by Rex Wockner
Moscow mayor reiterates antigay stance
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has reiterated his promise to ban the city’s first gay-pride parade this May.
Speaking in Berlin Feb. 22 at a press conference with the mayors of Paris, London and Berlin Luzhkov said he is “against such a phenomenon in life” and that the parade would “provoke society.”
“I will not permit such parades,” he said, according to Interfax. “My philosophy is my negative attitude to these phenomena, as I believe them to be unnatural to the human nature, though I try to be tolerant to whatever develops in human society.”
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delano and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit are both openly gay.
On Feb. 27, Human Rights Watch denounced Luzhkov’s statements, calling them “a threat to civil liberties and civil society.”
In a letter to the mayor, gay-rights director Scott Long said, “Prohibiting this parade would constitute an unacceptable and discriminatory interference with the peaceful exercise of the freedom of assembly [and] violate Russia’s obligations under international law. As a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Russia is obligated not to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
On March 2, gay groups picketed outside Russian government buildings in London, Paris, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw.
“Who does Luzhkov think he is? Joseph Stalin?” asked Peter Tatchell of the British gay direct-action group OutRage! “Someone should remind Yuri that the antigay Soviet Union is dead. Russia is a democracy and in a democracy people have a right to protest peacefully.”
In Warsaw, about 20 protesters put a letter in the Russian Embassy’s mailbox after no one came outside to meet the group.
Moscow has seen at least one public gay demonstration previously. In 1991, about 200 people protested outside the Bolshoi Theater against now-repealed Article 121.1 of the Russian Republic Penal Code, which banned male-male sex.
The protest occurred in conjunction with GLBT conferences and film festivals in Moscow and then-Leningrad, staged by nascent Soviet gay groups and U.S. gay organizations. Seventy Americans and around 20,000 Soviets participated in the events.
Lesbian parliamentarian to get hitched
Liberal Democrat Member of the Scottish Parliament Margaret Smith will “marry” her partner this month under the United Kingdom’s new Civil Partnership Act.
“The ceremony will take place in Edinburgh in the presence of family and friends,” Smith and partner Suzanne Main said in a statement.
Smith came out in 2003. “I am happy to confirm that I am in a relationship with a female partner,” she said. “My partner is not in the public eye. We would hope that the media would respect the privacy of both families at this time.”
Czech gays march against president
Around 100 people marched from Wenceslas Square to Prague Castle Feb. 24 in protest against Czech President Vaclav Klaus’ recent veto of a same-sex partnership bill that passed Parliament.
According to the Czech Happenings Web site, they carried signs reading, “We are not in Poland,” “Love is not politics” and “Stop sexual racism.”
The bill has returned to the Chamber of Deputies for a possible override of the veto, which would require an absolute majority of 101 votes. The bill originally passed 86 to 54 with seven abstentions and 53 deputies absent.
France extends parental rights to same-sex couples
Same-sex couples were granted access to joint parental rights over each other’s biological children by France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation, Feb. 24.
The court said a biological partner is free to delegate parental authority to his or her live-in, stable partner when it is in a child’s best interest to do so.
UK civil partnerships are popular
The United Kingdom’s new Civil Partnership Act is in high demand, local media reported in late February.
More than 3,600 ceremonies took place in the six weeks after the law took effect in late December.
The act grants registered same-sex couples the rights and obligations of marriage. Elton John and David Furnish are the best-known couple to have gotten hitched.
The greatest number of ceremonies have taken place in Brighton and Hove, followed by the gayest sections of London.
A report in The Daily Telegraph said male unions have outnumbered female unions 2,510 to 1,138 in the period for which figures are available.
New Zealand civil unions are not popular
Only 298 same-sex couples have tied the knot since New Zealand’s Civil Union Act came into force in April 2005, the Sunday Star-Times reported Feb. 25.
One hundred forty-five male couples and 153 lesbian couples have entered a civil union, along with 62 straight couples. There have been 15,683 heterosexual marriages during the same time period.
The unions grant all the rights and obligations of marriage.
Interest in the ceremonies is so minimal that some of the 600 celebrants who signed up to officiate at civil unions may not do so again this year, the newspaper said.
New Zealand has a population of 4.1 million.
Transsexual beaten to death in Portugal
A transgender woman was beaten to death in Porto, Portugal, in late February.
According to http://PortugalGay.PT, “Gisberta” reportedly was beaten, stoned, stomped on, burned, sexually assaulted with a stick and thrown into a deep pit in an abandoned building where she had been living.
Media reports said that 14 boys between ages 10 and 16 admitted to police their involvement in the crime after one of the boys confessed to a teacher.
On Feb. 24, about 40 people staged a candlelight vigil in a parking area of the building in which Gisberta’s body was found.
An immigrant from Brazil, Gisberta, 46, had lived in Portugal for 25 years. She worked as a prostitute and an occasional performer in gay bars. Her legal name was Gilberto Salce Jnior.
Quebec priests oppose Vatican’s antigay moves
Nineteen priests in the Canadian province of Quebec published a letter in Montreal’s La Presse Feb. 27 denouncing the Roman Catholic Church’s recent pronouncements against same-sex marriage and its new crackdown on gay seminarians, the CanWest News Service reported.
Titled “Enough is enough,” the 1,000-word letter said the church’s categorization of homosexuality as a “disorder” leads to increased societal homophobia.
In November, the Vatican announced a ban on seminarians “who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called gay culture.”