TV & Radio
Chicago embraces Gay Pride
By Jeff Long
Chicago Tribune staff reporter
June 24, 2007, 6:14 PM CDT
Mike Erickson stood with his two young daughters in the heart of Boystown on Sunday, enjoying the Gay Pride Parade for the first time-even though his brother had come out to the family more than 10 years ago.
Erickson, 49, of Evergreen Park, and his daughters, Ceili, 12, and Phoebe, 10, watched the dancers and marchers and floats, and wandered through the friendly crowd with grins of appreciation.
"I haven't seen anything yet that I wouldn't want them to be exposed to," said Erickson, as a float with bare-chested men dancing in tight shorts cruised by. "If you want to see a wild parade, come down to the South Side St. Patrick's parade."
"It's fun," Phoebe said of her day at Pride.
The girls' grins seemed to have as much to do with having a fun day in Chicago with their uncle Jon as anything else. They stayed with their dad at their uncle's place the night before, watching movies and visiting.
Jon Erickson, who would only say he is not yet 50 when asked his age, has lived in the Boystown area for about 15 years. He said Sunday that he was proud to have his nieces and brother there with him amid a crowd that city officials estimated 450,000.
"It's really more than a family thing," Jon Erickson said of having his nieces attend Pride. "Their first question was, 'What does the rainbow flag mean?' And I told them how everyone's welcome. And that gay people are everywhere. So, to have my family join me along with my larger family is what the Pride Parade is all about."
Police and organizers said Sunday afternoon that they knew of no major problems or disturbances during the parade, which began at about noon, wending north on Halsted Street from Belmont and back south on Broadway.
There were 250 registered entries for the 38th annual event-floats, decorated vehicles, and marching groups-according to parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer.
Former NBA center Jon Amaechi, who retired in 2004 after five seasons in the league and came out earlier this year in an autobiography titled "Man in the Middle," was the parade's grand marshal. The theme of the parade was "United for Equality."
Mike Erickson had always talked about attending the Pride Parade with his brother, but just never got around to it. He's glad that he did this year.
"I do things with my other brothers," he said. "This is a chance to do something with him, in his neighborhood." Elsewhere on the parade route, Taysha Bronaugh, 34, was enjoying the sights with her girlfriend, Demetria Jamison, 26.
"I come out here to show support," said Jamison. "And get support. I love the parade."
"I love it," added Bronaugh. "I love coming down. I like looking at the half-naked bodies, I'm not going to lie. Everybody's enjoying themselves. They're having fun."
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Religious groups lead New York gay pride parade
The Associated Press
Sunday, June 24, 2007
NEW YORK: Religious groups including Christians, Jews and Buddhists led the New York gay pride parade, lending gravity to the often outrageous event that celebrates the night patrons of a gay bar in Manhattan resisted a police raid.
"We stand for a progressive religious voice," said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of New York City's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah. "Those who use religion to advocate an anti-gay agenda I believe are blaspheming God's name."
Kleinbaum, who heads the world's largest predominantly gay synagogue, and the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, were the parade's grand marshals Sunday, waving from his-and-hers convertibles.
The march took place days after the New York State Assembly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which Governor Eliot Spitzer supports. Although the bill is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled state Senate any time soon, parade-goers said they were cheered by the Assembly's action.
"This is one very important step toward full equality for all New Yorkers," Kleinbaum said.
As in past years, there was exhibitionism on display as the parade inched down Fifth Avenue and into Greenwich Village. Revelers gyrated in bikini briefs and marched in spike heels.
But the placement of the religious organizations near the head of the march — ahead of AIDS service groups and political advocacy groups — gave them unaccustomed prominence.
A Buddhist group carried signs that said "Construct Dignity in Your Heart" and "Don't Block Your Buddha."
The gay Roman Catholic group Dignity had a float and a giant rainbow flag. Jeff Stone, secretary of the New York chapter, said he was hopeful that the church would someday change its stance opposing homosexuality.
"We see that the opinion of ordinary Catholics is changing," he said. "Eventually what happens at the grass roots percolates up in the church."
Toni Cinanni of Perth, Australia, said she was surprised at the prominence of the church groups.
"I thought the religious groups had hijacked the parade," she said. "I couldn't put it together, religion and sexuality."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg marched with officials including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is one of the most prominent openly gay elected officials in the United States.
