TV & Radio
WHO calls for end to genital cutting
By BRADLEY S. KLAPPER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 2, 10:33 AM ET
The World Health Organization said Friday that female genital cutting is a form of torture that must be stamped out, even if it is done by trained medical personnel.
The "medicalization" of ritual genital cutting fails to prevent girls from being permanently scarred, threatening their lives when they give birth later and endangering their babies, WHO said in a report.
Genital cutting "is the worst thing that a medical doctor could possibly do," said Joy Phumaphi, WHO assistant director-general and a former health minister from Botswana. "It is even worse than turning a blind eye, because you are legitimizing violation of a basic human right and violence against an innocent victim."
There can be no justification for doctors and nurses "to come and supervise the torture," Phumaphi said.
The practice — called genital mutilation by opponents — is done primarily in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. It is usually done on girls under 10. More than 100 million women and girls worldwide are believed to have undergone genital cutting, the U.N. health agency said.
Genital cutting usually involves removal of the clitoris. Those who practice it believe the cutting tames sexual desire and increases a girl's marriageability. Genital cutting is done by both Muslims and Christians.
An estimated 3 million women and girls undergo genital cutting each year, according to UNICEF.
"When the world is trying to save animals, when the world is trying to save plants, women in Africa are subjected to unnecessary torture in the name of tradition," said Berhane Ras-Work, president of the non-governmental group IAC, which campaigns against genital cutting. "It is a horrendous practice, it should not be allowed, it should be condemned, it should be stopped."
An increasing number of girls are being subjected to the practice by trained medical personnel, a UNICEF report said last year. While that may help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through the use of cleaner instruments, the WHO said it was opposed to any proposals that would endorse genital cutting.
"It's the same as attempting murder with a clean knife," Phumaphi said.
WHO's study, published in The Lancet medical journal, found that women who have suffered the most serious form of genital cutting have a 70 percent greater chance of hemorrhage after childbirth compared with women who did not undergo the procedure.
In countries where childbirth mortality rates are already high, "this particular process is practically a death sentence," Phumaphi said.
Children born to women whose genitals have been cut also are at greater risk, the study found. Depending on the severity of the genital cutting, neonatal death rates range from 15 percent to 55 percent higher than babies born to women with intact genitals.
WHO's study involved more than 28,000 women in six African countries where the practice is common — Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.
Ras-Work said some countries in Africa were doing better than others in trying to end the practice. She cited Burkina Faso and Senegal as places where attitudes were being changed and genital cutting was declining.
［国連 ２日 ロイター］ ３日間にわたり開催されていた国連エイズ特別総会が２日に閉幕した。女性の間での感染の広がりを指摘し、エイズ予防の権利を認める政治宣言が採択されたものの、必要な資金確保の道筋は示さないままに終わった。
国連エイズ総会閉幕 各国拠出額、明示なし 対策費倍増目指す
2006年 6月 4日 (日) 03:11 産経
エイズ対策に数値目標・国連特別総会 (日本経済 2006/06/03)
国連エイズ特別総会 政治宣言採択し閉幕 (産経 2006/06/03)
対策費、１０年までに倍増 国連が新エイズ宣言採択 (共同 2006/06/03)
アルバン・ベルク弦楽四重奏団―情感豊か巧みな掛け合い（クラシック） (日本経済・名古屋版 2006/06/01夕刊)
（音楽評論家 藤井 知昭）
クリスチャン・ツィメルマン――知られざる名作、感動の幕切れ（クラシック） (日本経済 2006/05/30夕刊)
（音楽評論家 樋口 隆一）
Weekend Beat/ Inside and other short fiction:Japanese women by Japanese women
BY MARIE DOEZEMA, STAFF WRITER
Inside and other short fiction:
The very title, "Inside and other short fiction: Japanese women by Japanese women," gives you high hopes. Ruth Ozeki's introduction to the collection continues to build expectations. An accomplished writer and filmmaker, Ozeki--herself half-Japanese--asserts that the book offers perspectives on Japanese females that are progressive, perhaps even shocking.
"Japanese women have indeed come a long way from the world of geesha-girls and Madame Butterfly," she writes. "How far? Turn the page and see."
Ozeki, author of "My Year of Meats," a scourging tale about the beef industry, and "All Over Creation," a disturbing novel about bioengineered foods, has also delved into the world of autobiography with her film "Halving the Bones," an account of taking her grandmother's remains from Japan to North America. Ozeki, born to an American father and Japanese mother, grew up in Connecticut and first moved to Japan as a graduate student. Today, she lives in New York City and British Columbia.
