wo CBS television producers were severely gay-bashed April 6 on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, according to Floridaâ€™s WFOR-TV.Evening News senior producer Richard Jefferson and 48 Hours producer-researcher Ryan Smith were beaten with a tire iron outside the Sunset Beach Bar by four men and two women who identified themselves as gay-bashers. The assailants had harassed the men earlier inside Bamboo Bernies nightclub, as well.
The victims, who had been on vacation, were taken to St. Maarten Medical Center, then air-lifted to Miamiâ€™s Jackson Memorial Hospital.Smith has a skull fracture and brain damage, and cannot speak properly. Jefferson suffered gashes on his head and back.
On April 14, Jefferson returned to St. Maarten to pursue justice. â€śThe longer this case goes unsolved the more harm the people of St. Maarten are inflicting upon themselves and the reputation of the island as a vacation spot,â€ť he said, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. â€śJustice will only be achieved when residents realize that hiding vicious criminals will only cause further damage to the islandâ€™s reputation.â€ť
Transgender Elected to Italian Parliament
A transgender person was elected to Italyâ€™s Parliament April 11.Vladimir Luxuria is believed to be the first openly transgender individual elected to any European parliament.
â€śThis is ... a sign that the European electorate is becoming more open-minded and embracing the diversity of humankind,â€ť said Riccardo Gottardi, cochair of the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association. â€śWe hope the newly elected Italian politicians will fulfill their pre-election promises and will introduce Italy into [the] family of European nations legally recognizing same-sex families,â€ť he said.
A gay man, Franco Grillini, and a lesbian, Titti De Simone, were re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies and a bisexual, Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, was elected for the first time. Another gay man, Gianpaolo Silvestri, was elected to the Senate.
ILGA Meets in Geneva
Philipp Braun of Germany and Rosanna Flamer-Caldera of Sri Lanka were elected co-secretaries general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association during the groupâ€™s 23rd World Conference in Geneva April 3. The group also created a transgender secretariat, elected Swedenâ€™s National Federation for Sexual Equality (RFSL) as womenâ€™s secretariat, and staged a public protest against Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkovâ€™s promise to ban the cityâ€™s first gay-pride parade this summer. World conferences are held every two years. The 2008 meeting will be in Quebec and the 2010 gathering in Moscow.
ILGAâ€™s membership is composed of more than 500 national and local GLBT organizations and other entities from about 90 nations. The group was founded in 1978.
Activists Meet with Mexican Media
Representatives of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Mexicoâ€™s Media Movement for Objectivity in Topics of Sexual Orientation and Identity (MOVEMOS) met with Spanish-language media giants Televisa, TV Azteca and TV y Novelas MĂ©xico in Mexico City this month. They discussed the quantity and quality of GLBT images in the novela genre, entertainment print media, and comedy and variety television programs.
â€śHistorically and culturally LGBT people have been sensationalized and stereotyped in comedy and entertainment-related shows,â€ť said MĂłnica Taher, GLAADâ€™s people of color media director. â€śThese meetings are an important opportunity to work with these influential media outlets in order to ensure that LGBT programming and content are fair, accurate and inclusive in the United States and in all of Latin America.â€ť
Televisa and TV Azteca produce about 80 percent of the programs that air on the U.S. networks Univision, GalavisiĂłn and Azteca AmĂ©rica. Televisa is the worldâ€™s largest Spanish-language content producer. Similarly, many articles from the magazine TV y Novelas MĂ©xico are published in the United States by TV y Novelas USA. The publications have a circulation of 2 million across 18 countries.
â€śThese meetings with the main TV commercial networks in Mexico are a great step towards equality and respect for LGBT people,â€ť said MOVEMOS coordinator Sergio Alan Villarreal. â€śTheir content exercises a great influence on society in our country as well as in the Hispanic community in the U.S.â€ť
Latvians Will Attempt Second Pride Parade
Despite last yearâ€™s disaster, gays and lesbians in the Latvian capital of Riga will stage a second pride parade this year, on July 22. Swedenâ€™s National Federation for Sexual Equality (RFSL) is supporting the effort with a 3,500 euro (US$4,250) donation.
The 2005 parade, with about 150 marchers, was completely trashed by around 1,000 antigay protesters who hurled insults, bottles and rotten eggs; blocked the streets; and forced the procession to be rerouted. They chanted â€śNo sodomyâ€ť and â€śGays fuck the nation.â€ť In the end, police formed a human chain around the marchers to keep them safe.
â€śLast yearâ€™s experience demonstrated that the first Pride was not organized at its best; the society was not properly informed and educated why such event was necessary in Latvia,â€ť said the new organizers, a GLBT alliance called Mosaic. â€śThis year a wider and more professional circle of people are involved, there is much greater cooperation with other human rights organizations and there is a timely and thorough work with the media,â€ť they said.
Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis denounced last yearâ€™s march as â€śa parade of sexual minorities [taking] place in the middle of our capital city next to the Cathedral. ... This is not acceptable,â€ť he said. â€śLatvia is a state based on Christian values.â€ť Kalvitis later moderated his views, saying: â€śThere were attempts to link my statements with expressions of homophobic views and hate in the society. This is not true. ... I hope that in the future in such situations the necessary compromise will be found by choosing appropriate time and place beforehand.â€ť Kalvitis added that â€śLatvia is a democratic country that wishes and is able to ensure human rights of every person living here.
â€śIt is worth noting that not long before the parade, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted decisions preventing discrimination of sexual minorities in [the] labor market.â€ť
-Assistance: Bill Kelley