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California Lesbian Teacher Vindicated

June 21, 2000:-  The California Department of Industrial Relations upheld an earlier administrative ruling Tuesday against Hemet Unified School District for granting a parent's request to remove a high school student from a tenth grade English class because the teacher is a lesbian.  The teacher, Alta Kavanaugh, is an award-winning instructor who has taught at the District for 18-years.  Both rulings cited the California Labor Code that prohibits employment discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.  They also instructed the school district to conduct mandatory training with district administrators concerning the rights of lesbian and gay teachers, and to post a notice of the district's violation of the law throughout the school and district headquarters.  Said attorney Myron Dean Quon, "This important victory for lesbian and gay teachers in the state of California is also a great relief for an exemplary teacher who now can focus on teaching instead of the cloud of discrimination over her classroom."

Australian Psychologists Reject Conversion 'Therapies'

June 21, 2000:-  The Australian Council for Lesbian and Gay Rights reports that a statement has been issued by the Australian Psychological Society against therapies which attempt to change sexual orientation.  Rodney Croome of the Council expressed regret that it is not as strong as a similar statement issued by the American Psychiatric Association in 1998, but conceded that it would be sufficient to convince "those with good intentions but little knowledge" not to become involved in attempts to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals.  "The threat posed by groups advocating for therapies to change sexuality is significantly magnified when they dupe mainstream church groups into supporting their damaging and fruitless programs," he said.

World's First Official Gay Scout Troop in Toronto

June 21, 2000:-  Two women and four men donning rainbow neckerchiefs and khaki shirts adorned with a Canadian flag proudly formed Rover Troop 129 of Scouts Canada Sunday night.  "Officially we're the first in the world.  We know there are many that are unofficial," troop leader Bonte Minnema said.  Added another Scout, "I came from a homophobic small town.  We knew we needed to organize an alternative.  We decided if we did everything by the book, there was no way they could say 'no.'"  All scouting programs in Canada are co-ed.  The Scouts have said they are considering another gay-friendly group in Toronto in the Venturers age group for 14- to 17-year-olds.  The troop has stirred controversy in the United States, where scouts and leaders in several states have been thrown out of troops for being gay.  See previous story.  (Globe and Mail)

Two Charged in Brutal Wisconsin Murder

June 21, 2000:-  Paul Foss, 27, and Daniel Chipman, 30, were charged Friday with being party to the crime of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of 45-year-old Jeff Wahlen whose body was found covered in blood in a Motel 6 room in Green Bay in June 1997.  He had been stabbed over 50 times in the back, chest, throat and groin.  Police say they solved the case when Foss, presently serving an eight-year sentence for an unrelated armed-robbery attempt, sent a letter implicating both he and Chipman in the slaying.  Police said Wahlen did not know the two men before meeting them outside an adult bookstore.  Chipman corroborated the story.  The district attorney said that the possibility of the homicide being classified as a hate crime is pending determination of the motive.  (Green Bay Press-Gazette)

Base Commander where Pfc. Winchell Murdered Given Pentagon Post

June 8, 2000:-  The US Army announced on Tuesday that Maj. Gen. Robert T. Clark, the commanding general of Fort Campbell, Ky - where Pfc. Barry Winchell was bludgeoned to death by a fellow soldier last July for being gay - will be reassigned to the position of Vice Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.  The following day 30 US House members sent a letter to Defense Secretary William Cohen urging him "to take action."  In the letter they accuse the Maj. Gen. of "doing little in the wake of the murder to stop this type of harassment" and say they are concerned Clark would be moved prior to the Army Inspector General's office completing on July 1st an investigation of the 'command climate' at the base.  An Army spokesman said no action against Clark is contemplated and that the timing of his move to the Joint Chiefs job is unrelated to the completion of the Inspector General's report.  See previous story.  (Associated Press)

