QUEEN WELCOMES DISCRETE QUEENS
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth let it be known that gay employees’ partners were welcome at her Windsor Castle Royal Household Christmas party this year as long as they didn’t kiss, dance together, or otherwise display the nature of their relationship.

As usual, invites went to staff members “and guest,” but this year, for the first time, senior employees spread the word that the guest could be a same-sex lover.

In other royal news, gay icon and AIDS diva Elizabeth Taylor was among those knighted on Dec. 31. And the London Gay Men’s Chorus performed on New Year’s Eve before the queen, the prime minister and the archbishop of Canterbury at the Millennium Dome. A great time was had by all.

BRITAIN’S ‘NO HOMO PROMO’ RULE REVIEWED
The Labour government has proposed repealing a rule barring governmental authorities from promoting homosexuality in any way.

The Local Government Act of 1988 says that, “a local authority shall not: a) promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality; b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” Exceptions can be made for the treatment or prevention of disease. The law has had a definite chilling effect and has on some occasions been cited as a reason to refuse funding projects to help gay pupils.

“Because of the law, many schools currently feel unable to offer appropriate support to gay pupils. New guidelines should be provided to schools on personal, social and health issues, and it should be made clear how this can be provided in the context of a balanced approach to sex education, declared Labour leader Glenda Jackson. More on this issue at planetout.com


CHINA’S GAYS COMING OUT
With a mixture of denial and acceptance, Chinese society is recognizing that homosexuality exists, hundreds of years after Western missionaries noted the prevalence of love between Chinese men, The [New Orleans] Times-Picayune reports. 

From a burgeoning gay-bar scene in Beijing to semi-open wedding ceremonies in Shanghai and a renewed nationwide AIDS hot line, China’s small gay population has begun to come out of the closet after years of arrests and social stigmatization. Chinese researchers recently announced for the first time their estimate of the number of gay people in China: 40 million to 50 million out of a population of 1.2 billion.

The openness of homosexual life in China is part of a broad trend in Chinese society toward more personal freedom that has grown during 20 years of economic reforms. “In our cities, things are freer and freer,” said Fang Gang, author of a best-selling book on gay life in China. “And the average Chinese is pretty accepting of these changes. People realize that we lived in a straitjacket for a long time. Now that straitjacket is coming off.”
- from the Advocate

VICTORIA PORN FILM FESTIVAL UNDER FIRE 
Victoria, B.C… Critics of a controversial film about a former porn star are threatening legal action to stop it from being shown in a former convent in Victoria. 

Critics say The Life & Times of John C. Holmes is pornographic and the former convent is not an appropriate venue. Lawyer Ronald McIsaac says if all else fails, he’ll try to have a judge rule the film obscene. Director Cass Paley says all the fuss is “silly and absurd”. He estimates his film has been screened about a hundred times around North America, usually to rave reviews… Hot Spots! Theater Critics gave it nineteen inches.

DISCRIMINATION DENIED
The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has decided to amend the European Convention on Human Rights. On Thursday the deputies demanded that the equality of men and women should be explicitly mentioned in an article. Moreover discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation should be explicitly outlawed In this proposed protocol the statement was only that nobody should be discriminated on the ground of the gender without emphasizing the equality of men and women. Is Jerry Falwell listening?

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