Same-Sex Marriage Worldwide: 2014 Update

As 2014 winds down, it’s worth taking a look back at the progress the global LGBT movement has made on the same-sex marriage issue this year. While 2014 didn’t see as significant growth in same-sex marriage jurisdictions as 2013 did (when France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, England and Wales, and seven US states legalized it), the movement gained huge momentum in the US, while a handful of other countries also legalized it. Here’s the new equal marriage map:

World_marriage-equality_laws.svg

Dark Blue = Full marriage equality
Turquoise = Marriages performed elsewhere are recognized equally, but same-sex marriages are not performed
Light Blue = Civil unions or other partnerships are legal
Yellow = Equal marriage required by legislative or court action, not yet in effect (ignore Thailand, that’s a mistake)

And this is the updated population chart:

Populations of Countries with Same-Sex Marriage
Argentina 41,660,417
Belgium 11,180,320
Brazil 201,032,714
Canada 35,295,770
Denmark 5,623,501
Finland (effective March 2017) 5,448,025
France 66,417,590
Iceland 325,010
Luxembourg (effective Jan 1, 2015) 537,000
Netherlands 16,810,900
    Carribean Netherlands 23,296
New Zealand 4,502,060
Norway 5,096,300
Portugal 10,562,178
South Africa 52,981,991
Spain 46,704,314
Sweden 9,633,490
Uruguay 3,286,314
TOTAL 517,121,190
States that Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed Elsewhere
Aruba   101,484  
Curacao   150,563
Israel 8,107,000
Mexico (marriages performed in Mexico City, Quintana Roo, Coahuila, others case-by-case) 118,395,054
Missouri   6,044,171  
Sint Maarten   37,429
TOTAL 132,835,701
Subnational Jurisdictions with Same-Sex Marriage
United Kingdom 61,389,512
     England 53,012,456    
     Wales 3,063,456    
     Scotland 5,313,600
United States 222,440,047
 Massachusetts 6,692,824    
 California 38,332,521    
 Connecticut 3,596,080    
 Iowa 3,090,416    
 Vermont 626,630    
 New Hampshire 1,323,459    
 District of Columbia 646,449    
 New York 19,651,127    
 Washington 6,971,406    
 Maine 1,328,302  
 Maryland 5,928,814  
 Rhode Island 1,051,511    
 Delaware 925,749    
 Minnesota 5,420,380    
 New Jersey 8,899,339    
 Hawaii 1,404,054    
 Illinois 12,882,135    
 New Mexico 2,085,287    
 Oregon 3,930,065    
 Pennsylvania 12,773,801    
 Utah 2,900,872    
 Oklahoma 3,850,568    
 Virginia 8,260,405    
 Wisconsin 5,742,713    
 Indiana 6,570,902    
 Colorado 5,268,367    
 Nevada 2,790,136    
 Idaho 1,612,136    
 West Virginia 1,854,304    
 North Carolina 9,848,060    
 Alaska 735,132    
 Arizona 6,626,624    
 Wyoming 582,658    
 Kansas 2,893,957    
 South Carolina 4,774,839    
 Montana 1,015,165    
 Florida 19,552,860
 EDIT Feb 2015: Alabama 4,849,377
TOTAL 288,678,936
GRAND TOTAL 933,786,450
Countries Most Likely to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in 2015-16
Australia 23,702,300
Austria 8,504,850
Colombia 47,072,915
Chile 16,634,603
Guernsey 65,345
Greenland 56,968
Ireland (referendum May 2015) 4,593,100
Italy 60,782,668
Jersey 97,857
Northern Ireland 1,841,245
UPDATE Feb 15: Slovenia 2,061,085
Switzerland 8,183,800
Taiwan 23,373,517
Rest of United States 90,010,576
 TOTAL 254,773,679

The big news, of course, was in the US, where court actions finally brought same-sex marriage to 17 states (Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Colorado, West Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, Alaska, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina), bringing the total to 35 states. Missouri was forced to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, and also to issue same-sex marriage licences in St. Louis only (so far). And a stay on a ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida expires on January 5, 2015. When that happens, the US will become the country with the largest population living in equal marriage jurisdictions. us marriage map This is all gearing up for an expected showdown at the US Supreme Court in 2015, which will have to rule on same-sex marriage due to a circuit split on the issue caused by the sixth circuit upholding bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan. Given the Supreme Court’s reluctance to accept challenges to pro-equality rulings, expect the Court to rule in favour of equal marriage. Such a ruling would not only impact the remaining 14 states that do not have equal marriage, but also US territories in the Pacific and Caribbean: Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands.

