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Aug 17, 2007
V 35 Issue 33

 
 
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International News
NETHERLANDS TO EXAMINE GAY RIGHTS IN NATIONS IT AIDS
The Dutch government has launched an effort to study the situation for Gay people in 36 countries to which it provides routine aid.

Gay sex is banned in 18 of the nations and punishable with fines, flogging or, in three cases, the death penalty. Embassy officials have been instructed by Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders to conduct the research and report back in a few months' time.

It is hoped the results will stimulate discussion between the Dutch government and officials of the targeted nations.

Embassy officials also have been told to lobby for decriminalization of Gay sex in countries that ban it.

CHURCH OF SWEDEN TAKES PART IN STOCKHOLM PRIDE PARADE
The Church of Sweden entered its first-ever contingent in Stockholm's Gay pride parade Aug. 4.

About 76 percent of Swedes belong to the Lutheran church although only 2 percent regularly attend services.

The 30 marchers, including two senior priests, carried signs stating "Love is stronger than everything."

A church spokesman said officials want to "break the big silence of the masses" on GLBT matters.

Next year, Sweden is expected to become the seventh country to legalize full same-sex marriage, including the right to marry in the church. The nation has had a comprehensive registered-partnership law for same-sex couples since 1995.

On Aug. 2, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt visited Pride Park, the hub of pride-week festivities. It was the first time a Swedish prime minister had attended pride while in office. On Aug. 3, RuPaul and Bananarama performed on the park's main stage.

About 50,000 people marched in the parade and half a million watched it. The Stockholm newspaper The Local said "a large number of members of parliament and [government] ministers" joined the procession.

A day later, some half a million people turned out for Amsterdam's Gay pride parade, which takes the form of a boat procession in the city's canals.

More than 70 boat-floats joined the official part of the parade, including, for the first time, a "hetero-boat," a youth boat and a Turkish boat.

KEY RUSSIAN ACTIVIST CHARGED WITH SLANDER
Well-known Russian Gay activist Nikolai Alekseev, chief organizer of the nation's two ill-fated pride celebrations, was charged with criminal slander Aug. 1 for outing federal legislator Alexander Chuev on a live TV news-affairs program June 21.

Alekseev made the claim in a joint appearance with Chuev on the NTV network's K baryeru! program.

According to GayRussia.Ru, Chuev has made anti-Gay statements and supported anti-Gay legislation, including a bill that would have recriminalized Gay sex. He reportedly authored a bill that would have banned pro-homosexual propaganda.

"According to Russian Criminal Code, slandering means dissemination of lies which spoils someone's reputation or dignity," Alekseev said. "Russian authorities were caught in their own trap by opening this criminal file. On the one hand they are saying all the time that no one is discriminating [against] Gays in Russia and that there is no problem being Gay and on the other hand they are investigating whether the word 'Gay' can be insulting."

Alekseev said he believes the criminal case is political retribution for his many court challenges to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's bans on this and last year's Gay pride parades. One of those cases is pending before the European Court of Human Rights.

"It is clearly another example of Russia becoming an authoritarian state where people do not have any right to express themselves and speak freely," Alekseev said. "And Russian authorities particularly do not like those who reveal bitter truth about them."

For details on the two disastrous attempts to hold Gay pride parades in Moscow, see tinyurl.com/2nkl7p and tinyurl.com/2lt8pl.

NO GAY FLAG FOR TRURO
Bucking a trend in nearby cities, the Town Council in Truro, Nova Scotia, refused to fly the rainbow flag at the Civic Building for the town's first Gay pride celebration, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported Aug. 3.

The council nixed the Gay flag in a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Bill Mills saying, "God says, 'I'm not in favor of that [homosexuality],' and I have to look at it and say, 'I guess I'm not, either.'"

Mill added: "If I have a group of people that says pedophiles should have rights, do we raise their flag too? I don't want to lump them in with homosexuals, but that's the point, the issues, and that's my feeling. There doesn't seem to be standards anymore. Everything is OK everything is a go."

Truro, population 12,000, is about 60 miles (96 km) northwest of Halifax.

GAY BULGARIAN POP STAR FATHERS GIRL
Famous Bulgarian pop-folk singer Azis became the father of a baby girl Aug. 5.

The child, Raya, was born to Azis' friend Gala, the Sofia News Agency said.

Last October, Azis, 28, and his partner, Niki Kitaetsa, staged an unofficial wedding in Sofia.

ONTARIO DEPUTY PREMIER GETS MARRIED
The deputy premier of the Canadian province of Ontario, George Smitherman, married chocolate company manager Christopher Peloso on Aug. 5 at the Laurentian Lodge resort, 325 miles (520 km) northwest of Toronto.

