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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

300 Gay cops, staffers march in Manchester
In the largest such grouping ever, 300 Gay and Lesbian police officers and staffers marched in the Gay pride parade in Manchester, England, August 23.

The cops came from 16 police forces around the United Kingdom.

"I am totally overwhelmed with the response we have had this year," Sgt. Julie Barnes-Frank, coordinator of Greater Manchester Police's Lesbian and Gay Staff Affiliation, told the Press Association. "Each year our presence gets bigger and bigger and this year it is true to say there's never been anything like it in the world."

Meanwhile, England's most southwesterly county, Cornwall, saw its first Gay pride parade August 23 in the city of Truro.

Some 600 people marched and the Gay Police Association flag flew from the Truro Police Station.

Only publicly Gay man at Olympics wins gold medal
The only publicly Gay man participating in the Beijing Olympics won a gold medal in 10-meter platform diving August 22.

In so doing, Matthew Mitcham of Australia recorded the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history.

"I think it's something to beat next time," Mitcham, 20, told the Sydney Morning Herald afterward. "Everything, absolutely everything, has been for this. I knew it was a far chance but I did everything, absolutely everything I could, to give myself the best chance of doing it. It's actually happened. I never thought it would."

Mitcham's partner, Lachlan Fletcher, attended the Olympics on a grant from Johnson & Johnson's Athlete Family Support Program.

"Coming out publicly, that was a first," said Mitcham's mother, Vivien. "The highest score awarded to an Olympic dive ever, another first. How many more firsts can this child get?"

Mitcham came out in a May interview with the Herald.

Of the 10,500 athletes who competed in the Olympics, only 10 were publicly Gay, according to

The other nine were Lesbians: Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling), Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing), couple Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg(Norway, handball), Natasha Kai (U.S., soccer), Lauren Lappin (U.S., softball), Victoria "Vickan" Svensson (Sweden, soccer), Rennae Stubbs (Australia, tennis) and Linda Bresonik (Germany, soccer). Outsports also took note of openly Bisexual U.S. softball player Vicky Galindo.

Hammerseng, Nyberg and Kai also took home gold medals.

Lappin and Galindo won silver medals and Bresonik snagged a bronze.

35,000 at Ottawa Pride
Some 1,200 marchers and 34,000 spectators turned out for the 19th Gay pride parade in Ottawa, Ontario, on August 24.

The march went down Wellington Street to City Hall, with stops at the Parliament Buildings and the federal Supreme Court, both of which played a role in Canada's legalization of same-sex marriage.

"It's important for us to keep ... celebrating those victories," Capital Pride spokesman Julien Lavoie told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "And maybe there's still some inequalities that Gays and Lesbians face."

Newsweek encounters obstacles reporting on Gays in Iraq
Newsweek ran into obstacles left and right in attempting to do a story on Gays in Iraq, the magazine reported on its Web site August 26 in an article titled, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Do Kill."

"Nobody wants to talk about Gays in Iraq, much less who is killing them," the article said.

After weeks of inquiries, the magazine set up a meeting with Nadir, who helps run one of the "safe houses" foreign activists fund for Iraqi Gays.

But the night before their meeting, Nadir was visited by the Mahdi militia, the armed wing of the organization led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and Nadir then called off the meeting.

"That was only one of many problems reporting on Gays in Iraq," Newsweek said. "Iraqi authorities scoffed at the subject - when not scolding a reporter for even asking about it. Some of Newsweek's own local staff were wary of the story. Virtually no government officials would sit for an interview. And the United Nations human-rights office, which has a big presence in Iraq, dodged the subject like a minefield."

Gay men the magazine did manage to talk to told stories of being thrown out of their homes and "savagely attacked" by Shia extremists from the Badr Corps or members of the Mahdi Army.

Killing Gays has become "honorable" in Iraq, the report said.

"And raping them is OK because it isn't considered a homosexual act - only being penetrated or providing oral sex is."

The report concluded, "Changing Iraq's attitudes toward its Gay minority may prove even harder than ending the war."

Church to separate bodies of Cardinal Newman and partner
In preparation for making him a saint, the Roman Catholic Church will dig up the body of influential 19th-century English Cardinal John Henry Newman and move it to a church in Birmingham.

The move will separate Newman's body from that of fellow priest Ambrose St. John, with whom Newman lived for three decades and beside whom he demanded, in his will, that he be buried. The men's graves share a headstone.

Newman's will said: "I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Father Ambrose St. John's grave - and I give this as my last, my imperative will."

Some British Gay activists have suggested the decision is based on a desire to obscure evidence of Newman's alleged homosexuality prior to canonization.

Gay leader Peter Tatchell called the exhumation "an act of grave robbery and religious desecration."

"It violates Newman's repeated wish to be buried for eternity with his lifelong partner," Tatchell told The Independent. "They have been together for more than 100 years and the Vatican wants to disturb that peace to cover up the fact that Cardinal Newman loved a man. It's a shameful, dishonorable betrayal of Newman by the Gay-hating Catholic Church."

When St. John died, Newman wrote, "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or anyone's sorrow greater, than mine."

Church officials claim that Newman was not Gay and that saints' graves must be easily accessible to the faithful.

They have accused Tatchell and others of mistakenly superimposing today's categories onto Victorian times when intense and passionate but celibate same-sex relationships apparently were common among Anglo-Catholics.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top: Ottawa Pride
middle: Ottawa Pride
bottom: John Henry Cardinal Newman

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