The only full countries to pass marriage equality this year were Luxembourg and Finland. Luxembourg’s law takes effect Jan 1, 2015, while Finland’s is expected to take effect in March 2017, after the government revises several statutes relating to marriage. Scotland also passed equal marriage this year, while England and Wales’ equal marriage law took effect this year after being passed in 2013. That leaves Northern Ireland as the only part of the UK where equal marriage is not in effect. As the Republic of Ireland is set to hold a referendum on equal marriage in May 2015, which is expected to pass by a wide margin, this will leave Northern Ireland in a rather awkward spot on the issue. Whether or not the forces in government opposing equal marriage reconsider in the wake of a successful referendum in the Republic, a legal challenge may go forward to force the issue.

The Crown Dependencies of Jersey and Guernsey also announced plans to legalize gay marriage in their territories in 2015, although Guernsey’s draft law calls these marriages ‘civil unions.’ The Isle of Mann has not announced plans to upgrade their civil unions to marriages. The UK marriage law also does not apply to UK overseas territories, home to about 350,000 people in the Caribbean, Atlantic, and Mediterranean. Former foreign minister Ed Milliband had previously mused that Britain’s non-discrimination laws could be forced on these territories by an order-in-council (similar to the order that nullified their anti-sodomy laws in 2000). It’s possible, but unlikely that the UK could use this method to pass equal marriage in these territories, or require them to simply recognize other British same-sex marriages. (For another precedent, Netherlands imposed its equal marriage law on its Caribbean territories, while France’s law has always applied to its overseas territories, which are integral parts of the Republic.)

The Mexican state of Coahuila passed an equal marriage law this year. All Mexican states are already required to recognize marriages from each other’s states, and the federal government recognizes them as well. In the meantime, gay and lesbian Mexicans have been using the courts to gain access to marriage in several other states with great success. However, while the courts have generally been allowing same-sex marriages to go forward, Mexican law does not typically rely on court precedents to shape law as happens in common law countries – it seems judges must rule the same way five times before a law is struck down as unconstitutional. Courts in several Mexican states are well on the way to achieving this. Meanwhile, some Mexican state governments, recognizing the absurdity of the situation, have begun the legislative process to allow equal marriage. Expect more progress on Mexican equal marriage in 2015 both legislatively and through the courts.

Several states that I had predicted last year would enact equal marriage this year failed to do so. The Faroe Islands and Andorra both rejected same-sex marriage bills in their Parliaments, although Andorra then passed a civil union law which is awaiting promulgation [EDIT: It appears that the law was actually promulgated on Christmas Eve, 2014, and came into effect Christmas Day]. Vietnam rejected same-sex marriage in its review of its family law [EDIT: but at the same time, the new law removed a statutory ban and fine on same-sex marriages; they’re no longer illegal, but still unrecognized]. The issue seems to have simply fallen off the radar in Nepal and Costa Rica, while the situation remains unclear in Colombia.

Greenland had also announced plans to allow same-sex marriage, but has had a change of Prime Minister and governing coalition. Google turns up nothing on whether the new government plans to go ahead with equal marriage. [EDIT: Greenland’s new government is composed of the same previous leading party in a coalition with two smaller centre-right parties. It is unclear if equal marriage is on the new government’s agenda.]

Chile elected a president who supports equal marriage. While her party also controls Congress, it appears divided on whether to move ahead with marriage or civil unions. The Congress is expected to debate the issue in January, and may enact civil unions first, then pass equal marriage a few years later. [EDIT: Congress passed a gender-neutral civil unions law in January. A Marriage bill is still before Congress.]

