New Zimbabwean constitution to include same-sex marriage ban

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe entered into a power-sharing government with his chief rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, after violent elections in 2008. Now the two sides have agreed on a draft constitution, according to AFP, which got a peek at the draft on Monday. And along with limiting presidential terms and stripping the executive of prosecutorial immunity, the draft document would ban same-sex marriage.

The draft, according to the AFP report, states that “persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other.”

The same-sex marriage issue became a cudgel used by the ruling party against the opposition during negotiations over the constitution, LGBT rights advocates have said. Mugabe attempted to put the opposition on the defensive by alleging that they were trying to include provisions legalizing same-sex marriage in the constitution. His government also stepped up harassment of LGBT activists in the country, including raiding the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe.

Public Eye’s Kapya Kaoma recently wrote that the anti-LGBT legislation is being crafted with help from the American conservative group American Center for Law and Justice, which opened an office in Zimbabwe in 2010. The group’s executive director, Jordan Sekulow, met with Mugabe’s vice president, John Nkomo, Prime Minister Tsvangirai, and other politicians during a visit to the country.


Marriage key issue in Chilean presidential debate

Same-sex marriage emerged as a major dividing line between two potential presidential nominees of the Chilean Christian Democrat party in their first televised debate.

Claudio Orrego, who just finished his second term as mayor of the city of Peñalolén, said that he supported a civil union proposal currently under debate in the Chilean Congress. But he wants marriage to remain between a man and a woman. He said,

I have firmly supported the Acuerdo de Vida en Común, the anti-discrimination law, and I think and believe, like many Chileans, that marriage as an institution is between a man and a woman and this doesn’t seem to me to be arbitrary discrimination. I think it is part of the anthropology of life.

According to La Nación, Orrego’s opponent, Senator Ximena Rincón, responded that she opposes all discrimination and “if there is love” there is no reason not to allow same-sex couples to marry.

As I wrote in this post a few weeks ago, the debate over partnership rights is currently stalemated in the legislature. This election could have a huge impact on where it goes from here.


Poll: Uruguayans favor same-sex marriage by 20 points

The latest poll from Uruguay, whose lower house just approved an equal marriage bill by an overwhelming majority, shows the electorate is also heavily in favor of the legislation.

A poll released yesterday by the paper El Pais found 53 percent in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages, while only 32 percent are opposed.

And much of this opposition comes from people over 60. Only 34 percent approve of same-sex marriage in that age bracket. But almost 70 percent of people between the ages of 16-44 support same-sex marriage rights, and 58 percent of those between 45 and 59 percent do.


Chile apologizes to lesbian mother

Karen Atala. Photo by Kena Lorenzini.

In a rather incredible ceremony Friday, the government of Chile apologized to Karen Atala, a lesbian mother who sued in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, to retain custody of her children. The ceremony was led by Chile’s chief justice with several other senior government officials present.

If you missed it (as I did because I was stuck in Mexico City traffic…), the video is here. More on the significance of Atala’s case—which established that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a violation of the American Convention on Human Rights—is here.

The apology was made under court order, but it’s amazing to note how much LGBT politics have shifted in Chile since Atala brought her suit. Continue reading

Obama administration toots its gay-rights horn

A post on the White House website outlines a litany of things the Obama administration has done to promote gay rights abroad. And as self-serving as these kinds of statements are (especially coming as LGBT activists are squeezing the prez on opposing Prop 8 before the court), it is worth noting how different the US’s position on the global stage has been since Obama took over from Bush.

Historically, European governments and Brazil have been leaders in promoting gay rights, but the US now has a much larger leadership role. Of course, this can be a mixed blessing in places like Kenya, where the LGBT movement is attacked as a product of meddling by western powers.

Read the White House’s statement here.

LGBT rights get boost from Cambodian prime minister

Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, went out of his way to denounce anti-LGBT discrimination during public remarks on Tuesday. This is all the more striking because the PM publicly disinherited his daughter for being a lesbian in 2007.