There were contingents of gay police officers and firefighters as well as ethnic gay groups including South Asians, Haitians and American Indians.
The annual gay pride parade, one of dozens that takes place around the world, commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots when patrons at a Greenwich Village gay bar fought back against a police raid.
In California, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, kicked off San Francisco's annual gay pride parade Sunday by splitting with her husband over support for legalized gay marriage.
"I don't know why someone else's marriage has anything to do with me," Mrs. Edwards said at a news conference before the parade started. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."
She made the remark almost offhandedly in answering a question from reporters after she delivered a standard campaign speech during a breakfast hosted by a local political organization.
She conceded her support puts her at odds with her husband, a former senator from North Carolina who she said supports civil unions among gay couples — but not same-sex marriages.
"John has been pretty clear about it, that he is very conflicted," she said. "He has a deeply held belief against any form of discrimination, but that's up against his being raised in the 1950s in a rural southern town."
No serious presidential candidate for the 2008 election from either major political party has publicly supported gay marriage.
The New York Times
June 25, 2007
The Empire Zone
Personal Victory for Assemblyman on Gay Marriage
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
ALBANY — His sister Rosie is the celebrity in the family. (You may have caught her in “A League of Their Own” or on “The View.”) But Daniel J. O’Donnell, a Manhattan assemblyman, got his own dose of fame during the climactic Assembly debate last week over a bill seeking to legalize same-sex marriage.
Mr. O’Donnell, the bill’s sponsor, who is gay, fielded more than an hour of questions from his colleagues, many of them hostile. Then he gave an impassioned and highly personal speech that was by turns comic (“I want a license that all of you have; some of you have had it two or three times”) and poignant (“All gay people, when they realize who they are, live in fear”). His companion, John Banta, stood nearby, and they embraced after Mr. O’Donnell, below, finished the speech.
Not everyone was convinced. Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, said he felt personally “threatened” by the legislation; Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn, suggested including a provision to legalize incest.
But the bill passed, 85 to 61, making New York only the second state in which one or both houses of the legislature have approved same-sex marriage legislation without being compelled by a court to do so, according to Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights advocacy group. (In the first, California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill.)
Though Gov. Eliot Spitzer supports the bill, Senate leaders declined to take it up. Still, gay rights advocates have hailed the Assembly vote as a huge symbolic victory.
“I mostly just thought about it as I was lying in bed at night,” Mr. O’Donnell, 47, said of his speech. “We walked on the floor with 79 votes. So to get to 85, people who were noes or maybes had to be swayed by the debate.” Afterward, he said, “some people told me that they couldn’t vote against me personally. Some people said they figured out that all the reasons to vote ‘no’ were political, and that they had decided to let their personal views dictate their vote.”
Boons for Consumers
At least two new pieces of law, should the governor approve them, are likely to make New Yorkers happy. One is the Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights, introduced by Assemblyman Michael N. Gianaris of Queens after the nationwide flight delays in February. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. of Long Island, requires that airlines provide water, fresh air, food and clean bathrooms if loaded planes are kept on the ground at New York airports for more than three hours.
“Passengers have long complained about declining service on airlines, but this is ridiculous,” said Mr. Gianaris, above, noting that during the February delays, some passengers were stuck on planes at New York City-area airports for hours at a time. “People in prison camps don’t get treated this badly.”
The second piece of legislation eliminates the 4 percent sales tax the city charges on clothing and shoes costing more than $110. City officials and business leaders argued that the tax gave an advantage to retailers in neighboring states that do not levy such a charge. The bill, sponsored in the Assembly by Herman D. Farrell Jr. of Manhattan and in the Senate by Frank Padavan of Queens, passed on Thursday — and will soon take effect at a department store near you.
City Lobbyists Weigh In
New York City officials managed to stall legislation that would have made it harder for them to lease buildings for school space as part of the city’s five-year capital plan.
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Queens persuaded her colleagues to approve a bill that would require leased school facilities to go through the same approval process as newly built schools — including approval by the City Council and the state’s stringent environmental review process. Community and environmental advocates, citing past cases in which the city leased buildings on polluted or contaminated ground, said the reviews were necessary.
But city lobbyists have insisted that the more than 30 leased facilities in their plan do not require Council or state environmental approval, and that the buildings in question have been carefully inspected for any potential danger to the students who would occupy them. They also said that a lengthy review process would make it impossible to close leasing deals with the property owners. And they persuaded Mr. Padavan, left, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, to hold off.
