Gay Switzerland News & Reports 2009-10

1 Zurich elects lesbian mayor 3/09

2 Gay pride around the world 6/09

3 HIV cases fall among gay men 2/10

4 1/4 Swiss gay men using serosorting, strategic position or…to reduce HIV 6/10

March 30, 2009 – PinkNews

Zurich elects lesbian mayor

by Sophie Wilkinson
Zurich, Switzerland, has elected its first female and first openly lesbian mayor, Corine Mauch. A member of the centre-left Social Democrats, Mauch has been elected with a lead of 11,000 votes over her opposition following the surprise resignation of previous incumbent Elmar Ledergerber late last year. Mauch will be delivering a speech at the opening of the Europride 09 parade, alongside European Parliament member Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Moldavian human rights activist Mihaela Copot.

A spokesman of the EuroPride said: “This is a real stroke of luck for the EuroPride in Zurich. None of us really expected that” Despite previous criticism that both Mauch and her opposition, Kathrin Martelli, will not be able to fill their predecessors’ shoes, there is hope that Mauch’s election will bring positive change. One political analyst from Zurich University claimed: "Being a lesbian (is) an advantage, Zurich has a large gay community and the city people generally want to show you that they are open minded.”

June 19, 2009 –

Gay pride around the world

by Leslie Davis – Atlanta Lesbian Relationship Examiner
Gay Pride is taking places in cities around the world this month. I’ve been browsing the festivities, appreciating the festivities vicariously through friends and strangers. China’s first gay pride festival closed in Shanghai on Sunday after a week marred by authorities’ last-minute cancellation of events. Events for Shanghai Pride were organized at private venues, without a public parade, to avoid attracting unwanted official attention. Evidently their effort to ‘fly beneath the radar’ was less than successful. Shanghai authorities prevented a film screening and a play and police patrolled Saturday’s major events. The festival had to take place discreetly in order to go ahead.

From GlobalPost: Shanghai, like many Chinese cities, has a vast and vibrant gay scene that operates with little interference from Beijing. The government’s hands-off approach is sometimes called the Triple No Policy: no approval, no disapproval, no promotion. It is the Chinese equivalent of "don’t ask don’t tell," an opaque tactic that critics claim leaves both activists and ordinary people caught in an invisible web of rules that dictate when and how you can and, or can’t, be gay. China’s gay community is estimated to be around 30 million, though it is difficult to accurately approximate in a country where homosexuality is heavily stigmatized. China de-criminalized gay sex in 1997, though homosexual behavior was officially viewed as a mental disorder until 2001. Some government-funded medical institutes are still trying to find a "cure" for homosexuality. None of the mainstream media carried any reporting about Shanghai Pride on Sunday.

In Croatia, approximately 300 people gathered last Saturday at the 8th Gay Pride parade in Zagreb, uniting under the slogan "Destroy fascism, support gay activism." The event was marred by verbal clashes between gay and anti-gay groups. A group of around 200 nationalists gathered, shouting insults and carrying slogans such as "Gay parade, shame of our city," "Birth rate is dropping" and "Gays today, pedophiles tomorrow." Police intervened, arresting four people. The annual parades are commonly marred by violence due to the perception that sexual minorities are “sick" and "deviant."

In Israel more than 20,000 gays, lesbians and onlookers turned out for Tel Aviv’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade on Friday, June 12. A small group of right-wing and religious protesters demonstrated, holding up banners reading: "God hates debauchery." Interior Minister Eli Yishai had tried to convince Prime Minister Netanyahu to cancel the parade. Five gay couples wed Friday in a ceremonial marriage on Tel Aviv beach, at the culmination of the city’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade. The ceremony, held at sundown, after an all day disco on the beach, began with a serenade by gay pop star Ivri Lider. Three female and two male couples exchanged vows.

Jerusalem will host its own pride parade on June 25th, an event that has previously sparked fierce opposition from Jewish and Muslim clerics and politicians.

Never at the forefront of gay tourism, Switzerland hosted Euro-Pride throughout May, 2009 in Zurich. The parade was held on the final weekend, June 6, 2009. Organizers say 50,000 people attended. Though Zurich may not leap to mind as a primary destination for gay travelers, Switzerland has one of the best developed gay infrastructures in the world, with many places to socialize regardless of how much or how little clothing you choose to wear. The home page of the Zurich police department says that their central preoccupation is “Sicherheit als Grundlage einer toleranten und freien Gesellschaft.” Translation: Safety as the foundation of a tolerant and free society. I wish more local police departments would put this mission on their home page.

