Friday, December 21, 2007

Nepal court rules on gay rights

Nepal's Supreme Court has ordered the government to scrap laws that discriminate against homosexuals.
The court ordered that sexual minorities should be guaranteed the same rights as other citizens.
Campaigners said the ruling was a "huge victory". Homosexuality is frowned upon in conservative South Asia.
Nepalese laws do not explicitly criminalise homosexuality, but an "unnatural sex act" currently carries a prison term of up to a year.
Human rights campaigners say the provision has been used to justify arrests of men who have sex with men and transgender people.
Gay men and women and members of other sexual minorities have long complained of discrimination in Nepal.
In their ruling, two Supreme Court judges said: "The government of Nepal should formulate new laws and amend existing laws in order to safeguard the rights of these people.
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex are natural persons irrespective of their masculine and feminine gender and they have the right to exercise their rights and live an independent life in society."
Activists said it was a landmark ruling.
"It's a very encouraging and progressive decision. We all feel we are liberated today," Sunil Babu Pant, the president of the Blue Diamond Society which campaigns for Nepal's sexual minorities, told the AFP news agency.
"There were no specific laws to protect the rights of sexual minorities but the Supreme Court's decision has opened the doors to enjoy our rights."
Mr Pant said education, citizenship papers and jobs could now be given to people without them having to identify themselves as male or female, or giving their gender as "third sex".
There was no immediate response from the government to Friday's ruling.

Gay marriage opponent is new ANC leader

20th December 2007 17:22

Tony Grew
Jacob Zuma, the new leader of the African National Congress, has previously spoken out against gay marriage. Mr Zuma, 65, won a considerable victory over incumbent South African President Thabo Mbeki and is the clear favourite to become the country's next leader, despite concerns he could face corruption charges. In 2006 he had apologise for offending the gay community and claimed that his views on same-sex marriage were misinterpreted. Mr Zuma, a former deputy President of South Africa, angered LGBT activists after comments he made at a Heritage Day celebration calling plans to legalise same-sex marriages a "disgrace to the nation and to God." He had commented in particular about the manner in which communities tended to neglect boys and over-emphasise the traditional upbringing of girls, as evidenced in ceremonies such as the reed dance. "I said the communal upbringing of children in the past was able to assist parents to notice children with a different social orientation," explained Mr Zuma, "I however did not intend to have this interpreted as a condemnation of gays."He later said that "one can be judgmental" with regards to gay marriage. "We have a constitution that guides us and we have to abide by it; no matter at times what other kinds of views people have."Concerns about Mr Zuma's fitness for office intensified after he was charged with rape in late 2005.He admitted at trial to having unprotected sex with his HIV-positive accuser even though he knew her status. He was head of the National AIDS Council at the time. In court he said he had taken a shower to try to minimise the risk of infection, which did little to engender the confidence of AIDS activists. He was acquitted on of rape in May 2006. The perception that Mr Zuma is closer to the attitudes and aspirations of the South African population was a key factor in his huge victory of 2,329 votes to 1,505 over President Mbeki at this week’s ANC conference. Writing on the LGBT rights website Behind The Mask, South African activist Mashilo Mnisi said: "It was clear from the outset when the ANC Women's League (ANC WL) nominated Jacob Zuma that the South African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community did not favour Zuma to take lead, hence it deplored the nomination."I am concerned and wondering that the LGBTI community denounced the nomination based on the fact that Zuma once taunted the gay community [but later apologised although many believed it wasn't genuine] or that Zuma once raped a lesbian woman and was acquitted of the rape, or both."It's quite obvious to contempt some LGBTI individuals as they believe that Zuma [if elected for presidency] might look at challenging the country's constitution based on his different principles and beliefs towards gay people. "And that could mean to challenge or even attempt to reverse the Civil Unions Act that was adopted last December and protecting the rights of gay people to marry – if he's still holding on to those beliefs."

Gay Iranian Teen Awaits Decision of Dutch Court Over Return to UK

LONDON, December 21, 2007 – A young gay Iranian, who fled the United Kingdom in fear after his asylum application with the Home Office’s Border and Immigration Agency failed earlier this year, will be spending the festive season hoping that a Dutch court will allow him to stay in the Netherlands.
UK Gay News highlighted the plight of 19 years-old Mehdi in April following the failure of his appeal against deportation from UK back to Iran.
Mehdi had arrived in the UK two years previously on a student visa and had completed his education in England.
Before leaving Iran, the teen had not only come to terms with the fact he was gay, but also had a serious boyfriend.
So scared of being forcibly removed to Iran, Mehdi managed to flee the UK and surfaced in the Netherlands before crossing the border into Germany.
The authorities eventually caught up with him and he returned again to the Netherlands.
Mehdi had his “day in court” after the Dutch authorities wanted to return him to the UK – there was no suggestion of him being returned to Iran as the Government in the Netherlands has a moratorium on returning gays to Iran.
“My main worry is that if they send me to the UK, the Home office would try to send me to Iran without any further review in my case,” he said today in an email.
The judge in the Netherlands is now considering the case. She is expected to hand down her decision early in the New Year on whether Mehdi can stay in the country or has to be returned to the UK.
During the court hearing, Mehdi’s lawyer said that the Netherlands had an obligation – and the legal responsibility – to let the teenager stay in the country, due to the UK’s “historical attitude” towards Iranian gay men and women seeking asylum.
His lawyer argued that Mehdi should be allowed to seek asylum in the Netherlands.
Last night, Mehdi gave an emotional “thank you” to his many supporters.
“I would like to thank the many people who have followed my case and have given me huge support over the past 15 months,” he said.
“I am sure I would have been dead by now if I you guys weren’t supporting me,” he added.
His supporters are led by his uncle, who lives in the UK. Mehdi also said that he had received fantastic world-wide support, including from the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organisation, gay support groups in the Netherlands, MPs and other individuals in the UK

