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International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Sydney Mardi Gras bans Tasmanian Gay vacation material
Officials of Sydney's LGBT Mardi Gras extravaganza banned Tourism Tasmania from Mardi Gras' Fair Day because it planned to promote Tasmania as a Gay-friendly holiday destination.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group activist Rodney Croome said Mardi Gras "interpreted its sponsorship contract with Events NSW [New South Wales] to preclude the promotion of any other state as a tourist destination at any Mardi Gras event."

"Whether a ban is motivated by hate or, in the case of the Mardi Gras, by money, censorship is censorship and should be resisted," Croome said. "Mardi Gras seems blind to the fact that the cost of exclusive contracts in terms of community ill-will far outweighs whatever short-term financial benefit they may have."

Gay-owned Tasmanian travel operators, who usually promote themselves from Tourism Tasmania's stall, reportedly were given refuge by other stallholders but still were prohibited from distributing material promoting Tasmania as a state.

Fair Day, held February 21 this year, is a huge festival of exhibits, information, food, booze, entertainment, contests, music, dancing and other merrymaking.

St. Petersburg refuses to fund anti-homophobia campaign
Officials in St. Petersburg, Russia, have refused to include funding to fight homophobia in the city's Program for Tolerance.

A funding request for posters, a film festival and other actions had been submitted by the LGBT group Equality.

The chairman of the city's Committee on Culture, Anton Gubankov, agreed that homophobia is a problem but said that "publishing and distributing [material] about LGBT people can be negatively perceived by the majority as the promotion to the public of sexual and gender minorities."

Equality spokeswoman Maria Efremenkova called the rejection un-European.

"St. Petersburg, which aims to show itself as the most European city in Russia, acts in contradiction to most European cities, which sponsor large-scale campaigns against homophobia and Transphobia," she said.

Efremenkova's group is planning the city's first Gay pride parade on June 26.

Attempts to stage pride parades in Moscow over the past four years have been banned by that city's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov. Small groups of activists who ignored the bans have been violently attacked by riot police and anti-Gay thugs.

Costa Rica may see same-sex-marriage referendum
Ten Costa Ricans have turned in more than 130,000 signatures of registered voters requesting a popular referendum on a bill introduced in the Legislative Assembly to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Tribunal of Elections will determine if a minimum of 130,751 signatures, representing 5 percent of registered voters, are valid.

If they are, the referendum could appear on the ballot in December's mayoral elections.

With assistance from Bill Kelley, Andrés Duque

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picture: Rodney Croome
bottom: Peru mall
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