“Contrary to what has been asserted, the School Construction Authority already conducts thorough environmental reviews as set by the State Department of Environmental Conservation,” said Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city.
Advocates for the bill thought they had reached a compromise in the waning days of the session. The deal would have exempted the leases from the state environmental review process and instead required an expedited review involving testing water, soil and air on the properties.
“We had worked out what I thought was a kind of sensible compromise,” said David Palmer, a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
But the city eventually balked again. The sticking point? The bill’s supporters insisted that the City Council have a role in the approval process. “An environmental review process without a political process is almost worthless,” Mr. Palmer said.
Mr. Sklerov said the city “will continue to work with members of the Legislature and the environmental community to address any of their concerns.”
2007年06月24日 07:25 発信地:ベルリン/ドイツ
2007年6月23日、ベルリンのクリストファー・ストリート・デイ（Christopher Street Day、CSD）の参加者たち。(c)AFP/DDP/NIGEL TREBLIN
After 30 years as a closet Catholic, Blair finally puts faith before politics
Outgoing PM seizes early opportunity to convert free of dilemmas of public role
Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent
Friday June 22, 2007
His spiritual awakening goes back at least 30 years, to his time as an undergraduate at Oxford, but due to political considerations Tony Blair's conversion to Catholicism has been a long time coming.
He has been attending Catholic mass, often with his family but also occasionally alone, since long before he became prime minister. His wife, Cherie, is a lifelong and practising Catholic, and in accordance with church rules their children have been brought up as Catholics and were sent to church schools.
More than 10 years ago Mr Blair was slipping into Westminster cathedral and occasionally taking communion, until the late Cardinal Basil Hume told him to stop because it was causing comment as he was not a Catholic - an injunction that bemused him at the time.
Since then he has regularly attended services conducted by Canon Timothy Russ, parish priest of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Great Missenden, the nearest Catholic church to Chequers.
He is also known to have had discussions with priests such as Father Timothy Radcliffe, former head of the worldwide Dominican order, now at Oxford, and with Father Michael Seed, who has shephered a number of high-profile figures, including Ann Widdecome and, allegedly, Alan Clark, towards conversion. Fr Seed, an engaging if indiscreet figure, has claimed to have paid regular backdoor visits to Downing Street to talk religion, if not necessarily to advise the prime minister.
So why has it taken so long? Almost certainly because of Mr Blair's sensitivity about the place of Catholicism in British public - and particularly its constitutional - life. The only positions specifically barred to Catholics are marriage to the sovereign or heir to the throne, or becoming sovereign themselves, a legacy of the Act of Settlement that followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the deposition of the last Catholic monarch, James II; there has never been a Catholic prime minister.
In the last 40 years Catholics have entered many senior positions in British public life, generally without comment except among the wilder fringes of Protestant Calvinism: in the civil service, the Foreign Office and industry, as MPs and ministers in Conservative and Labour cabinets. The current director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is a Catholic and, briefly, four years ago, with Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Iain Duncan Smith, leader of the Tories, so were the alternative prime ministers.
But the motives of Catholic politicians have traditionally been regarded with suspicion by non-Catholics, both here and in the US, based on the allegation that they take their orders from the Vatican rather than the electorate. Catholic political leaders have always denied it - but the recent antics of some bishops in the US during the 2004 presidential campaign when they threatened to deny John Kerry communion because of his support for abortion rights and, recently, Cardinal Keith O'Brien's warning that he would do the same in Scotland, have tended to confirm old suspicions.
A number of potentially divisive moral issues would have been much more difficult if Mr Blair had been known to be a Catholic, even though his personal beliefs have not necessarily intruded into the government's decisions.
Ministers have enacted civil partnerships for gay couples and this year faced down demands, particularly from the Catholic church, for exemption from equality provisions enabling gay couples to adopt children, even though the prime minister favoured compromise.
Equally, the government has not attempted to limit abortion rights - an issue regarded as long settled in Britain except by some mainly Catholic groups - or pushed for reduced time limits, even though the church regards abortion as a sin. And it has permitted stem cell research without conceding to Catholic opposition.
Mr Blair, like President George Bush, ignored the condemnations and warnings of the Pope and all other church leaders over the war in Iraq.
