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Austria gets Civil Unions

Austria has passed a comprehensive civil unions law, but part of the compromise with the country's right wing includes a provision that gays cannot hold ceremonies at registry offices.

The compromise, achieved after weeks of wrangling between the ruling Social Democrats and their conservative coalition partner in government, will give gay couples equal rights to heterosexuals with regards to pensions and alimony. Partners will also be able to take each other's name, if they wish. But the new law will continue to ban adoption or artificial insemination for gay couples, said Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner, who had put forward the draft. The proposal came up against strong opposition from the conservative People's Party, which fought any attempts to allow civil partnership ceremonies at the civil registry's office, where gay couples can marry.

Instead, civil partnerships will be registered at the municipal office or the magistrate's office -- the local authority of which the registry's office is only a part. Conservative Interior Minister Maria Fekter welcomed the compromise on Tuesday: "We sought a realistic solution and this was (registration at) the local authority." Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, the minister for women's affairs who had pushed for civil registry ceremonies, insisted however that the law was an "unfinished document." Tuesday's compromise was "an important first step" but future amendments were on the cards, the Social Democrat said.

The law goes into effect on January 1st after a final approval from parliament.


Adam Lambert Speaks Out on Queer Mag 'backlash'

"It was my desire to stay away from talking about certain political and civil rights issues because I’m not a politician. I’m an entertainer. That is not my area of expertise. I can talk about relationships and personal experiences because as an artist those things involve writing lyrics and that part of my process. But I didn’t feel comfortable talking about the March on Washington. I didn’t feel comfortable, so I asked my publicist to ask the interviewer to stay away from the political questions. I take full responsibility for that. I think that the editor has his agenda and has his opinions, which I respect, but they’re not necessarily my opinions. And I wish there was a little respect for that. Not every gay man is the same gay man."

- Adam Lambert, talking to Entertainment Weekly about his ongoing public feud with Out Magazine and its editor Aaron Hicklin.

According to Hicklin, Lambert's handlers had stipulated a number of conditions for this month's cover photo shoot, including a requirement there be at least one straight woman in the shot.


The Bigoted Cabbie Vs NYC's Mayor Bloomberg

NYC cab driver, Medhat Mohamed, is now feeling the heat after city officials became aware that he ejected a gay couple from his cab and refused them service because the two men hugged each other in the backseat. Although his boss, Mahmoud Elnefnawy, who owns the taxi medallion, tried to defend him by saying that his Islamic religion was the reason for the episode, “In our religion, we can't handle that stuff" he stated. But city officials such as the Speaker for the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, and newly re-elected Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, made clear that the city stands squarely against such bigoted behavior. “I thought the taxi driver's behavior - if it is as reported - was a disgrace. Somebody's orientation has absolutely nothing to do with whether they can ride a taxi. That kind of attitude doesn't fit with what this city's become," Bloomberg said in a statement. The cab driver now faces financial penalties and the possible loss of his license for his refusal of service.

(Cabbie photo: James Messerschmidt.)


Bea Arthur Leaves GLBTI Organisation over $300k

Bea Arthur, perhaps best known for her role as Dorothy Zbornak on the popular television series Golden Girls, was also a staunch advocate for LGBT youth. During her life, she participated in many fundraisers for the Ali Forney Center, a New York City-based organization that provides emergency and transitional housing for LGBT youth as well as health and educational services. Arthur even had her own official Ali Forney Center email address.

Now, after her death, Arthur is still giving to AFC in the form of $300, 000, which she bequeathed to the center in her will. AFC will be putting the money towards a new transitional residence that will house twelve LGBT youth and be named in Arthur’s honor.

Executive Director Carl Siciliano spoke on behalf of the organization:

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person, and that she placed so much value in the work we do to protect them, and to help them rebuild their lives.”

Pictured: Bea with Ali


Muslim Football team Thrown Out of League For Refusing To Play A Gay Team

A mainly Muslim team has been thrown out of a local Paris league after refusing to face a side of gay players.

