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An RSVP Vacations gay cruise expected to visit Casablanca, Morocco, July 1, was reportedly barred from making the scheduled stop, according to Reuters. The visit would’ve marked the first of a gay cruise to the Islamic nation.
”Our port agent in Casablanca has advised us that authorities in Morocco have – despite previous confirmations – now denied our scheduled visit,” read a note from RSVP and the cruise line, Holland America, reportedly tweeted by passengers. ”It was ultimately the decision by local authorities in Morocco that has necessitated us to adjust our plans.”
Lahcen Haddad, Morocco’s tourism minister, however, told Reuters that the gay cruise aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam had not been banned.
”We don’t ban cruise ships here and we never ask our visitors about their sexual preferences,” he said, adding that he ship was still welcome to visit Morocco. While Morocco is a relatively tolerant nation, attracting many Western tourists, particularly Europeans, homosexual acts remain illegal.
Casablanca would have been the first stop on the week-long cruise, which began June 29, departing from Barcelona, Spain. The remaining ports on the itinerary are all in Spain, with the ship due to end in Barcelona July 6.
Despite threats of violence, the fifth annual Sofia Pride LGBT parade in Sofia, Bulgaria, occurred peacefully, The Christian Science Monitor reports. Hundreds came out for the June 30 event.
According to the Monitor report, an Orthodox priest said stones should be thrown at parade attendees. Criticism of that threat prompted the Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarchate to counter by going a step further, condemning the parade as a violation of Orthodox Christians’ rights. A small, nationalist political party also posted billboards in Sofia reading, ”Gay Parade Allowed – Smoking Banned. Which is more harmful for the nation?”
A parade organizer, Marko Markov, told the Monitor afterward, ”Everything was perfect. For four consecutive years there has been no violence at all at the parade itself, though we were very concerned this year. The far right is very loud, but they know they can’t harm us.”
The U.S. State Department has announced the launch of a program to help raise funds for Global Equality Fund, started by Secretary Hillary Clinton in late 2011 to support programs worldwide advancing LGBT rights.
The new program, announced July 2, will allow for people to make $10 donations to the fund by texting the word ”PRIDE” to 80000. The new fundraising effort is a partnership with the Denver-based mGive Foundation, which assists in connecting donors to charitable causes via mobile technology.
Is a State Department release announcing the new partnership, Jim Thompson, deputy special representative for global partnerships at the department, said, ”The mGive Foundation has partnered with the U.S. State Department on text donation campaigns in the past with tremendous success.”
The same release described the Global Fund as, ”providing tangible assistance to LGBT civil society groups around the world” and underscoring the department’s ”commitment to ensuring LGBT people worldwide are able to exercise their human rights with dignity.”