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International News Archive
January 24 - January 31, 2000

 

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This page contains news for the period Monday, January 24, 2000 through Monday, January 31, 2000.

 

 

 

 

<<   January 2000  >>

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Sunday, January 30, 2000


Law makes Egyptian divorce easier

According to a story published today by the Associated Press, a 32-year-old housewife became the first woman to file for divorce under a new law that makes it easier for Egyptian women to leave their husbands.

Wafa Mosaad Gabr had been trying to end her marriage for three years. She had filed for divorce because she simply didn't want to live with her husband, a 38-year old farmer.

The new law, which had faced strong opposition in male-dominated and overwhelmingly Muslim Egypt, was passed by the country's People's Assembly Wednesday night and approved by President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday.

Although the new statute makes it easier for women to obtain a divorce, the process remains more difficult for women than it is for men. Islamic law gives men the right to divorce their wives anytime and without the approval of a court or any other authority.

Under the old law, women had to prove that physical or psychological harm was caused by husbands to obtain a divorce.

Now, women must only declare before a court that they want a divorce. Judges will give the couple three months to attempt to reconcile and six months if they have children. An immediate divorce will be granted at the end of the trial period if they don't change their minds.

Under the new law, women who divorce their husbands must return their dowries and relinquish all financial claims, including alimony.

If Gabr gets her divorce, she will return the equivalent of $30, which her husband paid as a dowry. But for her three children, she would still get child support payments, which are not affected under the new law.

 

Saturday, January 29, 2000

Law makes Egyptian divorce easier

According to a story published today by the Associated Press, a 32-year-old housewife became the first woman to file for divorce under a new law that makes it easier for Egyptian women to leave their husbands.

Wafa Mosaad Gabr had been trying to end her marriage for three years. She had filed for divorce because she simply didn't want to live with her husband, a 38_year old farmer.

The new law, which had faced strong opposition in male-dominated and overwhelmingly Muslim Egypt, was passed by the country's People's Assembly Wednesday night and approved by President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday.

Although the new statute makes it easier for women to obtain a divorce, the process remains more difficult for women than it is for men. Islamic law gives men the right to divorce their wives anytime and without the approval of a court or any other authority.

Under the old law, women had to prove that physical or psychological harm was caused by husbands to obtain a divorce.

Now, women must only declare before a court that they want a divorce. Judges will give the couple three months to attempt to reconcile and six months if they have children. An immediate divorce will be granted at the end of the trial period if they don't change their minds.

Under the new law, women who divorce their husbands must return their dowries and relinquish all financial claims, including alimony.

If Gabr gets her divorce, she will return the equivalent of $30, which her husband paid as a dowry. But for her three children, she would still get child support payments, which are not affected under the new law.

 

Thursday, January 27, 2000

Same-sex couples gaining more legal protections in Canada

A story released by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service and published today in Inside Denver reports that gay and lesbian couples in Canada are being included in many legal protections previously reserved for married couples or unmarried heterosexual partners.

No nation in the world recognizes same-sex marriages, or grants same-sex couples the range of rights, benefits and responsibility that come with civil marriage. But Canada comes as close as any.

Many changes have come in the past few years, and British Columbia has been at the forefront. It recently became the first province to grant same-sex couples equal inheritance rights and other benefits relating to wills and estates. Gay and lesbian couples also are treated equally when it comes to pensions, medical decisions and adoptions.

The story says that when the public school board in the suburb of Surrey passed resolutions banning three books depicting same-sex families, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled the resolutions were based on religious and moral precepts and violated the B.C. Schools Act.

In Canada, gay activists have purposely avoided the political battle over marriage and focused on other legal and economic issues. Indeed, marriage was not an issue last May, when the Supreme Court of Canada declared same-sex couples must be considered "spouses."

While not clearing the way for same-sex marriages, the court ruled a wealthy lesbian should pay alimony to her former partner and cited a 1978 law that expanded the definition of spouse to common-law heterosexual relationships. In effect, the court ruled that homosexual relationships were common-law relationships -- a ruling that has accelerated changes in both federal and provincial laws.

"We argued the case had nothing to do with marriage," said Toronto attorney Martha McCarthy, who represented the plaintiff. "That made it easier for the court to avoid the issue and deal only with other issues."

The story observes that beginning in the 1970s, gay and lesbian activists in Canada plotted their strategy using the framework provided by the civil rights movement in the United States.

John Fischer, executive director of Ottawa-based Equality For Gays and Lesbians Everywhere, said activists have succeeded in Canada "because we have a live-and-let-live society."

