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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 14, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 20
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
ALL STORIES
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International News

Lithuanian court un-bans Gay pride parade, homophobes attack
Lithuania's Supreme Administrative Court overruled the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court on May 7 and un-banned the following day's Baltic Pride march, which was then targeted by more than 1,000 anti-Gay protesters.

The court said European Union law obligates the nation to protect the rights to free expression and assembly.

"Lithuania was the last EU member state whose authorities were trying to prevent LGBTI people from their constitutional right to peaceful assembly," said ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. "This [is] a triumph of the rule of law and democratic values."

The May 8 march featured 500 marchers, 800 police officers protecting them, and more than 1,000 anti-Gay protesters trying to hurt them.

The anti-Gays threw rocks, bottles, fireworks, and other items, but failed to breach the police cordon. Police used tear gas to keep the homophobes at bay.

More than a dozen people were detained.

Marchers included several members of the European Parliament, foreign ambassadors, and Swedish Minister for European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson, who said: "Today we are marching for Europe. ... We would never accept homophobia taking over our streets."

The lower court had banned the march on May 5 at the request of interim Prosecutor General Raimondas Petrauskas, agreeing with him that the authorities could not protect marchers from radical anti-Gay protesters.

"This parade is like a red rag for a bull," Petrauskas said.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite had expressed shock at that ruling.

"The president is astounded ... that the police claim they are ready to ensure safety, but the acting prosecutor general sees a threat," her spokesman told Baltic News Service. "The constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly."

The Baltic Pride march was part of five days of events for LGBT people from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

A recent Eurobarometer poll found that 93 percent of Lithuanians say they don't know anyone Gay, and another poll in March found that 73 percent of Lithuanians don't want Gays to hold parades.

Iceland to legalize same-sex marriage
Iceland's parliament is expected to legalize same-sex marriage within several weeks.

The relevant bill was submitted by the nation's justice and human rights minister.

The proposal also would allow religious organizations to perform same-sex marriages.

Iceland already has same-sex registered partnerships that are nearly identical to marriage.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Mexico City, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Danish Gay couples get adoption rights
Denmark, which in 1989 was the first nation to create same-sex registered partnerships, extended adoption rights to registered same-sex couples May 5.

Parliament passed the measure without the support of the ruling coalition. It takes effect July 1.

Danish Gays and Lesbians previously could adopt only as individuals or as the second parent of a partner's biological child.

Justice Minister Lars Barfoed said the government opposed the bill because "children as a rule need a mother and a father."

Thirty-one Russian cities take part in LGBT Day of Silence
Activists in 31 Russian cities took part in the LGBT Day of Silence on April 24 and 25.

The youth-oriented international event targets anti-LGBT discrimination, defamation and violence.

In most Russian localities, activists opted for a "flashmob" approach, since it's difficult or impossible to get city permission for LGBT events on public property.

Activists appeared and distributed literature in the cities of Abakan, Arkhangelsk, Cheboksary, Chelyabinsk, Cherepovets, Glazov, Ivanovo, Izhevsk, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Kemerovo, Kirov, Krasnodar, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Novokuznetsk, Oboyan, Omsk, Perm, Petrozavodsk, Pskov, St. Petersburg, Samara, Severodvinsk, Syktyvkar, Tyumen, Vladivostok, Volgograd, Voronezh, Vyborg, and Yekaterinburg.

For the most part, "the reaction of the passersby was calm and even friendly," said national coordinator Valery Sozaev of the Russian LGBT Network. "People took flyers with interest."

One exception was in Syktyvkar, a city of 230,000 people located 1,000 km (620 miles) northeast of Moscow.

Local organizers had to change the date of the protest following threats from neo-Nazis, who gathered on the original date at the original location with the intention of stopping the event.

"Our Day of Silence was successful, since we were able to attract 21 new cities," Sozaev said. "Most importantly, in most of the regions, people took initiative on their own, without waiting for organizations. This is very much in the spirit of the Day of Silence - individual responsibility in the process of building a world without homophobia."

For more information, see dayofsilence.lgbtnet.ru.

Turkish LGBTs protest Trans murder
Around 100 members of the Black Pink Triangle Association in Izmir, Turkey, staged a candlelight vigil April 28 following the killing of Transgender member Azra.

Azra "was murdered by a gunshot to the back of her head & in what seems to be a serial murder," said Hossein Alizadeh of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

"Turkish authorities believe that the murder weapon used in this case was the same that took the lives of two other Transgender people in Izmir," he said.

For more information, see http://siyahpembe.org/?p=578.

Meanwhile, a local court on April 30 rejected an official attempt to close down the Black Pink Triangle Association.

Judge Mursel Ermis declared that "homosexuals are free to found associations like all other people."

Izmir officials had targeted the group for dissolution on the grounds that it violated morals and harmed Turkish families.

Two other leading Gay organizations - Lambda Istanbul and Ankara's KAOS GL - also have beat back local governments' attempts to shut them down.

New Zealand Olympian comes out
New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup, who competed in the recent Vancouver Olympics, came out in the Australian Gay magazine DNA in early May.

"Back when I was 18, and becoming serious about my sport and my Olympic goals, if I could have seen an athlete like myself out there ... my journey would have been a lot easier," the 24-year-old told the magazine.

"I can't personally relate to [American figure skater Johnny] Weir or [out Welsh rugby star Gareth] Thomas, nor will many other young Gay athletes out there," he said. "But maybe some of them will see something in me to relate to."

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - top: Volgograd
bottom: Aregentina
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