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Serb police clash with antigay rioters

Riot police in Serbia clashed with hundreds of far-right supporters who tried to disrupt a gay pride march on Oct. 10 in downtown Belgrade. More than a dozen people were injured.

Thousands of police officers sealed off the streets in the capital where the march took place, repeatedly clashing at several locations with rioters who were trying to burst through security cordons.

The protesters, chanting “death to homosexuals,” hurled bricks, stones, glass bottles and firecrackers at police. Several parked cars and shop windows were damaged and at least one police vehicle was set on fire.

Hospital officials said at least 18 people, about half of them police officers, were injured. Police said several rioters were arrested.

The march was viewed as a major test for Serbia’s government, which has launched pro-Western reforms and pledged to protect human rights as it seeks European Union membership.

Right-wing groups broke up a pride march in 2001 and forced the cancellation of last year’s event.

Vincent Degert, head of the EU mission in Serbia, addressed some 1,000 gay activists and their supporters who gathered at a park in downtown Belgrade, which was surrounded by riot police, including armored vehicles.

“We are here to celebrate this very important day ... to celebrate the values of tolerance, freedom of expression and assembly,” Degert told the crowd.

The brief 15-minute march ended without violence, with the participants heading into a downtown hall for a party.

Right-wing groups say the gay events are contrary to Serbian family and religious values. Most of the rioters were young football fans whose groups have been infiltrated by neo-Nazi and other extremist organizations.

Mitcham takes silver in Delhi

Openly gay Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won the silver medal in the 1-meter springboard at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi on Oct. 10. The gold went to Canadian Alexandre Despatie.

After the competition, Mitcham compared Despatie to gay diving legend Greg Louganis.

“I’m completely in awe of him. I was a lot more confident with the event before I realized he would be competing in it,” Mitcham said. “I tried to keep up with him; it encouraged me to train harder, because I knew he would be incredibly difficult to beat.”

Mexican guv: Gay marriage ‘grosses me out’

The governor of Mexico’s Jalisco state says gay marriages disgust him.

Gov. Emilio Gonzalez says marriage should be between a man and a woman. He adds, in his words, “that other thing, as they say, still grosses me out.”

Gonzalez spoke Oct. 8 at a forum on family in Guadalajara city.

Guadalajara has been a focal point of Mexico’s debate over gay marriage, which sharpened after Mexico City enacted a law in December allowing same-sex couples to wed and adopt children.

Cardinal Juan Sandoval, the archbishop of Guadalajara, stirred controversy by suggesting Mexico City’s government bribed the Supreme Court to uphold the law in August.

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard filed a defamation suit against Sandoval.

LGBT support group wins case

A court in the Australian state of Victoria has upheld a complaint from a gay youth support group after a Christian youth camp refused them accommodation, claiming it was against their position on homosexuality.

WayOut, a suicide prevention group working with young LGBT Australians in Victoria, sought to book the Christian Youth Camps’ Phillip Island Adventure Resort in June 2007, where they intended to lead a workshop on fighting homophobia.

The Christian Brethren claimed they would not take the booking because WayOut promotes homosexual activity, which they said was against the denomination’s understanding of the Bible.

Judge Felicity Hampel, who presided over the case, said that while the business and its employees were entitled to their personal and religious beliefs, they did not have the right to impose those beliefs on others in a way that denied them freedom from discrimination.

WayOut program coordinator Sue Hackney praised Hampel’s findings, saying they would go a long way toward showing the youth of Victoria that homophobia was not acceptable.

In a statement, Hackney said: “It was always a bitter irony that the first step in our attempt to show young people that they can fight homophobia in their hometowns was met with homophobia itself.”

Christian Youth Camps were ordered to pay $5,000 compensation.

Russian court: Parade ban ‘illegal’

A Russian judge at the Court of St. Petersburg ruled on Oct. 6 that the ban on the city’s Pride march in June was illegal.

This historic decision comes on the heels of news Oct. 4 concerning the Moscow Court of Appeal, who ruled that the closure last September of the oldest gay club in Russia’s capital was illegal.

The club was closed down by Moscow Prefect Oleg Mitvol on the grounds of “immorality.”

“For the first time, Russian courts recognize our right to express [ourselves] freely in the streets,” said Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev. “I want to share this moment with all those who supported us and followed us over the years. In a country which those abroad often say it is better not do anything since we cannot change minds, it’s a sign that change can happen anywhere, as long as one believes and spares no effort. Our right to peaceful protest has been recognized by a Russian court. It’s a small victory but the first is always the best.”

Next year, it is hoped that the third Slavic Pride will be held peacefully in St. Petersburg.

Lambert to tone down show

Adam Lambert said Oct. 12 that he would comply with the restrictions placed on a concert he was to perform Oct. 14 in Malaysia, adding his “main goal is to keep people entertained, not to make them uncomfortable.”

Lambert, an “American Idol” finalist who is openly gay, drew protests from that country’s Pan Malaysian Islamic Party over his plans to play a concert at the Putra Indoor Stadium in Bukit Jalil, near Kuala Lumpur. Representatives for the party have said they believe Lambert’s performances promote “gay culture” and contain “lewd dancing and a gay performance that includes kissing male dancers,” which is “not good for people in our country.”

Lambert said it was a “tough decision” to follow the rules of Malaysia’s culture, arts and heritage ministry, which has forbidden him from removing his clothing, jumping and kissing onstage.

Lambert had his bookings canceled on American talk shows after his November performance on the “American Music Awards,” in which he extended his middle finger to the camera and kissed a male bandmate.

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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