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Posts for December, 2012

More on Germany’s Aid Cut to Uganda; Local Papers React

Jim Burroway

December 3rd, 2012

Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade followed up on last week’s announcement by Dirk Niebel, Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), that Germany has suspended its foreign aid to Uganda. Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, told Johnson that the announced cuts were related to direct governmental assistance and wouldn’t affect programs:

“My understanding is that the German government decided to cut direct structural assistance from Germany to the government to the government of Uganda, but that their investments in development and other programs will continue,” Bromley said. “So, it’s not an across-the-board cut, but it’s a temporary suspension of direct structural assistance to the government.”

But Uganda’s Sunday Monitor, the nation’s largest independent newspaper, contends that Germany’s ambassador to Kampala, Klaus Dieter Düxmann, has denied Germany was cutting aid. In an article headlined, “Germany says no to cutting aid,” John Njoroge reported:

“It is not true. We are maintaining development assistance to Uganda,” Mr Düxmann said yesterday. “The embassy will give further communication in this respect in the coming days.”

But a close look at what Ambassador Düxmann said — “We are maintaining development assistance to Uganda.” — does not contradict what Bromley said, nor does it address direct government-to-government structural aid, which the Ugandan news magazine The Observer described as “budget-support aid to Uganda” — in other words, aid that was given directly to the Ugandan government to support specific governmental functions.

In last week’s announcement, Niebel cited a massive corruption in the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office in which funds from Europe were discovered in the private bank accounts of more than a dozen Ugandan officials. German also cited a U.N. report accusing Uganda and Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Parliament’s decision to consider passing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

It’s interesting that, so far, neither The Observer nor Monitor have mentioned the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as a factor in Germany’s announcement.

The pro-government New Vision’s report however was more-or-less straightforward, both in the fact of Germany’s announcement and the reasons why. Of course, being pro-government meant that there has to be some amount of spin:

Uganda has said it is determined to punish all officials involved in embezzling the money, which was meant to fund recovery efforts in northern areas of the country after a lengthy insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Germany was equally concerned about legislation that will impose an array of jail terms for convicted homosexuals, including life imprisonment in certain circumstances. U.S. President Barack Obama has branded the bill as “odious”.

“If discrimination against human rights is voted through by the Ugandan parliament, this would have consequences for our cooperation,” said Niebel.

Aid accounts for about 25 percent of Uganda’s annual budget.

Cutting the funds would put public investments in health and education at risk in Africa’s largest coffee exporter.

Of course, New Vision neglects to mention the death penalty, which is still in the Anti-Homosexuality bill despite rumors and false reports to the contrary.

Perhaps Monitor’s confusion over what Germany has done stems from another lengthy article by Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi which was published Saturday under the title, “Why Germany will not cut aid over gay bill.” Basing her thesis on an interview with Markus Loning, commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid in Germany’s Foreign Office on November 22 — a little over a week before last week’s announcement — Sserunjogi wrote that the German government was following the advice of local Ugandan LGBT advocates:

The German government is taking advice from gay rights activists and will not cut aid to Uganda due to the anti-gay bill now before parliament but will pressure individual politicians to block it. A German official says that they have been convinced that aid cuts don’t produce the desired results.

“Activists on the ground are asking us to do it privately and talk to people responsible to see that the law does not pass,” said Mr Markus Loning, commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid at the federal foreign office. Mr Loning was speaking at a conference on homosexuality and religion in Berlin on November 22.

When the Bill was first tabled in the last parliament, Mr Loning travelled to Uganda and talked to the then Speaker Edward Ssekandi and human rights activists.

Another official told us that the German foreign office told President Museveni that bilateral cooperation would cease if the Bill was passed. In short, Germany was threatening to withdraw aid to Uganda.

That threat is now on hold. “We get the backlash when aid is cut or Ugandan public figures are humiliated over gay rights,” Christine Kasha of Freedom and Roam Uganda told the conference. Ms Kasha, who is a lesbian, says gays are also Ugandans and the projects funded by donors help them too.

