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Irish demand full marriage rights

Nearly 1,000 people recently demonstrated in central Dublin, criticizing the government for refusing to give gay people equal marriage rights.

Irish gays are accusing the government of being slow to legalize same-sex marriage and calling a bill that would grant civil partnerships “insufficient.”

In January, the government announced legislation to allow same-sex couples to form civil partnerships and said it would be presented to Irish lawmakers in April, but the bill has not yet been filed.

The legislation would allow lesbian and gay couples to register with the state and be recognized in areas such as pensions, inheritances and taxes. But they would not be allowed to become joint parents and would also be denied dozens of other benefits and responsibilities of marriage. The bill also would specify that civil partnerships are not marriages as defined by the Irish Constitution.

The demonstration was organized by Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Noise, which called the proposed bill “a half measure.”

“We don’t want crumbs from the master’s table, we want the whole cake. We want the wedding cake,” said LGBT Noise spokesperson Eloise McInerney.

Rory O’Neill, another Irish gay leader, also blasted the government plan.

“Either our relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships or they are not,” he told demonstrators. “Our state asks of us all the responsibilities of citizenship. In return, I expect the commensurate rights.”

The government has dismissed calls from LGBT groups to equalize marriage, saying it was prevented from doing so by the constitution. A clause in the constitution says the government must protect the institution of marriage, but it does not define who comprises a married couple.

Recent public-opinion polls show that 84 percent of people in Ireland are in favor of some recognition of same-sex couples with 53 percent saying they would allow gay couples to marry.

Canada hears gay refugee claim

The Federal Court of Canada has ordered a new refugee hearing for a Nigerian gay man who says he fears for his life if he is returned home.

Norbert Okoli fled to Canada in 2005 using a fake passport. At a 2006 immigration board hearing, he said that once his homosexuality was discovered in his home country, he was beaten, threatened with death and, on one occasion, forced to have sex with a female prostitute in a futile attempt to “turn him” straight.

The board ruled that Okoli should be returned to Nigeria and that he would be safe there as long as he kept his sexuality a secret.

Okoli, who has been residing in Toronto, appealed the decision to the federal court.

In a ruling, Justice Leonard Mandamin criticized the board decision, saying it had failed to take into consideration scars from beatings inflicted on Okoli.

Mandamin ordered that the case be returned to the immigration board with a different panel to hear Okoli’s plea for asylum.

Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, punishable by a prison term of up to 14 years with hard labor. The government currently is also considering legislation that would make it a criminal offense to attend a gay event, gathering or wedding anywhere in the world.

Under the proposed new law, a same-sex couple married anywhere and returning to Nigeria, or anyone who is married to a same-sex partner who travels to Nigeria, would be jailed for up to three years. Under the legislation, anyone who attends a gay wedding could be jailed for up to five years.

In addition, police would have the right to raid public or private gatherings of any group of people suspected of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Amnesty International has expressed concerns about human-rights abuses in Nigeria against individuals on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Gay men face unequal protection

A Spanish judge has declared that a man cannot be charged with domestic violence against his husband because a law covering spousal abuse does not cover gay male victims.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Spain in 2005. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has called it one of his greatest achievements. But a number of other laws affecting families have not supported gay marriage, including domestic-violence legislation.

The inadequacy of the law recently came to light after a man killed his ex-husband in the town of Adra, in the southern region of Andalucia. The former husband was stabbed to death and the killer then took his own life.

The president of the Almería Provincial Court, Benito Galvez, said if the perpetrator had survived he could be charged with murder, but an additional charge of domestic violence could not be brought.

Galvez said the domestic-violence law, written before same-sex marriage became legal, identifies a victim as only being female. It could only be called a gay domestic-violence incident if it had happened between two lesbians, he said, adding that the law needs to be reviewed.

In the case of the murder-suicide, Adra officials said they intend to regard it as domestic violence and will hold a vigil for the victim.

Senegal overturns ‘gay’ convictions

Nine men in Senegal who were sentenced to eight years in prison for “indecent conduct and unnatural acts” have had their convictions overturned.

Dakar’s court of appeal ordered the arrest warrants against the men to be lifted and ruled they must be released immediately.

The men, most of whom belong to a group set up to combat HIV/AIDS, were arrested in December at the apartment of Diadji Diouf, a prolific LGBT leader, and sentenced in January.

Counsel for the men argued that there was no material proof for the accusations, no specific complainant had filed charges against the men and that the time of their arrest was illegal.

The prosecution did not contest the defense plea.

Gay-rights groups believe the eight-year sentence originally given to the men is the harshest ever handed down to anyone accused of gay crimes.

Homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years in Senegal.

Last year, the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights expressed concern over the rise of homophobia and hatred of homosexuals in Senegal.

Vatican says U.S. nuns soft on gays

The Vatican has launched a doctrinal investigation into the leadership of Catholic sisters in the United States, reportedly because they have not sufficiently promoted the Vatican line on homosexuality and other issues.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an association that gathers the leaders of most of the country’s women’s congregations, said it was informed of the “doctrinal assessment” in a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog.

In a statement, the Leadership Conference said the new doctrinal study would look into its activities and initiatives, but it provided no details.

The National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper, said the Vatican ordered up the probe because the sisters had not addressed problems raised by the Vatican in 2001 about their promotion of church teaching on homosexuality, salvation and the priesthood, which the Vatican says is reserved for men.

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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