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  WINDY CITY TIMES

World News
by REX WOCKNER
2003-04-09

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Lesbians March in Mexico City
Around 1,500 women turned out for Mexico City's First Lesbian March on March 21.

They walked from the city's famous Monument to the Revolution to the Zócalo, the nation's political epicenter, chanting, 'We aren't five, we aren't ten, fucking government, count us right!' ('¡No somos cinco, no somos diez, pinche gobierno, cuéntanos bien!')

'[At the end], we started running towards the Zócalo and took over almost the entire magnificent plaza,' said marcher Monica Taher of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 'We hugged, screamed and listened to the organizers speak.'

The organizers said Mexican lesbian-feminists need to create autonomous spaces in which they can work without compromising their ethics to build a society that is critical of heterosexism, neoliberalism and other fundamentalisms.

POLICE RAID LEBANESE CLUB

Police raided the Beirut, Lebanon, gay club Acid March 29.

Some of the patrons reported being beaten with plastic whips.

About 10 people were arrested—effeminate men and people whose clothing, tattoos or piercings signaled to police that they were devil-worshippers, according to local reports.

Another 30 individuals had their state IDs confiscated and had to retrieve them from a police station.

GAY ACTOR COMMITS SUICIDE

Hong Kong singer and actor Leslie Cheung, known to Western gays for the 1997 film Happy Together, committed suicide March 31 by jumping from Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Cheung, 46, left a note in Chinese which read, in part: 'Depression! Thank you to all my friends. Thank you to Prof. Mike [his psychiatrist]. This year has been tough, I can't stand it anymore. Thank you Mr. Tong [his husband]. Thank you to my family. Thank you to fat sister. I have not done one single bad thing in my life, why is it like that?'

The Hong Kong daily newspaper The Standard said Cheung may have been having problems with his partner, Daffy Tong. But Tong later told reporters the situation wasn't that simple.

'There were problems in his career. Many things. It's complicated,' he said.

Cheung's best-known movie outside of Asia was Farewell My Concubine.

AUSSIE PREMIER VOTED SEXIEST

The head of the Australian state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, was named one of the sexiest men alive by the gay magazine DNA this month.

Premier Steve Bracks, a married father of three, shared the honor with Australian actor Hugh Jackman, underwear model Travis Fimmel and others.

ITALIAN CITY ELECTS GAY MAYOR

The Italian city of Gela, Sicily, elected a gay mayor in mid-March.

Rosario Crocetta actually had lost the election last May, by 107 votes. He challenged the outcome in court and now has been declared the winner.

'I will struggle against marginalization of every kind,' Crocetta told London's The Independent.

GAY IRAQI BLOGGER HAS LARGE FOLLOWING

A gay atheist in Baghdad has acquired a worldwide following via his blog (Web log).

Salam Pax, a 28-year-old architect, is receiving tens of thousands of hits daily at www.dearraed.blogspot.com .

'How could 'support democracy in Iraq' become to mean 'bomb the hell out of Iraq'?' Pax wrote in one entry. 'Nobody minded an undemocratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! How thoughtful.'

In another entry, he stated: 'There are no waving masses of people welcoming the Americans nor are they surrendering by the thousands. People are ... sitting in their homes hoping that a bomb doesn't fall on them.'

ALBERTA GAYS WIN SETTLEMENT

Thirteen gay couples won $2,000 (US$1,340) each from the Canadian province of Alberta March 25 because the health ministry refused to let them pay family health-insurance premiums under the government health plan.

Following an earlier ruling by the provincial human-rights commission, the couples received refunds of the money they spent paying premiums as individuals instead of as families.

But the commission did not award general damages, so the couples filed an appeal which ended with the $2,000 settlements.

In the meantime, Alberta's legislature extended the rights, obligations and benefits of common-law marriage to same-sex couples.

PAPER BANNED OVER GAY ALLEGATIONS

Tongan king Taufa'ahau Tupou IV banned the Times of Tonga newspaper because it reported that the nation's leaders practice sodomy, Police Minister Clive Edwards told the Supreme Court in late March.

The king prohibited the paper from publishing and forbade Tongans from possessing it, saying it was seditious and promoted violence and disorder.

'They are saying that the leaders of this country are sodomites and poofters, that the leaders are sodomizing each other ... without mentioning any names ... which means that people might think that any of the leaders could be doing that,' Edwards shouted.

The newspaper is seeking an interim injunction to lift the ban.

KOREAN COMMISSION RULES FOR GAYS

South Korea's National Human Rights Commission agreed with gay activists April 1 that gay Web sites should not be classified as harmful to youths.

The commission urged the National Commission on Youth Protection to remove gay sites from its list of dangerous sites.

South Korea blocks numerous gay Web sites under youth-protections laws that also ban sites concerned with orgies, incest, masochism, sadism, prostitution and other sexual behaviors.

Governments around the world are coming to see homosexuality as normal, the commission said, and blocking gay Web sites infringes constitutional rights to happiness, equality and free expression.

S.A. MOMS ARE LEGAL PARENTS

South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled March 28 that a lesbian couple who utilized artificial insemination are the 'legitimate' parents of their year-and-a-half-old twins.

The court said Section 5 of the Children's Status Act was unconstitutional in not recognizing same-sex couples as legitimate parents. South Africa's constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The women obtained sperm from an anonymous donor and the fertilized ova from one woman were implanted in the other woman. The Department of Home Affairs had refused to register both women as the twins' parents.

TATCHELL OFF HOOK

British police let gay activist Peter Tatchell off the hook April 2.

Tatchell was arrested March 12 for blocking and damaging Prime Minister Tony Blair's limousine in a one-man protest over the war in Iraq.

'The police must have viewed the television footage and decided there was no case to answer,' Tatchell said. 'Yet again I walk away a free man. It is amazing that after nearly 1,500 human-rights protests over the last 38 years I have only one conviction.'

Tatchell managed to stop Blair's limo for two minutes. When he was finally hauled away, the car's front license plate was left hanging by one screw.

GAY BOOKSTORE IN SOUTH AFRICA

Africa's first gay bookstore has opened in Johannesburg. Ultra Violet Book Café is located at 2nd Avenue and Main Road in the Melville neighborhood.

'There are books for everyone—gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgendered people and anyone interested in gender politics and sexual identity,' owner Michelle Kneisel told the gay newspaper Exit.

'I envisage that Ultra Violet Book Café will become a central point for the gay community, a safe place for us to gather and network,' she said.


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