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International News Archive
August 01 - August 06, 2000


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This page contains news for the period August 01, 2000 through August 06, 2000.



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Sunday, August 6, 2000

British military may give family housing to unmarried couples

A story published today in the Sunday Times of London reports that unmarried couples could be allocated army accommodation for the first time under reforms being examined by the Ministry of Defense.

Ministers are considering relaxing regulations governing army quarters amid protests from soldiers who say the rules prevent
them from living normal lives.

Currently, army houses are available only to couples who are married, even though co-habitation has become widely accepted in civilian life.

The rules can lead to difficulties when both people in a relationship are soldiers.

For example, Corporal Neil Burnham, a military policeman in Northern Ireland, and his soldier girlfriend were allocated two separate quarters in the same road, even though they have two children.

"This caused amusement among the neighbors as they spotted us traipsing across the road with children, babies and dog in tow," he said.

Burnham and his girlfriend bought their own house off the base
but are now being posted back to the mainland, where they have been told they will again be allocated two quarters, this time not necessarily in the same area.

Lance-Corporal John Donaghue, a dog handler at the same station, called on the army to "get with the programme" after being told that he and his girlfriend were not allowed into each other's rooms. "We are both 26 but the army is saying that the only places we're allowed to meet on camp are in the bar or mess," he said.

Complaints about housing and lack of privacy are believed to be a big factor in the army's acute manpower shortage. Although recruitment has picked up, many more experienced personnel are leaving because of the demands of service life. Defense ministers have admitted that service housing is often far from satisfactory.

Ministry of Defense officials said they were "sympathetic" to the difficulties that the housing regulations often cause. "We support family life but we have to recognize that a family doesn't always involve a marriage," said one.

Married quarters may be now extended to those in a "committed relationship" with children. Officials say, however, that difficulties may arise in defining such a relationship. "We will have to tread carefully because this may cause as much controversy as the current system," said one.

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Australia seeks to curb IVF births by single mothers

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that Australia's conservative government announced yesterday that it wants to stop single women from conceiving children through in vitro fertilization.

Prime Minister John Howard said his government plans to amend federal laws on sex discrimination in an effort to let state governments ban single mothers from receiving the procedure, which involves the fertilization of a woman's egg with sperm in a laboratory.

''This issue involves overwhelmingly, in the opinion of the government, the right of children in our society to have the expectation, other things being equal, of the affection and the care of both a mother and a father,'' Howard said.

The government's decision follows a successful challenge last week to Victorian State laws that banned single women from using in vitro fertilization services. A senior judge ruled that such provincial laws are invalid because they are consistent with Australia's federal Sex Discrimination Act.

That ruling was immediately attacked by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, who said children, whenever possible, should have the love and care of both a father and a mother.

A gay and lesbian rights lobbyist, Kathy Sant, immediately denounced Howard's announcement, seen as a move to stop lesbians from conceiving through in vitro fertilization.

''This government's shown itself to not always be in favor of human rights in general, and it's been quite openly hostile to lesbians and gay men in particular,'' Sant said. ''The reality is that there's a large number of family forms in modern Australia and it's time Mr. Howard ... was willing to see that.''

A story published by Reuters expanded on this hot political issue.

That story reported that politicians in Australia's opposition Labor party and the small but influential Democrats pledged to block the move by using their balance of power in the upper house Senate, where legislative amendments are approved or rejected.

"For women who are single, who desperately do want to have children, I think (IVF) should remain an option,'' Democrats leader Meg Lees said.


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