Sserunjogi’s article is quite sympathetic, particularly when she describes comments made at a conference in Berlin where the documentary film Call Me Kuchu was screened. The documentary described the struggles of the gay community in Kampala to secure even the most basic human rights, and ends with the murder of LGBT advocate David Kato. Sserunjogi wrote:

And the German government takes the issue seriously. “We take interest in human rights because it is an obligation from our history,” said Mr Loning. Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler infamously tortured and killed gays.

Given the experiences of Nazism and later the Germany Democratic Republic in the former East Germany, said Mr Stefan Boberg, the Germans said “Never again”. Mr Boberg specialises in Nazi history and is a guide at the former concentration camp, Sachsenhausen, where tens of thousands died of starvation, labour and execution. Some of them were gays. He said the Nazis tortured and killed gays to “cleanse the German race”. …During the Nazi rule, he said, almost 30,000 men were sent to jail for homosexual practices while the more unfortunate ones ended up in concentration camps.

Sserunjogi also profiled an openly gay Muslim Cleric from South Africa and the Rev. Michael Kimindi from Other Sheep Africa Church in Kenya.

The Observer, for its part, very briefly reported on Germany’s announcement on aid cuts, along with the news that several local civil society organizations will mount an anti-corruption campaign beginning today:

Led by the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU), the CSOs [civil society organizations] gave the theme of the week as ‘Act against corruption now’. Other organisations include Action Aid, Uganda Debt Network (UDN), Transparency International, and Uganda National NGO Forum. They said the campaign would help expose the thieves in the country, citing  scandals  in the pension section in the ministry of Public Service, Office of the Prime Minister, and ministry of Local Government (LC bicycles), among others.

In one of the present scams, about Shs 50bn is believed to have been swindled in the OPM, with a host of civil servants, including OPM [Office of the Prime Minister] Principal Accountant Geoffrey Kazinda, already interdicted over the graft. The East African Bribery Report 2012, by Transparency International, ranks Uganda the most corrupt country in the region, with most bribery being recorded in the public service sector instead of private sector.

To give you an idea of the size of the scandal, 50 billion Uganda Shillings is about US$18.7 million.

Germany Announces Three Year Suspension of Aid to Uganda

Jim Burroway

November 30th, 2012

Dirk Niebel, Germany’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has announced that Germany has “placed on ice” its foreign aid to Uganda (via Google Translate):

The budget support for Uganda of the BMZ has been exposed. That gave Dirk Niebel, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, announced today in Berlin. Reasons are a massive corruption scandal in Prime Minister’s Office, the allegations of the United Nations, the Ugandan military support the rebel group M23 in eastern Congo, and the debate that has flared up again about an anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

Ugandan Court had uncovered one of the most serious corruption scandals in recent years, in which 13 million euro budget support funds were embezzled from a program for the development of Northern Uganda. German funds are not affected.

Dirk Niebel: “I welcome the fact that the Ugandan Court’s task was just here Even if German agents were not concerned, I have arranged to Germany in accordance with all other donors holding back the pending disbursement of budget support We are setting a clear.. Signs: Budget support is an anomaly It reflects the highest confidence in the good governance of partners where trust has been disappointed, we must draw the appropriate consequences Therefore, the preparation for a new budget support commitments, which was planned for the period 2013 to 2015… placed on ice. ”

Reason for the decision also allegations against Uganda, the rebel group M23 in eastern Congo are to support logistically and financially. Such accusations are for the first time in the UN report of 12 October has been mentioned.

Dirk Niebel. “There is evidence that M23 was also supported by Ugandan locations logistically and materially to what extent, the Ugandan government is actively involved, remains to be the expert group of the United Nations is mandated to verify the allegations in more detail..”

The human rights situation in Uganda observed BMZ remains critical. Dirk Niebel: “We are concerned that the debate about a tightening of legislation against homosexuals in Uganda resurgence Who fired the debate in Uganda, know the needs that he so the international image of the country causing damage Should human rights discrimination in.. Ugandan Parliament be adopted, it could not remain without consequences for our cooperation. “

While the debate over the Anti-Homosxuality Bill is mentioned in the BMZ’s announcement, the main catalyist for the cuts appear to be the massive corruption scandal that was exposed in the Uganda Prime Minister’s office and the UN report alleging Uganda’s covert support for the M23 rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Britain, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have previously announced that they were cutting direct aid to the Ugandan government after learning that much of it went into the personal bank account of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Britain then followed with another announcement that it had gone further by freezing all bilateral aid, including aid to NGO’s and Ugandan financial institutions as well. Total bilateral aid for this year was set for £98.9 million (US$157 million), but it’s not known how much of that aid was already disbursed.

