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In brief

Vancouver and national news

OUTLIVED ITS USEFULNESS. Betty Ewing says PFLAG is down to five people in Vancouver. It's time for new chapters in the Fraser Valley she says. Credit: Gareth Kirkby

JUBRAN LAUNCHES APPEAL

Azmi Jubran won’t let last month’s BC Supreme Court ruling stand without a fight. Jubran filed a human rights complaint against his North Vancouver high school in 1996, after enduring years of homophobic harassment from his classmates. Last year, the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled in his favour and ordered the school board to do a better job eradicating homophobia from its district. But the school board appealed, saying BC’s protection against sexual orientation-based discrimination does not apply to Jubran because he’s not gay. And the BC Supreme Court sided with the school board on Jan 2-sparking shock and outrage in the gay community.



That’s too narrow a reading of human rights law, argued John Fisher, of the national gay lobby group Egale. Just because Jubran isn’t gay doesn’t mean he wasn’t repeatedly gay-bashed, said gay educator Steve LeBel.



Jubran agreed and filed his request for appeal on Jan 31. “There’s absolutely no way that I could just let this go,” he says. “I was discriminated against, regardless of my sexual orientation.”



In related news, MLA Lorne Mayencourt says he’s finally planning to release his safe schools task force report by the end of February. Gay education activists are hoping the BC government will take this opportunity to intervene and order all BC schools to add protection from homophobic harassment to their anti-discrimination codes. And that’s not all. The Gay and Lesbian Educators of BC (GALE) are also asking the government to tell BC schools to incorporate gay-friendly materials into their curriculum and to support the development of gay-straight alliances to make schools safer and friendlier for queers.



PFLAG IN TROUBLE?

A shortage of new faces at PFLAG’s monthly meetings has board members wondering whether the group has outlived its usefulness in the Lower Mainland. Betty Ewing says the local chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays used to attract about 30-40 people to each meeting; now they’re down to about five people, and a shortage of volunteers. But she’s not convinced the group is no longer necessary. Neither is Ryan Cormier, who joined the board just a few weeks ago. PFLAG is still valuable, he says, remembering how much the group helped him through his own coming out process. “I don’t want to see it fold. Who else can parents turn to for support?” Ewing concedes that local parents of newly out children may be in less distress these days, but she worries that suburban and rural parents aren’t getting the support they need. She says she would be happy to help a new PFLAG chapter form in Surrey or Abbotsford, for example. In the meantime, the local PFLAG may cancel its monthly meetings but it won’t fold completely. Watch for its ever-popular float in this year’s Pride Parade and its continued contributions to gay-friendly education initiatives.



PFLAG can be reached at: 604.684.9872 xt 2060 and

www.pflagvancouver.com



CAMPAIGN TO RECALL MAYENCOURT

The campaign to recall Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt kicked into high gear with more than 60 people attending a meeting at the West End Community Centre Feb 9.



Organizer Alec Zuke says people are tired of Mayencourt toeing the Liberal line while ignoring constituents. Zuke said the impact of the new Residential Tenancy Act is a major concern.



The group will be looking for more volunteers to collect signatures once the campaign is coordinated as meetings continue.



Contact: Alec Zuke 604.689-4554 or Vancouver-Burrard-coord @recallbc.com



PEPPER SPRAY AT DUFF

Vancouver’s gays could be forgiven for thinking it was open season on them. An otherwise typical Tuesday night at the Dufferin turned violent shortly after 11pm on Feb 11 when two panhandlers pepper-sprayed two employees and a patron after being reprimanded for aggressively asking for money. The whole bar was cleared out just minutes into Kristy Krunt and Carlotta’s Tickle Me Tuesday show. The pepper spray quickly spread through the bar, with at least one patron vomiting as the premises were evacuated. One patron reported a homophobic comment from a panhandler. Police and two ambulances showed up.



MARRIAGE CHALLENGE BACK ON

The BC marriage case is back in the courts challenging an Oct 2001 decision by the BC Supreme Court that upheld federal laws restricting marriage rights to heterosexual couples. A BC Court of Appeal judge reserved decision Feb 12 on the challenge after three days of hearings. Eight BC couples are involved in the challenge and are prepared to fight laws banning them from marrying as discriminatory and unconstitutional all the way to the Supreme Court. Parallel cases have been launched in Ontario and Quebec.



On Feb 14 former Vancouver Park Board commissioner Duncan Wilson and partner Rowly Johnson tried to apply for a marriage licence. They were denied.



For more information, see www.queermarriage.com.



NUDIST GROUP TURNS 15

The Pacific-Canadian Association of Nudists (P-CAN) is turning 15 and throwing a naked dinner party Feb 23.



P-CAN has participated in Pride Parades since 2000 and their frequent dances at Club 23 draw upward of 400 men, many of them tourists from across North America.



For details on the dinner party, check out www.p-can.org or 604.684.9872 xt 2026.



STEPHENSON’S THE CONTACT

Tim Stevenson is now the sole official contact to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community on behalf of Mayor Larry Campbell. The gay city councillor is setting up three advisory committees with gay representatives: one to deal with bar and liquor licence issues, another composed of small business people and the BIAs, and a third to advise the mayor on gay safety matters.



Coun Ellen Woodsworth, believed to be the first out lesbian city councillor in Canadian history, will remain informed on queer issues, but is no longer the primary city hall contact for lesbians.



ARREST IN DRUG-ROBBERIES CASE

Sean Anthony Cole has been arrested and charged with two counts of theft after Xtra West reported that two gay men were drugged and robbed by their date.



Police are seeking at least three other victims of robberies that followed drinking a heavy sedative. And police are looking for people who may have been blackmailed or robbed by a man impersonating a police officer in Stanley Park. Call 911 to report incidents.



Cole’s next court appearance is Feb 27 at 9:30 am in room 307 of the provincial court, 222 Main St.



QUEER ADDICTION RESOURCES

Queer residents of Vancouver and Richmond struggling with alcohol and drug problems have trouble accessing queer-sensitive and queer-specific treatment and supports, according to a new report.



Barriers to treatment, gaps in service and inadequate support levels were identified through a series of community forums, workshops, focus groups and interviews with service providers over two years.



The report, “LGBT Communities and Substance Use: What health has to do with it,” will be launched, Feb 27, 6-8 pm, at the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St.