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Local and National news in brief

LIBERAL FUNDING. Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt and MLA-hopeful Laura McDiarmid flank The Centre's dir Credit: Matt Mills photo

Two Vancouver women believe they were pulled from the lineup of a Gastown pub Apr 16 because they are lesbians. Abbey Wallace says she and Carmen Amundsen were asked to leave the Blarney Stone Pub line by a burly bouncer after being told they had been causing problems for the manager all night.

She concedes they had a can of beer while they were in the line. But, she adds, a bouncer asked them to go around a corner and get rid of it. They did so.

Then, she says, the woman whose birthday the group was celebrating was also drinking in the line. The group was asked to go to the back of the line. They did.

Then, Wallace and Amundsen were pulled from the line.

But, Wallace says, the group remains convinced she and Amundsen were singled out because they look somewhat tomboyish. “There was no other reason for it,” she says.

Blarney Stone manager John Nicholson says the pub will not tolerate people drinking outside due to licensing issues. “We can’t condone people drinking before coming into the club,” he says, adding there are liability issues of which he must be wary resulting from such behaviour.

Wallace says other people were drinking in the line and nothing happened to them.

– Jeremy Hainsworth and Xtra West staff



The BC Liberals handed The Centre a cheque for $187,000, Apr 15. The money is earmarked for The Centre’s Gab youth services program.

“We’re going to expand spaces for youth in the Lower Mainland in the context of schools by offering Gab Pridespeaks, safe spaces and support for gay-straight alliances,” says The Centre’s executive director Donna Wilson.

In previous years, the Ministry of Children and Family Development funded Youthquest for this type of work. But last October, the membership of Youthquest voted to oust its entire board of directors and later laid off its executive director. The last few months have been tumultuous for the rural youth support network. “At this point, Youthquest is concentrating on our drop-in centres in the Lower Mainland,” says treasurer Lori Gaites.

“We’ve been supporting Youthquest and will continue to support them, but they had some problems,” says Liberal Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt, who presented the cheque to Wilson. “We talked to The Centre about how important [youth programming] was.

“I wanted Gab to move from just Vancouver-based to do the whole Fraser Valley,” he adds. “I’m delighted they’re doing that.”

“I have nothing but admiration for Youthquest and the good work they do and The Centre would provide whatever support we can to help Youthquest continue to get back on its feet,” says Wilson.



That’s another small brush fire stomped out.

Stephen Harper’s amendment aimed at preventing Bill C-38-the same-sex marriage bill-from moving to second reading in the House of Commons was defeated by 32 votes (164 to 132) on Apr 12.

Had it passed, it would have stopped the bill in its tracks because it did not define marriage as being between one woman and one man.

With Harper’s amendment out of the way, the bill can now inch closer to second reading. But its future is looking increasingly bleak as Harper threatens a spring election. The Liberals were originally planning to pass the bill through all three readings plus the standard Parliamentary review committee by the end of this session in June. The Senate would have then dealt with it in the fall. But those plans may not make it if any of the opposition parties decide to force a spring election over the Gomery inquiry’s findings of alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money. If a predicted June election does come to pass, the marriage bill could die on the table, unpassed.



The number of reported global cases of the STD Lyphogranuloma Venereum (LGV) continue to rise among men who have sex with men. Since Xtra West last reported on LGV in November, health officials in the UK have recorded another 34 cases, mostly from around London. Six more cases were also reported in the US-three in San Francisco, one in Atlanta and two in New York City. The BC Centre for Disease Control says one confirmed case of LGV was reported in Vancouver and another, unconfirmed but likely, case was reported in the BC interior. LGV is an uncommon form of chlamydia that first surfaced among gay men in the Netherlands in 2003. It can be tricky to diagnose because it requires specialized testing. Symptoms may include an itchy bum, constipation, rectal inflammation and bleeding, swollen lymph nodes and pain. LGV responds well to antibiotics and can easily be treated, but if left untreated can cause serious tissue damage.



Members of the Canada Pension Plan class-action suit still haven’t gotten any cheques from the federal government. Instead, they are waiting to see if the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the government’s latest appeal. The suit, estimated to be worth about $80 million to about 1,500 eligible queer widows and widowers, was first launched in 2001. The widows say the government’s 1999 decision to only extend spousal pension benefits to queers whose partners died after 1998 is unfair and arbitrary. They say the retroactive payments should instead date back to 1985, the year the Charter of Rights came into effect. Two courts, most recently the Ontario Court of Appeal last November, have agreed and ordered the feds to pay up. Douglas Elliot, the lead lawyer in the suit, called the Court of Appeal ruling a victory. “No one gave us a gay and lesbian discount when we were paying into the Canada Pension Plan, and so we shouldn’t have a gay and lesbian discount when we get paid out of the Canada Pension Plan,” he said. But the feds appealed the Court of Appeal’s verdict in January. Now it’s up to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide whether or not to hear that appeal. If it does decide to hear it, it could take more than a year before the case gets its turn and a decision is rendered.

*With files from Paul Gallant



Thirty-nine percent of Canadians believe the same-sex marriage debate has lead to increased discrimination towards gay and lesbian people, a recent Ipsos Reid poll suggests. The study also found 48 percent of Canadians think the marriage debate has had no effect on discrimination, while nine percent think discrimination has decreased. People living in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta are most likely to think discrimination against gay people has increased because of the gay marriage debate, while people in Quebec are least likely to feel that way.