Two Texas Men Arrested While in Bed Get Conviction Overturned

June 8, 2000:-  A Texas appellate court today declared the state's sodomy law unconstitutional and overturned a 1998 conviction of two Houston men who had been arrested while having consensual sex in a private residence.  The state Constitution's Equal Rights Amendment provides that "Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin."  The appeals court ruled that the Texas sodomy law, which applies only to same-sex partners, violated the amendment by criminalizing conduct based solely on the participants' sex.
     In September 1998 sheriff's deputies, responding to a false report of an armed intruder, entered a Houston apartment where they said they found John Lawrence and Tyron Garner having sex.  Police arrested both men and held them in jail for over 24 hours before releasing them on $200 bond each.  The two men pleaded "no contest" to the charges in criminal court.
     Upon hearing of the ruling John Lawrence said, "At least this nightmare brought some benefit for all of us in Texas.  I am thankful and relieved that this horrible experience may finally be over."

London Nail Bomber Ordered Drink Before Blowing Up Bar

June 7, 2000:-  In day two yesterday of the trial of David Copeland, the man who nailed-bombed three London establishments in April 1999 -  including a gay bar where three people were killed, including a pregnant woman - the jury was told that Copeland felt nothing as he executed his fatal plan.  A customer with whom he had been chatting at the Admiral Duncan pub offered to mind his drink after Copeland told him that he needed to go get some money.  Copeland walked away, leaving the bomb behind in a sports bag.
     The prosecution told the court that Copeland had been planning his bombing campaign since the explosions at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta with the aim of "causing murder, mayhem, chaos, damage - to get on the news as the top story, really.  The aim was to spread fear, resentment and hatred through this country.  He thought the bombs would be the spark to set fire to this country, stirring up a racial war which would cause whites to vote for the British National Party."
     Copeland told the police he wanted to be caught so that he could become famous.  He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter based on diminished responsibility but the Crown is going for three convictions of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.

Puerto Ricans March for Decriminalization

June 5, 2000:-  Gays and lesbians in Puerto Rico celebrated the tenth anniversary of Pride yesterday by calling on lawmakers in that US territory to repeal the law which makes gay sex a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison.  After marching through the streets of San Juan to a park rally organizers decried the law.  "We demand peace for the lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgendered who are bombarded with taunts, contaminated by homophobia, [and] abused by violence," Amparo Fidalgo, spokeswoman of Rainbow Pride, said to a cheering crowd.  Although never enforced, activists say the law encourages prejudice.  (Associated Press)

Results of Scottish Business Tycoon Poll on Section 28 Come In

May 30, 2000:-  The results of wealthy Scottish businessman Brian Souter's public opinion poll on the possible repeal of the infamous law Section 28, which prohibits the 'promotion' of homosexuality by local authorities, have been compiled.  Calling it a referendum, the 'Keep the Clause' campaign announced today that 87% of poll respondents were against repeal.  Said Souter, "A denial of this result would be a denial of democracy."  Rights activists called the survey one of the most "unbalanced, misinformed ballots in Scottish history."  The Scottish government denounced it, saying 2 out of 3 voters ignored the poll.  See previous story.  (BBC)

Presbyterian Church Opens Up - Some

May 30, 2000:-  The highest court of the Presbyterian Church ruled Sunday that its ministers may perform holy union ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples, and the denomination's Permanent Judicial Commission ruled that the church may accept a young gay man in New Jersey as a candidate for ordained ministry.  Pam Byers, executive director of Covenant Network of Presbyterians welcomed the two rulings but noted that although neither actually changes church law Presbyterians will have more latitude in ministering to gays and lesbians.
     In a similar move the Southeastern Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church also passed a resolution allowing pastors to bless holy unions, but earlier this month the United Methodist Church overwhelmingly voted to retain its ban on them as well as gay and lesbian clergy.  The same issues are expected to spark lively debate at a national convention of Episcopalians to be held July 5-14 in Denver.