A number of other countries now have mainstream parties calling for equal marriage. Switzerland and Austria both have bills before their parliaments to allow same-sex marriage, but I’d still call these long shots. Germany has a theoretical majority of politicians in its parliament supporting equal marriage, including half the governing coalition. Unfortunately, the other half (Christian Democrats/Christian Socialists) are strongly opposed and blocking consideration of same-sex marriage.

Italy has a number of parties supporting equal marriage, including a number of local governments that are defying federal law by registering same-sex marriages. The Italian Senate is set to debate either equal marriage or civil union legislation (the latter favoured by the current PM) in January. Either would be a major advance in Italy, the last country in Western Europe without any legal recognition for same-sex couples.

[EDIT Feb. 15: A surprise advance came in Slovenia, where the opposition submitted an equal marriage bill in February, which quickly gained the support of the government. The gender-neutral marriage law has already passed the committee stage, and is expected to be passed by Parliament in March. Slovenia will be the first Slavic, Eastern European, and/or post-Communist country to pass an equal marriage law. It will bring to the EU to 11/28 members with equal marriage laws in effect or pending.

Also in a surprising move, same-sex marriage has emerged as an issue in the March 17 Israeli election. Several parties have endorsed same-sex, interfaith, and civil marriages (all marriages performed in Israel are religious, although Israel recognizes all marriages performed overseas, including same-sex marriages). Even members of the current governing Likud party have endorsed same-sex marriage on the campaign trail. Israeli politics are notoriously volatile and coalition-based, so it’s not clear that the marriage proposals will go forward even if a majority of MKs support it after the election. It goes without saying, if it does go through, Israel would be the first country in the region to allow same-sex marriages, and possibly the first in Asia.]

The situation in Australia is volatile. After a court ruling struck down the Capital Territory’s equal marriage law, marriage is the sole purview of the federal government, which is headed by a PM (and coalition of parties) strongly opposed to it. This is despite polling that shows massive support for equal marriage nationwide. A Senator has introduced an equal marriage bill, hoping that a free vote will allow it to pass, but unless there’s a massive popular movement for it, the numbers are not currently on the side of equal marriage in the Parliament.

A significant setback may come in Slovakia, where a referendum is scheduled for February to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and sex education. Slovakia already bans same-sex marriage, but the referendum appears to have been triggered by a petition drive led by the US anti-gay organization Alliance Defending Freedom. Nevertheless, public opinion appears to be on its side. [EDIT: The referendum failed due to lack of quorum, although more than 90 percent voted in favour.]

On the civil unions front, Malta passed a sweeping all-but-the-word-marriage civil unions bill in April, which is already in effect. Croatia passed a “life partnership” bill that equates partnerships with marriage on all issues but adoption. Estonia passed civil unions — a first for a post-Soviet country — but this won’t take effect until 2016. Gibraltar also passed a civil unions bill. In 2015, proposals for civil union legislation will be debated in Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Greece, and Cyprus. [EDIT: Greece’s new governing party, once in favour of same-sex marriage, announced plans for civil unions in February. Latvia also announced plans for civil unions in January.]

Thailand had previously been close to passing a same-sex marriage law, but due to the political crisis in the country, progress stalled. The military junta running the country is said to be considering a civil partnership bill in 2015, which would be a first for Asia. Taiwan is continuing to debate a same-sex marriage bill sponsored by the opposition, although I don’t think I would bet on its passing.

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Daily Xtra Archive March-April 2014 Edition

Despite taking a two-week break in April to take part in the Banff Playwrights Colony, it continued to be a busy Spring for me over at my main journalism gig, DailyXtra.

In HIV/AIDS Community Organisation news, I reported on new ACT Executive Director John Maxwell’s attempts to finally control that org’s massive annual deficits through cost-cutting measures, layoffs, and presumably, some of the service rationalization he’d mentioned to me the previous month.

