Iceland legalizes same-sex marriage
by Rex Wockner
The Icelandic parliament, Alþingi, legalized same-sex marriage June 11. The vote was 49-0. Fourteen members of parliament skipped the vote.
Same-sex couples will be able to marry starting June 27.
The registered partnership apparatus that gay couples used in the past will no longer be available.
The national LGBT association, Samtökin 78, said Iceland had removed the last obstacle to equal rights for all.
Iceland is the ninth country where same-sex couples can marry nationwide and the 11th nation where same-sex marriage is possible.
Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is openly lesbian.
Gay marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Mexico City, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.
City denies permit for Pride Parade in St. Petersburg, Russia
The city government in St. Petersburg, Russia, denied a permit for the first gay Pride march, scheduled for June 26, citing construction work on the route, GayRussia.ru reported.
Officials told organizers to suggest a different route.
Pride spokeswoman Maria Efremenkova said the city has a legal responsibility to propose another route when a permit is denied, but, "We are ready to negotiate with the authorities to ensure our action can take place legally and ... we immediately submitted three new routes to City Hall."
Should those routes also be rejected, pride organizers will sue and take the case as far as the European Court of Human Rights, Efremenkova said.
She also vowed that the march would happen with or without city permission.
"Right to freedom of assembly is guaranteed in Russia by Article 31 of the constitution as well as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, which are two international treaties ratified by our country," Efremenkova said.
In Moscow, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has banned gay pride for five years in a row, calling gay parades "satanic." Small groups of activists have defied the bans and have been attacked and beaten by police and anti-gay protesters.
Malawian gay couple split up
The gay couple in Malawi who were sentenced to 14 years in prison after holding an engagement party and were then later pardoned by the nation's president have split up.
Local reports said Steven Monjeza isn't interested in gay life anymore, broke up with Tiwonge Chimbalanga, and quickly got engaged to a woman.
"I want to live a normal life," Monjeza said, according to Britain's Guardian.
Chimbalanga, however, told the paper: "There are lots of good men around. I will remain a gay."
Previously, Chimbalanga had made comments that indicated he identified as a woman and may be transgender.
President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned the couple May 29 following international condemnation of the sentences and apparent pressure from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Group rates international businesses' gay-friendliness
The International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce said June 10 that "the Top 5 most LGBT-friendly corporations in the world are IBM, Google, BT Group, Morgan Stanley, and Cisco Systems."
The results are from the group's second International Business Equality Index, which is based on survey forms filled out by the corporations.
"IBM is extremely proud to receive this recognition ... on behalf of all 400,000 IBMers and our LGBT communities worldwide," said Patricia Lewis, vice president for diversity and employee experience.
Court: German gays who marry elsewhere are not married in Germany
A Berlin court ruled June 15 that same-sex couples who marry in nations where it is legal are not married in Germany, but rather are registered partners.
Andreas Böttcher had sought recognition of his 2006 Canadian marriage to his Spanish husband. Prior to the ruling, Böttcher's identity documents labeled him "single," so the determination that he is, in fact, in a civil union was seen as a partial victory for gay rights.
Spain recognizes the two men as husbands.
Britain to expunge gay-sex convictions
British Home Secretary Theresa May said June 16 that Britain would expunge the criminal records of men convicted of having gay sex when it was illegal.
The action applies to anyone whose partner was at least 16 years old at the time.
Britain decriminalized gay sex in 1967 and set the age of consent at 21, then later lowered it to 16.
"I'm proud of the fact that Britain is a world leader for LGB and T equality, but we must not be complacent," said May, who also is minister for women and equality. "In this country and around the world, too many LGB and T people still face discrimination based on outdated prejudices, and that has to stop. ... It's not fair that a man can be branded a criminal because 30 years ago he had consensual sex with another man."
The action on criminal records is one piece of a new government-wide program to tackle prejudice against LGBT people, the Home Office said.
The initiative also includes "new work to end the blight of homophobic bullying in schools, work to allow same-sex couples to register their relationships in a religious setting, lobbying other countries to repeal homophobic legislation and recognize UK civil partnerships, (and) ending the removal of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture, or execution."
"We're working to make Britain a place where everyone is treated fairly and everyone has an equal chance in life, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity," May said. "This ambitious program of work is the first step on that journey."
Thousands march in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv's 13th gay Pride Parade attracted more than 100,000 people June 11, making it Israel's largest pride event ever.
At a rally, Knesset Member Shelly Yacimovich said there are many closeted gay politicians and added, "it is time for them to come out."