"We don't want to be Gay rights activists," Peloso, 33, told reporters. "We just love each other and want to spend our lives together. But we are thrilled if we can be a positive influence on others to feel comfortable about themselves."

The two men have known each other for more than 10 years but only reconnected two years ago.

A huge hockey fan with a feisty political reputation, Smitherman, 43, has been a Liberal legislator since 1999 and health minister since 2003.

His district includes Toronto's Gayest neighborhood.

Canada is one of six nations where same-sex couples have access to traditional marriage.

18 NIGERIANS REPORTEDLY DETAINED FOR SODOMY
Eighteen men were arrested at a hotel in the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi Aug. 5, reportedly on charges of sodomy.

According to the official News Agency of Nigeria, the BBC, the Associated Press and the Agence France-Presse wire service, the men face possible death by stoning under Bauchi state's Islamic Shariah law.

They have been jailed until an Aug. 21 hearing.

Officials said the men were dressed in women's clothing and had gathered for a homosexual wedding.

The LGBTI initiative of the organization Global Rights has challenged some details of the news reports.

The group's Stefano Fabeni said "the 18 men have been arrested not on sodomy charges" but under a law that punishes males who dress as a woman in public or practice sodomy as a profession with up to a year in prison -- or with two years in prison if an individual violates the law in an "incorrigible" manner.

But on Aug. 10, the Associated Press seemingly contradicted Fabeni, reporting: "The men were charged Wednesday in a Bauchi Shariah court, where they pleaded innocent. ... Gay sex is illegal across Nigeria, and defendants convicted under the Muslim code ... may face death by stoning."

Human Rights Watch GLBT-issues director Scott Long has advised against any international activism around the arrests for the time being, saying he's hopeful that Nigerian activists can secure the men's freedom via internal efforts.

Quote/Unquote
"[I]f our Constitution really means what it says, that all are created equal, if it really means what it says, that there should be equality of opportunity before the law, then our brothers and sisters who happen to be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender should have the same rights accorded to them as anyone else, and that includes the ability to have a civil marriage ceremony."
-Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich at the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, July 23.

"How would I want my two daughters treated if they grew up and had a different sexual orientation than their parents? Good jobs, equal opportunity, to be able to retire, to visit each other, to be with each other, as other people do. So I feel very strongly, if you ask yourself the question, 'How would you like your children treated if they had a different sexual orientation than their parents?' the answer is, 'Yes, they ought to have that ability in civil unions.' I don't go so far as to call for marriage. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."
-Presidential candidate Christopher Dodd at the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, July 23.

"I would do what is achievable. What I think is achievable is full civil unions with full marriage rights."
-Presidential candidate Bill Richardson at the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, July 23.

"I feel enormous personal conflict about this issue [same-sex marriage]. I want to end discrimination. I want ... equal rights, substantive rights, civil unions ... but I personally have been on a journey on this issue. I feel enormous conflict about it. As I think a lot of people know ... my wife Elizabeth spoke out a few weeks ago, and she actually supports Gay marriage. I do not. But this is a very, very difficult issue for me. And I recognize and have enormous respect for people who have a different view of it."
-Presidential candidate John Edwards at the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, July 23.

"I remember hearing [former GOP Sen. Rick] Santorum ranting about how homosexual marriage threatens heterosexual marriage. I could be wrong, but I think heterosexual marriage is threatened more by heterosexuals. I don't know why Gay marriage challenges my marriage in any way." -Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, to Salon.com, July 17.

"[W]e've got to make sure that everybody is equal under the law. And the civil unions that I proposed would be equivalent in terms of making sure that all the rights that are conferred by the state are equal for same-sex couples as well as for heterosexual couples. Now, with respect to marriage, it's my belief that it's up to the individual denominations to make a decision as to whether they want to recognize marriage or not. But in terms of, you know, the rights of people to transfer property, to have hospital visitation, all those critical civil rights that are conferred by our government, those should be equal."
-Presidential candidate Barack Obama at the CNN/YouTube Democratic presidential debate, July 23.

"My only ask was that if his [Dick Cheney's] daughter doubted my tolerance to her [Lesbian] orientation that I would hope that he would help make it clear to Mary that this is a - I was just worried about - the reason I'd federalized the issue [of same-sex marriage] is because I was worried about the courts' defining the issue and that we'd end up with de facto marriage that was not traditionally defined, I guess is the best way to put it."
-President George W. Bush to Weekly Standard writer Stephen F. Hayes in his new book "Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President," as reported by The New Republic, July 16.

"You know when we lost everything, it was the Gay people that came to my rescue and I will always love them for that."
-Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner on TV's Larry King Live, July 19. She died the following day, of lung cancer.

