GENEVA GAYS TIE THE KNOT
by Rex Wockner
Gay couples in Geneva entered into Switzerland's first legally recognized same-sex partnerships May 8 at City Hall.
"We now have the same rights as heterosexual couples," activist Yves de Matteis told swissinfo.org as he tied the knot with his lover, Patrick Berguer. "The authorities are recognizing our life together, and that may give our relationship a more lasting perspective."
Under the law, which applies only in Geneva canton, registered gay and straight couples will be treated the same as married couples in dealings with the state except in the areas of taxation, adoption and social-security benefits, swissinfo said.
HONG KONG GAYS STORM RED CROSS GATHERING
Some 40 gay activists clashed with police in Hong Kong May 6 at a World Red Cross Day ceremony at Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay.
They unfurled a large banner and flung leaflets to protest the Red Cross' blanket ban on gay-male blood donors.
Police prevented the demonstrators from confronting Red Cross chairman Yang Ti-liang face-to-face.
"We urge the Red Cross to refer to the international AIDS-prevention guidelines and just exclude blood that really has a possibility to spread diseases," protest spokesman Tommy Chen Noel told the Hong Kong iMail Newspapers. "Homosexuality is not a problem if people adopt safe sexual behavior."
BRITISH BLOOD BANK HEAD ATTACKS GAYS
The chairman of Britain's national blood authority has called gay men who donate blood "evil."
Mike Fogden said they are "putting at risk the innocent lives of innocent patients."
Fogden was later forced by the nation's junior health minister to apologize for the remarks and he admitted, "The tone was ill-conceived and unnecessarily judgmental."
Like many nations, Britain bans all men who have sex with men from donating blood regardless of whether they have safe sex and are HIV-negative.
HONG KONG CELEB COMES OUT
Hong Kong actor/singer and pop idol Leslie Cheung has told Time magazine he's bisexual.
He reportedly lives with a partner known only as Mr. Tong.
At a recent concert in Toronto, a fan shouted, "I love you," and Cheung shouted back, "I love you too, whether you're a boy or girl," according to Singapore's The Straits Times.
ILGA OPENS NEW OFFICE
The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association has opened its first office, in Brussels, hired its first employees and begun publishing a newsletter.
The moves were funded with European Commission money that is available "for the co-ordination activities of organizations operating at the European level and active in fighting discrimination."
Oliver Collet is the office's administrative officer and Mette Vadstrup its information officer.
"We look forward to strengthening and expanding our network and cooperation with the NGO [ nongovernmental organization ] community and the European Parliament Intergroup on Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians, and to intensifying our lobbying activities towards the European institutions," they said in a press release. "We also look forward to providing our members with information and assistance in pursuit of our common goal: to combat all kinds of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity across Europe."
The office is at Avenue de Tervueren 94/1. For more information, phone 011-32-2-732-5488, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.ilga-europe.org .
ILGA, a federation of more than 500 gay organizations, associations and individuals from more than 80 nations, will stage a Global Gay Summit Aug. 26 to Sept. 1 in Oakland, Calif. To register or to help with scholarships for Third World attendees, visit www.ilgaoakland2001.org/, phone 1 ( 510 ) 663-3980 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
ARRESTS AT BISHOP'S INSTALLATION
Five gay protesters were arrested for disrupting the installation of Sydney, Australia's new Catholic bishop May 10, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
About 80 demonstrators targeted George Pell outside the church with chants of "Church kills queers" and "Shame, Pell, shame," and placards reading "Get your rosaries off our ovaries."
The arrests occurred when protesters attempted to squeeze in behind a school choir that was serenading the bishop.
The police said they took action to prevent an outbreak of violence. A spokesman for the protesters said the arrests were unnecessary and were made simply to halt the demonstration.