This page contains news for
the period Monday, October 18, 1999 through Sunday, October 24, 1999.
<< October 1999 >>
Sunday, October 24, 1999
teens rebel against strict society in Iran
An article published today in the San Jose
Mercury News reports that many young people in Iran are rebelling against strict rules
forbidding unmarried males and females from kissing, slow dancing, or even holding hands.
Increasingly, even young Iranians who care little about politics are
rebelling against a society whose architect, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, once
proclaimed, "There is no fun in Islam.''
Instead, many Iranian youth are determined to have fun anyway. Their
increasing defiance represents a potent challenge to one of the world's strictest Islamic
More young people in Iran are risking jail, fines and official
beatings for things American youth take for granted, such as wearing makeup, slow dancing
at a party and holding hands on a date.
Riots last summer, which began with college students, showed that
many of Iran's intellectual elite are fed up with hard-liners who stifle dissent and
resist democratic reform. And increasing numbers of ordinary Iranian youth are risking the
wrath of the basiji, the notorious morals police.
Romance between unmarried men and women is illegal in Iran. A couple
can not get a hotel room without producing a marriage license. But young people find ways
to date, even though it is punishable by whipping or worse.
It's also common for Iranian girls and boys to dance together at
parties in private homes, even though the feared basiji have been known to burst in and
arrest everyone on the scene, beating them even before their sentencing.
Friday, October 22, 1999
Law to become law in Nigerian state of Zamfara
A Zenit News story published in EWTN News
today reports that the Islamic Law or "Sharia," will become part of the penal
code of the Nigerian state of Zamfara. The decision was taken a month ago by the Assembly
of this northern region of the Federation, where the majority are Muslims, as opposed to
the south of Nigeria, where the majority are Christians.
The story says that Alhaji Ahmad Sani, the governor of Zamfara, has
requested people to familiarize themselves with the Islamic Code, which will not apply to
Christians -- the governor said, and which establishes the segregation of unmarried men
and unmarried women -- unless blood related, and severe corporal punishment for adultery,
prostitution and theft. Those convicted of theft risk having their hands amputated.
The announcement was met with a wave of protests among Christians,
and the voice of Archbishop John Olufemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, who called on Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo to declare adoption of the "Sharia"
Wednesday, October 20, 1999
Vatican says that
recognition of unmarried couples undermines families
A story published today by ETWN Catholic World
News reports that "A tidal wave against the institution of the family" was how
the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano characterized the recognition of
unmarried couples the previous day by a referendum taken by the Italian region of Latium,
which includes Rome. The referendum included unmarried couples in an economic bill to
assist families in difficulty.
Father Gino Concetti, a moral theologian and editorial writer of the
Vatican daily newspaper, said such an initiative aims to encourage the Italian Parliament
" to imitate the French example which, with PACS, has accorded a legal recognition to
extramarital unions," in a time when bills on the subject are pending in the
parliament. PACS is an acronym for a French plan to give some of the same legal
recognitions and benefits to heterosexual extramarital unions and same-sex couples.
Opponents say it undermines the family and is a first step to legalizing same-sex
It is a question of "a pincer move," said L'Osservatore
Romano, which recalled the votes taken in this same direction in the countries of northern
Europe and in Catalonia.
The newspaper said that although the political community has the
duty to provide assistance to those who may be in poverty, it can not give the same social
security benefits to "two profoundly different realities," that is, the family,
which has a fundamental legal basis and which includes social responsibilities, and
"a form of temporary union" without this legal basis. It would be discrimination
and an injustice to the institution of the family and an incentive to prefer extramarital
unions over marriage, the newspaper said.
It is necessary indeed to find appropriate solutions for those who
live in extramarital unions in precarious economic situations, said Father Concetti, but
they must "absolutely avoid, without any ambiguity, using social and economic
assistance as an excuse for the legal recognition of extramarital unions." He
suggested, for example, giving aid to each person of the unmarried couple, without
agreeing to their status as a couple as such.
Amended laws to recognize
same-sex couples in Ontario, Canada
An article published today in London (Ontario) Free
Press reports that Ontario's Conservative government will introduce and pass legislation
in the coming session of the house to give legal protections to same-sex couples.
The legislation will amend dozens of existing laws that fail to
recognize same-sex couples, Attorney General James Flaherty confirmed yesterday. "Our
intention is to go ahead and introduce a bill so we can comply by Nov. 20," Flaherty
The bill will bring Ontario into line with a Supreme Court of Canada
decision that extends spousal recognition to gay and lesbian couples. Ontario already
grants legal protections to unmarried heterosexual couples. Earlier this year, the court
ruled that it was unconstitutional to protect opposite-sex unmarried partners but not
same-sex couples. It ordered the provincial government to introduce remedial legislation
by November 20.
"There are at least 60 provincial statutes potentially
affected," Flaherty said. "The important thing is that we try to be
comprehensive in our approach. We will have to introduce the bill and have an opportunity
for the members of the legislature to vote by Nov. 20."
Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said his caucus will support the new
bill. The entire Tory caucus voted against a similar bill introduced by the NDP in 1994.
Monday, October 18, 1999
consider super-inclusive domestic partner laws
A story published today in the Ottawa Citizen reports
that the federal government is considering proposals to extend legal protections to all
"relationships of dependency" and not just sexual relationships.
Many federal and provincial laws already give most of the same
benefits of marriage to unmarried heterosexual couples who are living together in a
conjugal relationship. Earlier this year, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the gender
restriction in these laws must be removed so that all unmarried couples, including
same-sex partners, in a conjugal relationship are protected. In response to the ruling,
the federal government and the province of Ontario are preparing new statutes without the
These changes would give protections to any two adults who live
together in a relationship of sexual intimacy but would not protect adults with dependent
or familial relationships that are nonsexual in nature.
The issue of extending protections to all relationships of
dependency, sexual or not, is being studied by the Law Commission of Canada. The
commission is co-sponsoring a conference at Queen's University In Kingston where about 100
participants will examine this proposal.
A recent national survey by Angus Reid, a public opinion firm, found
that 71 percent of Canadians either strongly or somewhat agree that benefits should not be
limited to sexual relationships but should apply to any relationship of dependency in
which people live together.
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