by Rex Wockner
Warsaw gays march legally
After banning Warsaw’s gay pride parade in 2004 and 2005, officials allowed it to take place this year.
Police said 3,000 people marched on June 10. Organizers said 10,000.
Members of parliament from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden joined the procession.
Two thousand police officers protected the parade.
Fourteen skinheads, some carrying tear-gas canisters, reportedly were arrested for throwing eggs. Other reports said about 100 counterprotesters were cited for staging an illegal demonstration.
Pride co-organizer Tomasz Szypula, secretary general of Poland’s Campaign Against Homophobia, said the presence of foreign politicians and activists kept the parade from being violently attacked.
“Without you, this what happened on Saturday wouldn’t came true,” he said. “We had a happy and safe celebration of LGBT rights instead of fights with All-Polish Youth. Together we proved that Europe is our common home.”
Poland’s gay community has been under increased attack from national and local officials since the conservative Law and Justice party came to power last October.
Member of Parliament Wojciech Wierzejski, who also is a member of the European Parliament, had demanded the parade be banned because it would “spread deviance and disease.”
He said if the “perverts” marched anyway, “they should be beaten with nightsticks. If they’re given a few blows with a stick, they won’t come back. A gay is a coward by definition.”
President Lech Kaczynski was mayor of Warsaw when the two previous parades were banned. (About 2,500 people marched last year anyway.) He, too, has called gays “perverts.”
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has said that if a homosexual “tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom.”
In an interview with the BBC, British Member of the European Parliament Michael Cashman said: “We’ve all become extremely worried in the European Parliament in particular about the increasing hate-speak from senior politicians here in Poland. Poland has joined the club of the European Union. The same rules apply throughout those 25 countries, and part of that is respect for minorities, and we’re not seeing that at the moment.”
Moscow Pride lost money
Moscow’s recent pride events and first attempt at a pride parade ended up $35,234 in debt.
“Organizers have taken personal loans to cover the deficit due to extra security cost, cancellation of the closing party by the manager of Club 3 Monkeys and lack of fundraising,” said co-organizer Nikolai Alekseev.
Most events were held at Moscow’s priciest hotel, the Swissotel Krasnye Holmy. Alekseev said there was no other choice because “we contacted lower-class hotels and conference centers, but they all denied to host a gay and lesbian festival.”
He also said that if a “pure Russian hotel” had agreed to host the events, “[we] would have ended up with a cancellation of all the events, a few days before, probably for ‘security reasons.'”
Club 3 Monkeys axed the closing party and locked its doors due to “fear of attacks by nationalists,” Alekseev said.
Sponsorships and income from the pride events totaled $4,607: $1,642 from the Norwegian Embassy, $954 from Switzerland’s Pink Beach Sauna, $524 from the Swedish national gay group RFSL, $505 from U.S.-based Pasidg Productions, $486 from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, $299 from French performer Madame H, and $197 from sale of lapel pins.
The small May 27 march – an attempt to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier then walk a few blocks for a rally across from City Hall – resulted in violence, injuries and arrests.
The marchers were attacked repeatedly by neofascists, skinheads, militant Christians and riot police. About 120 people from both sides were arrested.
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov had banned the march. He said he did so because Russia’s “morals are cleaner” than those of “the West.”
Luzhkov called the attempt to lay flowers a “desecration … a provocation [and] a contamination.”
“People burst through and of course they beat them up,” he said.
A quarter of Moscow’s police force – 1,000 officers – were assigned to prevent the march from taking place.
(Donations to help retire the pride debt can be made via PayPal. Contact email@example.com for details.)
Civil unions not popular in Northern Ireland
Only 63 couples have tied the knot in Northern Ireland in the six months since the United Kingdom began offering same-sex civil partnerships.
The partners receive all the rights and obligations of traditional marriage.
Northern Ireland has a population of about 1.7 million.
10,000 march in Zurich
About 10,000 people marched in Zurich’s gay pride parade June 10, a new record.
Organizers said it was time for full acceptance by Swiss society, which is already relatively gay-friendly.
The Swissinfo Web site said this year’s parade was less outrageous than those of previous years, “with most people turning up in normal everyday clothing.”
A pride spokesman said that’s likely a side effect of homosexuality becoming normalized.
Australian government kills capital’s civil unions
Australia’s federal government June 13 squashed a civil-union bill passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory, a jurisdiction similar to Washington, D.C.
The feds said the ACT civil unions were too much like marriage, which federal law specifically restricts to opposite-sex couples.
The feds killed the law by instructing the queen’s representative, Governor-General Michael Jeffery, to use his power to block measures passed by the ACT Assembly.
“The ACT civil relationships ordinance has been disallowed,” said federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock. “The legislative amendments introduced to establish a civil arrangement for same-sex parties and others in the ACT will no longer be law.”
A day later, an attempt in the federal Senate to override Jeffery’s decision failed by a vote of 32 to 30.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the territory will now introduce another civil-union bill. He said it will not be watered down but will contain different language designed not to provoke the federal government.
In response, the federal Attorney-General’s Department warned, “If this is more than just another political stunt, the ACT should consult with the Commonwealth before enacting legislation to ensure it is drafted in a way that does not seek to equate civil unions with marriage.”
Assistance: Bill Kelley