Around two million people turned out for the ninth gay-pride parade in S√£o Paulo, Brazil, May 30, making it the world‚Äôs largest gay-pride celebration. Police, organizers and media outlets agreed on the attendance figure.
The parade traversed eight-lane, skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista and featured drag queens, go-go boys, giant rainbow flags and trucks blasting music. ‚ÄúWith this many people ... the parade is a major step to strike people‚Äôs prejudice against gays,‚ÄĚ Pedro Almeida of the Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade Association told the Associated Press.
Marchers demanded passage of laws creating civil unions for same-sex couples‚ÄĒ something that has occurred so far only in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Mayor Jos√© Serra attended the festivities and spoke at a post-parade concert that featured several of Brazil‚Äôs best-known singers.
Romania Sees First Pride Parade¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†Romania‚Äôs first GayFest Parade went ahead as scheduled May 28 despite efforts by the Bucharest mayor‚Äôs office to ban it. Local officials reportedly backed down under pressure from Romanian President Traian Basescu who reportedly received thousands of angry e-mails orchestrated by Metropolitan Community Churches and others.
About 500 people marched, protected by riot police. Passers-by booed and yelled insults, including ‚ÄúGet out of Romania‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúHomosexuality is a sin.‚ÄĚ
Police detained several members of the New Right organization when they tried to cross police lines and attack the marchers. ‚ÄúWe want to show people that we exist and that we are not afraid,‚ÄĚ George Iacobescu of the gay group Accept told Reuters.
‚ÄúWe are very happy with our first historic march, which has allowed us to show ourselves to the world in broad daylight,‚ÄĚ added Accept leader Florin Buhuceanu, in comments to Agence France-Presse.
Costa Rican Catholic Hierarchy Supports Partner Benefits
Costa Rica‚Äôs Catholic Church Episcopal Conference has come out in support of legislation to grant gay couples many of the rights and obligations of marriage.
‚ÄúIf at the juridical level there are certain rights granted to other persons and these also can be granted to them [gays], I don‚Äôt see any problem with that,‚ÄĚ said conference President Monsignor Francisco Ulloa.
Areas covered by the proposal include inheritance, health insurance and property rights. The bill, drafted by the Center for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America (CIPAC), was presented to the Legislative Assembly on May 26.
‚ÄúDiscrimination is present in the succession processes where, in case of a death without a will, real estate passes to blood relatives,‚ÄĚ CIPAC noted. ‚ÄúThis lack of legal recognition also impedes obtaining other benefits such as pensions and immigration status.‚ÄĚ
N.W. Territories Capital Rescinds Straight-Pride Day
The mayor of Yellowknife in Canada‚Äôs Northwest Territories declared June 9 Heterosexual Day, then rescinded the proclamation a few days later.
Mayor Gordon Van Tighem issued the proclamation at the request of Councilor Alan Woytuik. Van Tighem also declared June 10 Gay Pride Day.
‚ÄúRecognizing the contributions of heterosexuals is just as legitimate as recognizing the contributions of gay and lesbian communities, so I don‚Äôt feel there‚Äôs any reason for anyone to object to this particular proclamation,‚ÄĚ Woytuik told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. But, following national media attention and ridicule, Woytuik changed his mind.
‚ÄúI am not antigay,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe proclamation was in response to [the gay group] OutNorth‚Äôs request for Gay Pride Day, but it was not intended as a protest against the ideals of OutNorth. ... I saw it as a simple request to treat everyone the same and it was ... kind of blown way out of proportion.‚ÄĚ
Prior to Woytuik‚Äôs backdown, OutNorth‚Äôs Don Babey commented: ‚ÄúWe thought every day was heterosexual day. Will the city partner Black History Month in February with White Heritage Month later in the year?‚ÄĚ
Zanzibarian Clerics Stressed About Increased Homosexuality
Muslim clerics on the island of Zanzibar, which is part of the nation of Tanzania, are upset over an alleged increase in homosexuality among young people. Meeting May 27, dozens of imams denounced the alleged trend. ‚ÄúThe youths involved in gay and lesbian business have been increasing in coastal areas such as Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar,‚ÄĚ said cleric Maalim Mziwanda Ahmed. ‚ÄúThe government in collaboration with the mufti‚Äôs office must do something.‚ÄĚ
The clerics blamed the supposed trend on Western tourists allegedly enticing Zanzibarian youth. Last year, Zanzibar enacted its own gay-sex ban, on top of Tanzania‚Äôs ban. Gay-male sex is punished with up to 25 years in prison and lesbian sex with up to seven years in prison.
Toronto Unveils Gay Statue
Several hundred people turned out in Toronto‚Äôs gay neighborhood May 28 for the unveiling of a statue of openly gay 19th-century city magistrate Alexander Wood.
‚ÄúWe wanted to do a public art project,‚ÄĚ Dennis O‚ÄôConnor of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area told the Canadian Press news service. ‚ÄúWe chose him because he has a connection to our community, and [to] this particular spot.‚ÄĚ
In 1827, Wood, who is considered one of Toronto‚Äôs founding fathers, purchased the land around Church and Alexander streets where the 2.5-meter statue now stands.
‚ÄúPeople who have lived in this neighborhood have known and heard about him over the years ... but it‚Äôs never been mainstream,‚ÄĚ city Councilor Kyle Rae told CP. ‚ÄúThis now becomes part of all of everyone‚Äôs knowledge.‚ÄĚ
Wood was mockingly known as ‚ÄúMolly,‚ÄĚ a derogatory term for homosexuals. In 1810, he got ensnared in a gay-sex scandal and fled to Scotland for two years to avoid sodomy charges. He returned to Toronto in 1812, once the fuss had died down, and continued his work without any trouble.