Monday, May 30, 2011

Pink Dot Singapore campaign: Support the Freedom to Love

A GREAT video advert by Pink Dot Singapore, organizers of a pro-LGBT equality rally in Singapore slated for June 18, 2011.  The campaign strives toward diversity, inclusiveness, and to foster understanding for the basic human need to love and be loved, regardless of one's sexual orientation.

Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa said: “We believe that Pink Dot 2011 will take another step towards a more inclusive and cohesive Singapore.  Past events have seen people from different walks of life come together for this event – young, old, straight, gay, families and friends.  It is extremely heartwarming to know that Singaporeans believe in building a more tolerant and harmonious society.”

Best of luck to Pink Dot on this extremely important campaign for Singapore!


Friday, May 27, 2011

After ten years, the sky still hasn't fallen

An OpEd by Boris O. Dittrich, appearing in the Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2011:

After the Netherlands acted, civilization as we know it didn't end.

Ten years ago when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, most Dutch people were in favor of the law, but a vocal minority insisted that same-sex marriage would mean the end of Western civilization.  It took a political slugfest to get the law passed.

I was a member of parliament at the time and the initial sponsor of the same-sex legislation.  The Netherlands had introduced gay civil unions in 1998; I regarded them as a step forward but still insufficient.  Why should heterosexuals be able to fence off a part of civil law — marriage — and defend it as exclusively theirs?  This "separate but equal" status reminded me of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow in the United States.  When two people decide to share their responsibilities and commit themselves to each other by entering civil marriage, their sexual orientation shouldn't matter to the government.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brazil says yes to same-sex unions

Think it can't happen in a majority-Catholic country?  Never lose optimism.  In Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world, the Supreme Court issued a ruling this month (May 2011) that same-sex couples must be treated equally before the law.  The unanimous 10-0 decision makes same-sex civil unions the law of the land throughout Brazil.

The court ruled that the same rights and rules that apply to stable unions between heterosexual couples will apply to same-sex couples, including the right of joint declaration of income tax, pension, inheritance and property sharing, and also makes it much easier for same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child.  The ruling does not completely open up Brazil to full marriage equality, but rather leaves it up to individual judges whether to issue A) a marriage license or B) a civil union license to same-sex couples.

A civil union bill had been stalled in Brazilian Congress since 1995, which is why the Brazilian Supreme Court finally stepped in, deciding that gay and lesbian citizens cannot merely be denied their rights and forced to "wait and hope" forever. 

Brazil joins fellow South American nations Colombia, Uruguay, and Ecuador, which also have nationwide civil unions, and Argentina which has had full marriage equality since 2010.  A civil union bill is also currently pending in Venezuela, and just this week Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, asked the Chilean congress to pass a civil union bill.  "We must safeguard the dignity of those couples," said Mr. Pinera, "whether of the opposite or even the same sex."

Update:  June 27, 2011.  A judge in Sao Paulo has ruled that two men in a civil union can convert their civil union into a marriage.  Brazil's Supreme Court decision on civil unions gives individual judges discretion as to whether a same-sex union will be registered as a "civil union" or a "marriage."  With this ruling, Sao Paulo became the home of Brazil's first official same-sex marriage.  Congrats!