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International News

Moscow gays to try Pride a FOURth time with a twist
After being banned for three years running, Moscow activists will try a fourth time to stage a Gay pride parade next May 16.

But with a twist: They will do so on the same day that the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Moscow.

The campy contest, which is staged in the country of the previous year's winner, is hugely popular among European Gays, who travel from far and wide to attend it.

"We hope that the many Gays and Lesbians who usually attend Eurovision finals from different countries will join our Pride," said organizer Nikolai Alekseev.

He said an international Gay-rights conference also is being planned.

Alekseev suggested it would be impossible for virulently anti-Gay Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to again ban the parade amid the glare of the Eurovision spotlight.

Luzhkov has said Gay pride parades "can be described in no other way than as satanic."

Lesbos residents lose 'lesbian' lawsuit
Three residents of the Greek island of Lesbos who filed suit to reclaim the word "Lesbian" and stop the group Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece (OLKE) from using it lost their case July 22.

The plaintiffs claimed the alleged theft of "Lesbian" from the island's residents amounted to "psychological and moral rape."

An Athens court found the claim baseless and ordered the trio to pay $363 in costs.

Plaintiff Dimitris Lambrou vowed to appeal the ruling.

Gay women are believed to have adopted the word in memory of Sappho, a poet who lived on the island in the sixth century B.C. and wrote about love between women.

Religious cop sues employer over pink ribbon
A policeman in the English county of Norfolk who resisted an official recommendation that he wear a pink ribbon on his uniform for Gay History Month has taken the Norfolk Police before an employment court, The Sunday Telegraph reported July 20.

Graham Cogman, 49, said homosexuality violates his Christian beliefs.

When Cogman responded to the recommendation by sending an e-mail to fellow officers quoting the Bible, he was disciplined and fined 13 days' pay.

The Norfolk Police force is standing by its policy. A spokesman told the Telegraph that Cogman's behavior "fell well below the standard which we expect."

"The force will not tolerate any form of homophobic behavior," the spokesman said.

Cogman's case follows that of marriage registrar Lillian Ladele in the London borough of Islington. After Ladele, a Christian, refused to perform same-sex civil partnerships, she claimed she was harassed and discriminated against by the borough government.

The Central London Employment Tribunal agreed with her July 10, saying Islington Council violated "Miss Ladele's dignity and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment."

An award of damages is pending.

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

Iran nabs HIV doctors
Iranian authorities should immediately release or charge two physicians who are internationally recognized for their work on HIV and AIDS, Human Rights Watch said July 21.

Arash and Kamyar Alaei, who are brothers, were detained without charge by Iranian security forces in late June, and their whereabouts remain unknown.

"The authorities have not yet announced why the brothers were detained or whether or not they intend to bring any charges against them," HRW said. "Moreover, they have refused to disclose information about where the Alaei brothers are being held and have not provided them access to counsel."

For more than 20 years, the brothers have addressed problems related to drug use, with a focus on the spread of HIV, and have played a key role in putting the issues on the national health care agenda.

Northern Ireland pol in trouble with gays
British MP Iris Robinson, who is married to Peter Robinson, leader of the regional government in Northern Ireland, has come under fire for saying homosexuality is worse than child molestation.

During a Grand Committee debate in Parliament, Mrs. Robinson said, "There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children."

She later reversed course, saying, "I clearly intended to say that child abuse was worse even than homosexuality and sodomy."

Gays protested outside Belfast City Hall on July 21 and called on Mrs. Robinson to resign.

In addition to serving in the British Parliament, she also is a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

35,000 at EuroGames
Some 5,000 athletes and 30,000 spectators attended the EuroGames, the European Gay & Lesbian Championships, July 24-27 in Barcelona.

The games were expected to inject $47 million into the local economy.

Twenty-eight sporting events were offered, including aerobics, badminton, ballroom dancing, basketball, bowling, cycling, golf, handball, hockey, in-line skating, pingpong, running, sailing, soccer, softball, squash, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.

There also were conferences, workshops, debates and parties.

The games were first held in 1992.

Finnish pastor breaks rules, blesses lesbian couple
In violation of church rules, a pastor of Finland's state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church has blessed the partnership of a Lesbian couple, the Finnish Broadcasting Company reported July 23.

The bishop of Espoo, Mikko Heikka, said no action will be taken against the Rev. Liisa Tuovinen unless someone files a formal complaint over the matter.

Finland has had a registered-partnership law since 2002 and Lutheran bishops are expected to revisit the issue of same-sex blessings next year.

Germans who change their sex can remain married
Germany's Federal Constitutional Court struck down a law July 24 that required married postoperative Transsexuals to get divorced before their new gender could be legally recognized.

The court said the law is unconstitutional, cannot be enforced, and must be changed by August 2009.

The ruling came in the case of a 79-year-old individual who had a sex-change operation to become female in 2002.

The woman's wife also did not want to get divorced.

Assisted by Bill Kelley

picture top: Moscow
bottom: Verka Serduchka

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