Israel Says Lesbian Partner Can be Parent

May 30, 2000:-  In a landmark decision, Israel's Supreme Court yesterday recognized the right of a lesbian spouse to be registered as the second parent of her partner's biological son.  The court ordered American-born Nicole Berner-Kadish be registered as the mother of 4-year-old Matan Berner-Kadish, biological son of Ruti Berner-Kadish.  The Israeli-born Ruti was artificially inseminated and gave birth in the United States.  Partner Nicole adopted the boy there as well.  An legislator from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party compared the high court's ruling to the laws of Biblical Sodom.  (Associated Press)

Former Zimbabwe President Jailed for Sodomy

May 30, 2000:-  Canaan Banana lost an appeal yesterday to Zimbabwe's Supreme Court to reverse his 1999 conviction of 11 counts of sodomy and abuse of power in coercing male staff members into having sex.  Banana's appeal was based on the convictions having invaded his privacy rights under the constitution.  Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, the African country ruled by notorious homophobe and tyrant Robert Mugabe who has characterized gays as "lower than pigs and dogs."  Banana insists the case against him was influenced by political opponents.  He  was ordered to serve a year in jail, with a second year suspended.  (Associated Press)

London Nail Bomber Goes to Trial June 5

May 25, 2000:-  David Copeland, the man charged with murdering three people in that nail bomb attack on a London gay bar in April of 1999, will go on trial at the Old Bailey criminal court on June 5, according to a government statement made today.  Copeland pleaded guilty in February to the bombing - as well as to two others in the same month which caused many injuries - but entered a plea of guilty to manslaughter based on diminished responsibility in the bar killings.  The bombs were each crude homemade ones the size of shoeboxes.  He is further charged with three counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.  (Reuters)

Singapore Forum Outlawed

May 24, 2000:-  Authorities in Singapore today canceled an historic discussion forum planned by gays and lesbians in that conservative city-state.  Community members had announced earlier that they would 'test the waters' by organizing a peaceful assembly in the interest of mutual support - even though gay sex is punishable by life imprisonment in their country.  Police said in a statement that they "cannot allow the holding of this public forum, which will advance and legitimize the cause of homosexuals in Singapore."  Businessman Alex Au, who had requested government permission for the forum, responded by saying:  "It seems that civil society can only operate within the narrow confines of what the authorities deem to be the public interest."  (Associated Press)

Last Out, First Back

May 16, 2000:-  The last UK soldier to be sacked for being gay, just days before the historic European Court of Human Rights ruling in the fall of 1999, is the first to be re-enlisted.  Twenty-five-year-old Richard Young, a former Navy chef, has been offered a new contract at the same base with his pay, seniority and rank of able seaman fully restored.  Young told the press he was "ecstatic" about continuing his career.  The court had ordered the UK to dismiss its discriminatory policy instead of its gay and lesbian personnel.  The Blair government introduced a new policy in January 2000.  (The Guardian)  See previous story.

Twins of UK Couple Baptized in Historic Ceremony

May 15, 2000:-  In a church first the surrogate twins of a gay UK couple were baptized yesterday.  In performing the sacrament ceremony the Rev. Michael Blyth said:  "The Church does not make any distinction about parents ... it is not for other people to penalise any child or shut them out."  The parents, two wealthy businessmen in their 30s, made history last year when a California court allowed both their names to be inscribed on the babies' birth certificates as the parents.  The babies were conceived with a donor woman and carried to term by a surrogate mother in California.  (The Electronic Telegraph)  See previous story.

Glasgow Gay Groups' City Funding Frozen by Section 28 Court Action

May 15, 2000:-  In the first attempt to enforce the UK's Thatcher-era law which prevents the 'promotion of homosexuality' by local authorities, a citizen has launched legal action against the city of Glasgow for funding gay groups to the tune of £90,000 per year.  The city's council has voluntarily suspended further payments pending a judicial review of the case but defended its right to fund gay organizations, which include AIDS service ones.  The rights group Stonewall was quoted as predicting the court action will fail.  The Scottish repeal of Section 28 is expected to succeed.  (The Scotsman)  See previous story.

UK's Outcast Finally Publishes

May 15, 2000:-  After a notorious month of press coverage, accusations, and the launch of litigation, the UK gay magazine Outcast finally published an article which had been the alleged cause of the publication's web site being shut down and a lawsuit against it threatened.  The article claims to reveal questionable practices and a lack of accountability in charity operations by a gay media company which publishes the popular Pink Paper and reportedly threatened the lawsuit should Outcast publish the story.  The online version of it may be found at  See previous story.

