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In Italia seicento e quaranta;
2006年02月28日11時02分 - 朝日
Gains push women to 16.3 pct of world's lawmakers
Mon Feb 27, 2006 6:40 PM ET
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Women made up 16.3 percent of the membership of parliaments worldwide at the end of 2005, edging up from 15.7 percent a year earlier, the Inter-Parliamentary Union reported on Monday.
The latest statistics confirmed that women have made steady progress in elections since a landmark world conference on women in Beijing in 1995, when females made up just 11.3 percent of the world's lawmakers, the group said in its annual survey.
Women on average comprised 20 percent of the deputies elected in the 39 countries which held parliamentary elections last year, IPU officials told reporters at U.N. headquarters.
In nine countries, more than 30 percent of those elected or returned to office in 2005 were women, with Norway topping the list at 37.9 percent, the group said.
Women fared the best in Nordic countries and the worst in Arab states, the group found in its latest annual roundup.
The United States, which had no elections last year, ranked 69, with 66 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (or 15.2 percent) and fourteen female senators, or 14 percent.
The proportion of women legislators fell in eight countries last year, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Germany, Kyrgyzstan and St. Vincent and Grenadines, the group said.
In two countries -- Kyrgyzstan and Micronesia -- elections were held in 2005 but no women won seats. In Saudi Arabia, whose parliament was appointed, no women were named because women there do not have the right to vote or run for election, the group said.
That brought to nine the total number of countries without a single female lawmaker as of the end of last year, the survey found: Nauru, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the United Arab Emirates as well as Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia and Saudi Arabia.
No.220, Geneva/New York, 27 Februay 2006
ONE OUT OF FIVE PARLIAMENTARIANS ELECTED IN 2005 IS A WOMAN
One fifth of parliamentarians elected in 2005 were women, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which today is presenting its latest statistics on elections in single or lower chambers of parliament in the 39 countries that held parliamentary elections last year. In total, 20 per cent of legislators elected in single or lower chambers in 2005 were women. The President of the organization of the world's parliaments, Mr. Pier Ferdinando Casini, who is also the Speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, has emphasized that last year was marked by continued progress and new records for women's participation in the political field.
The statistics of the IPU also reveal that by the end of 2005, an average of 16.3 per cent of members in the upper and lower houses of parliament were women, up from 15.7 per cent in December 2004. This trend confirms the sustained progress made since 1995, when the proportion of women in parliament stood at 11.3 per cent.
More parliaments reach the 30 per cent threshold
Increases in the ratio of women parliamentarians were registered in 28 of the 39 parliaments (72%). Significantly, in nine countries, more than 30 per cent of those elected or returned to parliament were women. Norway topped the ranks in 2005; some 37.9 per cent of those elected were women, placing it in third position behind Rwanda and Sweden in the global ranking (see table and analysis, attached).
Both Denmark and Germany registered slight decreases in the proportion of women elected to parliament in comparison with the previous elections. In Denmark and Norway, women have held more than 30 per cent of parliamentary seats since the mid-1980s. This raises concerns as to whether these countries have reached a "ceiling" in terms of women's participation, and if so, how it might be overcome.
Andorra, Burundi, New Zealand and the United Republic of Tanzania are new to the list of countries where 30 per cent or more of legislators are women. New Zealand elected the highest number of women ever to its parliament. In the United Republic of Tanzania, the proportion of women elected to the legislature in 2005 reached an impressive 30.4 per cent. This result is noteworthy, as it the highest percentage of women ever achieved under a majority electoral system.
Significant increases and setbacks
The largest gains this year were seen in several Latin American countries and particularly Honduras - where the participation rose to 23 per cent. These gains are consistent with general trends in Latin American legislatures. Quotas have been implemented in Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras and Venezuela to promote the candidacies of women.
In Mauritius, the number of women in the parliament tripled from four to 12, which translates into an impressive gain (to 17,1 per cent of the membership). This followed in the wake of a concerted awareness-raising campaign by members of civil society and political parties to increase and strengthen the participation of women, advocating among other things the introduction of quotas.
A decrease in the number of women was observed in eight countries. In Egypt, women continued to face challenges in the electoral arena, with only 2 per cent of representatives elected in 2005 being women, a marginal decrease compared with the previous elections. In Bulgaria, Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the percentage of women in parliament dropped. The greatest setback happened in Kyrgyzstan, where the proportion of women in parliament dropped to zero. This can be explained in part by the change in the country's institutional structure. Kyrgyzstan moved from a bicameral parliament to a unicameral parliament. With incumbent parliamentarians vying for fewer parliamentary seats, women faced an even bigger challenge.