Ozeki's feminist approach in her own work lends credence to the glowing introduction she writes to "Inside." But turning the page is a bit of a disappointment. Though the eight short stories that follow are, as promised, representative of women of different classes, ages and occupations, the portrait they all too often paint is of a woman who has not come far enough from the world of geisha girls and Madame Butterfly.
Yuzuki Muroi's contribution is the sad story of a prostitute on the verge of her 20th birthday who, among other sordid actions, sells her urine to thirsty lechers. Miyuki is desperate, gullible and void of any sense of self-worth--abused by her boyfriend, abused by the men who buy her sex.
"Milk," by Tamaki Daido, tells the story of four friends in the throes of puberty. Female friendships, first loves and teenage insecurities take center stage, along with the requisite sleazy businessman in search of scoring a uniform-clad schoolgirl.
Rio Shimamoto's "Inside" also focuses on the difficult period between childhood and womanhood. The author, born in 1983, captures what it's like to grow up as the offspring of a loveless marriage. The narrator struggles to understand her sexuality and first relationship while caring for a sick mother and dealing with a whiny, absent father.
Shungiku Uchida's "My Son's Lips" is the story of a seemingly inconsequential but oddly meaningful encounter with a taxi driver. A young mother struggles to balance her career, children and husband, while also trying to cope with unanticipated urges that find their way into daily monotony.
"Her Room," by Chiya Fujino, describes a vaguely unsettling dinner date between two acquaintances. Kitahara, though overeager, is a kind host. But Kyoko can't shake the feeling that her host is a bit off, and a closed door--entering is forbidden--at the end of the hallway ups the creepiness factor considerably. A hatchet horror story doesn't ensue, but what does is more subtle and disturbing, the recognition of someone who is out of sync with the world around her.
"The Unfertilized Egg," by Junko Hasegawa, tells the story of Moriko, a woman obsessed by the sound of her biological clock. She spends her time pining away for her absent lover--also her married boss--eating tapioca pudding and lamenting the lack of procreation in her life. She flirts, drinks and dreams of eggs to no avail. Dismaying thoughts such as "My God, I'm being goaded by my own vulva" repeat themselves ad infinitum.
Amy Yamada's "Fiesta" is a murky tale of personified emotion. It's the ranting of a sexually frustrated office employee in which Desire and Murderous Intent take on Obsession, Passion, Reason and Pride.
"The Shadow of the Orchid" is perhaps the collection's most mature short story, and not only because it focuses on the life of a woman in the stages of menopause. Nobuko Takagi's tale tells the story of Michiko, a pensive woman whose son's departure for school makes her doubt her purpose in life. Her husband's preoccupation with his medical profession doesn't help, and Michiko ultimately centers her anxieties and insecurities on an inherited orchid plant. It's a gentle story that unfurls much like the orchid--subtly and mysteriously.
Unfortunately, much of the collection is neither subtle nor mysterious. Although it aims to reappropriate traditional versions of Japanese femininity, what it gives us is not necessarily new and is often uninspiring.
While the collection offers the opportunity to read several authors who have until now been unavailable to English readers, don't get your hopes up. Several of the stories have plenty of shock value and smut, and thereby succeed in dismantling stale stereotypes of the demure, exotic Japanese female, but that doesn't mean the collection is as revolutionary as the introduction promises.(IHT/Asahi: June 3,2006)
Inside and other short fiction
Japanese Women by Japanese Women
大道 珠貴, 島本 理生,
室井 佑月, 内田 春菊,
藤野 千夜, 山田 詠美,
長谷川 純子, 高樹 のぶ子
ジャケットアート： アーティスト 澤田知子『ＩＤ４００』より
Tamaki Daido, Rio Shimamoto,
Yuzuki Muroi, Shungiku Uchida
Chiya Fujino, Amy Yamada,
Junko Hasegawa, Nobuko Takagi
Foreword by Ruth Ozeki
Jacket Art by Tomoko Sawada
A5判変型 152 x 226mm 620g
[ 内 容 ]
『ミルク』 "MILK" ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 大道珠貴
『Inside』 "INSIDE" ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 島本理生
『Piss』 "PISS" ・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・ 室井佑月
『息子の唇』 "MY SON'S LIPS"・・・・・・・ 内田春菊
『彼女の部屋』 "HER ROOM" ・・・・・・・・藤野千夜
『無精卵』 "THE UNFERTILIZED EGG" ・・・・・・・ 長谷川純子
『蘭の影』 "THE SHADOW OF THE ORCHID" ・・・ 高樹のぶ子
Inside and other short fiction
Japanese Women by Japanese Women
Tamaki Daido, Rio Shimamoto,
Yuzuki Muroi, Shungiku Uchida
Chiya Fujino, Amy Yamada,
Junko Hasegawa, Nobuko Takagi
Foreword by Ruth Ozeki
Jacket Art by Tomoko Sawada
Hardcover 240 pages
152 x 226mm 620g
ISBN : 4-7700-3006-1
Publish : Jun, 2006
Price : $22.95
Want to Purchase
[ About the Book ]
"Delicate and explicit, haunting and aggressive, tender and titillating, poignant and comical . . . from emerging sexuality to love, perversion, motherhood, divorce, and finally death . . . what these eight stories share is a fearless and unsentimental narrative gaze that is fixed unblinkingly on the female experience in Japan today."