Also, Casey House is offering up a free 19th-century Coach House to anyone willing to move it off their property, which will soon be redeveloped into a major new HIV/AIDS service centre. This is, of course, a big publicity stunt for the organization that is still trying to raise funds for the redevelopment – while I’m sure they’d be happy to give up the building and save the demolition costs, it’s extremely impractical to move it. There aren’t many routes wide enough to carry it on, you couldn’t carry it over a bridge, and at least one passer-by pointed out to me that because the building appears to have a concrete foundation, you couldn’t very easily pick it up and move it anyway. Good luck with the redevelopment, though.

I also profiled NDP candidate for the federal Trinity—Spadina by-election Joe Cressy, a very nice young man (I can say that because he’s a year younger than me and oh my god I’m an old man who’s accomplished nothing with my life) who has a history of helping LGBT organizations in Africa (or, as I put it in the kicker, “dildo smuggling”). He’s a nice guy who’s taking the nomination seriously and seems to genuinely believe in the socialist cause, even if he does sometimes come across a bit like an undergrad who’s just had his first Political Philosophy class with a hip young professor does (that quote likely won’t appear on any NDP campaign material).

ndpflyer

I think his odds of actually winning against Liberal candidate Adam Vaughan are better than most suggest – the NDP machine in the riding is massive and Chow won almost all the polling stations in 2011 – but I still think this will be a pick-up for the Liberals.

With WorldPride little over a month away, why not read my coverage of our (revised) expectations for what #WP2014 is going to do for local tourism. Back in 2009, serious people were throwing obviously ridiculous numbers like 2-5 million visitors for WorldPride, but the new gurus are suggesting that the tourism impact is likely going to be long-term and qualitative rather than quantitative (read, immeasurable and therefore unaccountable).

This is, unfortunately, a meme that won’t die, and earlier this week I had a conversation with someone who seriously suggested we’d be hosting more people than we would for the Pan-Am Games. No, no we won’t. We don’t even have the guest capacity for that many people in Toronto (many thousands of guests for the Pan-Ams will be staying in the temporary Athlete’s Village being built in the West Don Lands). Yes, the hotels will be fully booked for WorldPride – they’re fully booked for most weekends in the summer (especially during special events, including our regular Pride).

I’m not a doom-and-gloomer about WorldPride, but I would like our expectations to be clearer. We’re throwing massive amounts of (public) money at this event (including to bring in major headlining performers and host major events across the city), and we should know why we’re doing it.

In a little bit of actual doom-and-gloom, we found out that Fly Nightclub intends to close right after WorldPride is over. Sad news, as the only real dance club left on Church will be Buddies.

There was drama at the Church-Wellesley Village BIA this winter, with former manager David Wootton fired and replaced by a new manager, Mychol Scully, who cheerily told me he doesn’t read Xtra because he doesn’t like doom-and-gloom coverage. Scully claims to be a public relations professional, so you may wonder why he’d choose to insult a journalist and his news outlet in his first, largely friendly interview.

The BIA was also at the centre of a story about major improvements coming to the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood, including Cawthra Park renos, rainbow sidewalks, new flags, permanent gates for street fests, and the Church St murals project – although the popular parklets are not coming back. As Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam tells me, it’s a lot of attention for three little blocks of Ward 27.

I might venture to agree that it’s both disproportionate and scattershot, and often frankly ugly. Wong-Tam rarely says no to ideas that bubble up from “the community,” which is resulting in a neighbourhood that’s looking like an awful hodge-podge. From the ugly gateway markers to some hideous murals, and a distinct lack of real staging or place making for much of the above, the neighbourhood is looking quite ugly (some murals can’t get even get an unobstructed view for the placement of billboards in front of them; the gateway markers, which aren’t even “gates” are placed right next to lampposts which obstruct the view of them). I really wish Wong-Tam (and the BIA, which shares much of the blame) would do more to consider the big picture here (or maybe spend some time on more neglected areas of the Ward, like Jarvis and Sherbourne).

Oh, and Carlton St got a minor makeover with new trees and bike parking, which is definitely needed – it’s impossible to find bike parking there! The trees will be welcome when they start blooming.

ProudFM got approval to boost its signal strength so that its reach will hit more of the city and its signal will be clearer in downtown.