The number of parliaments with no women increased during 2005. In the parliamentary renewals in Micronesia, Saudi Arabia and Tonga, no women gained seats in parliament, although one woman won a by-election in Tonga in May 2005. A total of nine countries, mainly Pacific Island States and Arab States in the Gulf region, had no women in their national parliaments as of December 2005. The lack of women in parliament in a large number of Pacific Island States may be explained by the absence of support networks and financial assistance for aspiring women candidates and by a traditional culture which does not encourage their political participation.
Positive results for States emerging from conflict
In 2005 elections were held to restore parliaments in four countries emerging from conflict: Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq and Liberia. In all of these countries the percentage of women parliamentarians increased. In Afghanistan, Burundi and Iraq, constitutional drafting processes led to the introduction of electoral quotas and other mechanisms aimed at ensuring a certain level of women's participation in parliament and in governmental structures. In Afghanistan 27 per cent of legislators are women. In Burundi, the proportion of women in parliament jumped from 18.4 per cent to 30.5 per cent. In Iraq, women comprised more than 30 per cent of representatives after the January 2005 elections, but this figure dropped to 25 per cent after the December 2005 election. In Liberia guidelines were developed for political party candidacies in elections; they specified a 30 per cent quota for women on party lists. However, the political parties did not follow them as there were no sanctions for non-compliance. As a result, only 12.5 per cent of the candidates elected were women.
All four examples highlight the importance given to including women in post-conflict institution building. Despite the vast differences between the countries, they share certain commonalities ? the intersection between domestic women's movements and the international community in supporting the election of women to parliament. These results confirm as well the trend whereby women vying for parliamentary seats in States emerging from conflict tend to fare better than they had prior to the conflict.
The question of quotas
Of the 39 counties that held elections in 2005 for lower or single houses of parliament, 15 implemented special measures, such as voluntary quotas (adopted by one or more political parties in New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Portugal), legislated political party quotas (Argentina, Bolivia, Burundi, Honduras, Liberia and Venezuela), and reserved seats or mandates (Afghanistan and the United Republic of Tanzania). The average ratio of women parliamentarians in countries that used quotas in elections during 2005 was nearly that of those without such special measures: 26.9 per cent as opposed to 13.6 per cent.
In the United Kingdom, before the elections, all political parties hotly debated the use of "all women shortlists". This is a practice whereby a number of local constituency parties must select their candidates from a list of female aspirant candidates. Only the Labour Party endorsed this practice, which was in large part responsible for the highest number of women ever being elected in the United Kingdom - 128, surpassing the previous high of 120 in 1997.
Quotas are not the only explanation of women's progress in the political field. They provide for a quantitative leap, but to attain the goal of effective gender equality in politics, quotas need to be accompanied by a series of other measures, which range from awareness-raising to the training of women and the development of gender-sensitive environments.
In addition to that, other elements which contribute to women's growing presence in parliament need to be factored in, including socio-economic development, political will, cultural evolution, and international assistance and support.
2005: An important step towards universal suffrage for women
The long struggle for full political rights for women in Kuwait finally met with success when on 16 May 2005 the all-male Kuwaiti parliament granted women the right to vote and stand for election. It is estimated that this will result in a majority female electorate for future polls - 195,000 of the estimated 339,000 voters registered during 2005 were women. Women will be able to participate in the parliamentary elections in 2007 and the local elections in 2009. This victory is indicative of an embryonic but largely positive trend regarding women's political participation in the Arab region. The struggle for the granting of political rights to women continues in Saudi Arabia, where an election law published in August 2005 did not explicitly ban women from voting in the 2005 municipal elections. In the end, though, women were excluded, officially because of "time constraints" and logistical considerations (such as the fact that only a fraction of Saudi women possess photo identity cards).
Women in top positions of power
The number of women presiding officers of parliament reached a high in January 2006. Women currently preside over 28 of the 262 parliamentary chambers (10.7%). Despite this relatively low figure, this reflects some progress. Only 7.2 per cent of presiding officers were women in January 2005. A third of the parliaments headed by women are found in the countries of the Caribbean, where women have presided over some parliaments for the past six years. Europe, too, fares well, with 10 women presiding officers. In 2005, women presided over parliamentary chambers for the first time in Albania, Burundi, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. New Zealand is an interesting example, as nearly all the top positions are currently held by women, including that of Prime Minister, Governor-General and presiding officer of parliament.
A quick look at the number of women heads of State or women holding the highest positions of government at the end of 2005 reveals a positive trend. In New Zealand, Helen Clarke assumed her third term as Prime Minister after forming a new Government in October 2005. In Europe, a record number of women held the top political offices, for example in Estonia, Finland, Ukraine, and Germany, where Angela Merkel became the country's first female Chancellor in November. The first elected female African head of State - Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf - won a runoff election in November 2005. All told, 10 countries had women heads of State or Government in 2005. The year 2006 also begins on a positive note, with the election of Michelle Bachelet as the first woman president of Chile and the re election of Tarja Halonen as the President of Finland.
