but it will still have to clear the upper house. Then, in line with Switzerland’s direct democracy process, it could be challenged via referendum if opponents gather the necessary 50,000 voter signatures within 100 days.

 

The dominant People’s Party (SVP) opposes the law but an official did not respond for requests to comment on whether it would seek a referendum on the issue.

 

The fact that gay marriage is not yet legal here has more than just symbolic importance for couples. Marital status has a bearing on adoption and assisted reproduction rights, including sperm donations for lesbian couples.

 

Marmier said he was hopeful the law would pass but added it was important that these other issues were also addressed in the new law.

 

“I think it is important it moves forward and that we don’t wait 13 years to pass the next step,” he said.





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YouTube takes down anti-gay ad after outrage in Russia

Russian clip on constitutional referendum that attacked LGBT+ adoptions removed from YouTube after outcry.

 

By Umberto Bacchi

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (03.06.2020) – https://bit.ly/3cCQlJ6 – An online video suggesting Russians back constitutional reform or see gay couples win adoption rights was taken down by YouTube on Wednesday after LGBT+ groups said it incited hatred.

 

The clip, posted online this week, shows a boy going from joy to heartbreak as he discovers his new parents are men.

 

The ad had created an online furore that experts said could help garner support for the reform vote, which could let President Vladimir Putin extend his long rule.

 

It plays on deep-seated anti-gay sentiment in the country, where activists say violence against gay people has been on the rise since the adoption of a 2013 law that banned the dissemination of “gay propaganda” among young Russians.

 

Only heterosexual couples can adopt children in Russia.

 

“Here’s your new mum. Don’t be upset,” one of the new adopting parents tells the child as he introduces his partner, who promptly offers the boy a dress. A woman working at the orphanage watches on, then spits on the floor in disgust.

 

“Will you choose such a Russia? Decide the future of the country – vote for amendments to the constitution,” a voiceover says, suggesting a vote for Putin protects traditional values.

 

Russia is to hold a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that include resetting Putin’s presidential term tally to zero, which could extend his rule until 2036.

 

Anther proposed amendment spells out that marriage means a union between a man and a woman – and nothing else.

 

During two decades in power, Putin has closely aligned himself with the Orthodox Church and sought to distance Russia from liberal Western values, including attitudes toward homosexuality and gender fluidity.

 

The video drew a torrent of criticism.

 

Opposition politician Alexei Navalny wrote on Twitter that Putin officials had gone “completely crazy” over homosexuality.

 

Russian LGBT+ group Stimul said it had filed a complaint with law enforcement agencies, asking for the clip to be removed and an investigation opened.

 

“This video incites hatred and hostility towards a group of people on the basis of belonging to the LGBT community, it degrades the dignity of a person (and) is frankly discriminatory in nature,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

 

Patriot Media Group, the firm that produced the clip, said the video was not “campaigning against homosexuals” but aimed to explain the content of the July vote.

 

“The main point is … the defence of the family institution as a union of a man and a woman,” the group’s head, Nikolai Stolyarchuk, said in a statement, adding the company produced the footage with its own money.

 

On Wednesday, the video was taken down from YouTube, where it had racked up tens of thousands of views, and replaced with a message saying it violated the company’s policy on hate speech.

 

The clip is still available on Russian social media VKontakte, where it has more than a million views.

 

Russia’s investigative committee and the general prosecutor’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

 

On its website, Patriot lists Evgeny Prigozhin, a businessman dubbed “Putin’s cook” for his close ties to the president, as the head of its board of trustees.

 

Ben Noble, a Russian politics professor at University College London, said the video seemed designed to stir controversy – possibly to draw attention to the vote.

 

“It strikes me as being deeply homophobic,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “It’s really important for the Kremlin that the turnout is as high as possible.”

 

Critics have dismissed the vote as a constitutional coup which they fear will be rigged and urged voters to stay away or to reject the proposed changes.

 

The Kremlin has said authorities will take all necessary measures to ensure voters’ safety.





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Torched effigy of gay couple causes outrage in Croatia

Politicians and human rights groups have jointly condemned the burning of an effigy of a same-sex couple and their child at a carnival on Sunday in the Dalmatian town of Imotski.

Photograph by Bosko Cosic

By Anja Vladisavljevic

 

Balkan Insight (24.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/2SWGIOL – The Croatian President, government ministers, LGBT rights groups and the Ombudsperson on Monday all condemned the burning of an effigy of a kissing same-sex couple and their child at a Dalmatian carnival, calling it a hateful act. The image was torched at Sunday’s traditional carnival in the small town of Imotski in the Dalmatian Hinterland.

 

President Zoran Milanovic condemned the act on Facebook as “inhumane and totally unacceptable”. Education Minister Blazenka Divjak and Economy Minister Darko Horvat also condemned it.

 

The Rainbow Family Association, which gathers LGBT couples and individuals who have or want to have children, on Monday said the action sent an appalling message to society and to children especially.

 

“The scary scenes from Imotski cannot be justified by carnival customs… What kind of message is being sent to our children, children who nowadays in Croatia grow up with lesbian mothers or gay fathers?” Daniel Martinovic the association’s coordinator, said.

 

“I find it incomprehensible, devastating and sad. It teaches children that it is okay to hate. That’s unacceptable,” Ombudsperson Lora Vidovic tweeted on Sunday.

 

A Social Democrat MP, Arsen Bauk, said that he would file charges against the organisers of the carnival.

 

Each year, carnivals across Dalmatia select new figures to feature as effigies, often selecting things or people that have made local inhabitants upset and angry.

 

Part of the effigy burned in Imotski clearly showed the face of Social Democratic Party MP Nenad Stazic, who has campaigned in parliament for same-sex couples to be allowed to foster children. His character had also a red star on his forehead, the symbol of former communist Yugoslavia.

 

When local media outlet Slobodna Dalmacija asked the carnival organisers why they had chosen a same-sex couple as an effigy to burn, one said: “We remain conservative, sticking to tradition. Give the baby to a mother, as the saying goes. We think that’s right.”

 

The torching comes after the Constitutional Court published a ruling at the end of January that obliges courts and relevant authorities to give all competent appliers to foster equal opportunities, including same-sex couples. The ruling was welcomed by human rights organisations but criticised in socially conservative circles.

 

It is not the first time that carnivals in Croatia have featured effigies targeting minority groups. In March last year, at the carnival in the coastal town of Kastel Sucurac, an effigy of the Croatian Serb leader and parliamentarian Milorad Pupovac was burned. Pupovac told BIRN that it was a nationalistic and chauvinistic act.

 

In February 2018, a replica of Croatia’s first picture book about same-sex families “My Rainbow Family” was ceremonially burned at the carnival in Kastela. LGBT rights groups filed a complaint against the carnival organisers, and the Science and Education Minister, Blazenka Divjak, condemned the book’s burning.


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