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International News
PROTESTER FOUND GUILTY IN RIGA PRIDE ATTACK
An assistant to Latvian MP Dainis Turlais was found guilty of gross public disorderliness January 15 for throwing what was likely a bag of feces at celebrants attending the 2006 Gay pride events in Riga.

Janis Dzelme was sentenced to 100 hours of compulsory labor by the Vidzeme District Court for demonstrating what the court called an obvious lack of respect toward the public by ignoring universally accepted norms of behavior.

"This is an enormously important precedent which will send very strong signals to those people in Latvia who believe that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech should be limited with violence," said Kristine Garina, chair of the pride-organizing group Mozaika.

Turlais is among the parliament's more anti-Gay members. He reportedly has called Gays "faggots" and "scum."

Last year's Riga pride went relatively smoothly but in 2005, when activists first attempted to march, the 150 marchers were heavily outnumbered by around 1,000 anti-Gay protesters who hurled insults, bottles and rotten eggs; blocked the streets; and forced the parade to be rerouted. The protesters chanted "No sodomy" and "Gays fuck the nation."

Then, in 2006, the City Council banned the parade. Organizers responded by holding a religious service at a church and meetings at a hotel. Attendees at both were attacked by Christian, ultranationalist and neo-Nazi protesters who pelted them with eggs, rotten food and feces.

Last year, armed with a court ruling that the 2006 ban was unconstitutional, more than 500 GLBT people marched around a fenced-in park under heavy police protection, dodging only a paint-bomb, an ice-cream cone and a few firecrackers.

Police outnumbered the marchers and the approximately 100 jeering anti-Gay demonstrators.

SCOTLAND TO PASS GLBT HATE-CRIME LAW
Scotland's hate-crime laws will be expanded to protect Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people, the Scottish Executive pledged in a January 15 media release.

"I am delighted to announce today Government support for a bill which will extend statutory aggravations to cover crimes motivated by malice or ill will towards victims based on their sexual orientation, Transgender identity or disability," said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

"Our clear aim is to prevent and deter crimes. But where crime does happen it will not be tolerated."

According to the GLBT Equality Network, a quarter of Scottish Gays have been a victim of homophobic violence and two-thirds have been threatened or harassed.

The Scottish Conservative Party opposes the change. The party's justice spokesman, Bill Aitken, said, "In Scotland, we pride ourselves in the fact that we are all equal in the eyes of the law but some it now seems are more equal than others, which cannot be right."

GLBT-inclusive hate-crime laws already are in force in the rest of the United Kingdom.

HOMOSEXUAL CONVICTIONS OF SIX MOROCCANS UPHELD
A Moroccan appeals court January 15 upheld the convictions of six men from Ksar el Kbir who were jailed for homosexual acts in late November after a YouTube video showing them at a supposed Gay-wedding celebration provoked public outrage.

The 10-month sentence against the party's alleged organizer, who also was charged with selling alcohol, was upheld in full, while the other five men saw their sentences reduced from between four and six months to between two and four months.

Amnesty International says the men are prisoners of conscience, and the men's lawyers claim that prosecutors have presented no evidence that any crime took place.

Morocco's Penal Code Article 489 bans "lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex" under penalty of six months to three years in prison and a fine of $15 to $150.

Human Rights Watch has said the men were convicted "without apparent evidence."

"The men's rights to privacy and freedom of expression have been violated," said North Africa programs director Sarah Leah Whitson. "They should be set free."

WRONGLY ARRESTED BBC HOST AWARDED DAMAGES
The host of the British Broadcasting Corporation program One Man and His Dog has received a $4,000 payout and an apology from the Gloucestershire Police after he was wrongly arrested for making a joke that referred to blacks and Lesbians.

Robin Page was taken into custody on suspicion of inciting racial hatred several months after a 2002 speech at a pro-hunting rally in which he said, "If you are a black, vegetarian, Muslim, asylum-seeking, one-legged Lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you."

He was held in jail for 40 minutes until he agreed to be interviewed without a lawyer present, then was released without charge.

Page said the police accused him of committing a hate crime and that documents he later obtained using the Freedom of Information Act show his name is on a homophobic-incidents register.