Meetings in New York on parliaments and gender equality
In order to strengthen the participation of women in politics, the IPU, pioneer in the field of promotion of partnership between women and men in politics, will hold two events at United Nations Headquarters in New York. On Monday, 27 February 2006, at 3 p.m. women Speakers of parliament will gather to discuss the situation of women in politics. Another meeting will take place on Wednesday, 1 March, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSO) Hall; it will take stock of the contribution of parliaments in promoting gender equality.
Established in 1889 and with its Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the IPU, the oldest multilateral political organisation, currently brings together 143 affiliated parliaments and seven associated regional assemblies. The world organisation of parliaments has an Office in New York, which acts as its Permanent Observer at the United Nations.
Contact for additional information or interviews:
In Geneva: Mrs. Luisa Ballin, IPU Information Officer
5, ch. du Pommier, CH - 1218 Le Grand-Saconnex / Geneva
Phone: +41 22 919 41 16
Fax: +41 22 919 41 60
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
In New York : Mrs. Kareen Jabre, Programme Manager, IPU Programme for the Promotion of Partnership between Men and Women.
Mobile Phone: +41 79 419 41 30
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Mr. Alessandro Motter IPU Liaison Officer
Phone: +1 212 557 58 80
Communiqué de presse
No.220, Genève/New York, 27 février 2006
UN PARLEMENTAIRE SUR CINQ ELUS EN 2005 EST UNE FEMME
Women in Parliaments: World Classification
THE ZEIT GIST
Japan's lesbian community in dual struggle for rights, acceptance
By THOMASINA LARKIN
The Japan Times: Feb. 28, 2006
Misrepresented, misunderstood and mysterious, a group of women fight a dual struggle, compelled to speak up for their rights, yet fearing the consequences of a life made visible in an oppressive world.
The mysteries surrounding this group have too often become false myths that stereotype the lives of lesbians. Very common is the belief that women become lesbians because of some traumatic experience they've had with a man.
"That's no more valid than asking a straight person if they had a bad experience with someone from the same gender and then become heterosexual," says Kim Oswalt, a Tokyo-based psychotherapist.
"Straight people know they are straight at a young age -- maybe even before having a sexual experience. The same could be said for lesbian and gays -- they may know their orientation at an early age.
"Internalized homophobia is when gays feel like they have to look and act straight to be invisible because there is a culture of repression," says Oswalt. "I have my doubts that the politics of assimilation strengthen the voice of any marginalized group."
On the other hand, even if someone is out of the closet, it's not easy to identify a person's sexual orientation by how they look.
Every Wednesday night, a snug and mellow little Shibuya bar hosts a night called Chestnut and Squirrel, or "kuri to risu" in Japanese. The air is filled with the smell of what organizers call "dyke food," the sounds of ice clinking in so-called "dyke drinks" and the chatter of over a dozen international women.
They may all be there for one common reason, but not one looks much like another.
Within the lesbian "community" are several pocket communities divided by members such as political activists, party girls who are into cruising the bar scene, career women or lesbians with children.
"Sometimes people think that just because two people are lesbians, they're going to get along," says American EV. "But the truth is, I'm not defined by 'being a lesbian.' I'm myself. Being gay is part of who I am, but it's not all of who I am. We all have something in common, but it's just one thing that we have in common. It's not a hobby, like 'I'm gay on Wednesday nights but I scuba dive on Saturdays.' "
Lesbians are all around. They're our nurses, our teachers and our Saturday scuba diving buddies. They're even our friends and our sisters. They just blend in really well, sometimes to the point of invisibility.
"Minority, minority, minority," says Olivia Moss, who wrote her thesis for Cambridge University on Japanese lesbianism in the 1990s.
"For foreign working women in Tokyo, the minority of being foreign, within the minority of being lesbian, within the minority of being a working woman, means that it's no surprise we're 'invisible' on a large scale. Add to this the population who are able to be 'out' at work, and the minority chain just goes on and on and the numbers decrease with the chain."
As Japan has yet to pass same-gender rights or antidiscrimination laws, most women don't fully come out, thus feeding the myth that lesbians don't exist in Japan.
"There's a fear among both foreign and Japanese women that it wouldn't just be taboo but there's a risk of losing your job or of alienating yourself from the so-called straight society," says Moss. Though Kanako Otsuji, an Osaka lawmaker, took a step forward by coming out publicly at last August's gay pride parade in Tokyo, Japanese lesbians have long been lacking public role models.
In 1980, well-known pop singer Naomi Sagara saw her career collapse as she was banished by the public after her former partner announced she was a lesbian.