He has been keen to expand the number of faith schools and church-supported academies, in the face of strong opposition from secular groups, but here again seemingly not for reasons of religious indoctrination but because of their parental popularity.
The criticism of Ruth Kelly when she was education secretary because of her membership of the lay sect Opus Dei - at a time when the novel The Da Vinci Code had made the group more widely known - also showed that the old prejudice could still be deployed. Mr Blair probably thought he could do without the extra hassle.
He has kept his personal religious views largely out of his political life. Ostentatious religiosity does not go down well in Britain. He dropped his wish to end a prime ministerial broadcast on the eve of the Iraq invasion with the words: "God bless" on the advice of Alastair Campbell, who famously told him "We don't do God".
Explainer: Becoming a Catholic
The path to purification
Converting to Catholicism is not a straightforward or easy process, as Tony Blair will have realised. It takes time - though how long depends on the candidate's readiness and aptitude - and is based on the church's assessment of their sincerity and commitment. The process is described in a 44-page document called the Rite of Christian Initiation.
When there was a rush of conversions from Anglicanism in the early 1990s, after the Church of England's decision to ordain women priests, there was considerable murmuring among lifelong Catholics that the conversion of defectors such as John Gummer and Ann Widdecombe had been too easily sanctioned by Cardinal Basil Hume, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales.
That is unlikely to be the case with Mr Blair since his conversion is clearly the result of a long period of consideration and is not due to a particular grievance.
Adults wishing to convert undergo a period of doctrinal and spiritual preparation with a priestly adviser to become catechumens, preparing for admission to the church. They are no longer required to make an abjuration of previous heresy but they do make a profession of faith and belief that they "consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts."
The rite says candidates are to receive help and attention, so that "with a purified and clearer intention they may cooperate with God's grace."
The process takes several stages of indeterminate duration: after the period of evangelisation there follows acceptance into the order of catechumens, then election, when the church ratifies candidates' readiness. A "period of purification and enlightenment" follows, usually on the eve of Easter, followed by the sacraments of initiation and then catechesis as the candidates are allowed to participate fully in the sacraments, such as communion.
Although conversions usually take place during the Easter period and in public ceremonies, this need not necessarily be the case if there are special circumstances - which the church could probably find for a former prime minister.
Japanische Lesbe will ins Parlament
20. Jun 09:43
Homosexuelle Frauen werden in Japan nach wie vor diskriminiert. Eine Oppositions-Politikerin kämpft jedoch für mehr Toleranz.
Jahrelang hat Kanako Otsuji innerlich mit sich gerungen. Als Teenager spürte die Japanerin, dass sie lesbisch ist. Doch aus Angst vor Diskriminierung behielt sie es lange für sich. «Ich konnte es selbst nicht akzeptieren», erzählt die inzwischen 32-Jährige.
Heute sitzt sie als Politikerin der größten Oppositionspartei des Landes, der Demokratischen Partei Japans (DPJ), in ihrem Wahlkampfbüro in Tokios Schwulen-Viertel im Stadtteil Shinjuku und kämpft für die Anerkennung von Homosexuellen in ihrem Land. Ungeachtet kontroverser Meinungen hat ihre Partei sie als Kandidatin für die Ende Juli geplante Oberhauswahl aufgestellt.
Sollte Otsuji ins nationale Parlament einziehen, wäre sie dort der erste offen bekennende homosexuelle Politiker in der Geschichte Japans. «Es ist im alltäglichen Leben in Japan noch immer schwierig, sich zu outen und zu erzählen, was für Probleme Homosexuelle in der Gesellschaft haben», sagt Otsuji im Gespräch.
Kultur der Scham
Zwar gibt es in großen Städten lebendige Schwulen-Szenen, gegenüber ihren Familien oder Arbeitgebern aber verheimlichen viele ihre sexuelle Orientierung. In Japan ist Homosexualität an sich zwar seit langem akzeptiert, doch wird nicht darüber diskutiert.
Im Mittelalter war Homosexualität zum Beispiel unter Samurai ein offenes Geheimnis. Japan sei eine Kultur der Scham und auch Homosexualität habe bisher als etwas gegolten, wofür man sich schämen müsse, sagt Otsuji. Auch wenn es keine offene Feindseligkeit gegenüber Homosexuellen gebe, hinke Japan doch beim Bewusstsein sexueller Vielfalt hinter vielen westlichen Ländern her.
