Badpuppy Gay Today

Wednesday, 05 November 1997

GAY ACTIVIST CONFRONTS PRESIDENT MUGABE IN LONDON

The Netherlands Prepares to Legalize Gay Marriage
Latvian Cop Fired for Coming Out


By Rex Wockner
International News

 

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GAY ACTIVIST CONFRONTS MUGABE IN LONDON

Disguised as a TV cameraman, London gay activist Peter Tatchell slipped through a Special Branch security net at Westminster Central Hall October 28 and accosted anti-gay Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe was having a cup of tea after speaking at the International Conference on Independent Africa.

Tatchell said: "Hello, President Mugabe. In the 1970's, when I was a young student, I helped raise funds for ZANU's war of liberation."

Mugabe smiled and shook Tatchell's hand, saying: "Thank you. I am very grateful for the help you gave us. What are you doing now?"

"I am campaigning for lesbian and gay human rights," Tatchell said.

Mugabe sputtered on his tea and said, "Pardon?" Tatchell repeated himself.

"Oh, the gays," Mugabe sighed.

"I'm very sad that you say gay people don't have any rights," Tatchell said.

Mugabe replied: "We don't necessarily persecute them -- not if they are gay in private. We don't agree with them organizing and making a public issue out of it."

"Why can't you meet with gay groups?" Tatchell asked.

"Maybe," Mugabe said, shrugging.

Tatchell then was surrounded by Special Branch officers and escorted from the area. He was warned but not arrested.

Mugabe has called homosexuals "repugnant to my human conscience.. immoral and repulsive." He has declared gay sex "an abomination" and "sub-animal behavior" and urged citizens to "hand [gays] over to the police. ... I don't believe they have any rights at all," he stated in 1995.

THE NETHERLANDS PREPARES TO LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE

The Netherlands' special parliamentary committee on gay equality Oct. 28 instructed the government to legalize full gay marriage and gay adoption.

The government is expected to do so by April of 1998. It will be traditional marriage rather than specialized gay partnership like in Scandinavia.

"Same-sex couples can only be afforded equal treatment if they are allowed to enter into civil marriage," said the committee, set up by State Secretary for Justice Elizabeth Schmitz after parliament passed resolutions favoring gay marriage and adoption.

In the meantime, a new Dutch partnership law comes into effect Jan. 16. It grants registered gay and straight couples every right of matrimony except access to adoption and artificial insemination.

Four other countries offer marriage-like gay partnerships: Denmark (and Greenland), Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The laws grant all rights of matrimony except access to adoption, artificial-conception services and church weddings. In Iceland, though, partners can obtain joint custody of each other's biological children. Hungary last year legalized common-law gay marriage. All matrimonial rights are included except access to adoption.

LATVIAN COP FIRED FOR COMING OUT

A policeman in Bauska, Latvia, has been forced to resign after coming out of the closet in the mainstream newspaper Atspulgs.

Gatis Bugoveckis' superiors insisted he name other gay cops or leave his job "voluntarily," said the Latvian Homosexuality Information Center (HIC), which acquired audio tapes of the conversations.

In response to the incident, HIC is demanding passage of laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as equalization of the "rights of the homosexual and heterosexual citizens in such areas as family, adoption, custody, inheritance, social security, pension, housing, immigration and labour law."

The group also issued demands that the Ministry of Interior stop questioning police applicants about their sexuality and that the Commission of the European Union not discuss Latvia's proposed entry into the EU until the nation protects the fundamental rights of gays and lesbians.

HIC asks activists worldwide to lobby (1) the President of the Republic of Latvia, Pils laukums 3, Riga 50 LV-1900, Latvia. Fax: 011-371-732-5800. E-mail: chancery@president.lv. (2) the Saeima (parliament) of the Republic of Latvia, Jekaba iela 11, Riga LV- 1811, Latvia. (3) The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Latvia, Raina bulvaris 6, Riga LV-1050, Latvia. And (4) the Bausak Police, Zala iela 12, Bauska LV-3901, Latvia. Fax: 011-371 392-4335.

Carbon-copy HIC at Pastkaste 65, Riga LV-1001, Latvia. E-mail: GayLatvia@hotmail.com.

They are demanding equalization of the age of consent and a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Lesbian Member of Parliament Giz Watson attended the protest draped in a rainbow flag.


Rex Wockner's weekly International News dating back to mid-1994 is fully searchable at http://www.wockner.com


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