A poll by Lithuanian market research company RIAT claims only 4 percent of the country supports the introduction of civil partnerships for gay couples.
The Baltic News Agency-commissioned poll says 70 percent of the population favors some form of legal recognition for relationships outside marriage, but not for gays.
Same-sex marriages are currently banned under the country’s Constitution and the Civil Code, and while civil partnerships are permitted to be introduced by the legislature, the Code states they may only be between a man and a woman.
While 70 percent of respondents supported opposite-sex civil unions and 4 percent supported opposite-sex and same-sex unions, the remaining quarter did not approve of any non-marriage partnership being recognized by the state.
Figures for public support of gay marriages rather than civil partnerships were not immediately available.
A poll by the European Commission across all member states in 2006 showed 17 percent of Lithuanians then were in support of civil unions that would give gay couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
In 2009, Lithuania’s Delfi newspaper reported 42 percent of those it polled supported civil partnerships for gay couples.
The 2011 poll said more support was found among younger people, those with higher incomes and those who have had more education, but its overall findings of support are still markedly lower than the polls undertaken in previous years. One thousand and three Lithuanians ages 15-74 were polled in November for the RIAT research.
Nigerian health minister: Bisexuals threaten HIV efforts
Nigeria’s health minister has warned that bisexual men pose a “challenge” to efforts to tackle the spread of HIV in the country, as the prevalence of HIV among gay and bisexual men has risen.
Onyebuchi Chukwu, launching the 2010 Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance in Abuja, said that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has risen to 17.2 percent, up from 13.5 percent in 2007.
But the report says half of the surveyed men who have sex with men also said they have sexual contact with women.
Chukwu said the link between the groups of men who have sex with men and the female population “poses a challenge to the national response to HIV epidemic.”
“If care is not taken, this behavior may erode the gains we have made in the national response to HIV/AIDS.”
The survey studied some 14,987 people classified in high-risk groups—including female sex workers, men who have sex with men, police and armed-forces personnel, transport workers and injection-drug users.
It found the prevalence of HIV among female sex workers and the armed forces had fallen over the three-year period.
Earlier this month, 60,000 people signed a petition calling on the Nigerian president not to increase the penalties for homosexuality, which is illegal in the country.
Activists said the bill, which has been passed by the Senate, further criminalizes any public relationship between two people of the same sex by classifying it as a “same-sex marriage,” for which it introduces a punishment of 14 years’ imprisonment.
Malaysia urged to repeal antigay law, end trial
The Malaysian government has been urged to revoke its laws criminalizing homosexuality and abandon the criminal trial of its former deputy prime minister, which is believed to be nearing a verdict.
Human Rights Watch made the call during the trial of Anwar Ibrahim, whom it claims the state is trying to “slander” with the antigay laws.
Ibrahim was first imprisoned for corruption and sodomy charges in 1999.
Though the second charge was later overturned and he was freed in 2004, Ibrahim was arrested for a second time in 2008 after Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old aide, claimed he had been sexually assaulted by the politician.
Ibrahim was charged under the country’s consensual sodomy laws, as officials believed he could not have physically forced Azlan into the alleged act. Azlan was not charged, as he had reported the incident.
The trial began in February 2010.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Malaysian government uses its outdated sodomy law to slander political opponents and critics. Whether or not Anwar Ibrahim engaged in consensual ‘sodomy’ is irrelevant. It’s time to reject this law and end the farcical political theater that promotes discrimination based on sexual orientation and destroys people’s lives.”
Section 377 of the Malaysian penal code prohibits “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”
— compiled by Larry Nichols