Lesbian News, Nov2006, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p14-15
BRITISH LESBIAN COUPLE ABANDONS MARRIAGE FIGHT
Two British university professors have abandoned their battle to make the United Kingdom government recognize their Canadian marriage.
In July, the High Court Family Division upheld a U.K. law that automatically converted Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger's foreign marriage into a same-sex civil partnership.
The court also slammed the couple with more than $46,000 in court costs, which is approximately equal to their life savings. As a result, they have no money to appeal the decision, they said.
"This financial penalty is clearly intended to deter us from seeking justice," they wrote in an e-mail. "We will campaign in other ways instead."
Those wishing to help pay the court costs can visit www.equalmarriagerights.org. Canada is one of five nations where same-sex couples have access to ordinary marriage.
SWEDEN GETS A GAY GOVERNMENT MINISTER
Sweden has an openly gay government minister for the first time.
Andreas Carlgren has been appointed environment minister by new Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. Carlgren and partner Tomas Harila Carlgren live together in an official registered partnership.
Reinfeldt also appointed the country's first black minister, integration minister Nyamko Sabuni, and its first male minister with a ponytail, finance minister Anders Borg.
DUBLIN POLICE SET UP PINK PATROL
A special unit of plainclothes Dublin cops, dubbed the "Pink Patrol," is targeting the city's gay community to catch gay-bashers.
Bashing has become particularly problematic in the George's Street area on the city's south side -- especially near the high-profile gay pub The George.Several arrests have been made and the cases are working their way through the courts.
EURO COMMISSION FUNDS GAY YOUTH PROJECT
The European Commission has funded a two-year project called "Family Matters -- Supporting families to prevent violence against gay and lesbian youth."
It will be run by the Department of Social Research at Italy's University of East Piedmont and by groups for parents, families and friends of gays in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The commission said gay and lesbian youth frequently lack support and role models within their families and as a result, may have trouble accepting themselves and become vulnerable to bullying, harassment and self-harming.
Families of gays and lesbians need help to accept their children and assist them in dealing with discrimination, the commission said.
The money will be spent on polling, on identifying public and social-service sector "good practice for families of homosexual young people," and to produce educational material, a documentary video and a Web site.
BUDAPEST TOURISM EXTENDS HAND TO GAYS
Budapest Tourism has set up a gay page on its Web site.
"Budapest had a significant gay and lesbian population all the time," the site says. "The significant aversion against them, the legal and social exclusions, started to decrease after 1990 only. A Hungarian word, 'meleg,' was born for homosexuality without abusive, discriminating content." The page includes lists of gay bars, gay clubs, lesbian parties, gay-friendly restaurants and cafes, gay accommodations, "gay homepages," "sexshops" and "useful informations."
See http://www.budapestinfo.hu/en/free%5ftime/and click on "Gay and Lesbian Budapest."
TURKISH GAY GROUP SURVIVES SHUTDOWN ATTEMPT
The office of Turkey's Public Prosecutor has dismissed an attempt by the governor of Bursa to shut down that province's transgender and gay group, the Rainbow Association (Gökkusagi Dernegi).
The governor's office had claimed the group's existence violated laws that ban organizations which promote activities that are illegal or offend public morality.
In its determination, the Prosecutor's Office said "homosexuality is not an offense" and that the Rainbow Association exists "to reach accord with society and defend their rights while explaining their identity."
The organization has "not acted with a deliberate intention of offense," the ruling said.
SITGES GETS GAY SCULPTURE
The gay resort town of Sitges has become the first Spanish locality to erect a gay sculpture in a public space. Mayor Jordi Baijet unveiled the pink-triangle stone October 5. It reads: "Sitges Against Homophobia - 'Never again' - October 5, 1996-2006."
In 1996, the city government came under fire for keeping special records on homosexuals who walked along the beach after dark. The then-mayor ordered the documents' destruction, but a right-wing city councilor took offense at the mayor's move and began telling the media that gay men had forced local youths into prostitution. As a result, tensions flared between gay and straight residents throughout the summer and in September, a group of neo-Nazis attacked a gay waiter.
On October 5, 1996, gays staged a protest against the attack and to call for the city councilor's resignation. They were met by counter protesters who bombed therewith eggs and assaulted them. Police had to escort the gays to safety.
The anti-homophobia sculpture remembers that day. The city government also is distributing anti-homophobia posters and has staged a photographic exposition of the Oct. 5, 1996, conflict.
