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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for March, 2014

Report: Sweden Reconsiders Foreign Aid to Uganda

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2014
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According to this report from NTV Uganda, Sweden’s Finance Minister Andes Borg was in Uganda on a visit to highlight Swedish investment oportunities in East Africa. While there, he addressed the problems that Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act posed for Sweden’s foreign aid and investment in Uganda:

We are reviewing our own aid program with Uganda, and obviously this is a factor that has to be taken in to account. It is not a posative factor but a major problem that we will have to deal with. But there is also in the Swedish aid to Uganda very important areas supporting the civil society, improving health care and the research and development that are important. So we see this as a Swedish long term commitment to a partnership with Uganda. But this is a political issue that is quite problemantic in the medium and short term, I must say.

…The problems that we have from a Swedish human right perspective on this issue, and the legislation is very problematic from our perspective. And I do think that there are also some broader economic risks, not only when it comes to aid cooperation but also when it comes to tourism and investment where this is a reputation risk for Uganda.

Sweden provides about US$10 million in aid to Uganda. Shortly after the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was proposed in 2009, Sweden warned Uganda that the bill was placing Sweden’s foreign aid at risk. In 2012 Sweden suspended a portion of its aid to Uganda, as did Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Britain, following revelations that  $15 million in aid from those countries had been diverted to private bank accounts of officials in Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s office. Britian’s cut in foreign aid was later extended to the entire Ugandan government. On Thursday, Uganda’s Parliament cleared Mbabazi of wrongdoing despite lingering questions about the scandal.

Norway, Demark and the Netherlands, which collectively had provided $27 million in aid to Uganda, have announced that they are cutting aid to the Ugandan government. On Friday, the  World Bank announced that it was putting on hold a $90 million loan to Uganda’s health service. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the State Department is reviewing its relationship with Uganda. The U.S. currently gives more that $486 million in bilateral aid. On Wednesday, the U.S. Ambassador to Kampala said that the U.S. would deny visas to Ugandans who “incite violence, people who propagate hate, (and) who have used political violence.”

Sweden’s Crown Princess Makes Surprise Appearance for Gay Of The Year

Jim Burroway

February 6th, 2013

Jonas Gardell and Crown Princess Victoria (Photo: Christian Hagward/QX)

That has to be one of the gayest headlines I’ve ever written. The fun doesn’t stop there:

Princess Victoria presented the Gay of the Year award to an author who wrote about the 1980s AIDS crisis.

Taking to the stage to ABBA’s Dancing Queen, the 35-year-old, presented the award to Jonas Gardell, whose book and TV series, Never Dry Tears Without Gloves, sparked debate on the treatment of gay men during the onset of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Her surprise appearance earned her a standing ovation.

The book’s title refers to the instructions given to a nurse as she wiped tears off a dying man’s face. When it was published, is set off a wave of soul-searching in a country which prides itself on its tolerance and compassion.

 

Britain Suspends All Foreign Aid To Uganda

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2012

Not because Uganda may be poised to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill soon, but because corruption in Uganda is so rampant that the UK has no idea where its money has gone.

Britain has suspended all direct aid to the Ugandan government with immediate effect, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, announced on Friday.

Aid to the Ugandan prime minister’s office was frozen in August, following allegations of fraud, while an independent forensic audit was ordered. Greening has now suspended other bilateral aid, which is spent through Uganda‘s financial systems, known as direct financial aid.

…”Britain has frozen all UK aid spent through the Ugandan government. This is a result of initial evidence emerging from our ongoing forensic audit of the office of the prime minister, which indicates aid money may have been misused,” said DfID. “We are extremely concerned by these preliminary findings and we will assess the decision further when we have considered the full findings of the report. Unless the government of Uganda can show that UK taxpayers’ money is going towards helping the poorest people lift themselves out of poverty, this aid will remain frozen and we will expect repayment and administrative and criminal sanctions.”

Auditors discovered that joint foreign aid funding from Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden to the tune of €12 million  (£10 million, US$15 million) have mysteriously shown up in the private bank accounts of officials in prime minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi’s office. Those countries and Britain suspended its aid to the Prime Minister’s office in August, and Britain has now expanded that freeze to include the entire Ugandan government. Britain was due to provide £11.1 million (US$17.7 million) in direct aid between now and the end of March. Total bilateral aid for the year was set for £98.9 million (US$157 million), but it’s not clear how much of that bilateral aid has already been spent.

Sweden responds to Uganda’s proposed “Kill Gays” bill

Timothy Kincaid

November 28th, 2009

Sweden may cut back their development assistance to Uganda if the draconian new anti-homosexuality bill passes.

From Radio Sweden

Speaking to Swedish Radio news, development minister Gunilla Carlsson says that she thinks the new law is “appalling”.