Daily Xtra: Dec 2013

Another busy month for me at Xtra. The holiday seasons turned out to be no break for me, as I ended up filing three stories on the suicide of George Smitherman’s husband Christopher Peloso. I caught up on reactions from the gay community and, along with more than 500 people, attended his memorial at the Wellesley Community Centre, kicking off 2014 on a somber note. Xtra eventually handed off the story of homophobic reactions to the news on Twitter to another journalist. I initially struggled with this – it’s obviously of interest to our readers, but on the other hand, did I really want to give more attention to Ezra Levant? Ultimately, I decided to leave the homophobic rantings out of my own coverage of the story.

Speaking of suicide, early gay activist John Alan Lee also took his own life in December, in an apparently long-planned event. I wrote a short obituary for him, after diving through his fascinating online autobiography.

In other news of things coming to an end, Koreatown’s Metro Theatre porn cinema closed. A big box store is expected for the location.

In happier news, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island suddenly added “gender identity and gender expression” to their human rights codes, granting explicit protections to trans people under the law in those provinces. I’ve previously written about how I think the changes are unnecessary, as trans people are already protected under the law, but activists in those provinces gave me the most convincing arguments I’ve yet heard in favour of the changes.

And a feature I wrote back in the summer about accessibility in the Village neighbourhood finally saw online print over the holidays. I did a survey of the neighbourhood and found most businesses are not accessible, but all have (legally required) plans to serve disabled customers if necessary. I also found out that bars like Woody’s, Flash, and the Eagle all have more accessible entrances at the rear, even though they’re poorly advertised.

Populations of states with same-sex marriage

I was curious how many people actually live in countries with same-sex marriage/equal marriage, and when I couldn’t find a simple consolidated chart online, I decided to make one. Voila!

Image taken from Wikipedia. Dark Blue = full equality, turquoise = recognised when performed elsewhere, light blue = civil unions

Image taken from Wikipedia. Dark Blue = full equality; turquoise = recognized when performed elsewhere; light blue = civil unions or other limited forms of recognition only.

Populations of Countries with Same-Sex Marriage  
Argentina 41,660,417
Belgium 11,180,320
Brazil 201,032,714
Canada 35,295,770
Denmark (Denmark proper only) 5,623,501
France (including overseas Departments and Territories) 66,417,590
Iceland 325,010
Netherlands (Netherlands proper only) 16,810,900
    Caribbean Netherlands 23,296
New Zealand (New Zealand proper only) 4,502,060
Norway 5,096,300
Portugal 10,562,178
South Africa 52,981,991
Spain 46,704,314
Sweden 9,633,490
Uruguay 3,286,314
TOTAL     511,136,165
States that Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed Elsewhere
Oregon  3,899,353
Aruba 101,484
Curacao 150,563
Israel 8,107,000
Mexico 118,395,054
Sint Maarten 37,429
TOTAL     130,690,883
Subnational Jurisdictions with Same-Sex Marriage
United Kingdom 56,075,912
 England 53,012,456
 Wales 3,063,456
United States 123,031,693
 Massachusetts 6,646,144
 California 38,041,430
 Connecticut 3,590,347
 Iowa 3,074,186
 Vermont 626,011
 New Hampshire 1,320,718
 District of Columbia 632,323
 New York 19,570,261
 Washington 6,897,012
 Maine 1,329,192
 Maryland 5,884,563
 Rhode Island 1,050,292
 Delaware 917,092
 Minnesota 5,379,139
 New Jersey 8,864,590
 Hawaii 1,392,313
 Illinois 12,875,255
 New Mexico 2,085,538
 Utah 2,855,287  
TOTAL     179,107,605
       
GRAND TOTAL     817,035,300
Countries Most Likely to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in 2014-15
Colombia 47,072,915
Faroe Islands 48,509
Finland 5,448,025
Scotland 5,313,600
Luxembourg 537,000
Chile 16,634,603
Costa Rica 4,667,096
Ireland 4,593,100
Rest of United States 190,368,954
Vietnam 90,388,000
Nepal 26,494,504
Taiwan 23,340,136
 TOTAL 414,906,442

We’re closing in on 1 billion people living in equal-marriage jurisdictions!

