Friday
May 18, 2007
SGN.org
Volume 35
Issue 20
 
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Rex Wockner
International News
EURO COURT RULES AGAINST WARSAW PRIDE BAN
Warsaw violated European law when it banned the 2005 Gay pride parade, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously May 3.

The man who was mayor then, Lech Kaczynski, is now Poland's president.

The Euro court said the city breached the European Convention on Human Rights' guarantee of freedom of association and assembly, its prohibition on discrimination, and its guarantee of a right to an effective remedy.

The city was sued by the pride organizers, the Foundation for Equality.

In prohibiting the march, Kaczynski said he opposed "propagating Gay orientation" and holding the event the same day Warsaw unveiled a monument to an anti-Nazi hero. The city further claimed that the Foundation for Equality failed to submit a proper "traffic organization plan" and that the parade could lead to violence by homophobes.

Gays marched anyway, about 2,500 of them. Around 300 anti-Gay protesters hurled eggs and shouted slurs at the marchers. Ten people were arrested and three were injured, including a policeman.

In a press summary of its ruling, the Euro court said it "attached particular importance to pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness" and that "the harmonious interaction of people and groups with varied identities was essential for achieving social cohesion."

"The positive obligation of a State to secure genuine and effective respect for freedom of association and assembly was of particular importance to those with unpopular views or belonging to minorities, because they were more vulnerable to victimisation," the summary said.

The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association commented: "There is a significant case-law already established by the Court in regards to freedom of assembly and now we know that the same principles are equally applicable to LGBT citizens. We hope that this decision ... will put a final stop to the outrageous violations of the right to peaceful demonstration by LGBT people which we witnessed during the last few years in some European cities."

FOREIGNERS TO JOIN RIGA, WARSAW PRIDES
Activists from several nations will travel to Gay pride parades in Riga, Latvia, and Warsaw, Poland, this year to support the local celebrations, which have seen aggression and hostility from residents and government officials in previous years.

Amnesty International said it will bring up to 100 members from 11 countries to Riga's parade June 3 "as a demonstration of solidarity with Latvian LGBT people."

There also will be a "big delegation" from Sweden, said Jonas Hansson of the Swedish Gay group RFSL, the National Federation for Sexual Equality.

Hansson said the 65-person delegation will include Members of the European Parliament Hélène Goudin and Maria Carlshamre, Swedish MPs Maria Kornevik Jakobsson, Camilla Lindberg, Börje Vestlund, Marianne Berg, LiseLotte Olsson and Helena Leander, and members of RFSL, LGBT Liberals, LGBT Social Democrats, the Feminist Initiative, LGBT Amnesty, the Gay Police Association, LGBT Students, the Swedish Armed Forces, Stockholm Pride and the Gay cultural group Tupilak.

Swedish and Euro MPs also will march May 19 in Warsaw, as will Sweden's minister for European Union affairs, Cecilia Malmström, who also will deliver an address to a pride conference.

During both Riga and Warsaw prides, the local Swedish Embassy will host a reception for members of GLBT organizations and local and visiting VIPs.

Although RFSL (Riksförbundet för Sexuellt Likaberättigande) translates as National Federation for Sexual Equality, the group calls itself the Swedish Federation for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgender Rights in English press releases.

LITHUANIA TO HOLD FIRST PRIDE EVENTS
Lithuania will see its first Gay pride events in late May.

The Lithuanian Gay League said a major highlight will be the May 25 display in Vilnius' Savivaldybes Square of a 30-meter rainbow flag -- "the longest and biggest rainbow flag in Lithuania."

The group also plans to place ads on trolleys and buses in Vilnius and Kaunas, and will offer seminars, panel discussions, cultural programs and a dance party.

Activists also plan to distribute Gay-related information to the public.

LIMA GAY BAR CLOSED OVER NOISE, 'IMMORALITY'
One of Peru's most-popular Gay bars has been shut down by Lima city officials following complaints of noise and immorality.

The bar Downtown, in the trendy Miraflores district, had incurred the wrath of the Peruvian Consumers and Users Association, which said the club routinely "compromised ... public order."

Gay activists called the closure discriminatory, but Mayor Manuel Masías noted that two straight clubs were closed at the same time, according to LivingInPeru.com.

HONDURAN ACTIVIST INJURED IN ATTACK, JAILED
Police officers watched and offered encouragement as five attackers beat a transvestite activist April 20 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, according to a May 4 alert from Amnesty International USA.