The story says that a poll taken last year by the Toronto Globe and Mail found that 80 percent of Canadians believe in individual gay rights and more than half would approve of gay marriages.

Fischer said there's another big reason gay and lesbian rights have flourished in Canada: "We don't have a well-financed religious opposition like there is in the United States."

Barbara Findlay, a lesbian attorney, said Canada's liberal courts have played a larger role than legislators in expanding gay rights. Canadian judges are appointed and thus shielded from political repercussions.

"Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires federal and provincial laws to be interpreted and applied in a way that everyone is equal before the law," Findlay said. "And our courts have regularly read corrective changes into the law where sexual orientation is not spelled out."

The story says that in Canada only the federal government has the power to decide who can marry. And there seems to be no hurry to open up the institution to homosexual couples.

Peter Cook tried to get a marriage license in British Columbia a year ago to marry his partner of 29 years, but was turned down. His motives, he acknowledged, were more symbolic than legal. "Sure, there's some tax and other benefits that we're still denied," said Cook, a South African who has also lived with his partner in England. "But this is still the best place that I've lived to be gay."

 

Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Bishops offer new plan on remarriage for divorced Anglicans

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the Church of England took a step Tuesday toward approving remarriage for divorced people.

Recommendations published by a group of bishops, if adopted by the church's governing General Synod in 2002, could make it easier for Prince Charles to contemplate marriage to his longtime love, Camilla Parker Bowles.

The story says the church's main concern is dealing with the realities of a nation with a divorce rate of nearly 40% -- one of the highest in Europe. Roughly one-third of Anglican priests already remarry divorced people, and the church says 10% of its marriages involve people who have been divorced.

Among the terms of the new plan: divorced people should be honest about the reasons for the failure of their previous marriage, adequate provision should be made for supporting children, the new relationship should not be the cause of the previous marriage's breakup, and "a reasonable time" should have passed since the divorce.

Bishops are also recommending that remarriage should normally not be permitted for people who have been involved in more than one divorce.

 

Monday, January 24, 2000

Urban divorces on the rise in India

A story published today in the Times of India reports that divorce seems to be the latest "trend" among urbanites in India. Over the last two decades, the divorce rate in the nation's cities has skyrocketed.

A ten year survey published by The Family Court Bar Association, Mumbai suggests that nearly 5,000 divorce petitions are filed in Mumbai Family Court per year. This figure, if divided by an average of 260 working days per year, indicates that nearly 20 married couples in the city decide to end their nuptial ties, per day.

Pratibha Gheewala, the principal marriage counsellor at Family Court said that nearly two decades ago divorce was considered to be a "stigma" on the woman, although now it is often considered a "solution."

Before the Family Court came into existence, Gheewala recollected, that when the judge pronounced the decree of divorce, the woman litigant used to virtually cry in the court. The reason for this being that at the time divorce was considered to be more than just an ending of marital ties, but it also amounted to severing the ties and attachment between two families. However, today, when the decree of divorce is pronounced, the couples really heave a sigh of relief, Gheewala observed.

When asked about the high rate of divorce these days, she replied that couples are impatient and have different values and expectations from the marriage, often resulting in divorce.

Mrunalini Deshmukh, who specialises in divorce matters, felt that in today's world marriages last for about three-to-five years, and it is the younger couples on the happier side of their thirties who are invariably found rushing to court seeking a divorce.

 

New French PACs law fairly popular with heterosexual couples

An article published today by Planet Out reports that during the last six weeks of 1999 some 6,211 unmarried couples in France had registered for the new Pacts of Civil Solidarity (PACS), which confer some of the legal benefits of marriage including the right to file joint tax forms.

Because of privacy protections, the figures collected by the Ministry of Justice from some 470 magistrates courts around the country do not distinguish between heterosexual and same-gender couples. However, the lobby group known as "PACS Collective" estimated that about 25% of the registered couples in Paris and up to 60% of those in the suburbs are heterosexuals.


Belgian cohabitation law criticized by the Vatican

A story published today by Planet Out reports that Belgium's first couples were able to register their Statutory Cohabitation on January 4, 2000. The law allows two unmarried adults -- whether same-sex or opposite-sex, including blood relatives -- to form a contract regarding property and living arrangements which they can register with a local government and which the courts will enforce if the parties dissolve the relationship.

The new law was criticized just a few days later in the Vatican's "L'Osservatore Romano" newspaper. Although the Statutory Cohabitation disappointed many gay rights activists as being little more than ceremonial in effect, theologian Father Gino Concetti condemned it as an unjustifiable "concession to deviancy" and a "dangerous and perverse" policy tending to create "a society that is atomized and disintegrating."

 

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