Organizers quickly lined up alternate screening locations in bars and coffeehouses, and implemented “strict safety measures surrounding the publication of screening times and places … to stay out of the hands of the authorities for the duration of the festival,” they said.
More than 500 people, including 23 Chinese and foreign queer filmmakers, attended. Thirty films were shown, and many of the filmmakers held talks and discussions.
“Despite, and perhaps even thanks to, the ban imposed by the authorities, the Beijing Queer Film Festival succeeded in what it set out to do: celebrate queer film and celebrate the necessity of showing queer films in a society where nonmainstream voices are stifled all too often,” the organizers said.
The entities that banned the festival were the Beijing Xicheng District Public Security Bureau, the Culture Bureau, and the Bureau of Industry and Trade, festival organizers said.
“While it is unfortunate that we had to be guerrilla-warriors once again in order to hold this festival, we feel empowered and invigorated by the reactions of the audience and the filmmakers, and we’re ready to continue with our goal of spreading queer films and queer culture in Chinese society,” said festival chairwoman Yang Yang.
“Our biggest enemy consists of a small number of authoritarian organizations that are using the powerful national propaganda machine to subtly construct mainstream ideology,” she added. “And our biggest worth, our ultimate goal as a queer film festival, is to challenge and oppose this mainstream ideology.”
UN Adopts First LGBT Rights Resolution
The United Nations on June 17 adopted its first-ever resolution in support of LGBT human rights.
It says, in part: “The Human Rights Council … Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity 1. Requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalised by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity; 2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity; 3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner; 4. Decides to remain seized of this priority issue.”
The vote in the Human Rights Council was 23-19 with 3 abstentions. Voting for the resolution were Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.
Voting against it were Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Uganda. Burkina Faso, China, and Zambia abstained, and Kyrgyzstan and Libya were not present.
“This marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights—and entitled to the same protections—as all human beings,” said President Barack Obama. “The United States stands proudly with those nations that are standing up to intolerance, discrimination, and homophobia. Advancing equality for LGBT persons should be the work of all peoples and all nations. LGBT persons are entitled to equal treatment, equal protection, and the dignity that comes with being full members of our diverse societies. As the United Nations begins to codify and enshrine the promise of equality for LGBT persons, the world becomes a safer, more respectful, and more humane place for all people.”
The resolution was co-sponsored by 40 nations, not all of which sit on the Human Rights Council. They were Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.
“That we are celebrating the passage of a U.N. resolution about human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation is remarkable; however, the fact that gender identity is explicitly named truly makes this pivotal moment one to rejoice in,” said Justus Eisfeld, co-director of Global Action for Trans Equality.
Liechtenstein Voters Uphold Gay Partnership Law
A voter referendum aimed at overturning Liechtenstein’s new same-sex partnership law failed June 18 by a landslide of 69 percent to 31 percent.
Anti-gay forces had turned in enough signatures in April to mandate a vote.
The tiny nation, located between Switzerland and Austria, has about 18,500 voters.
Same-sex couples who register under the law, which takes effect Sept. 1, will receive the same rights as married people except in areas such as second-parent adoption, artificial insemination, and surrogacy.
LGBTs March in Former Eastern Bloc
LGBT people took to the streets for gay pride June 18 in Sofia, Bulgaria; Zagreb, Croatia; Budapest, Hungary; and Tijuana, Mexico.
About 1,000 marched in Sofia, and 2,000 marched in Zagreb and Budapest. All three parades were heavily protected by police because of violence in previous years or threats from extremists this year.
In Budapest, 50 participants who had come on a bus from Austria were detained by police for two hours, and two of the individuals were arrested and held overnight.
According to Homosexual Initiative Vienna (HOSI Wien), the Austrian LGBTs were harassed as they headed back to their bus by 15 anti-gay “neo-Nazis,” who attacked them with “terribly smelly sprays.”
According to HOSI, the attackers then told nearby police that the LGBTs were the ones who had done the attacking.
“The police then brutally dragged all 50 of us out of the bus, we had to hand over our passports, and were put, one by one, in front of the group of neo-Nazis so that they could ‘identify’ those who had allegedly attacked them,” said HOSI’s Judith Götz. “The neo-Nazis then picked randomly two of us as having attacked them.”
HOSI’s secretary general, Kurt Krickler, said the organization was “appalled” by the incident and expects it will have “some sort of diplomatic sequel.”
Serbian Gay Magazine Launched
The Gay Lesbian Info Center in Belgrade, Serbia, has launched a 64-page, full-color magazine called Optimism. It is distributed free at gay bars and clubs, cultural and drop-in centers, and gay-friendly venues in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis, Leskovac, Zrenjanin, and Subotica.
The first issue looks at the legislative and legal situation of LGBT Serbians, concluding that gays and lesbians have legal protection only when they are single. Gay couples and transgender people are not recognized under law, the editors said.
Pride Ralliers Arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia
Fourteen activists were jailed overnight after police broke up the second gay pride march in St. Petersburg, Russia, just two minutes after it started June 25. The detainees said their jail cell was tiny and suffocatingly hot, and that police gave them no water.
In court appearances the following day, they received small fines (the biggest was $35) for organizing an illegal public action. However, they face an additional charge of disobeying police orders, which can carry a penalty of up to 15 days in jail.
The “march” consisted of a boat on the Neva River carrying a huge rainbow flag, which was executed by one group of activists, an attempt by a second group to begin marching from the statue of Peter the Great, carrying flags and banners, and a similar demonstration nearby on the stairs of the Constitutional Court.
The whole thing lasted only two minutes before police swooped in and put an end to it.
The crackdown follows a nearly identical one on Moscow’s sixth gay pride attempt in May.
Both police actions violated a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Russia cannot ban gay pride events. The court found that previous bans in Moscow violated the European Convention on Human Rights in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, the right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.
European gay activists have responded to Russia’s flouting of the ruling by calling on the Council of Europe to suspend Russia’s voting rights in the association.
Later on June 25, about 100 activists in Germany protested at Russia’s embassy in Berlin, including openly gay Bundestag member Volker Beck.
“Russian LGBT activists, today in St. Petersburg, and in May in Moscow are heroes that we can be proud of,” Beck said. “The actions of the police are completely unacceptable and I expect from our government to explicitly address this issue in bilateral discussions with the Russian government.”