GAYRHS – Episode 8

Just realized I never uploaded this. Oops! I go really fast, so I’m providing my script.

Marriage Equality

From Amnesty International:

“Amnesty International believes that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity, evolving conceptions of international human rights law include a broad interpretation to include the rights and the protection of the rights of LGBT people around the world. The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, developed in 2006 by a group of LGBT experts in Yogyarkarta, Indonesia in response to well-known examples of abuse, provides a universal guide to applying international human rights law to violations experienced by lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people to ensure the universal reach of human rights protections. However, across the globe, there remain many instances where an individual’s’ sexual orientation or gender identity can lead them to face execution, imprisonment, torture, violence, or discrimination. The range of abuse is limitless and it contravenes the fundamental tenets of international human rights law. Human rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender can include violation of the rights of the child; the infliction of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 5); arbitrary detention on grounds of identity or beliefs (Article 9); the restriction of freedom of association (Article 20) and the denial of the basic rights of due process. Examples include: Execution by the state, Denial of employment, housing or health services, Loss of custody of children, Denial of asylum, Rape and otherwise torture in detention, Threats for campaigning for LGBT human rights, and Regular subjection to verbal abuse. In many countries, the refusal of governments to address violence committed against LGBT people creates a culture of impunity where such abuses can continue and escalate unmitigated. Often, such abuses are committed by the state authorities themselves, with or without legal sanction.”

 

From the UNFE:

“Criminalizing private sexual relationships between consenting adults, whether the relationships are samesex or different-sex, is a violation of the right to privacy. Laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships are also discriminatory, and where enforced, violate rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. At least 76 countries have laws in effect that criminalize private, consensual same-sex relationships, and in at least five countries conviction may carry the death penalty. In addition to violating basic rights, this criminalization serves to legitimize hostile attitudes towards LGBT people, feeding violence and discrimination. It also hampers efforts to halt the spread of HIV by deterring LGBT people from coming forward for testing and treatment for fear of revealing criminal activity. Human rights are universal: every human being is entitled to the same rights, no matter who they are or where they live. While history, culture and religion are contextually important, all States, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems, have a legal duty to promote and protect the human rights of all. International human rights law establishes legal obligations on States to make sure that everyone, without distinction, can enjoy their human rights. A person’s sexual orientation and gender identity is a status, like race, sex, colour, or religion. United Nations human rights experts have confirmed that international law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

From MarriageEquality.org, a list of countries and their marriage equality:

Canada: On July 20th, 2005 the Canadian Parliament passed the Civil Marriage Act, defining marriage nationwide as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.”Canada does not have a residency requirement for marriage; consequently, many foreign couples have gone to Canada to marry, regardless of whether that marriage will be recognized in their home country. In fact, in some cases, a Canadian marriage has provided the basis for a challenge to the laws of another country. As of November 11th, 2004 the Canadian federal government’s immigration department, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), considers same-sex marriages performed in Canada valid for the purposes of sponsoring a spouse to immigrate. Canadian immigration authorities previously considered long-term, same-sex relationships to be equivalent to similar heterosexual relationships as grounds for sponsorship.

 

Mexico: In Mexico, same-sex marriage is legal in four states (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero and Quintana Roo); in Mexico City, a federal district; and in the city of Santiago de Querétaro, capital of Querétaro state. Same-sex couples can marry in the other 27 states as well, but only after getting an injunction (amparo) against the civil registry from a judge. That requires a lawyer, the equivalent of around US$1,000 and about a month of time. A June 3, 2015, ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation requires judges to grant the injunctions. Activists are rapidly implementing a court-based legal strategy, state by state, that will force the 27 states, one by one, to clear the way for same-sex marriages without couples having to get a special order from a judge. It involves getting five injunctions per state from a federal appeals court or the federal Supreme Court, to create “jurisprudence” on same-sex marriage in that state, which can then be used to force the state legislature to let same-sex couples marry the normal way. In the meantime, some states likely will throw in the towel legislatively prior to being forced — and before that, some states will simply stop enforcing their ban on same-sex marriage administratively, as is the case now in Chihuahua and Guerrero.

 

China: National People’s Congress, legislature of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), proposed legislation allowing same-sex marriages in 2003. During the course of the debate, the proposal failed to garner the 30 votes needed for a placement on the agenda. Same-sex marriage supporters have vowed to keep pressing for its passage in the PRC.

