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Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Eurovision resists involvement with Moscow Pride
The executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest is resisting any involvement with next year's Moscow Pride events, scheduled to take place the day of the Eurovision grand finale in the same general location.

Pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev, noting that the past three attempts to stage Gay pride in Moscow were officially banned and violently attacked by homophobes, wrote to contest head Svante Stockselius in Geneva requesting that Pride and the contest cooperate on security issues.

The ├╝bercampy song contest - hugely popular among Euro Gays - generates a substantial Gay influx to whichever country it is held in, and it is likely that many Gay fans who travel to the 2009 contest would join in the pride events the same day.

But Stockselius opposes any linkage between the two events.

"The other project you are referring to is in no way connected to the Eurovision Song Contest [and] I do not see any possibilities for us to get involved," he said in an August 13 e-mail exchange.

Reminded that Moscow Pride is only seeking cooperation on security issues and that Eurovision got involved on that level when nearly identical issues surfaced prior to this year's contest in Gay-unfriendly Serbia, Stockselius backtracked slightly.

"We are used to other parties [commercial, political, special interests, etc.] trying to take advantage of our well-renown event for their own purposes," he wrote. "That's why we need to draw a clear line of our responsibilities. Regarding the Gay issue, we recognize this situation from earlier this year, where there also were some rumors on planned attacks on Gays during the ESC in Belgrade. And as then, we will not next year start to divide our fans into groups based upon their religion, color of the skin - or sexual preferences. We will again seek necessary guarantees from the authorities that they guarantee the security for all our fans."

That could be a daunting task. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has said Gay pride parades "can be described in no other way than as satanic," and Moscow police and riot police have stood by on more than one occasion and watched violent anti-Gay protesters beat up participants in the pride events that Luzhkov officially banned.

But pride attendees and some Eurovision fans being one and the same next year cleverly appears to convert Moscow Pride's perennial problem into a problem for Eurovision and Luzhkov, as well.

According to activists, Luzhkov was tapped August 15 to be deputy head of Eurovision's Moscow organizing committee, a position he will share with Russian TV Channel One head Konstantin Ernst. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov will lead the committee.

Conjugal visits blocked for Costa Rican Gay inmates
Costa Rica's Constitutional Court ruled August 10 that Gay inmates have no right to conjugal visits.

The ruling came in the case of a former inmate who had been allowed such visits with a current inmate, only to see them halted later by prison officials.

However, reports said another, similar case is still before the court, but with different arguments. That case claims it is a violation of inmates' right to sexual freedom to restrict conjugal visits to heterosexual couples.

Georgian Gay leader discusses invasion
Georgian Gay activist Paata Sabelashvili, head of the Tbilisi-based GLBT group Inclusive Foundation, communicated with San Francisco blogger Michael Petrelis on August 11.

The country, a former Soviet republic, has been at war with Russia since being attacked August 7. A ceasefire agreement was signed on August 15, but some fighting has continued.

"Let me thank you for expressing solidarity in this difficult moment," Sabelashvili wrote. "Unfortunately, I have not been able to take good care of the NGO [nongovernmental organization] these days as I was helping out journalists who covered the events. I was with Danish TV2 journalists as close to capital of South Ossetia as six km today. Bombs have been dropped around us. We saw three jets and heard more, as well as the noise from more than 20 charges being released."

"It is close to panic situation," Sabelashvili said. "I am now sitting in the office and try to get [hold of] family and friends. Mobile phones are down. I am not sure when will internet go off. Russian troops are stationed 20 km west to capital Tbilisi and people are fleeing the city. I do not know what is on invaders' mind, but it is really bad what is on in town. Only reason our website still works is that it is placed outside Georgia and does not have Georgian domain.

"It is not so easy for me to make clear points. So, obviously, I need to stop writing and go back to why I came to office: to back up all our work files in case office is bombed. I thank you for thinking of us and I wish peace to all of you no matter where you are. By the way, we are out and publicly visible - you can see that in our magazine as well."

The group's website is inclusive-foundation.org.

Half of Finns support church blessings of Gay couples
Forty-nine percent of Finns are OK with church blessings of same-sex couples who have entered a registered partnership, a poll by the Taloustutkimus market research firm has found.

The notion received the most support from southern Finns, women, and people aged 15 to 24.

The approval figure is up 9 percent from last year and 16 percent from five years ago.

Pollsters questioned 1,040 people and reported an error margin of 3 percent.

Bashkortostan to name street after Nureyev
Ufa, the capital of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan, will name a street after the late ballet great Rudolf Nureyev.

The decision by the City Council comes after two years of deliberations - a delay that activists said was caused, in part, by discomfort over Nureyev's Gayness.

Nureyev, who grew up in the republic, died of AIDS complications in 1993.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top: Moscow
bottom: Eurovision Song Contest Control Room

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