Als sich Otsuji vor zwei Jahren als Abgeordnete im Präfekturparlament von Osaka anlässlich einer Gay-Parade «outete», hätten die meisten ihrer Kollegen keine Reaktion gezeigt, erzählt sie, sondern das Thema einfach ignoriert.
Regierung setzt auf traditionelle Familie
Ihr Wahlkampfeinsatz für die Rechte von Homosexuellen erfolgt zu einer Zeit, da die Regierung des rechtskonservativen Ministerpräsidenten Shinzo Abe im Volk moralische Werte und das Bild von der traditionellen Familie stärken will.
In Otsujis Büro steht ein kleines Foto, das sie mit ihrer Partnerin zeigt, beide im weißen Hochzeitskleid. Sie haben kürzlich geheiratet, rechtlich jedoch werden Homosexuellen-Ehen nicht anerkannt. Es gebe kein Gesetz gegen Diskriminierung, beklagt Otsuji. Auch hätten homosexuelle Paare nicht die soziale Absicherung wie andere Ehepaare.
So sei es schwierig, einen homosexuellen Partner als Begünstigten einer Lebensversicherung zu benennen. Auch hätten Homosexuelle kein Recht auf das Erbe ihres Partners. Zudem gebe der Staat bisher kein Geld für die Vorbeugung gegen Aids aus, beklagt Otsuji. «Wir verstehen das als Ausdruck von Aversion gegen Homosexualität im Gesundheitsministerium», klagt die Politikerin.
Keine Möglichkeit zum Reden
Als Abgeordnete in Osaka setzte sie sich mit ihrer Mutter für Angehörige Homosexueller ein. «Familienmitglieder haben da unter Tränen erzählt, wie ihre Erwartungen an ihre eigenen Kinder enttäuscht worden seien, dass sie aber bisher nirgendwo sonst darüber reden konnten», schildert Otsuji.
Während es zwar unter männlichen TV-Stars bekennende Schwule gebe, seien Lesben in der Öffentlichkeit bisher gar nicht präsent, sagt die Politikerin. Männer würden bei Lesben allenfalls an Porno-Filme denken. Mit ihrer Kandidatur für die Oberhauswahl will die Japanerin denn auch vor allem erreichen, dass ihre Landsleute überhaupt erst einmal wahrnehmen, dass es Menschen mit gleichgeschlechtlichen Beziehungen gibt.
«Wenn ich gewählt werde, würde die Zeit enden, in der man Homosexualität ignoriert hat», sagt Otsuji. Sollte sie allerdings scheitern, sei es ungewiss, wann es wieder einen Parteikandidaten gebe, der für die Rechte von Homosexuellen kämpft. (Lars Nicolaysen, dpa)
Lesbian politician to open closet for Japan's homosexuals
By Chie Matsumoto
Jun 22, 2007, 13:11 GMT
Tokyo - Kanako Otsuji wants to open the closet for Japan's gay and lesbian community in order to increase their visibility and help them gain their basic rights as citizens.
The nation's first openly lesbian politician is running for a seat in upper house parliamentary elections in July under the banner of the major opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
'I wanted to change Japan through politics, and to do that we (homosexuals) have to become visible,' Otsuji told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa at her campaign office in Tokyo's Shinjuku Nichome district, known as a hub of the homosexual community.
Otsuji, then a member of the prefectural assembly in the western Japanese province of Osaka, officially announced her sexual orientation at a Tokyo gay pride parade in August 2005 and in a book published on the same day.
Since Japan has no law banning discrimination against homosexuals, many of them fear a backlash and do their best to hide under the blanket of pseudonyms or anonymity.
Many Japanese homosexuals feel more comfortable coming out of the closet with their close friends but resist revealing their sexual orientation to their immediate families or to their professional colleagues, Otsuji said.
After the 32-year-old politician announced her sexual orientation in 2005, her colleagues at the Osaka prefectural assembly began avoiding her.
'They just didn't know how to react, and they ignored me,' Otsuji said. 'I have met many Japanese people who just regarded us as 'weirdos.''
In Japan, violent hate crimes mostly target gay men, Otsuji said, as seen in a murder case about 10 years ago, when a Japanese gay man was robbed and killed.
But lesbians, who tend to be more invisible in society, may just be ignored or, at worst, receive prank calls.
