by Rex Wockner
ILGA conference canceled
The International Lesbian and Gay Association has canceled its 24th World Conference which was to take place in Quebec City, Canada, May 14 to 18.
“[A recent site visit] confirmed the impressions of the current lack of preparedness at this late date and the lack of funding necessary for the conference to take place,” ILGA’s board co-chairs said in a statement.
The primary local organizer was the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Quebec.
ILGA did not reschedule the conference but did put out “a formal call for new proposals from ILGA member organizations for hosting the world conference later this year.” It gave interested parties less than a month to submit proposals.
The board said any local organizer must take on partial responsibility for paying for the gathering.
“ILGA does not have the capacity to fully fund the conference,” the co-chairs said. “The local hosts have in the past fundraised for resources, especially to bring scholars from the Global South.”
ILGA is a 30-year-old federation of more than 600 GLBT organizations and associated members, such as city governments, from 90 countries.
British gays fight blood ban
A new British group called Bloodban is seeking to overturn the nation’s ban on blood donation by non-celibate gay men, the BBC reported March 7.
Organizers are circulating a petition that they plan to deliver to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The National Blood Service believes gay men are too high-risk because of the short gap between one’s getting infected with HIV and when the virus can be detected by a blood test.
Bloodban says people should be excluded based on their lifestyle, not because of their membership in a particular social group.
The activists propose that gay men be banned as donors only if they have had unprotected sex in the past 18 months.
Israeli bashers sent to prison
Four Jerusalem gay-bashers were sent to prison for two to eight years March 6 by the Tel Aviv District Court, Ynetnews reported.
Typically, the bashers used a decoy cruiser to pick up men seeking sex with men at Tel Aviv’s old central bus station. Once in the victim’s car, the decoy would direct him to another location where the other bashers joined in beating, stripping and robbing the victim.
Two other men have been indicted for nearly identical crimes at Jerusalem’s central bus station. In one case, one of the bashers bit off a portion of one victim’s ear, Ynet said.
Netherlands plans legalization of park sex
It will no longer be illegal to have sex in Amsterdam’s Vondel Park under regulations set to take effect later this year, De Telegraaf reported March 7.
“Why should we try to maintain something that is actually impossible to maintain, which also causes little bother for others and, for a certain group, actually signifies much pleasure?” asked Oud-Zuid district Alderman Paul van Grieken.
People having sex in the park will be expected to do so only after dark and out of public view. They also must not leave condoms lying about.
Meanwhile, the police institute’s National Diversity Expertise Center is advising other cities to follow Amsterdam’s lead. It said legalizing park sex would help protect gay men from queer-bashers.
The Amsterdam branch of the Dutch national gay group COC (now known only by its formal initials) welcomed the news.
“Cruising is something belonging to all times and banning it does not work anyway,” said chairman Dennis Boutkan. “They do it surreptitiously and mostly without others being annoyed by it. [B]y agreeing on rules of behavior, safety can be increased.”
Spanish gay-marriage PM wins re-election
Spanish voters re-elected Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on March 9, apparently unperturbed that he made Spain one of only six nations that grant gay couples access to full marriage.
Zapatero’s Socialist party took 43.7 percent of the vote, besting the conservative Popular Party, which grabbed 40.1 percent.
Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and the U.S. state of Massachusetts also have opened up ordinary marriage to same-sex couples.