Madrid celebrates gay pride
Madrid Pride took place in the Spanish capital July 3. One of the biggest gay celebrations in Europe, the parade featured more than 30 floats from around the world.
According to thinkspain.com, a double-decker bus representing gay, lesbian and bisexual families also formed part of the march, where same-sex couples of both genders could be seen celebrating with their children.
Spain is one of seven European states that have legalized full gay marriage. According to the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals, since the law was passed five years ago, some 20,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot. Most weddings have taken place in the country’s major metropolitan centers, in particular Madrid and Barcelona.
The march left from the Puerta de Alcalá and finished in the Plaza de España, where Kylie Minogue performed a concert.
Minogue said she was “touched” to be asked to perform.
“For a long time now I have had a special relationship with the gay public and I am pleased that they are counting on me to celebrate such a special occasion,” she said.
Homophobic pol loses prez bid
The homophobic right-wing Polish politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski has lost his bid for president.
The election was called after the death of his twin, the late president Lech Kaczynski, in a plane crash in April.
According to exit polls, interim president Bronislaw Komorowski will take office with 52.63 percent of the vote, while Kaczynski, chair of the Polish Law and Justice Party, won 47.37 percent.
Both Kaczynski brothers have made a number of offensive homophobic remarks over the years, with Jaroslow saying, “The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization.”
Lech had previously been the mayor of Warsaw and reached international notoriety for repeatedly banning gay-pride marches in the city.
Jaroslaw, a former Polish prime minister who lost his post in 2007, was expected to continue his brother’s policies if he won the presidency.
UK considers religious unions
Britain’s government is considering allowing same-sex couples to include religious elements in civil-union ceremonies.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said the government will consider allowing hymn singing and religious readings in gay civil-union ceremonies during a review of gay-equality rights.
The Church of England has already voiced its opposition. Earlier this year, Parliament removed the ban on same-sex unions in churches and other places of worship.
India opens first gay bookstore
India now has its first all-gay bookseller, Queer-Ink.com, an online bookstore, recently launched in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai.
Owner Shobhna Kumar, a lesbian who has worked as a counselor, activist and HIV prevention speaker, describes her reasons for opening the store as “selfish” ones.
“I could not get access to these books and Amazon would not deliver them. I think they wouldn’t get through customs, as they offend Indian sensibilities. There are a few Indian online bookstores, but they take weeks to deliver. I figured other people must be in the same position.”
Queer-Ink.com carries fiction, academic and health books, as well as works on parent-child dynamics, children’s titles and a host of magazines. Erotica is not for sale.
“Gay people want role models, to see their lives reflected in fiction,” Kumar said. “I think one would hesitate to pick up books like this in a normal retail space, which is why I did it online.”
Queer-Ink.com also serves as a community portal, complete with a calendar of LGBT events throughout the nation. Many of the events listed so far are discussion forums, as Kumar hopes to encourage people to “talk about queer issues.”
Deported footballer in hiding
Cletus U., the gay Nigerian football coach who was denied asylum in Austria and deported, has reported that he is in hiding and fears for his life.
According to LGBT Asylum News, Cletus contacted the Austrian newsmagazine Profil to report clandestinely on his situation. He explained that he is in hiding in the slums of Lagos, a seaside city in southeastern Nigeria.
“The police can come at any time, beat me, imprison or kill, because I am the way I am,” he said.
The press generated by Cletus’ asylum case has made his sexuality known internationally.
Cletus had been living in Austria illegally for six years before filing for asylum on the grounds of his sexuality. His claim was denied, and he was arrested April 29 and deported May 5 to Nigeria. At the time of his arrest, Cletus was coaching a game for FC Sans Papiers, a soccer team and political organization devoted to garnering support for disenfranchised immigrants and refugees. Cletus also reported that his shoulder was injured during the arrest and still pains him.
Cletus said he plans to return to Europe by way of Morocco.
“It is better for me to perish in the desert or in the sea than here in Nigeria,” he said.