"I didn't come out until I was 32," says Chu, who is lovingly referred to as Momma and has been helping organize "dyke weekends" (thrice a year get-togethers in Saitama) for over 10 years, as well as hosting food and drinks at Chestnut and Squirrel for four years.
"It's all about repression. I only knew about Naomi Sagara. She was lesbian and it was bad news. But then KD Lang was so cool. When I saw her sing at The Grammys, I thought 'I'm lesbian!' It was finally time for me to consider my sexuality. It must be a visible positive image for women to want to come out."
Chu says lesbian activities hit their peak in 1994, coinciding with the American feminist movement, when leaders of groups in Japan all worked together.
She says since then it has calmed down and because groups have different agendas they have gone their own ways.
Recently Japanese lesbians have been going their own way, with an increasing number choosing the Internet, rather than public places, to meet other women.
"The Net is different from meeting in a bar. I want more. People have lives and experiences, not just parties," says Ayano, who has been meeting Internet friends around Chiba for daytime activities like horseback riding and swan watching since September.
For some, following the personals on the Internet has compromised the strength of lesbian communities.
"Women can lead double-lives and that counteracts what the possibilities can be. It's easy to find a relationship on the Net by speed dating, but you end up closeting yourself and it affects the structure of that minority group. So then we don't fight for visibility because we've disappeared," says Moss.
"We need to encourage a community where women can express themselves. I feel like the foreign community has a moral obligation to care, contribute and support.
"It's time to work toward building self-awareness within our own foreign lesbian community -- and find ways of breaking down any barriers between ourselves and other communities."
But because of language barriers, the transitory nature of foreigners and the lack of same-gender spousal visas, there are different agendas for the foreign and Japanese lesbian communities.
Perhaps one of the challenges is how to respect the different agendas while at the same time building a strong political base.
Until a broader spectrum of visibility exists, public blindness remains and stigmas are continually reinforced by images of lesbianism brought to the mainstream.
"There are still many who believe in that there are virtually no lesbians in the real Japanese society," says Maki Kimura, a staff member of the Kansai Queer Film Festival and partner of Otsuji.
"A market where feminine lesbians are objectified and consumed as objects of sexual desire by heterosexual men, say through pornography, has developed.
"There are also a great number of lesbians who marry men due to economic concerns, partly because wage differences are still large between women and men in Japan.
"Even though we describe it as a community, there is not enough sharing of information with each other. Except for personals on the Internet, it's a big problem that there is virtually no media to link Japanese lesbians," says Kimura.
"I want to cut off the vicious cycle of discrimination and prejudice. The more we become visible, the more a systematic change favorable for us will be fostered."
PA/F (Performance Art/Feminism): Space monthly events in Waseda include performances, fashion shows, speeches by prominent members and contributors to the Japanese lesbian community.
LOUD: Resource center and rights group for lesbian and bisexual women in Tokyo 's Nakano district; weekly events and information service.
The Kansai Queer Film Festival is trying its best to reach all the remote parts of Japan (currently in Aomori Prefecture) and welcomes any support for festival fundraising
Tokyo International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival
Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade
Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
日本語訳（ROAD OF THE MONKEY まめたのモンキーなブログ2006年03月02日）
Views from the street
By MELANIE BURTON
Melanie Burton asked people if they support adoption for gay couples.
There are a lot of bad two-parent hetero families People say kids should be raised in a "normal environment," but I'm not sure what that is. If two gay people are going to do a good job then I have no problems with it.
Graphic designer, 32
I'm for it. I think that everyone should have a chance to adopt a child. I have known more homosexual couples that have stayed together longer than hetero couples, who are also loving and kind and would make great parents.
I think it's okay for a gay couple to adopt if the couple love each other. And if they have good jobs and can properly support the children, then yeah. But I can't really see it happening in Japan for a long time.
I support it. If the parents-to-be are responsible, then why should a child go without the love and attention they would in an orphanage. I do have a problem in that if gay people are cross dressers, they need to respect the child.
Bar worker, 23
I don't, definitely. I wouldn't like to have a mum and dad male, or all women. Like, "Hi, my mum's Jack and my dad is Frank." I think kids need one parent of each gender. I wouldn't like that to happen to me, so I don't support it.
Fashion marketer, 24
I'm a bit divided on the whole thing. I think that in principle it's fine, but it might be a bit hard on the children when they're at school, with teasing from other kids. But I think it will gradually become more accepted.
The Japan Times: Feb. 28, 2006
(C) All rights reserved
毎日新聞 2005年12月24日 東京朝刊
毎日新聞 2005年12月24日 東京朝刊
`Brokeback Mountain' sets good example, Chen says
By Chang Yun-ping
Friday, Feb 24, 2006,Page 3 - Taipei Times
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday used the Oscar nominated movie Brokeback Mountain as an analogy to describe relations between the US and Taiwan, stressing the importance of both sides seeking ways to reconcile and cooperate with one another to reach the common pursuit of a "great new world."
