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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Cayman Islands bans same-sex marriage
The Caribbean's Cayman Islands banned Gay marriage September 5.

Lawmakers voted for the measure unanimously.

The bill amended the Marriage Law to define "marriage" as "the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife."

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts told local media the traditional definition of marriage is an aspect of the islands' heritage and culture that Caymanians have no interest in changing.



ACT UP/Paris protests pope's visit
ACT UP/Paris demonstrated at Paris' famous Sacré-Coeur church September 13 as Pope Benedict XVI staged a mass for more than a quarter of a million people on the Esplanade des Invalides.

The protesters erected a large banner at the top of the church's stairs which read, "The condom is life," and laid a 150-foot (45-meter) black-and-pink carpet down the stairs "to denounce the obscenity of the red carpet deployed in Paris by [President] Nicolas Sarkozy for Benedict XVI and his reactionary theses."

In a French-language statement, ACT UP said: "The chief of the Vatican has affirmed ... that 'only marriage can permit a morally correct sexual practice; to seek to prevent the spread of AIDS by use of a condom amounts to facilitation of evil.'"

"The lethal positions of the Catholic Church on condom use implicate it in the deaths of millions of men, women and children," the group said. "Indeed, the AIDS epidemic already has killed more than 40 million, and UNAIDS estimates that a quarter of the HIV-positive people on the planet are Catholic."



Beijing reports HIV stats
Five percent of Gay men in Beijing are HIV-positive and too many Gay men are having unsafe sex, the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention said September 5.

Local Gays use condoms less than 50 percent of the time they have sex, said deputy director He Xiong.

At the same time, infection rates have dropped from needle sharing, blood products and mother-to-child transmission, he said.

The department recently tested 1 million people and found 563 infections.

Officially, China has 214,000 HIV cases but the real number is believed to be around 650,000, according to the Ministry of Health and international health organizations.



Pride to be staged in Singapore
Singapore's first Gay pride parade is scheduled to take place November 15 at Hong Lim Park, the locale where the government recently announced it will allow demonstrations.

"I have no idea how many people are going to turn up," said organizer Roy Tan. "If it's just me, I'll be marching round the place holding a placard reading 'Repeal 377A' on one side and 'Legalize Gay marriage' on the other.

"We will march about three times round Hong Lim Park singing 'We Shall Overcome,' 'I Will Survive' by Gloria Gaynor, 'Survivor' by Destiny's Child or 'I Am What I Am' - some kind of anthemy song to highlight the struggle for equality or the tenacity to survive against all odds."

Afterwards, Tan envisions a picnic or a dance. He said the goal is not necessarily for the parade to be "a success" but rather "to establish a precedent."

"So it doesn't matter if it's not terribly well organized or attended," he said.

Penal Code Section 377A states, "Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years."



Ex-ambassador to help launch international Gay rights group
The U.S.' former ambassador to Romania, openly Gay Michael Guest, will help launch the Council for Global Equality on September 23 in Washington, D.C.

The new group plans to pressure the U.S. government to support GLBT rights worldwide, reported San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter.

Guest was ambassador to Romania from 2001 to 2003. He was the first open Gay to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for an ambassadorship.

Bogotá police create group to protect Gays
The Metropolitan Police in Bogotá, Colombia, have created a special group of 650 officers charged with protecting the GLBT population.

The officers, who have attended advanced training sessions, are directed to respectfully integrate and collaborate with the city's GLBT citizens.

Gay groups say Colombian Gays continue to experience routine discrimination and that 67 homosexuals have been murdered this year.



Tuluá, Colombia, bans men from back of motorcycles
In an effort to fight crime, the city government of Tuluá, Colombia, has banned men from riding on the seat of a motorcycle behind the driver.

The move upset Gay groups, who said it also prevents Gay male couples from traveling together.

Motorcycles and scooters are a common mode of transport in Colombia, but also are used by criminals to make a quick getaway after a mugging or shooting, with the perpetrator hopping on the seat behind the driver, said New York activist Andrés Duque, a native of Colombia.

After Gay activists complained that the policy violates their rights to equality, free mobility and the freedom to develop their personality, the mayor's office said it would exempt Gay men from the law if the office received a list of the names of local homosexuals.

Gay activists rejected that idea and will meet with the mayor's office to consider other solutions to the conundrum.

Tuluá, located in the Cauca Valley, has about 200,000 residents.



Romanians disapprove of homosexuality
A new Gallup poll has found that 68 percent of Romanians think homosexuality is a "bad choice" and 36 percent support punishing Gays with restrictions on their rights, fines or jail time.

In addition, two-thirds of the 1,200 people surveyed don't want to have homosexuals as friends, neighbors or workmates. And 50 percent don't want to associate with people who have HIV.

The poll's margin of error was reported as plus or minus 2.8 percent.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top: Act UP Paris
middle: Act UP Paris
bottom: Andres Duque

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