600 couples register
in New Zealand
Six hundred couples have tied the knot since New Zealand began offering civil unions in April 2005—226 male couples, 264 female couples and 109 opposite-sex couples.
Auckland has seen more registrations than any other location, with 128.
Nepali gays lobby for constitutional protection
Gays, lesbians and transgender people in Nepal are seeking protection in the new constitution that is being prepared, the Indo-Asia News Service reported Aug. 24.
They have demanded decriminalization of 'unnatural sex,' political representation, access to marriage or civil unions, and the addition of a transgender category—in addition to male and female—on the citizenship card and other government certificates.
Organizations pushing for the changes include the GLBT Blue Diamond Society and the lesbian group Mitini Nepal.
Brit pro soccer team embraces gays
In an unprecedented move, top-level British professional soccer team Manchester City Football Club has paid 'four figures' to join the Diversity Champions program of the leading national gay-rights group Stonewall, The Observer reported Aug. 27.
The action commits the team to recruit gays to work at the stadium, reach out to gay fans, ban homophobic language and implement other 'gay-friendly' initiatives.
'We want to send a welcoming message to gay, lesbian and bisexual supporters, be inclusive and be a progressive employer,' said Alistair Mackintosh, the club's chief executive.
The Observer, which said Mackintosh's sister is an open lesbian, commented, 'The move could lead to a dramatic change of attitude in the macho world of football, which is regarded as one of the last bastions of homophobia.'
Latvians who attacked gays punished
Some of the protesters who pelted Latvian gays with excrement on pride day have been punished.
The July 22 attacks in Riga occurred outside a gay religious service and meetings at a hotel—events which replaced the planned gay pride parade after it was banned by the City Council and a court.
GLBT people coming and going from the events were confronted by Christian fundamentalists, ultranationalists and neo-Nazis, some of whom threw eggs, rotten food and human feces.
To date, seven of the protesters have been fined from $42 to $92 for petty hooliganism.
Linda Freimane, spokeswoman for the pride organizing group Mozaika, called the punishments inadequate, saying the attackers should have been charged with criminal hooliganism.
'This is not petty hooliganism but an incitement to hatred,' she said. 'The punishment for such activities must be heavier so the others would [ see ] clear that similar activities carry heavy punishment and the state considers them as serious offences.'
Latvia's general prosecutor has agreed with Mozaika and is attempting to have the decisions annulled and the attackers retried under criminal statutes.
Cop wins 'Mr Gay UK' contest
West Yorkshire police officer Mark Carter, 23, is the new 'Mr Gay UK.'
Carter triumphed over 24 regional finalists as 50 of his police colleagues cheered him on Sept. 30 at Blackpool's Flamingo Club.
In an official West Yorkshire Police statement, Superintendent Nigel Hibbert said, 'It's a great achievement and we are all proud of Mark. He's done very well and we are pleased that he has won.'
Carter said he was 'absolutely over the moon' about the victory.
'I am happy that people will be able to see that there are police officers who are gay and we are not necessarily the usual people that they see on TV programs like Big Brother,' he said. 'It will be good for other young gay men to see someone like me who has been successful in a professional job like policing.
'I thought telling people I was gay would mean no one would want to know me, but at the Mr Gay UK final I had more people together, supporting me, in one place than I've ever had in my life.'
Carter received approximately $9,500 in prize money.
Iceland's parliament, the Althing, has modified the laws on registered cohabitation so that same-sex couples receive every right of marriage—including in the sometimes-controversial areas of adoption and assisted pregnancy, ILGA-Europe reported Aug. 17.
'Though quite advanced on gay and lesbian rights, Iceland had lagged a bit behind in recent years,' said activist Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdottir. 'As far as family law is concerned, all discrimination against gays and lesbians has now been removed in Iceland.'
launches gay Web site
China's government has launched a gay Web site—cystd.com .cn—to facilitate communication among gay men in hopes of increasing HIV awareness, the Xinhua news agency reported Aug. 21.
'Forum for Comrades'—'comrade' is slang for 'gay man'—is run by the Disease Prevention and Control Center of Beijing's Chaoyang District.
One chat room is strictly AIDS-related while two others aim at letting gays communicate with each other.
Assistance: Bill Kelley