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Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Rex Wockner

This article shared 1445 times since Wed May 13, 2009
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Same-sex marriages begin in Sweden

Sweden's new law allowing gay couples to marry took effect May 1.

"It means that our love is worth the same as everybody else's," said Alf Karlsson who, in one of the first ceremonies, married Johan Lundqvist at Stockholm City Hall.

Both men are local politicians in Uppsala north of Stockholm. Green Party co-leader Maria Wetterstrand officiated the wedding.

The newspaper Dagens Nyheter quoted the couple as saying jointly: "We met on the Internet nine years ago. And now we are here. It has taken a few years, but finally! It is a very big and exciting day; it is wonderful that society finally accepts our relationship as a marriage."

Sweden has had a registered-partnership law since 1995 that granted same-sex couples the rights and obligations of marriage.

Gay couples also can marry in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. states of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and, starting in September, Maine and Vermont.

Lesbian named British nat'l poet laureate

Queen Elizabeth II named openly lesbian Carol Ann Duffy as Britain's national poet laureate on May 1. She is also the first woman to hold the post.

The job includes writing poems for royal weddings, funerals and other official occasions, but Duffy said she will do so only when inspiration comes her way.

The appointment lasts 10 years.

Duffy, 53, is very popular in the United Kingdom and her work is taught in schools. Prime Minister Gordon Brown called her "a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly."

St. Petersburg activists stage 'silent flash mob'

About 70 GLBT activists staged a "silent flash mob" on Nevsky Prospekt, in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 25.

Members of the group Coming Out and the Russian LGBT Network taped their mouths shut to mark the International Day of Silence and walked the city's main street handing out leaflets and "silent cards."

About 4,000 pieces of literature were distributed during the 90-minute action.

"The reaction of passersby was extremely positive: so many of them were seeing our large groups, they come up themselves and took leaflets," the organizers said in an English-language statement. "On the way back the participants of the flashmob virtually see hardly single leaflets thrown out, which is the evidence of the fact that citizens read them and considered interesting for themselves."

The organizers said the successful action demonstrated that "the LGBT community of Petersburg is interested not only in entertainments, but also in human rights events."

Gays march in Kirov, Russia

A group of GLBT people marched in Kirov, Russia, May 3 to protest discrimination in the workplace.

Organizers said it was "the first action of LGBTs in Kirov." They carried flags and banners and chanted, "Love is not a crime" and "Homophobia is fascism."

The march ended when riot police arrived and the participants scattered. Some marchers blended in among other pedestrians and some were detained by police, then later released.

Kirov has a population of about 458,000 and is about 550 miles ( 917 km ) east of Moscow.

COE calls on Serbia to protect LGBTs

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in late April strongly urged Serbia to protect GLBT people.

"We reiterate our call to the authorities to condemn and investigate all attacks against human rights defenders, including LGBT activists, as well as develop a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy to eliminate all forms of discrimination, including against sexual minorities," the assembly wrote.

"LGBT activists often experience harassment, intimidation, threats and violence. Although the authorities have always condemned violence against LGBT persons, it is believed that the law enforcement agencies and the courts are reluctant to deal with these cases and only a few perpetrators of attacks have actually been brought to justice and punished."

Spanish gay man jailed under Franco regime compensated

A Spanish gay man who spent 94 days in prison during the Franco era for allegedly posing a danger to society has become the first such victim to be compensated by the government.

Antoni Ruiz received 4,000 euros ( US$5,360 ) courtesy of the Tax and Economy Ministry's Committee for Compensation to Ex-Social Prisoners.

Francisco Franco, a fascist dictator who was head of state from 1947 until his death in 1975, jailed homosexuals in large numbers under laws that considered them delinquents, vagrants and dangers to society.

Phelpses, Savage banned from UK

A Home Office list of people banned from entering the United Kingdom includes U.S. anti-gay activists Fred Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper, as well as U.S. talk radio host Michael Savage.

Savage appears on the list under his real name, Michael Alan Weiner.

People end up on the list for fostering hatred or extremism. Terrorists and criminals also have faced bans.

" ( Naming them ) enables people to see the sorts of unacceptable behavior we are not willing to have in this country," said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. "Coming to this country is a privilege. We won't allow people into this country who are going to propagate the sort of views ... that fundamentally go against our values."

In the past, Britain also has banned rap singer Snoop Dogg and TV cooking-and-crafts maven Martha Stewart, a convicted criminal who spent five months in prison for lying about a stock sale.

Savage said he plans to sue Smith, whom he called a "lunatic," for defamation unless she apologizes.

British Muslims: Gay sex is immoral

A new Gallup poll of Muslims in the United Kingdom, Germany and France found that not one of 1,001 Muslims questioned in the UK thinks gay sex is morally acceptable.

By contrast, 35 percent of Muslims living in France had no problem with the morality of homosexual acts.

British Muslims also were found to have more conservative opinions than Muslims in France and Germany regarding sex outside of marriage, pornography, abortion and suicide.

—Assistance: Bill Kelley

This article shared 1445 times since Wed May 13, 2009
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