"The Creteil Bebel team is excluded from the Leisure Football Commission for refusing a match and (making) discriminatory comments," the commission's website said Wednesday.

The decision was taken at the body's management committee on Tuesday night, the posting said.

Paris Foot Gay (PFG) were set to play fellow Creteil side Bebel, who are composed of mainly Muslim players, on Oct. 4.

Bebel cried off a day before in an email.

"Sorry, but because of the name of your team and in keeping with the principles of the team, which is a team of practicing Muslims, we cannot play against you," the message said

"Our convictions are stronger than a game of football."

PFG's co-founder and president Pascal Brethes deplored a "homophobic" decision.

After an attempted compromise with Bebel claiming a "misunderstanding", the club again refused to face PFG.

Club lawyer Benedicte Puybasset put out a statement last Saturday denying "homophobia" but stating that PFG's name "does not seem to reflect our vision of sport, which for us is free from any sectarian, ethnic or religious slant."

Pictured: Paris Foot Gay - who were set to play Bebel who are composed of mainly Muslims


Openly Gay Singer, Stephen Gately found dead at 33

Boyzone singer Stephen Gately has been found dead at the age of 33, it was reported today.

Gately was believed to have been holidaying in Majorca when he died yesterday, according to a newspaper.

Boyzone manager Louis Walsh told the News of the World: "We're all absolutely devastated. I'm in complete shock. I was only with him on Monday at an awards ceremony. We don't know much about what's happened yet.

"I only heard after The X Factor and we will rally around each other this week. He was a great man."

All four remaining members of Boyzone - Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Shane Lynch and Mikey Graham - will be flying to Palma, Majorca tomorrow.

Boyzone star Shane Lynch told the News of the World: "Me and the boys are flying out in the morning. We just need to get over to where he's passed and work out what we need to do."

Ronan Keating, who is in Chicago, has been left devastated by the death of his close friend. A pal revealed to the newspaper: "Ronan is completely distraught. No-one saw this coming.

"He loved Stephen like a brother, they were so close, it's absolutely floored him.

"It's a massive shock to everyone and no one can take it in yet.

"He was a man in the prime of his life, and this is a huge tragedy."

Gay singer Gately's coming out ten years ago caused a sensation in the pop music world. He leaves a husband Andrew Cowles, who he married in a civil union in March, 2006.

Gately also became a star of theatre, TV and radio, appearing in the West End as Joseph in and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and in the ITV show Dancing on Ice.

Boyzone had 17 top five singles and four number one albums before splitting in 2000. They made a comeback tour in 2007, however their recent 19-date Better tour was deemed a flop as the band played to half-filled arenas.

A spokesman for Boyzone confirmed the death but details are yet to emerge.



Little Britain Stars ex-husband found dead

Mr McGee, 32, who married Lucas in a civil ceremony in December 2006, was found dead at his flat in Edinburgh on Monday after leaving a suicide note on the social networking website Facebook it has been reported in a leading UK newspaper.

The Sun reported that police rushed to his home in the Bruntsfield area at 8am after a friend alerted officers to the message which read: "Kevin McGee thinks death is much better than life."

His death comes just three years after the couple threw a pantomime-themed fancy dress party attended by Sir Elton John, Will Young and Paul O'Grady to celebrate their civil partnership.

A friend of the pair told The Sun: "Matt was floored when he heard the news. He always loved Kevin despite their differences and their difficult marriage.

"Matt is utterly destroyed by this."

Lucas, 35, became the first gay celebrity "divorcee", when their 22 months civil partnership was dissolved on the ground's of McGee's unreasonable behaviour. It was reported that Lucas objected to McGee's drug taking.

The star, who is currently starring in the West End play Prick Up Your Ears, told a newspaper last month that their break up had been difficult.

But he said: "I'm in a much better place than I was. Time is a great healer."

In the run-up to their wedding, Lucas said civil partnerships were important as they ensured that gay couples had the same rights as heterosexuals.

Other famous names to undertake civil partnership ceremonies include Sir Elton John, Torchwood star John Barrowman and actor Sir Antony Sher.