SwedenBritain, and the European Union have previously stated that they would cut foreign aid to Uganda if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law. LGBT and other human rights advocates in Uganda argue that public statements like these are unhelpful because they have the opposite of their intended effect. They embolden Anti-Homosexuality Bill supporters to not only prove their contempt for gay people but also to prove their patriotism and “African-ness” against what they see as foreign (read: colonial) coercion.

Couple rights advance in Germany

Timothy Kincaid

August 9th, 2012

On Wednesday, Germany’s high court found that a tax which targeted same-sex couples cannot be enforced. (CNN)

The court ruled that gay couples who have entered into a “registered partnership,” the German legal phrase for relationships similar to marriage, must be exempted from the country’s land transfer tax just like straight married couples, according to a court news release.

Interestingly, this is similar to (and illustrative of) a position taken recently by 13 members of Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party. They find it unacceptable that the nation must repeatedly be told by courts to treat its gay citizens fairly and have called for tax parity. Kristina Schroder, Germany’s minister for family affairs, took a page from UK’s David Cameron and declared that by registering their partnerships and taking long-term responsibility for each other, gay couples “are living conservative values”.

With this respectable number of conservatives now joining the Liberal Democrats in calling for equal tax treatment, the issue breaks the partisan barrier. There is hope that Germany may soon move in the direction of greater equality.

Ex-Gay Movement Gaining Ground in Europe

Jim Burroway

August 8th, 2011

So says the German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle:

In the Bavarian city of Munich, for example, the Union of Catholic Physicians in Germany recently angered gay and lesbian rights groups by announcing it had found a cure for homosexuality.

“I don’t want to discriminate against anyone, but I can’t just say that it’s politically correct to keep my mouth shut and say that everything is normal,” said Gero Winkelmann, the organization’s director. “These people have a sick tendency.”

The treatment options for gays that Winkelmann, a general practitioner with no credentials in psychotherapy, published on his association’s website include homeopathy, psychotherapy and prayer.

LGBT advocates have identified “a handful” of groups offering to help pray away the gay, which appears now to be a scientifically accepted treatment program according to the Union of Catholic Physicians.

Bavarian Lutherans allow coupled pastors to live with partners in parsonages

Timothy Kincaid

November 17th, 2010

Bavariia, Germany’s south-eastern state, is conservative and Catholic. But the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, to which about one in five Bavarians belongs, has further extended recognition to its gay ministers (Christian Century)

Gay and lesbian Lutheran ministers in the conservative German state of Bavaria may live with their partners in parish parsonages, but only if they enter into a state-sanctioned civil union.

Although the move may seem bold for what is generally considered one of Germany’s most traditional states, Bishop Johannes Friedrich of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria said it was no great departure from existing policies.

He noted that the church had already welcomed openly gay ministers and same-sex unions. “We had only left out that a couple could live in a civil union in the parsonage,” he said.

To abide by the ruling, gay or lesbian ministers must receive a church blessing for their union and enter into a civil union officially recognized by government officials.

According to church officials, six Bavarian ministers already live in same-sex civil unions.

Germany does not recognize marriage equality, but does allow registered partnerships with nearly all of the benefits and obligations of marriage. The new policy seems to me to be simply applying the same rules to its gay ministers as to its straight pastors.

“Burn Qur’ans” Pastor booted from German church for ex-gay efforts

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2010

It is no surprise that Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who has been getting a lot of press for his stated intent to burn copies of the Qur’an this weekend, has a history of troubled relationships with the gay community. In May his church, Dove World Outreach Center, opposed a gay candidate for mayor of Gainesville, FL, with a “No Homo Mayor” campaign.

