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  WINDY CITY TIMES

World News
by REX WOCKNER
2003-07-09

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ZURICH GAYS REGISTER Same-sex couples began registering their partnerships in Zurich, Switzerland, July 1.

Zurich follows Geneva in setting up a gay partnership registry. Rights are extended in the areas of taxes, inheritance, hospital visits, social security and other matters.

The law was passed by 62 percent of the voters of Zurich canton (province) last September.

The first couple to tie the knot was Ernst Ostertag and Robert Rapp, both 73. They arrived at city hall in a horse-drawn carriage.

'It's really a coronation of everything that the whole community has done in the past 50 years,' Ostertag told Swissinfo.

A national partnership-registration measure is working its way through parliament.

There are three nations that let same-sex couples marry under the ordinary marriage laws: Belgium, Canada and The Netherlands. Several other nations have registered-partnership, civil-union or other laws that give gay couples up to 99 percent of the rights and obligations of marriage: Denmark/ Greenland, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and, in the United States, the state of Vermont. Gay couples have attained some spousal rights in Australia, Austria, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and in four other U.S. states.

Foreign couples can get married in The Netherlands and Canada. The Netherlands has a several-months' residency requirement. In Canada, a foreign couple can buy a marriage license and get married the same day. At the moment, same-sex marriage is available only in the province of Ontario. It will be available nationally shortly.

EUROPEANGLBTs MARCH Police said half a million people turned out for Paris' gay-pride parade June 28, led by openly gay mayor Bertrand Delanoë. Organizers said 700,000 people were present.

A representative of President Jacque Chirac's conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party joined the parade for the first time.

Jean-Luc Romero, the party's openly gay national secretary, told Sky News, 'I have been a militant for gay rights for a long time, so it was natural that I be the first person to represent the UMP at this march.'

Berlin's 25th gay-pride parade attracted 600,000 people to the streets June 28. Openly gay Mayor Klaus Wowereit led the procession, carrying red roses and a pink teddy bear. 'There is no reason to hide,' Wowereit said. 'We have a tolerant atmosphere here in Berlin.'

In Cologne July 6, 650,000 people turned out to watch 40,000 marchers and 90 floats in that city's Christopher Street Day parade.

Berlin Mayor Wowereit made the trip west to join that celebration as well.

About 200,000 people attended Vienna's June 28 pride march—and 200 people marched under heavy police guard in Zagreb, Croatia. Many bystanders disparaged the Croatian group, local reports said.

Numerous other pride parades took place around the globe in late June.

800,000 MARCH IN BRAZIL Police said 800,000 people turned out for São Paulo, Brazil's gay-pride parade June 22 making it one of the largest gay parades in the world, and the largest in the developing world.

The march featured 30 sound trucks and Mayor Marta Suplicy atop a float. The theme was 'constructing homosexual policies.' Activists are keen to pass a partnership bill that has lingered in Congress for several years.

São Paulo has almost 100 gay bars and restaurants and is considered to have Latin America's best gay scene. More than 20 other Brazilian cities also celebrate gay pride.

100 MARCH IN CALCUTTA About 100 gays and crossdressers staged a gay-pride march in Calcutta, India, June 28. Reports said puzzled bystanders stared with curiosity.

One organizer told Reuters, 'We got many emails from gays and lesbians saying they wanted to join the march, but are afraid to come out publicly.'

The cities of Bombay and Bangalore are considered more accepting of gays than Calcutta.

CITY HALL OPEN FOR PRIDE WEDDINGS Toronto City Hall stayed open over gay-pride weekend June 28-29 to issue marriage licenses.

An Ontario provincial court legalized full marriage for same-sex couples June 10 and the weddings began later that day. On June 17, the federal government announced it agreed with the court that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and began the process of changing federal marriage law. Same-sex marriage will be legal coast-to-coast shortly.

There is no residency requirement to get married in Ontario. Americans and other foreigners can buy a license and marry the same day.

Toronto has issued about 255 marriage licenses to same-sex couples so far, 30 of them to Americans.

ISRAELI GAYS MARCH Thousands of GLBTs marched in Jerusalem and Haifa June 20, the Haaretz newspaper reported. It's was Jerusalem's second parade and Haifa's first.

The Jerusalem march started at Safra Square and proceeded through Jaffa Street, Shlomo Hamelech and Agron, ending at Independence Park, the paper said.

There was heavy police presence due to fears that right-wing groups or ultra-Orthodox Jews might disrupt the event. Earlier in the week, the banned, right-wing Kach movement took credit for the destruction of dozens of gay-pride flags that had been put up along the march route.

Interior Minister Avraham Poraz spoke at the post-parade rally and concert. 'I have come to wish you a happy holiday,' he said. 'We are all proud of you.'

In Haifa, marchers set off from the main bus station and proceeded down several central streets, ending at the French Carmel. That parade saw a heavy police presence also. REPORT: ACTOR DE ROSSI TO MARRY Australian actress Portia de Rossi, who played Nelle Porter on TV's Ally McBeal, will marry her girlfriend, Francesca Gregorini, who is Ringo Starr's stepdaughter, The Australian daily newspaper reported June 23. The report said the couple may wed in a few months' time at Gregorini's beach house in Vancouver. By then, Canada is expected to have completed the process of opening up regular marriage to same-sex couples nationally. At present, it is available only in Ontario, following a groundbreaking provincial court ruling June 10.


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