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International News Archive
September 20 - September 26, 1999

 

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This page contains news for the period Monday, September 20, 1999 through Sunday, September 26, 1999.

 

 

 

<<   September 1999  >>

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Thursday, September 23, 1999

United Kingdom Lawyer Group Strongly Supports Domestic Partnership

According to a story published today by Planet Out, Britain's Law Society has overwhelmingly approved a proposal for legal recognition of unmarried couples, treating heterosexual and same-gender couples equally. The endorsement came from the 70,000-member professional organization of British and Welsh solicitors.

The proposal will be forwarded to the government's Law Commission, which has already been reviewing property rights of unmarried couples and is expected to publish its own paper shortly. The Law Society's recommendations state that, "Cohabitation and marriage are very different things," but they are intended to recognize that about one-fourth of Britain's unmarried adults under age 50 now live in domestic partnerships.

The Law Society proposes that a couple should be together for some period of time, for example two or three years, before gaining legal standing. It also proposes making cohabitation contracts legally enforceable. Most of the proposals have to do with property rights, but it's also recommended that a child be able to inherit British nationality from either of its parents even if they are unmarried.

Under current law, domestic partners have no entitlement in event of dissolution except to whatever property each may have brought into the relationship. It's proposed that they should be able to apply for a lump sum or for support payments ending after a prescribed period of time. Also if one partner dies without a will, the other could apply for support. In addition, partners would have pension rights. They would also be allowed either to take out an insurance policy on the partner's life or, to benefit the partner, on their own lives.

Survey: Which Teens Have The Most Sex?

According to a Reuters wire story published in Simpatico Express today, an international survey of teenagers revealed that British youth are the most sexually active in the world, while young adults in Singapore had the least sex in a year. The survey on 16-21 year olds in 15 countries was conducted by a top British condom manufacturer.

"This provides an interesting contrast with previous surveys, which have rated the French as the most romantic nation and the best lovers,'' the survey said.

The survey found that American youth started sex at the lowest age and had the highest number of sexual partners at an average of 7.5 partners.

Young adults in the United Kingdom had sex the most frequently at 133 times a year, closely followed by the Americans at 128 times a year. Singaporeans had the least sex at 63 times a year. Young people in France, a winner in the frequency category in previous surveys reportedly had sex 99 times per year on average.

 

Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Unmarried women arrested in Kuwait for going to parties

According to a story released by Reuters today, police in Kuwaiti have arrested more than 100 women in a major clampdown on parties where unmarried men and women mix and mingle.

"They stop us (women) at night (at police checkpoints) and check where we were, if we were drinking, who we were with ... Some of my friends have been arrested after coming out of a party," a Kuwaiti woman told the news reporter.

The police operation in this conservative Moslem Gulf Arab state started a few weeks ago. Newspapers have reported that as many 150 women, mainly of Arab nationalities, have been arrested.

 

Monday, September 20, 1999

Law Society in England to propose new protections for cohabiting couples

According to a story that appeared today in the London Times, new legal rights for cohabitants will be called for this week in a package of controversial reforms aimed at boosting the legal status of all unmarried couples - whether gay or heterosexual.

The Law Society, the professional body for 70,000 lawyers in England and Wales, will be asked to approve proposals to provide new legal rights for all couples who live together.

If, as expected, the report is adopted, the backing of the Law Society, as one of the main legal professional bodies, will boost the prospects that unmarried couples will soon have a new legal status stopping short of marriage.

Under the proposals, unmarried couples would get the right to apply for support and property distribution, pension-sharing and inheritance and life insurance. It would also mean that cohabitation contracts would be legally enforceable.

The report, which the Law Society sought to keep confidential until its debate on September 22, emphasizes that cohabitants should not be put on a legal par with married couples.

"Cohabitation and marriage are very different things," it adds. But it says that the law is unfair and flawed, and that, irrespective of the moral position about the growing number of cohabiting couples, solicitors need "pragmatic" tools to deal with their problems. It concludes that the reforms should apply equally to same-sex couples as well. "It is wrong to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, and difficult to draw a logical basis between different types of cohabitation."

The report will form the basis of Law Society proposals to the Law Commission, the Government's law reform body, which is looking at property laws affecting cohabitees. However, the Law Society's proposals - along with similar recommendations earlier this year from the Solicitors' Family Law Association (SFLA) - go far wider than property rights.

One of the primary recommendations is that cohabitees should be able to apply for support and property distribution when they split up, but under stricter criteria than that applying to married couples.

Other proposals recommend that cohabitation contracts should be enforceable at law; that unmarried couples should be able to benefit from pension ear-marking and pension-sharing (when those provisions take effect), and that gay couples should have the same succession rights as heterosexual couples and be able to benefit if one partner dies intestate.

Changes to nationality and the immigration laws are also suggested, so that a child can inherit British nationality through either parent, regardless of whether or not the parents are married.

The report observes that cohabitation is on the increase and refers to government figures showing that in 1999 about 25 percent of unmarried men and women between the ages of 6 and 49 were cohabiting and that a third of all births were to unmarried mothers, compared with 5 percent in 1960.

The report seeks to change one of the biggest defects in present law which can leave an unmarried partner with nothing after years of living together.

The report proposes that in order for these new protections to apply, unmarried couples should have lived together for a set time, say two or three years - as the Solicitors' Family Law Association recommended.

 

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