Referendum minister repeats apology

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Michael McCormack | AAP | 17151

As you may have read or heard, Australia has launched an official national postal referendum on the issue of gay marriage.

Government Minister Michael McCormack is in charge of the Australian Bureau of Statistics which is conducting the marriage survey and has apologised for previously denigrating gay people. He wrote a newspaper editorial in 1993 in which he said a week never went by “that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society … Unfortunately gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay”.

Today Mr McCormack said he had grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation. “I apologised wholeheartedly for the comments at the time and many times since, but I am making this statement to unreservedly apologise again today. … I want all Australians to show each other the respect that they deserve and embrace the things that make us all unique.”

He said he would respect the final result “and vote accordingly in the parliament”.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/08/11/minister-responsible-abs-offers-apology-over-historic-anti-gay-comments

Leo likes Belfast!

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Mr Varadkar (centre, in jeans) | Peter Morrison/Press Association  | 17146

Attending Belfast Pride yesterday, Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it is “only a matter of time” until same sex marriage is legalised in Northern Ireland. Earlier, he attended a Gay Pride breakfast meeting at the Northern Whig bar in Belfast where he met gay members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, pictured, and others.

The DUP did not oppose Mr Varadkar’s attendence at the event, but a small group of Free Presbyterians staged a protest across the road.

Asked if he believed gay marriage would be introduced in the North, Mr Varadkar – who is openly gay – replied: “I do, I think it’s only a matter of time. Of course, the decision is for the Northern Ireland Assembly. But I am confident that like other western European countries they will make that decision in due course.”

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/gay-marriage-varadkar-northern-ireland-10936013

German gay marriage legal, but faces legal challenge

The President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, signed the “marriage for all” bill into law on Thursday. The new law will come into effect after 1 October 2017.

The final step in the legalisation of gay and lesbian marriage comes three weeks after the country’s Bundestag approved the law at the end of June.

The law was controversial, and was rushed through both houses of parliament before the summer break.

Lawmakers who are opposed to “marriage for all” have threatened to have the legality of the new law checked by the Federal Court of Justice, which is Germany’s highest court.

The main change between civil partnerships and marriage equality in German law means same-sex couples will be able to jointly adopt children.

http://www.dw.com/en/german-president-signs-gay-marriage-bill-into-law/a-39795137

Mrs May backs gay marriage in Churches

The Prime Minister has told the Church of England to “reflect” on allowing same-sex couples to marry in church. She also said her father, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, would have supported church blessings for gay couples. She believed her father “very much valued the importance of relationships of people affirming those relationships and of seeing stability in relationships and people able to be together with people that they love”.

Church of England priests are currently not allowed to marry gay couples in church or bless same-sex marriages, an issue which has split the church – progressives are pushing for greater inclusion of gay people while conservative evangelicals are resisting change.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/19/prime-minister-church-should-reflect-allowing-gay-couples-marry/

Malta said Yes

As predicted a week ago, last night Malta’s parliament legalised gay marriage.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat praised the passage of bill, which his Labour Party had vowed would be the first legislation it would bring forward after winning a second term in a snap parliamentary election in June.

“I think it is a historic vote,” said Muscat. “It shows that our democracy and our society is maturing, has reached an unprecedented level of maturity and it is a society where we can all say we are equal.”

http://www.politico.eu/article/malta-legalizes-gay-marriage/

Pensions equality suddenly comes nearer. At last

John Walker has won a landmark ruling which if implemented will give his husband the same pension rights as a wife would receive.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that if John Walker dies, his husband is entitled to a spouse’s pension, provided that they remain married. The ex-chemical company worker said it would “drag” the government “into the 21st Century”, while human rights group Liberty said “thousands” could benefit.

A government spokesman said it would review the implications of the ruling.

The decision will effect the entitlement of thousands of civil partners and spouses in same sex marriages, who will now enjoy the same pension rights and entitlements as people in a heterosexual marriage.

For example, Mr Walker’s husband would be entitled to a spousal pension of about £45,000 a year in the event of Mr Walker’s death, rather than around £1,000 a year he would currently expect.

Your Activist first campaigned for pensions equality more than fifteen years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40580596

Malta to say Yes

Malta is on the verge of legalising gay marriage after the government brought forward legislation to scrap gendered references to marriage in the country’s laws. Gendered terms such as “husband”, “wife”, “mother” and “father” will be removed from the country’s Marriage Act and other laws and be replaced with gender-neutral terminology.

It will also become legal for gay couples to adopt children.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/malta-gay-marriage-same-sex-legalise-gendered-word-ban-legislation-law-a7822226.html

Belfast marches for gay marriage

July 1, 2017 | Belfast | Clodagh Kilcoyn/Reuters | 17130

Thousands of people marched in Belfast on Saturday to demand Northern Ireland join the rest of the United Kingdom in legalising same-sex marriage.

It is understood that resistance to gay marriage by the Democratic Unionist Party is one of the reasons why a power sharing administration for Northern Ireland has not so far been formed.

Opinion polls taken in Northern Ireland for some time show a majority are in favour of equal marriage.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through central Belfast waving rainbow flags and banners saying “Love is a Human Right.”

The Republic of Ireland voted in favour of gay marriage in a referendum in 2015.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-nireland-gaymarriage-idUKKBN19M3LO

Germany said Yes

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The Bundestag | Bundestag | 17126

The German Bundestag voted by 393 to 226 to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to a vote.

The reform grants couples full marital rights and allows them to adopt children.

The German legal code will now read: “Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex”, AFP news agency reported.

Well done Bundestag.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40441712

Hopes rise for gay marriage in Germany

Angela Merkel told an event organised by a magazine that her party’s opposition to gay marriage may be over and that German MPs should be allowed a free vote in the Bundestag.

The German chancellor said she felt aggrieved that debate was mainly carried out along party lines and that she hoped it would be “headed towards a conscience vote”.

It is widely believed the Bundestag would legalise gay marriage in a free vote on the issue.

Until recently, there have been no significant advances in Germany for gay and lesbians for some time.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/27/angela-merkel-signals-u-turn-on-gay-marriage-in-germany