Aust. PM ambushed over gay marriage at university Q and A session
Australian Prime Minister John Howard was "grilled" by a student over his negative stance on gay marriage at a university talk meant to discuss foreign affairs.
The student further described Howard's opposition to same-sex marriage as an attempt to entrench homophobia in Australia.
Australia passed legislation in 2004 specifically defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and he has consistently opposed civil unions for same-sex couples.
Howard shot back saying that it is not discrimination to deny gay men and lesbians equal marriage status with heterosexual couples.
"I think it is a form of minority fundamentalism to say that you have to, in every aspect of one's institutions and one's arrangements in society, have technical equivalence," Howard responded.
"I think it is discrimination against homosexuals to deny them employment opportunities because they're homosexual, I think it's discrimination to deny them property rights and we have sought to, as we see the need, we have sought to remove that," he said.
"But to carry it to the lengths of saying, well you've got to give an equivalence in relation to marriage - I don't support that view and I have absolutely no unease of any kind in supporting the decision that's been taken."
He also added that his government had passed legislation to end financial discrimination in pensions.
LGBT rights activists in Australia have promptly criticised the PM's comments.
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has denounced his comments saying: "It is offensive and concerning that our PM believes that the campaign for relationship recognition and equality for same-sex couples amounts to a form of 'fundamentalism.'"
"A recent Newspoll conducted by the Australian Secular Party showed that most Australians support the recognition of same-sex relationships, and the removal of the widespread financial and non-financial discrimination against gays and lesbians."
Earlier this month, the Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction in Australia to pass legislation allowing same-sex civil unions. While the decision is by far the broadest legislation affecting gay and lesbian couples in the country, stopping just short of offering full marriage, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is considering whether or not to challenge the new territory's law in court.
Organiser of gay sex parties in Beijing gets 1-year jail
A 33-year-old Beijing man was sentenced to a year in jail for using the Internet to organise gay sex parties at his home, reported the Associated Press.
According to the Beijing News, the man who was only identified only by his surname, Zou, charged attendees 30-50 yuan (US$3.70-US$6.20) to his "Hot Dream Party for Cool Beijing Boys" events.
He pleaded guilty to the charge of "gathering people for the purpose of sexual promiscuity."
Although homosexuality is not outlawed, homosexuals were strongly persecuted after China's 1949 communist revolution, and frequently associated with decadent Western and feudal societies. The China Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 2001. Major cities including Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai today have thriving gay scenes.
Gays in Mauritius seek legal protection against discrimination
Three days after staging the island-state's first-ever gay rights rally, gays and lesbians in Mauritius are calling for protection against discrimination built into new human rights legislation to be debated by Parliament in July.
"Homosexuality is neither legal nor illegal, so if a victim of sexual discrimination complains to the police, they have no legal reference," he said.
"That is why we are insisting that the Equal Opportunity Bill has provisions on discrimination based on sex, race or religion.
"There should be no second-class citizens in this country. It is time discrimination ended in this country."
Although the laws of the Indian Ocean island does not explicitly outlaw homosexuality, the small gay community complain of rampant social discrimination despite provisions in the Constitution which protects homosexuals, along with other minority groups, from discrimination.
The coalition oragnised a rally on Saturday south of the capital of Port Louis, attended by about 300 gay people and their allies who called for equal rights.
"Visibility, equality and liberty," "No to homophobia," "I love the way I love," and "My sexuality, my choice" read some of the banners they carried in a march through the streets of the town of Rose Hill.
It remains unclear whether the government will support efforts to write sexual orientation into the draft law.