Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Rex Wockner
Large anti-gay rally in Madrid
Tens of thousands of Catholics rallied in Madrid’s Plaza de Colon Dec. 30 in support of the “traditional” family and against same-sex marriage and easier divorce.
Cardinal Antonio Canizares conducted a mass at the gathering and Pope Benedict XVI addressed the ralliers via video link.
Canizares said the liberal policies of Prime Minister Jose Maria Rodriguez Zapatero threaten the very existence of society.
The pope said the family is “based on the unbreakable union of man and woman.”
Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.
Organizers pegged the rally’s turnout at 1.5 million.
“These atheist, irreligious governments want to make us believe that our life has no meaning,” one of the organizers, Kiko Argueello, told Reuters.
Spain holds a general election March 9. In recent polling, Zapatero’s Socialist party held a 2 percent lead over the conservative Popular Party.
In response to the rally, Zapatero said his policies are supported by the “vast majority” of Spaniards and that the Roman Catholic Church should stop attempting to curtail citizens’ constitutional rights.
McKellen becomes Companion of Honour
Openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen was made a member of the prestigious Order of Companions of Honour in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year honors.
The order, founded by George V, has only 65 members.
McKellen, who has been a knight since 1990, was honored “for services to Drama and to Equality,” and now can place the initials “C.H.” after his name.
“I am honored to join an order which includes such distinguished practitioners in the arts,” McKellen, 68, said. “It is particularly pleasing that ‘equality’ is included in my citation.”
Other members of the order include Sir John Major, Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Attenborough and Prof. Stephen Hawking.
Canadian bill would protect transgender people
Canadian Member of Parliament Bill Siksay has introduced a bill to ban inciting hatred or advocating genocide against transgender people, the Vancouver gay newspaper Xtra! West reported.
Gays have had such protections since 2004.
The bill would add “gender identity” to the list of distinguishable group traits in the Criminal Code.
The measure also gives judges leeway to impose harsher sentences for crimes motivated by “bias, prejudice or hate” based on gender identity.
Siksay, who is gay and represents a Vancouver-area district, said Canadian “transgender and transsexual people are regularly victims of abuse, harassment and physical violence.”
Only one of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories — the Northwest Territories — explicitly prohibits anti-trans discrimination.
New Bolivian Constitution not all good for gays
Although the final wording of Bolivia’s planned new constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, the document also will ban same-sex marriage, defining matrimony as the union of a man and a woman, according to a report in La Paz’s La Prensa. The definition also would apply to common-law marriage.
If the constitution is ratified in a national referendum, Bolivia will become the sixth nation to ban anti-gay discrimination via its constitution, and the first to protect transgender people constitutionally.
Gay groups called the planned protections a huge advance, but lamented that the document might impede recognition of same-sex partnerships.
The other nations that protect gays constitutionally are Canada, Ecuador, Fiji, South Africa and Switzerland. Sweden’s constitution, in a section on press freedom, prohibits agitation and threats against gay people as a group.
Online homophobes prosecuted in the Netherlands
A Dutch man who was subjected to a barrage of homophobic abuse in an online chat room took a printout of the attack to police and got the offenders prosecuted, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported Dec. 31.
Franklin Hill, a 32-year-old flight attendant, was bashed with comments such as “Dirty faggot,” “Death to fags” and “The Third Reich should be resurrected.”
A court determined that such language is illegal and sentenced one of the bashers to 15 hours of community service and fined another one 750 euros ($1,100).
“The fact that they now know they can’t just say what they want in a chat room, and that they didn’t get away with it, gives me satisfaction,” Hill told the radio station.
“You just have to do something about it when people do something like this,” he said. “There are enough laws and legislation to take on discrimination and threats.”
Bishop: 13-year-olds provoke sexual contact
The Roman Catholic bishop of Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands is in hot water for saying that 13-year-olds seek sex with adults, according to TypicallySpanish.com.
In a Christmas Eve interview with the newspaper La Opinion de Tenerife, Bernardo Alvarez said, “There are 13-year-old adolescents who are under age and who are perfectly in agreement with, and what’s more, wanting it, and if you are careless, they will even provoke you.”
Alvarez added that such activity harms society the same as homosexuality does, and said cultures where either takes place will pay a price down the road like “other civilizations” paid.
Alvarez’s office later released a statement saying he had not meant to suggest that “an event as condemnable as the abuse of youngsters” could be justified.
The Triangulo Canarias Foundation for the Social Equality of Gays and Lesbians condemned Alvarez’s remarks.
Canadian students target gay blood ban
The Canadian Federation of Students is stepping up its opposition to Canada’s ban on blood donation by any man who has had sex with another man, even once, since 1977, CanWest News Service reported Jan. 3.
Federation spokeswoman Amanda Aziz said the ban is outdated and “a form of institutionalized discrimination.”
Opposition to the ban has provoked renewed organizing at the University of Toronto and McGill University in particular, the report said.
A spokeswoman for Health Canada called the policy “science-based” and said men who have sex with men are not the only individuals targeted.
People who visited the United Kingdom or France between 1980 and 1996, for example, also are banned from donating blood, because they may have a type of mad-cow disease.
Canadian Blood Service said it is continuing to study the issue.
Current HIV testing can detect infection within days of its taking place.
Assistance: Bill Kelley, filed from San Diego