by Rex Wockner -
SGN Contributing Writer
Moscow Pride Euro Court case delayed
Moscow Pride's lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights over Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's repeated bans of pride events was delayed January 19 after Russia requested additional time to respond to the case.
The Russian government said it was too busy to file its reply in a timely fashion. The court responded by extending the deadline to February 20.
Chief Moscow Pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev denounced the development, saying it took far too long for the Euro Court to accept the case in the first place, and now he has to wait longer while the Russian government engages in alleged stalling tactics.
"We are engaged in this fight for freedom of assembly for five years," Alekseev said. "All these years, we have been paying the price of the workload of the court. ... Now that the court finally opened our complaints, we are paying the price of the workload of the Russian mission in Strasbourg. Will this ever end?"
Alekseev said the delay makes it very unlikely there will be a decision in the case prior to his group's fifth annual attempt to stage pride on May 29.
Luzhkov has banned Gay pride events in each of the past four years and has sent riot police to violently arrest small groups of activists who ignored the bans.
The mayor has called Gay parades "satanic" and, according to reports, "weapons of mass destruction."
Russian marriage case headed to Euro Court
The Moscow City Court on January 21 upheld a lower-court decision supporting the city's refusal to give a marriage license to a Lesbian couple.
Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko, who later traveled to Canada and got married, said they now will appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The couple also plan to demand that Russia recognize their Canadian marriage as soon as they receive their marriage certificate from Toronto.
Portuguese support same-sex marriage, by a smidge
Fifty-two percent of Portuguese support legalization of same-sex marriage, according to a new Eurosondagem poll for Rádio Renascença, SIC TV and the Expresso newspaper.
Parliament voted 125-92 to legalize same-sex marriage on January 8. Barring unexpected complications, the first Gay weddings will take place in April or shortly thereafter.
The bill that legalized same-sex marriage specifically excluded access to adoption for married same-sex couples.
The Eurosondagem poll quizzed 1,010 people by telephone from January 7 to 12. Forty-three percent said they oppose same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Sweden; in Argentina's Tierra del Fuego province; and in the U.S. states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. It will become legal in March in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City.
Belarus Gay picketers lose appeal
Belarus' Minsk City Court on January 19 dismissed the appeal of two Gay activists who were fined for picketing the Iranian Embassy to protest Iran's treatment of Gay people.
Sergey Androsenko and Sergey Pravdin said they will appeal the latest ruling to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.
"The decision which found me guilty of organizing an unsanctioned event violates my right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Belarus ratified," Androsenko said.
He added that his fine - $307 - was unusually harsh for nations of the former Soviet Union, equaling one month's worth of his salary.
Androsenko said he and two others staged the December picket because "the world can't hear the voice of Iranian Gays, who are being executed."
"We, activists of LGBT movement, have to become this voice," he said.
Malawi unfazed by international criticism of Gay arrests
Malawi's Information Ministry said January 18 that international pressure will not dissuade the nation from prosecuting a Gay couple for having a public engagement ceremony.
Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were charged with "unnatural offenses" and "indecent practices between males" after holding the event in Blantyre on December 26. They face 14 years in prison.
The couple remains jailed pending resumption of their trial, which began January 15 but was quickly adjourned after Chimbalanga, who reportedly has malaria, vomited and collapsed. He was later forced to get a mop and bucket and clean up the mess.
Information Minister Leckford Mwanza dismissed international criticism of the case, saying the Gay lovers clearly are lawbreakers and suggesting that Malawi does not want unsolicited advice on handling its internal affairs.
Meanwhile, on January 6, Chimbalanga was subjected to a forced medical exam to prove he's had Gay sex. The following day, both men were forced to undergo psychiatric testing.
"Prosecuting two adults just because they affirm their love is a terrible injustice," said Dipika Nath of Human Rights Watch's LGBT rights program. "To subject individuals to spurious medical examinations against their will shows grave disregard for their fundamental human rights as well as for the public welfare."
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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