|Some 3,000 people turned out for â€śInfinite Love,â€ť the Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance March, on JULY 3. Photo by Amit Lev.
Police Stop First Cuban Gay Pride March
Police in Havana stopped Cubaâ€™s first gay pride parade before it could start June 25. But the details of what exactly took place are far from clear. Reports from activists in Miami said the organizers were beaten and arrested around 10 a.m. as they arrived at Don Quixote Park at 23rd and J streets in the Vedado neighborhood. Fort Lauderdaleâ€™s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, however, said the march was canceled just before its start time by activist Mario JosĂ© Delgado GonzĂˇlez, who appeared at the park to report that two other organizers had been arrested a day earlier. The Miami Herald, on the other hand, reported that nine organizers were detained the morning of the march, effectively aborting the event.
The Spanish Web site cubaencuentro.com quoted Delgado as saying: â€śCuban homosexuals are victims of repression, we donâ€™t enjoy rights. What we are doing has as its objective the reclaiming of our rights. We want equality of opportunity, equality of assembly, and that they donâ€™t expel us from parks, university centers, schools and work centers.â€ť
With a theme of â€śYou are not alone,â€ť the group had planned to walk to the Ministry of Justice and deliver demands to the government. They sought an end to anti-gay violence and repression, an apology for the governmentâ€™s having incarcerated gays in work camps decades ago, acknowledgment that gays have been fired because of their sexuality, and a review of cases where homosexuals have been jailed for an offense apparently known as â€śdangerous levels.â€ť
At the marchâ€™s end, the group planned to proceed to a diplomatic residence to hold a press conference and stage a concert.
Prior to the aborted march, Havana gay activist Aliomar Janjaque had told the Sun-Sentinel: â€śWe want to raise awareness but we donâ€™t want to provoke a wave of repression against the gay community. If there is a hostile reaction from the government, we will stage a much larger demonstration. We will take to the streets.â€ť
The Herald report said Janjaque was one of the individuals detained before the paradeâ€™s start.
Gays March in Dominican Republic
Around 50 people staged a gay pride march in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 20. They carried rainbow flags and beat drums as they walked down El Conde Street in the historic downtown. Local media said the marchers urged passage of legislation protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination.
They also spoke out against Roman Catholic Cardinal NicolĂˇs de JesĂşs LĂłpez RodrĂguez, who, in an Oct. 27 interview with the newspaper El Nacional, reportedly referred to gays as â€śfaggotsâ€ť (â€śmariconesâ€ť). LĂłpez RodrĂguez also has called gays â€ślacras sociales,â€ť according to a 2006 Associated Press report. The phrase could be translated as â€śsocial wasteâ€ť or â€śsocial scum.â€ť
3,000 March in Jerusalem
Some 3,000 people turned out for â€śInfinite Love,â€ť the Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance March, on JULY 3. So did 2,000 police officers, who successfully protected the four-block-long procession.
In a different part of the city, several hundred people demonstrated against the parade and set trash bins on fire. Marchers set off from Independence Park, continued up King David Street, and finished with a rally at Liberty Bell Park.
â€śWe have seen some success and advancement in acceptance and the rights of same-sex partners in issues such as inheritance and adoption,â€ť said Yonatan Gher, executive director of the Jerusalem Open House gay center, which organized the parade. â€śStill, we are struggling for full acceptance of same-sex partners and the equality of such couples to their heterosexual homologues.â€ť
The success of this yearâ€™s march was especially welcome given last yearâ€™s disaster. Last yearâ€™s parade traveled only about 500 meters before being aborted as ultra-Orthodox protesters fought to break through police lines that were manned by 8,000 officers attempting to protect the 3,000 marchers.
Before the parade, police arrested a man with a bomb, and the rally after the parade was canceled because firefighters went on strike and didnâ€™t provide a legally required fire truck.
Court Considers Indian Gay-Sex Ban
The Delhi High Court was scheduled to resume hearing final arguments in the case against Indiaâ€™s gay-sex ban on July 2. â€śThe Section 377 case is entering a critical phase,â€ť said activist Vikram Doctor. â€śA few years back, the Delhi High Court threw the petition out of court saying the petitioners had no locus standi. The petitioners appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld their petition and sent it back to the Delhi High Court, saying that it was an important matter that merited attention. This is what is now being heard.â€ť
Plaintiffs in the case are the HIV organization Naz India and the activist group Voices Against 377. Naz argues that the gay-sex ban hinders efforts to provide HIV-prevention information, a position that is being supported in court by the Health Ministryâ€™s National AIDS Control Organisation.
â€śThe Naz India petition points to the contradiction involved with the government ... funding HIV/AIDS workers to do things like distribute condoms to men who have sex with men, which could also be seen as abetting these men to break 377,â€ť Doctor said.
Voices Against 377, a Delhi-based group, is arguing against Section 377 on human-rights grounds. â€śTheir argument is that this is an outdated Victorian-era law imposed on India that has now been changed even in the country, the U.K., that imposed it,â€ť Doctor said.
Arguing in favor of keeping the ban is the governmentâ€™s Home Ministry, which has cited so-called traditional morality as justification, even though the Health Ministry supports the plaintiffs â€” who ask that 377 be â€śread downâ€ť so it no longer applies to consensual sex between adults.
The law prohibits â€ścarnal intercourse against the order of natureâ€ť with punishment of up to 10 years in prison.
Boy George Banned From the U.S.
The United States has refused to give British gay singer Boy George a visa to enter the country because he faces trial in Britain for allegedly chaining a male escort to a wall in his apartment. George had planned a summer U.S. tour and also hoped to perform a free concert for New York Cityâ€™s Department of Sanitation, where he worked cleaning streets in 2006 as punishment for a drug offense.
George has pleaded not guilty in the ongoing British case.
-Assistance: Bill Kelley