■ Don’t Leave Iranian Gays Abandoned. – read Mehdi’s story, including how his boyfriend in Iran was executed, HERE.

As in previous articles, Mehdi’s last name is not being used to protect his family in Iran.

New Poll Exposes Homophobia In Bulgaria

A new poll reveals attitudes about gay people in the Southeastern European nation of Bulgaria. The poll, conducted in September of this year by the Skala agency, showed that 80% of Bulgarians have a negative attitude towards gay people, the nation's news agency reported:

"53% of the inquired Bulgarians have extremely negative attitude towards gays. 17% declared that can freely communicate with person homosexually orientated. Most clearly are expressed the prejudices to transsexuals, most weakly to gay women, shows the research. Almost half of the inquired would not work with homosexuals in one room. 70% of the people won't enroll their kid in school where works a gay teacher. 50% won't acquiesce of their own child has homosexual orientation. According to the research the most frequent is the discrimination based on race differences. Strongest tensions are between Bulgarian and Gypsies on one hand and Turkish people and Gypsies on the other."

Bulgarian pop star Azis, who recently made headlines after racy headlines for an upcoming show were taken down by authorities, and who has also made very public his marriage to his partner and their adoption of a baby girl, is likely the most prominent out personality in the nation.

Uruguay OKs gay unions in Latin American first

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguay's Congress legalized civil unions for homosexual couples on Tuesday in the first nationwide law of its kind in Latin America.
Under the new law, gay and straight couples will be eligible to form civil unions after living together for five years. They will have rights similar to those granted to married couples on such matters as inheritance, pensions and child custody.
Uruguay's Senate passed the bill unanimously after the lower house approved it last month, a congressional spokesman said. The country's center-left president is expected to sign it into law.
Several cities, including Buenos Aires and Mexico City, already have gay civil union laws on the books. Uruguay's law would be the first nationwide measure in Latin America, which is home to about half the world's Roman Catholics.
In Uruguay, couples must register their relationship with authorities to gain the cohabitation rights, and they will also be able to formalize the end of a union.
Gay marriage remains illegal in Uruguay, a small South American country known for its secular streak.
The Catholic Church has said its opposition to gay marriage is non-negotiable and Catholic politicians have a moral duty to oppose it.
Earlier this year in Colombia, a group of senators shot down a landmark gay rights bill at the last minute, using a procedural vote to back away from the measure.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Scottish Green Party Introduces Hate Crime Bill Proposal

"We need to strengthen the law on hate crime"
by ROBIN HARPER, Lothians MSP for the Scottish Green Party.

LAST week was Equalities and Diversity Week at the Scottish Parliament with MSPs of all parties celebrating the progress we have made to become a fairer society. But there is still much we can do.
A recent study found more than half the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people surveyed in Edinburgh had been victims of physical assault at some time. Among disabled people, another study found that 47 per cent had experienced hate crime because of their disability, with 31 per cent experiencing verbal abuse, intimidation or physical attack at least once a month.
And research involving people with mental health problems revealed that 41 per cent of those questioned had been harassed in public, compared to 15 per cent in the general population.
Behind these figures are real people living in Edinburgh and elsewhere in Scotland who have experienced what has come to be known as "hate crime" - crime motivated by malice or ill-will towards a social group.
To quote one gay Edinburgh resident's experience: "My friends and I were physically assaulted. We were targets because we were gay men in a straight bar. My teeth were broken."
And a visually impaired person told the Disability Rights Commission: "A friend with a guide dog was attacked. They kicked and punched him, then took the harness of his dog and scared the dog away."
It seems a long time since 2002 when the Scottish Parliament backed my call to consider strengthening legislation on hate crimes. A working group was established but, despite its recommendation to the then Scottish Executive that Scotland needed new laws, no action was taken.
My Green Party colleague, Patrick Harvie MSP, has now lodged a Bill proposal to strengthen the law to tackle hate crimes against people on the grounds of their disability or sexual orientation. The move will introduce "statutory aggravation" powers to ensure that abuse and violence towards these groups is treated the same as religious bigotry and racism and to provide courts with clear and consistent sentencing powers.
In England and Wales, the law on sentencing for hate crimes already covers disability and sexual orientation, and it has been effective for handling this kind of crime.
If the Greens are successful in getting this legislation through Parliament, it will send hugely important messages: to victims that they should report the crime and it will be dealt with; to offenders, that crimes motivated by hate will be recognised as such and sentenced properly; and to society as a whole, that Scotland is a country which, in the 21st century, clearly says "no" to prejudice and intolerance, especially when these result in criminal offences.

