Scottish Catholics seek dispensation from equality laws
Scotland’s Roman Catholic Church is seeking an exemption from coming legislation that requires schools to grant heterosexuality and homosexuality equal legitimacy in student lessons, London’s Times reported July 16.
Church leaders want Catholic schools to continue teaching that homosexuality is a sin. They have denounced the legislation as “totalitarian thought control” and Cardinal Keith O’Brien branded it a “threat to religious freedom.”
The planned laws also ban anti-gay discrimination by businesses and public authorities in the provision of goods, facilities and services. Church officials oppose that as well, saying they want to discriminate when renting their facilities.
Fury erupts over $91 charge to march in Manchester’s Pride parade
Gay pride organizers in Manchester, England, have come under fire from some community activists for instituting a $91 charge for every contingent in the parade, including nonprofit groups, HIV organizations and even individuals, The Independent reported July 18.
The Pride committee says it needs the money to pay for crowd control and additional policing.
But Manchester Pride actually isn’t hurting for money. It has donated more than $728,000 to community charities in the past three years.
Businesses pay much more to be in the parade $2,275. Organizers also charge a $27 entry fee to the three-day Pride festival on Canal Street, the heart of the gay ghetto that was the setting for the British version of “Queer As Folk.”
Activists: Iran wants all gays to get sex-change operations
Iranian government policies encourage all gays to get a sex-change operation, the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization claimed July 19.
“[The] Iranian government does not recognize homosexuals’ rights in Iran,” the group said. “They publicly declare that there are no legal limits for transsexuals and legally they can have a transgender surgery. They use this as an excuse to deny existence of homosexuals and believe that every one should be a heterosexual man or woman. According to this belief, everyone that has a “‘problem’ should have an operation and “‘transform’ her/himself.”
After such surgery, transsexuals are left to fend for themselves, PGLO said.
“No social prospect is provided after the operation and many of them have to fall into prostitution in order to make a living,” the activists said. “Denial of homosexuals in the country, their oppression and complete ignorance of their rights has caused many homosexuals to live in the worst psychological and social condition which results in frequent suicides, depression and seeking asylum to other countries.”
Thousands of German gays, lesbian celebrate Christopher Street Days in Berlin
Tens of thousands of gays, lesbians and other revelers packed downtown Berlin on July 22 for the annual gay Pride celebration.
Under the motto “Diversity, Rights and Freedom,” an estimated 150,000 people lined the route for the Christopher Street Day parade, as several dozen floats carrying dancers some bedecked in feathered, rainbow costumes, others wearing almost nothing at all wove through the heart of the city.
Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, praised the peaceful party mood, saying it was a “true chance to really fight for tolerance.”
Christopher Street Day commemorates the gay rights movement in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1969. The parade generally draws large crowds in Berlin, which has a history as a gay metropolis that goes back as far as the 19th century.
Polish education minister lashes out at “‘deviation’ in education
Poland’s new education minister lashed out recently at what he called moral “deviation” in schools and more patriotism in teaching.
Roman Giertych, head of the small, right-wing League of Polish Families, said in parliament that Polish schools must end “a pathology that hinders normal students from normal learning.” He said he opposed anti-homophobia education under the previous left-wing government.
Giertych took over Poland’s Education Ministry in May after his strongly Roman Catholic party entered a government led by the conservative Law and Justice party.
Robert Biedron, the head of Poland’s Campaign Against Homophobia, called Giertych’s remarks an example of “hate speech” that demonstrated the league’s manipulation of fears of GLBT people to build its political base.
Editorial assistance by Bill Kelley
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 28, 2006.