by Rex Wockner -
SGN Contributing Writer
Pride ralliers arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia
Fourteen activists were jailed overnight after police broke up the second Gay pride march in St. Petersburg, Russia, just two minutes after it started June 25.
The detainees said their jail cell was tiny and suffocatingly hot, and that police gave them no water.
In court appearances the following day, they received small fines (the biggest was $35) for organizing an illegal public action.
However, they face an additional charge of disobeying police orders, which can carry a penalty of up to 15 days in jail.
The 'march' consisted of a boat on the Neva River carrying a huge rainbow flag, which was executed by one group of activists, an attempt by a second group to begin marching from the statue of Peter the Great, carrying flags and banners, and a similar demonstration nearby on the stairs of the Constitutional Court.
The whole thing lasted only two minutes before police swooped in and put an end to it.
The crackdown follows a nearly identical one on Moscow's sixth Gay pride attempt in May.
Both police actions violated a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Russia cannot ban Gay pride events. The court found that previous bans in Moscow violated the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, the right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.
European Gay activists have responded to Russia's flouting of the ruling by calling on the Council of Europe to suspend Russia's voting rights in the association.
Later on June 25, about 100 activists in Germany protested at Russia's embassy in Berlin, including openly Gay Bundestag member Volker Beck.
'Russian LGBT activists, today in St. Petersburg, and in May in Moscow are heroes that we can be proud of,' Beck said. 'The actions of the police are completely unacceptable and I expect from our government to explicitly address this issue in bilateral discussions with the Russian government.'
LGBTs march in former Eastern Bloc and Tijuana
LGBT people took to the streets for Gay pride June 18 in Sofia, Bulgaria; Zagreb, Croatia; Budapest, Hungary; and Tijuana, Mexico.
About 1,000 marched in Sofia, and 2,000 marched in Zagreb and Budapest. All three parades were heavily protected by police because of violence in previous years or threats from extremists this year.
In Budapest, 50 participants who had come on a bus from Austria were detained by police for two hours, and two of the individuals were arrested and held overnight.
According to Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI Wien), the Austrian LGBTs were harassed as they headed back to their bus by 15 anti-Gay 'neo-Nazis,' who attacked them with 'terribly smelly sprays.'
According to HOSI, the attackers then told nearby police that the LGBTs were the ones who had done the attacking.
'The police then brutally dragged all 50 of us out of the bus, we had to hand over our passports, and were put, one by one, in front of the group of neo-Nazis so that they could 'identify' those who had allegedly attacked them,' said HOSI's Judith Götz. 'The neo-Nazis then picked randomly two of us as having attacked them.'
HOSI's secretary general, Kurt Krickler, said the organization was 'appalled' by the incident and expects it will have 'some sort of diplomatic sequel.'
In Mexico, meanwhile, about 1,000 people joined in Tijuana's 16th GLBTI Pride parade June 18.
Many rode on the beds of semis blasting Mexican and American dance tunes.
The colorful, rowdy procession was well-received by onlookers who swelled to a throng at Second Street and Constitution Avenue.
Afterward, drag queens performed on an open-air stage in Plaza Santa Cecilia, the city's Gayest block, which slants from First Street to Second Street between Revolution and Constitution avenues.
Beijing Queer Film Festival goes guerrilla
The fifth Beijing Queer Film Festival wrapped up June 19 after five days of guerrilla-style screenings around the city.
Three days before the opening, the authorities ordered the festival canceled and threatened 'harsh consequences' if the order was disobeyed.
Organizers quickly lined up alternate screening locations in bars and coffeehouses, and implemented 'strict safety measures surrounding the publication of screening times and places ... to stay out of the hands of the authorities for the duration of the festival,' they said.
More than 500 people, including 23 Chinese and foreign Queer filmmakers, attended. Thirty films were shown, and many of the filmmakers held talks and discussions.
'Despite, and perhaps even thanks to, the ban imposed by the authorities, the Beijing Queer Film Festival succeeded in what it set out to do: celebrate Queer film and celebrate the necessity of showing Queer films in a society where nonmainstream voices are stifled all too often,' the organizers said.
The entities that banned the festival were the Beijing Xicheng District Public Security Bureau, the Culture Bureau, and the Bureau of Industry and Trade, festival organizers said.
'While it is unfortunate that we had to be guerrilla-warriors once again in order to hold this festival, we feel empowered and invigorated by the reactions of the audience and the filmmakers, and we're ready to continue with our goal of spreading Queer films and Queer culture in Chinese society,' said festival chairwoman Yang Yang.
'Our biggest enemy consists of a small number of authoritarian organizations that are using the powerful national propaganda machine to subtly construct mainstream ideology,' she added. 'And our biggest worth, our ultimate goal as a queer film festival, is to challenge and oppose this mainstream ideology.'
Serbian Gay magazine launched
The Gay Lesbian Info Center in Belgrade, Serbia, has launched a 64-page, full-color magazine called Optimism.
It is distributed free at Gay bars and clubs, cultural and drop-in centers, and Gay-friendly venues in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis, Leskovac, Zrenjanin, and Subotica.
The first issue looks at the legislative and legal situation of LGBT Serbians, concluding that Gays and Lesbians have legal protection only when they are single. Gay couples and Transgender people are not recognized under law, the editors said.
GLIC seeks funding to keep the magazine in print. The editors can be reached at email@example.com or via gayecho.com.
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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