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Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Argentine government seeks to legalize same-sex marriage
A bill legalizing same-sex marriage was informally presented to Argentina's Congress May 22 by the head of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism.

"The Casa Rosada (presidential palace) tells us we should do our work, and that's what we're doing," María José Lubertino told La Nación newspaper. "When I took this job, everyone knew that two of my priorities were the legislation on abortion and marriage for everyone. This is no surprise."

The draft bill - unveiled at a gathering of activists, legislators and others in the Senate's Eva Perón Hall - moves next to the Ministry of Justice, Security and Human Rights, which will arrange for it to be formally introduced into Congress by the executive branch.

If allowed to marry, same-sex couples would acquire new rights in areas such as adoption, inheritance, property, social security and pensions.

Russia lifts ban on Gay blood
Russia's health ministry has lifted the nation's ban on blood donation by Gay men.

The change was implemented in April but only became known publicly in late May.

The decree by Minister of Health and Social Development Tatyana Golikova overturned a policy that had been in effect since September 2001.

Similar bans targeting prostitutes and drug addicts also were lifted.

"We conducted our campaign against the ban for two years and it brought the results," said leading gay activist Nikolai Alekseev. "Not so many people believed in our success but we proved that actions can lead to serious results.

"Russia will become an example in this respect for other countries, including Western democracies, where such restrictions are still in force."

Alekseev said the ban was "the last direct discriminatory provision against homosexual people" in Russia.

Authorities in numerous nations have justified keeping such bans by citing the brief period between when one gets infected with HIV and when the virus can be detected.

However, many of these nations, including the U.S. and Canada, incongruously continue to ban blood donation by any man who ever had sex with another man, even if only one time 30 years ago.

Hundreds march in Romania
More than 200 people marched in Bucharest's fifth Gay pride parade May 24, protected by some 1,200 police officers.

Anti-Gay organizations failed in a legal effort to stop the march.

More than 40 apparent counterprotesters were detained during the procession, two for carrying a knife and most of the others for refusing to show police their identification document.

Thousands turned out to watch the parade. Some cheered while others booed.

"Bystanders were rather curious, as opposed to outraged by the march," said Florentina Bocioc, executive director of the GLBT group Accept, which organized the parade. "Those living in the buildings along the streets on which we marched no longer threw eggs, tomatoes or stones at us; some of them even waved at us. This is a small step towards 'normality.'"

The parade's goal was to draw attention to the need for spousal rights for same-sex couples, the organizers said.

Marchers included European Parliament member Michael Cashman, Swedish Ambassador Mats Aberg, and, from the U.S., the Rev. Elder Diane Fisher of the Metropolitan Community Churches.

A weeklong GayFest preceded the parade.

Last year, more than 50 people were arrested for throwing bottles, rocks and eggs at the 500 marchers, and 10 people were injured in the fracas. More than 1,000 protesters - including nuns and priests carrying crosses - targeted last year's march.

Millions at São Paulo pride
More than 3 million people turned out for the 12th Gay pride parade in São Paulo, Brazil, on May 25.

The city's pride celebration is the world's largest, in South America's biggest city.

The parade went down Avenida Paulista, the heart of the financial district.

Reports said pride generates $115 million in spending, creates 13,500 jobs and brings in 330,000 visitors.

Holocaust Gay memorial unveiled in Berlin
A memorial commemorating the tens of thousands of homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis was unveiled in Berlin May 27.

The large, gray rectangular block - 11.8 feet (3.6 meters) tall and 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) wide - is breached only by a small window on one side through which visitors can view a 90-second black-and-white art film of two men kissing.

"A simple kiss could land you in trouble," says a plaque associated with the $942,000 box, which was designed by the Danish-Norwegian duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset and paid for by the federal government.

The plaque adds: "In many parts of the world people are still persecuted because of their sexual identity, homosexual love is a criminal offense and a kiss can spell danger."

Openly Gay Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and the federal culture minister, Bernd Neumann, took part in the ceremony in the city's prominent Tiergarten park. The memorial sits half a block from the Brandenburg Gate and just across from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

"The Berlin memorial has an important symbolic value by being erected in the center of the city from where six to seven decades ago the policies of extermination of homosexual people - along with such groups as Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses and political dissidents - were conceived and the deadly orders were given," said the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

ILGA-Europe said an estimated 54,000 homosexuals were arrested by the Nazis and 7,000 were killed.

Retired Czech Gay leader runs for Senate
Czech Gay leader Jirí Hromada, who retired from activism in 2006 after the nation's same-sex civil-union law came into force, is running for the Czech Republic Senate as a Green Party candidate in the fall election.

According to The Prague Post, the announcement of Hromada's candidacy led to such a barrage of homophobic posts by users of online news portals that the discussion areas had to be shut down.

He is the first openly Gay candidate to run for the Senate in the nation's history.

"During our effort to pass the partnership bill we met two types of political Gays," Hromada told the Post. "Some would secretly admit their orientation and quietly support us, while others became our staunchest opponents and tried to stop the bill at all costs."

Malta court: "Homosexual" not defamatory
Calling someone a homosexual is not defamatory anymore, Malta's Court of Magistrates has ruled, according to a May 21 report in The Malta Independent.

The decision came in a case where three newspapers reported that a homicide victim was homosexual, and the victim's brother sued over the characterization, claiming it defamed his brother's memory.

Local police have said the victim's sexual orientation is relevant to their ongoing investigation of the unsolved killing.

The brother plans to appeal Magistrate Michael Mallia's ruling.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

picture top: Berlin Memorial - Kissing Film;

picture bottom: Berlin Memorial

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