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Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Police stop first Cuban Gay pride march
Police in Havana stopped Cuba's first Gay pride parade before it could start June 25. But the details of what exactly took place are far from clear.

Reports from activists in Miami said the organizers were beaten and arrested around 10 a.m. as they arrived at Don Quixote Park at 23rd and J streets in the Vedado neighborhood.

Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel newspaper, however, said the march was canceled just before its start time by activist Mario José Delgado González, who appeared at the park to report that two other organizers had been arrested a day earlier.

The Miami Herald, on the other hand, reported that nine organizers were detained the morning of the march, effectively aborting the event.

The Spanish Web site quoted Delgado as saying: "Cuban homosexuals are victims of repression, we don't enjoy rights. What we are doing has as its objective the reclaiming of our rights. We want equality of opportunity, equality of assembly, and that they don't expel us from parks, university centers, schools and work centers."

With a theme of "You are not alone," the group had planned to walk to the Ministry of Justice and deliver demands to the government.

They sought an end to anti-Gay violence and repression, an apology for the government's having incarcerated Gays in work camps decades ago, acknowledgment that Gays have been fired because of their sexuality, and a review of cases where homosexuals have been jailed for an offense apparently known as "dangerous levels."

At the march's end, the group planned to proceed to a diplomatic residence to hold a press conference and stage a concert.

Prior to the aborted march, Havana Gay activist Aliomar Janjaque had told the Sun-Sentinel: "We want to raise awareness but we don't want to provoke a wave of repression against the Gay community. If there is a hostile reaction from the government, we will stage a much larger demonstration. We will take to the streets."

The Herald report said Janjaque was one of the individuals detained before the parade's start.

Gays march in Dominican Republic
Around 50 people staged a Gay pride march in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 20.

They carried rainbow flags and beat drums as they walked down El Conde Street in the historic downtown.

Local media said the marchers urged passage of legislation protecting Gay and Transgender people from discrimination.

They also spoke out against Roman Catholic Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, who, in an October 27 interview with the newspaper El Nacional, reportedly referred to Gays as "faggots" ("maricones").

López Rodríguez also has called Gays "lacras sociales," according to a 2006 Associated Press report. The phrase could be translated as "social waste" or "social scum."

3,000 march in Jerusalem
Some 3,000 people turned out for "Infinite Love," the Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance March, on June 26.

So did 2,000 police officers, who successfully protected the four-block-long procession.

In a different part of the city, several hundred people demonstrated against the parade and set trash bins on fire.

Marchers set off from Independence Park, continued up King David Street, and finished with a rally at Liberty Bell Park.

"We have seen some success and advancement in acceptance and the rights of same-sex partners in issues such as inheritance and adoption," said Yonatan Gher, executive director of the Jerusalem Open House Gay center, which organized the parade. "Still, we are struggling for full acceptance of same-sex partners and the equality of such couples to their heterosexual homologues."

The success of this year's march was especially welcome given last year's disaster.

Last year's parade traveled only about 500 meters before being aborted as ultra-Orthodox protesters fought to break through police lines that were manned by 8,000 officers attempting to protect the 3,000 marchers.

Before the parade, police arrested a man with a bomb, and the rally after the parade was canceled because firefighters went on strike and didn't provide a legally required fire truck.

Court considers Indian Gay-sex ban
The Delhi High Court was scheduled to resume hearing final arguments in the case against India's Gay-sex ban on July 2.

"The Section 377 case is entering a critical phase," said activist Vikram Doctor. "A few years back, the Delhi High Court threw the petition out of court saying the petitioners had no locus standi. The petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld their petition and sent it back to the Delhi High Court, saying that it was an important matter that merited attention. This is what is now being heard."

Plaintiffs in the case are the HIV organization Naz India and the activist group Voices Against 377.

Naz argues that the Gay-sex ban hinders efforts to provide HIV-prevention information, a position that is being supported in court by the Health Ministry's National AIDS Control Organisation.

The Naz India petition points to the contradiction involved with the government ... funding HIV/AIDS workers to do things like distribute condoms to men who have sex with men, which could also be seen as abetting these men to break 377," Doctor said.

Voices Against 377, a Delhi-based group, is arguing against Section 377 on human-rights grounds.

"Their argument is that this is an outdated Victorian-era law imposed on India that has now been changed even in the country, the U.K., that imposed it," Doctor said.

Arguing in favor of keeping the ban is the government's Home Ministry, which has cited so-called traditional morality as justification, even though the Health Ministry supports the plaintiffs  who ask that 377 be "read down" so it no longer applies to consensual sex between adults.

The law prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" with punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

Boy George banned from the U.S.
The United States has refused to give British Gay singer Boy George a visa to enter the country because he faces trial in Britain for allegedly chaining a male escort to a wall in his apartment.

George had planned a summer U.S. tour and also hoped to perform a free concert for New York City's Department of Sanitation, where he worked cleaning streets in 2006 as punishment for a drug offense.

George has pleaded not guilty in the ongoing British case.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures Jerusalem Pride

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