Monday 31 March 2008

Top European mayors invited to Moscow Gay Pride

GayRussia reports that three of Europe’s leading mayors, two of them openly gay, have been invited to attend this year’s Moscow Pride.

Mayors Bertrand Delanoë (Paris), Ken Livingstone (London) and Klaus Wowereit (Berlin) have all been invited to the Gay Pride and associated conference being held in the Russian capital on May 30 and 31. Organisers are confident their presence will have an important symbolic influence.

“You always support the fundamental right of homosexual people to openly manifest and to publicly express themselves,” they say in their letter to the city halls.

“All of you also regularly take part in Gay Pride parades in your own cities.”

“Taking into account the bans of the public Pride events in the Russian capital in 2006 and 2007, we are not sure that Mayor Luzhkov will permit Gay Pride manifestation this year,” they point out.

“Please take part in our conference and rally,” the organisers ask.

It is not known whether they accepted an invitation or would be able to attend. It would have been superb to see them directly joining Russia’s gay community in their fight for equality. However, I expect that politics and diplomacy via ‘technical’ difficulties will make it impossible. In case of London mayor, I suppose, the situation is complicated by mayoral elections scheduled on 1 May ( In fact, it features openly gay candidate Brian Paddick, one of London’s former police chiefs, although the latest poll showed him on the 3rd place). In any case, it’s a good PR move from Russian gay activists. Well done!

In past, these European mayors voiced their support for Gay Pride organisers in Moscow and condemned Moscow mayor Luzhkov’s decision to ban Gay Pride celebrations. Luzhkov is known for his extreme homophobic rhetoric. He once called Gay Pride “a satanic gathering”.

*photo by GayRussia

Thursday 27 March 2008

Gay Kurds in Turkey unfold rainbow flag and demand not only political freedom

A Diyarbakir “Outing”: “What are Gays Doing at Newroz?”

Bianet reports

A group of gay and lesbian Kurds in Diyarbakir decided that this year’s Newroz would not only be a call for political freedom, but also an honest declaration of their sexual identity.

Newroz is a political arena in Diyarbakir, the predominantly Kurdish city in the southeast of Turkey. We, a group of gays and lesbians of Diyarbakir, used to go as heterosexuals, shout our conflicting demands for freedom, dance, and celebrate with our heterosexual friends, saying “Newroz piroz be,” “Happy Newroz.”

In our heads there was always the question, “why, when everyone is demanding freedom, does my most basic right to life seem so frightening to people?”

Rainbow flag at Newroz

…This year, a lot changed in Diyarbakir.

Like everyone else, we were very excited about this year’s Newroz. Why? Because our group of gays decided to go to the celebrations as Piramid GL Diyarbakir. Although we would not be shouting slogans, we would unfold our rainbow flag in front of such a big crowd for the first time.

Worrying about some people’s reactions, we went to the Newroz site. And among the surprised looks of people around us, we also shouted for freedom, and we also waved our flag.

Surprise and heckling
…We started dancing, and as we got more excited, some of the surprised looks turned to attitudes of ridicule.

As time went on, more and more people noticed our flag and we became the focus of attention.

One person said aloud, “That’s the gay flag, what is that doing here?” While we were dancing, we overheard someone near us warn his friends “not to join those guys.” Others said things like, “Diyarbakir has become spoilt,” or “We should throw you into that Newroz fire,” and “Why are you here?”

Positive reactions
On the other hand, we also had positive experiences, like the people congratulating us and those telling us insistently “how much we respect you.”
Even if some people were made uncomfortable by our visibility, this time we transformed those negative attitudes into a positive energy, we danced and thus asked for freedom for ourselves.

We knew that we were only a handful of homosexuals in a crowd of hundreds of thousands, but we felt like a crowd, too.

We left the Newroz site with great honour and smiles on our face, having represented the gay and lesbian community of Diyarbakir. Newroz piroz be.

*photo via Bianet

Sunday 23 March 2008

Greek bloggers against discrimination

Unzipped: Gay Armenia expresses its support and solidarity with Greek bloggers in their fight against discrimination

A few weeks ago the Greek Ministry of Justice has announced their intention to present a new bill in Parliament that will introduce a domestic partnership contract exclusively for unmarried heterosexual couples. This discriminatory project has been widely denounced not just by the LGBT community, but also Greek citizens from all walks of life who believe that it violates the Equality clause enshrined in our constitution, as well as the country’s European commitments.

