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Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Large, violent attack on Budapest Pride
Right-wing extremists attacked the 1,500 marchers in Budapest's Gay pride parade and fought with police for several hours afterward July 5.

Hundreds of counterdemonstrators reportedly threw rocks, eggs, bottles, firecrackers, feces, acid, paint and Molotov cocktails at the marchers and the police. They also set a police van on fire and damaged three media trucks.

At least 45 of the attackers were arrested. Riot police unleashed tear gas and water cannons on the protesters at points during the mile-long march down Andrássy Road.

At least 25 people were injured, including 17 of the 2,100 police officers protecting the event.

A post-parade concert was canceled.

"There was one street where literally a shower of eggs and stones was poured on us," said activist Gábor Kuszing. "I was lucky to have a placard in my hand, and others used umbrellas."

A rock crashed through the window of a car carrying Hungarian Euro MP Katalin Lévai.

"It is unacceptable in our democracies that microscopic groups of the extreme right may threaten and attack an important minority while it practices the universal right to freedom," Lévai said. "We must step up against groups advocating hatred and violence."

The European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights denounced the violence and the fact that it was allowed to occur.

"I am deeply disappointed and concerned of Hungary's inability to deal with extremists," said Intergroup President Michael Cashman. "This must be referred to the European Commission and the commission's president."

Intergroup Vice President Sirpa Pietikäinen said: "Police forces again, like last year, failed to protect citizens exercising their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly, probably due to inadequate resources. I will demand an explanation from the Hungarian government and I will raise this issue with the European Commission."

Half a million at London Pride
Around half a million people turned out for London's Gay pride parade July 5, led by Mayor Boris Johnson, who wore a pink cowboy hat.

Members of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force marched in uniform. The Ministry of Defence offered free travel for servicemembers who wanted to attend the parade.

Well-known activist Peter Tatchell carried a poster with a doctored, Gayed-up photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"Ahmadinejad leads a regime that arrests, jails, flogs, tortures and sometimes executes Gay people," Tatchell said.

MP Harriet Harman, minister of equality and deputy leader of the Labour Party, reportedly was booed as she spoke from the main stage at Trafalgar Square.

Tatchell said the crowd was unhappy over the UK's treatment of Gay asylum-seekers from homophobic nations.

Prior to the parade, Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with activists, including actor Sir Ian McKellen, at his residence.

They discussed homophobic bullying in schools, and Brown's spokesman said he was "delighted" to have met with the group.

Hundreds of thousands at Madrid Pride
Led by Equality Minister Bibiano Aido, hundreds of thousands of GLBT people marched in Madrid's pride parade July 5.

This year's theme was "Lesbian Visibility."

The Socialist Party of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez entered a double-decker bus in the parade.

Spain is one of six nations where same-sex marriage has been legalized.

Wowereit would welcome Obama to Brandenburg Gate
Openly Gay Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said July 9 he would be "delighted" for Barack Obama to speak at the city's famed Brandenburg Gate.

Although no firm plans have been made, Obama's campaign inquired about the procedures for such a speech during an upcoming European trip by the Democratic U.S. presidential candidate.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, said she doubts it would be appropriate to use the gate as a campaign backdrop.

Council of Europe executive committee to support gay rights
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe plans to issue a formal declaration in support of GLBT rights and to engage the entire organization in combating discrimination against GLBT people.

Activists called the move groundbreaking. The committee is composed of the foreign ministers of the CoE's 47 member nations.

The ministers will address the need to ensure respect for the human rights of GLBT people, instruct an intergovernmental expert committee to examine measures to avoid discrimination against Gay couples, and instruct all committees involved in intergovernmental cooperation to propose specific actions to strengthen GLBT equality.

"Much of the credit for this great step forward goes to LGBT human rights defenders in Central and Eastern Europe," said Nigel Warner, adviser to the CoE for the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

"Their courageous work in advocating for LGBT rights has revealed the appalling extent of homophobia and Transphobia in many countries, and shocked the Council of Europe into taking action," Warner said.

Anti-Gay-marriage registrar wins discrimination case
A marriage registrar in the London borough of Islington who refused to perform same-sex civil partnerships was bullied, harassed and discriminated against for her Christian beliefs, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled July 10.

Lillian Ladele had complained she was shunned, picked on and ridiculed. She praised the tribunal's decision as "a victory for religious liberty."

The tribunal said Islington Council, the borough government, violated "Miss Ladele's dignity and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment."

A determination of damages will be made later.

A spokesman for the council said the borough may appeal the ruling, which he called disappointing.

"We consider our approach was the right one," Councilor John Gilbert, the executive member for human resources, told the BBC. "The wider issue of whether councils should be able to expect employees to carry out civil partnerships doesn't seem to have been fully addressed."

Gay leader Peter Tatchell denounced the ruling, saying it "sanctions the right of religious people to discriminate against others who they disagree with."

"We could soon find religious police officers, solicitors [lawyers], firefighters and doctors refusing to serve members of the public who they find morally objectionable - and being allowed to do so by the law," Tatchell said.

The United Kingdom's civil-partnership law grants all the rights and obligations of marriage, but under a different name.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top London Pride, Mayor Boris Johnson
bottom: Madrid Pride

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