"I believe I have scored a significant victory over the ludicrous and sinister, politically correct 'hate crime' culture that is currently doing so much to prevent free speech in this country," Page said in a January 15 statement.

"How can you be included on a homophobic-incident record for using the word 'Lesbian' once in a speech? It is just incredible. Political correctness is the new McCarthyism."

One Man And His Dog went off the air in 1999 after a 23-year run.

ILGA TO MEET IN QUEBEC CITY
The 24th World Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association will take place in Quebec City, Canada, May 14 to 18.

ILGA is a 30-year-old federation of more than 600 GLBT organizations and associated members, such as city governments, from 90 countries.

It has played a key role over the years in developments such as Amnesty International's decision to adopt persecuted homosexuals as prisoners of conscience and the World Health Organization's decision to remove homosexuality from its list of illnesses.

GAY NURSING HOME OPENS IN BERLIN
The first Gay nursing home in Europe opened in Berlin this month.

The state-of-the-art facility will house 28 patients, who will be allowed to bring their own furniture and sundries.

The man behind the home, activist and architect Christian Hamm, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency that Gay people often feel ostracized in ordinary nursing homes.

"When you are old, the last thing that you want to do is to have to hide," he said.

The home is the first piece of a planned complex that will include apartments, a cafe, function rooms, a gym and a health-care center with doctors and therapists, DPA said.

With assistance from Bill Kelley
picture - Riga Pride Protesters



Quote/Unquote
"We [Barry Manilow and I] were both so happy to have a gig that, you know, we didn't care because it was, you know, the guy was really nice to us and he was paying us what was really good money in those days, which was like $300 a night. I mean, that was an extraordinary amount of money in those days and we were just, like, we didn't care. We would have, you know, been at the zoo singing, we didn't care. We were just thrilled & I know people expect me to have been, you know, appalled and stunned and all that stuff. I mean, maybe they're surprised that I was so blasé & I had seen plenty by that time, so, I have to say, it was not a big surprise. I had a great time. They were great to me and I had a chance to learn all these songs and play all these songs and move into the mainstream, and it was just like a dream come true."
- Bette Midler on performing in Gay bathhouses in the 1970s, to TheStripPodcast.com, January 10.

"I seldom read The New York Times. It's written as if every one of their readers is a heterosexual white male. To me they almost speak a foreign language."
- Actor Harvey Fierstein to London's Pink Paper, December 20.

"The UK has Gay marriage and I applaud you for it. But are you really going to tell me that everyone is now out of the closet? You may have Gay marriage but you still have Gay shame."
- Actor Harvey Fierstein to London's Pink Paper, December 20.

"Gay rights are inevitable. How long the road, how painful the journey, how expensive the struggle are the only details. And they are just details."
- Actor Harvey Fierstein to London's Pink Paper, December 20.

"In high school, everyone was like, 'I wanna be a doctor!' I was like, 'I wanna be on Survivor.' And I did it! So now I'm like, cool, I'm 22 and my goals are accomplished. What next? There's always a possibility of going back to college, but it's a possibility of not knowing what to go into, ultimately."
- Openly Gay Utahan Todd Herzog, winner of the most recent season of TV's Survivor, to the Gay newspaper QSaltLake, January 3.

"I find the city fulfilling in the same ways I always have. It's so physically dazzling; it has a small-town vibe with cosmopolitan attitudes. And nowadays it's quite simply my home. And something I am so heavily identified with I probably would feel weird living anywhere else."
- Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin talking about San Francisco, to The Out Traveler, spring 2008 issue.

"The current wave of support for Barack Obama from Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans is partly based on his vision of a new political discourse that breaks with the petty, destructive polarization of the past 20 years. Whether Obama can build up his foreign policy credentials sufficiently to reassure an anxious general electorate remains to be seen. But Hillary herself, with her thin, spotty record, tangled psychological baggage, and maundering blowhard of a husband, is also a mighty big roll of the dice. She is a brittle, relentless manipulator with few stable core values who shuffles through useful personalities like a card shark ('Cue the tears!'). Forget all her little gold crosses: Hillary's real god is political expediency. Do Americans truly want this hard-bitten Machiavellian back in the White House? Day one will just be more of the same."
- Openly Lesbian writer Camille Paglia at Salon.com, January 10.

