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March 9, 2007
SGN.org
Volume 35
Issue 10
 
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Rex Wockner
International News
GAYS SUE MOSCOW MAYOR FOR LIBEL
Organizers of last year's banned Moscow Gay pride parade sued Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for libel Feb. 26.

Nikolai Baev and Nikolai Alekseev seek a retraction of Luzhkov's statement that Gay pride parades are "satanic" and 2,000 rubles ($76) in damages.

"The Moscow mayor insulted me, as one of the organizers of the illegally banned Gay pride march, not only as a citizen of this country but also as a believer," said Alekseev. "[He] has no right to insult people using such words."

Baev called Luzhkov's remarks "part of the system of widespread defamation of homosexuals which is used by Russian politicians, public figures and journalists. I am convinced that our court claim will become very important precedent in the fight against insults directed at homosexual people in Russia."

On Jan. 29, Luzhkov stated: "Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the Gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as satanic. We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future. ... Some European nations bless single-sex marriages and introduce sexual guides in schools. Such things are a deadly moral poison for children."

Last year's pride ban, supported by the courts, led organizers to replace the planned parade with attempts to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hold a rally across from City Hall. Participants in both small events were violently attacked by neofascists, skinheads, Christians and riot police. Organizers say they will try to march again this year, on May 27.

They have filed suit in the European Court of Human Rights over last year's ban, seeking a determination of their right to march and $26,000 in damages.

"Not a single European legal expert we have spoken with doubts in the success of our application to the court," Alekseev said.

ITALIAN CIVIL UNION BILL SHELVED
A high-profile political rejiggering that barely kept Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in power likely doomed the ruling party's civil union bill in late February.

The legislation reportedly was removed from the government's key agenda items as one of several concessions that allowed Prodi to cobble together a new parliamentary coalition large enough to save his job and prevent an election.

The bill had achieved final-draft form only on Feb. 8. The proposed law applied to both Gay and straight couples, and granted rights in areas such as health care, social benefits, pensions, inheritance, rental contracts, and hospital and prison visitation.

A spokesman said Prodi still hopes to enact a civil union law down the road.

Twelve of the European Union's 27 member nations offer same-sex couples access to either full marriage or marriagelike civil unions.

EUROPEAN FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AGENCY LAUNCHES
The new European Fundamental Rights Agency began work March 1. It is charged with ensuring that laws in the European Union properly apply requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

But the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe) has expressed "disappointment at ... the lack of the agency's independence."

"In order to ensure credibility of this agency, it is important that the persons who will be appointed by the states on the management board of the agency are truly independent and have a strong record and expertise on human rights," the group said.

ILGA-Europe head Patricia Prendiville commented: "We hope that the agency ... will employ an integrated approach when dealing with cases of fundamental rights, equality and anti-discrimination. In many instances human rights violations have also discriminatory elements. This is in particular the case in the banning of ... LGBT pride marches which occurred in the EU member states in the recent years."

IRAQI GAY ACTIVIST REPORTS 'SEXUAL CLEANSING'
Some officials in Iraq's government are colluding with death squads responsible for the "sexual cleansing" of GLBT Iraqis, activist Ali Hili told the Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights conference in London last month.

"Iraqi LGBTs are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias," said Hili, an Iraqi refugee and founder of the London-based group Iraqi LGBT.

"Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq. This is happening with the collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government.

"What is happening today in Iraq is one of the most organized and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of the world," Hili said.

Last November, five members of Iraqi LGBT reportedly were abducted in Baghdad and, Hili believes, killed.

"For the previous few months these activists had been documenting the killing of Lesbians and Gays, and relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London," he said. "I have no doubt that they were targeted not just because they were Gay, but also to stop them exposing to the outside world the antiGay pogrom that is happening in Iraq today."

On Jan. 18, a United Nations Assistance Mission report validated many of Hili's assertions.

"Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them," the report said. "There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq.

"At least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from Shaab area in the first week of December [sic] by one of the main militias. The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared in the same area after a few days. [We were] also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death and then executed," the report said.

BUENOS AIRES RESIDENTS SUPPORT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
More than 73 percent of residents of Buenos Aires, Argentina, "agree" with "same-sex marriage," according to a new Analogías poll released by Página 12.

At present, Buenos Aires is one of a handful of locales in Latin America that offer civil unions to same-sex couples.

Pollsters asked 400 adults, "Do you agree or disagree with same-sex marriage?" Seventy-three percent said they agree, 26 percent said they disagree and 1 percent were unsure of their opinion. The poll's reported margin of error was 4.5 percent.
Quote / Unquote
"I believe very strongly in the responsibility of people with power and influence to be role models. Living more openly in the later years of my NBA career was one of the things that radically changed my life. It made me happier. I want to spread my influence in the same way that I was able to because I had a basketball in my hand. I hope now to have perhaps a different lectern to stand behind but with an equally important message."
--Former National Basketball Association player John Amaechi announcing Feb. 11 that he will serve as a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project.

"I think [NBA players' reactions to my coming out] illustrate the diversity of opinion. Some of them illustrate a great deal of naïveté, and an oversimplification of the issue, and some of them don't speak with much thought at all, but there are some really well-spoken, provocative things that people have said that are positive and they should be added to the conversation."
--Former National Basketball Association player John Amaechi to the Associated Press, Feb. 12.

"From a marketing perspective, if you're a [professional sports] player who happens to be Gay and you want to be incredibly rich, then you should come out, because it would be the best thing that ever happened to you from a marketing and an endorsement perspective. You would be an absolute hero to more Americans than you can ever possibly be as an athlete, and that'll put money in your pocket. On the flip side, if you're the idiot who condemns somebody because they're Gay, then you're going to be ostracized, you're going to be picketed and you're going to ruin whatever marketing endorsements you have."
--Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 12.

