Saturday, July 6, 2013

Eight-Thousand Attend Budapest Gay Pride Which Takes Place Absent Violence That Marred Event Previously, New South Wales Faith-Based Schools Defend Right To Expel Students Based On Their Sexual Orientation Ahead Of Debate On Bill Seeking To Abolish Law, New Zealand Government Called Upon To Protect Transgender Prisoners, Analouisa Valencia Becomes First Openly Gay Contestant In Miss America System, San Francisco Police Search For Suspects After Numerous Individuals Assaulted And Robbed Following Pride Event, Niall Horan Sucks

In Budapest, eight thousand people joined the annual Gay Pride parade on Saturday, organisers said, marking the biggest participation in the event's 16-year history. According to the AFP, the parade, which in recent years has been disrupted by far-right protestors, took place without any violent incidents, although about 200 far-right nationalists shouted insults at participants. More than 400 companies and organisations signed a statement in support of the parade in the run-up to the event. Representatives from 20 foreign embassies and several opposition party politicians also took part in the parade.

In Australia, a bid to overturn controversial laws allowing private schools to expel students simply because they are gay has been rejected by some faith-based schools as a threat to their religious freedom. Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich will soon introduce a private member's bill to State Parliament to abolish the law, which he says could be used against highly vulnerable teenagers. ''It is already so hard to come to grips with your sexuality,'' said Greenwich, who is gay. ''If students do reach out to a teacher they believe is supportive or a headmaster or counsellor or school chaplain, they could risk expulsion from a school.'' Under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, it is unlawful for education authorities to refuse admission to, or expel, a student for being gay, lesbian or transgender. Private schools and colleges, however, are explicitly exempt from this law. The bid to remove those exemptions is expected to be opposed by most religious school authorities, who told the Sun-Herald that, while there are few, if any, examples of students being expelled on the basis of their sexuality, it was important to retain the exemption to preserve their religious freedom. The exemption is similar to many that exist in federal anti-discrimination laws for religious organisations, including schools. Ian Baker, acting executive director of the NSW Catholic Education Commission, said the fact that so few, if any, cases of students being expelled were widely known was testament to the fact schools tended to treat such students with sensitivity. ''It speaks for itself,'' he said. ''It's exercised with great caution and consideration. The objective is not to punish, but to protect the rights of those families who send their child to a school based on a religious faith. We couldn't agree to the exemptions being removed unless we could be assured that there's an alternative way of guaranteeing freedom of religion, which is an internationally recognized human right.'' Laurie Scandrett, chief executive of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, agreed: ''Most private schools have a religious ethos, they stand for something, and if these exemptions were removed that would break down the ability of these schools to maintain whatever their particular ethos is.'' But Justin Koonin, from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, said he questioned why schools wanted the laws if they did not use them. ''It's not just that the student can be expelled, they can be discriminated against within the school environment, and the school doesn't have to do anything about it.'' In a submission to the recent Senate inquiry into federal anti-discrimination laws, the Human Rights Council of Australia argued that organisations that are wholly or partially funded with public funds, including religious schools, should not be granted exemptions on religious grounds. ''It is reasonable for the state to require public funds to be expended and applied wholly in accordance with principles of non-discrimination,'' it said. The most recent national report on same sex-attracted young people found school was the most common place they experienced abuse. While in opposition in 2011, Greg Smith, now NSW Attorney-General, was open to reviewing the law. ''I personally think it is something that should be reviewed, looked at with a view to perhaps changing it. Times have changed,'' he said. Smith is on leave but a spokesman for the acting Minister for Justice, Brad Hazzard, said the ''government will consider Mr Greenwich's bill following its introduction as it does with all private member's bills". Not all religious education authorities were opposed to removing the exemptions, though. ''While Jewish schools jealously guard against any incursion into our ability to teach the Jewish religion in a manner consistent with its tenets, and consider those tenets and that ability fundamental to our existence,'' said Len Hain, executive director of the Australian Council of Jewish Schools, ''we do not see any practical limitation, or the imposition of any practical burden on that ability from the amendments deleting the specific exclusions to the Anti-Discrimination Act.''

In New Zealand, the Government is being urged to quickly take action to protect transgender prisoners from sexual and physical violence in prison. The University of Auckland's Equal Justice Project has criticized the Department of Corrections policy placing transgender women in men's prisons, unless they have had access to full sex-change surgery. In a report into the issue, it says the practice is discriminatory and the women are at risk of sexual assault and rape. Green Party MP Jan Logie says when we lock someone in prison society has an obligation to ensure that they are safe. She says transgender women do not deserve to be put at risk of sexual assault while under our care just because their anatomy does not match their gender. The Corrections Minister says the Government is reviewing the policy, a change of heart Ms Logie welcomes. However she says action is needed urgently.

For the first time in history, the Miss South Carolina Pageant has an openly gay contestant. She's also multi-racial, and many are calling her the new face of the south. Her name is Analouisa Valencia. "Why should she not win," asked Analouisa's mom, Hattie Palasox. "She's got everything." This is the second time around for beauty queen Valencia, who will compete against 48 other contestants next week to win the title of Miss South Carolina. "Last year, I did compete at state, but I wasn't as comfortable because of the fact I was hiding who I was," said Valencia. "This is my first year coming out and saying, 'this is me, girls. Sorry, I'm going to be changing in the same dressing room as you. This is what's going to happen.'" Valencia's appearance in the pageant is not just history-making in South Carolina. "I'm the first openly lesbian contestant in the Miss America system, the first bilingual contestant we've had, so that's good," said Valencia. With three titles already under her belt, Valencia's family says her success helps represent the changing face of the south. But it's a change that has been met with criticism. "She's a product of that change and it's taking time for people to accept it," said Palasox. "A lot of the older generation, they don't accept it," said Valencia's friend, Treston Boyd. Valencia says it’s her passion for coaching Special Olympic athletes that she wants judges to remember rather than what she identifies herself as personally. "If I bring back that crown to Spartanburg, that would be great, but if not, I did what the Lord had planned for me," said Valencia. With the winner of the pageant receiving a $25,000 scholarship, there's plenty at stake for Valencia, but she plans on taking it all in stride regardless of what happens.

In California, the Chronicle reports that San Francisco police are looking for five men and a woman who they believe robbed and assaulted numerous people after the Pink Saturday gay pride event. In the most egregious incident (which was captured on video footage that police released Friday, and which is available at the source) one of the men robs a woman and then kicks her in the head after she falls to the ground, knocking her unconscious, said Officer Albie Esparza, a police spokesperson. Police believe the suspects committed multiple robberies and assaults Saturday evening on Market Street between Castro Street and Civic Center. Police also believe some victims did not report the incidents. Anyone who was robbed but didn't report the incident, or who has any information about the crimes, is asked to call police at (415) 558-5400 or (415) 575-4444.

One Direction’s Niall Horan spotted backstage, shirtless, aboard a seagway, shirtless, sucking a cool treat.

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