by Rex Wockner -
SGN Contributing Writer
Montenegro Gay concert tear-gassed
Assumedly anti-Gay hooligans tear-gassed an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) concert in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on May 17, according to the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights.
The report said about half the audience dispersed and some people sought medical attention.
In response, pride organizers canceled the May 31 pride parade, which was to have been the nation's first.
'Today we saw firsthand the total lack of political will from national authorities to protect LGBT people and their supporters,' said MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the Intergroup. 'As Montenegro further progresses as a candidate to join the European Union, all its citizens must be protected and respected by authorities.'
The vice-chair of the European Parliament's Delegation to South East Europe, Jelko Kacin, added: 'It is deeply regrettable that the first Gay pride parade in the country should be canceled due to authorities' failure to unequivocally support the parade. ... Today, Montenegro failed to demonstrate that it wants to progress towards EU accession equally fast in all areas. Respect, protection and promotion of minority rights are a quintessential part of our common European values.'
LGBTs stage festival in Belarus, marchers arrested
LGBT people in Belarus opened their first Equality Festival at Minsk's Crowne Plaza hotel May 14. About 100 people attended, including some foreign diplomats.
'I commend and admire your courage,' said Jean-Eric Holzapfel, head of the European Union's delegation to Belarus. 'The EU promotes human-rights dialogue for tolerance and nondiscrimination vis-à-vis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender persons.'
Organizers' applications to stage a march were rejected by city authorities but two groups of activists held marches anyway on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
One march was terminated by police and 15 people were arrested, then released, according to reports.
In the other action, several activists from IDAHO-Belarus marched in central Minsk for 10 minutes with rainbow flags and a mock coffin to symbolize the death of freedom of assembly.
Police arrived at the march's endpoint and confiscated the coffin and other items but didn't arrest anyone. See tinyurl.com/minskem for video and tinyurl.com/ukgaynews-m for photos and more details.
St. Petersburg OKs Gay demo, Moscow bans Pride again
With city approval, some 150 LGBT activists staged a 'Rainbow Flashmob' in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 17 in conjunction with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
Organizers said it was the first time the city had 'officially sanctioned' the event.
Anti-Gay activists staged a smaller rally nearby. Police prevented them from making contact with the LGBT event.
Other IDAHO events were held in cities across Russia and worldwide.
In Moscow, meanwhile, city officials have rejected applications for the May 28 Gay pride march, citing security concerns and a desire to protect minors.
Moscow Pride recently won a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that previous years' bans by then-Mayor Yuri Luzhkov violated the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.
Gays have marched or staged other public actions yearly since 2005 despite the bans. The small gatherings were attacked by anti-Gay hooligans, picketed by religious protesters and broken up by police.
Euro institutions mark IDAHO
Major European Union institutions issued statements and took other actions to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on May 17.
They included the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Council, the European External Action Service, and the Fundamental Rights Agency. The only holdout was the Council of the European Union, currently chaired by Hungary.
May 17 is the day the World Health Organization decided 21 years ago that homosexuality isn't a mental illness.
'Homophobia is deplorable because it aims to denigrate people and deprive them of these rights on the basis of their sexual orientation,' said European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek. 'But as we celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, we must also remember, which may be of special importance, that some people are not only deprived of their basic rights, but may be tortured and punished because of their sexual orientation. In some countries they may even face the death penalty. We have a duty to protect human rights wherever they are and in whatever form they take.'
Gay sex is illegal in 76 nations. Laws allow for the death penalty in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, 12 Nigerian states, and parts of Somalia.
Gay families exhibit at European Commission
The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association staged an exhibition about same-sex families in the main building of the European Commission in Brussels May 10-20.
The 'Different Families, Same Love' exhibit highlighted 'the issues of same-sex families and the legal obstacles that they face due to the lack of legal recognition in Europe,' ILGA-Europe said.
European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding served as the show's patron. The commission is the European Union's executive body.
On May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, ILGA-Europe hosted a reception in the commission's central building, the Berlaymont, and launched its new video, 'Legal Jungle: Same-Sex Families Trapped Between EU Countries.'
According to the group, even European nations that legally recognize same-sex families and their children do not necessarily recognize similar families from other EU countries.
'All EU countries automatically recognize each other's different-sex marriages,' the group said. 'ILGA-Europe considers this to be a case of direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and calls for the European Commission to remedy such discrimination by introducing legal measures to facilitate the mutual recognition of all civil documents across the EU.'
ILGA-Europe Board Co-Chair Linda Freimane commented: 'It is very symbolic that our exhibition ... is being hosted in the very heart of the EU lawmaking institution. The European Union is not only about the common market and economic growth. The European Union also holds its citizens and their welfare and well-being at the heart of its values and aims. Therefore it is paramount that the very institution that has a power to initiate new legislation hears directly from people who are currently being discriminated against and face unjust hardship.'
Worldwide Gay rights report released
ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, released its 'State Sponsored Homophobia Report 2011' on May 17 in conjunction with IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
The document welcomes the legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina and Iceland, the Brazilian court ruling that created national civil unions, and the U.N. Human Rights Council's statement, signed by 85 nations, condemning persecution of LGBT people.
The researchers found that 76 nations still ban Gay sex and seven of them have laws punishing Gay sex with the death penalty: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, 12 states in Nigeria, and southern parts of Somalia.
The report is 'a tool for all activists, scholars and journalists to see ... where the world stands on laws related to sexual orientation and gender identity,' the group said.
ILGA's secretaries-general, Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini, said, 'The day is not far, when homophobia and Transphobia will be considered everywhere ... with the same abhorrence currently reserved to sexism and racism, and no amount of self-serving rhetoric will prevent the wall of state-sponsored homophobia from crumbling.'
The document can be downloaded at tinyurl.com/ilgassh11.
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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