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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 49
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Poland sees first openly Gay elected official
Poland has its first openly Gay elected official.

Gay activist and club owner Krystian Legierski was elected to the Warsaw City Council from the city's Mokotow district in the November 21 election.

Although he is a member of the Green Party, Legierski was a candidate on the Social Democrats' party list.

As in many countries, parties rank their candidates on a list and then the number of the candidates who win office is a matter of the percentage of votes the party receives overall.

Legierski also is black "a very rare feature in Polish homogeneous society," said veteran Gay activist Slawek Starosta.

In an interview for this column, Legierski said: "In Poland, there are so few blacks that nobody has ever done research on how many there are. It would not pay to do it. But without a black-emancipation movement, and without a strong organization of sexual minorities, after just 20 years of democracy, we have achieved what elsewhere sometimes took generations. Poland showed its tolerant and nondiscriminatory face."

Euro Parliament says all EU countries must recognize marriages
The European Parliament said November 23 that civil documents birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, etc. must be recognized the same in every European Union nation.

That means countries that don't allow same-sex marriage or civil unions are expected to recognize such unions from countries that do.

The Parliament said it "strongly supports plans to enable the mutual recognition of the effects of civil status documents" and "stresses the need to ensure mutual recognition" of them.

The next step is for the European Commission to propose ways to achieve mutual recognition of all partnerships and marriages throughout the EU.

"This is a great development for the many couples and families who see their fundamental rights diminished every day when crossing a border inside the EU," said Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

Co-President Michael Cashman said the statement adopted by the Parliament "follows the Commission's assertion in September that freedom of movement must be guaranteed for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation."

"Claims that mutual recognition will undermine national sovereignty are plain wrong; it won't affect national marriage or partnership laws, but simply recognize civil unions that already exist," Cashman said.

Member nations of the European Union are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Currently seeking to join the EU are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Elsewhere, it is legal in Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Mexico City, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Russian pride event attacked
About 100 people demonstrated against Russia's first legal Gay pride event November 20 in St. Petersburg. Some of the counterprotesters threw eggs at the 15 Gay ralliers, tore up signs, damaged a rainbow flag, shouted insults, and sang religious hymns.

Organizers expressed disappointment at the level of police protection of the event.

"Police had to evacuate participants and they are all safe," said Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev, who drove 10 hours "on the icy road with snow and many trucks" to join the rally.

Around 10 counterdemonstrators were taken into custody. There is raw video of the showdown at grani-tv.ru/entries/1479/.

Russia's routine bans on public Gay events recently were struck down by the European Court of Human Rights, in a series of cases brought by Alekseev.

Masked men tear-gas Trans event in Ukraine
Thirty attendees at a Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Kiev, Ukraine, were attacked with tear gas by 10 men in masks November 20.

In addition, activist Timur Lysenko from the group Insight was beaten at the gathering at the Visual Culture Center.

The incident occurred inside the building as the group watched the film Boys Don't Cry.

Victims are filing police complaints and pushing to have the incident classified as a hate crime rather than hooliganism, which was officials' preliminary assessment.

Aussie PM refuses to OK Gay marriage despite public support
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard continues to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage despite polls that show the public supports it.

The latest Sydney Morning Herald/Nielsen poll, released November 22, found that only 37 percent of Australians oppose same-sex marriage while 57 percent support it.

Among Australians who belong to Gillard's Labor Party, two-thirds support same-sex marriage and among Greens party voters, 86 percent support it.

Pollsters questioned 1,400 voters.

Vienna Gay ball set for imperial palace
Vienna's traditional LGBT Rainbow Ball will take place in the Hofburg imperial palace in February.

"For the first time, the LGBT community will paint the imperial staterooms of the Habsburgs' winter residency in rainbow colors," said organizer Homosexual Initiative Vienna, or HOSI Wien.

Three thousand attendees are expected.

"As the Parkhotel Schönbrunn is closed for refurbishing works next year, we had to find an alternative location for the ball," said HOSI President Christian Högl. "We seized this occasion to secure the most prestigious venue for balls in Vienna [where] we expect to be able to almost double the number of guests."

For more information in English, see tinyurl.com/2bk3glq.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - Krystian Legierski
Petersburg demonstration
Vienna Ball
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