“I’m doubly disappointed”, she says, “partly because Uganda is a country with which we have had long-term relations and where I thought and hoped we had started to share common values and understanding. The law itself is wretched, but it’s also offensive to see how the Ugandans choose to look at how we see things, and the kind of reception we get when we bring up these issues”

In all, Sweden’s response puts about 50 million dollars at risk.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Congrats Swedes

Timothy Kincaid

May 1st, 2009

Today is the first day that Sweden will allow same-sex marriages. Congratulations are in order.

However, for church weddings, Swedes will have to wait a bit longer.

the Lutheran Church, which was the state church until 2000, has said that while it supports the new law, its synod will only formally decide in October whether to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

For those marrying right away or for those waiting for a church wedding, we wish you all the best.

Sweden Passes Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2009

We’ve just been informed that minutes ago, the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) passed a reformed marriage bill that includes same sex marriage. The measure passed 261-22, with 18 abstentions. The change will go in effect in one month.

People currently in registered partnerships will have the option to retain their partnership, marry anew, or sending in their partnership paperwork to have them converted into legal marriages. Sweden first enacted registered partnerships in 1995, making it the third country in the world to formally recognize same-sex relationships.

[Hat tip: Reader Noa from Sweden, who is crying tears of joy.]

Swedish Marriage Legislation Presented

Timothy Kincaid

January 21st, 2009

In November we reported that Sweden is on track to have legal same-sex marriages by May of this year. Now legislation has been entered to make the change.

Marriage Equality to come to Sweden in May 2009

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2008

The coalition government of Sweden has been dancing around a way to bring about a change in marriage law to allow for same-sex couples without offending one part of their coalition, the Christian Democrats. Now a solution appears to have been found.

Sweden’s four-party centre-right government has been split on the issue, with the junior partner Christian Democrats also opposed to the use of the word “marriage” for homosexual unions.

However the three other parties, the conservative Moderates, the Liberals and the Centre Party, are in favour of a gender neutral law that eliminates the current reference to marriage as something between a man and a woman.

The opposition Social Democrats, the country’s biggest party, also support such a law, and together the parties would garner enough support to adopt the legislation in parliament.

The process will be for the coalition government to propose a marriage bill that does not have gender-neutrality and for the parties that support marriage equality to amend that bill. The Prime Minister predicts passage and implementation by next year:

“The coalition government has agreed that we will present a basic marriage bill to parliament. The three parties in favour of a gender neutral marriage law will then present an accompanying motion seeking to have such a law in place by May 1, 2009,” Reinfeldt said.

Sweden was one of the first countries to allow for Registered Partnerships in 1995. They will be the seventh nation to offer same-sex marriage rights:

2001 Netherlands
2003 Belgium
2005 Spain
2005 Canada
2006 South Africa
2009 Norway
2009 Sweden

“Jailed” Swedish Preacher Campaigning For Prop 8

Jim Burroway

October 29th, 2008

Proponent’s for California’s Proposition 8 have brought over a preacher from Sweden, who they say was jailed for preaching against homosexuality as a warning of what could happen in California if Prop 8 fails. However, a radio journalist from Sweden reports that the preacher’s back story isn’t true.

The New York Times reported on Monday:

[T]he “Yes on 8” campaign has brought over from Sweden a pastor named Ake Green, who a few years ago was sentenced to a month in prison under Sweden’s law banning hate speech, because he gave a sermon denouncing homosexuality. Mr. Green’s testimony was featured in a 90-minute “Yes on 8” satellite simulcast that was recently downlinked to 170 churches throughout the state.

“He is a symbol of what is ahead,” said the Rev. Jim Garlow, the senior pastor of Skyline Church in the San Diego area, a leading organizer of the “Yes” ranks.

The Times report implied that Åke Green was jailed for his beliefs. Anti-gay activists often assert that he was actually jailed for preaching against homosexuality. Swedish radio journalist , who has covered the story, wrote to Box Turtle Bulletin to explain what really happened:

The Swedish pastor Åke Green was sentenced to prison by the lower court, but acquitted by the two higher courts including the Supreme Court. He has NOT been jailed. The only thing the Åke Green-case proves is that religious freedom is strongly protected, even in a country with hate speech laws such as Sweden.

You can find pastor Greens sermon on this supporter-site: http://akegreen.org/en-2-left/en-2-9.htm

The case proves that it is OK to preach that homosexuality is a “cancerous tumour in the entire society.” It’s also OK to say that AIDS is “a consequence of homosexuality.”

