| Irish President Mary McAleese
Spainâs Queen SofĂa is in hot water with gays after the newspaper El PaĂs published excerpts Oct. 29 from an upcoming biography of the queen by journalist Pilar Urbano. In âThe Queen Up Closeâ (âLa Reina muy de cercaâ), SofĂa, 69, is quoted as saying: âI can understand, accept and respect that there are persons of other sexual tendencies, but should they feel proud to be gay? Should they ride on a parade float and come out in demonstrations? If all of those of us who arenât gay came out in protest we would halt traffic.â
She went on: âIf those persons want to live together, dress up as bride and groom and marry, they could have a right to do so, or not, according to the laws of their country, but they shouldnât call this matrimony, because it isnât. There are many possible names: social contract, union contract.â
Spain is one of six countries where same-sex couples have access to full marriage.
A royal spokesperson complained that the quotations are not âexactlyâ accurate. The State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals demanded that SofĂa recant her reported statements.
Singapore Gay Pride Event Postponed
Singaporeâs first outdoor gay pride event, which had been scheduled for Nov. 15 at Speakersâ Corner in Hong Lim Park, has been postponed until early 2009, the Straits Times reported Oct. 31. Key organizer Roy Tan said interest in the event was greater than anticipated and organizers need âmore time to organize a better event ... to ensure that all interested parties â straight, gay and queer â have the opportunity to participate in this landmark occasion.â
Among other things, the event is expected to serve as a protest against Penal Code Section 377A, which bans gay male sex. It states, âAny male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.â
Activists From 40 Nations Attend ILGA-Europe Conference
Some 230 activists from 40 nations took part in the 12th annual conference of the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Vienna. Attendees included the Council of Europeâs human-rights commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg; the director of the European Unionâs Fundamental Rights Agency, Morten KjĂŠrum; and Belinda Pyke, director of the European Commissionâs Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer served as an honorary patron of the gathering, and Austrian Minister of Justice Maria Berger attended the opening session. Vienna Mayor Michael HĂ€upl hosted a reception for delegates at City Hall.
ILGA-Europeâs 2009 conference will be in Malta and the 2010 meeting will be in The Hague, Netherlands.
Irish President Condemns Anti-Gay Bullying
Speaking at a GLBT youth forum in Galway on Oct. 30, Irish President Mary McAleese condemned anti-gay bullying. âHomophobic bullying continues to be a societywide issue, including in our schools, and the link between it and suicide sends a clear message that this trend must be reversed,â she said. âBy refusing to go along with loudly voiced prejudices, we can overcome the bias and hostility experienced by many young gay people throughout the country.â
McAleese also said people donât choose to be gay but rather discover that theyâre gay.
Swedish Plan to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage Altered
Swedenâs four-party government coalition has had trouble agreeing on a measure to legalize same-sex marriage, but the law should be in place by the middle of next year nonetheless. âWe havenât had a common understanding among all the parties of the alliance,â Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told Sveriges Radio on Nov. 5. âI respect that there can be different opinions on these types of issues, despite the fact that it hasnât been unclear how the majority feels.â
The Christian Democrats party was the lone holdout and, in the end, forced the government to agree to proceed by introducing a parliamentary bill to legalize same-sex marriage rather than by submitting a government proposal, which is what the government wanted to do. âThe government will place a joint proposal for a new law, including everything apart from the issue of making it gender-neutral. Then the three âpro-gayâ government parties in the Parliament will introduce bills with the gender-neutral component,â said Jon Voss, editor of the Swedish gay Web site QX.se. âSweden will have a gender-neutral marriage during the first half of 2009.â
Guatemalan Gay Event Bombed With Tear Gas
A GLBT event in Samayac, Guatemala, was bombed with tear gas Oct. 18. No one was seriously injured in the attack on the âOur Gay Beautyâ gathering, but some people fainted and many people cried. âDespite the fact that complaints have been made to the authorities, there has been no responseâ to the incident, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
A similar attack took place last year at a GLBT festival in the town of La Blanca.
-Assistance: Bill Kelley