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Tasmania recognizes lesbian mothers

Tasmania’s legislative council has granted lesbian mothers who are not the biological parents of their children legal recognition. The move means they will be listed as parents on a child’s birth certificate, rather than having to go through costly adoption procedures.

The new right was granted in a unanimous vote and has been extended to apply retrospectively to 2003.

Gay-rights advocates on the island have been campaigning for equal-parenting rights for years. The bill was first introduced in 2003 but was struck down.

Rodney Croome, of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, said the move would benefit children.

“It means those children will now have the benefits which include, of course, greater legal, emotional and financial security of having two legal parents, both of them mothers, rather than just one legal parent that has been the case up until now, which, of course, has been their biological mother.”

In September, the law was changed to allow gay couples to hold official ceremonies to celebrate their Deed of Relationships, the Tasmanian version of civil partnerships.

The change, which went into effect Nov. 1, means they will be able to sign their Deed of Relationship in a ceremony presided over by a marriage celebrant and in front of their friends and families.

Sweden ordains first out lesbian bishop

Eva Brunne, Sweden’s first openly lesbian bishop, has been sworn into her new role.

Brunne, 55, who is in a registered partnership and has a 3-year-old son, is also believed to be the world’s first lesbian bishop.

She was ordained Nov. 8 as bishop of Stockholm, two weeks after Sweden decided to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in church.

She has been praised for her natural authority, enthusiasm and sense of humor, telling one reporter who asked about her hobbies: “I read crime fiction. And I carve. The things you do to conform to Jesus, huh?”

Leaders’ kiss back on Berlin Wall

The famous painting of the fraternal kiss between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and his East German counterpart, Erich Honecker, has been restored on the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall.

The stretch of wall, called the East Side Gallery, is an open-air gallery that extends 3/4 mile along the Spree River. It is a popular tourist attraction, with paintings made by artists in the euphoric days after the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989.

The German government recently paid $3 million to restore the gallery and, over the past year, nearly 90 artists from around the world gathered again to repaint their original creations.

Gay Iranians face death

Three Iranian men are believed to be facing the death penalty for having homosexual relations.

The men, named as Nemat Safavi, Mehdi P. and Moshen G., have been on death row for three years and allegedly committed the crimes while under the age of 18.

Under Iranian law, homosexuality is “punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind and have acted of free will.”

Advocates claim this not only conflicts with reports of the men being underage at the time of the offenses, but is also a gross violation of international law, which forbids the execution of juvenile offenders.

While not much is known about the other two men, Safavi’s case was known to Amnesty International in September 2008 and he remains on the organization’s list of minors tried and awaiting execution in Iran.

It is thought that Mehdi P. and Moshen G. denied the charges against them and no witnesses were found. Safavi was arrested at the age of 16 in 2006 and tried by a court in Ardebil, where he is being held.

A date has not been set for their executions, but according to Human Rights Watch, their lawyers believe it could happen any day.

“Killing people for what they did as children is wrong and repellent, and killing them for alleged homosexual conduct is just as wrong and repellent,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Iranian government has flouted its most basic human-rights obligations in allowing these cruel death sentences.”

According to Human Rights Watch, Iran executes more minors than any other country.

Gay pol runs for mayor of Toronto

Ontario, Canada’s deputy premier and cabinet minister of energy and infrastructure stepped down from his posts this week to run for mayor of Toronto.

George Smitherman, Canada’s first openly gay member of provincial parliament, officially notified Premier Dalton McGuinty of his resignation Nov. 8.

“I am a son of this city,” Smitherman said in a statement. “It is where I was born, where I was raised. It’s a city that has been a source of great pride and a place where I’ve devoted a great deal of my energy trying to help build a stronger community. Toronto has had an amazing history, of which we should all be proud. I believe it can have an even brighter future.”

He also said while some voters will reject him solely because he is gay, others will vote for him.

Smitherman and his partner, Christopher, are attempting to adopt a child.

His resignation is only the first step before he can formally announce plans in January to campaign for mayor. A handful of other contenders have announced their candidacies since Mayor David Miller said he would not seek reelection in 2010.

Smitherman will continue his role as in parliament for Toronto Centre “for the time being.”

Larry Nichols can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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