By Rex Wockner
Millions march worldwide
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out June 26 for Berlin’s gay pride parade, led by gay Mayor Klaus Wowereit. The procession, which snaked from trendy Kurfrstendamm boulevard to the landmark Victory Column, featured 53 floats.
Some 700,000 people turned out for Paris’ parade the same day. Marchers stepped off from the Left Bank and proceeded to the Bastille site, declaring “Enough Hypocrisy, Equality Now.” Gay Mayor Bertrand Delano led the procession, which featured 60 floats. France is in the midst of a fierce same-sex marriage debate following a Bordeaux-area mayor’s decision to perform the marriage of a male couple on June 5. Bgles Mayor Nol Mamre was suspended for a month for his allegedly illegal action. Polls show that two-thirds of French people approve of same-sex marriage.
Under heavy police protection, about 300 people marched in the third gay pride parade in Zagreb, Croatia, June 19. They demanded access to marriage and adoption. Two years ago, 15 marchers were beaten up after the parade, by right-wing protesters who had heckled, jeered and thrown tear gas at them during the march.
About 90,000 people attended Tel Aviv’s seventh pride parade June 26 along Ibn Gvirol Street. The theme was “Proud Families.” They were addressed by Mayor Ron Huldai and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, who promised to open civil marriage to same-sex couples.
Mexico City’s June 26 pride parade was 10 blocks long and four traffic lanes wide. It began at the Angel of Independence monument and ended at the Zcalo, the nation’s central plaza. Gay parents were at the front of the march.
Three hundred people marched in Calcutta, India, June 27, despite laws that criminalize gay sex. “We are just a small bunch of the city’s largely invisible [gay] people, many of whom are unwilling to come out of the closet,” co-organizer Rafiquel Haque Dowjah told the Agence France-Presse wire service. “The aim of the parade is to create an awareness that homosexuals are not sex workers; they are as productive and normal as others.”
About 3,500 people marched in the National Pride Parade in Lisbon, Portugal, June 26. Marchers were divided into six main groups each with its own color and theme, said correspondent Joo Paulo.
Half a million turned out in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 28 for the gay pride march from Copacabana Beach to Ipanema Beach. They demanded, among other things, passage of a national civil-union law.
In Colombia, more than 10,000 people took part in Bogot’s gay pride parade, marching 30 blocks from downtown’s Bolvar Plaza to the National Park. Police apprehended several neo-Nazis who attempted to protest the parade despite having been denied a permit to do so. Bogot Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzn addressed pride ralliers, the first time a city mayor had done so. Gays also marched in the Colombian cities of Medelln, Cali, Ccuta and Santa Marta.
A cool million people turned out for Toronto’s 24th gay-pride parade June 27. The theme: Bursting with Fruit Flavours.
European Council OKs gay protections
The European Council voted June 18 in favor of a new European Constitution that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Alleged violators would face the European Court of Justice.
The constitution, which must first be ratified by the 25 European Union member nations, would enter into force in 2007.
“ILGA-Europe was a little surprised but pleased with the outcome of this council,” said the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s Riccardo Gottardi. “The text offers more guarantees for the protection of human rights and equality for LGBT people. It is a first important step to build a Union … that guarantees the basic rights of every citizen.”
EU law is made chiefly by the Council of Ministers. It receives instructions from the European Council, which is composed of the EU member nations’ heads of state or government.
British gays win tenancy rights
Britain’s highest court, the Law Lords, ruled June 21 that gay partners can take over a housing lease that is in the name of a live-in partner who passes away.
The 4-to-1 decision upheld a 2002 Court of Appeal ruling.
Announcing the ruling, Baroness Hale said equal treatment is “essential to democracy.”
Straight partners do not have to be married to inherit a lease.
Jamaican reggae star finds trouble in UK
One of Jamaica’s top reggae and dance hall music stars, Beenie Man, was met by police when he arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport on June 23 to start a tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Acting on a complaint by the gay group OutRage!, Metropolitan Police questioned Beenie Man about his lyrics, which promote violence against homosexuals.
A few hours later, London’s Ocean nightclub canceled Beenie Man’s June 24 concert “due to concerns for public safety and following discussions with the Metropolitan Police.”
“This cancellation is a triumph over homophobia,” said OutRage!’s Peter Tatchell. “Our aim is to make Britain a no-go area for entertainers who incite violence against gay people.”
Among Beenie Man’s lyrics are these from the song Bad Man Chi Chi Man: “Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man! [Some men are willing to go to jail for killing a man who is queer!] … Yuh see em to run off a stage like a clown, Kill Dem DJ! [If you see him (the queer) run off the stage like a clown, Kill that DJ!]”
Aussie gays protest marriage ban
Hundreds of gays and lesbians demonstrated at Sydney Town Hall Square June 26 to protest Prime Minister John Howard’s proposed bans on same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples of foreign children.
The measure was passed by the House of Representatives but has been delayed in the Senate via the maneuver of sending it to a committee “inquiry.”