|Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, fetching in a hot pink ensemble, says she has absolutely nothing against gay people, but rumors to the contrary, she just isnât one.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister MarĂa Teresa FernĂĄndez de la Vega has denied Internet rumors that sheâs a lesbian and secretly got married to a well-known female sportscaster. âMan, finally someone asks me!â she told El Mundo newspaperâs Sunday magazine Feb. 24, four years after the rumors began circulating. âWell, look, no,â she said. âItâs a rumor about me that theyâve invented to do damage, using something that - hear me - I absolutely respect. I have no homophobia. But Iâm not homosexual! If I were, I would have no problem in saying so. But itâs just that Iâm not!â
As for the TV sportscaster, âWhatâs up with that!â she exclaimed. âI donât know her, weâve never seen each other in our lives, and they have me married to her!â
FernĂĄndez de la Vega, who also is the governmentâs spokesperson, said that although her mother always told her she had to get married, she is extremely happy âbeing alone on my sofa, relaxing with a little music, without hearing anybody, without telephones ringing!â
More Egyptian Men Arrested in HIV Crackdown
Four more men have been arrested in Cairo on suspicion of being HIV-positive, bringing the number of detainees to 12, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Feb. 15. Four of the first eight arrestees have been convicted of âhabitual practice of debaucheryâ and imprisoned for one year. The other eight remain in custody pending filing of charges. All 12 were force-tested for HIV and those reported to be positive are kept handcuffed to hospital beds for 23 hours a day.
âIn their misguided attempt to apply Egyptâs unjust law on homosexual conduct, authorities are carrying on a crackdown against people living with HIV/AIDS,â said Rebecca Schleifer of HRWâs HIV program. âThis not only violates the most basic rights of people living with HIV. It also threatens public health by making it dangerous for anyone to seek information about HIV prevention or treatment.â
Spanish Gays Picket Opposition Party Headquarters
Spainâs opposition Popular Party is threatening to undo the nationâs 2005 legalization of same-sex marriage if it wins the March 9 election. Gay activists picketed the party headquarters Feb. 16, saying they were appalled at the partyâs desire to turn back the clock. They carried signs saying, âWe are for a secular stateâ and âNo to religious dictatorship.â
Same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and Massachusetts.
Ninety Cops Visit Mexico City Gay Bar
Some 90 police officers descended on the Mexico City gay bar NeĂłn in the gay Zona Rosa district Feb. 16. A city official called the incident a âverification visitâ to check for irregularities and the presence of minors. Seven patrons were detained for alleged drug-dealing. Other patrons said some of the officers behaved violently during the visit. About 200 gay people protested outside in Plaza del Ăngel during the raid, according to a NotieSe report.
In recent months, eight gay bars have been shut down in the Zona Rosa by city officials from the CuauhtĂ©moc borough - Boy Bar, Colors, Crazy, Lipstick, Liverpool 100, Oasis, The Pussi and VIP, NotieSe said. Activists have blamed the closures on the local government districtâs âhomophobia.â
Senegal Police Tear-Gas Anti-Gay Protesters
Police tear-gassed anti-gay protesters outside the Grande Mosque in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 15. The rock-throwing demonstrators were protesting the release from custody of 10 men who were jailed after the sensationalistic magazine IcĂŽne published photos of an alleged gay wedding the men supposedly had attended. The protesters set trash piles on fire, blocked streets and chanted, âWe donât want homosexualsâ and âGod is great.â
Penal Code Article 319 punishes homosexual acts with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000.
Moscow Pride Organizers Again Appeal To Euro Court
Moscow Pride organizers have filed suit in the European Court of Human Rights over Mayor Yuri Luzhkovâs ban of last yearâs aborted gay pride parade. A similar suit over Luzhkovâs ban on the first attempted parade in 2006 is already pending before the court.
Pride organizers say the bans violate Russiaâs Constitution and several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. They seek $1.5 million in compensation. âIt is not possible to calculate all the sufferings created by the Moscow and Russian authorities when they banned Pride,â said chief organizer Nikolai Alekseev. âThat is the reason for such a heavy compensation which we are claiming.â
A third attempt at a pride parade is planned for May 31.
Luzhkov has called gay pride parades âsatanicâ and said he never will allow one to take place.
Activists did not attempt to defy the ban last year. Instead, they gathered near City Hall on pride day to protest the ban. A mĂȘlĂ©e ensued and several gays and lesbians were beaten and bloodied by Christian and ultra-nationalist protesters while hundreds of police officers stood by and watched.
Thirty-one people were detained, including members of European parliaments who had traveled to Moscow to support the pride events.
The 2006 pride activities met the same fate. After Luzhkov banned the parade, organizers instead tried to lay flowers at the Kremlinâs Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hold a rally near City Hall. Participants in both small events were violently attacked by neofascists, skinheads, Christians and riot police, and the pride organizers were arrested. The charges were later dropped.
N. Ireland Sports Minister: Gay Sports Teams Are Exclusionary
The Northern Ireland governmentâs sports minister, Edwin Poots, said Feb. 19 that he doesnât understand why gays need their own sports teams.
Discussing Belfastâs Ulster Titans, a gay rugby team, Poots said: âI just cannot fathom why people see the necessity to develop an apartheid in sport.
âIt would be unacceptable to produce an all-black rugby team or an all-white team or an all-Chinese team. To me, itâs equally unacceptable to produce an all-homosexual rugby team, and I find it remarkable that people who talk so much about inclusivity and about having an equal role in society would then go down the route of exclusion.â
A spokesman for the team, Declan Lavery, said the Titans do not discriminate based on sexual orientation and, in fact, have some straight players.
âYes, it was primarily something established as a vehicle for gay people, but that doesnât mean somebody who isnât gay canât join; everyone is welcome,â Lavery said.
-Assistance: Bill Kelley