Guido Westerwelle

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Guido Westerwelle (left) with Angela Merkel | Reuters | 16177ga

Guido Westerwelle, the former chair of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, German Foreign Minister from 2009 until 2013, and  Vice Chancellor of Germany from 2009 to 2011 has died from acute leukaemia in Cologne. He was 54. German media reported that Mr Westerwelle had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and had undergone a bone marrow transplant. His foundation said he died as a result of complications associated with his treatment.

Guido Westerwelle was the first openly gay man to hold high office in Germany. He and his long-term partner Michael Mronz entered a civil partnership in 2010.

Gay Activist sends condolences to Mr Mronz, family, colleagues and friends.

Westerwelle was born on December 27, 1961 near Bonn, the capital of former West Germany. His parents were both lawyers who divorced when he was only 10. He grew up living with his father and his three brothers.

He was not popular at school. His teachers remembered him as someone who liked to take center stage, but who also came across as well-mannered and conservative as well as vain, loud-mouthed and opinionated.

At 19 Guido Westerwelle became a member of the liberal, pro-business FDP, and soon took over as chairperson of the party’s youth organization, the “Young Liberals.” At the age of 39 he became FDP party chairman, which he was to remain for 10 years from 2001 to 2011. He experimented with new campaign tactics, traveling through the country in his yellow “Guidomobile” van and appearing in the “Big Brother” reality TV show.

His speeches in parliament were the highlight of debates. His hard work resulted in the FDP reaching 14.6 percent in general elections in 2009, making it possible for conservative chancellor Angela Merkel to enter into a conservative coalition with the FDP after four years of grand coalition with the SPD.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-35842927

http://www.dw.com/en/guido-westerwelle-a-fine-orator-who-became-germanys-chief-diplomat/a-19127506

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London: Ken Livingstone and Partnership Ceremonies

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In 2001 London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced a partnership registration service for same sex couples. The registrations recognised the partnership of the individuals but did not confer any legal rights. The new register was called the London Partnerships Register. The register was open to heterosexual as well as gay couples.

The first couple to take advantage of the scheme, which pre-dated Civil Partnerships and demonstrated the need and desirability of giving same sex couples rights, were Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell, who had been together already for 38 years.

They had a five-minute ceremony conducted by Rob Coward, a specially-trained officer with Greater London Authority.

Couples taking part in the ceremony received a certificate but the register was not made available to the public for confidentiality reasons. The register was designed to be self-financing, charging couples £85 to register their details.

The Greater London Authority was the first public body in the United Kingdom to recognise same-sex relationships as being on a par with heterosexual partnerships.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1525205.stm


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Maris Sants and the mob

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Kasjauns | 14127

Maris Sants, pictured, who now lives in London, was excommunicated from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia in 2002 because of his sexuality. His case was highlighted by Amnesty International after he was attacked by anti-gay thugs.

In the years after he came out as gay, the 45-year-old found himself the focus of much attention in the media. Crowds gathered outside his church in Riga, and skinhead protesters held placards condemning homosexuality. Some even threw excrement or violently attacked him. Mr Sants wisely decided to emigrate.

Gay relationships were illegal in Latvia until the early 1990s, and homophobia remains widespread.

“There was a time in around 2005 when, possibly for a year or two, I was one of only two publicly known gay guys in the whole country,” said Mr Sants. “Those who came out, most of them had to immediately emigrate. By the time I came out at the age of 36 I had been through different healing programmes. I had been to psychiatrists and psychotherapists and had gone to ‘ex-gay’ ministries with evangelical Christians who believe homosexuality can be cured. When I turned 33 a serious thing happened and I understood – and this was really like a revelation – that actually it was completely OK. I understood then that hiding my homosexuality was a sin.”

Following his excommunication from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, Mr Sants founded a congregation that was open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

It hosted the inaugural LGBT Pride march in Riga, an event marred by violence from anti-gay protesters.

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Michael Causer

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Mike and Marie Causer | Liverpool Echo | 14241

The mum of murdered teenager Michael Causer has spoken of her mission to raise £1m for a homeless hostel. Marie’s son was brutally killed five years ago. She was touched by the plight of youngsters who said they had run away, rather than tell their parents they were gay, or had been kicked out of the family home because of their sexuality, and she has set out to fund a hostel to provide temporary emergency care for gay and lesbian youngsters at risk of being on the street.

Marie, with husband Mike, set up the Michael Causer Foundation after 18-year-old Michael was killed at a house party in 2008. She said she still can not find it in her heart to forgive those responsible for his death, whom she brands as “evil”.

Michael Causer | Michael Causer Foundation | 14242

Michael Causer, who was training to be a hairdresser, was born on 9 October 1989 and died on 2 August 2008 after being seriously assaulted because of his sexual orientation, in the early hours on the morning after a small house party. James O’Connor and Gavin Alker were charged with the murder. Michael Binsteed tried to cover up the attack by helping dump Causer’s body in the street and lied to police claiming he had been the victim of an attack by others. He pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. Douglas was charged with witness intimidation in relation to the case. Alker was acquitted of murder and manslaughter. O’Connor was convicted and sentenced to serve life with a minimum of 11 and a half years before he can be considered for parole after pleading guilty to murder. Michael Binsteed was convicted and sentenced to 34 weeks in custody, suspended for two years.


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Bar Noah Bombing

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Bar Noah | Talmoryair | 14249

On May 7, 2013 three people appeared in court in Tel Aviv suspected of involvement in a deadly shooting at a gay youth centre in the Aguda gay community centre in Tel Aviv.