Now some notes about the chart:

– The Realm of New Zealand includes several small quasi-independent territories in the Pacific (Cook Islands, Nieu, and Tokelau). None of these territories offer or recognize same-sex marriage.

– Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten are countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. They have their own marriage laws, but the Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that couples married in one part of the Kingdom must be recognized in all parts. Thus, they recognize any other legal Dutch marriages, including those performed in the Caribbean Netherlands, which had equal marriage imposed on them by the Dutch Parliament in 2012.

– Mexicans can only get married in Mexico City and Quintana Roo states, but the Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that all Mexican states and the federal government must recognize marriages performed there. Individual court challenges have also led to same-sex marriages in a number of other states, but Mexican law does not tend to let single cases create precedents the way that Commonwealth tradition does.

– Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other countries, but does not permit them in Israel. A recent government proposal to change the law to allow for same-sex marriage failed.

– The UK is a collection of countries and dependecies that have unique (confusing) legal structures. England and Wales are one unit when it comes to civil law (although MPs from the entire country can vote on their law as they have no Parliament of their own. Crazy, right?). The UK Parliament voted in favour of same-sex marriage for England and Wales — the only part of the UK that the Parliament has jurisdiction over — this summer, but the law only takes effect in 2014. Scotland has been consulting on gay marriage for years and the government is in favour. It is widely expected to pass in 2014. Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies and territories (Isle of Mann, Jersey, Guernsey, various Caribbean territories) have not signalled an intention to pass same-sex marriage laws (Northern Ireland’s government recently voted strongly against a proposal). I do not know how UK marriages will be treated in these territories (ie, what happens to a Scottish couple who relocate to Belfast?). Anyone who can explain this to me, please do.

– The US federal government recognizes marriages performed in any US state and overseas, but 31 individual states and its dependent territories do not currently (Oregon does not permit same-sex marriages, but recognizes them when performed elsewhere). The recent court victory in Utah seems to point to a much faster spread of same-sex marriage rights in the US than many predicted. It paves a path for the Supreme Court to issue a final nationwide ruling on the matter in the next couple of years. In the meantime, there are court cases and ballot initiatives seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in about a dozen states.

– The situation in Colombia is complicated. The Supreme Court gave the government two years from June 2011 to grant equal rights to same-sex couples, but the government failed to act (and a bill to allow same-sex marriage failed). Starting in June 2013, same-sex couples began to get married, but government and private groups challenged them with court cases. Various rulings have had these unions called civil unions or marriages, with the most recent ruling for marriage. We can probably expect a clearer ruling from the Supreme Court in the next year or so.

– The Faroe Islands is a quasi-independent country in Denmark with its own marriage code. The government has signalled its intent to allow gay marriage.

– Finland’s government is not currently in favour of equal marriage, although public opinion is. The government was presented with a huge petition this year, which under Finnish law forces the government to debate the issue.

– Luxembourg is probably the most likely to pass same-sex marriage in 2014. Its previous government had already signalled an intention to, and recent elections created a government headed by an openly gay (and hot) Prime Minister and Deputy PM, who have reconfirmed the government’s commitment.

– Chile recently re-elected Socialist former president Michele Bachelet, who campaigned on legalizing same-sex marriage. Her party also won a majority in the legislature, but reports indicate she still has to work to convince the party to pass a law.

– Costa Rica recently (accidentally) passed an anti-discrimination law that some legislators fear could lead to same-sex marriages. The president refused to veto the law over these concerns. Nevertheless, there doesn’t appear to be momentum (yet) to press the issue.

– Ireland’s government has signalled that it will hold a referendum on the issue in 2015, as legalizing it requires a constitutional amendment. Public opinion is around 75% in favour.

– Vietnam recently decriminalized same-sex marriage without legalizing it. There have been discussions to move in that direction.

– Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government to legalize same-sex marriage in 2008, but the country has been largely without a stable government since. Fun fact, when I worked at Xtra in 2007, the office got a package from a gay organization in Nepal that included the country’s own gay magazine. Although I couldn’t read it, the best part of the magazine was that they’d used a picture of Nina Arsenault as an illustration of a story on trans issues. She’s global!

