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Posts for February, 2013

Keeping in mind the protectorates, territories, overseas departments, and collectives

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2013

When President Hollande of France signs the marriage bill, a couple of islands off Newfoundland and several off Africa, along with a country in South America will also be impacted. Britain’s bill may or may not change law in the Falkland Islands off Argentina, but it will likely influence thought in the many nations that comprise the British Commonwealth. The Netherland’s marriage bill was finally reflected when itty bitty Saba, in the Caribbean, conducted it’s first same-sex marriage in December. And when the US Supreme Court rules in a few months, it’s decisions will determine the fate of same sex couples in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico.

While it is exciting when large and powerful countries move towards equality, let’s keep in mind that this movement is not and cannot be limited to just those countries. Each success is larger than just its borders.

Ireland’s vote on civil partnerships to come today

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2010

From Irish Times

The final Dáil debate on the Civil Partnership Bill is to take place today.

The purpose of the new Bill is to establish an extensive package of rights, obligations and protections for same-sex couples who register as civil partners.

The bill is expected to pass and will become law in the fall.

No right to marriage in Europe

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights in Strausboug has determined that members of the Council of Europe need not offer marriage equality if they do not wish to do so. The decision was made on a suit against Austria by a same-sex couple. (Guardian)

In a key judgment issued today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on a complaint of a homosexual couple in Austria who were denied the right to marry. Although very recently (January 2010) Austria created the possibility to enter into a Registered Partnership for same-sex couples, marriage still is not possible. The applicants in this case, Schalk and Kopf, complained both under article 12 (right to marry) and article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with article 8 (right to private and family life). The court found no violation of their human rights, although it was very divided on the issue of discrimination (four votes against three in holding that Austria did not discriminate).

The court found that same-sex couples fall within the definition of family life and that “they are in a relevantly similar situation to a different-sex couple as regards their need for legal recognition and protection of their relationship.” However, because Austria had (mid case) enacted a civil unions law, they fell within the wide margin of leniency which the court found that member states have in the precise way in which they recognize same-sex unions.

As best I can tell, the Court did appear to suggest that some measure of recognition and protection for same-sex unions is required. It will be interesting to see whether this decision will be interpreted as a decision that compels member states to offer some measure of recognition, as many of the 47 nations – including Italy, Greece, the Baltic States and most of Eastern Europe – do not.

Portugal’s marriage bill forwarded to Supreme Court

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2010

Portugal’s president, Cavaco Silva, has forwarded the marriage bill to the Supreme Court. (On Top)

Cavaco Silva asked the court to review the constitutionality of 4 out of 5 of the bill’s articles. Article 3, which was not forwarded, would forbid married gay and lesbian couples from adopting children.

The Constitutional Court has already ruled against gay marriage. In a narrow 3-to-2 decision last year, the court denied a lesbian couple the right to marry, despite a provision in the constitution that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

It is difficult to know what this means.

For those who read Portuguese

Civil Partnerships Come to Ireland

Timothy Kincaid

June 26th, 2009

Ireland has finally passed published its Civil Partnership Bill which provides many (but not all) of the rights, priveleges, and responsibilities to same-sex couples. (Reuters) The bill has strong support and is expected to become law.

“This bill provides legal protection for cohabiting couples and is an important step, particularly for same-sex couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the state,” Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said in a statement.

The legislation provides a range of previously denied rights including maintenance obligations, protection of a shared home and succession. “Balance is achieved by maintaining material distinctions between civil partnership and marriage, in particular between the rights attaching to both, while at the same time reflecting the equality rights protected by the constitution,” Ahern said.

The Irish Constitution requires that marriage be given preferential treatment (Irish Times).

The heads of the Bill (giving an outline of the proposed legislation) were first published in late 2007 but progress was slowed by a number of complex issues. One of the issues is believed to have been the potential conflict between the strong rights conferred to marriage in the Constitution and the equality rights protected by Article 40.1.

With Ireland providing recognition, Europe now looks like this:

Green = marriage; Red = civil unions or other recognition

Green = marriage; Red = civil unions or other recognition