Fresh, bold, and vibrant, Inside and other short fiction paints a vivid portrait of the lives of contemporary Japanese women through the most original, thoughtful, and cutting-edge fiction from Japanese women writers today.
With provocative titles such as "Piss," "The Unfertilized Egg," and "My Son's Lips," these eight short stories explore the issue of female identity in a rapidly changing society, where women have unprecedented sexual and economic freedom. From teens to fifties; married, single, divorced; the high school girl, the career woman, the sex worker, the housewife, the mother—this anthology deals frankly and explicitly with a broad range of women's experiences, and showcases the very best of recent writing by Japanese women.
With eight short stories from Amy Yamada, Chiya Fujino, Shungiku Uchida, Tamaki Daido, Rio Shimamoto, Yuzuki Muroi, Junko Hasegawa, and Nobuko Takagi, this anthology presents a range of styles and perspectives from long-established favorites, prize-winning novelists, and outspoken newcomers—many of whom are published here for the first time in English. The foreword is by award-winning Japanese-American novelist Ruth Ozeki, author of My Year of Meats, and the jacket art is a section of ID400 by internationally renowned artist Tomoko Sawara, whose striking photo-booth images of herself in various guises question her own identity and the identity of all women.
Milk, by Tamaki Daido, Takes us inside the mind of an opinionated high school girl as she reflects on her relationships with friends, family and boyfriends.
Inside, by Rio Shimamoto, is the sensitive account of a teenage girl's first sexual experience against the backdrop of her parents' divorce.
Piss, by Yuzuki Muroi, tells the sexually explicit and very moving story of a young Tokyo prostitute.
My Son's Lips, by Shungiku Uchida, depicts the trials and tribulations of a harassed working mother.
Her Room, by Chiya Fujino, delves into the relationship between two women, one divorced and one single, with a subtle and powerful tale.
Fiesta, by Amy Yamada, is a sophisticated psychological portrait of a sexually repressed woman.
The Unfertilized Egg, by Junko Hasegawa, gives a hard-hitting portrayal of the single thirty-something lifestyle.
The Shadow of the Orchid, by Nobuko Takagi, is the story of a moment of crisis in the life of a fifty-year-old housewife.
About the authors
Milk, by Tamaki Daido, translation by Louise Heal
TAMAKI DAIDO was born in 1966 and worked as a radio scriptwriter before becoming a novelist. Her novel Naked won the 30th Kyushu Art Festival Prize in 2000. She was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize four times before finally winning the award in 2002 for Salty Drive, a novel that caused some controversy in Japan for its depiction of the unconventional love affair between a woman in her thirties and a man in his sixties. Daido's work is characterized by a cynical sense of humor and an offbeat take on female sexuality.
Inside, by Rio Shimamoto, translation by Avery Fischer Udagawa
RIO SHIMAMOTO was born in 1983. By the age of twenty, she had twice been nominated for the Akutagawa Prize for her novels Little by Little (2003) and The Depths of the Forest (2004). Little by Little was awarded the Noma Prize for Literature, making Shimamoto the youngest-ever recipient of the award. Her fiction often portrays the loneliness and isolation that young people feel as they cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood.
Piss, by Yuzuki Muroi, translation by Hisako Ifshin and Leza Lowitz
YUZUKI MUROI was born in 1970. Her resume lists beauty queen, actress, and bar hostess among her past occupations. Today she is better known as a prolific writer of essays and novels, and for her regular appearances on television and radio, where her outspoken views on current affairs make her a sought-after guest panelist on news shows. Since Muroi's debut as a writer in 1997, she has written more than twenty fiction and nonfiction titles. Her essays on love, marriage, and motherhood are particularly popular.
