Argentina considers same-sex marriage
Argentina may become Latin America’s first nation to legalize gay marriage.
Gay and lesbian activists think it will be — and they have a growing number of supporters in Congress, which opened debate Oct. 29 on whether to change dozens of laws that define marriage as a union between a “man and woman.”
“We can’t expect social equality if the state is legitimizing inequality,” said Maria Rachid, president of Argentina’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Federation. “We now have the social and political context necessary to change the law.”
It remains to be seen whether they have enough votes to overcome opposition from religious groups. The Roman Catholic Church remains a driving force in Argentina, where presidents were required to be both married and Catholic until a 1994 reform.
Argentina’s capital established its gay-friendly reputation in 2002 by becoming the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex civil unions. Four other Argentine cities later did the same, and such unions also now are recognized in Mexico City and some Mexican and Brazilian states. Uruguay alone has legalized civil unions nationwide.
Canada is the only nation in the Americas where gay marriage is now legal; in the Spanish-speaking world, only Spain has taken this additional step.
Kenya to conduct census of gays
Kenya is planning to conduct a census of gay people in an attempt to control the spread of HIV.
The confidential survey will be carried out by the National AIDS/STD Control Program, starting in January or February 2010. It will be distributed through gay networks and in gay areas, asking participants about their sexual history, condom use and whether they get tested for HIV.
Critics have said that because homosexuality is illegal in the African country, many gay people will be too frightened to come forward. Being convicted of homosexual acts can result in a 14-year jail sentence.
Uganda’s antigay bill condemned
The Ugandan embassies of France and the United States publicly condemned Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Nov. 2, but officials in the African nation plan to move forward with the discriminatory legislation.
The bill would strengthen the country’s antigay laws, including criminalizing any public discussion of homosexuality and penalizing individuals who knowingly rented property to a homosexual.
“France expresses deep concern regarding the bill currently before the Ugandan parliament,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement. “France reiterates its commitment to the decriminalization of homosexuality and the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
There has been no official word from the U.S. federal government, but Human Rights Watch reported that four members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including out Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the bill.
The representatives want Clinton to denounce the bill, arguing that its passage would undermine U.S. efforts to curb HIV and AIDS.
Uganda’s minister for ethics and integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, recently said Uganda has no intention of heeding the advice of foreigners on the issue of homosexuality.
U.N. decries Russian killings
Russia fails to protect journalists, activists, prison inmates, gays and lesbians and others at odds with authorities from a wide range of abuses, including torture and murder, the U.N. Human Rights Committee said Oct. 30.
The findings came in a report by an 18-member panel of independent experts who urged the Kremlin to implement a number of legal reforms.
The expert panel said it also was concerned about violence against lesbian, gay and bisexual persons, including reports of police harassment. It said it received reports of people being assaulted or even killed because they were gay or lesbian. The panel said it was concerned at the “systematic discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation” in Russia.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in the 1990s, but many Russians are vehemently opposed to the expansion of gay rights. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is an outspoken foe of gay rights and repeatedly has blocked attempts to hold gay Pride marches in the capital.
Teacher resigns over porn photos
A physical-education teacher who was suspended from his post at an all-boys grammar school in the U.K. after nude photos of him surfaced on a gay Web site has left his job.
Sam Handley was suspended from Harvey Grammar School after the photos surfaced.
“The school fully accepts Mr. Handley’s assurances that the events in question took place prior to him being offered and taking up employment at the school, and that he has not engaged in anything similar whilst employed at the school,” school officials said in a statement.
Students at the school found pictures of Handley and sent them to other students and faculty members in September.
The photos show Handley in various stages of undress, including a picture of him naked and reclined on his back playing with himself.
Soccer pro sacked for antigay comments
FC Midtjylland, a Danish soccer team, has fired Polish soccer player Arek Onyszko for making homophobic comments in his autobiography.
The player’s book, titled “F**king Polack,” was released Nov. 2.
Onyszko wrote: “I hate gays, I really do. I think it’s f**king disgusting to hear them talk to each other as if they are girls. I can’t be in the same room as someone who’s gay. Look at them kissing each other — it’s sickening.”
He was fired from an Odense soccer team in June after being convicted of assaulting his ex-wife. He was sentenced to three months in prison before being signed by FC Midtjylland.
In a recent interview, Onyszko said his Catholic beliefs prohibited him from accepting “those kind of people.”
Jens Ørgaard, head of sport at FC Midtjylland, said the player had been asked to halt the book to concentrate on his game.
“We felt we did the right thing in the summer when we offered Arek Onyszko a new chance after his conviction,” Ørgaard said. “He was punished and like everyone else needed help to get back on his feet again. But lately he has abused our trust ... despite warnings, he continued to work on the book project and [FC Midtjylland] had no knowledge of its existence until now.”
Another Danish club, FC Frem, has reportedly offered Onyszko a place on its team.