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Pride fests march across Europe

Tens of thousands of gay-rights activists demanding rights for same-sex couples marched through the streets of Rome on June 13 in a gay Pride parade.

Smaller marches wound through the capitals of heavily Catholic Poland and Croatia, where counter-demonstrators shouted antigay and nationalist slogans.

In Rome, costumed demonstrators carrying rainbow flags and signs reading “Freedom for all” attacked the conservative government of Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

They demanded rights for same-sex couples and the recognition of gay marriage.

Activists dressed as fake clergy with colorful hats and signs reading “No Vatican” protested what they say is the church’s excessive influence on Italy’s policies.

In Warsaw, hundreds of gay and lesbian activists marched, also calling for legal unions between same-sex couples.

About 1,500 demonstrators marched along Warsaw’s main Marszalkowska Street under escort, police said. Several dozen right-wing youths shouting antigay invectives confronted the parade near the Parliament building, but there was no violence, police said.

Some previous gay demonstrations have been marked by violence.

In Croatia, another mostly Roman-Catholic country, about 500 gay activists marched through Zagreb.

No violence was reported, but about 50 people held a counterdemonstration and shouted antigay slogans. One demonstrator was led away by police after trying to break through a cordon that authorities had created around the parade to protect it.

Trans man hits soccer field

Next season, a 25-year-old trans man will become the first to play competitive football on a men’s team in Australia.

Will, who wouldn’t provide his full name, has been living as a man for the last two years.

“I’m just an ordinary guy who wants to play football, just with slightly different circumstances of how I came to be a guy,” he said. “I thought, well, if fat blokes who are in their 40s are playing football, surely I can. The only thing stopping me is other people’s prejudice.”

Following a meeting with Victorian Country Football League, he was given the go-ahead to join one of their clubs. He hopes to join the Bendigo football league, one of the oldest in Australia.

For insurance purposes, however, he will have to legally amend the gender on his birth certificate to male. Under Victorian law, trans men must have their female reproductive organs removed in order to be legally recognized as male.

To avoid Will encountering discrimination or abuse, VCFL president Glen Scott has pledged to educate players about trans issues.

Trans man suffers miscarriage

A Spanish trans man who was due to give birth to twin boys in September has miscarried.

Ruben Noe Coronado, 25, who was born a woman, had stopped his course of hormone treatments in order to become pregnant via artificial insemination. He had not yet had surgery to remove his female reproductive organs.

He decided to carry the babies himself after his wife was told she could no longer conceive. The two are planning to try again, which means further interruption of his transition.

Last year, Spain passed a law allowing those with “a sexual identity problem” to officially change their sexual status without gender-realignment surgery.

Dutch schools can ban gay teachers

A leaked report from the Dutch government has said that religious schools can refuse to employ gay teachers.

The report came from the Council of State, the highest advisory body to the Dutch government. It said that religious schools can exclude gay teachers if their behavior is contrary to school beliefs, regardless of whether it is outside the classroom.

The advisory paper, which had been prepared for the government, was leaked to a newspaper with Christian values.

Although it said schools must not discriminate, the report said they have the right to demand “explicit loyalty” from staff with regard to school culture. The vast majority of religious schools are, like non-denominational schools, state-funded.

In April, a gay-male teacher in the village of Emst was suspended after he spoke to fellow staff members at the school where he worked about being in a relationship with another man.

According to the school board, his sexual orientation was in conflict with the school’s mission.

The school’s dismissal of the teacher in Emst and the leaked report from the Council of State seem to contradict Article One of the Dutch constitution, which states: “All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.”

The current antidiscrimination law in the Netherlands states that no schools in the country, even religious schools, can allow the “single fact” of a person’s sexuality, race or gender to affect whether they are hired for a position or dismissed.

However, the law currently allows what is known as “additional behavior” to be taken into consideration. If a teacher leads “a certain lifestyle” that his/her school considers contrary to what the institution represents, the teacher could run the risk of dismissal.

While religious schools praised the Council’s report, which has yet to be officially released, gay-rights groups and left-wing parties condemned it.

Spain offers wedding/IVF package

Lesbian couples can now have a Spanish holiday package that includes a marriage ceremony and an insemination treatment.

The lesbian and gay travel agency Rainbow Travel, in collaboration with the Instituto Bernabeu fertility clinic, offers the package.

Following the 2005 ruling that sperm donations in Britain may no longer be made anonymously, an increasing number of lesbians have chosen to receive treatment in fertility clinics in Europe, where the change in the law does not apply.

Although Spain introduced same-sex marriage four years ago, couples seeking fertility treatment there don’t need to be married already. This has led Spain to be considered one of Europe’s most liberal destinations.

“As long as you are in control of your mental faculties, then you can do it,” said Dr. Rafael Bernabeu, founder of the fertility institute.

Bernabeu said more than 30 British women visited his clinic last month, despite the sizeable cost of the treatment. Egg implantations in Spanish clinics start at about $9,800 and can cost up to $16,450, while donor insemination starts at $1,650.

Rainbow also offers to help lesbian couples who want to marry in Spain. However, marriages enacted in Spain are only valid in countries that accept same-sex marriage.

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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