Vancouver
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In brief

Vancouver and national news

Old activists and new: Longtime marriage activists Murray Warren and Peter Cook took part in the marriage-rights counter-demonstration Aug 16. Warren told the rally that 'we wanted to prove to the rest of the world that our love has as much value as any other.' The rally also drew a lot of first-time march participants. Credit: John Kozachenko

EGALE CALLS URGENT ACTION ON MARRIAGE



Canada’s national lobby group, Egale, has called for gays and lesbians to flood their MPs with calls, letters and emails favouring gay marriage. Those who thought gay marriage was in the bag in Canada could be in for a rude surprise this fall when the Canadian Alliance forces a vote on the issue before the Supreme Court of Canada has a chance to comment on the Chretien Liberals’ proposed marriage law. With a revolt brewing on the Liberal backbenches, a free vote on marriage could go down to defeat. While that would not stop the courts from imposing gay marriage in the next year or so, it could also create a divisive election issue in 2004-and the federal Liberals have gone out of their way in the past to avoid fighting an election on any same-sex issue at all. In the worst-case scenario, the Canadian Alliance could theoretically use the marriage issue to win minority government and then invoke the nothwithstanding clause of the Constitution once the courts rule in favour of same-sex marriage. On the other hand, polls show more than half of Canadians, and 65 percent of British Columbians, favour gay marriage.



Still, MPs are being flooded with anti-gay messages urging them to defeat same-sex legislation and they’re starting to worry.



Go to www.egale.ca/equalmarriage.asp and see the August Action Alert for more info.



Egale has also now set up an email distribution system that enables you to send a message to all MPs at once. Email your support for equal marriage to: mp@egale.ca. You can address your message “Dear MP.”



Egale asks that you urge MPs to support equal marriage for same-sex couples without compromise. Let them know that anything less than full equality perpetuates discrimination.



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LATE BAR HOURS ATTACKED



Will Vancouver return to its no-fun city ways at the end of the summer? Will the first progress in turning this city into a quality tourism destination and fun place to live be eroded by boring people and the cops? It’s quite possible. Police comments over the Aug 16 weekend suggested that the city’s worst shooting spree-two dead so far-wouldn’t have happened if the bar had been closed at the time. Huh? And some Gastown residents, and downtown poverty pimps are using the shooting to suggest the city end the summer experiment in 4 am bar openings. The Davie Village BIA is already on the case. President Randy Atkinson says they’re sending a report to city hall suggesting the late hours be continued in neighbourhoods-clearly including the gay strip-where it’s been a success. Gay tourism, like all local tourism, has been down this summer, and local merchants and activists say the longterm success of Davie St is tied to turning it into a round the clock gay centre attracting both locals and tourists.



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NUMBERS SEEKS LONGER HOURS



Phil Moon and Numbers Cabaret wants to change its hours of operation. The 195-seat “liquor primary” establishment is now open Monday to Saturday from 7 pm to 2 am and Sundays from 7 pm to midnight. Moon wants to extend the hours throughout the week from noon to 2 am.



At the moment, city hall policy does not allow any liquor service past midnight on Sunday, but staff are studying the issue.



Moon’s application could be the wedge that forces city hall to get with it.



Do you suppose Moon would also consider opening up the dark and ugly building front to the street? Just asking.



Respond to city hall by email at: liquor_comments@city.vancouver.bc.ca.



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INTERNET & AIDS



Two new US studies suggest that online hook-ups are leading to more risky sex.



The studies, presented at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference, suggest gay and bisexual men are increasingly turning to chatrooms and websites instead of bathhouses and sex clubs. Researchers are drawing the links between this trend and a 17 percent increase in new HIV diagnoses in the US since 1999.



“It’s clear we need to reach gay and bisexual men with appropriate messages, not only in traditional high-risk settings, but also online,” says Dr Ron Valdiserri, deputy director of the US Center for Disease Control’s National Centre For HIV, STD and TB Prevention.



In one survey by the California Department of Health Services, 23 percent of gay and bisexual men infected with syphilis admitted meeting sexual partners on the Internet,

compared to 21 percent who had done so in bathhouses.



Researchers noted that men who met partners online, in bathhouses or at sex clubs tended to have more sexual encounters than those who did not.



Another study at the University of California in San Francisco found that 39 percent of gay and bisexual males interviewed online admitted having unprotected anal sex with someone they had met on the Internet in the previous two months.



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NO BOOZE ON WRECK



The UBC detachment of the RCMP that patrols Wreck Beach says they’re clamping down on booze and drugs this year. Staff Sgt Barry Hickman says his force is responding to a request from the Wreck Beach Preservation Society, the organization that the police see as representing nude sunbathers. Drinkers were forced to empty their bottles on the sand during a clampdown on Victoria Day weekend in May. There’s been a heightened police presence and targeting of drinkers and vendors ever since-mainly at the straight-dominated beach. Police are also raising concerns about an increase in garbage being left on the beach. Some beach users are suggesting that it’s time to form a new organization to reflect the multiple, consensual, victimless uses of the gay portion of Wreck Beach.



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NEW HEPC TREATMENT



British Columbians living with chronic Hepatitis C will soon have access to a new drug. BC’s health minister, Colin Hansen, announced Jun 12 that PharmaCare will now cover Pegetron, an anti-viral drug manufactured by Schering Canada. “We need to make sure the up to 1,000 British Columbians diagnosed with Hepatitis C each year have access to the care they need,” Hansen said. “We applaud Schering Canada for working with us to ensure Pegetron would be affordable enough to our PharmaCare program to allow patients access to this new treatment.”