"I will vote for Hillary if she is the nominee of my party, because I want Democrats appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court. But I plan to vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary because he is a rational, centered personality who speaks the language of idealism and national unity. Obama has served longer as an elected official than Hillary. He has had experience as a grass-roots activist, and he is also a highly educated lawyer who will be a quick learner in office. His international parentage and childhood, as well as his knowledge of both Christianity and Islam, would make him the right leader at the right time. And his wife Michelle is a powerhouse. The Obamas represent the future, not the past."
- Openly Lesbian writer Camille Paglia at Salon.com, January 10.

"Except on Gay marriage, [Barack] Obama has hit all the right notes on the Gay rights issues of the day, and he has refused to pander. He has chastised conservative black pastors and white evangelicals alike for opposing Gay rights and aggressive HIV prevention. He even refused the demand from Gay activists that he reject the support of Grammy-winning gospel singer Donnie McClurkin because he claims to be 'ex-Gay.' Obama is the only candidate who talks regularly about Gay rights, including civil unions, in front of national audiences, and he is the candidate best suited to reach out to independents and Republicans in the general election and in fulfilling the promises he has made as a candidate. If you can vote in the Democratic primary of your state, there is no better candidate on Gay rights than Barack Obama."
- Syndicated Gay-press columnist Chris Crain in a January 3 filing.

"The Obama revolution arrived not on little cat feet in the Iowa snow but like a balmy promise, an effortlessly leaping lion hungry for something different, propelled by a visceral desire among Americans to feel American again. The Bushes always self-consciously and swaggeringly put themselves 'on the American side,' as Poppy used to say, implying that their rivals were somehow less American. But many Americans can no longer see themselves in the warped values of the Bush White House or the pathetic paralysis of Congress or the disapproving gaze of the world. They want a different looking glass. So they rolled the dice."
- New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, January 6.

"New Hampshire's decision to recognize civil unions and grant Gay and Lesbian couples the same rights granted by the state to heterosexual married couples is an important step forward on the march toward equality, fairness and justice."
- Presidential candidate John Edwards in a January 1 statement.

"This bill would establish a clear rule that the federal government will provide the same benefits to all its employees regardless of sexual orientation. This is not only the right thing to do, it is smart policy. This bill will treat domestic partners with the equity and fairness they deserve."
- Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, as she co-introduced the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act in late December. The measure extends all spousal rights to federal workers' same-sex partners - in areas such as health, long-term care and retirement benefits, and the Family and Medical Leave program - as well as spousal obligations in areas such as anti-nepotism and financial disclosure.

"Really, has there ever been a phonier, flip-flopping panderer in the history of politics than 'Full of Mitt' Romney? He is so plastic that I bet he has 'Mattel' tattooed on his behind. If Romney became president, it would be like watching a four-year video loop of the movie I-Robot, minus the action scenes. How anyone could actually pull the lever for someone so utterly devoid of character, conscience and consistency is a mystery."
- Syndicated Gay-press columnist Wayne Besen, January 2.

"So they dangled a few more clams in front of mama's paws and suddenly she's in the blogosphere! Yes, I'll be going to that clichéd place in your computer by pinching out a daily posting of mirth and mayhem - something wise and witty and astounding, yet not SO good it will blind you to the fact that there's still an actual column coming every Wednesday. & [W]hatever smug verbiage I'm selling, I want you to comment, bitch, moan, call me fat and ugly, and basically help me feel alive again."
- Gay Village Voice columnist Michael Musto in his debut blog posting, January 9. See blogs.villagevoice.com/dailymusto.

"Don't tell me I don't read! I scan the obits every day to look for apartments. And I regularly devour the less challenging parts of the National Enquirer and some of the lighter profiles on BigMuscle.com. Oh, and also publishers catalogues! They're much easier than actual books, and if you turn the page you really don't miss anything."
- Gay Village Voice columnist Michael Musto on his blog, January 10.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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