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Tag Archives: president
Nigerian lawmakers approved Thursday a bill to outlaw gay marriage and crack down on gay rights, including criminalising public displays of affection between same-sex couples.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved the bill which provides for jail terms of up to 14 years for gay marriage.
A bill on gays has already been approved by the Senate but it was not immediately clear if the laws were identical.
If there are no differences between the two, the bill will now go to the president for his approval.
Under the bill, “persons that entered into a same-gender marriage or civil union contract commit an offence and are jointly liable on conviction to a term of 14 years imprisonment each.”
It also says “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes a public show of a same-sex amorous relationship commits an offence and shall be liable to a term of 10 years imprisonment.”
“I no longer feel safe under this law,” said Rashidi Williams, director of Nigeria’s Queer Alliance rights group.
“It has the potential to encourage instigation of violence against gay people and lesbians,” he told AFP.
“Being gay… is a right and that right must be respected and protected by lawmakers and the state.”
It is unclear why lawmakers have made such a ban a priority other than to gain popular support since gay marriage is not known to be prevalent in Nigeria and homosexuals are already harshly discriminated against.
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WASHINGTON (AP) Three U.S. states and three countries have approved same-sex unions just in the two months since the Supreme Court heard arguments over gay marriage, raising questions about how the developments might affect the justices’ consideration of the issue.
In particular, close observers on both sides of the gay marriage divide are wondering whether Justice Anthony Kennedy’s view could be decisive since he often has been the swing vote on the high court.
It is always possible that Justice Kennedy is reading the newspapers and is impressed with the progress,” said Michael Klarman, a Harvard University law professor and author of a recent book on the gay marriage fight.
In earlier cases on gay rights and the death penalty, Kennedy has cited the importance of changing practices, both nationally and around the world.
The court is expected to rule by late June in two cases involving same-sex marriage. One is a challenge to California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The other seeks to strike down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies to legally married same-sex couples a range of benefits that generally are available to married heterosexuals.
The justices took an initial vote in the days after hearing arguments in the two cases in late March. The senior justice on the winning side and the senior justice in dissent assigned opinions based on those votes. But while that first vote is important, it is not the end of the process; justices’ assessments of a case can shift subtly or, in some cases, dramatically.
In 1992, Kennedy initially drew the assignment to write a majority opinion for five justices allowing prayers at public school graduations. In the end, he ended up writing the opinion for a different five-justice majority striking down the graduation prayers. According to several accounts, Kennedy simply changed his mind during the writing process.
Current events also can find their way into opinions. Last year, Justice Antonin Scalia’s fiery dissent from a court ruling that watered down Arizona’s crackdown on immigration included a reference to comments President Barack Obama made at a news conference that took place between the argument in the case in April and the announcement of the decision in June.
There is no way to know at this point whether anything similar will happen in the gay marriage cases, either of which could be decided on technical legal grounds that would say little about the court’s view of the issue. But there has been no shortage of action.
In a 10-day span earlier this month, lawmakers in Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island gave final approval to bills to legalize same-sex marriages. Minnesota was the last of the three to act, on May 13, and when Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law the following day, Minnesota became the 12th state, plus the District of Columbia, to approve same-sex unions. The other nine are: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington.
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DEAD SEA, Jordan, May 27 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a $4 billion plan to rebuild the West Bank economy could be a strong underpinning of a lasting peace with Israel.
At the same time, in a separate speech at the same World Economic Forum, Israeli President Shimon Peres told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas he was Israel’s partner for peace.
Kerry, Peres and Abbas agreed Kerry’s economic proposal would not replace a political solution to the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The truth is that when considering the security of Israelis or Palestinians, the greatest existential threat and the greatest economic threat to both sides is the lack of peace,” Kerry said at the economic forum on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan.
“To not try to head these off would be tragic and it would be irresponsible.”
Kerry said economic experts working with the Middle East Quartet — the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia — had drafted a plan to assemble $4 billion in private-sector investment in the Palestinian Authority.
“It is a plan for the Palestinian economy that is bigger, bolder and more ambitious than anything proposed since Oslo, more than 20 years ago,” Kerry said, referring to secret 1992 Israeli-Palestinian talks in the Norwegian capital that led to the first face-to-face agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization Sept. 13, 1993.
The Oslo I Accord was signed by Abbas for the PLO and Peres for Israel.
Kerry said the “shovel-ready” projects he proposed in such areas as tourism, agriculture and building materials could boost Palestinian gross domestic product 50 percent and cut unemployment two-thirds to 7 percent from 21 percent in three years.
“As long as prospects for economic advancement remain weak, so do the prospects for peace and stability,” he said.
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PARIS (AP) Tens of thousands of people protested against France’s new gay marriage law in central Paris on Sunday.
The law came into force over a week ago, but organizers decided to go ahead with the long-planned demonstration to show their continued opposition as well as their frustration with President Francois Hollande, who had made legalizing gay marriage one of his keynote campaign pledges in last year’s election.
Marchers set off from three separate points across Paris, and by early evening they filled the Invalides esplanade just across the Seine River from the Champs Elysees.
Police estimated around 150,000 people took part in the demonstration, but march organizers claimed on their Twitter account that more than a million people did.
A similar protest in March dew about 300,000.
Around 5,000 police were on duty Sunday because previous anti-gay marriage protests have seen clashes between far-right protesters and the police.