UK Repeal of Section 28 Not Looking Good

May 12, 2000:-  In the most downbeat assessment to-date of the chances for repeal of the infamous Section 28, the never-enforced Thatcher-era law which bans the 'promotion of homosexuality' in schools, the Local Government Minister warned that a major fight continues to lie ahead.  "Even if we are winning the arguments generally, winning them in there [Parliament] is of a different nature and I'm simply warning you of that," Hilary Armstrong told a meeting of activists Wednesday night.  (Times of London)  See previous story.

Belgium Same Sex Couples Law:  A status nobody wants.

May 10, 2000:-  Only eight 'statutory cohabitation contracts' have been registered in Brussels since a new law providing the opportunity for such came into effect in Belgium in January 2000.  Considered "completely pointless" by gay organization Infor-Homo, the law addresses neither social security or inheritance rights of gay - or straight - common law partners.  Federal Parliament Socialist MPs are currently drafting an amendment which will extend the law to recognize the cohabitants' rights to social security and inheritance, and reinforce their duties to care for each other both practically and financially.  The existing statute, passed in 1998 by the Christian Social party which is now the Opposition, is a 'watered down' version of the 1995 comprehensive draft.  The MPs commented by saying it "may provide symbolic satisfaction to those who are intellectually in favour of it."  (Le Soir, translated by Alan Reekie, ILGA)

Egyptian Men Charged for Drafting Gay 'Marriage Contract'

May 10, 2000:-  A thirty-eight-year-old Egyptian man has been charged with 'violation of honor by threat' for drafting a marriage-type contract - an 'urfi' - with an 18- or 19-year old man to celebrate their 1-1/2 year relationship.  The younger man was initially held on charges of 'practicing immoral and indecent behavior' before being released on April 13th.  The press reported that the youth at first denied that there had been any sexual contact between the two men, but later 'confessed.'  The state was described by the press as 'rarely interfering in relations between gay men.'  (Cairo Times)

French Army Says 'Rambos No,' 'Gays Yes'

May 4, 2000:-  The warrior image of the Foreign Legion may never be the same again after the release yesterday of a film on the homoerotic life of legionnaires.  Beau Travail tells the story of two soldiers competing for the attentions of their commanding officer in an isolated Legion detachment.  Although the Legion refused to cooperate in making the film, the Army's Director of Communications said the force was happy to recruit gays in contrast to what he depicted as the hostile attitude of British and American forces.  "The question was to decide whether we wanted a very hard army by just recruiting Rambos ... or to create a less monolithic Army which is in real osmosis with the nation ... We clearly took the second choice," said General Alain Raevel.  Gays in relationships are subject to the same treatment as heterosexuals bound by the PACS partnership contracts.  (London Times)

Austria's Haider Formally Steps Down

May 1, 2000:-  Joerg Haider formally stepped down today as leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party, which recently formed half that country's coalition government.  Haider's xenophobic statements have caused the party embarrassment and its government to be shunned by state representatives of the European Community.  In recent days, Haider has stepped up attacks on those European leaders, describing them as more immoral and corrupt than ancient Rome.  A recent poll found that fifty per cent of Austrians agreed with him, however, that Austria should cut its contribution to the EU.  The Freedom Party's homophobic stance has been well documented.  Haider was outed by the German gay press last month.  See previous story.  (CBC)

Saudi Arabia Sentences Transvestites to Brutal Flogging

April 28, 2000:-  A Saudi Arabian court reportedly sentenced nine young men on April 15th to up to 2,600 lashes each and 4-6 years in prison for so-called 'deviant sexual behavior.'  The men were arrested by police after allegedly finding them dressing in women's clothing.  A court in Qunfada found them guilty of transvestitism.  The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has condemned the reported court decision and is shocked as Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the United Nations and a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture.  The lashes are to be carried out at 15-day intervals over the course of the next two years.

