World Briefs – April 4, 2008

Posted on 03 Apr 2008 at 11:18am
By Rex Wockner – Wockner News Service

Four European mayors decline to sign pledge to support LGBT rights
The mayors of Riga, Latvia, and Tallinn, Estonia, have declined to sign a pledge from the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association in support of the rights of LGBT people to freedom of assembly and expression.

Nineteen European mayors have signed the document — from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dublin, Ljubljana, London, Luxembourg, Manchester, Nicosia, Paris, Stockholm, Venice, Vienna, Winterthur and Zurich.

In his written refusal, Riga Mayor Janis Birks said: "The Riga City Council truly supports your initiative, greatly appreciates the actions of the campaign and all the possible positive effects generated by the project [but] the decision on the appeal should rather remain an individual competence of each city."

Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar submitted the pledge to a City Council committee, which advised him that his signature was unnecessary because minorities are not mistreated in the city.

There has been no response yet from several cities.

Organizers invite mayors to Moscow Pride
Organizers of Moscow’s third gay Pride celebration, scheduled for May 30-31, have urged the mayors of Berlin, Paris and London to attend the events.

The city’s first two Pride parades were banned by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who called them "satanic," and people who attended the public events that replaced the parades were violently attacked by anti-gay demonstrators.

Writing to openly gay Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, openly gay Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë and gay-friendly London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Moscow Pride organizers Nikolai Baev and Nikolai Alekseev said: "Please take part in our conference and rally. This could principally change the situation in Moscow. This would give us a real chance that our civil rights will be respected by Moscow administration and that violence will be avoided."

Israel grants gay Palestinian residency to live with partner
Israel has granted residency to a 33-year-old gay Palestinian to live with his Israeli partner in Tel Aviv because the Palestinian had received anti-gay death threats while living in the West Bank.

The move was unprecedented, and even straight couples rarely receive such permission.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces’ coordinator of government activities in the territories said an exception was made because the man’s life was apparently in danger.

The man will be required to renew the IDF-issued residence permit monthly until the Interior Ministry rules on his five-year-old application for a more permanent status.

120 rally in London against deportation of gay Iranian
Some 120 protesters picketed Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s residence in London on March 22 demanding that Mehdi Kazemi not be deported to Iran, where he fears he’ll be executed for being gay.

"There needs to be a fundamental reform of the way the Home Office processes LGBTI asylum applications," said protest co-organizer Peter Tatchell. "The government refuses to explicitly rule that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum. This signals to asylum staff and judges that claims by LGBTI people are not as worthy."

Kazemi went to London to study in 2005 and Iran later charged his boyfriend, Parham, with sodomy and executed him, according to Kazemi’s father.

Kazemi then sought asylum in Britain but was rejected. In 2006, he fled to the Netherlands, which detained him and is preparing to return him to the UK.

The UK had planned to fly Kazemi back to Iran as soon as he returned to Britain but, following media coverage and political pressure, the Home Office has agreed to review his case one more time before forcing him to go home.

"My father [said] the authorities had executed Parham and that I must not return to Iran as the authorities would do the same to me," Kazemi said in a recent statement. "Parham was charged with [the] crime [of] being homosexual."

According to Kazemi’s father, Parham named Mehdi as his lover prior to his execution.

Iran is known to have executed several teens and men accused of engaging in sodomy, although in nearly all the cases that have been publicized in recent years, the individuals were accused of other crimes as well, such as rape.

Poles disagree with president over EU charter
Sixty-five percent of Poles support the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, which would commit Poland to the European Union’s gay-friendly Charter of Fundamental Rights.

And only 19 percent believed President Lech Kaczynski’s March 17 televised warning that adopting the treaty could force Poland to recognize or legalize same-sex marriages, a poll for the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper has found.

The treaty became a hotter topic in Poland after Kaczynski came under fire for using a photo and video clip from New York City gay activist Brendan Fay’s 2003 Canadian wedding during the nationally broadcast speech in which he issued the gay-marriage warning.

Fay filed a complaint with Poland’s New York consul general, Krzysztof Kasprzyk, who called Kaczynski’s use of the photo and video "pitiful."

On March 29, a Polish television network flew Fay and his husband, Thomas Moulton, to Warsaw for an interview.

These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 4, 2008.

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