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When French President Franois Hollande set out to legalize gay marriage, he faced an unexpectedly virulent outcry. Protests, including one that was the largest of its kind in 30 years, drew religious leaders, conservatives fighting for the preservation of family values, and those simply looking for a way to express their discontent with the president.
There were attacks at gay bars and clashes between protesters and police. One image, of a man whod been beaten up while walking with his partner on the streets of Paris, went viral when it was posted on Facebook as the Face of Homophobia.
Now that gay marriage has become law President Hollande signed the act last weekend and the nations first gay marriage is expected to take place later this month has the violent debate reached new levels of drama?
On Tuesday afternoon, just days ahead of major protests against gay marriage scheduled for May 26, a far-right French historian walked into Pariss famed Notre Dame Cathedral, reportedly walked up to the altar, and turned a gun on himself. He pulled the trigger in front of approximately 1,500 tourists.
It is unclear what exactly his motive was. He is said to have left a letter at the scene that has not yet been made public. But the words and statements that have emerged since yesterdays event point to a planned and public condemnation of gay marriage, immigration, and other topics considered by the far right as a threat to French society.
On his personal blog the historian, Dominique Venner, condemned the vile gay marriage law, in a piece dated May 21, the day of his suicide. He called on protesters planning to amass on May 26 not to limit their discontent to just the law but against the peril of immigration to France from North Africa.
In what may have been a reference to his impending suicide, he wrote: “There will certainly need to be new, spectacular, symbolic gestures to shake off the sleepiness … and re-awaken the memories of our origins.”
Hours after the suicide, a message apparently written by Mr. Venner was read by a friend on a conservative radio station: “I believe it is necessary to sacrifice myself to break with the lethargy that is overwhelming us,” the friend read on the air. “I am killing myself to awaken slumbering consciences.”
Frances far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has risen in polls, wrote in a tweet Tuesday of her respect for Venner, calling his suicide “eminently political.”
Notre Dame the symbol of French Catholicism was quickly evacuated. The cathedral this year marks 850 years since construction began but commemorative events celebrating the anniversary will likely be overshadowed, in history, by Venners action.
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18 May 2013 Last updated at 04:24 ET
France’s president has signed into law a controversial bill making the country the ninth in Europe, and 14th globally, to legalise gay marriage.
On Friday, the Constitutional Council rejected a challenge by the right-wing opposition, clearing the way for Francois Hollande to sign the bill.
He said: “I have taken [the decision]; now it is time to respect the law of the Republic.”
The first gay wedding could be held 10 days after the bill’s signing.
But Parliamentary Relations Minister Alain Vidalies told French TV he expected the first ceremonies to take place “before 1 July”.
Gay groups in France are delighted that the marriage bill has finally become law. They say there are thousands of couples waiting to get married, and thousands of children being brought up in gay households who will now have the full protection of the law.
Opponents are angry and frustrated. They think President Hollande has made gay marriage a personal obsession, because he’s failed to make progress on other more pressing issues – like the economy. There’s also irritation that the Constitutional Council cleared the text on 17 May – which happens to be World Day Against Homophobia. It suggests, opponents say, that social pressure formed part of the sages’ considerations.
Another anti-gay marriage demonstration is planned for 26 May. It could easily be another monster-manif, like the ones earlier this year. This is because opposition to gay marriage has become conflated with all sorts of other anti-government grievances coming from the right. And the atmosphere in the country is particularly volatile.
But in reality the battle is over. Gay weddings will now begin to be held in France. Some on the right will promise a repeal if they get elected, but experience shows that reversing this kind of social change is extremely hard.
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There had been reports that Israels Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to an American request to freeze construction in the West Bank. Photograph: Reuters
Palestinians have accused Israel of jeopardising attempts to restart peace talks after Israel announced plans to build almost 300 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
The decision by Israels civil administration, the military body that runs day to day affairs in Israeli-controlled parts of the West Bank, came despite reports in recent days that prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu had agreed to an American request to freeze construction in order to encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
An adviser to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli move undermined hopes of a two-state solution. It shows that Israel does not care about the international community or President Obamas visit and the message that settlements are destructive to peace efforts, said Sabri Saidam. Israel is determined to kill the geography on which any Palestinian state can come into being.
[CF413]Placating settlers [/CF413]Last year 30 settler families were forced to leave their homes in the Ulpana neighbourhood of Beit El after the Israeli high court ruled that the area was privately owned Palestinian land. To placate the settlers the government agreed to a massive construction programme for Beit El, and yesterdays green light for 296 new homes marks the first stage of that programme.
US secretary of state John Kerry is due to return to the region later this month with a package of proposals aimed at getting Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace talks which broke off in 2010.
Palestinians have long insisted on a West Bank settlement freeze as a precondition for the resumption of talks. Mr Netanyahu opposes such a policy, but there have been indications in recent weeks that he would be willing to put construction on hold, without a public declaration to this effect.
Meanwhile, the Israeli human rights organisation BTselem has concluded that most Palestinians killed during the second Gaza war last November were civilians not involved in fighting. A comprehensive report issued yesterday determined that during the eight days of fighting 167 Palestinians were killed, of whom 69 were combatants. Eleven of the fatalities could not be identified as combatant or civilian. BTselem concluded that Israeli forces acted contrary to the laws of war, but the army said there was no justification for criminal investigations.
In a separate development, Cambridge university spokesman Tim Holt has confirmed that renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking did in fact decide to cancel his participation in next months presidents conference in Jerusalem due to the Israel boycott. Mr Holt had earlier released a statement claiming Mr Hawking decided not to travel for health reasons.
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