Europe Seized By Gay Pride Madness!

West Hollywood wasn’t the only proud place this weekend. Gay pride fever swept across Europe, where countless queers came out to show their gay faces.

An estimated 2,000 people marched through Warsaw, a particularly potent number considering the Polish government continues to rally against the gays. And so, too, do the Polish people:

Some 2,000 people paraded Saturday through the streets of Poland’s capital in support of gay rights, as an opinion poll showed the deeply Catholic country largely hostile to homosexuality.

Police were out in force to prevent feared attacks by extreme-right groups as a procession of floats passed through Warsaw’s main avenues to the sound of dance music.

The poll by the CBOS institute published Saturday showed that 69 percent of Poles believed gays should keep silent about their sexual preferences, 37 percent disapproved of homosexual relationships and 31 percent said homosexuality should not be tolerated.

Of the 1,116 adults questioned between May 9 and 12, 76 percent were against gay marriages, and 90 percent objected to adoption of children by gay or lesbian couples.

Meanwhile, over in Italy, “tens of thousands” showed up for Milan and Rome’s respective pride parades. The latter carried some explicitly political baggage:

The event attracted controversy after it was denied permission by city authorities to congregate near the Basilica of St John’s in Lateran.

They claimed it would disrupt a concert scheduled to take place in the Basilica.

More than 10,000 people took to the streets for the Pride parade, some wearing clerical robes. The recently-elected Pope-friendly government of Silvio Berlusconi was also a target for ridicule and protest. “Berlusconi kisses the pope’s slipper and says ‘yes’ to everything,” Franco Grillini, a gay former MP, told Reuters.

“We risk a theocracy and clerical dictatorship.”

That, of course, would be a bad thing.

Gay Greeks also marched this weekend, and, as in California, marriage proved to be a big theme:

[The mood in Athens was uplifting] as some 2,000 gays and lesbians took to the streets only four days after the country’s first same-sex marriages.

One of the newlyweds, 47-year-old Evangelia Vlami, head of the Greek Union of Homosexuals and Lesbians (Olke), rode at the head of the parade that drew twice as many participants this year as in previous years.

Demonstrators wore banners with “Say yes to me”, “Yes to political marriage”.

Sure, sign us up!

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  • charlie

    The situation for gays in Italy has regressed since the Spring election of the Center-Right. Despite daily instances to the contrary reported in the newspapers, the new Minister for Equal Opportunity claimed discrimination against gays is a thing of the past. The gist of her opinion seems to be that gays will be treated decently if they act “normal,” which I guess means that they act straight.

    Not only were gays denied the right to assemble in the square where the parade has traditionally ended up, but the parade was denied financial support that has been historically been given by the mayor of Rome. The new mayor, a “former Fascist,” has cleaned up his image since his extreme right-wing, Molotov cocktail throwing days. But it’s all cosmetic. He still wears a celtic cross (an extreme right-wing symbol in Europe) and his supporters gave him the Fascist salute when he won the election. One reason he was against supporting the parade: it promotes prostitution. (?????)

    One of the worst affects of the election of the Right has been the dramatic increase in violence directed towards gays (not to mention, gypsies and immigrants). Right-wing thugs seem to feel they have the tacit approval of the new government. A gay DJ wa recently badly beaten by thugs who objected to his gay-themed program; a few days agim two gay men were savagely beaten on a train near Naples, just because they were gay – in front of dozens of passengers, ordinary citizens who did nothing; and gangs of skinheads showed up to disrupt the Rome parade, threatening to stab everybody.

    Gay people have contributed so much to what’s beautiful about Italy (think Michelangelo, Pasolini, Visconti, and on and on and on). But it seems that the Italians have chosen the macho Mafia-Mussolini culture of homophobia. What a pity! At the moment, Italy isn’t a very nice or safe place to be if you’re at all “diverse.” But according to the new government, you’ll get along just fine as long as you look and act “normal.”

  • CitizenGeek

    It sure sounds like a sad state of affairs in Italy. What are the popularity ratings for the government like over there? I miss Romano Prodi :/

    I have to say that things are fairly good here in Ireland. Every single party in parliament is gay-friendly (some support gay marriage, some support civil unions but they all support gay rights). Our President, Mary McAleese recently gave a speech saying how important acceptance of homosexuality is and said it was not a choice but a “discovery”. Our Prime Minister opened GLEN’s (Irish gay rights group) new headquarters 3 years ago and violence against gay people is unheard of!

  • charlie

    I’m really glad things are progressing nicely in the Republic of Ireland. It’s interesting that Ireland and Spain – two supposedly devout Catholic countries – would make so much progress in LGBT rights (although the Church has probably been an obstacle to progress).

    By contrast, in Italy, although The Church wields enormous political power; and churches, monasteries, religious works of art, priests and other clergy abound in Italy, I don’t think Italians are particularly either religious or idealistic. And I don’t think they’re basically very homophobic down deep. I think they’re more cynical than anything; putting their own self interest above religion, patriotism, idealism, or commitment to any set of principles.

    No, Prodi is not popular. Scorned by the Left for the things he wasn’t able to accomplish (he had such a razor-thin majority) and castigated by the Right for the things he did accomplish or tried to. And the Right really exploited people’s fear of immigrants and used their innate xenophobia.

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