July 13, 2007
V 35 Issue 28

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Rex Wockner
International News
The annual Europride parade, held this year in Madrid, saw a turnout of more than 1 million people June 30.

A four-day festival that started June 27 offered 200 cultural, sports and party events.

Marchers set off from the Puerta de Alcalá and headed down Alcalá Street and Gran Vía to the Plaza de España. The theme was "Now Europe! Equality Is Possible."

Activists singled out Poland for special criticism, and about 100 people staged a demonstration prior to the parade at the Polish Embassy. Recurring homophobic statements and actions by the nation's president and prime minister, who are twin brothers, has angered equality advocates continentwide.

The marchers included politicians, union leaders and federal Minister of Culture Carmen Calvo. The city of Madrid supported the event with 100,000 euros (US$136,000) in funding.

Spain is one of six nations where same-sex couples have access to full civil marriage.

The same day as Europride, some 700,000 people took part in Paris' Gay pride parade, including openly Gay Mayor Bertrand Delanoë. The theme was "We Will Not Compromise on Equality."

Organizers demanded access to civil marriage, saying France's civil-union law doesn't provide the same rights and benefits. London also held its parade June 30, in a downpour. Tens of thousands, including Mayor Ken Livingstone and his two young children, joined the celebration despite the weather.

A concert followed in Trafalgar Square, where Livingstone and his kids appeared onstage along with out MP Angela Eagle, the new junior treasury minister, and Labour Party Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, the new minister for women, whose responsibilities include Gay rights issues.

Mexico City held its annual parade June 30, too. About 200,000 people marched and 300,000 spectators cheered them on.

"Loudspeakers on the floats blasted dated Gay material from Madonna to Cher, but I was encouraged to note some more culturally thoughtful floats with Transgendered mariachi bands ... and drag queens all dressed as Frida Kahlo with a bad hangover," said San Diegan Fergal O'Doherty, who is learning Spanish in Mexico this summer.

O'Doherty said "loads of other protesters for various anti-government causes joined in the parade," including a group of 800 indigenous men from Veracruz who danced naked on the Angel of Independence monument.

"The parade was supposed to be done and assembled for the party in the Zócalo [Mexico's central square] at 2 p.m., but it wasn't done until 5:45," O'Doherty said.

"Then the fun really got serious. Some boy band badly lip-synced a song and hundreds of teeny-bopper girls screamed and mobbed the stage. Then seven or eight very high-quality punk-rock and basic rock bands took the stage and we had a grand time."

O'Doherty said the Gay district, the Zona Rosa, was still so crowded at 2 a.m. "that we couldn't get into any bars."

GLBT people gathered in Duarte Park in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on June 28 for their second annual pride rally. Dozens of Lesbians showed up first, with rainbow flags, posters and pamphlets, said El Diario, then some Gay men arrived "several hours later." The paper ran a photo of women wearing T-shirts that said, "I am Lesbian because I like it and that's what I want."

Cochabamba, Bolivia, saw its first pride celebration June 28 in the form of a fair in the city's main square, reported Los Tiempos. The city's first pride march followed on June 30. There was "an overflow of glamour, joy, luxury, color and respect" as thousands of Cochabambinos danced their way from the Plaza of the Flags to Columbus Plaza, the newspaper said.

The report added: "According to the participants in this parade, Cochabamban homosexuals were capable of taking on great risk to march because the satisfaction of feeling recognized and admired as women is so important to them that any sacrifice is worth it."

In Guayaquil, Ecuador, the second annual Festival of Art and Diversity brought 300 people to the Kennedy Mall district on June 28 under the theme "The problem is not homosexuality but rather homophobia." Stage performances ran from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The third pride parade in Panama City took place June 30 on Argentina Way, ending at Andrés Bello Park. Some 260 participants carried signs demanding equal rights and urging tolerance and safe sex. Organizers also announced 10 winners of their new Pink Egg prize, awarded to individuals who "have committed the most acts of discrimination against the GLBT population of Panama."

Hundreds of people marched in San Salvador, El Salvador, July 1 to promote sex education and discourage discrimination. Under the theme "Diversity in Action," members of various LGBT, women's and HIV organizations joined the walk from the Divine Savior of the World monument to Civic Plaza. A spokesman for the organizers said there is a near-complete lack of support for anti-homophobia and AIDS-prevention campaigns in El Salvador.

In Santiago, Chile, some 5,000 people gathered in the Plaza de Armas July 1 for seven hours of dancing, music and drag shows. They also demanded passage of anti-discrimination and civil-union laws, and celebrated the 16th birthday of the nation's leading Gay-rights group, MOVILH, the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation.

In Bogotá, Colombia, some 10,000 people marched from National Park to Bolívar Plaza in chilly, rainy weather July 1. A group of Communist Youth skinheads joined the parade, chanting, "There is no political freedom without sexual freedom." Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzón addressed the crowd at Bolívar Plaza, expressing his unconditional support for the entire Gay community.

The march also was a protest against the recent demise of Colombia's civil-union bill, which, after passing both houses of Congress, was killed in a conference committee by senators who changed their minds. President Álvaro Uribe, a conservative Catholic, had promised to sign the bill into law.

The Thai government's Constitutional Drafting Assembly reportedly has agreed to include GLBT people in the new constitution, adding a clause protecting "those of other sexual identities" from discrimination.

The vote by the 100-member committee was unanimous. The draft constitution will be put to a national referendum in August.

The current Thai government was installed by the military after a coup d'état in September 2006.

The Netherlands' leading Gay organization, COC, has suggested that convicted Gay-bashers be slapped with a court order prohibiting them from entering Amsterdam's Gayest areas, such as the bar district on Reguliersdwarsstraat.

Police have received 10 reports of Gay-bashings this year.

Although the Netherlands is arguably the Gay-friendliest nation on the planet, a few subgroups of the population -- including, notably, immigrant Moroccan youths -- have been known to stage Gay-bashing outings.

COC originally stood for Cultuur en Ontspannings-Centrum (Culture and Leisure Center) but the organization now is known solely by its former initials.


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