Although Otsuji, a Taekwondo master, has not experienced any violent harassment since she announced her candidacy, her campaign office has dealt with protest calls from voters.
Otsuji thinks the prejudice against gays and lesbians in Japan lies in how people perceive homosexuality only as 'something to do with what happens in bed,' and not a lifestyle variation.
That generates the feeling of shame. When people criticize, they express sympathy for the parents of homosexuals, who they think must feel ashamed of their offspring.
Otsuji's mother received bouquets of flowers when her daughter won a seat in the assembly, but no congratulatory messages reached her when Otsuji married her partner.
Both women wore white wedding dresses and veils for the wedding earlier this month. The couple received a telegram from the DPJ leader, Ichiro Ozawa, and blessings from their families and friends after they exchanged vows and rings at the ceremony held at the Nagoya Lesbian & Gay Revolution 2007 event in the central Japanese city of Nagoya.
'Japan's discrimination against homosexuals is not based on religion but morality,' Otsuji said in an interview. 'That's why I think the nation can turn 180 degrees as soon as it learns to accept the concept.'
Japanese society and the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe need to realize that forms of family are becoming more diverse, she said.
To do that, Otsuji said she must make her presence known in the political arena and try to amend legal protection for more than a million of homosexual Japanese to help them feel secure.
'It is a typical attitude in Japan to try to eradicate differences, but we must realize that we need to flex our sense of values because diversity enriches society,' Otsuji said.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
2007年06月11日 17:00 発信地:サンパウロ/ブラジル
【6月11日 AFP】サンパウロ（Sao Paulo）で10日、世界最大規模のゲイパレードが行われ、ゲイやレズビアン、女装や男装など異性の装いを嗜好（しこう）するトランベスタイトなど約300万人（主催者発表）が、市内いっぱいにカラフルな行進を繰り広げた。
Millions stage gay parade in Sao Paulo
Sun Jun 10, 7:02 PM ET
An estimated 3 million gays, lesbians and transvestites paraded down the main avenue of Brazil's business capital Sao Paulo on Sunday, showing their pride in a blaze of color and festive music, organizers said.
"We want people to address machismo, racism and homophobia ... which still exists in Brazil," Nelson Matias Pereira, president of the parade told the official news agency Agencia Brasil, adding that many families took part.
The Sao Paulo Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transvestites (GLBT) Parade Association said balmy temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) helped draw more than last year's 2.5 million marchers and that the turnout would be a world record.
A police estimate was unavailable, but nearly 900 officers were on duty to help maintain order.
On a five-day visit to Brazil, the world's most populous Catholic country, Pope Benedict attracted less than 1 million to listen to his calls to reinforce traditional family values.
During Sunday's parade, bands played on 23 "trios eletricos," or huge trucks, with their music blasted from massive loudspeakers.
For their 11th parade, the gays received official backing for the first time.
Brazil's ministers for Tourism and Sport, Marta Suplicy and Orlando Silva, attended the parade. The governor of Sao Paulo state, Jose Serra, and city mayor Gilberto Kassab were also there.
Sponsors included Brazil's state energy company Petrobras and the state-owned Caixa Economica Federal bank.
The parade is seen as a major cash cow, attracting large numbers of Brazilian and foreign visitors, who boost the receipts of hotels, restaurants and shops.
A study this year by consumer research consultants Insearch found that Brazilian gays were above-average wage earners and spent 40 percent more on leisure than heterosexuals.
Sao Paulo gay pride parade attracts millions
The Associated Press
Sunday, June 10, 2007
SAO PAULO, Brazil: Millions packed central Sao Paulo for the city's 11th annual gay pride parade, dancing and waving rainbow flags in a carnival-like atmosphere as they condemned homophobia, racism and sexism.
At least 3 million people filled the canyonlike Paulista Avenue, organizers said, surpassing last year's count of 2.5 million. A police spokesman who is not authorized to be quoted by name under department rules confirmed the larger turnout.
"This is the biggest parade on the planet," Tourism Minister Marta Suplicy said. "Our city is showing, once again, its respect for diversity."
Gay pride marches in San Francisco, New York, Berlin and other major world cities have attracted hundreds of thousands, far less than the Sao Paulo turnout.
Trucks blasting disco and electronic music rolled through the streets, followed by marchers carrying banners with slogans such as "Dignity for All," and "All Forms of Love Bring Us Closer to God."
