World Briefs

Posted on 13 Sep 2006 at 2:41pm
By Rex Wockner

Argentina announces plans to repeal military’s ban on gays

The government of Argentina has announced plans to repeal its ban on gays and lesbians in the Argentinian military, according to recent news reports and a statement released Aug. 31 by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The change will happen as the country modernizes its code of military justice.

Colonel Judge Advocate Manual Lozana said the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers was “nonsense. It’s a matter of people’s private lives.”

Argentina would become the second country in South America, following Columbia, to prohibit anti-gay discrimination in its military, and will join a list of at least 25 other countries that no longer exclude openly gay people from their militaries. Others that have dropped such bans include Great Britain, Canada and Australia. Membership in the European Union requires countries to abolish such bans.

Polish prime minister says his nation is gay-friendly

To the astonishment of activists and others, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Aug. 30 that Poland is a gay-friendly nation.

Speaking with European Union officials in Brussels, Kaczynski said, “I ask you not to believe in the myth of Poland as an anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic country. People with such [homosexual] preferences have full rights in Poland; there is no tradition in Poland of persecuting such people.”

He added that Poland has many gay bars and magazines as well as “people of such a persuasion holding high public positions, on the right and not just on the left.”

In most people’s opinion, however, Poland’s gay community has been under attack from national and local officials in recent years both before, and especially after, the conservative Law and Justice Party came to power last year.

President Lech Kaczynski, Jaroslaw’s twin brother, was mayor of Warsaw when the 2004 and 2005 gay Pride parades were banned. He reportedly called gays “perverts.”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski has complained that Polish “gay people are allowed to conduct perverse demonstrations in the streets, but it is forbidden to discuss the issue of moral censorship.”

Previous Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz said that if a gay person “tries to infect others with their homosexuality, the state must intervene in this violation of freedom.”

Human Rights Watch said that the Law and Justice Party “brings to power officials with long records of opposing gay and lesbian rights.”

Former Polish President Walesa appears with Elton at Sopot Festival

Former President Lech Walesa appeared on stage with gay singer Elton John at Poland’s Sopot Festival Sept. 2.

Walesa presented John with an Amber Nightingale award for his lifetime achievement and gave him a medal marking the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity Trade Union which helped bring down Polish communism.

During the concert, John reportedly stated, “I’m just a performer who plays people some music. I hope that my music helps people to forget about their problems for a few hours. But I’m also a gay man, and I’ve heard that gay people face violence in Poland. Leave us alone. We don’t want to harm anybody. We just want to love and be loved.”

Rainbow flag flies over Taipei City Hall to launch annual gay rights festival

City officials will raise the rainbow flag over Taipei City Hall on Sept. 17 to mark the launch of the seventh annual “LGBT Civil Rights Movement Queer-Friendly Taipei,” the Taipei Times reported.

The festival, hosted by the city’s Department of Civil Affairs, aims to break down stereotypes and increase gay visibility and cultural diversity.

On Sept. 30, the gay community will stage a parade and a mass “wedding” ceremony. For more information, see www.lgbttaipei.net.

Scottish firefighters punished for boycotting Pride; 1 manager demoted

Nine firefighters who refused to staff an official booth at Pride Scotia in Glasgow, Scotland, have been punished by the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Department.

A watch manager was demoted, suffering a $9,500 salary cut, and eight rank-and-file firefighters had written warnings placed in their employee files. The individuals, all from the Cowcaddens Fire Station, also must attend diversity training classes.

Editorial assistance by Bill Kelley.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 15, 2006.

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