But it turns out that Jones’ anti-gay animus is international. From Spiegel:

In the United States, Jones has already attracted attention on several occasions as an Islamophobic provocateur. What is less well known is that the pastor led a charismatic evangelical church, the Christian Community of Cologne, in the western German city up until 2009. Last year, however, the members of the congregation kicked founder Jones out, because of his radicalism.

Jones became increasingly radical as the years went by, former associates say. At one point he wanted to help a homosexual member to “pray away his sins.”

It seems that ex-gay ministries are seen as bizarre and radical in Germany, even among evangelicals.

German life partners get inheritance equality

Timothy Kincaid

August 17th, 2010

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to register Life Partnerships since 2001. However, this recognition was significantly lower than that of married couples. In 2008 revisions were made to bring about greater equality. But a court has ruled that the inequalities in taxation of inheritance between 2001 and 2008 must be rectified. (AFP):

The judges said that although heterosexual marriage still enjoys a unique status under the German Basic Law, it was unconstitutional for couples who had made a long-term commitment — and a pledge to pay maintenance if they separated — to face bias in inheritance.

It set a deadline of December 31 for the parliament to produce new legislation to rectify the “unconstitutional” disadvantage for gay partners in the years 2001 to 2008.

Catholic Church continues to have predatory priest problems

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2010

pope eyesSurely, surely, there are Catholic priests who haven’t molested children. And there simply must be a Cardinal or Archbishop somewhere who didn’t cover up abuse. However, now the Catholic Church is beginning to appear as though abuse and cover ups were the norm rather than the exception.

With newly reported cases in the growing scandal in Germany, along with bizarre developments in Brazil, the ten people dedicated to inspecting cases and paying settlements are beginning to feel overwhelmed. (NY Times)

In a rare interview, by telephone on Tuesday, Monsignor Scicluna acknowledged the concern. Asked if he wanted reinforcements, he said with a laugh: “I would hope we have less work. That’s my hope. Not more people, less work.”

He added that if the number of cases averaged 300 a year, “We can continue doing our job well with 10 people. The problem is: Are these numbers going to settle?”

Despite the small number of people in the Vatican working on such cases, he stressed that his office was the last step in a long process for the cases, after they have been investigated by “hundreds of canon lawyers” in dioceses worldwide.

“It’s not that these people are doing every case from A to Z, otherwise we’d really be bonkers,” he said.

The investigative arm is bonkers, but the PR division must be going crazy. Because the Brazilian scandal was televised (AP).

The case came to light after the SBT network aired a video purportedly showing an 82-year-old priest having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy who worked for him for four years. Other young men appeared on the report saying that they, too, had been abused by Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa.

ick

Pope said to have facilitated child molestation

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2010

pope eyesPope Benedict XVI is quick to condemn the “intrinsic evil” that comes from committed same-sex partners pledging devotion and care for each other. He finds same-sex attracted persons to be such a threat that he purged them from the seminaries.

Oh, yes. This Pope truly can be said to find gay people to be an enemy of all that is right and decent.

But pedophiles? Not such a problem for him.

The Times Online is reporting

The Pope was drawn directly into the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal last night as news emerged of his part in a decision to send a paedophile priest for therapy. The cleric went on to reoffend and was convicted of child abuse but continues to work as a priest in Upper Bavaria.

To recap, while Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict’s former name) was in charge of the church in Germany Archdiocese of Munich & Freising, Priest H (whose identity is being kept secret) molested an 11 year old boy. The church didn’t report him but instead “rehabilitated” him and sent him to another parish. Where he sexually abused more minors. That would be, AFTER his rehabilitation.

Now the Pope is saying, “Who me?” and laying all the blame on an underling.

The Vatican said that Mgr Gruber had taken “full responsibility” for the priest’s move back into pastoral work but did not comment further.

Mgr Gruber said that the Pope, who was made a cardinal in 1977, had not been not aware of his decision because there were 1,000 priests in the diocese at the time and he had left many decisions to lower-level officials. “The cardinal could not deal with everything,” he said. “The repeated employment of H in pastoral duties was a serious mistake … I deeply regret that this decision led to offences against youths. I apologise to all those who were harmed.” He did not indicate whether the convicted paedophile would be allowed to continue working in the church.

Deal with everything? Everything?

