Saturday, March 21, 2009

Around the Globe

TEL AVIV, Israel (Observer Update) - Yossi finally has a legal family - even though he’s 30 years old and it took nearly 14 years for a court to approve his adoption by a male same-sex couple, reported

The Tel Aviv family court for the first time has approved an adoption by a Gay couple. The court approved the adoption by former Knesset member Uzi Even and his husband Amit Kama. Yossi was disowned by his parents when he was 16 and came out to them. Even and Kama took him in. Eventually a court accepted the men as foster parents but it took two events for the couple to begin the fight to adopt Yossi.

The first came in 2004 when Even and Kama flew to Toronto and were married, shortly after Gay marriage became legal in Canada - even though the marriage is not recognized in Israel. The second came when Yossi applied to university. Even is a chemistry professor at Tel Aviv University and in 2007 Yossi sought the reduced tuition rate that the children of professors receive. He was turned down because Even was not his legal father. Even turned to Dori Spivak, the deputy director of the law clinic programs at the university and the legal process to adopt Yossi began.

The Welfare Ministry began a probe to determine whether the Even-Kama’s and Yossi had a legitimate parent-child relationship. The report was submitted to the Family Court with the adoption application. In her ruling Family Court Judge Alissa Miller said “I was convinced that the necessary conditions as proscribed by the laws concerning adoption of children had been fulfilled.”

“The significance of this decision is that tomorrow homosexual couples can turn into a family and adopt a child,” Kama told The Jerusalem Post. “After speaking with Dori Spivak we decided to shoot into the mist and we said that we don’t have anything to lose. The Welfare Ministry was shocked by our demand to recognize the adoption. “The parent-child relationship has existed with us for 14 years. Its not that we adopted a child yesterday. We always were a loving, living family but were not recognized by the authorities. Personally, there is great excitement and great happiness. The authorities and the state know now officially that the life that we live is the life of a loving family. This is a great victory,” he told The Post. ...

LAGOS, Nigeria (Observer Update) - Nigerian Gays who regularly face police persecution are coming out to fight a proposed law that would make it a criminal offense to attend a Gay event, gather or attend a Gay wedding anywhere in the world, reported

Homosexuality already is illegal in Nigeria, punishable by a prison term up to 14 years with hard labor. 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 -including foreign business people - would be jailed for up to three years.

The legislation also would imprison anyone who attends a Gay wedding with up to five years behind bars. 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. The National Assembly began holding public hearings on the bill and for the first time Nigerian Gays openly testified.

“This bill is not necessary, we see no reason why people should be criminalized,” Rashidi Williams, 23, of the Queer Alliance of Nigeria told the committee. “I did not choose to be Gay. It is trial enough to live in this country, we should not create more laws to make us suffer,” he said. Williams went on to tell the committee that “We believe that we are created by God and do not wish to be discriminated against, we seek your help and appeal to you all to lay this Bill aside. We ask that the House of Representatives and our lawmakers work with us to understand the concept of sexuality and sexual orientation through our experiences and not create laws that punish us needlessly.”

The international groups Human Rights Watch and Global Rights also argued against the bill. But a large number of Nigerian groups spoke in favor of the legislation, including the Anglican Church of Nigeria. ...

BELGRADE, Serbia (Observer Update) - A news conference by a Serbian LGBT rights group in Kragujevac, south of Belgrade, was disrupted by six unidentified men who smashed the plate glass front door of a cultural center and threatened reporters, reported

The Gay-Straight Alliance called the press conference to criticize the government for withdrawing a human rights bill that would have included Gays and Lesbians. The group had planned on presenting a report showing widespread discrimination against Serbia’s LGBT population. It is believed the thugs were members of an ultra-rightwing Serbian nationalist group which a week earlier threatened a GSA news conference in Belgrade.

GSA president said the disturbances prove the need for the human rights bill. The legislation was withdrawn by the government after the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church objected to the inclusion of protections for Gays and Lesbians. The government said that it will reintroduce the bill, but would not say if it would include LGBT measures. Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg condemned the attacks on the GSA and called on the government to get on with passage of an inclusive rights bill. ...

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Observer Update) - Ebru Soykan, a prominent Transgender rights activist, was murdered in front of her home, reported The LGBT rights group Lambda Istanbul says that she had reported being beaten and threatened on several occasions by the same man, who is now in police custody as the murder suspect.

Soykan, a leading figure in Lambda Istanbul, was the second member of the group to be murdered in the past year. Advocates attribute the violence in part to lack of legal protections and police inaction.

No legislation exists in Turkey to protect people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, municipalities have used morality laws to discriminate against the LGBT community. ...

PARIS France (Observer Update) - The 60-year-old, Gay head of Radio France has apologized for appearing in an erotic pose, shirtless and wearing a wrestler’s mask, for a charity calendar raising money for AIDS activism, reported.

Jean-Paul Cluzel showed his heavily tattooed body in a provocative photo to benefit Gay and AIDS activist group ACT UP. The photo is to appear in a 2009 calendar. But now Cluzel is apologizing for appearing in the calendar -- a number of high-ranking officials have reportedly taken issue with the photo, including French president Nicolas Sarkozy. "I made an error of judgment and apologize to any colleagues at Radio France that were offended by it," Cluzel told newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.

"Friends of mine suggested I pose for a calendar about the diverse range of people with tattoos, the profits of which would go to the fight against AIDS. I didn't want to appear in my capacity as head of Radio France, so I posed in a colored cloth mask." He says ACT UP is responsible for revealing his name and job title to the press.

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