Gay people are having a rough time of it in Eastern Europe of late, especially at Sunday's Gay Rights protest in Moscow, where a shower of Nazi thugs laid into the likes of Peter Tatchell, Fred Fairbrass, and, I imagine many, more, lesser known people. The cops stood by and intervened only to arrest those that were being attacked. Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov has vowed to never allow Gay rallies in the city (despite homosexuality being legal under Russian law), calling them 'satanic'. I have always thought there was something fishy about them queers but couldn't put my finger on it. Thanks to Mayor Luzhkov for clarifying the matter for me. Incidentally, the young thug preparing to punch Tatchell in the Guardian's photograph (don't you just love all those cameras primed, ready to intervene?) has a curiously 'manly' 'tache. He couldn't possibly have been there for other motives, could he have?
Further west in Poland, a country that is labouring under the right-wing Catholic fundamentalism of the Law and Justice Party and the President-Prime Minister double act the Kaczynski twins, that government's spokesperson for children's rights has asked psychologists to determine if handbag-swinging Teletubby Twinky-Winky is gay. Ms Ewa Sowinska thus takes up the mantle of the late, unlamented Jerry Falwell, who, at least, did not deign to ask a psychologist for their opinion. Falwell knew a propagandising fag cuddly toy when he saw it. Interestingly one of the Kaczynski twins is rumoured to have exotic tastes in young men surprisingly at odds with his government's hounding of gays.
Old Europe is not to be outdone however, a Dutch reality TV show has needy contestants competing for a dying woman's kidneys. The producers claim that they have a serious sociological intent in making the show but one suspects that they are not going to donate the royalties to the Dutch kidney foundation.
In Sweden, the lodestone of European righteousness, the nation pressurised Miss Sweden Isabel Lestapier Winqvist into withdrawing from the Miss Universe competition, because of it being 'demeaning to women'. Ms Winqvist, presumably fearful of becoming a Nordic Hester Prynne, complied and even the organiser of the Swedish franchise, a swimsuit company that has done away with the swimsuit section of the national competition, stands by the decision to boycott the competition. While I will not disagree that a competition as grotesque, inane and tacky as Miss Universe degrades women and many of the women involved are objects of pity more than anything else, this official stance by Sweden strikes me as the worst form of pedantry, a grandiose smashing of a walnut with the biggest mallet that Protestant Social Democracy can buy. There are far more important issues that concern women worldwide, such as people trafficking, unequal pay and even underprovision of toilet facilities (in the third-world particularly, a hidden killer). Attacking Miss Universe looks like Sweden wants to say something to the world about itself rather than the rights and concerns of women.