Gay Marriage – Coming to Iceland?

Last year, Iceland made its own small piece of LGBT history when it appointed  Johanna Sigurdardóttir  as  the world’s first openly gay or lesbian Prime ‘Minister.  Later this year, in a move no longer regarded as remarkable, it is likely to become the next country to recognise same sex marriage. Legal recognition of same sex unions began in the Nordic countries, way back in   when Denmark made provision in law for civil unions. Since then, Sweden and Norway have approved full marriage, and Denmark is planning to follow suit. This will leave Finland as the only Scandinavian country without full marriage equality, but I don’t imagine the Finns will want to lag too far behind their neighbours.  When they do follow suit, that will create an entire geographic region of countries with full marriage for all and at least two, Sweden and Denmark, providing fro church marriage as will as civil marriage. Watch this space.

Lesbian PM, Johanna Sigurdardóttir

Iceland Likely to Permit Gay Marriage by June

UK Tories: For Gay Equality (Except When They Aren’t)

UK Conservative leader David Cameron has tried hard to persuade us that his party has transformed from its old bigoted persona, and is now the great pink hope for LGBT equality. The record contradicts this.

In the advance publicity for his speech kicking off his election campaign, Cameron made a fuss over speaking for the “great ignored” among the British population, and alleged that Britain’s gays were among the groups that Labour had “ignored”.  So what happened when he delivered the speech? He “ignored” the prepared text’s references to gays, and made no reference to us at all.  What of the Labour record on gay rights, how far is Cameron’s accusation valid?

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling has punched a hole in the Tory pretence of support for gay equality

Well, I’m a newcomer and not entirely familiar with the record, but as far as I can tell, Labour achievements include repealing the infamous section 28, which was the brainchild of a Conservative government; equalising the statutory age of consent for gay and straight sex; and most notably introducing civil partnership legislation, which offers a legal status  for same sex relationships which is pretty close to marriage in everything but name.  Cameron himself likes to boast that he personally voted in favour of the  civil partnership legislation.  However, that legislation was not backed by all the Tories at the time:  about a third of Conservative MP’s opposed it, and a Conservative group in the Lords introduced an amendment opposing “priviliges” for gays and lesbians that was seen as a wrecking amendement. Fortunately , the measure passed.

UK Civil Partnerships: Approved for Religious Premises.

With the UK election now declared, parliament will be formally dissolved on Monday next week.  This has meant that some legislation which was due to be handled this week has been shelved until after the election – while some other measures which have been dealt with, have slipped under the radar with all the media attention going to the election. One important piece of legislation that did make the cut was the UK equality bill, which includes a provision to change the regulations on civil partnerships to permit them in religious premises.

Some church people have opposed the amendment on the grounds that it could “force” clergy to conduct these ceremonies in conflcit with their consciences, and so violate religious freedom, but this is nonsense.  The legislation specifically provides that no person may be compelled to conduct these in religious premises, and is in fact a blow FOR, not against relgiious freedom, which was requested by some religious groups:  the UK Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews all lobbied for the change, to provide them with the religious freedom to act in accordance with their own consciences – by treating all would-be married couples equally, without regard to gender.

Norwegian Bishop Resigned (2009) Over Abuse

Church: Norway bishop resigned in ’09 over abuse

From AP

OSLO — Norway’s Catholic Church revealed Wednesday that a bishop who resigned last year did so after admitting he had molested a child years earlier, when he was a priest.

Georg Mueller stepped down as bishop in the western city of Trondheim in June 2009. The church said it had not previously disclosed the reason for his resignation at the request of the victim.

Mueller’s successor, Bishop Bernt Eidsvig, said in a statement Wednesday that the 58-year-old German had been removed from all pastoral duties and undergone therapy after he admitted the abuse. Mueller admitted to only one case — before he became a bishop in 1997 — and no other allegations have come to light, church officials said.

(Read the full report)

Global Abuse: Chile, India

First, the problem of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy was seen as just an American problem, then just the Americans, and those priest-ridden Irish. Earlier this year, the world began to realise that it was also a more widespread European problem, with rapidly increasing reports also from Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Poland…
The truth of course is that this is no more than just a European problem, any more than it was ever just an American issue. This was just where the news broke first.  There is every reason to suppose that comparable stories wills till emerge from the countries of the South. I have already reported on the first stories emerging from Brazil and a single instance (concerning child pornography) from Chile.  Now, we have more reports from Chile, and one from India.
The first report from Chile concerned a  Spanish teacher, rather than a priest, who was arrested in Chile on charges of filming the sexual abuse of boys. Now, the Catholic archbishop of Santiago has admitted that the Chilean church is investigating “a few”, cases involving paedophilia and the clergy.  He says there are “just a few” cases, for which he thanks God.  So do I – if it remains just a few. The experience from elsewhere, however, is that “just a few”” cases which are known initially, have a habit of growing to a few more as more victims are emboldened to speak up- and the growing trickle then becomes a flood. (Initial reports from Germany were of fewer than a hundred cases. When the hotline opened last week, it handled thousands of calls within the first few days.)
From the Strib:

Roman Catholic archbishop in Chile says ‘a few’ cases of paedophilia are being investigated

SANTIAGO, Chile – The archbishop of Santiago says the Roman Catholic Church is investigating “a few” cases of pedophilia involving priests in Chile, an issue church leaders long sought to play down.

“There is something to these pedophilia abuses — just a few, thank God,” Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz said in an interview on state television Sunday evening.


Errazuriz did not say how many cases or whether they had been reported to police. Press representatives of the Santiago diocese told the Associated Press on Monday that they didn’t know how many pedophilia cases were under investigation.

Meanwhile, the first report from India does not concern abuse in India, but an Indian priest who is wanted in the USA to face trial over allegations concerning actions when he was based in Minnesota.  The interesting feature about the Indian hierarchy, concerns their response ( or lack of response) to calls for extradition – and how it has changed dramatically in the face of publicity.

Iowa Gay Marriage: Here to Stay

The first anniversary of marriage equality is a good time to take stock. When the state Supreme court ruled in favour of marriage for all last year, many people in this rural, mid-West and moderately conservative state were outraged.  Opinion polls showed that most voters did not support same sex marriage, and opponents vowed to fight for repeal. When the Governor and the Democratic controlled state legislature did not take immediate action towards changing the state constitution, the opposition vowed to turn marriage into an election issue. Superficially, the signs look good for them, with the Republican candidate for governor leading in the polls. But, for all the brouhaha, marriage is here to stay.  On this at least, you can safely ignore the sound and the fury – it signifyeth nothing.
The death warrant for repeal was signed last week, when the legislative session ended without taking any action to initiate a process for a ballot on a constitutional amendment.
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