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