 

India: On December 11th, 2013 India’s Supreme Court re-criminalized sex between two consenting adults of the same gender, overturning a landmark 2009 decision. The Court said that it is up to Parliament whether or not to keep Section 377 on the books. (On July 2nd, 2009 the Delhi High Court had decriminalized homosexual intercourse within its jurisdiction of the national capital between consenting adults and judged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code violates the fundamental right to life and liberty and the right to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.) There are no protections or legal status of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

Japan: Article 24 of the Japanese constitution states that “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.” The purpose of the clause was to counter previous feudal arrangement where the father or husband was legally recognized as the head of the household. However, the new constitution had the unintended consequence of defining the marriage as union of “both sexes”, i.e. man and women. However, on March 27th 2009, it was reported that Japan has given the green light for its nationals to marry same-sex foreign partners in countries where same-sex marriages is legal. Japan does not allow same-sex marriages domestically and has so far also refused to issue a key document required for citizens to wed overseas if the applicant’s intended spouse was of the same gender. Under the change, the justice ministry has told local authorities to issue the key certificate—which states a person is single and of legal age—for those who want to enter same-sex marriages.

 

Kenya: Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for males, females aren’t covered. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships and since 2010 the Constitution only addresses opposite-sex marriages. A draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been presented to the National Assembly and as of August 11th, 2014 is before the Justice and Legal Affairs committee. The Republican Liberty Party has proposed stoning to death in public for any foreigner who commits a homosexual act, and life imprisonment for Kenyan nationals found guilty.

 

Nigeria: Same-sex sexual activity is illegal for males; for females it is illegal in areas covered by Sharia and legal in areas not covered by Sharia. On January 7th, 2014 President Jonathan signed into the law the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2013, banning same-sex marriage, with penalties of up to 14 years in jail. The law also criminalizes homosexual clubs, associations and organizations and public displays of a “same-sex amorous relationship,” punishable by lashings or up to 10 years in jail.

 

South Africa: In November 2006 the government of South Africa passed the Civil Unions Act, allowing for the “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union”. The law allows for churches to refuse performing civil unions.

 

Uganda: Same-sex sexual activity is illegal; there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and there’s been a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage since 2005. On December 20th, 2013 the Parliament of Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, which punished Ugandans charged with “aggravated homosexuality” with life imprisonment. Uganda faced a barrage of international criticism in response to the law. On August 1st, 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the law invalid.

 

Zimbabwe: 4.78 of the new constitution, which was signed into law on 22 May 2013, reads, “Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other.” Since 1995, the government has carried out campaigns against LGBT men and women. In 2006 the Zimbabwean government made it a criminal offense for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug, or kiss. Speaking at a rally in Mutare on July 23rd, 2013, President Mugabe described LGBT people as “worse than pigs, goats and birds” and threatened to behead them. Mugabe has instructed journalists, most of whom work for state-owned institutions, to report unfavorably about gay relationships.

 

Denmark: Denmark was the first country, in 1989, to allow same-sex couples to form “registered partnerships,” giving them a status and benefits similar to marriage, including recognition for purposes of immigration. As of July 1st, 2010 legally registered same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children together. On June 7th, 2012 the Danish Parliament approved neutral-gender marriage, including marriages performed in the Church of Denmark, effective June 15th, 2012.

 

Finland: Same-sex partnerships have become legally binding in Finland. Finns who are at least 18 can register a same-sex union in a civil ceremony comparable to marriage. It also gives gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples when inheriting each other’s property, in cases of divorce, and for the purposes of immigration. As of May 2009 same-sex couples may adopt the biological children of their partner. Legislation for same-sex marriage was submitted to the Parliament in March 2012, but it was turned down by the Legal Affairs Committee. The bill was reintroduced to the Parliament in December 2013 as a citizens’ initiative, with the support 160,000 people, and went to introductory debate in February 2014.

 

Germany: In Germany there is a legal recognition of same-sex couples. Registered life partnerships, “Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft,” effectively, a form of civil union, have been instituted since 2001, giving same-sex couples rights and obligations in areas such as inheritance, health insurance, immigration, name change, and maintenance (alimony and child support). In 2004, this act was amended to include adoption rights (stepchild adoption only) and to reform previously cumbersome dissolution procedures with regard to division of property and alimony. Later that year, the Social Democratic Party, one of the oldest and largest political parties in Germany, and the Alliance ’90/The Greens (a political party founded in the 1970s, based on progressive social movements in Germany) proposed allowing same-sex marriage. However, in recent years the Social Democratic Party ceased to push for same-sex marriage, opting instead to equalize rights for registered partners.

 

Ireland: On 22 May 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize marriage equality by a vote of the people. The referendum states: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” The result of the vote on the marriage referendum requires ratification in the Oireachtas before going into legal effect, though the BBC estimates that the first marriages of same-sex couples will take place in September 2015.

