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WORLD ROUNDUP
by Rex Wockner
2008-02-13

Images for this article: (click on the thumbnail to see fullsize)

Chief Moscow Pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev. Rex Wockner file photo

________________

Moscow Pride:

Third time's a charm?

Despite bans from the mayor and violent attacks from neofascists, skinheads, Christians and police in 2006 and 2007, Moscow gays will again try to stage a gay pride parade this year.

'The authorities have no legal basis for banning the event,' said chief organizer Nikolai Alekseev. 'That is why, even if they ban it again, we will still go on the streets to realize our constitutional right to freedom of assembly.'

The parade is set for May 31, after an international human rights conference scheduled for May 30.

A lawsuit over Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's ban of the 2006 parade is presently before the European Court of Human Rights.

Last year, Luzhkov unleashed a harsh attack on the parade, saying: ' [ In 2006 ] , Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as satanic. We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future. Some European nations bless single-sex marriages and introduce sexual guides in schools. Such things are a deadly moral poison for children.'

Activists did not attempt to defy last year's ban. Instead, they gathered near City Hall on pride day to protest the ban. A mêlée ensued and several gays and lesbians were beaten and bloodied by Orthodox Christian and ultra-nationalist protesters as hundreds of police officers stood by and watched. Thirty-one people were detained, including members of European parliaments who had traveled to Moscow to support the pride events.

'On numerous occasions,' said the BBC, 'nationalists circled gay rights activists as they spoke with journalists, then reached in to punch or kick the person being interviewed. Police intervened to arrest dozens of gay rights activists and only rarely detained their attackers.'

'There is no rule of law in Moscow,' said British gay leader Peter Tatchell, who suffered a swollen and bloodied right eye in the mêlée. 'The right to protest does not exist. This is not a democracy.'

Tatchell said 'marauding gangs' of 'neo-Nazis, nationalist extremists and Russian Orthodox fundamentalists ... infiltrated the gay pride crowd and began indiscriminately attacking participants. The Moscow police looked on and did nothing.'

'It was [ a ] short [ pride ] ,' Dutch European Parliament Member Sophie in 't Veld said at the time. 'Police did nothing to arrest hooligans. ... I saw a guy with a knife ... and I thought: 'That's it. I'm out of here.''

Pride participant Claudia Roth, chairwoman of Germany's Green Party, said, 'It has been shown once again today that human rights are systematically abused in [ President Vladimir ] Putin's Russia.'

The 2006 pride events met the same fate. After Luzhkov banned the parade, organizers tried to lay flowers at the Kremlin's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hold a rally near City Hall. Participants in both small events were violently attacked by neofascists, skinheads, Christians and riot police, and the pride organizers were arrested. The charges were later dropped.

Gay weddings

decline in UK

The number of same-sex civil partnerships taking place in the United Kingdom dropped 55 percent in 2007 over 2006—likely reflecting a decline in pent-up demand since the law took effect in December 2005.

The figures were gathered by the Local Government Association from officials in 40 localities.

The Office of National Statistics has recorded a similar drop-off.

More than 16,000 couples formed a civil partnership in 2006 but only 4,060 did so in the first half of 2007, agency records show.

However, the total number of civil partnerships to date exceeds government estimates issued when the law took effect. Officials had expected to see a maximum of 22,000 partnerships by 2010.

Another anti-gay

attack in Jamaica

Another in a string of violent attacks on Jamaican gays occurred Jan. 29 in the town of Mandeville, Human Rights Watch reported Feb. 1.

A mob of 15-20 men approached a house where four males lived and demanded they leave the community because they are gay, HRW said. The attackers later broke down the door and beat and slashed the inhabitants.

Police arrived 90 minutes after being called and rescued three of the men. The fourth man fled, with the attackers in pursuit, and is feared to be dead. Blood was found at the mouth of a nearby pit, suggesting, HRW said, that the man fell into it or was killed nearby.

Two of the other three men were taken to a hospital. One had a severed left ear, spine damage and his arm broken in two places.

'This incident is the latest in a string of homophobic mob violence over the last year,' HRW said.

'Roving mobs attacking innocent people and staining the streets with blood should shame the nation's leaders,' said Scott Long, director of the group's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program. 'Official silence encourages the spread of hate.'

Gay men arrested

for homosexuality

in Senegal

Up to 20 men have been arrested on suspicion of homosexuality in Dakar, Senegal, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Feb. 4.

A British Broadcasting Corporation report three days later said at least some of the men had been released from custody. The BBC had no further details.

The arrests occurred after the magazine Icône published photographs of a local gay wedding that took place more than 18 months ago.

IGLHRC said the sensationalistic magazine paid $3,000 to acquire the photos.

'We are afraid for our lives, especially those of us shown in the photographs,' said local activist Jean R. 'Some of us have gone into hiding and others are fleeing the country.'

Penal Code Article 319 punishes homosexual acts with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.

Oxford Street

loses 'mojo,'

becomes 'buttcrack'

The gayest street in Sydney, Australia, has 'lost its mojo' and become 'a buttcrack,' The Sydney Morning Herald reported Jan. 18.

Oxford Street has become crime-ridden and is dominated by 24-hour beer barns, noisy nightclubs and neon-lit convenience stores, according to an Urban Cultures Ltd. report commissioned by the City of Sydney.

The strip 'has lost its mojo,' the report said. A neighborhood business lobby was less kind, describing the famous gay ghetto as 'a buttcrack between two cheeks,' the Morning Herald said.

13-14 percent of

Canadian teens

acknowledge

gay attraction

Fourteen percent of Canadian teenage girls and 13 percent of teenage boys are attracted to people of the same sex, a survey has found.

The Ipsos Reid poll results appeared in the January issue of Pediatrics and Child Health.

Asked if they were attracted to boys only, 86 percent of girls said yes. Asked if they were attracted to girls only, 87 percent of boys said yes.

The data was gathered in online interviews of 1,171 teens aged 14 to 17 and is accurate to within 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the pollsters said.

Olivia Newton-John

to perform at

Sydney Mardi Gras

Seventies pop star and gay favorite Olivia Newton-John will perform at the party that follows the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade March 1.

Newton-John, 59, said the appearance is payback for four decades of support from gay people.

'The gay community has always been a major supporter of mine and I am hopelessly devoted to each and every one of them,' she said. 'I can't wait.'

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