At the time of the attack, Josef Fabio Estrada, who is a leader of the Rainbow Association Transvestite Group, and two other Transgender prostitutes were working in the Gay Comayagüela district of the city.

"They were stopped and searched by police," Amnesty said. "Almost immediately, Estrada was set upon and beaten by five men, while a police patrol car sat parked nearby. The officers reportedly watched, laughed and offered encouragement to the attackers, shouting, 'Kill the faggot, beat him!' The police allegedly prevented two other sex workers from intervening. Estrada reportedly used a broken bottle found on the ground to defend himself. At this point the police finally intervened. They arrested and handcuffed Estrada, but let his attackers go free."

Amnesty says Estrada was seriously injured and has received no medical attention in custody. He is charged with attempted murder and robbery, and is being held in the state penitentiary's "cell of death" with prisoners suffering from tuberculosis, AIDS and mental illness, the organization said.

"Tragically, these grave threats and human rights abuses are all too common for the LGBT community in Honduras," said Amnesty USA's Ariel Herrera, director of the organization's OUTfront Program.

In March, the Rainbow Association's treasurer, Donny Reyes, was detained by police and held in a cell where he was raped and beaten by fellow prisoners at the urging of one of the arresting officers.

"Look, I'm bringing you a little princess, you know what to do," the officer said, according to Amnesty.

Amnesty said the Rainbow Association recently vacated its offices because of police intimidation and harassment that followed Reyes' public complaints about the abuse.

Honduran nongovernmental organizations say some 200 GLBT Hondurans were killed between 1991 and 2003 in anti-GLBT hate crimes.

CANADIAN GAY DIPLOMATS PLACE INDIA IN A QUANDARY
India's foreign ministry is stumped on what to do with Canada's request that the spouses of two of its Gay diplomats be granted diplomatic spouse privileges.

Same-sex marriage, which is allowed in Canada, is not recognized in India, and Gay sex ("carnal intercourse against the order of nature") is punished with up to 10 years in prison under Penal Code Section 377.

Legal challenges to the statute are stalled in the courts.

Canadian officials reportedly have suggested that under Vienna conventions on diplomatic and consular relations, Canadian diplomats would not be subject to Section 377. But India's foreign ministry maintains that the exclusion applies only to criminal procedure, not to local laws.

Full marriage is available to same-sex couples in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Numerous nations grant registered same-sex couples some, most or all rights and obligations of marriage under registered-partnership, domestic-partnership or civil-union laws. In yet other nations, such as the U.S., Brazil and Australia, such rights are granted by state or provincial laws.
QUOTE UNQUOTE
by Rex Wockner

"When we try to have an honest debate about the crises we face, whether it's on the Senate floor or a Sunday talk show, the conversation isn't about finding common ground, it's about finding someone to blame. We're divided into red states and blue states, and told to always point the finger at somebody else -- the other party, or gay people, or immigrants."

--Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., addressing the California Democratic State Convention, April 28 in San Diego.

"Are you ready for a president again who actually respects science and believes we ought to listen to scientists on -- oh, let's say, global climate change and stem cell research? Are you ready for a government that treats all Americans with dignity and equality no matter who you are and who you love? Are you ready to replace cronyism with competence again?"

--Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., addressing the California Democratic State Convention, April 28 in San Diego.

"I think that is left up to the individual business. I really sincerely believe that that is an issue that business people have got to make their own determination as to whether or not they should be."

--Presidential candidate Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, when asked during the May 3 Republican candidates' debate, "If a private employer finds homosexuality immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?" After he answered, Thompson was then asked, "So the answer is yes?" and he replied, "Yes." (Video: http://tinyurl.com/257krv)

"I made a mistake. I misinterpreted the question. I didn't hear, I didn't hear the question properly and I apologize."

--Gov. Thompson a day later, to the Associated Press.

"The sex was good."

--Dina Matos McGreevey, wife of now-gay former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, in her new book, Silent Partner.

"It just hit me like a ton of bricks [when he came out to me]. I wasn't absorbing it. I just started to cry. ... I felt like my world had crumbled and my life was over. In the course of the three days of his explanation and confession to me, it was clear to me that he never loved me. ... No one ever said to me that he was gay. It's a cliché that the wife is always the last to know, and it's true. ... I'm not in denial, but I don't think he's simply gay. I think he's bisexual. I mean, he was married twice. He has two children. And, you know, I never saw him checking out men, but I certainly saw him checking out women. ... I want [other people in a similar situation] to know ... you have nothing to be ashamed of. You've done nothing wrong. Most of them, just like me, probably married their spouse because they fell in love with them."