“There are gays and lesbians in every country, so there should be no discrimination against them just because of their destiny,” he said, according to the AP. “Most of them are good people and are not doing alcohol, drugs or racing vehicles.” [ed's note: "racing vehicles"?]

The AP story also includes this historical tidbit:

Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, who died in October, caused a stir in 2004 when he wrote on his website that he supported the right of gay couples to marry.

Sihanouk said he was inspired to state his views after watching news reports about gay marriage in San Francisco.

The late king said that as a “liberal democracy,” Cambodia should allow “marriage between man and man … or between woman and woman.”



Why a “gay Roe vs Wade” is unlikely

Andrew Sullivan wrote last night that part of him is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court issues a narrow ruling in the gay marriage cases. He said:

To my mind, that smaller decision would be a relief. Why? Because I do not want a gay Roe vs Wade, a decision that appears to foist a premature answer on a still-not-entirely-convinced public.

Sullivan talks himself out of this desire by focusing on the “moral clarity of our cause,” which he thinks demands the court strike down all bans on same-sex marriage. But there’s a historical reason why he could breathe easier about the risk of a backlash.

The conservative movement has already won as much as it can on the gay marriage issue. Continue reading

Argentine president honored by International Gay and Lesbian Organization

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who pushed through Argentina’s gay marriage law in 2010 and its landmark gender identity law earlier this year, is the first person to receive a newly created award from the International Gay and Lesbian Association. According to Argentine newspaper Pagina/12, her selection was unanimous by the award committee for her “personal and infatigable commitment” to LGBT rights. She’ll be receiving the award this Wednesday at ILGA’s world meeting in Stockholm.

It’s interesting to note that Argentine political observers and activists who saw Fernández and her late husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, embrace LGBT rights believe they took it on as a matter of political convenience, not conviction. (Though Kirchner was openly emotional in a ceremony for the new gender identity law…) I have a little bit of the history here.

Oaxacan lawmakers introduce marriage law on eve of court ruling

Today, the Supreme Court of Mexico could rule to strike down Oaxaca’s ban on same-sex marriage. But yesterday, lawmakers in the state government—Flavio Sosa Villavicencio and Pável López Gómez—introduced legislation to overturn it.

The LGBT rights group El Frente Oaxaqueño por el Respecto y Reconocimiento de la Diversidad Sexual denounced the measure as too little, too late. The proposal would only modify one article of the state’s civil code, not do enough to establish equal family rights. The group said in a statement:

The deputies that promote this project reveal a lack of commitment of the subject…. It is reprehensible to seek passage of this reform at this moment on the basis of a human rights discourse when an anti-discrimination bill was filed more than a year and a half ago, and it has not been approved.

A Supreme Court ruling is expected Wednesday afternoon, a week after the court was initially scheduled to decide the issue.

The full statement from El Frente Oaxaqueño: Continue reading

Dust-up in Colombia over “excremental sex” continues

Conservative Colombian Senator Roberto Gerlein may have given an unintentional boost to supporters of a gay marriage bill. He’s certainly made himself the center of controversy rather than the bill itself.

“Definitely Gerlein´s comments could help the discussion in the Congress. People are really angry,” said Mauricio Albarracín of Colombia Diversa via email.

Gerlein shut down debate on the measure last week after expressing his revulsion at sex between men, calling it, “dirty, repulsive, it is sex that deserves condemnation and is excremental sex.”

Now some liberal members of Congress are demanding he be investigated for violating the country’s antidiscrimination laws, though even some of his enemies say he should have parliamentary immunity.

Gerlein defended his comments:

Tell me how I’ve discriminated and against who because I don’t agree with gay marriage? I’ve only repudiated behavior repudiated by much more than half of Colombians… I clearly explained that by my criteria the problem of being gay is a genetic problem.

Gerlein’s critics are trying to make it an issue in the reappointment of the Procuradoría General, Alejandro Ordóñez, who oversees disciplinary action for civil servants.

He’s up for reelection this week and is widely expected to win.