As a reaction to the proposed bill the association OLKE (Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece) has announced its intention to pursue the country’s first same-sex civil wedding, noting that the current law does not refer to the sex of the participants. A female couple will present themselves to the town-hall of Kesariani (a municipality adjoining Athens) and ask the mayor to officialise their union. The mayor of Kesariani has declared that he will go on with the wedding provided he gets a favourable ruling from the State Legal Council. In Thessaloniki a male couple will try to do the same.

On Monday the 17th of March a blogger initiative under the collective title “Greek Bloggers Against Discrimination” has started its own campaign against the proposed legislation with the coordinated publication of an online protest entitled “A domestic partnership that discriminates? No Thanks”. Below you can read the full text of this online protest in English. For a full list of the 200 weblogs that have signed on this initiative, you can visit here.


In Greece gays, lesbians and transexuals know about discrimination. They face it daily from their families, in their social lives and in the professional field.

But sometimes, all it takes is a single straw to break the camel's back.

According to press reports, the greek government is preparing to introduce a domestic partnership 'contract' EXCLUSIVELY for unmarried heterosexual couples. We do not believe that a mere 'contract' can resolve the issues same-sex couples face or ensure their fair treatment under the law. However this discriminatory proposal is a direct contravention of the greek Constitution, as well as european human rights treaties. Especially since same-sex couples already enjoy legal rights in 18 european nations.

The aim of this intervention is to make sure that european institutions, human rights organisations, websites and weblogs from around the world learn about these proposals. What we ask for is equal rights for all. Nothing more and nothing less.

This time around we will not sit idly by. This time around we will not keep silent.


Tuesday 18 March 2008

AGLA NY Calls on Armenian Government to Account for March Events

New York City
March 13th, 2008

AGLA NY, the New York Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association, calls on the Armenian government to restore complete freedom of the press and expression in Armenia.

The troubling events in Armenia, as well as indications that this month's elections may not reflect the will of the people, are of great concern to us.

The deaths of 8 individuals in clashes related to the post-election demonstrations in Republic Square has worried and shocked Armenians around the world. We ask for an accurate account of the events in post-election Armenia.

We, the grandchildren of those who suffered the torments of the Armenian Genocide, call on the Government of Armenia to rule in a fair and democratic way befitting a modern, secular, democratic state and to build an open and free society that Armenians around the world can be proud of.

NB: AGLA NY's goal is to provide a forum for Armenian LGBT people to meet and express themselves freely, as well as to fight for the human rights of Armenian and non-Armenian LGBT people everywhere. AGLA NY is part of a worldwide network of Armenian LGBT associations that include Boston, Los Angeles, Montreal, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney and Toronto. Please visit our web site at and our blog at:

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Discrimination against gay Armenians: US State Department Human Rights Report 2007

The US State Department issued its annual Human Rights Report for 2007( today, March 11, 2008.

Although concerning Armenia ( the report is limited to last year, and does not include the most recent developments, the report's findings are significant:

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2008 -- Armenia's record on human rights remained poor during 2007, according to the U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights around the world. First, the document said, parliamentary elections last spring didn't meet world standards. The report, issued today, also says security forces sometimes beat those they had arrested, and some arrests were made arbitrarily. The government also imposed restrictions on privacy, religious expression, the news media and freedom of assembly, the document says. Meanwhile, the report says, the Armenian government didn't enforce laws against violence against women, human trafficking and harassment of homosexuals.

R. G.

Below is an extract from the Report describing specifically discrimination against LGBT people in Armenia.

Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Persons who were openly gay were exempted from military service, purportedly because of concerns that they would be abused by fellow servicemen. However, the legal pretext for this exemption is predicated on a medical finding of gays possessing a mental disorder, which is stamped in their passports and can affect their future. Local observers noted that unlike in previous years, there were no reported cases of police harassment of homosexuals through blackmail, extortion, or violence. Nevertheless, societal attitudes and harassment towards homosexuality remained severe, and hampered homosexuals' access to medical care.

Many employers reportedly discriminated against potential employees by age, most commonly requiring that job applicants be between the ages of 18 and 30. After the age of 40, workers, particularly women, had little chance of finding jobs that were appropriate to their education or skills.