Diaries of Beatles' First Manager Up for Auction

April 27, 2000:-  The diaries of Brian Epstein, the original manager of The Beatles, were to be part of a collection of private papers going on the auction block in London today.  They are expected to detail the man's desperate unhappiness as a 15-year-old schoolboy, his struggle to come to terms with being gay, and his bouts of depression.  Epstein died of a drug overdose at the age of 32.  He had given the papers to his former chauffeur for safekeeping in 1967.  The chauffeur, Bryan Barrett, was quoted in British newspapers as saying that he feels he can now sell the material because the members of Epstein's immediate family are all dead.

NY Non-Discrimination Bill Moves Through Senate

April 25, 2000:-  Last week a New York State Senate Committee examining the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) voted 9-2 (with 1 abstaining) to return it to the Senate proper for third reading.  Though occurring quietly and without fanfare, the bill's movement is being heralded as good news and a victory for lesbian and gay New Yorkers.  "It may be premature to be optimistic and think that this legislation, which has languished for 28 years without a full Senate floor vote, will get its democratic due and be voted on during this session.  Nonetheless, by all accounts, this is progress, movement forward, and most certainly a symbolic victory," said Ross Levi, Legislative Counsel for the Empire State Pride Agenda.

UK Labour: Public Supports Non-Discrimination

April 25, 2000:-  The British Trade Union Congress announced on the 14th that a public poll conducted for it resulted in almost 75% of respondents agreeing that gay and lesbian people should not be sacked or treated differently than their straight counterparts in the workplace.  The Congress wants a new anti-discrimination law for situations of employment.  It is also lobbying for pension and other benefits to be given to long term same sex partners as part of a larger package of non-discrimination legislation.  The voluntary code of practice proposed by the government is insufficient, it says.  "Our poll shows the quiet majority backs these modest rights; it is only a noisy minority which is standing in the way of progress," it concludes.

Blair Says 'Gay OK' for Adoption

April 25, 2000:-  British Prime Minister Tony Blair is planning a new national adoption scheme in order to do away with both the questionable criteria for adoption in that country and its backlogged system.  Included in the plan are gay and lesbian couples:  "This is about making adoption easier and it includes gay adoption," a Downing Street source said.  At present, nearly 1,300 would-be parents are waiting to adopt, although there are 5,000 children who have been approved to join families.  Over 50,000 children are in care homes.
     In British law there is nothing to stop a gay man or woman from individually adopting a child.  In practice, however, very few applications have been granted.  Under the new national adoption plan, which will replace individual rules and criteria imposed by local councils, officials will have to treat gay would-be parents on the same basis as anybody else, provided they fulfilled criteria such as good health, parenting skills, regular income and a stable relationship.  "There are not enough families coming forward for the children waiting to be adopted," said the chief executive of the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering.  "We don't think you should exclude people in gay and lesbian relationships," she added.  The move is being criticized by family advocates.  (London Sunday Times)

Nepali Youth Imprisoned for Being Lesbian

April 17, 2000:-  Two young women have been arrested in Katmandu for announcing they got married.  "We will separate them and hand over to their respective families," said police of the high school students.  They further described the youths' behaviour as illegal and against Hindu culture and religion.  "No one can break our nuptial chords nor make us cease to love each other," the young women said in a statement to police.  The Magnus Hirschfeld Centre for Human Rights in New Jersey is claiming the actions represent a grave breach not only of Nepal's domestic law but of Nepali obligations under international law.  The Centre is calling for observers to respectfully ask the Nepali government to allow the youths to conduct their intimate lives without interference from state authorities.  (BBC, The Kathmandu Post)

California Assembly Committee Approves Domestic Partnership Bill

April 12, 2000:-  A California bill that would grant registered domestic partners the right to make medical decisions for each other cleared its second hurdle yesterday.  The Assembly Health Committee approved AB 1990 which would authorize a registered domestic partner to make medical treatment decisions on behalf of his or her partner if they are a patient in a hospital and incapable of giving informed consent.  All nine Democrats on the committee supported the bill while all five Republicans opposed the measure.  AB 1990 now goes to Assembly Appropriations Committee for fiscal consideration.