Parade organizer Nelson Matias Pereira said this year's participants are appealing for a "world where racism, sexism and homophobia, in all their forms, no longer exist."
"There is no question the prejudice we have suffered for years has diminished a lot, but it's still there and we still a long way to go," said one marcher, mechanic Sebastiao Pereira Rodrigues, who was wearing black leather shorts and a tight purple T-shirt.
Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab and Suplicy — an avid supporter of gay rights — addressed the crowd in between live concerts.
2007年05月24日 22:40 来源：中国新闻网
[ 2007-05-26 08:48 ]
Japon: l'unique élue ouvertement gay brigue une tribune au Sénat
le 5/6/2007 à 3h57 par AFP
Kanako Otsuji lors de son "mariage" avec sa compagneDans un monde politique nippon dominé par des hommes souvent conservateurs et prudes, Kanako Otsuji détonne. Elle a été l'unique élue ouvertement homosexuelle du Japon et brigue aujourd'hui un siège au Sénat pour donner "une voix aux minorités".
A 32 ans, la jeune femme a lancé sa campagne pour les élections sénatoriales du 22 juillet, espérant faire progresser "la tolérance vis-à-vis des différences" dans une société japonaise largement acquise à l'organisation familiale traditionnelle.
"Un de mes objectifs est de faire entendre la voix des minorités sexuelles et de me battre pour leurs problèmes", affirme Mlle Ostuji, dans son QG électoral de Shinjuku ni-chome, le quartier gay de Tokyo.
Pour la première fois dans l'histoire de l'Archipel, cette candidate lesbienne est soutenue par l'un des grands partis politiques, le Parti démocrate du Japon (PDJ, centriste), principale force d'opposition à la droite au pouvoir.
"Le PDJ souhaite renforcer son action pour résoudre les problèmes des minorités", explique une porte-parole du parti pour justifier la sélection de Melle Otsuji.
Pour autant, la direction du PDJ n'a pas souhaité mentionner la question homosexuelle dans son manifeste électoral, preuve que le sujet reste tabou au sein de la classe politique et de la société japonaise en général, selon la candidate.
"Ma candidature est une première étape. Lorsque je serai élue, le PDJ se penchera probablement ouvertement sur la question", espère-t-elle.
En 2005, alors jeune élue de l'assemblée préfectorale d'Osaka (ouest), deuxième mégalopole du Japon, Kanako Otsuji s'était fait connaître en devenant la première, et jusqu'à présente unique, responsable politique à révéler publiquement son homosexualité dans un livre.
"J'ai beaucoup réfléchi avant de le faire, j'avais peur des réactions", se souvient-elle, évoquant un "geste nécessaire pour donner une visibilité aux homosexuels".
Mais son entourage professionnel et privé "a fait semblant d'ignorer" son "coming out", ce qu'elle a ressenti comme "une discrimination silencieuse très déstabilisante".
Des homosexuels lui ont cependant envoyé des centaines de courriers électroniques pour la remercier de son "courage".
Depuis la fin de son mandat à Osaka en avril, Kanako Otsuji a décidé de porter la question des minorités sur la scène nationale.
En défendant des valeurs familiales traditionnelles, le gouvernement conservateur de Shinzo Abe "ignore tous les gens qui ne choisissent pas cette voie", déplore-t-elle.
La communauté homosexuelle est de fait confrontée à de multiples difficultés, à commencer par le Sida, dont les cas augmentent au Japon, tandis que les autorités tardent à prendre les mesures appropriées, selon elle.
Elle évoque aussi les difficultés sociales de nombreux couples lesbiens, un problème lié à l'inégalité salariale homme-femme au Japon.
Melle Otsuji aspire à "accélérer le processus vers un projet d'union civile" entre couples du même sexe.
Ainsi, lors d'un mariage symbolique à Nagoya (centre), la candidate a convolé dimanche en justes noces avec sa partenaire, Maki Kimura.
"Je n'ai jamais pensé au mariage, trop conformiste à mon goût. Mais pour faire avancer une cause au Japon, accomplir un acte qui s'inscrit dans une tradition n'est pas une mauvaise chose", argue-t-elle, précisant avoir reçu de nombreux messages de félicitations, y compris de responsables politiques.