– Taiwan has been talking about same-sex marriage on and off since 2003.

– Australia is not on this list, as the Supreme Court recently ruled against same-sex marriage, leaving it up to the federal Parliament to decide. As the ruling conservatives have a large majority and are opposed, it’s unlikely to be passed until after the next election, four years hence. There are, however, some conservatives in favour of equal marriage who are pushing for a conscience vote on the issue, but the prospects (from several thousand miles away) look dim.

– The EU doesn’t impose marriage laws on its member countries (yet), although you have to expect that a challenge to the European Court of Justice is bound to come from a couple who’ve moved to an unequal-marriage country (the larger European Court of Human Rights has apparently already decided against same-sex marriage). Various bans seem to impede freedom of movement, which is a a key plank of the EU. Currently, about 47% of EU citizens live in equal marriage jurisdictions, and that will reach just more than half if/when Luxembourg, Finland, Scotland, and Ireland pass it (the Faroe Islands are not part of the EU).

– I haven’t included civil unions on the list to keep the concept simple. Jurisdictions with civil unions include Andorra, Austria, Colombia (sorta, see above), Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Switzerland, UK, and parts of Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, and the US.

Please leave comments, corrections or questions below.

Actor Update! Two Commercials and a TV gig!

Over in my other career, I had one of the busiest months I’ve ever had.

First, I booked this cool promo commercial for a Comedy Network/Stanfields Underwear Contest. So check out what I look like in my undies:

The promo actually includes three other mini commercials, which are also still airing on comedy, or you can watch them at the Official Contest Web Site. (They’re not embeddable, don’t appear to be posted to YouTube, and I don’t want to offend the copyright by posting them myself).

This was a really fun shoot, and I got to run around in my underwear at the Opera House all day long! (Not that I’ve ever been shy about being naked in promos!)

I also booked and shot another series of commercials, which I can’t talk about yet since they haven’t been broadcast/distributed yet. I’ll just say they were a really fun shoot where I got to play some fun characters.

Also last month, I got a part on an upcoming docudrama series called Fear Thy Neighbor (no official web site yet). It’s one of those all-improv re-enactment shows, and it was a real blast shooting it. The actors and crew were all great and some of the issues it raised gave me a lot to think about. My episode, “The Real Lakeview Terrace,” should air in early 2014 with the rest of the series.

I’ve shot a few docudramas before, but usually in a part that once I’m on set I realise is actually less of an actor role, and more of a glorified background role, where I don’t get much to really sink my teeth into. This one gave me a fun and somewhat challenging character to get into. I can’t wait to see it.

So far this back half of 2013 is really going well! Let’s keep the momentum up!

Daily Xtra: Village news, tech, travel, and Madonna

So! It’s been quite a busy month for me, both at Xtra and in my other career, of which more in a separate post.

Just this week, I reported on the sale of Church St hangout Pegasus to long-time bartender Chris Hudspeth. Both Pegasus and Spa Excess (owned by the former Pegasus owners) are expected to continue with no major changes.

Also in nearby businesses, I reported on the opening of the new Madonna themed/co-owned gym Hard Candy Fitness in the Aura building. Other papers broke the news of the opening, but I got the only interview with the club’s president and the story of how Madonna chose Toronto for the North American debut of her chain (no, I don’t count Mexico City as “North American” for obvious cultural reasons).

I wrote a review/preview of Bridegroom, a documentary about a gay couple’s struggles under unequal marriage in the US, which made its debut on Netflix last week.

And I reported on the launch of the Church St Murals project, which is currently why the neighbourhood is covered in scaffolds all over the place. I’ve said it a bunch of times, but I think mural art is generally pretty tacky and awful, and the completed projects have so far not changed my opinion, but I’ll reserve judgement until all the murals are finished (although the story has a photo gallery of the works in progress). Still,  they’re bringing some added colour to the neighbourhood, which is nice.