Eugeni Rodriguez of the Gay Liberation Front of Catalonia told Europa Press that the city's new actions "close a wound."
COP WINS 'MR GAY UK' CONTEST
West Yorkshire police officer Mark Carter, 23, is the new "Mr Gay UK." Carter triumphed over 24 regional finalists as 50 of his police colleagues cheered him on September 30 at Blackpool's Flamingo Club.
In an official West Yorkshire Police statement, Superintendent Nigel Hibbert said: "It's a great achievement and we are all proud of Mark. He's done very well and we are pleased that he has won."
Carter described himself as "absolutely over the moon" about the victory.
"I am happy that people will be able to see that there are police officers who are gay and we are not necessarily the usual people that they see on TV programs like Big Brother," he said. "It will be good for other young gay men to see someone like me who has been successful in a professional job like policing.
"I thought telling people I was gay would mean no one would want to know me but at the Mr Gay UK final I had more people together, supporting me, in one place than I've ever had in my life."
Carter received approximately $9,500 in prize money.
BUENOS AIRES MAYOR SAYS HE ISN'T GAY
The mayor of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jorge Telerman, has said he isn't gay, he's just "Frenchified."
"The other day, a daily [newspaper] insinuated that I was gay," Telerman told Noticias magazine. "But afterward they stopped screwing around, maybe because they saw that it didn't bother me. I wouldn't have any problems in saying that I'm gay but I'm not. I've been called 'afrancesado' [Frenchified], and the truth is that I am Frenehified. I love everything French."
The magazine then asked Telerman if he's a metrosexual.
"This word doesn't appeal to me," he said. "I am coquettish. Since I was a little boy, I've liked to be well-dressed."
DANISH LESBIANS GRANTED ACCESS TO FERTILITY TREATMENT
Starting January 1, Danish lesbians and single women will have the same access to publicly funded fertility treatment that married women have.
Activists fought a nine-year battle to change the assisted-conception laws.
Same-sex couples who unite under Denmark's groundbreaking 1989 registered-partnership law have all other rights of marriage with the exception of access to adoption. More than 3,000 couples have tied the knot.
SWEDEN TO DEPORT GAY IRANIAN
Sweden is preparing to deport a gay Iranian who had sought asylum.
Citing a report from Sweden's Foreign Ministry, a migration court ruled September 29 that most Iranian gays are not persecuted if they live "discreet and withdrawn" lives.
Sören Andersson, head of the Swedish national gay group RFSL, told The Local, a Stockholm English-language publication, that the man could be executed in Iran.
Some human-rights activists believe they have enough evidence to assert that Iran enforces its death penalty for male anal sex but Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have expressed skepticism.
Influenced by that evidence, 138 members of Britain's House of Commons signed a motion in August commemorating "the anniversary of [Iran's] public hanging on 19th July 2005 of two gay teenage boys." The motion also claimed that "as many as 4,000 Iranians have been executed for their homosexuality since the Islamic Revolution in 1979."
The claim that 4,000 Iranian homosexuals have been executed since the revolution is put forth by the Iranian exile gay group Homan. Documentation for the claim is lacking but Peter Tatchell of the British gay group OutRage!, which says its extensive research confirms that Iran executes gays, explained: "Homan based the figure on Iranian media reports of LGBT executions and personal reports from people who had gay friends executed or arrested at private parties who were never seen again and presumed executed.
"They told me of cases where 20 or 30 or more people were arrested in a single raid and who subsequently disappeared forever. This was mostly in the early 1980s and again in the late 1980s.
All sides in the activist debate agree that Iran tortures, harasses and mistreats the nation's gay population.
AMNESTY LAUNCHES FILIPINO CAMPAIGN
Amnesty International on October 3 appealed to Philippines lawmakers to pass pending legislation that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Adoption of this law is very significant for the entire region because only one other Asian country -- Fiji -- currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," said Michael Heflin, director of Amnesty International USA's gay OUTfront program.
The legislation would ban anti-GLBT discrimination in public services, public accommodations, the military, employment, education and health care, among other areas.
Fiji is a South Pacific island republic east of Australia and north of New Zealand. Although its 1998 Constitution forbids antigay discrimination, religious groups recently have begun agitating for repeal of the protections and political support for the GLBT community may not be solid.
In recent years, some legislators have said they were surprised to learn the Constitution protects gays and that they would not knowingly have supported such safeguards.