--Dina Matos McGreevey, wife of now-gay former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, in an appearance on Oprah Winfrey's TV show, May 1. In divorce papers, the ex-governor has claimed his wife "knew of my sexual orientation before our marriage" and "chose to either ignore it or block it out of her mind, even when questioned by her friends."

"I think that arguments against gay marriage are just ridiculous! Who cares? People want to get married for the same reason I wanted to get married. They want to do it in front of their friends and family. They want it to be a legally binding thing. They want to have that commitment. The idea that there's some moral issue about it is so ridiculous."

--Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter writing in Instinct magazine, May issue.

"This legislation would create equal legal protection and responsibilities for all individuals who seek to marry or have their marriage protected in the state of New York. Strong, stable families are the cornerstones of our society. The responsibilities inherent in the institution of marriage benefit those individuals and society as a whole."

--New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as he and Lt. Gov. David Paterson submitted legislation to legalize full marriage for same-sex couples, April 27.

"This bill guarantees that the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness will be protected equally for all individuals in the state of New York. This is an important step in the fight for civil rights for all people."

--New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson as he and Gov. Eliot Spitzer submitted legislation to legalize full marriage for same-sex couples, April 27.

"I feel that if I had been more mysterious about my own sexuality and played it a little more ambiguous, I probably would have sold more records and had more supporters, and sometimes I do bemoan the fact that I didn't go that route."

--Out singer Rufus Wainwright to AfterElton.com, April 22.

"I'm aware that I was representing, in certain ways, a minority, and my greatest wish was to make [Kevin] -- not just believable and not a cliché -- but an entertaining character as well. Which is what any actor's job is. I hope I don't sound like a complete asshole at the moment."

--British actor Matthew Rhys, who plays the gay character Kevin Walker on the ABC-TV series Brothers & Sisters, to Instinct magazine, May issue.

"When gay fans approach me, after they say how much they love Kevin, the next question inevitably is about Sally Field and what she's like to work with and how much they adore her work from Steel Magnolias and Soapdish, so I realize the magnitude of Sally's standing as a gay icon."

--British actor Matthew Rhys, who plays the gay character Kevin Walker on the ABC-TV series Brothers & Sisters, to Instinct magazine, May issue.

"I am the first openly gay congressional committee chairman, which means I am the first openly gay or lesbian person in American history to have significant governmental powers. A lot of very important people in the country and in the world are going to have to deal with me on equal terms, which will be very helpful in dealing with the prejudice against gay people. This is a big deal because this chairmanship oversees legislation on banking, securities, the Federal Reserve, the World Bank, the New York Stock Exchange -- hard-edged bastions of conservatism."

--Openly gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who became chairman of the House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee in January, to Out magazine, May issue.

"There are probably five or seven [closet cases] in the [U.S.] House and at least three senators."

--Openly gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to Out magazine, May issue.

"I wish to acknowledge that I did formerly have a four-year relationship with Jeff Chevalier. ... My initial witness statements [in a behind-the-scenes court case attempting to keep this news story from being published] contained an untruthful account about how I first met Jeff. ... These allegations will result inevitably in considerable media attention for both myself and BP. ... I have therefore informed the board of BP that I intend to stand down as group chief executive with immediate effect."

--BP (formerly called British Petroleum) chief executive John Browne, 59, quitting his job May 1 after he was outed by London media as having been in a relationship with a 27-year-old man he met through an escort service.

"On Monday 23 April we lost the first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, a man who, risking his life, gave freedom to us -- a man who underpinned the democratic values of contemporary Russia. The Russian gay community will always remember Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin as a man who put an end to almost sixty years of criminal prosecution for male homosexual relations. The law that he signed in April 1993 came into force on 27 May 1993. This day entered into the Russian history of the LGBT movement. 27 May was chosen as the date for the conduct of the first-ever gay pride march in Moscow last year."

--Gay activist and journalist Nikolai Alekseev writing at GayRussia.ru, April 23.

"Sero-sorting -- condom-free sex between people of the same HIV status -- is a big reason why [San Francisco has seen a marked decrease in new HIV cases]."

--Gay writer Andrew Sullivan on his blog, April 28.

"At the same time that sero-sorting has been widely adopted in SF, HIV-infection rates are dropping. And who deserves credit for this 'prevention success'? Average, rank-and-file, commonsensical gay men that adopted the practice without any 'institutional support.' Credit shouldn't go to AIDS prevention orgs."

--Gay writer Dan Savage on his blog, April 30.

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