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International News - Rex Wockner
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Chilean LGBT infrastructure damaged by earthquake
Chile's leading Gay rights group, Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement), on March 11 released preliminary findings on earthquake damage to the LGBT community infrastructure.

The Frida Kahlo Lesbian Cultural Center in Chillán was destroyed, MOVILH said, and the headquarters of the Chilean AIDS Prevention Corporation and ACCIONGAY in Valparaíso was severely damaged.

"The house is ready to fall down," said Marcelo Aguilar, ACCIONGAY's Valparaíso regional coordinator. "One of the saddest aspects is the loss of equipment that we worked hard to acquire for our headquarters over the past 10 years."

All of the organization's services have been suspended.

Just south of Santiago, in the town of Paine, the Gay pub Vunker "was rendered completely uninhabitable," MOVILH reported.

"The homes of many Chilean LGBT activists are in poor condition, while other activists who fight against homophobia and Transphobia in Chile are still missing," the organization said.

"The most serious problem we are facing is that various activists have lost their relatives and friends," the group said. "One tragic case is that of Karin Avaria, a Transsexual activist from MOVILH, who has lost seven relatives."

For more information, see movilh.cl.

Euro Court further delays Moldovan Gay case
A case sent to the European Court of Human Rights in 2006 by Gays in Moldova is facing new delays.

The court now says it needs additional clarifications from the Moldovan government before it can move forward in the matter of Moldovan authorities' banning a May 2005 Gay demonstration outside Parliament in Chisinau.

Members of the LGBT group GenderDoc-M had hoped to picket in support of the idea of an anti-discrimination law.

Permission was denied by the Municipal Council, which said the picket lacked meaning because no legislation of the sort was pending. An appeals court ruled that the city's denial was "illegal" but the nation's Supreme Court later upheld the ban, saying a picket by sexual minorities could lead to a breach of public order.

GenderDoc-M's Euro Court case alleges violation of numerous provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights concerned with the rights to a fair trial, effective remedy, freedom of assembly, and freedom from discrimination.

"The additional questions requested by the court to the Moldovan authorities take away all hopes for a court decision before the next Moldovan Pride planned on May 2," said Moscow activist Nikolai Alekseev.

Gay magazine launches in Belarus
A Gay magazine has launched in Belarus even after the government refused to allow it to be registered.

GAY: Good As You will publish six times a year in Belarusian and Russian.

The first edition was distributed March 1 in Minsk. It also is available on GayBelarus.by.

"Unfortunately, the authorities have denied to register our magazine, making it unofficial and preventing us to print more than 299 copies according to the law, but we hope to be able to circulate a few in other cities by April," said Chief Editor Sergey Praded.

House of Lords OKs Gay church weddings
Britain's House of Lords voted 95-21 on March 3 to allow religious authorities to conduct Gay civil partnership ceremonies in churches and other places of worship.

The change is not supported by the government but is expected to pass the House of Commons as well.

Same-sex civil partnerships were legalized in 2005 and grant the same rights and obligations as marriage.

"We expect civil partnerships will be conducted by Gay-affirmative religions, including the Unitarians and Quakers, and some Anglican churches and liberal synagogues," said veteran activist Peter Tatchell.

"Our next goal is to secure marriage equality, to end the prohibition on Lesbian and Gay couples having a civil marriage in a registry office," Tatchell said.

Euro Court rules against Poland in housing case
The European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously March 2 that Poland discriminated against a Gay man on the grounds of sexual orientation by refusing to let him continue renting his and his partner's apartment after the partner's death.

Polish courts had ruled that tenancy rights for cohabiting partners do not apply to Gay couples because the nation's constitution says marriage is "a union of a man and a woman."

The Euro Court said Poland violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that prohibit discrimination and protect the right to respect for private and family life.

The case was brought by Piotr Kozak, who lives in the city of Szczecin, which was his landlord as well.

It took the sometimes notoriously slow Euro Court more than eight years to issue its ruling.

Taipei Gays protest homophobic memo
More than 100 Gay people protested at Taipei City Hall on March 2 after the Ministry of Education sent a memo to high schools advising them to ban "homosexual activities," the China Post reported.

The federal agency issued the memo after a Taipei City Council committee discussed, but did not pass, a resolution suggesting that the city government investigate how to "prevent high school student groups from leading students into homosexual activities."

The demonstrators demanded that the national government explain itself and apologize. More than 110 organizations signed a petition to the same effect.

Ministry of Education Secretary General Tsang Tsan-chin responded with an official apology.

Protest organizer Gay & Lesbian Awakening Days said banning Gay groups in schools interferes with students' natural development, according to the Post.

"We do not become homosexual because our friends are homosexual," GLAD said. "Through homosexual groups and with the support of peers with similar experiences, we can overcome the feelings of inferiority and fear pressed on us by the society and understand and accept ourselves."

Brazilians plan national march on Brasilia
The umbrella group Brazilian Association for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals is organizing the 1st National March Against Homophobia for May 19 in Brasilia, the nation's capital.

The association is made up of 237 LGBT organizations from all 27 states.

Activists will gather at 9 a.m. on the lawn of the Ministries Esplanade in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral. "Every day, 20 million out ... LGBT Brazilians have their civil, economic, religious and political rights violated," the organizers said. "Religious fundamentalists have used the media, city councils, state and federal houses of representatives and the federal Senate as vehicles to spread hate against LGBT citizens and to obstruct [the] Brazilian Constitution.

"With no respect for the separation of church and state, religious fundamentalists use public resources and spaces - schools, health clinics, government cabinets, public squares and avenues, legislative, executive and judiciary chambers - to humiliate, attack and spread their hate against LGBT citizens."

Czech government issues homophobia handbook to schools
The Czech Republic government has issued a handbook called Homophobia in Schools to elementary- and high-school teachers to help them combat anti-Gay bullying, radio.cz reported.

"Young people laugh at different things, not only at Gays and Lesbians - that's part of the youth culture, but I think the role of schools and teachers should be to talk about this, to talk about homosexuality, to discuss it with students and show them that this is not correct," said Lucie Otáhalová, head of the secretariat of the Government Council for Human Rights.

Studies have found that up to 75 percent of Czech students have negative attitudes toward Gays and Lesbians.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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picture top: Moldova Chisinau 2007 demonstration
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