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Originally published Saturday, November 18, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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World Digest

Mexico City's gay civil-union law may be challenged

Seattle Times news services ...

Mexico's ruling conservative party is considering filing a legal challenge to Mexico City's new law recognizing gay civil unions, saying it violates a clause in the country's constitution protecting the family, legislators said Friday.

The law is a first in this conservative, predominantly Roman Catholic country. It will take effect 120 days from that date.

City assemblyman Miguel Angel Errasti said his National Action Party is determining whether the new law can be challenged on constitutional grounds.

Mexico's Constitution covers the rights of spouses, children and the family, and states that "men and women are equal before the law. This will protect the organization and development of the family."

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Errasti argues the law is unconstitutional because the article mentions only men and women in relation to marriage. City legal counsel Maria Estela Rios, however, called the argument "absurd" because the law guarantees legal rights for same-sex couples, but does not legalize gay marriage.

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Troops sent to quell political unrest

Australia and New Zealand agreed Friday to send troops to Tonga, where mobs demanding democratic reforms destroyed much of the capital in unprecedented rioting that left at least eight people dead.

Thursday's rampage by angry youths, who overturned cars, attacked government officials and looted shops and offices before setting them ablaze, was unprecedented in the tiny and impoverished South Pacific kingdom. Officials said about 80 percent of the capital's business district was destroyed.

The trigger for the violence was anger that Parliament might finish its session for the year without settling plans to give elected legislators a majority in Parliament over royally appointed members.

United Nations

End to operations in Gaza sought

The U.N. General Assembly called for an end to Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip on Friday, overwhelmingly passing a resolution in an emergency special session the Israeli ambassador blasted as a "farce" and a "circus."

The Arab League had asked for the session after the United States vetoed a similar, but watered-down U.N. Security Council draft resolution against Israel's actions last weekend — its second veto on the matter this year.

There are no vetoes in the 192-member General Assembly, and the chamber's resolutions are nonbinding.

The resolution passed Friday by a vote of 156-7, with six abstentions. The U.S., Israel and Australia voted against the document, while all the European Union members supported it after last-minute changes were made to soften the tone.

Kiev, Ukraine

Kremlin opposes "genocide" measure

President Viktor Yushchenko's bid to include the word "genocide" in legislation on the Soviet-era famine that killed up to 10 million people in Ukraine ran into difficulties Friday from legislators seeking to water down the bill.

Some legislators allied to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, bowing to Kremlin complaints, proposed calling the 1932-33 Great Famine a tragedy instead.

The Great Famine was started by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin when he ordered the government to seize crops as part of a campaign to force Ukrainian peasants to join collective farms. The famine is recognized as a genocide by 10 countries, including the United States, but such a move is opposed by Russia.

Seattle Times news services

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