Thousands march in Budapest
More than 2,000 people took part in Budapest’s “Gay Dignity” march Sept. 5, with a massive security detail on hand to keep protesters, seen in years past, at bay.
No protesters were seen in the Hungarian capital, as security managed to keep away anyone attempting to disrupt the march. But security came with a price, as there were also no well-wishers along the march route. Onlookers were kept at least a block away from the march for safety reasons.
Prior to the march setting off, representatives of the International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe addressed the marchers.
“The reason we are here today is to let you know that you are not alone in your struggle for equality and respect ... and your struggle against violence and intimidation,” said Juris Lavrikovs, a Latvian based in ILGA-Europe’s Brussels headquarters. “Let’s march with pride, dignity and determination. Let’s show Hungary and the whole of Europe that violence, threats and intimidation will not defeat us.”
Nurse to Obama: annihilate gays
A male nurse in Australia who called for “a world free of homosexuals” was suspended from practice on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland pending determination that he is fit for the job.
Matthew George Price, who declared himself a “cured” homosexual, published an antigay letter in the alumni newsletter of Xavier College in New South Wales in April. The letter mentioned a campaign against same-sex relationships in which Price claimed he had appealed to President Obama by letter.
“My biggest push has been in the United States of America,” wrote Price. “The country needs as much help as possible at the moment — change will happen. Then hopefully it will spread around the world.”
The Queensland Nursing Council suspended Price, although a spokesperson declined to elaborate on the reason for the suspension, referring only to a section of the nursing code that concerns a nurse’s “health, conduct or competence.”
India to host trans pageant
About 150 transgender contestants will congregate in Chennai, India, when the city hosts the first Miss India contest for transgenders on Dec. 19.
The Chennai-based Indian Community Welfare Organization is in talks with NGOs and AIDS-service organizations across the country to organize the pageant, which it hopes will help strengthen the community’s network and fight social stigma.
Besides the top title, there would be contests for Miss Beautiful Hair, Miss Beautiful Eyes and Miss Beautiful Skin. People from different walks of life would occupy the judges’ chairs.
Participants can enroll themselves individually or through organizations. The only qualification for participation is being transgender.
The organizers plan to present health-awareness programs, since the community has been found to be a high-risk group in the HIV/AIDS index.
Community members are visibly thrilled. The country’s first transgender television host, Rose, said such events go a long way in motivating transgenders to look and feel good.
“A lot of men and women turn up as [the] audience for such events and that gives a boost to the transgenders’ self-esteem. And of course, there is a glamour element to the event,” said Rose, who was runner-up in a 2007 Chennai pageant. “That was the first time I got onto a stage. It was a challenge, a learning experience. It helped me a lot in what I am today.”
More homophobic attacks in Rome
The gay area of Rome has suffered a number of homophobic attacks in recent weeks, with the latest incident leaving one man injured.
The most recent attack in the Italian capital occurred Sept. 1, when firecrackers were thrown at a bar on San Giovanni in Laterano, known as Gay Street.
Although initial reports said these were bombs, police later maintained they were firecrackers. Witnesses said four men were seen running from the area.
One man was taken to a hospital with a minor injury and a scooter was damaged.
Recently, a lesbian was threatened by a young man on the same street, while a gay male couple was attacked in a separate incident. One man was stabbed and is in serious condition.
In another incident, nightclub Qube, home of the LGBT Muccassassina festival, was targeted by arsonists but was empty at the time.
Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno said the attacks were “extremely worrying” and has promised to increase police presence in the area.
Italy’s largest gay-rights organization, Arcigay, has called for more legal protections for LGBT people and is asking parliament to urgently expand existing laws. It is currently organizing marches to protest for new rights. Italy’s hate-crime laws do not mention homophobia, something for which LGBT groups have been campaigning for years.
Gay man to train as minister
A Church of Scotland presbytery has nominated an openly gay man to begin training as a minister.
The unnamed gay man, who is in a civil partnership, was nominated Sept. 1 by Hamilton Presbytery, the third largest in Scotland.
The church narrowly avoided a schism earlier this year with the ordination of Scott Rennie, who lives with his male partner.
Although Rennie’s congregation overwhelmingly supported him, the appointment caused deep divisions. The General Assembly voted to allow his appointment to stand but placed a two-year moratorium on ordaining new gay ministers.
A report on the issue will be presented in 2011 by a special committee, after which a decision on the church’s stance on gay ministers will be made.
Church officials said candidates should “not suffer prejudice” before the special commission presents the findings of its report.
They also stressed that training does not guarantee a job as a minister.
Advice from the Ministries Council, an internal body that supports potential trainees, said they should be aware the group may decide against ordaining gay ministers in 2011, although they should not be deterred from applying.
The man had initially been told by the Hamilton Presbytery Committee to wait until 2011 to apply for training, but this decision was changed at the last minute. It has been suggested the man took legal advice over his application.
A spokesperson for the Church of Scotland said human-rights legislation meant applicants were legally entitled to training.
The man’s nomination will now be subject to a 10-day appeal window, in which opponents can submit complaints.
Some have already voiced their dissent, including the Rev. Ian Wilson, former head of the evangelical group Forward Together, which was forced to apologize after spreading malicious rumors about Rennie.
Wilson wrote on his blog: “They are, in effect, saying that being a practicing homosexual is not a bar to training for the ministry. One must ask the question: What kind of decisions relating to human sexuality are prohibited if nominating is not?”
Editor resigns over gay allegations
The editor of Italy’s national Catholic newspaper has resigned after “defamatory” media attacks claimed he was gay.
Dino Buffo, editor of Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, had criticized Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for his “immoral” lifestyle.
Berlusconi has been plagued in recent months by allegations of extra-marital affairs and his wife, Veronica Lario, filed for divorce earlier this year.
The attacks on Buffo’s character were led by Vittorio Feltri, editor of Il Giornale, which is owned by the Berlusconi family.
In a front-page campaign, Il Giornale claimed Buffo was gay and had been involved in a scandal with an alleged male lover in 2004.
According to the newspaper, Buffo paid a fine for allegedly harassing a woman over the telephone. It alleged she was the wife of his lover.
Buffo has admitted to being fined in the case but denied he was sexually involved with the man.
In a rebuttal published this week in Avvenire, he said the slurs had ruined his family and “violated” his life. He added that he was resigning to protect his family.
Buffo has been backed by the Vatican, which issued an immediate statement supporting him.
Although both the Vatican and Berlusconi’s government had denied rumors of a rift, plans for a meeting in the papal city of Viterbo this weekend between the prime minister and the pope were cancelled.
Berlusconi is currently suing at least two Italian and two foreign newspapers for their coverage of the scandals surrounding him.