by Rex Wockner
A same-sex registered-partnership law came into force July 23 in Slovenia, a country formed from the former Yugoslavia, Belgrade's B92 radio reported.
Gay groups welcomed the law but criticized it for not granting full marriage rights. They also said it's unacceptable that the ceremonies must take place only in a government office and only with the two partners and the registrar present. No one else is allowed to attend.
Couples must apply for registration 30 days in advance and prove they are single, healthy and mentally stable.
Chilean lesbian denied custody goes to
A lesbian denied custody of her three children by Chile's Supreme Court has taken her case to the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Chilean court ruled in 2004 that Judge Karen Atala's lesbian life created for her daughters 'a situation of risk' whose 'pernicious consequences' would 'damage their psychic development' and make them 'objects of social discrimination,' according to a New York Times translation.
The commission accepted the case and Atala's lawyer, Macarena Sáez, told the Times she will argue that 'due process was not respected, [ Atala's ] right to privacy was violated when courts had her computers searched looking for evidence of strange behavior, and the right of her children to be heard, which is binding in Chile, was completely set aside.'
If Atala wins, it will set precedent in several Latin American nations whose constitutions stipulate that rulings by the Inter-American system override those of their own courts.
Chilean activists believe the stage is set for progress on gay causes under new president Michelle Bachelet, a socialist, feminist, single mother and former health minister who oversaw AIDS programs.
'We are living through a profound transition of ethics, values and morals,' Rolando Jiménez, head of the Movement for the Integration and Liberation of Homosexuals, told the Times.
Push to legalize
gay sex in India
The Indian government's National AIDS Control Organization on July 20 urged repeal of a law that criminalizes gay sex, saying it impedes efforts to slow HIV transmission.
The organization filed a petition with the Delhi High Court, to which the Supreme Court recently remanded a case seeking to overturn the sodomy ban.
'The fear of harassment by law enforcement agencies leads to sex being hurried, leaving partners without the notion to consider safer sex practices,' the agency said.
The Delhi court previously dismissed the case on a technicality, claiming the plaintiff, the AIDS organization Naz Foundation, lacked standing to bring suit because Naz had not been injured by the ban. The court also said homosexuality is an 'unnatural offence' opposed by Indian society.
The Supreme Court ordered the lower court to reconsider the case on its merits and rule on the constitutionality of Penal Code Section 377, which punishes 'carnal intercourse against the order of nature' with up to 10 years in prison.
Scottish fire dept. advertises in gay bars
The Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, which covers Edinburgh and southeastern Scotland, has put up posters in gay bars seeking recruits, The Scotsman newspaper reported July 24.
A spokesman said the current workforce is disproportionately straight, white, male and young.
'We've got posters that are going into all the gay bars to encourage people to come along and look at joining the fire service,' said the brigade's equalities manager, Ross Wynn. 'You cannot deliver the best service unless you involve the whole community in working for that service.'
Meanwhile, nine firefighters in Glasgow are in trouble for refusing to staff a fire-safety booth at the recent gay pride festival.
The firefighters from the Cowcaddens Fire Station face a disciplinary hearing at Strathclyde Fire and Rescue headquarters. They could end up getting fired.
Members of the group complained that the task would be embarrassing or that it violated their moral values.
Estonia set for third pride parade
Despite the recent disasters when gays tried to stage pride parades in Russia and Latvia, everything looks good to go for Estonia's third pride parade and festival in Tallinn Aug. 7-13. ( See the Latvia story this issue. )
'Estonia has proven to be the most tolerant of the three Baltic states [ Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ] , the pride marches have never been banned nor has there been any acts of violence or public hate speech from politicians,' said Lisette Kampus, publicist for Tallinn Pride 2006.
'We can only hope that Estonia will show the best example to our beloved neighbors Latvia and Lithuania. ... Soviet times are gone for a long time now and Estonia has proven to be a worthy member state of the European Union.'
This June, Estonia's Parliament increased protections for GLBT people. In a 62-18 vote, lawmakers criminalized human-rights violations; unfair advantages; and incitement of hatred, violence or discrimination based on, among other things, sexual orientation. Violators face a fine or jail sentence.
The author of the amendments said Estonia was lagging behind other European nations in protecting gay people. 'Now homophobia has been criminalized here as well,' said People's Union MP Jaak Allik.
Tallinn Pride's theme will be 'Equal Obligations with Equal Rights!' Kampus said there is a 'severe need' for a partnership law to 'protect gays and lesbians and their families.'
Events will include exhibitions, movies, a karaoke competition and the parade on Aug. 12. For more information, see www.pride.ee.
150,000 at Berlin pride
Some 150,000 people filled the streets of downtown Berlin for the gay pride parade July 22. Marchers included openly gay mayor Klaus Wowereit.
China bans South Korean movie
Chinese censors have banned South Korea's top-grossing film because of language and implied gay romance.
