Haider's male deputy
says they had
The top deputy to the late Austrian rightist leader Jörg Haider created speculation Oct. 22 that he and Haider had been lovers.
Haider crashed his car and died Oct. 11 after leaving a gay bar drunk.
Stefan Petzner, 27, who replaced Haider as leader of the right-wing party Alliance for the Future of Austria after Haider's death, told a radio program: 'We had a relationship that went far beyond friendship. Jörg and I were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life. ( Haider's wife, Claudia, ) loved him as a woman. He loved her as a man. I loved him in a completely different and personal way. She understood that.'
Reports said party officials unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the interview from being broadcast, blocked further press access to Petzner, passed him over in choosing a leader for the party's parliamentary group, but kept him on as the party's overall leader.
Haider, 58, was outed in 2000 by gay activists and newspapers in Austria, Germany and England.
At the time, he had just stepped down from 15 years as head of the populist/nationalist Freedom Party, which was one-half of Austria's governing coalition from 2000 to 2002.
The presence of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government caused outrage across, and sanctions from, the European Union.
Critics considered Haider extremist, racist and xenophobic. In 1995, the U.S. Anti-Defamation League accused him of making 'numerous statements utilizing Holocaust terminology or legitimizing Nazi policy and activities.'
An Oct. 24 Associated Press story, titled 'Was Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider gay?' said Haider had praised aspects of Adolf Hitler's labor policies; criticized immigrants as lazy, criminal and corrupt; and seemed contemptuous of Jews, but had never spoken against gay people or promoted so-called traditional family values.
Australian de facto
couples who split
Australia's Senate passed a bill Oct. 16 to treat unmarried couples who break up the same as married couples who divorce.
The measure, which was returned to the lower house for approval of Senate amendments, will create a uniform national standard for separating de facto couples, gay and straight, sending them to federal family-law courts to work out property settlements, pension splits and other issues.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the changes are 'long overdue.'
UK to give lesbians
equal access to
A controversial bill that passed Britain's House of Commons Oct. 22, authorizing stem-cell research that implants human cells into animal eggs creating human-animal hybrids, also cleared the way for lesbians to access fertility treatment and for a lesbian couple to be named on a birth certificate as a child's parents.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passed the House of Commons 355-129 and is unlikely to be further modified before becoming law.
'We've always thought it scandalous that lesbian couples could lawfully be excluded from the safety of ( National Health Service ) clinics, for which we all pay,' said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of leading gay lobby group Stonewall. 'Often they've been forced to use unregulated backstreet services instead.'
'Children in lesbian and gay families develop in exactly the same social and intellectual way as any others,' he said. 'This latest step forward for our communities is an important reminder that lesbian and gay families are every bit as loving and tender and magical as any other.'
Gay couple arrested
in Mexico for kissing
Two male U.S. citizens were arrested in Playa del Carmen, in Mexico's Quintana Roo state, for kissing and hugging in public, the Mexico City daily El Universal reported Oct. 22.
Eric Schroeder, 22, and José Méndez, 35, were accused of committing 'a moral misdeed' ( una falta a la moral ) , jailed for 15 hours and fined 2,000 pesos ( $148 ) .
Schroeder told the paper that on Oct. 10 the couple was 'resolving some differences that we had' and, as they walked out of the house, 'there were a few hugs and a kiss out front.'
At that point, police arrived, handcuffed them, then drove them around while they 'picked up more people who presumably had committed other crimes,' he said.
'They wanted money and realizing they weren't going to get it, they drove us around,' Schroeder said.
The couple's eventual incarceration at the main police station ended after they paid a cop a 300-peso fee to take one of their credit cards and withdraw money to pay the 2,000-peso fine, Schroeder said.
Officials in Tambov,
After initially giving a verbal OK, city officials in Tambov, Russia, reversed course and officially blocked the city's first planned gay demonstrations Oct. 9.
City Hall decided the city's residents did not approve of the events ( a demonstration and a march ) , that police couldn't secure them and that they would cause traffic troubles.
Moscow activist Nikolai Alekseev, who was involved in planning the actions, said the decision violates the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, and that organizers will pursue legal redress.
Earlier this year, Tambov Mayor Oleg Betin reportedly said: 'Tolerance? To hell! Faggots should be torn apart and their pieces thrown to the wind.'
Tambov is about 300 miles ( 500 km ) southeast of Moscow and has a population of about 292,000.
—Assistance: Bill Kelley