International News – 8/16/19

France ponders giving lesbians, single women access to IVF

Single women and lesbians in France won’t have to go abroad to have children anymore under a proposed new law that would give them access to medically-assisted reproduction for the first time.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has presented a draft law on bioethics that includes expanding the eligibility for treatments such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, or IVF. French law currently restricts assisted reproduction to infertile heterosexual couples.

The assisted reproduction bill is sure to prompt strong debate next month in parliament, where Macron’s centrist party has a majority. It comes five years after mass protests against same-sex marriage in France, which was legalized, and as Macron’s popularity has slipped due to yellow-vest protests over his economic plans.

With the proposed bill, the French national health care system would cover the cost of assisted reproduction for all women, under an age limit yet to be set, for four rounds of treatments for each pregnancy. The bill also allows sperm donor anonymity to be lifted on demand by donors’ children when they reach 18, instead of the strict donor anonymity that now exists in France. The proposed law would not lift the French ban on surrogacy.

The law would keep babies and mothers from running afoul of the French legal system and give them access to the country’s generous health care system.

The changes were a key demand of French LGBT rights groups after France legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.


Cyprus criticizes Orthodox bishop for insulting gays

An official said the Cyprus government is “greatly troubled and dismayed” by an Orthodox Christian bishop’s comments on homosexuality, which he said needlessly stirred up social tensions on the Mediterranean island nation.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said July 30 that Morphou Bishop Neophytos’ remarks clash with Cyprus’ laws protecting the rights of all its citizens. The bishop claimed that homosexuality is transferred to unborn children if a pregnant woman has anal sex, a comment that has no basis in science.

Prodromou said the bishop’s remarks “insult the dignity and injures the reputation” of many citizens and should be retracted. He said Cyprus’ human rights commissioner also considers the remarks discriminatory.

The bishop was speaking at a June lecture, citing what he said were an Orthodox saint’s views about homosexuality.


LGBT pride parade in Amsterdam features boats as floats

Tens of thousands of spectators lined an Amsterdam canal to watch a parade of decorated boats during the Dutch capital’s LGBT Pride festival.

Organizers said 80 boats officially took part in the canal parade on Aug. 3, including ones representing Dutch police, the military and an undertakers’ organization.

Ahead of next years’ summer Olympics in Japan, a vessel representing Tokyo’s LGBT community participated, too.

The annual parade was the highlight of Pride Amsterdam, which ended Aug. 4. The theme of this year’s nine-day festival was “Remember the past, create the future.”

Like pride events around the world this summer, the Amsterdam event came 50 years after a police raid of a gay bar in New York, the Stonewall Inn, set off riots and catalyzed the modern gay rights movement.


Lebanon music festival cancels show after Christian pressure

Organizers of a multi-day Lebanese music festival said they are cancelling a planned concert by a popular Mideast rock band whose lead singer is openly gay.

The move comes following calls by some Christian groups for the performance to be scrapped, calling the band’s songs an insult to Christianity.

The concert by Mashrou’ Leila has been at the center of a heated debate about freedom of expression after church leaders set off a storm of indignation. The calls were followed by online threats suggesting that the concert would be stopped by force.

The group was scheduled to perform in the coastal city of Byblos on Aug. 9.

The organizers issued a statement July 30 that said they were forced to stop the show “to prevent bloodshed and safeguard peace and stability.” 


Reporting via Associated Press