Global Briefs: Eating Out, Standing Up

Aussie PM hears from gay couples, while Sweden takes a step for transgender citizens


Prime Minister’s Down Under dinner date with gay families

Three Australian same-sex couples on Tuesday, Feb. 21, had a unique opportunity to lobby Prime Minister Julia Gillard about marriage equality during a private dinner, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Gillard, leader of the country’s Labor Party, opposes same-sex marriage.

”I don’t know really why I am here,” said Matthew Miller, 12, the son of one of the lesbian couples at the dinner, and also an attendee. ”To me, it is simple and this argument should have been settled long ago. People should be allowed to marry the person they love and to be accepted by all society.”

Miller’s parents are Sandy Miller and Louise Bucke, who also brought their 9-year-old son, Dylan. The other couples dining with the prime minister were Sharon Dane and Elaine Crump, and John Dini and Steve Russell. Australia’s Gay News Network reported that the dinner was won by the groups GetUp! and Australia Marriage Equality in a 2011 charity bid.

The guests said Gillard, regardless of her particular position, told them she believed marriage equality was inevitable in Australia.

”The prime minister made the point that the more countries that embrace this reform, the clearer it becomes that this is a reform whose time has come,” said Bucke and Miller, GNN reported.

The GNN report also included a statement attributed to Crump and Dane: ”Although she said she opposed marriage equality, we were given hope that her opposition was not immovable.”

Christian Democrats drop opposition to transgender sterilization requirement

AllOut.org, a global LGBT-equality group, reported Feb. 18 that the Sweden’s Christian Democrats party, a member of the country’s governing coalition, are no longer backing sterilization as a requirement of gender transitioning, removing the only substantial obstacle to changing the law.

A press release from AllOut.org quoted the party from ”an opinion piece … published in the Swedish press”: ”It’s time to abolish the requirement for sterilization at sex change.”

The release also quoted the group’s executive director, Andre Banks, who said, ”Swedish activists have worked for years to lay the foundation for this victory and I am so proud that AllOut.org could build the international momentum that finally pushed Prime Minister Reinfeldt and party leaders to end this cruel practice. It’s a victory for Sweden, but it is also decisive for Europe. AllOut.org members across the continent will continue to push online and in Parliament until each of these appalling laws are thrown out with the trash.”

Members of AllOut.org presented Reinfeldt’s representatives with nearly 50,000 petition signatures in opposition to the sterilization law Feb. 14.

The AllOut.org release also cites a 2011 Council of Europe document listing 29 European countries with the sterilization requirement for gender transitioning.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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