by Rex Wockner -
SGN Contributing Writer
Australian former Olympic swimmer comes out
Australian former Olympic swimmer Daniel Kowalski came out in an article he wrote for the Melbourne newspaper The Age on April 18.
"Being a Gay man with a foot half in and out of the closet is tough; the games it plays with your mind - and more importantly, your heart - are hard to put into words," he wrote. "I finally accepted my sexuality at the end of 2006 following a huge anxiety attack at work. After what were literally years of torment, denial and very, very dark times, I couldn't live a lie to myself any more. You often read that when people came out they had felt depressed or had suicidal tendencies. I, like them, experienced all of the extremes, but mostly it was the loneliness that was the hardest part of being Gay - and still is."
"Despite the dark, fearful and lonely times, being able to write this fills me with a sense of freedom, pride and relief," he said at the article's end. "There truly is a genuine sense that everything will be OK. I wrestled for a long, long time wondering whether being Gay made me a bad person, but I can no longer fight who I am and that, simply put, is just me."
Kowalski won a gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay at the 2000 Summer Olympics. At the 1996 Summer Olympics, he won a silver medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle, a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle and a bronze medal in the 200-meter freestyle.
To read the full coming-out article, visit tinyurl.com/dankowal.
Euro Commission criticized on Gay couple rights
The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights criticized the European Commission on April 21 for failing "to mention the mutual recognition of same-sex unions across [European Union] borders as a priority for its 2010-2014 Stockholm Programme."
The Stockholm Programme lays out the commission's policies for EU citizens in the areas of justice, freedom and security until the year 2014.
In a resolution last November, the European Parliament declared that the Stockholm Programme must "ensure freedom of movement for EU citizens and their families, including both registered partnerships and marriages, [and] avoid all kinds of discrimination on any ground, including sexual orientation."
Key commissioners apparently supported the proposal but then later changed their minds.
"During their January hearings, Commissioners [Cecilia] Malmström and [Viviane] Reding [who are in charge of the Stockholm Programme] committed themselves to full equality for European citizens, including on grounds of gender and sexual orientation - indeed, Viviane Reding explicitly said that same-sex couples must retain the same rights when moving across the EU," said Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the LGBT Intergroup. "It seems they are now shying away from these dossiers because they are controversial for some national governments. It would be unacceptable that LGBT families be, again, asked to wait for equal rights."
Intergroup Co-President Michael Cashman added: "Commissioners Reding and Malmström must ... begin the process of ensuring that all citizens, including LGBT families, enjoy genuine freedom of movement across the EU. This is fundamental."
Journalists arrested in case of Indian professor
Two TV journalists have been arrested on charges of privacy violations in the case of the professor at Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, India, who was taped having Gay sex in his own bedroom.
The late Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras was suspended as a result of the incident and later resigned. He then was found dead in his bed on April 7, apparently poisoned, shortly after a court had ordered that he be reinstated to his job.
Police and media have said Siras took his own life but some Gay activists have questioned that assumption, pointing out that Siras had been cheerful and upbeat after receiving a great deal of support in his ordeal and after winning the court case.
"The whole process had been a sort of rebirth for him, from the utter disgrace of the exposure and early newspaper reports, then the support he got from the Gay and Lesbian community, and even from people within AMU," one Gay activist said, speaking privately. "It just seems so completely unlikely that he would commit suicide when things were going his way."
The AMU Teachers Association and LGBT activist groups have demanded that officials conduct a high-level examination of the circumstances of Siras' death.
Italian court rejects same-sex marriage
Italy's Constitutional Court refused to legalize same-sex marriage April 14.
The court had been asked to rule on the issue by lower courts in Venice and Trent, where Gay couples had sought equal marriage rights at city halls.
The Constitutional Court's formal opinion is not ready but news reports said the justices believe same-sex marriage is a matter that should be dealt with by legislators, not courts.
Gays protest Turkish minister's homophobic remarks
Gay activists disrupted a human-rights conference in Ankara, Turkey, on April 15, demanding that the government's minister for families and children, Aliye Kavaf, apologize for having called homosexuality a "disease."
Kavaf recently told a newspaper: "I believe homosexuality is a biological disorder, a disease. It needs to be treated."
Gay groups also recently staged a public protest in Istanbul over the outburst.
Morocco gets a Gay magazine
Morocco has its first gay magazine: Mithly, which means "Gay" in Arabic. It is being published by the LGBT rights group Kif Kif.
The editorial team works from Madrid because Gay sex is illegal in Morocco. Violators can be imprisoned for up to three years.
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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