New Zealand: Auckland Council Funds Gay Parade
United Kingdom: Oscar Wilde Statue Erected
AIDS Deaths Plummet in Europe
By Rex Wockner
International News Report
Germany: Transvestite Mayor Ousted
The residents of Quellendorf, Germany, voted 482 to 235 November 29 to oust Mayor Norbert Linder because he has begun dressing as a woman.
Linder, 40, recently started visiting transvestite bars in Frankfurt and taking female hormones. He plans to undergo gender- reassignment surgery in the year 2000.
The vote was denounced by Linder's party, the Democratic Socialists (successors to the East German Communists), as "degrading discrimination."
Linder had been mayor for two years.
Roman Catholic Gay Australians Refused Communion
Seventy gays and lesbians who attended mass wearing rainbow sashes at Melbourne, Australia's Roman Catholic Cathedral were refused communion November 29.
Priests withheld wafers from those who made it to the front of the church and blocked others from getting to the front.
The protesters plan to continue their challenge to the church's ban on giving the Eucharist to non-celibate homosexuals.
"The official line is homosexuality is ordained to be intrinsically, morally evil, which is a polite way of saying we're disgusting perverts, and that leads to a culture of fear and loathing and to significant levels of suicide among young gay people," said protester David Barker.
Auckland Council Funds Gay Parade
After refusing to assist last year, the Auckland, New Zealand, City Council agreed November 27 to fund clean-up for next year's huge gay Hero parade.
Hero Trust Chairman Paul Sheriff said the decision -- which was pushed by Mayor Christine Fletcher -- sends a message that the Council values gays and lesbians as members of the community.
The parade incurred a debt of NZ$100,000 (US$52,980) last year. Sheriff hopes the Council's support will help attract more sponsors this time around.
Oscar Wilde Statue Erected in London
"The idea is that he is rising, talking, laughing, smoking from this sarcophagus and the passerby, should he or she choose to, can sit on the sarcophagus and have a conversation with him," said sculptor Maggi Hambling. "It is actually completed when a member of the public, a passerby, chooses to sit down and have a chat with him."
Attendees at the unveiling included Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland and great-grandson Lucian Holland, actor Stephen Fry (who starred in the film "Wilde") and gay Culture Secretary Chris Smith.
"It is ... a wonderful monument for the people of London and of England," Fry said. "He is depicted with a cigarette which in his day was a symbol of a young man's decadence and modernity and which is now a symbol of political incorrectness. Showing him smoking is yet again a big finger shoved in the face of society."
Smith said: "He wrote like an angel, challenged prejudice, he took on the establishment and its perceptions. It's due to Oscar Wilde in many ways that we today can celebrate a society that generally appreciates diversity."
The $249,000 cost of the monument was raised by a group of writers, actors, academics, philanthropists and journalists.
Wilde died in exile in France after serving a debilitating jail sentence for engaging in gay sex.
AIDS Deaths Plummet in Europe
AIDS deaths have dropped 84 percent in Western Europe since 1995, according to a new study published in The Lancet.
From March to September of 1995, 25 percent of all HIV patients died while from March to September of 1998 only four percent died.
Researchers credit the new combination antiviral drug treatments.
The study tracked 4,270 HIV patients at 50 medical facilities across the continent.
In the U.S., AIDS deaths decreased 75 percent between early 1994 and mid-1997.
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