On the tech front, I snagged an interview with the CEO of new cruising app Hornet. I think people are looking for alternatives to Grindr, particularly since the (IMHO) disastrous launch of version 2.0. Although since my story on Hornet, that app has introduced some really annoying pop-up ads that are making it quite frustrating.

And on the travel front, Xtra’s published my features on Dublin and Winnipeg, which I believe finishes off the inventory of travel stories I’ve filed for them this year.

The NDP’s half-baked Russian visa ban is about local electoral pandering

The NDP launched a petition last weekend demanding the government support a visa ban against Russian legislators who voted unanimously in favour of laws to crackdown on expression of so-called “gay propaganda,” but it’s clear that the petition isn’t really about Russia’s beleaguered gay community so much as it’s about attempting to trap the Liberal party and pander to the gay voters of the upcoming Toronto Centre by-election.

The Liberals haven’t taken up the NDP’s cause – most likely because it’s a ridiculously half-baked proposal – and the NDP are using that to paint the Liberals as being of a kind with the Russians (or worse, the Conservatives!).

PaulDewar

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar collecting signatures at the corner of Church and Alexander in Toronto Centre.

The NDP would also have you believe that this is a slap in the face to 100 NGO’s that have also called for a visa ban… well, by all means, if the Lucky Iron Fish Project is calling for a visa ban, then it must be done!

Obviously, what’s going on in Russia is horrible and intolerable. But this is not the way foreign policy goals are achieved.

What would be the effect of a visa ban on Russian legislators? Probably mostly nil. Ultimately, we’re talking about banning the deputy from Tartastan from going to Ottawa Bluesfest (Ok, that’s not wholly true. Russia’s deputies are appointed using proportional representation, and thus there is no deputy from Tartastan. Sorry for being glib). But there is practically no harm done to the Russian lawmakers by imposing a visa ban on a country they weren’t planning to visit anyway. If anything, news that Canada is trying to shame Russia into accepting an intolerable (to them) position will only embolden them.

The other major practical consideration is that, actually, sometimes we *want* Russian legislators to come to Canada. For example, when we host meetings of the G8 or G20 (I know, I know. I just made the anarchist wing of the NDP squeal), or other major international conferences (we host the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal, and we sometimes host APEC, for example). If we truly did want to bar Putin or Russia’s finance minister from attending such a meeting (not that the organisation would ever allow it), how would we square that with the fact that at the G20, equivalent leaders from Saudi Arabia and China would be welcomed? On a more closely related note, if we were to host an International AIDS Conference again, would we really want to bar the Russian health minister from attending?

Why target only Russian legislators, when there are states that are much, much worse out there on human rights in general (Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, to name just a few)? Why target them now, when this is far from the most egregious thing Russia has done even in the post-communist era (Chechnya, Georgia, the wholesale fleecing of the Russian economy, silencing and murdering journalists and foreign leaders…)?

Ultimately, a visa ban will not make things better for Russian gays. Foreign policy goals are rarely achieved by not talking to the other side. This is exactly the same attitude that Harper gets criticized for when he has Canada leave UN meetings because North Korea is there, or when he refuses to attend Commonwealth meetings hosted by Sri Lanka (Oh wait, the NDP wanted that meeting boycotted too).

If we really want to change Russian lawmakers’ minds about gay people, we shouldn’t ban them from coming to one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world – we should be inviting them here in droves so they can see what a real, thriving gay community is like, how gays contribute positively to our national culture and character. Shutting them out accomplishes nothing.

But hey, accomplishing nothing while patting yourself on the back for your moral superiority appears to be all that the gay community really wants on this issue – witness the flamboyant displays of people dumping out freshly-purchased bottles of vodka that may-or-may-not be Russian in front of the Russian consulate after business hours so no one even sees it.

Which is why all of this is happening. Nevermind that what they’re proposing is actually terrible foreign policy; this is really just about local electoral politics. The NDP wants to win an upcoming by-election in Toronto Centre and they’ll do anything to get the votes of the easily-distracted gay community. It’s distressing that a party that wants to govern would have such a childish grasp of foreign affairs, but they’ve been learning from the masters for the last seven years.