"Although challenges abound on this road ahead, as long as we believe in the value of this common mission and in ourselves, there is no obstacle too great or mountain too high," said Chen, who made the remarks last night at a banquet held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham).
The banquet was attended by around 550 people, including Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and American Institute in Taipei deputy director David Keegan.
Although Brokeback Mountain revolved around the issue of same-sex relationships, its most profound lesson transcends the love affairs in the movie, Chen said.
"It motivates us to understand that all of us are bound to make a difficult decision in life; yet we must strive to dispel prejudice, create trust, uphold mutual respect, and seek ways to reconcile and cooperate with one another, because only by so doing can we together reach the frontier of a `great new world,'" he said.
During the speech, Chen also reiterated the importance of the government's new cross-strait economic policy of "active management, effective opening."
Pressed to comment on Chen's analogy, Ma said last night that for US-Taiwan relations to be like the characters in Brokeback Mountain, both parties needed to trust each other.
The two main characters in the movie knew what the other was thinking and doing at all times, and did not spring "surprises" on each other, Ma said.
When questioned about the president's ongoing plan to disband the National Unification Council (NUC), AmCham president Tom Johnson said that although national security is a basic need which Taiwan is entitled to pursue, a strong economy will also add to the nation's overall security.
Johnson said that the foreign business community's confidence in the nation's investment environment remains strong and unaffected by the government's plan to abolish the NUC.
"I think it's very positive to invest in Taiwan ... You can see a lot of companies putting [money] into their infrastructure to support these. I do think you'll continue to see investments. These are very exciting areas," Johnson said.
Johnson said that Chen's Brokeback Mountain analogy demonstrates the value of cooperation.
Relationship With U.S. Like Brokeback Mountain Story Taiwan's President Says
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
February 24, 2006 - 12:00 am ET
(Taipei) The President of Taiwan says that the relationship the island nation has with the United States is like the message in "Brokeback Mountain", the Academy Award nominated film by Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee about two cowboys in love.
"It motivates us...to understand all of us are bound to make difficult decisions in life, yet we must strive to dispel prejudice...and seek ways to reconcile and cooperate with one another," President Chen Shui-bian told a gathering of more than 500 American business leaders in Taipei.
"There is a 'Brokeback Mountain' in each and every one of us."
"I deeply believe that the common pursuit of a 'great new world' by both Taiwan and the United States will guide us to a place where universal values - democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity - can be fully realized in the world we share," Chen told the business leaders.
While touting his government's economic policies he made no mention of his plan for future relations with the People's Republic of China.
"Brokeback Mountain" has been playing to packed theaters in Taiwan where Ang Lee is highly revered.
But, across the Taiwan Strait in China the film has been banned by government censors.
Politics A Drag For Luxuria
by Malcolm Thornberry, 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief
February 23, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET
(Rome) She wears Prada shoes but that's about all Italian drag artist Luxuria has in common with Pope Benedict XVI.
Her full name is Vladimir Luxuria and she alternates between saying she is "neither male nor female" and referring to herself as "transgendered". But one thing is certain: she's about to shake up Italian politics.
"I'm going to be the first transgender to get into a parliament in Europe," the 40 year old told the Reuters news agency.
"It's a way to say to people: don't judge me by the way I look, don't judge me by my sexual orientation. Please, judge me by my ideas."
This week Luxuria announced her candidacy for a seat in Italy's parliament, running under the Communist party banner in Rome.
Political analysts say she is practically guaranteed a seat in April's general election. The Communists are part of Romano Prodi's Union left of center coalition which is heavily favored to beat the right of center party of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Luxuria is a popular fixture in Rome's LGBT community. She is a cabaret performer and in 1994 organized the county's first gay pride march.
Same-sex marriage has already become a key issue in the campaign.
Last month thousands of people marched in support of gay marriage and Prodi has pledged that if his party is elected he will bring in legislation to recognize same-sex unions, although he has refused to be pinned down on just how extensive that would be.
Drag Queen Seeks Place In Italy’s Parliament
February 25, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
Joanna Wypior - All Headline News Staff Reporter
Milan, Italy (AHN) – Colorful drag queen Vladimir Luxuria says she shares a similarity with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: they both dab on lots of make-up and wear heels to make them look taller.
Luxuria is Italy’s first drag queen to run for parliament. Campaigning for the rights of homosexuals to marry and to legalize prostitution and certain drugs, Luxuria is trying for a win in the upcoming April elections.
“It will be a tough, uphill struggle, but I am not caving in,” Luxuria says.