"I hate Gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like Gay people and I don't like to be around Gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States. ... I wouldn't want [a Gay teammate]. I would really distance myself from him because I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room. ... If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."
--Retired Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway speaking on local radio Feb. 14 about former NBA player John Amaechi's coming out, according to the Miami Herald. Hardaway later apologized several times.

"People in America and England would like to think racism is over, sexism is over, and homophobia is over, but it's not. My coming out will show that Gay people don't all look like Jack from Will and Grace. Some of us are big, athletic men, and that should be OK."
--Former National Basketball Association player John Amaechi to the Miami Herald, Feb. 15.

"How much would you bet that Reverend Ted Haggard falls off the wagon in the very near future? I'm serious. I know he just got a big check to shut up and leave town, but you know what he likes to spend his money on! Tick-tock, gentlemen."
--Author Susie Bright writing at The Huffington Post, Feb. 12.

"It's not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, 'No, I'm not [Gay],' but I didn't want to draw any more attention to it. ... I didn't have to prove to anybody that I wasn't [Gay]. I didn't feel like I really did."
--Country singer Kenny Chesney on TV's 60 Minutes, Feb. 18.

"People think my movies are exaggerations until they come to Baltimore for two days and they see all the characters standing on the street corner."
--Gay filmmaker John Waters to Philadelphia Gay News, Feb. 9.

"The male sex scenes actually got more and more difficult as the show [Queer As Folk] went along. You start to dread them; doing a sex scene, period, is like simulating sex with a cousin on the dining room table at Thanksgiving. It's the most awkward thing -- and there are 35 people standing around. They're spraying you with water to make you look sweaty, and they shoot you from certain angles so it doesn't become porn -- and so the audience doesn't see that you're wearing a sock on your crank."
--Actor Hal Sparks to Windy City Times, Jan. 31.

"I hope I'm heading in the direction of being a good old Gay person! I think it means being the best version of 62 I can be, not lamenting that I'm not 35. There is some wisdom that comes with age if you've been listening at all to the universe."
--Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin to the Oregon Gay newspaper Just Out, Feb. 2. Maupin's new book, Michael Tolliver Lives, will be released in June.

"How wide should you open a relationship before there's nothing there at all? I can't speak for women except through my own empathy, but I think men in general decide that they have to make contracts with each other that accommodate their maleness. If this other person is truly the primary relationship in your life, and you are devoted to making that clear every moment, then you are far less likely to hurt each other when the opportunity comes to play with someone else. I had trouble with this for many years."
--Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin to the Oregon Gay newspaper Just Out, Feb. 2. Maupin's new book, Michael Tolliver Lives, will be released in June.

"There are stereotypes about drag. You know, that you are lip-syncing and getting drunk in bars. But when I am in the drag world, I see this very huge talented group of people that are very diverse. I celebrate all of that. Even the bad drag."
--Actor Clinton Leupp (aka Coco Peru) to the Palm Springs Gay magazine The Bottom Line, Feb. 2.

"I live in a rural area of Colorado. We have farmers, horses -- and families that I meet at town meetings and at the feed store. In the last five years, people have seen the show, subscribed to Showtime and come up to me, standing tall, and said, 'I have a Lesbian sister -- no one talks about it but I feel good telling you.' They love to mention -- with pride -- that I am in a show called 'The L Word' and they are much more knowledgeable about Bisexual and Transgender people too. If it is happening in the microcosm of a small town in Colorado, it's happening across the country and around the world."
--Actress Pam Grier to Los Angeles' Lesbian News, February issue.

"If you were trying to promote yourself as Anderson Cooper, are you Gay first and foremost, or are you Anderson Cooper? If he does agree to talk about it, well then you can't talk about anything else, and no one wants to talk about anything else, which is understandable. They've got someone prepared to talk about it, so they're like little kids -- every journalist just wanting to know more and more and more, and as you're talking about it you're draining everyone of interest in you. Then people start thinking, 'Oh, my God, he's such a bore --I wish he'd shut up about being fucking Gay, these fucking fags.' And then you trigger another phobia, which is the impression that Gay men and Lesbians never stop going on about it."
--Actor Rupert Everett to Out magazine, March issue.

"Being Gay is not an identity; that's the bottom line. It's a sideline. But through nobody's fault and everybody's fault it's become a subject for identity, so you run away from mainstream culture into a kind of offbeat culture, and then the offbeat culture becomes a little mainstream culture of its own -- just as brutal, actually, as the culture you thought you were leaving behind."
--Actor Rupert Everett to Out magazine, March issue.

"When she [Madonna] fixed you with her regard, there was a tenderness and warmth that made your skin bump, but when she looked away, it was like sunbathing on a cold day and suddenly a cloud comes. ... She had the cupid-bow lips of a silent-screen star, and it was obvious that she was playing with Sean [Penn's] cock throughout the meal [we were sharing]."
--Actor Rupert Everett to Out magazine, March issue.

"For the last six years we've been told that our mounting debts don't matter, we've been told that the anxiety Americans feel about rising health care costs and stagnant wages are an illusion, we've been told that climate change is a hoax, and that tough talk and an ill-conceived war can replace diplomacy and strategy and foresight. And when all else fails, when Katrina happens, or the death toll in Iraq mounts, we've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We're distracted from our real failures, and told to blame the other party or Gay people or immigrants."
--U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Feb. 10 in Springfield, Ill.

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