May 20, 2000
Toronto asks court to rule on same-sex marriage licenses
A story published
today in the Toronto Star reports that the City of Toronto is asking the courts to rule on
whether it can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The city initially
rejected the marriage license application of Michael Leshner and Michael Stark, but
decided to put the matter on hold pending a court ruling.
needed in light of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada case that gave same-sex couples the
same rights as heterosexual common-law couples, said Paul Jones, the city's legislative
court's interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it's no longer clear to us
that we should be denying the issuance of a marriage license,'' Jones said yesterday.
It is likely that the
federal government, and possibly the provincial government, will appear in court and make
Ottawa's view is that
marriage is defined as the lawful union of one man and one woman, said Wendy Sailman, a
spokesperson for the federal department of justice.
The Supreme Court
case, known as M.v.H., said laws that treat unmarried opposite-sex relationships
differently from unmarried same-sex relationships were unconstitutional.
The ruling, in May,
1999, forced Ontario to amend 67 laws to extend rights to same-sex couples because those
rights had been given to unmarried heterosexual couples, known in Canada as common law
However, there remain
certain property and inheritance rights that are available only to married couples.
May 18, 2000
Japanese cities to certify singleness of matchmaking service clients
An story published today by The Yomiuri
Shimbun reports that a new system has been introduced in municipalities in Japan to
officially certify the single status of people seeking to use matchmaking services,
International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) officials said Wednesday.
The ministry notified
about 3,000 such services nationwide of the move on May 11, and provided them with sample
documents to be used when submitting applications for registering single men and single
women with municipal governments, the officials said.
services currently ask prospective clients to provide official certificates verifying that
they are unmarried. The services say they
require such official certificates to prevent bigamous marriages.
The new system is seen
as an unprecedented solution to this bureaucratic dilemma.
Under the new system,
applicants file documents prepared by matchmaking companies with municipal governments,
who then issue them with the certificates. The mayor officially guarantees the single
status of the applicant, assuring that any marriage involving the latter is lawful.
required to enter details such as their address and the name of the head of their family
on documents to be submitted to the municipal government. Such details, however, are not
included on the certificates issued by the municipal governments, the officials said.
have been in use in several municipalities, including Osaka and Kyoto, but many other
local governments use official copies of family registers instead of certificates, leading
to concerns that unnecessary personal information is being revealed, the officials said.
MITI decided to set up
the new system after the Justice Ministry said last month that issuing such certificates
would not unduly hinder administrative procedures.
will only issue certificates to people applying through matchmaking services. Certificates
will not be issued to anyone other than the applicant, and they will only be issued for
the purpose of being submitted to a matchmaking service, officials said.
May 17, 2000
Canadian women engaging in unsafe sex
A story published today by Canadian Press
reports that women of all ages - not just teenagers practice unsafe sex and don't
consistently protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies.
The story is based on The 1998 Canadian
Contraception Study, published today in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. It is the largest and most comprehensive look at
the contraceptive use and sexual activities of Canadian women.
The study, which surveyed nearly 1,600
women between ages 15 and 44, turns the tables on some myths about reckless sex: It
appears people of all ages are guilty.
Of all the women studied, 28 per cent
used oral contraceptives and 21 per cent used condoms, by far the two most popular contraceptive choices. But
sterilization accounted for almost 24 per cent of the sample - 10 per cent of women had
had their tubes tied, and another nearly 14 per cent were with partners who had had
A full six per cent of the sample said
they used no contraception at all, and another six per cent only protected themselves
using the method of early withdrawal. The other 13 per cent said they were not sexually
Overall, 28 per cent of those studied
reported they have had an unwanted pregnancy.
Today's research also shows there's a
high level of risk-taking when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, 12 per
cent of respondents in the sample said they had been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted
disease - with chlamydia and human papilloma virus the most common among them.
The numbers on condom use may reveal why:
Less than 20 per cent of the women who reported being sexually active in the six months
prior to the survey always used condoms.