The candidacy of Luxuria, which means lust in formal Latin, comes almost two decades after porn star Cicciolina entered parliament. The Hungarian-born Ilona Staller made headlines around the world when, before the outbreak of the first Gulf War, she offered to sleep with Saddam Hussein in return for Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait.
Born as Vladimiro Guadagno, Luxuria describes herself as neither woman nor man, just someone in search of a husband. She moved to Rome to pursue a career as a night-club singer and actress, and organized Italy’s first gay pride march in 1994.
Prodi's Transvestite Ally Seeks Power, Husband in Italian Race
Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Vladimir Luxuria says she shares something with Silvio Berlusconi: They both dab on lots of make- up and wear heels to make them look taller.
The similarities end there. Luxuria is Italy's first drag queen to run for parliament. She's campaigning for the rights of homosexuals to marry and for legalizing prostitution and some drugs as part of Romano Prodi's Union coalition, which is trying to unseat Prime Minister Berlusconi in April 9 elections.
``It will be a tough, uphill struggle, but I am not caving in,'' Luxuria said in an interview.
Unlike the two-party system in the U.S., Italy's voting structure favors broad coalitions of often-disparate parties, contributing to the fact that it has had more than 60 governments since 1945. This year's candidates also include an anti- globalization activist who pledged to spend more time in jail than parliament, and, in Berlusconi's corner, Benito Mussolini's granddaughter, a defender of Italy's fascist past.
``The Italian system lends itself to all sorts of idiosyncrasies,'' said Robert Leonardi, author of the 2003 book ``Italy: Politics and Policy'' and a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics. ``Also, each coalition is reaching out as the race tightens.''
More than half the 24 polls published since the start of the year show the coalition led by former European Commission President Prodi, 66, ahead of Berlusconi, 69, by less than 5 percentage points.
The candidacy of Luxuria, which means lust in formal Latin, comes almost two decades after porn star Cicciolina entered parliament. The Hungarian-born Ilona Staller made headlines around the world when prior to the outbreak of the first Gulf War, she offered to sleep with Saddam Hussein in return for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.
Luxuria, 40, was born as Vladimiro Guadagno and describes herself as neither woman nor man, just someone in search of a husband. She moved to Rome to pursue a career as a night-club singer and actress and organized Italy's first gay pride march in 1994.
Put forward by the Refounded Communists, the third-largest of the nine parties in Prodi's coalition, Luxuria stands a good chance of getting elected because she's second on the list of candidates after party leader Fausto Bertinotti for the Lazio region, which includes Rome.
Under the country's system of proportional representation, Italians vote for a list of candidates, and the number of winners from each list are based on the proportion of votes won by the party. Allied parties then pool their seats to form a government.
Keeping the Peace
With such disparate partners, heads of government often devote as much time and political capital patching up rifts among allies as making policy. Differences among Berlusconi's partners led to the resignation of two finance ministers and forced him to scale back planned tax cuts that he said were needed to drive growth.
Under Berlusconi, Europe's fourth-biggest economy slumped into recession twice in as many years, and growth last year trailed that of the euro region for a ninth year in 10.
Prodi, a devout Catholic, will have to deal with issues such as gay marriage and easing Italy's restrictive fertility laws with allies ranging from the anti-clerical Radical party to the Catholic party UDEUR. On economic policy, he will need to figure out spending cuts to rein in Italy's budget deficit while dealing with the former communist party that favors increased public spending.
The Union has withdrawn one candidate, Marco Ferrando, a bearded Trotskyite who was dumped after saying Iraqi insurgents were right to fire on Italian soldiers there.
On Iraq, Luxuria calls for a dialogue with Muslim countries and going back to the ``old Islam, where there were poets that sung of homosexual love.''
``I hope we don't find (Osama) Bin Laden or one of his followers'' among the Union candidates, said Roberto Calderoli, a leader of the Northern League, the smallest party in Berlusconi's House of Freedom's bloc.
The Northern League itself formerly favored the north seceding from Italy, and Calderoli resigned as reforms minister Feb. 18 after he appeared on national television wearing a T- shirt of the Danish cartoons satirizing the prophet Muhammad. The display sparked a riot Feb. 17 in front of the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where police killed 14 protesters.
Berlusconi has also teamed up with Alessandra Mussolini, who was elected to parliament in 2001 as part the National Alliance and then quit the party after it denounced Italy's fascist past. Her grandfather's 20-year dictatorship ended with Italy's defeat as part of the Nazi axis in World War II. Her new party, Social Alternative, counts among its partners Roberto Fiore, leader of the neo-Nazi New Force party.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Flavia Krause-Jackson in Rome at email@example.com.