Miami's Non-Discrimination Ordinance Safe - Insufficient Signatures Gathered

April 10, 2000:-  Opponents of the 1998 Miami-Dade County ordinance that banned discrimination against gay men and lesbians failed to gather enough signatures by the April 7th deadline to force a ballot initiative in November's election.  Organizers gathered 27,000 signatures, about 5600 shy of the number they needed.  Under county rules, the group had 60 days to collect signatures from 4 percent of the voters.  Members of the rights group SAVE Dade celebrated at County Hall as the deadline passed.  "Avoiding another ugly battle in this community is a welcome opportunity," they said.  See previous story.  (Miami Herald)

German Soldier Reinstated

April 10, 2000:-  In preparation for a constitutional challenge Germany's Federal Constitutional Court issued a letter to the Ministry of Defense asking how they intended to justify their position that gay officers working as instructors would not be respected by other soldiers.  In response, and in accordance with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in 1999, the Minister of Defense reportedly became convinced that discriminated gay army officer Winfried Stecher would win his landmark lawsuit at the German high court.  It is unknown whether the former instructor will be reinstated in his previous army unit or assigned to a new one.  (Tageszeitung, translated by Gerald Pilz)

Rio de Janeiro Imposes Penalties for Discrimination

April 10, 2000:-  Last week the State Assembly of Rio de Janeiro passed a bill which establishes monetary sanctions for establishments (like hotels, motels, restaurants and bars) that discriminate against persons based on sexual orientation.  The fines range from approx. US $3,000 to 7,000, and include the possibility of forcing the establishment to cease operations for 30-days.  Government employees who discriminate are subject to disciplinary review boards.
     The State of Rio de Janeiro's Constitution (and the City of Rio's charter) both prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, but protection has been moot until now, as there have been no penalties prescribed.
     The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has described the murder rate of gays in Brazil as one every second day on average.  See previous story.  (Grupo Arco-Iris)

Who Offers Excursion Rates to Turkey

April 7, 2000:-  The Bears of Turkey are advertising on the Internet for a tour to watch Turkey's oil wrestlers - burly men who cover themselves in olive oil and grapple with each other while wearing leather trousers.  The wrestlers, their muscles rippling in olive oil under the hot sun, try to pin each other to the ground.  Putting a hand down the opponent's trousers to get a better grip is a common tactic.  The wrestlers are trying to stop the planned excursion.  (Reuters)

Swedish Advertising Campaign for Gay Men Wins Gold

April 7, 2000:-  At an annual award show for advertising in Stockholm the prize for best TV ad went to Swedish gay web magazine for a film which shows a football game where the players hug just a little too long after scoring a goal.  The award, called the 'Golden Egg,' is Sweden's most prestigious for advertising and gains the the winner much media attention.  The film can be seen at

New Gay Art Webring Launched

April 7, 2000:-  A new art based webring has been created for the Community.  Entitled the Gay Art Webring, it is sponsored by the Gay Toons Syndicate (  Sites related to cartoons/comics, painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, handicrafts, music, performance art, or theater are invited to join.  Details are available at

Controversial Canadian Film Abandoned

April 4, 2000:-  Toronto filmmaker Deepa Mehta has abandoned attempts to complete the filming of Water, the third in her alternative trilogy of women in India, after being unable to secure a film permit in that country.  Production was halted in February after significant protest and vandalism from Indians who believe Ms. Mehta's works are an attack on traditional Hindu values. (See previous brief.)  Water was to be a story about young women in the 1930s who were forced to become prostitutes after their husbands' deaths.  (Globe & Mail)

Natives Oppose Equality Bill

April 4, 2000:-  The Naskapi Nation of northern Quebec are upset with Canada's equality bill proposing to amend the Cree-Naskapi Act.  They say that in their treaty right under the Constitution Act their consent is required prior to the Cree-Naskapi Act being amended.  The federal government has defended its equality bill as being required because of the constitution's Charter of Rights, but the Naskapi interpret Section 25 of the Charter as subordinating the Charter to treaty rights should the two come in conflict.  The federal Minster of Indian Affairs has responded by stating that amendments will not be made without discussion first, but the Naskapi say it's wrong to amend first and discuss later.
     They say they are not opposed to the equality bill per se, although admit that their nation is divided over it.  (Montreal Gazette)