Budapest Pride Draws Violent demonstrators - police step in to help.

Last year Budapest Pride was marred by violence and arrests as neo-Nazis pelted marchers with stones and eggs and threw fire bombs at police. Yesterday's parade went off much better, as riot police were fully prepared and did not allow the hundreds of anti-gay protesters anywhere near the parade route.

Rowdy protestors did their best to interrupt the gay pride parade through central Budapest, but were prevented by a massive coordinated operation by riot police. However, there were sporadic outbreaks of unrest around the event, with some of the several hundred demonstrators pelting police with stones and burning the rainbow-flag used by the parade organizers. Riot police were able to quickly disperse the several hundred demonstrators through sheer force of numbers and the occasional volley of tear gas. During one fracas, an English man was punched after getting into a row with a group of some 20 anti-gay protestors, police told the local news agency MTI. Riot police broke up the altercation, and the man was taken away for medical attention. A sixty-year-old man among the anti-gay demonstrators was knocked down as the crowd was pushed back by riot police, and had to be taken by stretcher to an ambulance. About 2,000 participants, an international mix of activists and sympathizers, including former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and his wife, gathered in the early afternoon on Budapest's landmark Heroes Square' before marching along a broad avenue into central Budapest.

Several days ago, staffers from 14 foreign embassies (including the United States and Canada) were hosted by the British for an afternoon tea party in support of Budapest Pride. All had signed onto a letter encouraging the Hungarian government to properly protect the marchers.



DJ AM Found Dead In NYC

Club-owner and celebrity scratcher Adam Goldstein (aka DJ AM), was found dead Friday morning in his New York apartment, according to media reports. He was only 36.

Details have been sparse about the celebrity DJ's passing so far, but New York police confirmed that a body was discovered and the New York Post, citing NYPD insiders, have reported that drug paraphernalia was found near the body.

Goldstein, who along with Travis Barker survived a fiery plane crash that killed four others last year, had recently finished shooting an eight-episode series for MTV about addiction, in which he opened up about his past struggles with substance abuse.

Within minutes of the news breaking, Barker's ex, Shanna Moakler, had tweeted: "My deepest condolences for DJ AM, you were a great artist and will be severely missed. My thoughts and Prayers to his family and friends."



USA GLBTI groups pay tribute to "our protector, our leader, our friend" Ted Kennedy

America's leading GLBTI rights organisation has paid tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy, who has died aged 77.

"The nation has lost its greatest champion and strongest voice for justice, fairness, and compassion," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

"The loss to our community is immeasurable.

"There was no greater hero for advocates of LGBT equality than Senator Ted Kennedy.

"From the early days of the AIDS epidemic, to our current struggle for marriage equality he has been our protector, our leader, our friend.

"He has been the core of the unfinished quest for civil rights in this country and there is now a very painful void.

"Our hearts go out to the Kennedy family."

Senator Kennedy was the last of one of the most famous sets of brothers in US history.

Two were assassinated: President John F Kennedy in 1963 and former Attorney-General and Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy in 1968. His oldest brother Joe was killed in action in World War Two.

Edward Kennedy had represented Massachusetts in the US Senate since 1962 and was a strong supporter of gay rights, most recently he had been calling for an end to the ban on gays in the military.

He also introduced legislation to expand federal hate crime laws to include crimes where the victims were targeted on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability.

Senator Kennedy, who ran for President in 1980, is also remembered for his unrelenting fight for funding into AIDS research, at a time when conservatives were painting it as a "gay plague."

Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that works to increase the number of GLBTI people in elected office, mourned his death.

"Good men serve others but great men take care to serve the least fortunate," Victory Fund President and CEO Chuck Wolfe said.

"Senator Kennedy was a great man.

"He made a career of fighting for the poor, for women, for racial minorities, and for basic human rights for GLBTI Americans.

"Senator Kennedy’s life was marked by generosity and a legendary tenacity that earned him the respect of his colleagues and the affection of the public he served.

"But he will always occupy a special place in the hearts of GLBTI Americans, who saw in him a fierce champion for their full equality."


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