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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay Sex Now Legal in All of Europe
and more World News
by REX WOCKNER
2003-08-06

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Gay sex is now legal everywhere in Europe. Armenia was the last European nation to criminalize homosexuality. Its new penal code, which took effect Aug. 1, lifted the ban.

'For the first time in many centuries, and probably since the enactment of Byzantine Emperor Justinian's legal code in the 6th Century AD, there will be no part of Europe where lesbians, gays and bisexuals face a threat of criminal prosecution simply because of their love for a person of the same sex,' said the International Lesbian & Gay Association's European branch. Fifty years ago, two-thirds of today's 48 European nations criminalized either gay-male sex or both gay and lesbian sex.

ILGA said the two most important factors in the demise of gay-sex bans were a 1981 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the bans violated the European Convention on Human Rights, and 'the fall of the Iron Curtain and the subsequent accession of the countries of Central and East Europe to the Council of Europe and to the European Convention.' Armenia was among the nations that were required to decriminalize gay sex as a precondition of being allowed to join the Council of Europe.

'This is an important milestone in the achievement of LGBT rights in Europe,' said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Ailsa Spindler. 'But it is just the beginning. A number of countries—Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Serbia/Montenegro and the United Kingdom—still have discriminatory provisions in the criminal law. Thirty-three European countries provide no legal recognition whatsoever for same-sex partners. And, of course, legal equality is itself only one element in the fight against discrimination.'

While Armenia falls outside the usual geographical definition of Europe, it is generally accepted as falling within the political concept of Europe, as exemplified by its Council of Europe membership.

POLICE MARCH IN LONDON

Gay cops in uniform led London's gay-pride parade July 26. About 80 officers marched.

A post-march festival in Hyde Park attracted 60,000 partygoers, and performers Bananarama, Dead or Alive and Soft Cell. In a video address to festival attendees, Britain's top cop, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens, urged gays and lesbians to become police officers.

'One way of reducing anti-gay hate crime is to contribute as a member of the MPS staff,' Stevens said. 'I would encourage and positively welcome you to come and see if this is a career for you.

'We recognize that crimes against gay people are often not reported to police and that historically the gay community may not have felt confidence in us,' Stevens said. 'We're committed to changing this.'

The parade began at Victoria embankment in central London and passed the House of Commons, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square.

TEL AVIV EXTENDS BENEFITS

Tel Aviv announced July 30 that same-sex couples will have access to city-provided spousal benefits such as discounts at municipal cultural and sports events.

To be eligible, gay couples must present an affidavit declaring they live together.


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