Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Around the Globe

CANBERRA, Australia (Observer Update) - The Australian government has passed legislation recognizing same-sex couples under a large number of laws, but the measure falls short of granting either marriage or civil unions.

The omnibus bill mounted its final hurdle, winning approval in the Senate. The legislation passed the House in September. It still requires the signature of the Governor General, a formality, before going into effect.

The Same-Sex Entitlements Bill removes discrimination against same-sex partners in areas such as immigration, taxation, veterans’ pensions and aged care. It also abolishes discrimination against children of same-sex couples by granting equal rights to both parents. In total, it amends 68 Commonwealth laws. ...

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (Observer Update) - The lower house in the central African nation of Burundi has passed legislation making homosexuality a federal crime.

The legislation, which must first be approved by Burundi’s senate, is part of a sweeping reform of the country’s legal system that for the first time abolishes the death penalty and creates laws on genocide.

Under the legislation, anyone convicted of homosexuality would be sentenced to a two-year term in prison. ...

LONDON, UK (Observer Update) - A British police officer who sent emails to other officers condemning homosexuality and calling for Gays to seek the help of a controversial American Christian group that claims to “cure” Gays has been fired for misconduct.

Constable Graham Cogman, 49, accused the Norfolk police of promoting Gay rights over religious beliefs. The emails contained biblical quotes and in one mailing said ”love the sinner hate the deed” after calling homosexuality “sinful.”

He also was accused of victimizing a Gay liaison officer. An internal police tribunal this week found Cogman guilty of failing to comply with a lawful order over the use of police computers and with failing to treat a colleague with respect and tolerance. Gogman has not said if he will appeal.

ST. MARC, Haiti (Observer Update) - In what organizers are calling a first, a group of openly Gay Haitians participated in a march for HIV/AIDS awareness in St. Marc on Sunday. The event, held a day before World AIDS Day, sought to bring attention to a disease that's still very much stigmatized in the country, the Associated Press (AP) reports on advocate.com.

Among the 500 or so participants were United Nations workers and officials from Haiti's health ministry, as well as a contingent of 12 Gay men, some of whom wore T-shirts with the anti-Gay Creole term "masisi" imprinted on them, according to the AP. That marked a change from previous HIV/AIDS marches in the country, where widespread homophobia discourages people from being out. "They suffer double the stigma and double the discrimination," one prominent AIDS activist, Esther Boucicault Stanislas, told the AP.

Of Caribbean countries, the epidemic has hit Haiti the hardest, though the infection rate has dropped from 5.9% in 1996 to 2.2% today. ...

CARACAS, Venezuela (Observer Update) - Cyndi Lauper was supposed to conclude her world tour over the weekend with a concert but according to PerezHilton.com and a blog posting on one of her fan sites, the concert was canceled because of her support of LGBT rights, reported advocate.com.

According to the posting, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez canceled the concert because he “had fear of political protests.” He also allegedly opposed Lauper’s endorsement of President-elect Barack Obama and her outspoken support of LGBT rights.

Lauper is expected to comment on the canceled concert in a blog posting on her official website, CyndiLauper.com. Lauper was touring in support of her latest album, Bring Ya to the Brink.

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