What on Earth is of more importance than, “OH MY GOD, we have a priest molesting children!!”

Was the German Catholic Church so full of pedophiles that this was an every-day mundane unimportant administrative matter to be shuffled off? Really? Is that what you want us to believe?

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the head of Germany’s Catholic bishops, apologised yesterday to the victims of clerical sex abuse after meeting Pope Benedict. He said that the German-born Pope had expressed “great dismay” over the scandals and had encouraged him to take “decisive and courageous steps” to tackle the problem.

Oh no doubt the scandals caused Il Papa great dismay. It’s a pity the molested children never did.

Guido Westerwelle To Be Germany’s First Gay Vice-Chancellor

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2009
Guido Westerwelle (left) with his partner, Michael Mronz.

Guido Westerwelle (left) with his partner, Michael Mronz.

Germany’s recent election results mean that the country will be taking a more conservative direction. Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and the smaller pro-business Free Democrat Party will form a coalition government. As a result, FDP leader Guido Westerwelle will become vice-chancellor, and will pick up as many as three cabinet posts. And while he’s quite conservative in his economic policies, his selection promises to bring a certain flamboyance to Germany’s famously staid political culture:

A permanent tan and close fitting suits tailored to a well-preserved physique belie the scars accumulated in eight years as leader of Germany’s third political force. …Mr Westerwelle had his official coming-out when he attended Angela Merkel’s 50th birthday party in 2004 with his partner, businessman Michael Mronz, and has said he would like to have a family.

More controversially in Germany, he has appeared on Big Brother and painted the party’s election goal of 18 per cent on the soles of his shoes in a widely ridiculed campaign stunt that cemented his foppish reputation.

Adoption Legalized in Germany and Uruguay

Timothy Kincaid

August 27th, 2009

Gay marriage – or some version of partner recognition – are at the front burner of gay rights in the US. And while a few states disallow adoptions by gay couples or individuals, most states – even socially conservative states – allow at least one half of a gay couple to adopt children.

Interestingly, in the rest of the world marriage rights are less of an issue than adoption rights. Many nations that offer some measure of couple recognition to not allow adoption by those gay couples.

But now Germany, which has recognized “Life Partnerships” since 2001, will allow adoption (Lifesite - an anti-gay news source)

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has declared it legal for homosexual partners to adopt children. The court decided in favour of a woman in the southern city of Schweinfurt who wanted to adopt the now three-year-old child of her female partner, with the consent of the father and social services.

Homosexuals were allowed by a 2001 law to register their liaisons as “life partnerships”. Under the law, persons in such legal arrangements are allowed to adopt the biological children of their partners, but the law still prohibits adoption where there is no legal or biological relationship.

And it appears that Uruguay, which has recognized civil unions since 2007, will join them (Herald Sun)

LAWMAKERS in Uruguay have voted to allow adoptions by gays and lesbians in a first for Latin America, an opposition deputy says.

“They just approved it by 40 votes out of 53,” said Jaime Trobo of the opposition National Party today.

There are still formalities, but it is assumed that this will become law.

German Magazine: Touch A Gay, Get A Disease

Jim Burroway

August 15th, 2008

A German Arabic-language magazine al-Salam is the latest to pick up on last January’s much-hyped MRSA scare. The free magazine distributed to restaurants and cafes around Berlin features an article titled, “A flesh-eating bacteria and sexual abnormality,” which reportedly claims that most gay men have deadly diseases, and that Muslims must not shake the hand of a gay man because: “one never knows what kind of bacteria and germs are found on them.” According to local news reports, the article is “couched in pseudo-scientific language, and accompanied with graphic photos of skin diseases.”

You may recall that last January, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) touched off a nationwide panic with their sensationalistic press release, which hyped a study conducted by UCSF of an outbreak of a drug-resistant staph infection among gay men in San Francisco and Boston. The staph infection, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is often transmitted by skin-to-skin contact.

Binh Diep, the study’s lead author, threw more fuel on the fire with several incendiary statements he made to news reporters, saying “this is a national problem, and San Francisco is at the epicenter,” and that “once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable.” Those remarks touched off a chain of panic-inducing headlines of “flesh-eating bugs” spreading among gays. In terms that were strongly reminiscent of rhetoric from the early 1980’s, the gay community was once again being blamed for yet another plague which threatened engulf the “general population.”

