Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two countries, two rallies

I simply wanted to point out today two rallies held this past weekend in two very different communities, both in favour of greater understanding and acceptance of homosexuals. My heartfelt congrats to the organizers of both rallies. The universal fight for dignity continues...

"Gay rights groups rallied in Pictou County, Nova Scotia on May 17, to speak out against the recent decisions by some rural counties to ban rainbow flags on government flagpoles.

But rather than fighting the counties, gay groups have adopted a new positive strategy: reach out to the local governments and ask them to confirm their commitment to diversity.

Four local governments in Nova Scotia, including Pictou, have adopted government-flags-only policies in the past year, after Truro town council rejected a request to fly a rainbow flag in Aug 2007."


The second rally this weekend took place in Havana, Cuba.

"Cuba's gay community celebrated unprecedented openness — and high-ranking political alliances — with a government-backed campaign against homophobia on Saturday.

The meeting at a convention center in Havana's Vedado district may have been the largest gathering of openly gay activists ever on the communist-run island. President Raul Castro's daughter Mariela, who has promoted the rights of sexual minorities, presided.

"This is a very important moment for us, the men and women of Cuba, because for the first time we can gather in this way and speak profoundly and with scientific basis about these topics," said Castro, director of Cuba's Center for Sexual Education.

Mariela Castro joined government leaders and hundreds of activists at the one-day conference for the International Day Against Homophobia that featured shows, lectures, panel discussions and book presentations. A station also offered blood-tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

Cuban state television gave prime-time play Friday to the U.S. film "Brokeback Mountain," which tells the story of two cowboys who conceal their homosexual affair.

Prejudice against homosexuals remains deeply rooted in Cuban society, but the government has steadily moved away from the Puritanism of the 1960s and 1970s, when homosexuals hid their sexuality for fear of being ridiculed, fired from work or even imprisoned.

Now Cuba's parliament is studying proposals to legalize same-sex unions and give gay couples the benefits that people in traditional marriages enjoy.

Parliament head Ricardo Alarcon said the government needs to do more to promote gay rights, but said many Cubans still need to be convinced.

Things "are advancing, but must continue advancing, and I think we should do that in a coherent, appropriate and precise way because these are topics that have been taboo and continue to be for many," Alarcon told reporters."

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