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Lithuania considers antigay school law

The Lithuanian Parliament is set to introduce a law to prohibit the discussion of homosexuality in schools, similar to a law in Britain that for years hampered the ability of teachers to discuss sexuality or help gay students.

On June 3, the Lithuanian Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of moving forward to a final vote on an amendment to the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.

If passed, the amendment will make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in schools and bans any reference to it in public information that can be viewed by children.

Controversially, the proposed amendment classes homosexuality alongside the portrayal of physical or psychological violence, displaying a dead or mutilated body, information that arouses fear or horror, or that encourages self-abuse or suicide.

British human-rights activist Peter Tatchell criticized the proposed law.

“This legislation is homophobic discrimination,” he said. “As such, it clearly violates the European Convention on Human Rights and the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights. It also violates the equality and antidiscrimination clauses of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Lithuania has signed up to these international humanitarian declarations but it is now defying them. It wants the rights of E.U. and U.N. membership, but not the responsibilities.”

If passed into law, Lithuania could be in breach of the statement that it signed at the U.N. General Assembly last year that guaranteed human rights to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Domestic-violence law to include gays

The Hong Kong government has announced that its Domestic Violence Ordinance will have an amendment to include same-sex couples.

Following consultations, the new laws on domestic violence will remove all references to marriage or gender and refer to “cohabitation partnerships.”

However, Matthew Cheung Kin-Chung, the Minister for Labor and Welfare, said the amendment “will not affect the government’s policy stance of not recognizing same-sex marriage, civil partnership or any same-sex relationship as a matter of legal status, nor will it involve or affect other existing legislation.”

Last August, the government extended the scope of the law to include former spouses, former heterosexual cohabitants and other immediate and extended family members.

Gay penguins raise chick

A German zoo says a pair of gay male penguins are raising a chick from an egg abandoned by its parents.

Bremerhaven Zoo veterinarian Joachim Schoene said the egg was placed in the male penguins’ nest after its parents rejected it in late April. The males incubated it for some 30 days before it hatched and have continued to care for it. The chick’s gender is not yet known.

Schoene said the male birds, named Z and Vielpunkt, are one of three same-sex pairs among the zoo’s 20 Humboldt penguins that have attempted to mate.

Homosexual behavior has been documented in many animal species, including penguins.

The zoo said in a statement that “sex and coupling in our world don’t always have something to do with reproduction.”

Drag queens featured in gum ads

A new promotion for Stride Gum will feature drag queens performing a dance-off during the Toronto Pride festival on June 21.

After dancing in front of a panel of judges at Woody’s, a Toronto gay bar, one drag queen will be crowned Miss Stride, winning $1,000 and the opportunity to dance on top of the Stride Gum Uber Bubble Float for the entire parade route.

The contest is Stride Gum’s way of introducing its new flavor, Uber Bubble, to Toronto’s revelers.

Stride is owned by the British candy company Cadbury.

Moscow mayor taken to court

Russian gay-rights activists are taking Moscow’s homophobic mayor to court for saying that gay people undermine a morally healthy society.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov officially banned Slavic Pride from marching at the same time as the city hosted the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. He had described them as satanic.

“Our society has healthy morals and rejects all these queers,” Luzhkov said. “If you even imagine that they get permission to hold their parade and gather, they will simply be killed.”

Nikolai Alexeyev of GayRussia said his lawyers would present a case to a Moscow court and hopes to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Alexeyev said the case is primarily about raising awareness.

After British gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell was among a number of marchers arrested during Slavic Pride, Alexeyev said the city’s mayor “has done more than anyone to publicize gay rights in Russia.”

“We ought to give Luzhkov an award,” he said. “His violation of our right to protest has given us a remarkable platform, with days of free publicity about lesbian and gay human rights. It is the equivalent of about 200 million rubles [nearly $6.5 million] in free advertising.”

Scottish hate-crime law to protect gays

Members of the Scottish Parliament have voted to pass legislation to protect gay, trans and disabled people from hate crimes.

The new law means targeting victims because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or disability will become an aggravating factor and is likely to lead to heavier sentences. It is also hoped the legislation will encourage more victims of hate crimes to come forward.

Patrick Harvie, a Scottish Green Parliament Member who is openly gay, proposed the Sentencing of Offences Aggravated by Prejudice Bill.

Despite concerns from the Conservatives that it could create a “two-tier justice system,” the law passed unanimously.

Scotland already took into account crimes motivated by religious or racial hatred, but the new law will bring it in line with the rest of the U.K.

“The issue of hate crime is one which reaches down into every community and affects real lives,” Harvie said. “Although this is a small step in the right direction, we should be glad we are able to take it.”

He added that the law was no “silver bullet,” but was a “necessary part of the overall picture” for tackling prejudice and hate crimes.

It is estimated that one in five lesbians and gays have been the victim of a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years.

Chef slammed for ‘lesbian pig’ slur

TV chef Gordon Ramsay has been criticized after calling a leading Australian journalist a “lesbian pig.”

He made the comment while giving a demonstration at a food show in Melbourne, Australia.

He allegedly told his audience that “A Current Affair” presenter Tracy Grimshaw, who interviewed him on June 5, was “a lesbian” and “an ugly old pig.” He then showed the audience an image of a woman doctored with the features of a pig.

“That’s Grimshaw,” he told the audience. “Holy crap. She needs to see a Botox doctor.”

The chef continued to attack Grimshaw, saying “What? I’m not saying she’s a dyke. That’s Tracy Grimshaw. I had an interview with her yesterday. Holy crap. She needs to see Simon Cowell’s Botox doctor.”

In response, Grimshaw said Ramsay always had fair and generous treatment on “A Current Affair.”

“Truly, I wonder how many people would laugh if they were effectively described as ‘an old ugly pig,’” she said. “How is that funny exactly? And worse, it’s not even witty. I spent all yesterday considering how to respond and I honestly thought about saying nothing at all, but we all know bullies thrive when no one takes them on. And I’m not going to sit meekly and let some arrogant narcissist bully me.”

Grimshaw added, “Obviously, Gordon thinks that any woman that doesn’t find him attractive must be gay. For the record, I don’t and I’m not.”

Larry Nichols can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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