Last Updated: February 23, 2006 00:12 EST
The Times February 23, 2006
Fringe elements drag down Italy's Left
From Richard Owen in Rome
DRESSED in a bright yellow jacket with pearl earrings and necklace, it was obvious that Vladimir Luxuria, a 40-year-old drag queen, had toned down his attire at the launch of his election campaign.
Gone were the feather boas, stage make-up and skimpy outfits that he wears as a nightclub entertainer.
But his electoral programme, including gay rights, the legalisation of soft drugs and tolerance of the “visibly different”, was still enough to raise eyebrows and risk alienating middle-ground voters.
Indeed, his candidacy underlines the difficulties that Romano Prodi, the front-runner in Italy’s upcoming elections, faces in holding together a broad and fractious 11-party coalition. Added to the gay rights campaigners are globalisation protesters, former communists, social democrats, Greens, centrist former Christian Democrats and the extreme Left.
To keep this coalition happy, the Centre Left has drafted a 380-page manifesto, prompting gibes that it would take an entire parliamentary term just to read it. The manifesto is an indigestible tome, excrutiatingly detailed in some passages but deliberately vague in others, fudging sensitive issues, such as gay rights.
By many measures, Signor Prodi should be heading for a landslide victory on April 9. Italians are disillusioned with Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, who has embarrassed the country with a string of gaffes and presided over economic decline. He has changed laws to suit his interests or to avoid being tried for corruption.
But Signor Berlusconi remains a master of the media, and during the campaign so far he has dominated television broadcasts — including those of the three commercial channels he owns. Signor Prodi by contrast is seen as lacklustre, with a dry, professorial style. Italians respect him for his integrity, and for enabling Italy to qualify to join the Eurozone when prime minister from 1996 to 1998. They also admire him for his stint as President of the European Commission — which many in Europe regarded as ineffective but which Italians see as a tribute to the country’s international status.
Signor Prodi’s economic programme has won praise, including commitments to cut labour costs, streamline the bloated bureaucracy, cut a budget deficit and restore competitiveness. He has stopped short, however, of tackling entrenched trade union power, a reflection of his reliance on the hard Left.
Signora Luxuria is standing for the Refounded Communists, led by Fausto Bertinotti, a Marxist who will almost certainly veto key economic liberalisation measures if Signor Prodi returns to power. His group commands 6.5 per cent of the vote and, like the other factions, will see its power enhanced by the Berlusconi Government’s restoration of proportional representation.
Even Signor Prodi’s European credentials are a double-edged sword, since many Italians now blame the euro for soaring costs, and Euroscepticism is on the rise.
Despite troubles in his own centre-right coalition, Signor Berlusconi is making a comeback in the polls. The Centre Left’s lead has been cut from six points to four.
STATE OF THE PARTIES
*Chamber of Deputies (Lower House): 630 seats, 316 needed for majority
Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 16:01 GMT
Gay rights enter Italian election - BBC
Vladimir Luxuria sees herself as neither male nor female
A transgender opposition candidate in Italy's general election this April is campaigning for improved gay rights.
Vladimir Luxuria, standing for the Communist Refoundation party, intends to challenge conservatives in her own country and Europe.
Ms Luxuria, who considers herself neither male nor female, told the BBC that having a transgender MP would be an important symbol.
She wants to promote civic unions and press for asylum rights for gay people.
Italy was one of the very few nations in the European Union that did not recognise civil unions, she told the World Today programme.
She called for political asylum for "all the gays who try to get into Italy from countries where homosexuality is punishable by death".
The hardline Communist Refoundation is the third biggest party in the opposition alliance led by Romano Prodi, which has seen disagreements between its factions over the rights of same-sex and unmarried couples.
"We don't want privileges - we want our rights," said Ms Luxuria.
Asked about attitudes towards gay people in Italy, she argued that the views of ordinary people were changing but politicians and the Roman Catholic clergy were "far behind".
Speaking earlier to Reuters news agency, she suggested she would ditch her trademark drag costumes - sequins, feather boas and bouffant wigs - once elected.
"Parliament is not a theatre, it's not a discotheque," she said.
"It wouldn't be useful to provoke [people] in such a stupid way."
Drag queen says she's a serious politician
Italian will be Europe's first 'transgender' member of parliament if elected - Reuters
(Photo) Tony Gentile / Reuters Italian transgender election candidate Vladimir Luxuria, 40, is running for a seat in Italy's parliament.
Updated: 11:30 a.m. ET Feb. 23, 2006
ROME - Vladimir Luxuria will ditch the sequins, feather boas and bouffant wigs when she enters Italy’s parliament. The drag queen says she will be Europe’s first transgender member of parliament. and wants to be seen as a serious politician.
Born Wladimiro Guadagno, the former organizer of Italy’s gay pride parades, considers herself neither male nor female but dresses as a woman and prefers to be referred to as "she."
