NewsThu Apr 3, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Flurry of Homosexual Activism Across Europe
By John Connolly
April 3, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - This week has seen the success of much homosexual activism around Europe, the traditional center of the Christian West. From the Greek Orthodox Church’s internal turmoil in the face of a possible same-sex union provision to Finland’s appointment of a homosexual lobbyist as foreign minister, there have been many victories scored for homosexual activists who want to remove the family and place homosexuality on the same level as traditional marriage.
Finland appointed a homosexual lobbyist as its new foreign minister on April 1, replacing former minister Ilkka Kanerva.
Alexander Stubb, who served as a Member of European Parliament for Finland, was chosen to replace Kanerva following a scandal in which the media revealed over 200 sexually suggestive text messages Kanerva sent to a stripper.
Stubb, who turned 40 the day he was nominated for the position of foreign minister by Finland’s National Coalition Party, Kokoomus, has served as a MEP since 2004. He is the vice-president of the European Parliament’s Gay and Lesbian rights intergroup, a lobbyist body that ensures the goals of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals are implemented in the decisions made by EU institutions.
"The intergroup is thrilled for Alexander and sends him our warmest greetings," said British MEP Michael Cashman, President of the intergroup. "It has been a great pleasure working with Alexander. Finland has made a great choice."
Stubb will be sworn in on April 4.
The Greek Ministry of Justice is contemplating adopting a plan to provide for same-sex civil unions, announcing a plan on March 30 to establish a working group on the rights of same-sex couples living together.
The group would "analyze all aspects of the issue, international practice and the existing domestic legal and social framework," the Justice Ministry said in an announcement.
The 13 bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church’s standing committee on Monday said the proposed civil union law would be "catastrophic bomb" lodged in the foundations of Greek society by undermining marriage and family life. But the newly elected Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All-Greece has taken a stance much more tolerant of the measure.
"The members of the Church follow the dictates of the Bible, the rules of the Church, the order of the ecumenical synods and the holy tradition," said the Archbishop of Greece in a statement released after the meeting with the justice minister, according to the Athens newspaper Kathimerini. "As a result, there are clear limits and in respect to this matter, the Church does not have the right to ask for it to be watered down or to have any other request granted."
Minister of Justice Sotiris Hatzigakis told Ieronymos on March 13 that the government plans to allow unmarried couples to register their unions with civil notaries, making the union equal with marriage in the eyes of the state. The law would not extend to same-sex couples. However, Greek law does not define the requisite gender of bride and groom in civil unions, and several same-sex couples are planning on taking advantage of that fact in the coming weeks. Most notable among these is a Greek lesbian couple who announced plans to become Greece’s first same-sex civil union couple on March 13.
Following the provisions of the Equality Act of 2006, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has awarded grants to gay and lesbian groups among the 286 beneficiaries of the EHRC’s first round of grants.
The gay and lesbian recipients of the grants include Stonewall, the Bristol Lesbian Gay Bisexual Forum, the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Voluntary and Community Organisations and The Lesbian and Gay Foundation.
The EHRC awarded more than £10 million to the various organizations, and said in a press release on its website that it awards grants to those organizations that are concerned with promoting equality and diversity, good relations and human rights. The release also announced a Capacity Development Program that will "plug the gaps in funding and service provision particularly in less well established areas of work relating to age, sexual orientation, religion and human rights."
"This is about helping those organizations that make a real difference at local level," said Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive of the EHRC. "They have both the knowledge and expertise to bring real benefits to their local communities. Through our unique grants program we can help ensure this good work continues. Support for these organizations is critical if we are to succeed in extending equality and fairness to all people in Britain."
See the full list of successful grant and funding applicants 2008/2009 for the Equality and Human Rights Commission:
Ireland’s plans to allow for same-sex civil unions will fall far short of demands made by gay and lesbian lobbyists, reported the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday.
The Irish government is reportedly finalizing a Civil Partnership Bill that will grant many of the benefits of marriage to same-sex civil unions, including tax breaks, pension eligibility, and property and welfare benefits. But the lobbyists insist on the legal equivalence of full marriage rights, especially the right to adopt children, something the Irish government has not yet been willing to grant homosexual couples.
"While any legislation in this area is welcome, if these reports are true, it is of great concern that gay and lesbian people will continue not to have the same rights as heterosexual couples," said Grainne Healy of homosexual lobbyist group MarriagEquality to The Irish Times. "We will reserve judgment on the scheme until we have a chance to analyze in detail what the government is proposing, but we are adamant that the only way to achieve equality for gay and lesbian people is to allow them to marry in a civil registry office."
The Irish government has been unwilling to grant same-sex unions technical marriage status; it would require a change to the Irish constitution.
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