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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

EU criticizes UK for allowing employment discrimination
The European Commission informed the United Kingdom on November 20 that it has incorrectly implemented European Union anti-discrimination rules.

Among other infractions cited by the EC, the UK allows religious employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The UK was supposed to have implemented the EU rules no later than 2003.

The EC determinations reportedly followed a complaint made by the National Secular Society. According to the Guardian newspaper, "the [UK] government now has no choice but to redraft anti-discrimination laws, which is likely to prompt a furor among church groups."

Present law allows religious groups to reject Gay job applicants if homosexuality conflicts "with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers."

Gay party blocked from Philippines election
The Philippines Commission on Elections has blocked the LGBT group Ang Ladlad from registering as a political party, claiming it "tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs" and is a "threat to ... youth."

Ang Ladlad had planned to field a candidate for Congress in the May 2010 national elections.

"We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of people, especially the youth," the commission said.

Ang Ladlad said it will appeal the rejection as far as the nation's Supreme Court, if necessary. At present, the group has filed a motion for reconsideration with the commission.

Activists are concerned the commission will use stalling tactics to delay resolution of the matter beyond imminent election deadlines.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said the issue "demonstrates the urgency for Congress to pass ... a law to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Philippines."

Tel Aviv Gays say city is thwarting cruisers
Cruisers in Tel Aviv say the city government seems hell-bent on making Independence Park less convenient for anonymous homosexual assignations, according to local media reports.

Brighter lights, fewer bushes and trees, and increased police patrols are all interfering with cruisers' attempts to diddle in the shrubbery.

Some Gay activists are fine with the clampdown, saying that in the post-closet era, clandestine park shenanigans should be a thing of the past.

Others point out that many men who have sex with men are still not openly Gay or Bisexual. Yet others note that parks are free while other places for meeting fellow Gays, such as bars and bathhouses, cost money.

According to the city, all Tel Aviv residents should feel comfortable in Independence Park, which necessitates not tolerating "illegal ... activity" by "the Gay community."

HRW goes after Serbia over its Gay climate
Serbia's government should quickly take visible steps to end a spate of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to President Boris Tadic released November 23.

"Homophobic violence in recent months has threatened LGBT people's access to basic freedoms," said Boris Dittrich of HRW's LGBT Rights Program.

In September, the government cancelled Belgrade's second Gay pride parade, saying it couldn't protect the marchers from anti-Gay thugs who had broadcast their intentions to attack the march.

Pride opponents had covered walls in the city center with graffiti that said, "We will get you," "Death to faggots," and "Blood will flow," and had spoken openly to reporters about planned assaults.

Other recent homophobic incidents include the cancellation of a Gay Straight Alliance press conference by a business center that called the group's message inappropriate, and an assault on the then-relocated press conference by youths who threw rocks and yelled, "Faggots, we will kill you."

HRW urged President Tadic to denounce violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, to ensure that the 2010 Gay pride parade takes place, and to promptly investigate all threats and allegations of anti-GLBT violence.

The group further urged the government to train prosecutors, police and judges to respond effectively to violence against LGBT people, to institute training in schools about equality and the need to prevent discrimination, and to ensure that children receive an education in an environment free of bullying or discrimination.

"Freedoms on paper are worthless if the state cannot or will not protect people who are threatened when they try to exercise them," said Dittrich. "Hatred and prejudice have kept too many Serbs from full participation in society for too long."

Belgrade's first Gay pride march - in 2001 in what was then Yugoslavia - was attacked by hundreds of thugs from ultranationalist youth organizations, skinhead groups and soccer clubs. The hoodlums kicked and beat the marchers and chanted, "Death to homosexuals." Police fired pistols into the air to chase the miscreants from the city's main square.

Euro Parliament calls for Gay freedom of movement
The European Parliament on November 25 adopted a resolution calling on European Union member nations "to ensure freedom of movement for EU citizens and their families, including both registered partnerships and marriages" and "to avoid all kinds of discrimination on any ground, including sexual orientation."

MEPs also called for EU-level anti-hate-crime legislation, citing "growing intolerance within the EU."

The co-presidents of the Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, Michael Cashman and Ulrike Lunacek, called the resolution "a step toward equality."

"The European Parliament has just sent a clear message that member states need to ensure the freedom of movement of all families and recognize unions between all EU citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation," they said. "The text goes in the direction of an EU-wide recognition of all unions contracted in member states ... but we will need to keep up the pressure on EU institutions and member states in the coming years to fully recognize same-sex unions - only then will we have genuine equality."

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures: Boris Dittrich
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