The 'King and the Clown' failed to pass muster with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
The censors reportedly objected to longing glances between the king and an effeminate clown during a puppet show they perform together.
convicted of hate crime
Four Swedish anti-gay activists were convicted of illegal agitation against a minority group July 6 for distributing pamphlets that, among other things, blamed gays' 'promiscuous lifestyles' for the 'plague' of AIDS.
The literature was passed out near a school in Söderhamn, 150 miles north of Stockholm.
The Supreme Court punished three of the men with a suspended sentence and a fine of 100 days' salary; the fourth was given a year of probation.
Norwegian politician, newspaper charged with discrimination
A municipal councilor and a newspaper in Farsund, Norway, have been accused of discrimination over a letter to the editor the politician wrote calling for a straights-only beach, the Aftenposten daily reported July 11.
Odd Djøseland, a member of the right-wing Progress Party, maintains his letter was a joke. In it, he claimed heterosexual beachgoers are uncomfortable when gays 'drool' over them. 'I therefore want a beach in our community that's free of gays and lesbians, a place where we normal, heterosexual people can sunbathe and swim in peace and quiet,' he said.
But some readers didn't see the humor. Local bisexual Bent Sandvand was 'offended and insulted,' and filed a complaint against Djøseland with police. And reader Steinar Spjelkaviknes filed a complaint against the newspaper, Farsunds Avis, alleging violation of press rules concerning respect for people's identities.
Chile may repeal
Chile's Congress is considering repeal of laws that have been used to harass gays.
The regulations, which ban 'offenses to morals and good customs,' have been used against GLBT people who express their sexual orientation in public.
Lawmakers also are debating gay-inclusive hate-crimes legislation.
Gay activists think there is a better chance of advancing their agenda under Chile's new president, socialist Michelle Bachelet.
EuroPride, held this year in London July 1, was either somewhat of a flop or a smashing success—depending on whose numbers you trust.
Organizers were hoping for a turnout of 500,000 and say they got 750,000. But police said only 40,000 people were present.
The march went down Oxford and Regent streets, to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, then on to the Houses of Parliament and Victoria Embankment. Royal Navy sailors marched for the first time—about 40 of them, in uniform.
Mayor Ken Livingstone told the BBC: 'What this shows as we march through the city of London—one of the greatest cities on earth—is a city can be a wonderful place to live in with people of every race, religion and sexuality.'
Well-known activist Peter Tatchell carried a poster depicting the pope in drag that said: 'Pope 'Betty' Benedict XVI—Queen of Homophobia.'
'The pope talks like a gay man, walks like a gay man and dresses like a gay man,' Tatchell said. 'If the pope is gay, his hypocrisy is breathtaking. ... Is he using homophobia to deflect rumors about his own sexuality?'
Benedict has authorized Vatican documents that condemn gay love as 'objectively disordered,' 'contrary to natural law,' 'debased,' 'grave depravity,' and a 'tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.'
1.5 million at
Some 1.5 million people turned out for the gay pride parade in Madrid July 1.
They celebrated the first anniversary of Spain's becoming one of only four nations where same-sex couples have access to traditional marriage.
The theme of the march was 'For diversity: All families matter,' a jab at last year's 'Families do matter' campaign against same-sex marriage by the Family Forum.
In Barcelona, about 40,000 people turned out for pride. Police said the marchers themselves numbered about 3,500.
In the meantime, Spain's first gay divorce battle is under way, El Mundo reported. One man seeks to keep the house and the dogs, and grant his husband pet visitation rights. The two men were not named.
Gay prince disowned
A gay prince in India has been disowned by his parents for coming out in a news article.
Prince Manvendrasinh Gohil's wealthy royal family once ruled the princely state of Rajpipla in what is now eastern Gujarat state. Gohil, 40, said he previously came out to his parents privately and they sent him to doctors in an effort to set him straight. Coming out in the media, he said, was the last straw for them.
In a newspaper ad disinheriting him, Gohil's mother, Rukminidevi, declared: 'Manvendra ceases to have rights as a son over the family property and the power of attorney issued to him also stands cancelled. Henceforth, no one must refer to my name as mother of Manvendra. If any individual or organisation dares to do so, it will invite contempt proceedings against him.'
Gohil works as the director of a Gujarat HIV organization.
'I have no regrets, since I have found family in the [ gay ] community,' he said.
Chicago Briefs ...
Ships ahoy: Tall Ships Chicago 2006 takes place Aug. 3-9. Among the highlights will be a Parade of Sail and several exhibits. The cost is $11 per day in advance, and $12 on-site. Visit www.tallshipschicago.net or call 312-744-3315.
NOW is the time: The Chicago NOW Violence Against Women Team will meet Tues., Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at Caribou Coffee, 3025 N. Clark. E-mail Mary Przekop at VAWteam@gmail.com .
Lucky stars: Estrojam and Heartless Bitch Productions will host a tribute to Madonna at SPIN nightclub, 800 W. Belmont, on Sat., Aug. 12, at 9 p.m. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-636-7865.