World: June 27 2004

Gay Power Continues to Fight For Rights Across the Globe


Gay Pride 2004 - Brussels
Gay Pride 2004 - Brussels

In the last month, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and non-gender identified people have marched and demonstrated in the streets to continue the fight for the human rights to live and love. From San Francisco to Berlin and the United Kingdom, millions of people demonstrated for everything from the right to marry to the right to avoid persecution from their governments based on their sexuality. The gay power movement began out of the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, but today many gay activists express outrage over the commodification of queer culture into a giant target market. This year, COORS was dropped as the sponsor of many parades, based on its anti-gay policies.

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In the past month, lgbt communities around the world have launched celebrations and demonstrated around various queer rights issues. In the United States, where President Bush has backed anti-gay marriage legislation, same-sex marriage has figured prominently in pre-election campaigning everywhere, with church officials lobbying for a "Protect Marriage Day". The constitutional ammendment that defines marriage as an act between a "man and a woman" is set to come before the Senate by July 12, while over 3,000 marriages peformed in San Francisco in February hang in the balance until California courts decide their fate in July. Parades in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and across the US marked this past weekend. In lieu of this, San Francisco's PRIDE theme this year was "Out for Justice", with hundreds of thousands of people descending on the Bay to take a stand for marriage equality. Other hot-button issues included polyamory, queer immigrant and transgendered rights, as the first-ever Tranny March in SF expressed outrage over the hung jury in the case of brutally-murdered transgendered teen Gwen Araujo.

Michigan has also battled anti-gay constitutional ammendments on a state level, coming up 8 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed to pass the legislation that would have banned gay marriage. This hasn't stopped gay-bashing, though, with Michigan police conducting sting operations and raids during PRIDE weekend. Police corruption and illegal raids are the reason that PRIDE originated, as a political expression of outrage over the brutal police beatings that resulted in rioting at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York in 1969. One year later, activists organized to memorialize the day, and the gay power movement was born. Since then, many activists, like the radical group Gay Shame, have rallied against the decidely less-political selling of Gay PRIDE, as corporations have increasingly courted the gay community as a target market - including this year's would-be sponsor Coors, whose anti-homosexual policies have triggered a nationwide boycott.

Outside the US, many still cling to the political roots of Stonewall, demonstrating on "Christopher Street Day". In Berlin, Belgium, the United Kindgom, Switzerland, Italy, India and Greece, people to the streets in the tens and hundreds of thousands to celebrate gay power. Unfortunately, "out and proud" was not welcome everywhere, with the July PRIDE in Belgrade cancelled and the Equality Parade forbidden by Warsaw's mayor this year. In May, the first-ever Tolerance March of 1,500 in Krakaw was attacked by right-wing rioters. Even Fresno had difficulty organizing a parade. While many US activists fight for the right to marry, many members of the global lgbt community are fighting to stay alive and live without fear. Egypt continues its persecution of homosexuals, while people live in fear of coming out in Uganda. In the United Kingdom, protesters demanded rights for gays in Palestine, while others demanded Jamaica lift its ban on homosexuality after the brutal murder of gay rights leader Brian Williamson. Even in New York, the home of Stonewall, many queer youth are finding that being out does not necessarily mean being proud.

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Gay demonstrations in Puerto Rico

dd 30.Jun.2004 07:32