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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Lesbian couple denied marriage license in Moscow
A Lesbian couple were turned away when they applied for a marriage license at Moscow's Marriage Registration Office on May 12.

Irina Fet and Irina Shipitko were handed a document stating that Russia allows only opposite-sex marriage.

The couple said they will now travel to Toronto and marry, then return to Russia and demand recognition of their union.

Russia's laws on nonrecognition of certain foreign marriages do not include same-sex marriage in the list of obstacles.

"There is a clear loophole in the Russian law that we are going to use," said Gay leader Nikolai Alekseev.

Fet told reporters: "We love each other for a while now and we want it to be officially recognized. We believe that we have the same rights [as] any other citizen for happiness. Our love is not different."

Activists expect the matter will end up at the European Court of Human Rights.

Swedish Gay leader beaten at Moldova Pride
The president of the Swedish national Gay group RFSL (RFSL's former initials are now its full name), Sören Juvas, was beaten up in Chisinau, Moldova, May 11.

He was stopped by police as he left a pub and asked if he was in town for the Gay pride events and if he was Gay. When he answered both questions in the affirmative, Juvas was taken to a police station, then later released.

As he left the station, Juvas was attacked by a group of men and suffered facial lacerations and bruises on his body.

"The men who attacked him were most likely police in civilian clothing or men who had been informed by the police that Sören Juvas was going to be outside the police station at that time," said RFSL spokesperson Malinda Flodman.

"Many politicians and public figures in Sweden are upset about what has happened and this has raised the issue of LGBT rights in Central and Eastern Europe in the public debate in Sweden, and has increased pressure on the Swedish government to address the issue when we assume the presidency of the EU [European Union] this summer."

The Chisinau pride events included roundtable discussions, workshops, awards, concerts, parties and a "Miss Flawless Queen" pageant. Activists also laid flowers at a public monument dedicated to oppressed people.

GLBT people attended from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine, among other nations.

Gay Euro MP banned from speaking in England
The president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights was prevented by local officials from addressing an International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) rally May 9 in Birmingham, England.

UK Gay News said the Birmingham City Council determined that Michael Cashman could not speak at the event because he is seeking re-election as a member of the European Parliament in June's elections. Cashman's West Midlands district includes Birmingham.

The speech Cashman planned to give was instead read by a local activist as Cashman stood at her side.

Derek Lennard, the UK coordinator of IDAHO, denounced the ban, saying politicians were involved in IDAHO events arranged by local councils in several cities across the country.

"This rally was called to mark the International Day Against Homophobia - it has nothing to do with the Euro election campaign," Lennard told UK Gay News.

The report suggested the Conservative-run City Council had mistaken the anti-homophobia rally for a political event or had deliberately chosen to interfere with the gathering, at which Cashman was the featured speaker, because of anti-Gay animus.

Fired Gay Chilean police officer sues
A policeman fired in Santiago, Chile, in 2006 for being Gay has filed suit at the Santiago Court of Appeals seeking reinstatement, back pay and $88,770 in damages.

César Ricardo Contreras Segura's action targets the district attorney's office and is backed by the leading Gay organization, Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation.

The suit says Contreras' dismissal violated the constitution's guarantee of equal treatment under the law and other constitutional rights.

"From 2006 to date, I have lived in family, emotional and economic hell because of my unjust and inhumane expulsion from the Civil Police, where I served for 15 years on a faultless path that police civil servants wanted to sully only because of my homosexuality," Contreras said.

Gays will have "house" at 2010 Winter Games
Gay athletes at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games will have a "Pride House" in which to chill out together in the mountain resort town of Whistler, British Columbia.

The "safe space" facility also will be open to Gay Olympians' friends, families, coaches and fans.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the clubhouse is a joint project of the organization GayWhistler and the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre Hotel.

Lebanese Gay group to target Gay-sex ban
In what may be a first for the Arab world, the Lebanese Gay group Helem says it will launch an effort to overturn the nation's ban on Gay sex.

The law, Article 534, criminalizes sex that violates "the laws of nature."

Some 20 members of the group recently staged a rally in the city center to protest police violence against Gay men.

EU criticizes Burundi's criminalization of Gay sex
The European Union, in a declaration issued by its presidency, has criticized the African nation of Burundi for its recent criminalization of Gay sex.

"The criminalization of consensual same-sex relations presents a violation of the rights to privacy, equality and non-discrimination as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the EU said May 11. "Adoption of such a norm is contradictory to Burundi's obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights."

The declaration also says bans on Gay sex impede the fight against HIV by driving marginalized communities underground.

In addition to the 27 member nations of the EU, the declaration was supported by Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Ukraine.

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures - top: Irina Fet - Gay Liberation
below: Soren Juvas
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