Monday, July 25, 2005

Canada Warns Gay Couples to be Careful Traveling Abroad

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department this week is warning same-sex married couples to be wary when traveling or moving to foreign countries which may not recognize the marriages and, in some cases, could even bar entry or enforce the country's death penalty for homosexual activity.

"As we welcome new legislation in Canada that extends access to civil marriage to same-sex couples, we must also acknowledge that many countries still do not permit such marriages," said Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew in a statement released over the weekend.
Regulations on same-sex marriages vary widely from country to country, warned the Foreign Affairs release. Attempting to enter a country as a couple, it said, could result in refusal by officials.

"Whether visiting or moving to another country, Canadians should always take the time to learn about the laws of the country for which they are destined before leaving home," said the official statement.

Bill C-38, which provides equal access to civil marriages for gay and heterosexual couples, brings Canada in line with Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, the only other countries with similar laws.

Canadian same-sex married couples should be careful to abide by the laws of the countries they visit, said Cloe Rodrigue, a Foreign Affairs spokeswoman.

"The attitude that they would receive at the border really depends. What we tell people is really to respect the law of the other countries."

The department says homosexual activity is a criminal offense in some countries, and "those convicted may be sentenced to a prison term, a fine, a lashing, deportation or death."

On July 19, two gay teenagers were executed in Northern Iran, accused of engaging in homosexual activity. Prior to the boys' executions, the teenagers were reported to have been held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Association, Iran is one of at least seven countries today which still retain capital punishment for homosexuality. Others include Mauritania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The situation with regard to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is unclear.

Amnesty International adds that homosexual activity is also illegal in countries such as Grenada, India, Trinidad, and Jamaica.

Some countries could refuse a same-sex married couple's visa. But they may allow them to enter as individuals.

The Foreign Affairs department advises same-sex married couples to look up international reports on to view a country's laws, and to check back periodically for updates.


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