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Sydney's Mardi Gras Rakes in $99 Million

European Members of Parliament
Back Gay Protections

Kazakhstan Gays Facing Abuse

By Rex Wockner
International News Report

Sydney's Mardi Gras Rakes in $99 Million

mardigras99a.jpg - 12.32 K New figures reveal that Sydney, Australia's gay Mardi Gras celebration infuses almost $99 million dollars (US$63 million) into the inner-city Sydney economy.

It is the highest-earning sporting or cultural event on the Aussie tourism calendar.

The estimated 5,190 foreign visitors who attend Mardi Gras stay in the country an average of three weeks and spend an average of $347 per day compared to $265 for other foreign tourists.
European Members of Parliament Back Gay Protections

europa2.jpg - 7.15 K Parliamentarians from across Europe voted January 26 to recommend that anti-gay discrimination be banned via the European Convention on Human Rights.

The vote occurred as the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly reviewed a draft of a new "Convention Protocol" put forward by the Council's governing body, the Committee of Ministers.

The recommendation now moves back to the Committee for consideration.

"The inclusion of 'sexual orientation' in the new Protocol to the Convention would make it clear that sexual orientation discrimination is as odious and as pernicious as the other grounds specifically mentioned, such as race, sex or religion," said Nigel Warner, a spokesman for the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

The Council of Europe's main role is to strengthen democracy, human rights and the rule of law throughout its 41 member states. Founded in the wake of World War II, it is the continent's most important human-rights organization.

The European Convention on Human Rights is the most significant of the Council's many human-rights treaties. Violations of the convention are settled by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Council is governed by the foreign ministers of its member states who form its decision- making body, the Committee of Ministers, and by representatives from national parliaments, who make up its Parliamentary Assembly.

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Kazakhstan Gays Facing Abuse

Gay life in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan is a nightmare, gay leader Ivan Shibitov told this column on February 2.

Shibitov, head of the gay group Kontrast, provided details on dozens of anti-gay burglaries, beatings and murders, and on police harassment of gays via laws concerning public order, illegal meetings and insulting the President.

He said doctors at the nation's AIDS center out gay patients and that all known homosexuals are coerced into taking an HIV test twice yearly. Gays who refuse to be tested are outed to their parents and bosses or teachers via mailed notices. If an individual still has not taken a test after one year, he can be sentenced to three years in prison under Penal Code Article 116.

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Shibitov said he has been abused by the police on several occasions.

"I was being called to Justice Department where they offered me to stop gay rights protection," he wrote. "But I decided to go till the end. I was more than once accompanied to police stations where policemen broke my right hand, nose and harmed my back. After beatings there were put 6 sews on my face in the hospital."

Kontrast's address is P.O. Box 108, Almaty 96, Kazakhstan. Their e-mail address is

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