Last weekend São Paulo, Brazil hosted the largest gay pride in the world, with over 3 million people in attendance. Dancing and waving rainbow flags, people jammed Sao Paulo’s main boulevards for the 13th annual gay pride parade. Marchers carried signs condemning homophobia and demanding equal rights. Sunday’s carnival-like parade drew gay men, lesbians, cross-dressers and many heterosexual couples with their children for a massive march down skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista to the beat of loud music blasting from 20 sound trucks. There were two attacks reported. A man was attacked by a group of men on the street in a gay neighborhood and beaten. He suffered brain injuries and remains in a coma. In a separate incident, 21 people were injured when a home-made bomb exploded was detonated in the crowd.

In New York City, Pride celebrations center around five events held during the fourth week of June, from June 20-28, 2009: The Rally, PRIDEfest, The March, the Dance on the Pier, and Rapture on the River. The events all take place in the West Village, very close to the city’s other gay-popular neighborhoods like Chelsea and the East Village. This year is expected to be impressive since it is the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.

There’s have been many festivals held worldwide this far and there are many more to come throughout the rest of the summer. I look forward to enjoying the revelry from my living room.

February 1, 2010 – Swiss Info

HIV cases fall among gay men

The rate of new infections of HIV, the virus that causes Aids, among homosexual men has dropped for the first time since 2001, according to the Federal Health Office. Figures released on Monday showed there were almost 100 fewer cases in 2009 than the previous year, a decline of 25 per cent. The total number of new cases also fell – from 678 to 591 – for the first time since 2006. The highest level was in 2002, when 794 new cases were diagnosed.

The health office admitted there was “no conclusive explanation” for the “welcome decline”. In November a United Nations report on Aids found that 50 people in Switzerland died of complications related to HIV infections in 2008. In 1995 the figure was 600. Antiviral drugs have helped people live longer with the disease, the report said.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most heavily affected area of the planet. About 22.4 million people, or two-thirds of all HIV-positive people, live with the disease there. Since the beginning of the pandemic in the early 1980s almost 60 million people have been infected with HIV. About 25 million of them have died.

June 16, 2010 – AIDS Map

Quarter of Swiss gay men using serosorting, strategic position or withdrawal to reduce their HIV risk

by Michael Carter
Almost two-thirds of gay and bisexual men consistently use condoms with casual partners as a means of HIV prevention, Swiss investigators report in the online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
However, their research showed that 25% of men used strategies such as serosorting, strategic positioning, and withdrawal before ejaculation to try to reduce the risk of HIV transmission when having unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners.

“It is necessary to recognize the most commonly used risk reduction practices among men who have sex with men and address this practices in prevention activities in a balanced way,” write the investigators. Gay men remain one of the groups most affected by HIV, and research from a number of industrialised countries has shown that the number of gay and other men who have sex with men reporting unprotected anal intercourse with casual partners has increased in recent years. The same research suggests that although a significant proportion of men are not consistently using condoms, they are nevertheless using other methods to try to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. These include serosorting – the conscious selection of partners who are believed to be of the same HIV status; strategic positioning – the adoption of the insertive or receptive position during anal intercourse according to HIV status; and withdrawal before ejaculation.

Such strategies do not have the same protective effect as consistent condom use, and Swiss investigators wished to establish their prevalence and the factors associated with them. They therefore analysed the results of a nationwide sexual behaviour survey conducted in 2007. A total of 2953 men completed the survey and 1689 (57%) reported anal sex with a casual partner in the previous twelve months. These men were included in the investigators’ analysis. Approximately three-quarters of these men were aware of their HIV status, and 145 reported that they were HIV-positive.

Overall, 67% of men said that they consistently used condoms with casual partners. But consistent use of condoms was consistently lower amongst HIV-positive than HIV-negative men (47 vs 69%, p < 0.001). Men with HIV were significantly more likely to sometimes employ a risk reduction strategy than HIV-negative men (35 vs 25%, p < 0.001). Overall, 9% of men reported inconsistent condom use outside the context of risk reduction, those with HIV being the most likely to report this behaviour. Withdrawal was the most widely used method of risk reduction (62%), followed by serosorting (50%), and strategic positioning (33%).

The investigators express “great concern” about the large number of men sometimes relying on withdrawal. Previous research found that this was associated with a high risk of becoming infected with HIV. Factors associated with the use of risk reduction included being in a stable relationship, using the internet to find sex partners, age, and – for HIV-positive men – a higher number of sex partners (all p = 0.05). No or inconsistent condom use was associated with sex seeking on the internet, age, and – for men with HIV – a greater number of partners (all p = 0.05).

“Risk reduction practices used with the intention to avoid HIV transmission were highly prevalent among men who have sex with men,” comment the investigators. They add, “such practices were never promoted as such in Switzerland by either public health authorities or gay organisations; on the contrary, the prevention web site of the Swiss AIDS Foundation warns about their questionable efficacy.”

Further research is needed to understand the circumstances in which gay men use risk reduction, say the researchers. They also believe that prevention campaigns that address these strategies in a “balanced” way are needed.