But it turns out that the real story is very different. Community-acquired MRSA has been around for decades, most often infecting athletes, including Miami Dolphins Junior Seau and Charlie Rogers in 2003 and Washington Redskins’ Brandon Noble in 2006. Dr. Holly J. Benjamin, writing for the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, has described MSRA as “the latest sports epidemic.” The problem has gotten to be so widespread that the CDC has published prevention measures written especially for athletes.

But that didn’t stop anti-gay extremists from hyping MRSA as the latest threat to the “general population.” Funny how high school and college athletes are excused from being such a threat. And now this same overly-hyped scare has jumped across the pond to Germany, where it has taken root in that country’s Muslim population.

UCSF offered a half-hearted apology for their role in fomenting the MRSA hysteria last January. This came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a much stronger clarification, saying:

The strains of MRSA described in the recent Annals of Internal Medicine have mostly been identified in certain groups of men who have sex with men (MSM), but have also been found in some persons who are not MSM. It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions can not be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM. [emphasis mine]

UCSF’s self-serving press release however remains on their website.

Given the often-violent friction between Europe’s Muslim immigrants and the local gay communities, it is more important than ever for UCSF to take responsibility for the damage they caused in their sensationalistic publicity stunt from last January. Their irresponsible actions continue to reverberate around the world, and now German gays are in the crosshairs. UCSF has a special responsibility to aggressively pursue every instance in which medical misinformation is propagated in the press, especially when that press is bent on using this misinformation to further demonize a minority population.

You can learn the real story behind the latest MRSA panic in our report, “Testing the Premise: Is MRSA The New Gay Plague?”

Presbyterians and Lutherans

This article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of others authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2008

From the Chicago Tribune:

The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination will tackle the question of gay and lesbian clergy at its biennial General Assembly next week (June 20-28) in San Jose, Calif.

From Deutche Welle:

German Lutherans in northern Schleswig will decide on July 12 whether to elect an openly gay bishop. Conservatives have opposed Horst Gorski’s candidacy, saying it would lead to divisions within the church.

These are but two examples of the ongoing battle within Mainline Protestant denominations over the issue of homosexuality. And I think that the end result is predictable.

Those who favor full inclusion and social justice will continue in their efforts to bring gay and lesbians Christians fully into the fold. In the meanwhile, they can continue in fellowship with those whom they believe are not quite there yet.

In time, as younger more gay-accepting people gain influence, these denominations will reach a tipping point in which gay acceptance outnumbers hard-liners. When that happens, these denominations will vote for full inclusion… and discover that fellowship only works in one direction. Those who ardently oppose gay inclusion will not be willing to stay in fellowship with “heretics” and scism will result.

However, I think that this will result in fewer denominations rather than more. It is my belief that this is a time of great religious realignment in America. And that after division liberal mainline denominations will join in a uniting movement towards a common identity. And to a lesser extent, the conservatives will do the same.

My prediction is that within the next 10 years at least one, and probably several, splits will occur in mainline denominations and that at least two will merge.

But, of course, this is all just speculation.

Memorial for Gays Persecuted By Nazis Opens

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2008

Berlin’s memorial to gay victims of Nazi persecutionToday marks the opening of a new memorial in Berlin dedicated to the memory of gays who were persecuted by the Nazis. The memorial in Berlin’s Tiergarten parks sits just across from the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, and it echos the larger memorial’s field of concrete blocks of varying sizes. The gay memorial, designed by Danish and Norwegian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, consists of a single grey rectangular block with a small opening through which visitors will see a short film of two men kissing. “A simple kiss could land you in trouble,” says the text which accompanies the memorial.

Until recently, there was little public acknowledgement of Nazi atrocities towards homosexuals. It’s been estimated that about 54,000 were arrested by the Nazis, with 7,000 being killed in concentration camps. While the end of the war meant liberation for the much larger interned populations of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians, and other undesirables, allied forces often returned gay men to post-war prisons to continue to serve out their terms. Homosexuality wasn’t formally decriminalized in Germany until 1994.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.