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Costa Rica leader raises gay Pride flag

Costa Rica’s new president on May 16 raised a gay pride flag next to the country’s national flag at the presidential residence as part of an antidiscrimination celebration.

President Luis Guillermo Solis said at the flag ceremony that human rights will be a priority during his administration.

Solis said the rainbow flag was hoisted as part of “the world’s day to fight against sexual-orientation discrimination.”

A group of about 20 people protested outside the presidential residence, saying Solis should have also celebrated “the world’s day for agriculture” and “family day,” holidays that have taken place since he took office.

Lawyer and gay-rights activist Yahin Castrillo said raising the gay Pride flag is a nice gesture but that more should be done to have the rights of gay people recognized in the Central American country. Castrillo has tried since 2003 to have unions between same-sex couples legally recognized in Costa Rica.

Cyprus to hold first Pride festival

Cyprus’ LGBT community is gearing up for the country’s first gay Pride festival that will culminate in a parade on the last day of the month in the capital, Nicosia.

Costas Gavrielides, president of the 700-member-strong Accept LGBT Cyprus, said the festival will include film screenings, book presentations and musical events.

He told a news conference May 15 that Turkish Cypriots from the ethnically split island’s breakaway north will also participate.

European Union member Cyprus decriminalized homosexuality a dozen years ago, but it still ranks low in terms of gay rights, according to international campaigners.

Gavrielides said the country still needs to pass laws recognizing same-sex partnerships and forbidding public speech inciting antigay violence.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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