 

Israel: Marriages in Israel are performed under the authority of the religion to which the couple belongs. For Jewish couples the responsible religious authority is the orthodox Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The Rabbinate does not permit same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages performed abroad can be recorded at the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, according to a 2006 High Court of Justice ruling. Unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples in Israel have equal access to nearly all of the rights of marriage in the form of unregistered cohabitation status, akin to common-law marriage. In June 2013, Hatnuah MKs introduced a bill that would provide for civil marriage in Israel for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, and in October 2013, Yesh Atid MKs, introduced a similar bill. On 12 August 2014 the Interior Ministry announced that non-Jewish (gentile) same-sex marriage partners of Jews living abroad will be permitted to immigrate to Israel and be granted Israeli citizenship.

 

Italy: Pisa and Florence allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. On July 25, although the country will not, Bologna will recognize citizens’ same-sex marriages that were legal where performed. Updated: Italy approves same-sex unions, but gay couples cannot adopt.

 

Latvia: In December 2005, the Latvian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga signed the amendment shortly afterward, making Latvia the third (after Poland and Lithuania) member state of the European Union to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Netherlands: The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages on 1 April 2001.

 

Norway: Same-sex marriage is legal in Norway. The Norwegian government proposed a marriage law on 14 March 2008 that would give gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including church weddings, adoption and assisted pregnancies. On 29 May 2008, the Associated Press reported that two Norwegian Opposition parties came out in favor of the new bill; the bill passed when the vote was held on 11 June 2008. The bill also specified that when a woman who is married to another woman becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, the partner would have all the rights of parenthood “from the moment of conception” – the law became effective on 1 January 2009.

 

Russia: No recognition of same-sex relationships; same-sex marriage is against the law. On 30 June 2013 the Russian LGBT propaganda amendment was signed into law. This legislation amended the federal law “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values,” and to prevent distribution of ideas regarding “non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors. The law created an effective ban on promoting the rights and culture of LGBT people, and has been criticized for leading to an increase and justification of violence against, and increased arrests and prosecution of, LGBT people. The law is attributed to an increase in homophobic violence in Russia by anti-gay groups. The passing of the law met with a major international backlash. LGBT rights activists, human rights activists, and other critics believed that the broad and vague wording of the “anti-gay” law made it a crime to publicly make statements or distribute materials in support of LGBT rights, hold pride parades or similar demonstrations, state that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships, or according to Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin, even display LGBT symbols such as the rainbow flag or kiss a same-sex partner in public.

 

Spain: Spain became the third country in the world (after the Netherlands and Belgium) to legalize same-sex marriage. After being elected in June 2004, Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero restated his pre-election pledge to push for legalization of same-sex marriage. On 1 October 2004 the Spanish Government approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, including adoption rights. The bill received full parliamentary approval on 30 June 2005 and passed into law on July 2nd, becoming fully legal on July 3rd.

 

Sweden: Following a bill introduced jointly by six of the seven parties in the Riksdag, a gender-neutral marriage law was adopted on 1 April 2009. It came into force on May 1 of that year, replacing the old legislation on registered partnerships. On 22 October 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden (which is no longer officially the national church, but whose assent was needed for the new practice to work smoothly within its ranks) voted strongly in favor of giving its blessing. In April 2015, Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary.

 

United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales): The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales cleared the House of Lords and received Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth on 17 July 2013, making marriage legal for same-sex couples in England and Wales. The Act went into effect on March 29th, 2014. The Scottish Marriage and Civil Partnership Act went into effect on December 16th, 2014. Any same-sex couple in a civil partnership can convert it into marriage, free of charge. In April 2014 the Northern Ireland Assembly rejected a motion calling for the introduction of same-sex marriage during debate at Stormont. A total of 51 assembly members (MLAs) voted against the Sinn Féin motion, while 43 MLAs voted in favor. It was the third time in 18 months that Stormont rejected same-sex marriage.

 

Vatican City: Same-sex relationships are illegal in the Vatican City. In March 2012 the pope warned that changing the definition of marriage could have many cultural and political effects, reiterated Roman Catholic doctrine regarding same-sex relationships and quashed any hopes that the Vatican or Catholicism in general will alter their views. However, in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, published March 5th, 2014, the pope said that “matrimony is between a man and a woman,” but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care,” according to a translation by Catholic News Service. The Vatican denied the Italian media reports that the comments by Pope Francis signaled his openness to the legal recognition of same-sex unions in Italy.