My Son's Lips, by Shungiku Uchida, translation by Cathy Layne
SHUNGIKU UCHIDA was born in 1959. She shocked Japan with the publication of her novel Father Fucker (1993), a hard-hitting story of domestic sexual abuse, but she is perhaps best known as a manga artist. Uchida is also an actress, winning critical acclaim for her performance as the mother in cult director Takashi Miike's Visitor Q.
Her Room, by Chiya Fujino, translation by Cathy Layne
CHIYA FUJINO was born in 1962. Her debut novel Afternoon Timetable was published in 1995, the first in a string of prizewinners. Fujino is a transsexual, but her stories do not particularly focus on gay or gender issues. Instead, she prefers to portray characters who are slightly out of step with society, and to hint at what may lurk behind the ordinary facade of everyday life. In 2000 she won the Akutagawa Prize for Summer's Promise, the tale of a group of friends in their twenties, centered around a gay couple and the transsexual next door.
Fiesta, by Amy Yamada, translation by Philip Price
AMY YAMADA, born in 1959, is widely considered the pioneer of a new generation of Japanese women novelists noted for their frank, sexually explicit portrayals of women's lives. Her first novel, Bedtime Eyes, published in 1985, is the controversial story of the relationship between a black American soldier and a Japanese woman. Since then, Yamada has written more than a hundred novels, essay collections, and short story collections, and has won many major literary prizes. Her novels Trash, Bedtime Eyes, Jesse, and The Piano Player's Fingers have been translated into English.
The Unfertilized Egg, by Junko Hasegawa, translation by Philip Price
JUNKO HASEGAWA was born in 1966. She is well-known in Japan for her regular appearances in a variety of magazines as a writer of "illustrated reports"; humorous, comic-strip style essays in which Hasegawa depicts the trials and tribulations of the generation of Japanese women to which she belongs. She has recently embarked on a career as a writer of fiction and essays. "The Unfertilized Egg" is taken from her first short story collection, Germination.
The Shadow of the Orchid, by Nobuko Takagi, translation by Avery Fischer Udagawa
NOBUKO TAKAGI was born in 1946. She won the Akutagawa Prize in 1984 for her novel Embracing the Light. Takagi is perhaps best known for her explorations around the theme of love. Her fiction deals with love in many different guises: pure love, married love, extra-marital affairs, and love triangles. Her rich, sensuous prose often focuses on the dark side of human nature, and on the psychological mechanisms of love.
The New York Times
Bush Pushes Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage
By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: June 2, 2006
WASHINGTON, June 2 — President Bush is beginning a major push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage — part of a new campaign to reassure cultural conservatives who say he and his party abandoned them after the 2004 elections.
Mr. Bush is to declare strong support for the amendment — scheduled for a vote in the Senate next week — in his radio address on Saturday, and at an event at the White House Monday with conservative activists, White House officials said today.
Taken together, the events will mark the first time Mr. Bush has so aggressively promoted his opposition to gay marriage since his re-election campaign. Democrats immediately accused the White House of trotting out a reliable hot-button issue as part of a calculated bid to help fellow Republicans with disgruntled conservative voters this election season.
But, in a new twist this year, some conservative activists expressed similar cynicism, saying Mr. Bush and the Republicans had a long way to go to convince cultural conservatives that they are serious after running on issues like gay marriage in 2004, only to pursue overhauls of social security and immigration laws after Election Day.
"It was so central in the 2004 election," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said of the gay marriage issue. "And the day after, the president began a crusade to reform Social Security and it went nowhere — why not put energy into something that's vital for our society and our country?"
Mr. Perkins, who is expected to attend the Monday event at the White House, complained that as Washington's attention has been focused elsewhere, judges in several states have struck down state laws and statutes banning gay marriage, most recently in Georgia and Nebraska.
Furthering the disconnection between Washington Republicans and their so-called values voters, Christian radio and Internet blogs have been on fire with discussion of moves by "activist judges" to "destroy the institution of marriage" as the immigration debate and developments in Iraq have dominated the mainstream news media here.
