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International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Serbian Gay pride parade canceled after threats
The September 20 Gay pride parade in Belgrade, Serbia, was canceled September 19 under pressure from police and the government, who said they couldn't protect the marchers from thousands of violent anti-Gay hooligans who planned to attack the event.

March opponents had covered walls in the city center with graffiti that said, "We will get you," "Death to faggots," and "Blood will flow," and had spoken openly to reporters about the planned assault.

Serbia had not had a Gay pride parade since 2001, when dozens of marchers and police officers were injured by marauding neo-Nazis, nationalists and soccer fans.

The decision to call off the parade came after organizers met with Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, who proposed moving the march away from the city center. Organizers rejected that idea.

"The message of equal rights is transmitted symbolically when a group on the margins is able to parade in the center of the capital," said organizer Dragana Vuckovic.

Belgrade's Queerbeograd.org denounced the "lack of cooperation on the part of [the] state and police to secure the event."

"This is after months of planning by the organizing team, and repeated assurances from government at all levels, the minister for minorities, and the Serbian premier and president, that the pride will be secured and protected," the website said. "A full security study was commissioned more than three months ago by pride organizers and executed by the university defense department constructing a detailed strategy for all logistical possibilities to carry out pride safely with full instructions for how police would secure pride participants' entrance to the parade, their safety during the event and their ability to leave the event unmolested."

The European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights was equally dismayed.

"This pride march should have been an important step forward for human rights in Serbia," said Intergroup President Michael Cashman. "Instead, by failing to guarantee the right to a peaceful demonstration for LGBT people, Serbia has shown that it is not ready to become a member of the EU [European Union]."

The European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (aka ILGA-Europe) said the debacle means the government has lost control of the city.

"Serbian authorities have given in to threats of violence from neo-fascist groups, sending a message that the center of Belgrade is controlled by a violent mob, not the government and the police," said Program Director Maxim Anmeghichean. "The events of the last few days demonstrate that the Serbian authorities should fill the legal gap by prohibiting and punishing incitement to violence."

Following the parade's cancellation, the Swedish ambassador quickly organized a "mini-pride" at his suburban residence. About 50 people attended.

"Pride is all about the message of tolerance," Ambassador Krister Bringéus told the group. "I am very sorry that pride didn't take place, but welcome to this small pride event."

Belgrade's first Gay-pride march, in what was then Yugoslavia, was attacked by hundreds of thugs from ultranationalist youth organizations, skinhead groups and soccer clubs on June 30, 2001.

The hoodlums kicked and beat the marchers and chanted, "Death to homosexuals." Police fired pistols into the air to chase the miscreants from the city's main square.

Indonesian province enacts anti-Gay law
The House of Representatives in Indonesia's Aceh province has enacted a new Islamic criminal code that punishes homosexuality with up to 100 lashes, Amnesty International reported September 17.

The code also bans gambling, drinking alcohol, premarital sex, adultery and fornication - punishing adultery with stoning.

"The new criminal bylaw flies in the face of international human rights law as well as provisions of the Indonesian constitution," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director. "Stoning to death is particularly cruel and constitutes torture, which is absolutely forbidden under all circumstances in international law."

Gays protest at Australian "Gay conversion" conference
Twenty people staged a protest outside a "Gay conversion" conference in suburban Melbourne, Australia, on September 19.

They carried signs reading "Hands off Queer kids" and "You can't straighten me out," and had a heated debate with conference organizers.

"Teaching young people to suppress their sexuality and pretend to be straight is detrimental to their well-being," said protester Tim Wright. "If their church won't accept them for who they are, they should find a church that does."

"The idea that you can convert Gays to heterosexuality ... has been completely discredited by science, yet a small handful of fanatics continue to advance it," Wright said. "It's not likely that the conversion movement will ever gain traction in Australia as it has in the United States, but this event is a reminder that we must remain vigilant."

U.S. Gays married in Canada have trouble divorcing
Some U.S. Gay couples who get married in Canada and then later want to divorce find themselves in a pickle, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported September 25.

Forty-two U.S. states do not recognize same-sex marriage and, therefore, it is not possible for a same-sex couple to divorce in many or all of those states.

A couple could return to Canada to end the marriage, but that presents its own problem: Canadian divorce law requires that at least one of the spouses has lived in Canada for the 12 months before a divorce is granted.

The CBC said similar divorce requirements exist in U.S. states that recognize Gay marriage.

British Lesbians win birth-certificate rights
A new law that took effect in England and Wales on September 1 allows a Lesbian couple who conceive a child together to be named as the parents on the birth certificate.

Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, if the couple are civilly partnered or have made use of a licensed fertility clinic, they automatically will be listed as the parents.

The new law also instructs fertility clinics to stop considering "the need for a father" in determining whether to help a couple and instead consider "the need for supportive parenting."

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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picture, top: Melbourne
bottom: Belgrade
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