 

Australia: Neither Civil partnerships nor civil unions are recognized by the Commonwealth Government. The Federal Opposition, namely the Australian Labor Party, joined with the Government to support the ban, amid strong objection from the Australian Democrats and The Greens. It was passed on August 13th, 2004 as effective from the day of assent. The states and territories of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have a “registered partnership” system that is available for all couples. These state-level registered relationships are recognized on both the state and Commonwealth Government levels. Even some councils such as Sydney, Melbourne and Yarra provide a relationship register for symbolic recognition, but provide no legal recognition. However, all Government levels of Australia have some form of “de-facto status recognition” or “common-law marriage” that recognizes both same sex and opposite sex couples, called “unregistered co-habitation”. Surviving partners from same-sex couples are able to claim tax-free pension benefits from deceased partners. Same-sex partners of members of the Australian Defense Force are granted the same benefits as spouses of married soldiers. Same-sex couples can sponsor their partners for immigration purposes. On August 23rd, 2012 the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly passed a bill to introduce legally binding ceremonies for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples in the ACT have been able to register their civil partnership since 2008. The new bill will replace the Civil Partnerships Act 2008 and fully restore the role of ceremonies and celebrants in civil unions. The Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 was passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly on October 22nd, 2013 and signed on November 7th, 2013. Same-sex marriages began in the ACT on December 7th, 2013. However, on December 11th, 2013 Australia’s High Court struck down the landmark law and annulled the same-sex marriages that had taken place.

 

Brazil: On May 14th, 2013 the council overseeing Brazil’s judiciary ruled that notary publics cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, a decision that effectively legalized marriage for same-sex couples throughout Brazil. The decision took effect on May 16th, 2013.

 

Egypt: Same-sex sexual activity is not specifically illegal, however other laws may apply. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

 

Iran: Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the legal code has been based on Shari’a law. No legislation exists to address discrimination or bias motivated violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Officially, the Iranian government believes that everyone is heterosexual and that homosexuality is a violation of the supreme will of God. Same-sex marriages and or civil unions are not legally recognized.

 

Iraq: In Iraq’s Personal Status Law marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman to create children. Same-sex sexual relations have been decriminalized but are still considered taboo by the majority of the population in Iraq. Many LGBT people in the country suffer from discrimination, abuse, honor killings, and murder. There is no legal recognition of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

Pakistan: According to Pakistani law, same-sex sexual acts are illegal. Although Pakistan is officially an Islamic Republic, in practice Pakistan has mixed laws with mainly Anglo-Saxon laws inherited from the British. As a result of increasing liberalization trends and increasing globalization and social tolerance, public gay parties in Pakistan have been thriving for a number of years. Pakistan does not have civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation. Same-sex marriages and civil unions in Pakistan have no legal recognition.

 

United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates includes the Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah, and Sharjah. Sexual relations outside of a traditional, heterosexual marriage are a crime. Punishments range from jail time, fines, deportation, and the death penalty. A person may also face forced hormone treatments which may include chemical castration. There is no legal recognition of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

Yemen: Homosexuality is illegal in Yemen in accordance with the country’s Shari’a legal system. Punishments for homosexuality range from flogging to death. Yemen is one of only seven countries to apply a death penalty for consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. Gay and lesbian websites are blocked by the government. As of 2007, there was no public or semi-public space for gays as in western countries. The official position is that there are no gays in Yemen. There is no legal recognition of any kind for same-sex relationships.

 

South Korea: On July 30th, 2004, the Democratic Labor Party of South Korea filed a formal complaint against the Incheon District Court’s decision to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages. The complaint was filed on the grounds that the decision is unconstitutional, because neither the Constitution nor civil law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (the only mentioned requisite is age of majority) and that the Constitution explicitly forbids discrimination “pertaining to all political, economic, social, or cultural aspects of life of an individual.” The Committee also claimed that refusal to recognize same-sex marriages constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation and a refusal to provide equal protection under the law.

 

The Phillippines: The New People’s Army of the Philippines conducted the country’s first same-sex marriage in 2005. However it was not recognized by the government. Within the government there has been some debate on the issue of same-sex unions. The Roman Catholic Church stands in fierce opposition to any such unions. But since 1991 the Metropolitan Community Church Philippines has been conducting Same-Sex Holy Unions in the Philippines. As of 2010, the issue of same-sex marriage is not “under consideration” in the Philippines. The only thing under consideration is a possible ban on same-sex marriage, including refusal to recognize marriages performed overseas. No political party has placed gay rights on its platform aside from Akbayan, a small party with only one representative in Congress. The Philippines has yet to even approve any anti-discrimination legislation, so any serious look at same-sex unions is likely decades or more away.
Nepal: Nepal’s highest court, in November 2008, issued final judgment on matters related to LGBT rights. The expectation in 2010 and 2011 was that same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities, as well as the establishment of a legal third gender for citizenship purposes, would be included in the new Nepalese constitution which was being drafted by the Constituent Assembly. However, on May 28th, 2012, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai dissolved the Constituent Assembly after it failed to finish the constitution in its last time extension, ending four years of constitution drafting and leaving the country in a legal vacuum. On May 23rd, 2012 the Nepalese Home Ministry began allowing people to register as “other,” a third category, for the Nepalese Census. This category is provided to members of the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. A new Constituent Assembly was elected on November 22nd, 2012. Nepal currently allows same-sex unions but there is official law in place formalizing these unions.

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