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Mollie Sugden Dies At 86

Mollie Sugden, the actress beloved by gays for her portrayal as the daft Mrs. Slocombe in the Britcom Are You Being Served? has died at age 86.

Sugden found early TV success with comedy series Hugh and I in 1962 and in Coronation Street as the gossiping Nellie Harvey. But it was The Liver Birds in the late 1960s and early 1970s that enabled her to make her first real impact, as Nerys Hughes' snobbish mother Mrs Hutchinson. And then in 1972 came Are You Being Served? and the role she became best known for - the blue-rinsed Betty Slocombe, with her affectation of middle-class gentility and her outrageous use of the double-entendre. Sugden went on to have her own slot on consumer programme That's Life and even found new fame in the US where re-runs of Are You Being Served? transformed both Sugden and co-star John Inman into cult figures in the early 1990s.

And now, Mrs. Slocombe and her famous pussy.


Canadian HIV Vaccine Ready To Begin Human Trials In U.S.

An HIV/AIDS vaccine developed in Canada has passed safety tests in animals and the researchers are awaiting approval to begin human trials in the U.S. "It is a very important milestone for us," said Yong Kang, a professor of microbiology at the University of Western Ontario in London who has been working on the vaccine for 20 years.

Kang said he expects to get the go-ahead soon from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin human toxicology tests and two phases of clinical trials in the United States.

If all three trials are successful, the vaccine should be available within the next decade, Kang told CBC News on the phone while attending a meeting in South Korea.


New Delhi Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In a ruling that is only binding in the National Capital Territory (for now), the Delhi High Court has decriminalized homosexuality in a decision with sweeping implications for one of the world's largest gay populations. 

Analyst, Rex Wockner has done an excellent analysis of the decision. Here is an excerpt:

What about the rest of India? It certainly carries weight there but is, at the moment, legally binding only in the National Capital Territory. What could happen next is that (A) the national government could appeal the ruling to India's Supreme Court, (B) the national government could accept the ruling and not appeal it, (C) the national government could accept the ruling and use it as ammo to introduce a bill in Parliament to duplicate the ruling in national law, and/or (D) anti-gay parties to the lawsuit could appeal to the Supreme Court. Regardless, gay sex is now legal in India's National Capital Territory and, as the Queer Media Collective put it: "This is the first time a court as senior as this, with such respected judges, has given a decision on homosexuality. Because of that it sends a powerful signal to the legal establishment across the country. We are confident that judges, lawyers and police officers across the country will understand and follow the Delhi High Court's lead."

The most damning bit of the ruling: "The criminalisation of homosexuality condemns in perpetuity a sizable section of society and forces them to live their lives in the shadow of harassment, exploitation, humiliation, cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of the law enforcement machinery."

Well done New Delhi, now bring on the rest of the country!


Michael Jackson Will Always Be the King Of Pop

Today has been a sad day for the millions of people across the globe that grew up listening to Michael Jackson's music, following his dance steps and watching the spectacle that was his life. He was one of the first true global icons, and unfortunately his life was cut tragically short at just 50 years of age, after a cardiac arrest, following an alleged dose of the presecription medications supplied by his physician.

Michael was intensly rehersing for his upcoming run of 50 record breaking show at London's 02 arena in Los Angeles, when he collapsed at his LA home.

Without repeating the intense news stories and headlines that have bombarded news outlets and online, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Jackson for being an icon and inspiration millions. Unfortunately due to later legal and finacial woes, there will always have to be a "but" to these types of articles, but personally, i just want to make this a positive story on the massive impact Michael had for poor people, charities, not to mention his record breaking musical acheivments... everyone has their favourite Michael Jackson memory or moment, even if you didnt classify yourself as a "fan" - everyone knew of Michael Jackson, (we would love to hear them in the comments section) and now the world know what it is like to loose a 21st Century Icon. 

Michael luckily had the opportunity of selling out his comeback shows prior to his death - he may not have gotten to perform the series of shows, but now his fans gave him the greatest validation by selling out 50 shows in a matter of hours... the fact is that he is always going to be the KING of pop.


Perez Hilton Backlash Continues

Post the incident with the Black Eyed Peas, Perez Hilton did himself a real disservice by using an anti gay slur as an insult to the musician - but as part of this drama, Perez stated that he would donate any money from a lawsuit to the Matthew Shepherd Foundation - the only problem is, it that the foundation does not want it.