Conservatives have expressed still more alarm as Mary Cheney, the vice president's daughter, who is a lesbian, went on national television promoting her book this year and discussed her distaste for the president's opposition to gay marriage in 2004. Adding to what conservatives describe as the "fuzziness" of the White House's position, the first lady, Laura Bush, said of gay marriage last month, "I don't think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously." Speaking on Fox News Sunday, she added, "It requires a lot of sensitivity just to talk about the issue — a lot of sensitivity."
This week, White House officials have emphasized that whatever the views of those around him, the president's belief that marriage should be between a man and woman has never changed. But they pointed to comments on gay marriage in 2004 as his most comprehensive on the issue.
Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, today batted down suggestions that the president's involvement in the gay marriage debate was politically motivated. Rather, he said, with a number of new court cases and the Senate's move to bring a vote on the constitutional amendment on Tuesday, "The time is ripe."
The vote on the amendment is considered largely symbolic because it is not expected to pass in the Senate, let alone achieve the ratification in two thirds of the states that a constitutional amendment requires. The amendment would not only define marriage as being between a man and a woman, but would also prevent courts from imposing civil unions. Opponents say language of the amendment would prohibit outright legal equivalents of marriage, like civil unions; supporters say it would leave that up to states but take away the right of courts to "impose civil unions" on states that have voted to ban same-sex unions.
Bush backs amendment banning gay marriage
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 2, 10:47 AM ET
President Bush will promote a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on Monday, the eve of a scheduled Senate vote on the cause that is dear to his conservative backers.
The amendment would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages. To become law, the proposal would need two-thirds support in the Senate and House, and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.
It stands little chance of passing the 100-member Senate, where proponents are struggling to get even 50 votes. Several Republicans oppose the measure, and so far only one Democrat — Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska — says he will vote for it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment on May 18 along party lines after a shouting match between a Democrat and the chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa. He bid Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., "good riddance" after Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment and his intention to leave the meeting.
Bush aides said he would be making his remarks on the subject Monday.
A slim majority of Americans oppose gay marriage, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press from March. But the poll also showed attitudes are changing: 63 percent opposed gay marriage in February 2004.
Those poll results don't reflect how people might feel about amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court decided to legalize such marriages in 2003. A year later, San Francisco issued thousands of marriage licenses to gay couples.
This November, initiatives banning same-sex marriages are expected to be on the ballot in Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. In 2004, 13 states approved initiatives prohibiting gay marriage or civil unions, with 11 states casting votes on Election Day.
Bush benefited as religious conservatives turned out to vote and helped him defeat Democratic Sen. John Kerry in 2004. In Ohio, an initiative rejecting the legality of civil unions won handily. The same state tipped the election to Bush.
"The president firmly believes that marriage is an enduring and sacred institution between men and women and has supported measures to protect the sanctity of marriage," White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said.
Bush has lost support among conservatives who blame the White House and Congress for runaway government spending, illegal immigration and lack of action on social issues such as the gay marriage amendment.
Opponents of the amendment objected to Bush promoting a measure they said amounts to discrimination.
"This is fundamentally both a civil rights and religious freedom issue and the president's position of supporting amending the constitution is just dead wrong," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "This is simply to give ammunition to the so-called religious right just to show that the president is still with them."
Bush promoting ban on gay marriage
By Matt Spetalnick
Fri Jun 2, 4:53 PM ET
President George W. Bush will promote a constitutional ban on gay marriage on the eve of a Senate vote next week, weighing in on an issue that could rally his wavering conservative base in an election year.
Though the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage stands little chance of passing, it is one of several hot-button causes Republicans are championing to appeal to right-wing voters ahead of November's congressional ballot.
Bush planned to use his weekly radio address on Saturday and a White House speech on Monday to push for the amendment that would allow states to recognize only marriages between men and women, administration officials said on Friday.
Bush has never made a secret of his views on the issue but has rarely talked about it in public until now.
"He believes the institution of marriage is between a man and a woman," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters. "The president's made it clear what he wants. He would like to see the Senate pass the bill."
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment along party lines after a heated session on May 18. Because the measure seeks to change the Constitution, it must pass both houses of Congress by a two-thirds majority and then be approved by at least 38 states.
The full Senate will take up the measure on Monday with a vote expected later in the week, but the bill's sponsor, Colorado Republican Wayne Allard, has acknowledged he has far fewer than the 67 votes needed to win passage.
DOWN IN THE POLLS
Bush is raising his profile on the issue at a time when his public approval rating stands at around 30 percent, the low point of his presidency.
Bush used to be able to count on overwhelming support from fellow Republicans and conservatives.