In 2007 the Supreme Court also acquitted a Christian blogger, who was prosecuted for a discussion on his blog, where a blog commenter stated that homosexuals should be hanged upon stakes as punishment and a warning. The commenter also wrote that the sooner a sodomite meets his hangman, the better. (When the homosexual is dead, he can’t commit any sins, hence it’s better for him to be dead…) According to Swedish law the owner of a blog is responsible for everything written on it, but he was acquitted, partly because of technical issues. The Supreme Court judged that the texts weren’t hate speech, but a religious and biblical discussion about homosexuality.”

As Tor pointed out, even in a country where hate speech laws are enforced, strong exceptions have been made to protect religious expression. In other words, religious leaders are perfectly free to hate as long as they wrap their hatred around religious themes.

American courts, on the other hand, have consistently struck down attempts to enact hate speech laws. Which is why the Klan has been protected by civil authorities whenever they want to protest on the courthouse square.

Anti-gay extremists who warn that advancement of equality for gays and lesbians mean that their freedoms will be curtailed are not being truthful. They are either woefully ignorant of the Constitution here in the U.S. as well as events abroad, or they are lying. Take your pick.

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.

Sex Education, Swedish Anti-Gay Style

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2008

The Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Tidningen reported a surprising story yesterday. How would you like for your six-year-old kid to receive this for a birthday message?

When Rufus, aged 6, was about to open his birth day present, something unexpected fell out of the box: a “business card” from an anti-gay organization.

Happy Birthday!

For those among us who don’t read Swedish, the card reads:

Homosexuals transmit AIDS when they are licking each others butt holes. What else are they doing? Visit www.amoso.se.

Dislike homosexuality, not the homosexual person.

Little Rufus’ father, Peter Karisson bought the toy at a Toys-R-Us store in Göteborg. It is still unknown how the calling card found its way into the box.

AMOSO is a Swedish acronym for “Exposing myths about sexual orientation,” and is run by Ron Linden (a.k.a. Ronnie Lindén), a Swede living in the US. His web site features all the worst examples of junk science commonly found in extremist anti-gay propaganda, including more evidence of an unhealthy fascination with “rimming” and citations of Paul Cameron’s research. In fact, the English language version reads very much like Paul Cameron’s “Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do” — so much so that Cameron may as well have been Lindén’s protegé. Lindén appears to misquote and misuse many of the same sometimes obscure sources that Cameron misuses, using much of the same language and methods.

Lindén is an ardent supporter of Åke Green, the Swedish Pentecostal preacher who had been convicted of hate speech when he preached against homosexuality in a sermon. That conviction was overturned by the Swedish Supreme Court. Contrary to what many American anti-gay activists claim, Rev. Green was never jailed although he was sentenced by a lower court to serve one month. He remained free throughout his appeals. Sweden does not have an American-style free speech clause in their constitution. Lindén runs a web site supporting Green called akegreen.org

Let’s hope ambushing six-year-olds on their birthday doesn’t become new tactic among anti-gay extremists.

Hat tip and English translations: Tor Billgren.

Church of Sweden Endorses Gay Marriage Law

Timothy Kincaid

December 12th, 2007

chuchsweden.jpg
As we reported earlier, Sweden is committed to converting from its provisions for Civil Unions to gender-less marriage. The Church of Sweden, which represents the faith community of about 80% of the nation’s citizens, had previously decided that they would continue to provide legal officiation of wedding ceremonies if the law changed.

According to The Local, the Church has now announced that it supports the legal change in status

“Marriage and (same-sex) partnerships are equivalent forms of unions. Therefore the Church of Sweden’s central board says yes to the proposal to join the legislation for marriages and partnerships into a single law,” the Church said in a statement.

The church, which has performed blessings of same-sex unions since earlier this year, is in agreement with granting the civil and religious recognition simultaneously. Currently civil unions cannot be conducted in a religious ceremony.

However, it wishes to hold the term “marriage” in reserve for only opposite-sex couples.

Church of Sweden Tentatively Supports Gay Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

October 25th, 2007

sweden.jpg

It is fairly certain that Sweden will soon replace the Registered Partnership laws they have had in place since 1996 with legalized same-sex marriage. If they do so, then gay citizens will have the same rights to church weddings as heterosexuals.

The Church of Sweden is trying to determine their response. Although the church is decidedly pro-gay, some ministers balk at providing same-sex marriages. One option would be to separate the legal officiation of civil wedding from the blessing of couples.

Although the decision is not final and the question is likely to arise again after the law is changed, the Church voted 161 to 74 to retain it’s legal officiating capacity.

Archbishop Anders Wejryd said he expects the issue to resurface if there is a change in the law.

“Those who voted did so on the basis of current legislation. If the law changes, the issue will return,” he said.

But the Archbishop added that he was not unduly worried by the prevailing differences of opinion.

“I think the type of discussion we have had contributes to our cohesiveness. It has been an honest discussion that shows our great willingness to live together within the church. So it doesn’t worry me.