"I feel great about it [being a Gay icon] because I feel that it's a platform for my purpose, which is to bring the love and music of Christ to all of my fans. And because they trust me, I think, they know my music is honest and they believe me to be honest, and perhaps, because of that, they will follow where I'm leading. I want to lead them to Christ and what he has for them, not what I have for them. I have no hell for anyone to go to. I want to lead them to him, I want to lead them to truth. ... I want to lead them to Christ, simply, and whatever he has for them."
-Singer Gloria (I Will Survive) Gaynor to BBC Radio 4, July 13. The final sentence was a response to the question, "That doesn't necessarily mean to you that you see homosexuality as something sinful?" Gaynor paused before answering the question.

"I don't give a shit. I've never cared about the Gay rumor. It's so stupid. It's funny because people are always infatuated with that. A lot of the guys that say that are the typical guys that are insecure with themselves. I've heard so many rumors about so many people being Gay that it's ridiculous. I've sure you've heard a million."
-Singer Enrique Iglesias to the New York Gay magazine HX, July 7.

"It's [Lesbians] such an insular community - at least, it is in LA. It's so very small - really, that six degrees of separation thing where so many women have slept with so many others and all know each other."
-The L Word star Jennifer Beals to the British Lesbian glossy Diva, August issue.

"The Gay community has been my constant supporter. I used to sing in wet bars at four a.m. - I am not even sure such bars exist anymore. Not only did they have respect for me but they also paid me well. I have had many, many setbacks, heartaches, losses and even though I have been very, very low I have never seen rock bottom and that is because when the rest of the world didn't want anything to do with me, the Gay community supported me, they literally kept me from a life on the streets. But for them I would not exist. They have been very faithful to me. God is faithful too. So it's God and the Gay community that have kept me here."
-Dreamgirls original Jennifer Holliday to Ohio's Gay People's Chronicle, June 22.

"I have been a supporter [of the Human Rights Campaign] for six years now. Basically the Gay community has been my sole source of survival, especially when I was really down and out. So this is my way of giving back. If lending my name can help them then that's great. I wish I have money of my own to give but I'm not wealthy."
-Dreamgirls original Jennifer Holliday to Ohio's Gay People's Chronicle, June 22.

"I had gastric bypass surgery and lost two hundred pounds. I had always assumed that all my problems were connected to my weight. And then when I lost the weight I realized I still had the problems. I didn't have a career, I didn't have a boyfriend, I can't get along with people. And even recently I have had many losses, many heartaches. I lost my mother to cancer, a couple of relationships that failed. But I am trying to move on. I am beginning to find out how to make it all work, hoping I will survive, that I will make it."
-Dreamgirls original Jennifer Holliday to Ohio's Gay People's Chronicle, June 22.

"It would be impertinent of me to comment on Singapore society but this happens to be a law [the Gay-sex ban] that I find personally offensive and I don't think it should be on the statute books because it inhibits my free behavior as an openly Gay man. I feel free to comment on behalf of people who do have to suffer laws which the British empire invented and left behind. The press like to talk to actors. They mustn't be surprised when actors talk back to them. We are privileged that we have access to the media and our opinions sometimes are reported and I appreciate that. But I only speak on things that I am an expert on. ... You won't hear me talk about my politics, you won't hear me talk about my vegetarianism, you won't hear me comment on the Iraq war. You'll only hear me talk about being Gay and being an actor. I am just public on those two issues."
-Sir Ian McKellen speaking to Reuters in Singapore, July 19.

"[T]he fire chief is Gay, the mayor has Gay senior staff, a City Council member and a state senator are Gay, a superior court judge is Gay, the county's district attorney and innumerable lesser officials: Gay, Gay, Gay. Forget 'Don't ask, don't tell.' In millennial San Diego, the motto these days is, 'Who knows, who cares?'"
-Writer Eric Wolff in the San Diego weekly newspaper CityBEAT, July 18.

"[W]hen you're single and you've finally made it past the age when you've felt both love's deepest tongue probings and also its most random horror-flick slashings, past the age when getting moronically drunk every weekend and hooking up is the ultimate goal and you've had enough sex to fill a thousand porn movies and everyone around you is no longer on some sort of giddy, wide-eyed first-adult-relationship must-get-married must-have-babies track of impossibly optimistic utopian desire, what it means, at least for me, is that you get to become this odd sort of sounding board - a blank slate of love's warped potential, a reason for others to extrapolate on the nature of love and life and sex and how goddamn difficult/wonderful/impossible it all really is."
-Straight San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, who frequently writes about Gay stuff, in his July 25 column.
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