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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer Gay marriage campaign launched in Portugal
The Movement for Equality in Access to Civil Marriage launched on May 31 in Lisbon, Portugal. More than 1,000 people signed onto the campaign, including politicians, well-known actors, pop singers and businesspeople, and Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, who was honored for literature in 1998.

The campaign's manifesto, which now can be signed by anyone in Portugal, states, in part: "Equal access to civil marriage is a matter of justice that deserves the support of all people who oppose homophobia and discrimination. ... We citizens who believe in equal rights, dignity and recognition for all of us - for our families, friends and colleagues - join our voices to express our support for equality.

"We call this change necessary, fair and urgent because we know that the current situation of inequality divides society between those who are included and those who are excluded, between persons who are inside and marginalized persons. ... We now have an opportunity to end one of the last unjustified [instances of] discrimination written in our law."

New Stockholm bishop is a Lesbian
The Stockholm diocese of the Church of Sweden elected an open Lesbian, the Rev. Eva Brunne, as bishop May 26.

Brunne, 55, is in a registered partnership with the Rev. Gunilla Lindén and they have a 3-year-old son.

Brunne received 413 votes against 365 for her challenger, the Rev. Hans Ulfvebrand. The electors are clergy members and an equal number of laypeople.

Brunne is believed to be the first openly Lesbian bishop in the world.

The Church of Sweden is Lutheran and counts 76 percent of the population as members, although only about 2 percent of them regularly attend services.

IGLHRC receives OAS status
The U.S.-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said June 1 it has received civil-society status from the Organization of American States.

The recognition will enable IGLHRC to attend and make presentations at OAS meetings and provide information and advice during drafting of OAS documents.

Spanish Supreme Court: Judges can't refuse to marry Gays
Spain's Supreme Court ruled May 30 that judges can't refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The ruling came in the case of a judge from Valencia province who wanted to be excused from marrying Gays for religious reasons.

The General Council for Judicial Power had previously come to the same determination.

Northern Irish LGBs report high level of hate crimes
Twenty-one percent of Gay and Bisexual men and 18 percent of Lesbian and Bisexual women in Northern Ireland say they've been the victim of a homophobic hate crime or incident in the past three years.

The figure comes from a survey of 1,143 LGB people carried out by the Rainbow Project with funding from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The study found that 64 percent of such incidents were not reported to police and 30 percent resulted in physical injury.

Mayor Luzhkov lashes out at Gays
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has again lashed out at Gays, calling them "homos" and calling Gay pride parades "demonic."

Appearing on a TV program June 2, Luzhkov reportedly said: "There are two reasons Gay pride parades are unacceptable in Moscow. First and foremost, public morality does not accept such parades, public morality does not accept those homos."

Secondly, he said: "If they gather together, assuming they are allowed to hold a parade, other people will simply kill them. There are radical Christians in Moscow who stand strongly against such demonic manifestations, as they say.

"There were attempts made [in May] to hold the Gay parade during the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. We had to isolate about 19 radical Christians who intended to attack those homos."

On May 16, riot police broke up an attempt to stage the fourth annual Gay pride parade in Moscow, arresting up to 80 participants, including Gay leader Nikolai Alekseev, British Gay leader Peter Tatchell and Chicago Gay activist Andy Thayer.

Luzhkov previously has called Gay pride parades "satanic" and "weapons of mass destruction," and has officially banned them each year.

Ruling: English adoption agencies cannot discriminate
The Charities Commission of England and Wales ruled June 2 that adoption agencies cannot discriminate against Gay couples.

The commission cited the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Violation of the law would lead to a loss of charity status and public funding.

The ruling came in a case involving the Catholic Care charity in Leeds, which wanted to amend its official statement of objectives with the commission to exclude consideration of Gay couples.

Bosnian churches oppose anti-discrimination bill
Bosnia and Herzegovina's Interreligious Council is opposing a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, claiming it will lead to legalization of same-sex marriage.

The measure has passed first reading in the House of Representatives.

A national law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation is a requirement for any nation that wants its citizens to be able to travel within the European Union without obtaining a visa.

The Interreligious Council is composed of representatives of the nation's Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews and Orthodox Christians.

BalkanInsight.com said it is unusual for the council "to agree on any concrete actions and [it] often has been blocked by internal boycotts."

Lithuanian Parliament votes for "no promo homo" law
Lithuania's parliament, the Seimas, approved a measure on first reading June 4 that bans references to homosexuality in schools and in public information that can be visible to children. The bill still has to clear a final vote.

The tally was 57-2 with 8 abstentions. Many MPs missed the vote.

Amnesty International said the "Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information" would classify "homosexuality alongside issues such as ... the display of a dead or cruelly mutilated body of a person, and information that arouses fear or horror, or encourages self-mutilation or suicide."

Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia program director, said the proposed law "denies the right to freedom of expression and deprives students' access to the support and protection they may need."



With assistance from Bill Kelley

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