Vancouver
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In brief

Local and national news

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW: Owner Phil Moon (left) got some help from his staff as the old Numbers sign was taken down Jun 30. You'll soon be able to look out onto Davie St from the popular cruising bar's windows which were previously hidden behind the sign. Credit: Jacques Gaudet

CELEBRITIES RE-OPENING

Five years of waiting will come to an end Jul 16 when Celebrities finally re-opens its doors to the community and shows off its brand-spanking-new interior. The popular Davie Village cabaret, an institution since the 1980s, has been closed for extensive renovations, property sales and liquor licence negotiations ever since the city condemned it in 1999. Now it’s poised to make a comeback with the House of Venus at its party-planning helm.



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SURREY PRCLAIMS GAY PRIDE

Surrey’s acting mayor has outdone his predecessor: he not only proclaimed Jul 9-11 to be Pride weekend in Surrey this year-but Gay Pride weekend, to be precise. This is a step up from last year, when the closest Mayor Doug McCallum came was proclaiming Pride Day on Jul 6. (Granted, it was a first for the often-criticized municipality, and McCallum did grant the proclamation without a fight.) This year, Surrey gays specifically requested the inclusion of the G-word and acting Mayor Robert Bose signed the proclamation Jun 23.



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IMMIGRATION FOR MARRIED QUEERS

The federal department of immigration announced May 18 that it will now recognize some same-sex marriages. Specifically, it will now allow Canadians who marry their foreign, same-sex partners in BC, Ontario or Quebec to apply immediately to sponsor their spouse for Canadian citizenship. In the past, Canadians with foreign, same-sex partners had to be in a relationship with their partner for a year before they could apply to sponsor that partner for Canadian citizenship. (In other words, they had to achieve common-law status before they could be eligible to sponsor their partner in the common-law category.) Now, all they have to do is get married and they can skip the one-year eligibility wait. But this only applies to couples in which one of the spouses is Canadian. And it doesn’t mean the government is legalizing gay marriage across Canada; it’s just recognizing that in three provinces gay marriage is already legal and adjusting its immigration policies to reflect that new reality.



Canadians for Equal Marriage is hailing the new policy as a victory. “It’s encouraging to see the federal government follow through on its commitment to equal marriage,” Alex Munter, the group’s co-chair, said in a press release last month. “Same-sex couples have been getting married in Canada for almost a year. Legal recognition of those marriages is tremendously important, both for the couples and for the rule of law.”



Chris Morrissey, of Vancouver’s Lesbian and Gay Immigration Task Force (LEGIT) says her group will continue to monitor the immigration situation to make sure the system treats queers equally. The government’s new policy is still limited, she cautions. It doesn’t extend, for example, to two non-Canadian queers who get married in BC.



They still have to either wait for one year to apply together as a common-law couple, or apply independently for citizenship and wait until one of them gets accepted so the accepted one can apply to sponsor the other one, she points out. In contrast, straight non-Canadian couples who get married and apply for citizenship are treated as a married unit right away.



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‘SAFE STREETS’ VIOLATES RIGHTS

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has come out swinging against gay Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt’s bill to clamp down on squeegee kids and panhandlers. Mayencourt’s private member’s bill, the “Safe Streets Act,” attacks civil liberties and the poor, says BCCLA president John Russell.



“Citizens should be free to canvas others in relation to any cause,” says Russell. “This freedom gives war veterans the right to solicit donations for poppies, religious groups to distribute literature, and the lost to ask for directions. Such a right also entitles the poor to ask for money.”



The civil-rights guardians have three concerns with Mayencourt’s proposed law: it would criminalize merely asking for others to support any cause, including their own; it is bound to be enforced by private security, not the public police, in ways that are unfair, selective and inappropriate, as occurs now with municipal panhandling bylaws; and it criminalizes behaviour that is the result of poverty, homelessness and mental health issues rather than addressing the underlying causes of those issues, and thus unfairly targets a vulnerable group of people.



Russell says other laws in the Criminal Code, the Motor Vehicle Act and municipal bylaws can be used to deal with aggressive, intimidating and dangerous behaviour.



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TOPS AT RISK TOO

Contrary to some people’s belief, tops who have unprotected anal sex could be at high risk for contracting HIV, a new study shows. Researchers studying 64 gay men in Seattle and Lima, Peru found that HIV-positive men, even on treatment, have more HIV in their rectal secretions than in their semen or blood. That means tops going bareback with HIV-positive bottoms could be running a higher risk of getting HIV than some people may have thought. Uncircumcised tops may be particularly at risk since the skin under the foreskin has been found to be especially receptive to HIV, reports uk.gay.com



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NEW CAMP FOR QUEERS

Queers and their families will likely have a new summer camp to attend this month, if only for a couple of days. The three-day affair will be held at Camp Potlatch, up Howe Sound, Jul 18-20. Its stated mission: “to fuse family and friends together” through hiking, kayaking, swimming, yoga classes, communal dining and other outdoorsy activities. For more information call Julie Buchanan at 604.253.3733