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Island Chain Votes To Ban Discrimination Against Gays
by The Associated Press

Posted: December 15, 2006  1:00 pm ET 

(Copenhagen)  The Faeroe Islands on Friday voted to ban discrimination against gays on the Danish semi-autonomous territory between Scotland and Iceland.

In a 17-15 vote, Faeroese legislators included the words ``sexual orientation'' in the islands' anti-discrimination law.

The issue had been under heated debate on the islands after the 32-member Lagtinget last year turned down a similar proposal. Those who opposed the bill argued that homosexuality was against the Bible.

``We're very, very happy. To us it has been a matter of human rights,'' said Annita a Fridriksmoerk, who proposed the bill together with a Republican party colleague. ``The Faeroese law was limping behind other modern societies.''

About 48,000 people live on the Faeroe Islands, a tiny fishing community with strong Christian traditions.

Discrimination against gays and lesbians on the islands is rare but became a hot topic in September after Rasmus Rasmussen, a 25-year-old openly gay musician, allegedly was assaulted by five men in Torshavn, the capital.

Police were reluctant to investigate the case as a hate crime, saying discrimination against gays was not illegal on the Faeroes.

In 1989, Denmark became the first country to legalize same-sex partnerships, but the Faeroe Islands still opposes such unions.

The Danish territory has wide-ranging autonomy to set its own laws, except on defense and foreign policy matters.

© 2006


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