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International News Archive
October 18 - October 24, 1999

 

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This page contains news for the period Monday, October 18, 1999 through Sunday, October 24, 1999.

 

 

 

 

<<   October 1999  >>

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Sunday, October 24, 1999

Modern 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 societies.

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

Islamic 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" unconstitutional.

 

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 marriage.

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 said.

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

Canadians 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 gender restriction.

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.

Click here for the full story.

 

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