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England and Wales to Allow Gay Couples to Hold Civil Partnership Ceremonies in Churches

Gay couples will soon be allowed to hold civil partnership ceremonies in churches, in England and Wales, the BBC reports:

FeatherstoneEqualities Minister Lynne Featherstone (pictured) said no religious group would be forced to host them, but those who wished to could apply by the end of the year.

The Church of England said it has "no intention" of blessing gay couples.

Previously, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the change was "long overdue".

The announcement was made in a written response to a consultation. Ms Featherstone, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: "The government is advancing equality for LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people and ensuring freedom of religion for people of all faiths. "No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward."

Fireworks Already Starting in Moscow Over Banned Gay Pride as Activists Arrive to Lead it in Defiance

Last week I mentioned that Moscow officials had banned Gay Pride once again, citing security risks. Activists aren't having it. Andy Thayer, of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network, and Dan Choi have joined Russian activist Nikolai Alexeyev in Moscow for what promise to be some fireworks in defiance of the ban. Activist Louis-Georges Tim and Brit Peter Tatchell are also there. Gay Pride is scheduled for this weekend.

Alexeyev Apparently the fireworks have begun.

Pam Spaulding got a report from Choi on some TV action that went down earlier today.

Dan reports that he, along with about 20 activists from the U.S. and Europe attended Russia's version of Meet the Press. Russian LGBT rights activist, lawyer and journalist Nikolay Alexeyev debated their version of Maggie Gallagher, and the opposition (anti-gay) side was stacked with government officials and a "sexologist" demonizing LGBTs.

Choi According to Dan, the first two segments were very contentious; at the end of the second segment it became so heated that Alexeyev stormed off of the set (photo, above right, of Alexeyev after walking out) -- actually damaging part of the set -- and refused to come back for the third segment.

Instead, Alexeyev and all of the pro-LGBT attendees left the set and audience. This program aired live, so I'm sure clips will surface. Dan will have a report later; they are also planning direct action in protest of the cancellation of Pride by homophobic officials and it's likely there will be arrests.

UK Gay News is running a blog dedicated to Gay Pride in Moscow, and is keeping up with events there.

Said Alexeyev: "Next 48 hours will shape the future of Moscow Pride and LGBT community in Russia in general - and I am not joking."

Mckellen Actor Ian McKellen has also released a message in support of the activists:

“The Mayor of Moscow is a coward.Rather than face the fact that Muscovite gays and lesbians should be valued on a par with their straight peers, he panders to the right wing.  He throws them some red meat, some gays, to gnaw on.  In the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher once did the same in the United Kingdom but she was eventually defeated totally by the efforts of gay people, their families and friends, who joined together to fight injustice. I send my heart-felt support for your bravery in marching on 28 May in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev and Nureyev."

LGBT Asylum News reports:

Far-right and Orthodox Church forces are planning a counter demonstration - approved by authorities - and already held one at the site last Saturday, delayed by rain, which one of the demonstrators blamed on the [Moscow Mayor] “Sobyanin lesbians.”

“We will drive them off!” Yury Ageshchev, coordinator of the Orthodox Brotherhood of the Russian Orthodox Church told Russian newspaper Kommersant.

“True, last year we had some issues with the police and there were arrests, but this time we will not give up. It’s going to get hot,” he threatened.

The office of the police chief has said "everything is ready to prevent [the gays] marching - and arrest them."

More to come, I'm sure...

Watch: Hundreds Kiss Outside London Pub That Ejected Gay Couple

(image the guardian)

Despite the landlord shutting his doors early because of the planned protest, hundreds held a gay kiss-in early this evening in front of the John Snow pub in London's Soho district, protesting the ejection of a gay couple for kissing.

The Guardian reports:

About 300 people attended the scheduled kiss-in, which took place despite the closure of the pub and included Bull, Williams and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell. Just after 7pm mass co-ordinated kissing took place in the street, to whoops of encouragement from a growing crowd. "It's still a victory," said Paul Shetler, a senior director at an IT firm. "They've wound up losing a night's takings because they couldn't have a bunch of men with tongues in each others' mouths."

Encouraged by a large media presence, one attendee tried to pin a rainbow flag to the doorframe of the closed pub, while others stuck flyers depicting men in various states of undress on to the windows.

The BBC posted a news report on the demonstration.

Watch it, and a very brief video of the crowd outside the pub, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: Hundreds Kiss Outside London Pub That Ejected Gay Couple" »

East London Gay Pride March Canceled for Fears of Stirring Conflict with Muslim Community

UPDATE: The march has been canceled.

Activists are protesting the announcement of an East End Gay Pride march in London because of concerns that it could increase tension with the area's Muslim community, and because its organizer has been accused of having ties to a far-right anti-Islamist group:

Gayfreezone "The march, to be held on April 2nd, has been organised by six friends as a response to anti-gay stickers plastered around the East End. But opponents say it is an 'emotional reaction' which 'risks antagonising and scapegoating' Muslims. They have also accused organisers of having 'close links' to the English Defence League because some have Facebook friends who appear to be involved in the far-right group."

The stickers, which were plastered around East London in early February, declared the area a "gay-free zone".

OutRage activist Peter Tatchell released a statement saying the group opposed the march:

"OutRage! is not supporting East London Gay Pride, following the revelation of links between some of the organisers and the right-wing English Defence League (EDL). I have also withdrawn my personal support. We fear the march will be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people...While defending the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people to protest against homophobia and the 'Gay Free Zone' stickers, it would be best if the march was postponed until a later date and organised by a broad-based grassroots and community coalition, untainted by associations with the EDL. Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in the rescheduled East London Pride."

Watch: Third Couple Challenges Ban on Gay Marriage in the UK


Activist Peter Tatchell, who is spearheading the Equal Love campaign in the UK, discusses the bid to overturn civil partnership laws, and follows Scott Maloney and Matthew Toreson, a couple of 18 years, as they apply for a marriage license.


Watch: Lesbian Couple Challenges UK Ban on Gay Marriage [tr]

Continue reading "Watch: Third Couple Challenges Ban on Gay Marriage in the UK" »

Watch: Lesbian Couple Challenge's UK's Ban on Gay Marriage


Yesterday, a lesbian couple challenged the UK law by applying for a marriage license in England:

Rev Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka Strietzel were turned away on the grounds that UK law stipulates that marriage partners have to be male and female.

The couple now plan to challenge this restriction in the courts, arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage violates Articles 14 (protection against discrimination), 12 (the right to marry) and 8 (the right to respect for family life) of the Human Rights Act.

Rev. Ferguson is an ordained minister of religion and chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.  Franka Strietzel is a corporate trainer.

Today’s application for a civil by the couple was the first of four that form part of the new ‘Equal Love’ campaign coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!

There will also be four application by opposite-sex couple for a civil partnership licence.

The Equal Love campaign seeks to end the prohibition on same-sex marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.

Watch an interview with the couple and a film of their attempt, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: Lesbian Couple Challenge's UK's Ban on Gay Marriage" »


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