Here is the statement they released today:

The Matthew Shepard Foundation was surprised to learn this morning via media reports that blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) has announced he plans to donate, to our organisation, the proceeds of a lawsuit he is contesting over an altercation which has been widely reported in recent days.

We had no advance notice or contact from Mr. Hilton or his representatives regarding this proposal, nor any communication since he posted this plan to his website.

We do not know the details of the lawsuit, whether it has been filed, the nature of his claims or the likely outcome. But because the lawsuit presumably involves the physical attack prompted by Mr. Hilton’s admitted use of an anti-gay slur, the Foundation will be unable to accept any funds obtained in such a manner.

We very much appreciate the generosity of the offer to support our continuing work to memorialize Matthew through activism in defence of sexual minorities and in favour of understanding, compassion, and acceptance. But because so much of our work involves education to reduce the use of hateful language against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, or those so perceived, it would be inappropriate for us to benefit financially from circumstances in which such a verbal attack was involved.

While we applaud Mr. Hilton’s apology to the LGBT community and their loved ones for his use of such a slur, we also feel compelled to point out that use of epithets can often lead to physical violence, as it appears it may have in this case, and that the Matthew Shepard Foundation has worked for more than 10 years to bring to people’s attention the consequences of hateful or inolerant language.

Judy Shepard
Chair, MSF Governing Board

It's a shame that one word could destroy alot of the good work Perez did for GLBTI rights during his run in with that "beauty queen".



Prop 8 Decision Announced

GLAAD just released this statement by President Neil G. Giuliano on today’s decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, the anti-gay ballot initiative that eliminated the ability of same-sex couples to marry in California:


Today, we express our deepest disappointment in the California Supreme Court’s decision, which continues to deprive an entire class of Californians the fundamental freedom to marry.

Thankfully, the court has protected the marriages of the more than 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who married before Nov. 5, 2008. It is vital that media outlets not only share these couples’ stories, but also those of the many gay people and couples in California who have again been denied the fundamental right to marry.

It is wrong to stand in the way of giving committed couples the legal protections they need to take care of and be responsible for each other and their families. We thank the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the City of San Francisco and the other counsel and plaintiff couples for their steadfast advocacy and commitment to fairness and opportunity for all Californians. 


NZ Prime Minister to attend gay family picnic

The Prime Minister of New Zealand is among the country's political leaders who have confirmed they will attend the Big Gay Out family picnic day in Auckland this weekend.

John Key was elected in November, the first National Party government since 1999.

He had attended the picnic twice as party leader, but this will be his first visit as Prime Minister.

The Labour party leader Phil Goff will also attend Big Gay Out, New Zealand's largest outdoor GLBT family event attended by more than 10,000 people.

"Labour MPs, including former Prime Minister Helen Clark, have been a regular fixture of the event since its inception nine years ago," reports

"Back in 2007, Key's first appearance at the Big Gay Out prompted criticism in Parliament, when Labour's Annette King accused the National leader if showing a narrow attitude to gay people by wearing a pink shirt to the event."

During Labour's nine years in office there has was progress on LGBT rights in New Zealand.

The Civil Unions Act passed into law in 2004 and the abolition of discriminatory measures against same sex couples became law in 2005.

U.N.: H.I.V. Spreading Through Prisons Worldwide

H.I.V. is spreading through overcrowded prisons around the world, mostly through rampant drug abuse, according to the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Reuters reports. The official, Antonio Maria Costa, warned of a "health bomb" that will be set off when infected prisoners are released; overcrowding is particularly bad in Africa and Central America.*

SanFransisco's Mayor Pushes Gay Rights Forward

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took President Obama and the Democrats to task for ignoring the inequities faced by gay Americans even while they praise America’s civil rights record. Said Newsom: “How can you argue separate is not equal and then argue that separate is equal – but only if you’re gay? It’s everything I’m not.”


EastEnders and Are You Being Served Star Dies From Cancer

Actress and TV legend, Wendy Richard, best known for her portrayal of Pauline Fowler in the long-running soap opera EastEnders, has died aged 65.

Newspapers have reported that the actress was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer last year and underwent chemotherapy. 

Her agent confirmed her death but had no further details. 

Richard's earlier roles included that of sales assistant Miss Brahms in the TV sitcom Are You Being Served.
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