Réaliste, elle évalue cependant à "une décennie" le temps qu'il faudra pour que l'union civile soit acceptée au Japon.
Assurant être "soutenue" par des dirigeants japonais qui n'osent pas révéler publiquement leur homosexualité, elle reconnaît cependant que "solitaire, son action a une portée limitée".
Mais si elle échoue aux sénatoriales, prévient-elle, le PDJ, pas plus qu'un autre parti, ne prendra plus le risque de miser sur un candidat gay avant "20 ou 30 ans".
Lesbian politican takes on Japan - AFP
Lesbian politican takes on Japan
Thursday Jun 7 14:51 AEST
With a wedding ring on her finger and a party endorsement on her back, Kanako Otsuji is on a mission to become Japan's first openly gay member of parliament and change the way the country treats sexual minorities.
In a political world whose upper ranks are almost exclusively older men, the 32-year-old Otsuji stands out for more reasons than her sexual orientation.
Just weeks ahead of the July 22 elections, Otsuji, who is running on the ticket of the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan, tied the knot with her partner.
But as Japan does not recognise gay marriage, her ceremony Sunday is considered illegitimate in the eyes of the state.
"By serving as a politician who is openly lesbian, I can make the homosexual population a visible issue," said Otsuji, formerly a local lawmaker in the western city of Osaka.
"I believe one of my missions in parliament would be to expedite legislation of a system similar to a civil union," Otsuji said in an interview at a campaign office in Tokyo's biggest gay district.
She predicted, however, that "it would take at least 10 years of debate" before Japan allows civil unions, a system which would give the rights, benefits and recognition of marriage to same-sex and unmarried couples.
"Right now, Japan doesn't even allow married women to have dual surnames," she said.
In Japan, homosexuality has long been accepted in fact but not openly discussed.
In medieval times, homosexual relationships were an open secret among priests, nuns and samurai knights. More recently, vibrant gay entertainment areas have sprouted in major cities.
But even if gays and lesbians do not encounter outright hostility, Otsuji said Japan was behind many Western countries in awareness of sexual diversity.
She doubted the Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who often calls for Japan to re-embrace "family values," would endorse a gay candidate.
"There are gay politicians and there must be gay members of the Liberal Democratic Party, too, because it is such a big party," she said. "But I cannot imagine the LDP would endorse an openly gay candidate."
Gay circles in Japan welcome Otsuji's candidacy.
"I think more gays and lesbians of younger generations will start contesting in the field of politics and I hope Otsuji will lead the movement," said gay activist Satoru Ito, who offers counselling and workshops for young homosexuals.
"Many gays and lesbians in Japan are still struggling to come out."
Otsuji herself struggled with years of dilemma and fear until she finally accepted to herself at age 23 that she was a lesbian.
"I would see many homosexual people come out only at gay bars and pretend to be heterosexual during the day," she said. "Even at gatherings of gays and lesbians, they didn't want to use their real names" in fear of their families and straight friends finding out.
"I didn't think it was right that you are forced to hide who you really are."
After university, she went to work as an intern for an Osaka lawmaker. Otsuji hesitantly confided her sexuality to her but was thrilled when the politician agreed to raise the subject of sexual minorities in the assembly.
"Politicians openly deliberated words that had only been whispered and heard at underground gay bars," she said. "That was when I became determined to enter politics."
In another bid to increase awareness for gays and lesbians, Otsuji and her partner, who is one of her campaign aides, held a public marriage ceremony in which both of them wore white wedding dresses.
Otsuji said she had never thought of doing something as conservative as a wedding.
"But I was simply happy to see so many people celebrating my wedding," she said. "Living as a lesbian, there haven't been many opportunities for people to celebrate my life."
Some 1,000 people gathered for the event, part of a gay festival in a park in the central city of Nagoya. Leaders of her party including Ichiro Ozawa, Japan's main opposition leader, sent congratulatory telegrams.
But while Abe is facing sagging approval ratings due to a scandal and mismanagement of the pension system, Otsuji's path to office will not be easy.
Only around 10 percent of members of parliament are women, placing Japan 100 out of 138 countries in female representation according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Despite its endorsement of Otsuji, the Democratic Party of Japan does not mention sexual minorities in its election manifesto.
Otsuji admitted her candidacy will also be a test for the party.
"If I fail this time, Japanese politics may not have another gay candidate for 20 to 30 years," she said.