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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Lithuanian Parliament overrides veto of 'no promo homo' law
The Lithuanian Parliament on July 14 overrode a presidential veto of a bill that bans from schools and public places any information that 'agitate[s] for homosexual, Bisexual and polygamous relations.' The vote was 87-6.

The Parliament, or Seimas, previously had passed the measure 67-3, with 67 MPs not voting. Seventy-one votes were needed for an override.

The new statute is called the 'Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.'

An explanatory note attached to it says: "The propagation of a nontraditional sexual orientation and exposure to information containing positive coverage of homosexual relations may cause negative consequences for the physical, mental and, first and foremost, moral development of minors."

The law specifically states that it is meant to cover movies and websites, so domestic and foreign Gay websites might now be banned in Lithuania, along with hundreds of films such as Milk and La Cage aux Folles.

The law also bans information that promotes hypnosis, "bad eating," paranormal phenomena, gambling, lotteries, physical passivity and other things legislators consider "detrimental" to minors' bodies or thought processes.

The measure's sponsor said it protects Lithuanian youth from "the rotten culture that is now overwhelming them."

The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (aka ILGA-Europe) said the law "seriously undermines the right to education and can have detrimental effects to young people who are Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual as they are now officially banned from receiving any information and support."

Amnesty International said the law "denies the right to freedom of expression and deprives students' access to the support and protection they may need."

Poles hate same-sex marriage
Seventy-five percent of Poles oppose legalization of same-sex marriage and 87 percent say Gay couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt children, a GfK Polonia poll has found.

The poll is the latest example of the wide gulf on Gay acceptance that separates Western Europe from the European nations that used to be part of the Communist bloc.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Europe in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden - and most other Western European nations have civil-union laws for Gay couples.

Portugal sees biggest Prides yet
About 3,000 people marched in Lisbon's Gay pride parade June 20, making it Portugal's largest pride parade to date.

But Portuguese Gays may like to party more than they like to march, as the Arraial Pride party a week later attracted 4,000 people.

Mayor António Costa joined the outdoor booze, food and music event near the Torre de Belém, the city's most prominent landmark.

"One novelty was the 'Queer Games' activity with high-heels run, and other funny sport-like activities; another first was a kindergarten area," said correspondent João Paulo of the web portal PortugalGay.PT.

On July 11, about 1,000 people took part in the fourth Gay pride parade in Porto, the nation's second-largest city.

After dark, some 2,000 people showed up for the ninth Porto Pride party, which lasted until 8 a.m.

Ukraine bans Brüno
Sacha Baron Cohen's new Gay flick Brüno has been banned in Ukraine for alleged immorality, obscenity and impropriety.

The Culture Ministry said it was displeased with the movie's "artistically unjustified" Gay-sex scenes, obscene language, nudity, graphic homosexuality, sadism and anti-social behavior.

In the U.S., the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation also has dissed the film.

"The filmmakers wanted to use satire to highlight and challenge homophobia," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "But their film also reinforces troubling attitudes about Gay people in ways that run counter to the intentions of the filmmakers.

"The movie repeatedly builds entire scenes around stock stereotypes and situations that make Gay people and families the butt of crude jokes. I can't help but think of all the teenage kids already getting bullied, beat up and ridiculed for being - or for being thought to be - Gay. For these kids, this movie will give their tormentors one more word in the anti-Gay lexicon of slurs: Brüno."

Some Gay bloggers and Facebook users who have seen the film say GLAAD is humorless and needs to find its funnybone - a charge the group occasionally has encountered before.

Group says GLBT activists targeted after Honduran coup
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on July 17 condemned "the recent murder and arbitrary arrests of ... LGBT activists in Honduras."

"IGLHRC has learned that these human rights abuses have occurred as a direct result of the military coup on June 28 ... which ousted that country's democratically elected government," the group said.

A transgender activist was shot dead June 29 a block from the Gay community center in the city of San Pedro Sula, IGLHRC said.

"Local activists in Honduras claim she was killed by military police patrolling the streets," the organization reported.

Five other GLBT activists - Héctor Licona, Donny Reyes, Patrick Pavón, Claudia Cervantes and Lizeth Ávila - were arrested, detained and beaten June 29 in Tegucigalpa, the capital, IGLHRC said.

"The arrests occurred while the activists were participating in a demonstration in support of the democratically elected government," the group said.

The five activists are well-known GLBT leaders.

"The recent coup in Honduras is an illegal assault on democracy that violates the rights of all Honduran citizens, including those who identify as LGBT," said IGLHRC Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson. "We especially deplore the vicious murder and arbitrary arrests of LGBT people in the wake of this crisis."

Russian human rights ombudsman meets with Gay group
Russia's human rights ombudsman, V.P. Lukin, met with members of the Russian LGBT Network on July 15 and received a "discrimination monitoring report" prepared by the network and the Moscow Helsinki Group.

Lukin reportedly said that GLBT people are entitled to the same rights as anyone else and "if rights of specific people are violated due to their orientation, we are ready to protect their rights."

LGBT Network Chairman Igor Kochetkov said he was very pleased with how the meeting went.

"This is the first time a representative of the Russian government officially met with ... Russian LGBT activists," Kochetkov said. "We can safely say that the results exceeded our expectations. We very much count on further collaboration with the ombudsman."

Numerous cases are pending at the European Court of Human Rights over Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's repeated bans of Gay pride and other Gay events. There also are cases against other Russian cities that have blocked Gay events.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - top: Madrid Pride
below: Lisbon Pride
bottom: Cary Alan Johnson
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