Berlusconi disses gays
At the Nov. 2 opening of the International Bike and Motorbike Show in Milan, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, apparently defending himself against sex-scandal allegations, said, "It is better to have a passion for beautiful girls than to be gay."
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Leading Italian LGBT association Arcigay demanded that Berlusconi apologize for the quip and meet with the organization.
"It is unacceptable that a prime minister, in an obvious situation of difficulties because of his senile passions, pronounces such a homophobic and vulgar nonsense statement," said Arcigay National President Paolo Patanè. "We are not willing to become the scapegoat of a weak prime minister that with this statement shows that he belongs to a really old culture. Silvio Berlusconi's way of representing the institution dishonors Italy, and his 'macho Latino' rudeness is among the causes of the grotesque climate in the country."
Arcigay also wrote to Italian Equality Minister Mara Carfagna urging her to denounce the comment. She replied that Berlusconi had just been joking around and hadn't intended to offend homosexuals.
Rights group rejects African lesbians
The African Commission on Human and People's Rights has rejected an application for observer status from the Coalition of African Lesbians.
A recent letter from the commission's secretary, Mary Maboreke, provided no reason for the decision, saying simply, "The ACHPR has deliberated on your application and decided not to grant Observer Status to the Coalition of African Lesbians."
CAL said it was "outraged" by the "discriminatory, unjust and unfair" determination.
The group called on all organizations that have ACHPR observer status to denounce the decision and send statements, letters and petitions demanding that commissioners reconsider CAL's application.
For more information, see cal.org.za.
Russian gay group wins registration case
The regional court in Arkhangelsk, Russia, ordered local authorities to register the LGBT organization Rakurs ( Perspective ) on Nov. 1.
The group had been denied registration by the regional Justice Ministry on the grounds it fomented extremism and religious hatred, disseminated homosexual propaganda, discriminated against heterosexuals and undermined state security.
The denial came after the group amended its charter to make clear it is an LGBT organization. It was registered previously but not as an openly gay group.
"What makes me even more positive about this judgment is that the court accepted part of the decision we just won last week at the European Court of Human Rights in the case of the Moscow Pride ban on the issue of morality and the right of minorities," said Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev. "The ECHR decision has already been used only 10 days after being given."
On Oct. 21, the ECHR ordered Russia to stop banning gay pride parades, ruling that former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's yearly bans violated guarantees of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.
Alekseev said activists also will pursue a case in Moscow over authorities' refusal to register the group Marriage Equality Russia.
"We're very happy that the Moscow Pride decision can be used for non-Pride issues," he said.
Charges dropped against Turkish trans activists
A Turkish judge dismissed charges in late October against five activists from the Ankara transgender organization Pembe Hayat.
The individuals had been detained by police in May; beaten, kicked and pepper-sprayed; then later charged with resisting police.
The judge said he was not interested in perpetuating "prejudices about sexual identities" and that police treatment of the activists had been "totally wrong."
Some charges remain against two of the activists, Buse Kiliçkaya and Derya Tunç. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 29.
Moroccan LGBTs gather
Members of Morocco's nascent national LGBT group, Kifkif, held activities for their national LGBT day Oct. 23 in Rabat, the capital.
"The highlight of the event was a panel discussion ( on the ) problems and challenges individuals face because of their sexual orientation, which prevents them from living in peace and safety, free from fear of symbolic or actual violence," said spokesman Karim Al-Samiti.
The assembled group decided to draft a letter to the authorities, to be signed by three of the group's members, detailing LGBT human-rights violations in Morocco and reminding officials of various international human-rights treaties the nation has signed.
The gathering also included music and cake.
"The participants joined each other in blowing out the candles, wishing that one day the sun of freedom and tolerance shines on the homeland," said Al-Samiti.
In a speech to the gathering, Al-Samiti proclaimed: "Enough of the imprisonment of the active and productive youth who love their country! Enough demonization of homosexuals! Enough treating them as if they are untouchable, sick, crazy or from another planet! Enough attending the funerals of the young people whose candle of life was blown away by the storm of rejection, fear and abuse, and their bodies were thrown to the dark arms of death! Enough alienating our youth and forcing them into exile overseas, where they have to suffer from loneliness and separation! Enough destroying the future of our people and depriving them of their rights as citizens! Enough tears!"
37 nations attend ILGA-Europe confab
More than 260 LGBT activists from 37 nations attended the 14th annual conference of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 28-31.
The conference theme -- "Expressing our differences, challenging our prejudices, developing our alliances" -- and other topics were debated in panel discussions and workshops, and attendees passed a resolution expressing concern about the rise of extremism in Europe.
"Europe can definitely be proud of its advances in regards to human rights for LGBTI people," said Martin K.I. Christensen, the co-chair of ILGA-Europe's board. "However, the situation is far from perfect and the current trends of harsh economic situation and shifting towards more extreme views across Europe seriously endanger further advances in the area of human rights and social justice."
The 2011 ILGA-Europe conference will take place in Turin, Italy, and the 2012 gathering will be in Dublin.
Assistance: Bill Kelley