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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer One million join prime minister's wife at London Pride
One million people and Sarah Brown, wife of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, took part in London's Gay pride parade July 4.

Mrs. Brown carried a red, white and pink Union Jack flag.

Members of the military marched in uniform, as did firefighters and a contingent from British Airways.

Prior to the march, Mr. Brown met with organizers at his residence and said the United Kingdom has made "massive strides" in the march toward Gay equality.

Marriage is almost the last thing on the agenda for British GLBTs. An existing civil-partnership law grants registered same-sex couples all the rights of marriage.

Noted Gay activist Peter Tatchell carried a sign in the parade that read: "Gordon & Sarah can marry, Gays can't. End the ban on Gay marriage." He wore a T-shirt that said "Homo Liberté, Egalité, Sexualité."

One million at Madrid Pride, 35,000 at Barcelona Pride
A million people turned out for Madrid's Gay pride parade July 4.

With same-sex marriage already legal and little left to fight for, organizers put forth the theme of greater freedom for GLBT young people in schools.

In Barcelona, about 35,000 people marched June 28. It was the city's first large-scale pride parade. The procession began at Plaça de la Universitat and ended at Plaça d'Espanya.

Helsinki sees biggest Pride yet
Some 4,000 people marched in Helsinki, Finland, June 28 - the city's biggest Pride parade to date.

Organizers gave an award to bisexual author Sofi Oksanen for her activism on behalf of GLBT people in the neighboring Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Russia.

Oksanen is the nation's most popular contemporary author. Her 2008 novel Purge has sold more copies than any other book in recent memory.

10,000 attend Santiago Pride
About 10,000 people attended the ninth Gay pride celebration in Santiago, Chile, June 27.

The variety show featured live music, dance acts, comedians and drag performances.

Organizers called on the Senate to pass a pending bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Chile legalized Gay sex only 11 years ago and set the age of consent for Gay sex at 18, four years higher than for heterosexual sex.

Gibraltar to keep unequal age of consent
Gibraltar's Parliament has rejected a move to equalize the age of consent at 16. It is currently 16 for heterosexuality and Lesbianism but 18 for male homosexuality.

"The obligation to equalize does not and will not go away," said Felix Alvarez of Equality Rights Group GGR. "It continues to be an international-law obligation, and I am confident change will come about in time."

Alvarez called on British and European governments and nongovernmental organizations to pressure Gibraltar's government to end the discrimination.

Gibraltar is a self-governing British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula. It has a population of 28,875.

Mongolian Gay group seeks help with registration
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, is seeking help from activists abroad in getting the organization registered with the government.

The Legal Entities Registration Agency has stonewalled the process, saying that it does not accept English words that have been transliterated into Cyrillic and that the center's name is "not moral" and is unacceptable to the public.

"The name ... has a meaning that conflicts with Mongolian customs and traditions and has the potential to set the wrong example for youth and adolescents," said an official rejection letter.

For its part, the center says: "We are adamant about registering our NGO as the 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Centre.' ... It is how we define ourselves, these are internationally accepted terminologies, and it is important that the public come to understand just what these terms mean. The LERA's assertion that they will not accept transliterated names is false as there are numerous NGOs registered and operating in Mongolia that have transliterated names."

The group requests that foreign activists complain to the Mongolian Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia.

Slovenia considers same-sex marriage and adoption
Slovenia is preparing to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption, Interior Minister Katarina Kresal said recently. The nation already has a registered-partnership law for same-sex couples.

Kresal said there is agreement in the government that gay couples cannot be treated differently, and that "definitely means marriage and adoptions."

Formerly part of communist Yugoslavia, Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004.

Singapore has no plans to follow India in legalizing Gay sex
The recent court-ordered legalization of Gay sex in India, the world's second-most-populous nation, is unlikely to stir a similar advance in Singapore, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said July 6.

Both nations' Gay-sex bans are part of a penal code imposed during British colonialism.

Shanmugam suggested that Singaporeans do not accept homosexuality but even as he said the ban won't be repealed, he also said it will not be enforced.

"We have the law," he said. "We say it won't be enforced. Is it totally clear? We, sometimes in these things, have to accept a bit of messiness. And the way the society is going, we don't think it's fair for us to prosecute people who say that they are homosexual."

"It's not for the government to say we are going to force something against the wishes of the people," Shanmugam added. "We won't change the law, but how that is interpreted is up to the courts. It is not our position to tell the courts what to do."

So, in summary: Gay sex is illegal, but no one will be arrested for having Gay sex, but the government won't repeal the ban, but the courts are free to strike it down if they want, and maybe they should. Do Ask, Do Tell, Don't Repeal, Do Sue.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - top: London Pride
below: London Pride
bottom: Barcelona Pride
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