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News Roundup
2004-04-01

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The National Latina Lesbian Health Summit presented by LLEGĂ, the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization is the first of its kind, in Washington, D.C., April 22-25, 2004 with sexual minority women from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. www.llego.org .

Massachusetts State Rep. Cheryl Rivera of Springfield was so caught up in the drama of the debate over same-sex marriage that she came out publicly for the first time, reports the Boston Phoenix.

Longtime Spanish gay activist Jordi Petit, a former secretary general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, has received the Catalonia Institute of Human Rights' 27th annual Solidarity Prize. The award was presented in the Catalonian Parliament in Barcelona by Parliament President Ernest Benach and Justice Councilor Josep Maria Vallés. 'I understand that this award, which I proudly receive for my work, is a recognition of the volunteers in the GLBT movement over these 26 years of democracy in Spain,' Petit said.

Famed gay Spanish movie director Pedro Almodovar has been threatened with a 'slander and libel' lawsuit by Spain's outgoing conservative government, which was ousted in the March 14 elections. Speaking March 17 at a movie screening, Almodovar said: 'We have to understand something terrifying. The PP [the Popular Party, the conservatives] was about to, at midnight Saturday, bring about a coup d'etat. I don't want to be polite or delicate — I'm not trying to throw stones—but you have to see how the PP has been operating.' Almodovar was referring to a rumor that the night before the election, the PP asked King Juan Carlos to postpone the voting in the wake of the March 11 terrorist bombings of Madrid trains, which killed 201 people and injured 1,500. The PP has called the rumor a 'colossal lie.' The bombings have been widely credited with turning the tide against the PP, which had been expected to win re-election, in favor of the Socialist Workers Party. Outgoing PP Prime Minister Jose Mari­a Aznar has strongly supported the United States' war in Iraq despite polling showing that a majority of Spaniards do not. That support has been blamed for the train bombings, which are believed to have been carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

Reuters reports that Spain will legalize gay unions, although it may not call them marriages, incoming prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said. He did not set a time-frame for the move. 'We are going to present a bill to set gay unions on the same footing as marriage,' he said in an interview on Spain's Telecinco TV channel.

In advance of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Human Rights (HRC) vote to adopt a ground-breaking resolution on human rights and sexual orientation, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is urging members to take action and write Secretary of State Colin Powell, asking the U.S. government to support and co-sponsor the landmark Brazil resolution at the Commission's upcoming 60th Session. When the Brazil resolution was introduced for the first time last year, the U.S. took the position that it would abstain on a final vote. If the U.S. fails to support the resolution this year it will likely distinguish itself as the only Western country to not vote in favor of the resolution. 'With 330,000 members and hundreds of student and community groups signed up to work on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the U.S. alone, Amnesty International is in a unique position to mobilize activists and supporters around this issue,' said Michael Heflin, director of AIUSA's OUTfront program on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights. 'The U.S. government needs to know that its constituents care about human rights, and that they are demanding that the U.S. government uphold the principle of the universality of human rights by the supporting the human rights of all people—including those persecuted on the basis of

their sexual orientation.'

The UN Commission on Human Rights will meet through April 23 in Geneva, Switzerland. to deliberate on the human-rights conditions in countries around the world and vote on resolutions submitted by UN member states, including the Brazil resolution. The resolution, presented by Brazil and co-sponsored by at least 20 countries, is the first to focus specifically on human rights abuses based on sexual

orientation. Millions of people across the globe face imprisonment, torture, violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. See the following Web site for details: takeaction.amnestyusa.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=10656

Chicago-based writer Carlos T. Mock hosts a booksigning for Borrowing Time: a Latino Sexual Odyssey Saturday, April 10 at 2 p.m., Gerber/Hart Library, 1127 W. Granville, (773) 381-8030 The book is available for order. See www.floricantopress.com/borrowing_time.htm, or www.Amazon.com, www.Borders.com, www.Barnesandnoble.com . Borrowing Time is a book that is hard to put down once you start reading it. It's ALIVE; it takes you to the depths of the soul and to the extremes of erotic fantasies.


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