But the Iraq war and a series of political blunders have chipped away at that backing, leaving many Republicans worried about losing control of Congress to the Democrats in November.
Critics say the Republicans are trying to exploit anti-gay prejudice to galvanize their conservative base.
Defending Bush's decision to speak out, Snow denied the president was acting out of "political expedience" and insisted he was taking up the issue because it was "politically ripe."
A similar effort failed in the Senate in 2004. Gay marriage has been a hot topic since a Massachusetts court ruled in 2003 that the state legislature could not ban it, paving the way for America's first same-sex marriages in May the following year.
At least 13 states have passed amendments banning gay marriage while two -- Vermont and Connecticut -- have legalized civil unions.
Just over half of all Americans oppose same-sex marriage, according to a March poll by the Pew Research center, down from 63 percent in February 2004.
(Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan)
MPs to vote on future of gay marriage law
By Robert Melnbardis
Fri Jun 2, 4:15 PM ET
MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Canadian Parliament will hold a free vote later this year on whether to start the process of scrapping a law that allows gay marriages, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday.
Canada became the fourth nation to legalize same-sex union when the law -- introduced by the previous Liberal government -- was adopted in late June 2005.
The right-leaning Conservatives, who won the January 23 election, campaigned on a promise to allow legislators a vote on whether to look at the issue again. In a free vote, members of the House of Commons are allowed to vote independently on an issue rather than along party lines.
"It was a commitment in our election platform and there will be a free vote this fall," Harper told reporters.
There is no guarantee legislators would vote in favor of re-examining the law, since Harper controls only a minority of seats in the House of Commons. Surveys of parliamentarians suggest most are unwilling to reopen the debate.
Harper promised the free vote after coming under pressure from socially conservative and religious elements inside his party, who oppose the law and say it could lead to polygamy.
"Once you weaken the defense of marriage, you open the door to all sorts of other arrangements such as group marriages," said Diane Watts of Real Women of Canada, who predicted a close vote.
Liberal legislator Paul Martin, who was prime minister when the law was passed, said Harper should be "building on the foundation of previous governments as opposed to essentially trying to tear down foundations that have been built."
Polls show that a slight majority of Canadians support the right of same-sex couples to marry. The vote promised by Harper will be held during Parliament's autumn session, which runs from mid-September to mid-December.
Opposition parties will undoubtedly use it as a chance to paint the Conservatives as untrustworthy social extremists.
This could cause problems for Harper in the next election campaign -- widely expected some time next year -- as he bids to win enough support to gain a majority. The Conservatives currently hold only 125 of the 308 seats in the Commons.
Liberal legislator Keith Martin said the same-sex marriage issue had already been settled in Canada, both in Parliament and in a succession of court decisions.
"I think he (Harper) is doing it as a sop to his far-right neoconservatives that still want to ban same-sex marriage," Martin told Reuters.
Some political observers speculate that Harper wants an early vote on a motion to reopen the gay marriage debate because it will be defeated, thereby allowing him to kill off the issue once and for all before the next election.
If legislators did approve the idea of addressing same-sex marriage, the government would then introduce legislation changing the definition of marriage back to that of a union between a man and a woman.
James Moore, a pro-gay marriage Conservative legislator said he was fine with the idea of voting on the issue.
"It's exactly what we promised, so we're keeping our word," he told reporters.
Harper also said he had not made a decision about an invitation to attend the 1st World Out Games, a gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes who will compete in 35 disciplines in Montreal, July 26 to August 5.
(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa)
Canada's Conservative government to revisit gay marriage
Fri Jun 2, 12:27 PM ET
MONTREAL (AFP) - Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to resurrected the divisive issue of same-sex marriage in Canada by holding a free vote in Parliament that could reverse a 2005 law recognizing gay unions.
"The date hasn't been set but it will be in the fall. It will be a free vote ... We committed (to) that in our (election) platform," Harper told reporters in Montreal when pressed on the issue.
In December 2005 during the election campaign, Harper said he hoped to restore the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman via a free vote -- in which party members aren't forced to vote the party line -- in the House of Commons if elected prime minister.
His move mainly served to stoke election passions by reviving the debate over the law, which sharply divided the country before it was enacted in June 2005 by the previous Liberal government.
More than 3,000 gay couples have wed since the law was passed. These unions would be preserved, Harper said in December.
But opponents have denounced the proposal, saying Harper would have to override rights enshrined in Canada's Charter of Rights with a never-before used constitutional clause.