New York Gov. David A. Paterson instructed all state agencies to revise policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, the Associated Press reported May 29. Such issues include family health care plans, joint tax filing, stronger adoption rights and property inheritance. Same-sex marriages have been recognized by courts in California and Massachusetts.

California’s Supreme Court heard a case from a lesbian whose doctor refused to perform artificial insemination because of her sexual orientation, the AP reported May 28. A ruling in the case could determine whether doctors’ religious beliefs allow them to withhold medical treatments.

Cornell Provost Biddy Martin was recommended by a regents’ search committee to become the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the AP reported on May 28. If confirmed as expected, the campus with over 40,000 students will be the largest in the nation with a gay leader. Martin is a professor of women’s studies and German studies.

In Britain, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued an "LGBT Toolkit" for its 261 embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic posts, reported U.K.’s Pinknews May 23. The kit covers issues such as decriminalization, sexual health, reproductive rights and health education for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • The American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers union and one of the largest labor unions in the nation with 1.4 million members, is set to elect its first female leadership team, reported USA Today May 28. Randi Weingarten is expected to be elected president, Antonia Cortese secretary-treasurer and Lorretta Johnson executive vice president during a July election.

  • Women in Pakistan will benefit from government land allotments under a new women’s empowerment plan, Information Minister Sherry Rehman announced during a May 25 conference in Karachi. The plan also calls for a quota of 20 percent female participation in some public organizations, the Daily Times reported.

  • Colombia’s Constitutional Court ordered the government to implement a 13-point program for the protection of displaced women on May 23, according to the United Nations refugee agency. The court also assigned direct protection for 600 displaced women and ordered investigations into several cases of sexual and gender-based violence. Conflict displaced 230,000 Colombians in 2007 and the government spends $400 million annually to assist them.

  • In Iran, women will receive "blood money"–compensation for fatal accidents–equal to payments to men, the Agence France-Presse reported. A bill to make the payments equal reasons that women and men pay equal insurance premiums so compensation must be equal for traffic accidents. Under Iran’s interpretation of Islamic law, women’s inheritance and legal testimony are worth half a man’s. Divorce and child custody law remain favorable to men.

  • Two women received appointments in Kuwait’s new 16-member cabinet announced May 28. Nouriya Al-Sabeeh retains her post as education minister while Mudhi Al Humoud, an academic and former head of the Arab Open University, joins as state minister of housing and administrative development, the AFP reported. Although 27 Kuwaiti women ran in the May 17 election, none were elected directly, and only one had support from a political party.

  • Australia’s National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women is launching a campaign to reduce violence against high school students and women in rural communities, The Age reported May 26. The council’s priority will be creating "respectful relationship" resources for educating younger people, particularly boys, on the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault.

  • Twenty-six women are training to be pilots with the Israeli Defense Forces, an all-time high, the Jerusalem Post reported May 26. A change in how women are enlisted last year resulted in more female trainees; the previous high was 17 women.

  • The National Basketball Association received its first A grade for gender and race combined, according to a May 29 scorecard from Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. The 2008 scorecard gave the NBA its highest gender score ever because 41 percent of the professional positions in the men’s league are held by women.

  • Three female judges took the bench together forming an all-female judicial appeals panel for the first time in Scotland, the Scotsman reported May 30. A lawyer arguing his case before the judges began the proceedings: "I hope my Ladies will not mind if I say what a privilege it is to open submissions in these historic circumstances." Scotland appointed its first female judge in 1996.

  • Australian scientists discovered a 375 million-year-old mother fish still attached to her offspring by an umbilical chord, according to the May 29 edition of British journal Nature. It is the oldest live birth recorded by the fossil record.

  • The first human female DNA sequence was decoded at Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands, Science Daily reported May 27. The sequence–belonging to a geneticist involved in the study–allows a better understanding of the X chromosome because women carry two of them. Previous sequencing of males provided half the opportunity to study the X chromosome.


The Turkish Diyanet, considered the standard-bearer of Turkey’s Muslim faith, published a set of directives on how Muslim women should behave in public, Voice of America reported May 28. The guidelines forbid short T-shirts and perfume for women in public and women are to avoid public appearances with unrelated males.

The Islamic Justice and Development party took power in 2002, stirring a national debate over Turkey’s historic secularism. The Diyanet has no legal authority but is socially influential. The religious press applauded the move while secularists and women’s rights groups condemned it.

"This past year we have been witnessing more of a backlash in terms of approach and declarations against gender equality," Liz Amado of the Istanbul-based Women for Women’s Rights told Voice of America. "Against things such as wearing perfume, (saying it) is sacrilegious or flirting is the same as adultery etcetera."

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Iraqi Kurdistan is witnessing a surge in suicides and violence against women with 14 women dead in the first 10 days of May alone, the AFP reported May 25. Another 11 women attempted suicide by burning in the same period, adding up to more than 50 cases this year, according to government figures. Another eight women hanged themselves. Local activist Aso Kamal calculates that 12,500 women have died from honor crimes or suicide between 1991 and 2007 in Iraq’s three Kurdish provinces.

  • The Vatican declared on May 29 it will excommunicate any bishop who consecrates women as priests and any woman who attempts ordination, the Catholic News Agency reported. The declaration follows the most recent female ordination of Kathy Redig in Winona, Minn., on May 4.

  • A national health official in Britain says "institutional racism" is leading to an increase in suicide rates among women of South Asian origin because they miss out on mental health treatments, the BBC reported May 25.

Besa Luci is a journalist from Kosovo and the current editorial intern at Women’s eNews. Dominique Soguel is Women’s eNews Arabic editor.

Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at editors@womensenews.org.