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World News
by Rex Wockner

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Moscow Pride: 6th time's a charm?

Gay activists will try again next month to stage a gay pride march in Moscow.

This time, they are armed with a final ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that previous years' bans by the ex-mayor and the city were illegal.

Last October, the ECHR determined that the bans placed Russia in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.

The Russian government appealed the ruling to a higher chamber of the court, where the "referral request" was "rejected" April 11, according to the court's website.

"The Court's Chamber judgment of 21 October 2010 has thereby become final," the court's registrar reported.

On April 12, Moscow Pride applied to the police department and mayor's office for permission to hold this year's march.

The group asked to hold a "mass cultural and educational event" this time rather than a "political rally" -- which had been banned each of the past five years.

"I really hope that this time common sense will finally prevail and our gay pride events will not be banned by authorities," co-organizer Nikolai Baev told UK Gay News and "It's enough of such a madness (as) bans, arrests, riots and so on. I think that nobody is interested in such ... things except extreme right groups."

Previous years' unsanctioned events were attacked by anti-gay hooligans, picketed by religious protesters and broken up by riot police.

Indian Supreme Court considers ruling that legalized gay sex

India's Supreme Court was scheduled on April 19 to begin hearing 15 separate appeals of the Delhi High Court ruling that struck down the nation's ban on gay sex in July 2009.

The appeals were launched by various groups and individuals. Other groups have intervened to support the decision, including famed filmmaker Shyam Benegal, a group of 19 parents with gay children, a group of 16 academics and teachers, and a group of 14 mental health professionals.

"All these have been admitted into the case, which goes a considerable way towards balancing the 15 petitions opposing us, most of them from extremist religious groups," said activist Vikram Doctor.

The government did not appeal the decision.

In striking down the ban nationally, the High Court "read down" Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code so that it no longer applies to the activities of consenting adults. The section bans "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" under penalty of 10 years to life in prison.

The court said 377 violated a constitutional guarantee of equality under the law, a constitutional ban on discrimination based on sex, and constitutional promises of personal liberty and protection of life.

"Section 377 IPC targets the homosexual community as a class and is motivated by an animus towards this vulnerable class of people," the court wrote. "It has no other purpose than to criminalize conduct which fails to conform with the moral or religious views of a section of society."

Given India's population of 1.2 billion people, the High Court's decision had the effect of decriminalizing 17 percent of all LGB people on the planet.

Gay groups denounce draft Hungarian Constitution

Hungary's Parliament was scheduled to vote April 18 on a new national constitution that LGBT groups say is problematic.

ILGA-Europe -- the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association -- said the draft defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and omits sexual orientation from an anti-discrimination provision's list of banned grounds of discrimination.

"Such a restrictive definition (of marriage) clearly shows that Hungary wants to institutionalize homophobia in its supreme law," ILGA-Europe said. "While Hungary already has registered-partnership legislation for same-sex partners, such a constitutional provision, if adopted, will mean that same-sex partners will be deprived from enjoying full legal equality as different-sex partners. Additionally, (it) would create serious restrictions in terms of the implementation of the (European Union) free-movement directive as same-sex partners married in other EU countries would not be recognized as married in Hungary."

The co-chair of ILGA-Europe's board, Martin K.I. Christensen, said "the proposed draft signals a worrying sign of Hungary's departure from the EU principles of equality and nondiscrimination for all, and from European legal traditions."

He called on EU institutions "to interfere with what appears to be a conscious move against principles of equality and nondiscrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU freedom of movement directive."

Euro Parliament scolds Macedonia

In adopting its annual report on Macedonia's progress toward joining the European Union, the European Parliament on April 7 told the nation to legally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Such a ban is a requirement of EU membership.

The parliament called for "the swift alignment of national provisions in this field with (EU law) and for strengthening of the monitoring mechanisms."

MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: "Nondiscrimination is a fundamental right in the EU. Macedonia must stop averting its eyes from minorities, and provide full protection to all citizens without exception."

Intergroup Co-President Michael Cashman added: "There is literally no way around this. Entering the European Union will require amending the anti-discrimination law."

Dutch university gives transgender man new diploma

The president of the executive board of the University of Amsterdam, Karel van der Toorn, presented transgender activist and alumnus Justus Eisfeld with a new diploma reflecting his correct gender April 6 in New York City.

Van der Toorn was in New York, where Eisfeld works for Global Action for Trans Equality, on a business trip.

Eisfeld underwent gender transition after graduation from the university.

Approval to issue the revised diploma came in November via a ruling from the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission.

The decision also applies to other Dutch transgender people.

Assistance: Bill Kelley

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