And among the unmarried women in the
sample, the proportion of those who always used a condom was highest among the 15- to
17-year-olds (40 per cent) while it was lowest among the unmarried 40- to 44-year-olds (15
"There's a lot of disturbing
information that women over 35 are still involved in high-risk sexual behavior," said
Richard Boroditsky, a Winnipeg gynecologist and author of the study.
"I have a patient in my practice
that I have known for years who came in HIV-positive. She had her tubes tied, she's in her
mid-40s and nobody discussed safe sex with her."
Andre Lalonde, executive vice-president
of the Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, said today's study highlights a need
for better education about contraception among women of all ages. And, he said, doctors
need more education on sexuality issues.
Declining numbers of never-married older women in Britain
A story published today by the London
Times reports that so-called "spinsters" are a dwindling band, according to
population figures released by the Government yesterday.
The number of never-married women
entering old age has slumped to a record low. Only 6 per cent of women over 65 have never
been married, compared with more than 10 per cent in 1980.
A profile of the elderly by the Office of
National Statistics showed that 44 per cent of women in this age group were married
compared with 38 per cent 20 years ago.
The remaining 18 per cent were women who
are widowed, divorced or separated, said the report on lifestyles of the over-65s living
in private households, that is, not in old people's homes.
More than half lived with a spouse or
partner, a third retained their independence and lived alone and the rest lived with their
families or other people.
The figures, taken from population
surveys up to March 1999, are part of the much wider Household Survey by the Government
over that period, which questioned more than 3,000 over-65s.
The story says that the original meaning of "spinster" was
a woman whose occupation was spinning. In law it came to mean any
woman who was unmarried, so any young maiden whose banns were called might be
referred to as "spinster of this parish".
May 16, 2000
Unmarried households on the
rise in Cuba
A story released today by EFE via COMTEX reports that although most Cuban adults want to
live in couples, they do not necessarily want to marry, according to a study by the
University of Havana's Center for Demographic Studies (CEDEM).
An article published in the weekly
Juventud Rebelde said that a nationwide poll conducted in 1995 revealed that 39.9 percent
of Cubans were married and another 24.1 percent were living in a conjugal relationship
without benefit of marriage.
In Havana, the poll conducted by CEDEM
sociologist Jose Luis Abreu showed 59.6 percent of respondents had lived at least six
years with a person of the opposite sex, but only 48.2 percent were married.
Abreu said he was surprised by the
increase in the number of unmarried couples living together.
But, he underscored, between 1981, the
year of the most recent census, and 1995, the proportion of people living together with or
without benefit of marriage increased, to 64 percent of the total population.
In Havana, unmarried cohabitation
increased 14 percent, while marriages increased only 5 percent.
Younger people, especially between the
ages of 15 and 19, are more likely to opt for cohabitation.
Teenagers consider cohabitation "more than going together, less than
marriage," and offer as the principal reasons for not tying the knot the lack of
money with which to pay for a wedding and not having a place of their own to live.
Housing shortages have dissuaded many
couples from marrying. Those that do marry often have no choice but to live with
relatives, an arrangement that contributes to separation, Abreu said.
Level of education correlates with
marital status, as 60.6 percent of professionals in the Havana study were married,
including many who had lived together while they were students.
In addition, the study found that in 1996
a full 35 percent of households were headed by single women, an increase over the census
Single members of Parliament get new
perk in India
A story published today in the South China Morning
Post reports that live-in companions of Indian members of parliament are now entitled to
travel with the legislators at government expense.
Formerly, MPs were entitled to travel only with their wives or
husbands. but under the new rules, MPs are now free to take the partner of their choice
when flying executive class or when traveling by train in first class on official
The story says the rules were amended last week following
representations to the Speaker by several unmarried MPs and ministers.
More than 30 MPs are single by choice or are widowed. Topping the
list are: Bachelor Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee; Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi,
widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi; and Defense Minister George Fernandes, who
divorced his wife a few years ago.
According to the new rule, "an MP without a spouse may be
accompanied by any person in place of the spouse".
Speaker G. M. C. Balayogi said the amendment, which has been
criticized in some quarters, was necessary to remove an anomaly that discriminated against