By Rex Wockner – Wockner News Service

Sydney Mardi Gras biggest ever
Organizers said Sydney’s 30th gay Mardi Gras parade held March 1 was the biggest ever.

The 1-mile spectacle attracted 10,000 participants, 150 floats and hundreds of thousands of spectators.

A contingent of 200 "78ers," people who marched in the first parade in 1978, drew raucous applause. That first parade ended in a clash with police and 50 arrests.

Other contingents of note included official entries by the New South Wales Police Force and the Australian Defence Force, and a group of some 100 Christian pastors who marched to "apologize" for past treatment of LGBT people by Christian churches.

Mardi Gras pumps an estimated $42 million into the local economy.

Brit Tory MP to enter civil partnership
A senior member of Parliament for Britain’s Conservative Party will be the first Tory MP to enter a same-sex civil partnership.

Alan Duncan, who has been in Parliament since 1992, will tie the knot with James Dunseath, spokesman for London’s financial futures exchange, this summer at the Westminster register office in London.

The couple met 14 months ago at a dinner party and Duncan, 50, asked Dunseath, 39, to marry him this past Valentine’s Day as the couple vacationed in Oman.

"You could not find two more conventional people to enter into a civil partnership," Duncan told local media.

Dunseath told The Daily Telegraph: "Our friends say we are inseparable. He may be a politician but he’s great fun. We both feel it’s so right and we’re very lucky."

Tory leader David Cameron said he was "thrilled" to learn of the couple’s engagement and plans to attend the ceremony.

In 2002, Duncan became the first Tory MP to publicly come out of the closet.

Brit bareback films pulled from market
Two barebacking gay porn movies have been pulled from the British market by their maker after a BBC investigation suggested the performers may have been infected with HIV during filming.

Said the BBC: "Two of the DVDs featured footage from a weeklong shoot during which eight British models had sex with each other in multiple combinations without condoms. Four of those who took part were diagnosed as HIV-positive soon after."

One performer told the BBC he believed the movies showed him becoming infected and that was distressing.

The BBC report claimed that 60 percent of gay porn movies now depict barebacking, or anal sex without condoms.

Venezuelan court nixes gay marriage
The constitutional arm of Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice ruled March 4 that same-sex marriages can’t be constitutionally authorized even though the Constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The court said, "If the 1999 constitutional body opted to protect monogamous matrimony between a man and a woman as the essential nucleus that gives origin to the family in the Venezuelan historic and cultural context, the extension of its [marriage’s] effects to common-law unions … should require, at the least, that these [unions] fulfill the same essential requirements — that they are stable and monogamous unions between a man and a woman who have no marriage impediment … and that the union is based on the free consent of the parties."

But the tribunal added, "The court wants to emphasize that the constitutional norm does not prohibit or condemn common-law unions between persons of the same sex, which find constitutional cover in the fundamental right of free development of the personality; it simply does not grant them reinforced protection, which does not constitute a discriminatory act in regard to sexual orientation."

Judge Carmen Zuleta de Merchán dissented from the decision, arguing that the Constitution grants implicit rights to same-sex couples, and that the other justices were influenced by ingrained social and religious prejudices.

Swedish government to sell dildos
Sweden’s government-run Apoteket pharmacy chain will begin selling dildos because customers want them, the Stockholm English-language publication The Local reported March 6.

"We are aware that sex is a very important part of everyone’s life. It is important to help people in this area, and there is a certain demand for the products," spokeswoman Elisabet Linge Bergman told the newspaper.

In a survey conducted last year by Apoteket and the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, customers chose dildos and massage oils as the top items they’d like to see added to the chain’s stock.

These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 14, 2008

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