Luxuria has shot to national fame by running for parliament where she is practically guaranteed a seat at April’s general election by teaming up with the country’s main communist party.
“I’m going to be the first transgender to get into a parliament in Europe,” Luxuria, 40, told Reuters in an interview.
“It’s a way to say to people: don’t judge me by the way I look, don’t judge me by my sexual orientation. Please, judge me by my ideas.”
Reaching out to gay voters, Communist Refoundation has put her very near the top of its party list. With the party likely to get at least 6 percent of the vote, Luxuria’s place as a lawmaker is assured.
But Luxuria, who stars in an upcoming film playing a Neopolitan transvestite who enters politics, is keen not to be considered a novelty candidate along the lines of porn star Ilona ’Cicciolina’ Staller who sat in the assembly in the 1980s and was famous for her impromptu stripteases.
'Parliament is not a theatre'
The drag queen dressed down for a recent news conference, wearing a trouser suit with a orange jacket and said she intended to attend parliament in similarly conservative but feminine clothes rather than her cabaret attire.
“Parliament is not a theatre, it’s not a discotheque. It’s already revolutionary that a transgender gets into parliament. It wouldn’t be useful to provoke in such a stupid way.”
Luxuria’s political stand for gay rights contrasts sharply with Italy’s deep Catholic roots and the hostility to gays shown by many of its politicians.
Members of the government’s Northern League party regularly rile against what they see as the threat posed by “faggots.”
The European Parliament rejected Italy’s choice for European Commissioner, Rocco Buttiglione, a member of the Catholic UDC party, because of his belief that homosexuality was a sin.
Despite attacks from government supporters, Luxuria jokes that she has something in common with image-conscious Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is lampooned in Italy for apparently wearing built-up shoes that make him look taller.
“He wears make-up, like me, maybe a little bit less but he does. He wears heels, so sometimes, at least aesthetically we have more in common than he would think.”
A new view of Italy?
The center-left 'Union' coalition, led by former European Commission President Romano Prodi, has pledged to establish some form of civil union for homosexual couples, although gay groups say the wording is not clear enough.
Luxuria said she will work in parliament to establish full legal recognition of such unions, but stressed that she is not pushing for adoption rights for gays, such as exist in Spain, because “Italian society isn’t ready to accept it.”
While Berlusconi’s center-right coalition, campaigning on traditional family values, hopes that Italians will be put off by the sexually ambiguous Luxuria, the center left hopes her presence will demonstrate a modern, tolerant view of Italy.
Last year an earring-wearing, openly gay man, Nichi Vendola, was voted governor of the southern region of Puglia, delivering victory for Refoundation and humiliation for Berlusconi’s party.
“I think Italians are a bit more mature than many of the politicians who claim to represent them,” said Luxuria.
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School Board Told To Get Rid Of Transgendered Teacher
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
February 25, 2006 - 12:01 am ET
(Toms River, New Jersey) The Eagleswood School District will meet Monday to hear a parent's demand that a transgendered substitute teacher be either fired or parents allowed to have their children taught by someone else.
Lily B. McBeth became a substitute teacher after retiring from her job as a medical marketing executive. At age 70 she says she knows something about kids. Before transitioning last year she fathered and raised three of her own.
The school district says that her teaching record is among the best in the state.
But none of that is good enough for parent Mark Schnepp.
Schnepp has two children attending school in district. He says that the idea of someone who had a sex change teaching his children is an affront to his convictions.
"It violates my religious beliefs," the 39-year-old told the Asbury Park Press.
Earlier this week he took out a full-page newspaper ad urging parents to attend the Board of Education's Monday meeting, where school officials plan to discuss the situation in private session.
The state's largest LGBT civil rights organization plans to be there too.
New Jersey courts have ruling in other cases that it is illegal to discriminate against the transgendered, but the state's nondiscrimination law does not specifically name transsexuals as a protected category.
The law absolutely protects Lily McBeth, but make no mistake: Her situation proves why we want the state legislature to amend the state's Law Against Discrimination specifically to include the transgender community. It would give the case law extra power," said Barbra Casbar, vice-chair of Garden State Equality.
The Eagleswood School District is in Ocean County the scene of a bitter fight to win spousal benefits for the domestic partner of a dying police officer.
State law leaves it up to municipalities to decide whether to grant benefits to the same-sex partners of workers.
After months of refusing to consider the benefits county freeholders agreed earlier this month to Lt. Laurel Hester's final request following a public outcry.
Hester died February 18.
"The good citizens of Ocean County proved their fairness with their outrage over the treatment of Laurel Hester in the months before she died," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality.
"We believe Ocean County will now rise to the occasion in support of Lily McBeth, whose reputation is unsurpassed. A great teacher is a great teacher, period.