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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 08
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Court overturns Budapest pride ban
Hungary's Budapest Metropolitan Court on February 18 overturned city officials' refusal to grant permission for this year's Gay pride parade.

The city's ban came after organizers sought to extend the route of the June 18 march to an endpoint in Parliament Square. Officials claimed the new route would disrupt traffic and disturb an ongoing photo exhibit outside the Parliament Building.

A coalition of local organizations along with pan-European LGBT groups and Amnesty International had harshly criticized the ban, and pride organizers went to court to block it.

'Hungary currently holds the presidency of the European Union and surely is sending the wrong signal about the union's respect of human rights of all,' said Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. 'Indeed, such a blatant denial of the right to free and peaceful assembly goes against the EU fundamental principles of democracy and respect of diversity.'

Other problems have cropped up recently in Hungary, as well, Paradis said.

'The ban on the pride march adds to our concerns with the deteriorating situation for LGBTI in Hungary,' she said. 'Currently there is a proposal to amend the country's constitution to limit the scope of marriage to one man and one woman with the effect of banning the possibility of a future opening of marriage to same-sex couples. Additionally, the current Hungarian EU presidency program has no reference to the rights of LGBTI people even in events that deal with equality. Moreover, a draft media law is currently being revised after heavy criticism from the EU [that is] aimed to prevent among other things same-sex affections in the media. We believe that represents a dangerous signal not only to LGBTI people in Hungary, but also across the EU. We call upon EU institutions and member states to remind Hungary of its duties and about the EU fundamental principles of equality, nondiscrimination and respect for human rights for all.'

The vice president of the European Parliament's LGBT Intergroup, Sophie in 't Veld, agreed that the pride ban was 'potentially indicative of what the new Hungarian constitution and media law may have in stock for LGBT people.'

'Enshrining inequality in law and in the constitution would be an immense step backwards, putting Hungary at odds with the values it signed up to when joining the European Union,' she said. 'We cannot accept the EU being led by a presidency that disrespects equality and freedom of assembly.'

U.N. shuns ILGA again
The Non-Governmental Organizations Committee of the United Nations' Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on February 4 again rejected a request for consultative status from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, aka ILGA.

The committee voted to take 'no action' on the request and to reconsider it in May.

Seven nations supported moving to an actual vote on granting ILGA the status to access U.N. meetings, deliver oral and written reports, contact country representatives and organize events at the U.N. They were Belgium, Bulgaria, India, Israel, Turkey, Peru and the United States. Opposed were Burundi, China, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Sudan and Venezuela. Kyrgyzstan abstained and Cuba and Mozambique were not present.

The NGO Committee only rarely has approved consultative status for LGBT organizations, though its refusals have several times been overridden by the full ECOSOC.

Groups that have finally achieved consultative status include International Wages Due Lesbians, Australia's Coalition of Activist Lesbians, ILGA-Europe (an autonomous division of ILGA), Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske (Denmark's National Association for Gays and Lesbians), Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany), the Swedish national LGBT group RFSL (whose former initials now are its full name), Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Québec (Quebec Gay and Lesbian Coalition), COC Netherlands (a national LGBT group whose former initials are now its full name), Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros (Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians and Transgenders), and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

ILGA had ECOSOC status from 1993 to 1994 but was stripped of it following a scandal, orchestrated by the U.S. right wing, in which a small number of ILGA's hundreds of member organizations were accused of not taking a strong enough position on age of consent.

Around 3,000 nongovernmental organizations have U.N. consultative status.

Spanish cities honor Gay communities
Three Spanish cities are recognizing LGBT people via public works.

In March, the Barcelona city government will place a large marble pink triangle in Ciudadela Park, where the Catalonian Parliament is located.

'This is a necessary monument to remember the discrimination, repression, humiliation, persecution, attacks and assassinations that the LGTB community suffered for centuries and very especially during the Franco dictatorship,' said Antonio Guirado, secretary general of the Catalonian LGBT umbrella group Gay Lesbian Coordinator. 'It is an act of justice and reparation but also will become a permanent symbol of the commitment of the city of Barcelona in the fight against homophobia.'

The city of Gijón is creating a park called 'June 28, Gay Pride Day' alongside the Montevil soccer field.

And La Coruña is renaming a street after the late Gay activist Tomás Fábregas, who emigrated to the U.S. at age 21 and was active in the fight against the U.S. ban on HIV-positive foreign visitors and immigrants, which was repealed in 2009.

At the 1992 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, which he attended as a board member of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Fábregas publicly dared the Bush administration to block his re-entry into the U.S. It did not do so. Fábregas died in 1994.

Tijuana LGBTI group recognized by city, plans congress
The group Tijuana LGBTI Cultural Community, or COCUT, was formally inaugurated this month at a ceremony at the offices of the Tijuana Tourism and Conventions Committee.

Committee head Alan Bautista Plascencia expressed strong support for COCUT's upcoming five-day Tijuana Cultural Congress Against Homophobia.

Artistic, literary, cultural, and educational events will take place from May 17 to 21 in the city's historic downtown, on Avenida Revolución and in Plaza Santa Cecilia.

Belarusian Gays allowed to stage public protest
Gays in Belarus staged the nation's first-ever authorized public Gay event February 14 in Minsk, reported GayRussia.ru.

The LGBT group IDAHO Belarus held a rally against homophobia in a park near the Justice Ministry, with approval from the city's Executive Committee and police department.

The small group carried banners reading, 'Love who you want' and 'Homophobia = fascism.'

About two dozen journalists covered the rally, outnumbering the protesters.

'For the first time, the only thing that we feared was neither the police nor the homophobe hooligans but the cold,' organizer Sergey Praded told GayRussia. 'This is a very good first step.'

Last year, the city's Executive Committee banned the Gay pride march. When activists ignored the ban, several were aggressively arrested for taking part in an unsanctioned public action.

Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev, who joined that march, said police were 'brutal and violent.'

'I've never run so fast in my life,' he said.

He and activist Ira Fet evaded arrest by running into a building and hiding in a trash room for 20 minutes.

New Zealand prime minister attends Gay event
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key attended the Big Gay Out festival in Auckland's Coyle Park for two hours February 13.

During an on-site radio interview, Key was asked if he now supports the Gay civil-union law, which he had voted against as a member of Parliament.

Key refused to answer, saying, 'I'm leaving it until my book.'

200 arrested at 'Gay' party in Bahrain
At least 200 people were arrested February 3 at the Hidd Sports Club in Al Muharraq, Bahrain, for engaging in what local media called 'immoral behavior' at a 'Gay party,' according to Amnesty International. Reports said the individuals were drinking alcohol and wearing women's clothes.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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