Nir Katz| Katz family/Jerusalem Post | 14250

Liz Trubeshi and the youth counsellor Nir Katz were killed and 15 others were wounded in the incident on 1 August 2009. The three men, who were led into court manacled to police officers, were remanded in custody for 15 days. The details are subject to a media gagging order, but reports suggest the motive was one of revenge. A fourth person, reported to be a gay rights activist, has been arrested on suspicion of obstructing the police investigation into the attack.

Police hinted the suspects had criminal backgrounds and that at least two had connections to a large Israeli crime organisation. It is believed the killer was a hired gunman who went to the Bar Noah youth club and opened fire randomly after failing to find his target.

The attack and subsequent failure to apprehend any suspects stirred public debate in Israel about attitudes there towards homosexuality. The investigation has been one of the most expensive in Israeli history.

In 2011 it was reported that Israel was proposing to expel Thomas Schmidt, the German partner of Nir Katz.


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Erasing and rewriting the history of a former gay area

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Polk Street, San Francisco | SF Streets Blog Org | 14304

Toshio Meronek documents the attempts by neighbourhood organisations to play down and even erase an area of San Francisco’s past gay history.

“Lower Polk Neighbors is a central San Francisco neighborhood association that meets monthly to talk “crime, cleanliness, beautification, and the strengthening of our community.” … For years the organization has been openly trying to erase the history of Polk Street as a sanctuary for lower-income gay and transgender people. Last month, it was at it again, censoring a queer activist group that criticized that erasure.”

From 2001 the organisation started campaigning to close down gay businesses and spaces and force them out of the district. One of the first casualties was the hustler bar Club RendezVous at Polk and Bush Streets. Club Rendezvous owner David Kapp told the Central City Extra that a “smear campaign” by LPN ended Kapp’s plans for staying in the neighborhood.

The organisation didn’t want to gentrify the neighborhood, .. (just to) “make it clean and safe.” That meant pushing queer and trans people, as well as closing a potentially life-saving needle exchange, out of the area.


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365 gay news

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Illawarraq Info | 14315

365 Gay News was a news service originally provided as television programming by Viacom, an American media company. It was launched in 2005 as “CBS News on Logo”, Logo being a Viacom programme stream. The name was changed to 365 Gay News in 2008. The service tried to provide a comprehensive news service which covered gay stories from around the world. The venture was not financially successful and in 2009 the service became a web-only news service. That still did not succeed and it was closed in 2011.


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P A MagLochlainn

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P A MagLochlainn | Iced Coffee | 14332

Gay Activist is sad to learn of the passing of P A MagLochlainn of Northern Ireland. PA MagLochlainn was the first openly gay member of the executive of an Irish political party, when elected to the executive of the SDLP in the 1990s.

Over 20 years ago, MagLochlainn was one of the organisers of Belfast’s first Gay Pride march. Less than 100 attended. He kept the T-shirt he wore, wearing it at every subsequent march. He also acted as a counsellor, work which touched the lives of hundreds.

He provided training to the RUC in how they should deal with the gay community, and also in the Irish language, and how to show respect to Irish culture.

MagLochlainn was a man of great culture who spoke five languages, was a compulsive reader of newspapers, and was uninterested in material possessions. He did not care if the house was falling down round him, as long as he had a book before him.

He is survived by his partner, Barry, his five sisters and two brothers. He was predeceased by his sister Vivian Groogan.

Gay Activist sends condolences to Barry, family, friends and colleagues.

Updated 20 November 2014. Photo re-retrieved.


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Equal marriage in the UK – Timeline

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Kitchen Table News Room | 14352

1997: The government cabinet included Britain’s first openly gay minister, Chris Smith, and the government immediately set about ending legislative discrimination against gays and lesbians.

2000: The age of consent for homosexual sex came down from 18 to 16, and Section 28 was repealed.

2004: The Civil Partnership Act was announced and passed, with the first ceremonies taking place in December 2005.

2010: The Equalities Act 2010 allowed Civil Partnerships to be performed in religious institutions and buildings. During the 2010 general election, all the major parties signalled their willingness to look at the issue of marriage equality.

2011: Scotland’s government consulted on gay marriage. The consultation was by far the biggest in the history of the Scottish parliament, with 77,000 responses which resulted in a figure of 67% opposed to same sex marriage.

2012: England and Wales government consulted on gay marriage, there were 228,000 submissions. The Home Office says the results will be known by the end of 2012. In July, the Scottish government pledged to introduce both civil and religious same-sex marriage, but was careful to stress that no religious institution would be compelled to offer it, and that measures would be put in place to “protect” celebrants of any faith group who disagreed with same-sex marriage. Bills for gay marriage introduced into the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments, December 2012.

Text updated 15 December 2012


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The Queen Boat, Cairo

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Rainbows will shine | 14355

In 2001, 52 men who were arrested aboard a floating gay nightclub called the Queen Boat, which was moored on the Nile in Cairo. Of the 52 accused, who became internationally known as the “Cairo 52”, 29 were acquitted; 23 were convicted for “habitual debauchery” under Law 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution and defaming Islam. All 52 men had pleaded innocent but they were sentenced to up to five years prison with hard labour. The trial was held in a state security court, allowing no appeal.

Dr. Essam Elarian, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, expressed a common opinion. “From my religious view, all the religious people, in Christianity, in Judaism, condemn homosexuality,” he told the BBC. “It is against the whole sense in Egypt. The temper in Egypt is against homosexuality.”

The event drew international intrigue, with media exclusives that revealed the men were subjected to beatings and forensic examinations to “prove their homosexuality.” One Queen Boat eyewitness told the BBC in 2002: “The police told the man to take down his trousers. They wanted to see if he was wearing typical Egyptian underwear – baggy white cotton. If he was not, they said he must be a homosexual. He failed the test.”


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