Friday, November 11 2011 00:00

International News, November 11-14, 2011

By  Rachel Roth

First to Enter Same-Sex Civil Union in Denmark Dies

Gay rights pioneer, Axel Axgil, one of the first LGBT citizens of Denmark to exchange vows, died Oct. 29 due to complications from a fall. He was 96. Axgil is credited with helping Denmark become the first country to legalize same-sex unions, which it did in 1989. He was also one of the founding members of LGBT Denmark. Vivi Jelstrup, a spokeswoman for the organization said in a statement to the Associated Press that Axgil in many ways personified the struggle for gay rights in Denmark.

“But Axel Axgil was a modest man who never cast himself as a lonely warrior,” Jelstrup continued, “he always underscored that there were many involved in the work and that it was a common cause.”

 

Malaysian Government Bans Pride Event

Malaysian police have vowed to prevent "Seksualiti Merdeka," the annual gay rights festival meaning Sexual Freedom. According to ChannelNewsAsia.com, the festival has taken place in the capitol city of Kuala Lumpur since 2008. Khalid Abu Bakar, deputy national police chief stated that the Sexual Freedom Festival was canceled after Muslims and other groups in the socially conservative country protested that it could “create disharmony, enmity and disturb public order."

The national Bernama news agency reported that Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called the gay rights festival “immoral” stating, "Any activity that does not benefit the majority of Malaysians should not be carried out. It's a waste of time.”

Festival organizer Pang Khee Pik said the announcement marked a "very tragic day for Malaysia." He told the Agence France-Presse that "we are aware that homophobic polices in Malaysia are not isolated, but [the police decision] is a symptom of a systemic breakdown in human rights in the country.”

 

Gay Rights Unlikely in Ghana

John Atta Mills, president of Ghana, has promised to block any and all efforts to legalize homosexuality in the West African country. His stance is reportedly in a response to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks that his country will consider withholding aid from countries that don’t recognize LGBT rights.

According to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBCGhana.com) Mills said that Cameron “does not have the right to direct other sovereign nations as to what they should do, especially where their societal norms and ideals are different from those [in Britain].”

Mills, however, received some push back from a member of Ghana’s Parliament. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGBTA) reported that Gifty Ohene Konadu said, “homosexuals are human beings who must enjoy their rights and not to be condemned.”

 

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Appears to Support LGBT Rights

Morgan Tsvangirai, prime minister of Zimbabwe, is making waves over a statement he made in support of gay rights. According to a report in the Mail & Guardian Online (mg.co.za/article/2011-11-04-tsvangirai-in-a-fix-over-gay-rights), Tsvangirai said on BBC's Newsnight, “I hope the [new] constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation.”

The article says that his comments, which not only contradict previous statements regarding gay rights, put him at odds with country's largely conservative views on homosexuality. On the show, Tsvangirai acknowledged that he is dissenting from popular opinion.

“Of course, there is a very strong cultural feeling towards gays in my part of the world, but to me it's a human right. It's something that individuals must be allowed to make a choice.” After outrage from Zimbabweans over Tsvangirai’s shift in ideology, he backpedaled slightly by saying his comments were “only the opinions of an individual and not a collective party position.”

 

Brazilian High Court Clears the Way for Marriage Equality

Brazil in one step closer to legalizing gay marriage. In a 4 to 1 vote that took place on Oct. 25, the highest federal court ruled that the Constitution “makes it possible for stable civil unions to become marriages.” “Sexual orientation should not serve as a pretext for excluding families from the legal protection that marriage represents,” the members of the Supreme Court said in a joint statement. The ruling, which comes five months Brazil's highest court approved civil unions for same-sex couples, stemmed from the case of two women who have tried to wed in Rio Grande do Sul state. Presently, Argentina is the only country in Latin America where same-sex marriage is legal, experts say that this decision should play some role in discouraging Brazil's states from blocking same-sex marriage.

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