Forms pose discrimination risk, U.K.civil partners warned,,2221352,00.html

Lucy Ward, social affairs correspondent
Tuesday December 4, 2007

Gay and lesbian people who enter into civil partnerships are at risk of "forced outing" through everyday activities such as taking out a bank loan, according to a report to be published tomorrow.
A study for the Citizens Advice charity, produced two years after civil partnerships became legal in Britain, reveals that form-filling is forcing gay people to disclose their sexual orientation to banks, insurance companies and employers, when they might have preferred not to.
Declaring a gay relationship, for example to a prospective employer, could increase the potential for discrimination or harassment, according to the report, Civil Partnerships - Another Year On.
The research also concludes that the terminology surrounding civil partnerships is making it harder for gay couples to discuss or refer to their status and "bringing into sharp focus social discomfort with homosexuality". People are being forced to choose between "clumsy" terms such as "civilly partnered" and the inaccurate and potentially controversial word "marriage", says the study.
The report from the CAB's advice body for the gay, lesbian and transgendered community, reflects the "unintended consequences" as civil partnership legislation beds in, said CAB spokesman Tom Togher. The new law has proved popular, with more than 18,000 partnerships registered in the first 12 months following the act, and several thousand more this year.
But "legal change is running ahead of social change", Togher said, with many gay and lesbian people still wary of declaring their sexual orientation.
Participants in the survey, which included 20 in-depth interviews with people in civil partnerships and long-term, non-legally recognised gay and lesbian relationships, were concerned that declaring civil partnership status could expose them to discrimination or harassment.
The report recommends forms should have a single category of "married/civil partner", leaving the sexual orientation of respondents unspecified. It also calls for a debate on civil partnership terminology.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the campaign group Stonewall, said form-filling could raise problems, but said many organisations - including Revenue & Customs - bracketed civil partnerships and marriage together. The term marriage was emerging as the most popular term used by gay and lesbian couples to describe their relationships, he added.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ireland to legislate for gay partnerships next year

30th November 2007 14:45
Joe Roberts

Ireland's Minister of State for Equality, Sean Power, said this morning that legislation allowing same-sex civil partnerships could be introduced by early next summer.He was speaking at the National Lesbian and Gay Federation's (NLGF) symposium on Full And Equal Rights: Lesbian And Gay Marriage And Partnership Rights In Ireland. The symposium is part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All 2007Mr Power added that the government was keen to pass the new laws as soon as possible and that they didn't anticipate any objection from the opposition.John Fisher, of ARC International rights organisation, told the Irish Examiner: "Same-sex couples are entitled to the same range of relationship options as opposite-sex couples, including marriage for those who choose it."Anything less is a denial of full equality. The struggle for equal marriage is about recognising love and commitment, strengthening families and affirming the core social values of dignity and respect."A bill outlining the new proposed legislation is expected to be published in March.Mr Powers comments reiterate those made in a speech by Prime Minister Bertie Ahern last July, shortly after he had formed a new administration with the Green party.Opening a gay community centre in Dublin, Mr Ahern told the crowd: "This Government is committed to providing a more supportive and secure legal environment for same-sex couples."Taking into account the Options Paper prepared by the Colley Group, and the pending Supreme Court case, we will legislate for Civil Partnerships at the earliest possible date in the lifetime of this Government."The year before, Mr Ahern has announced a desire to attract more gay candidates to his Fianna Fail party, adding."Our sexual orientation is not an incidental attribute. It is an essential part of who we are. All citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, stand equal in the eyes of our laws."Sexual orientation cannot, and must not, be the basis of a second-class citizenship. Our laws have changed, and will continue to change, to reflect this principle."

New South Wales' proposed reproductive donor laws discriminatory

New South Wales, Australia

The World Today - Wednesday, 28 November , 2007 12:48:00
Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: Gay rights groups and medical ethicists have warned that proposed New South Wales laws on reproductive donors are discriminatory. The New South Wales Government is planning to give sperm and egg donors the right to choose who will receive their genetic material. It has the backing of religious groups and says the change is in the best interests of any resulting children. But opponents say it will give donors the ability to discriminate against single mothers, gay couples, and ethnic and religious groups.Michael Edwards has our report.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill is presently before the New South Wales Upper House and if passed, it will have wide ranging ramifications for the way sperm, egg, and embryo donations are conducted.The bill contains changes, which will require donors to register their names, enabling children to make contact with them once they are 18. It will also mean women who receive donations can have a say on the background of the donor.But one of the most contentious aspects of the legislation is that donors will have the right to choose who they donate to. The New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma says this is a sensible change, which is in the best interests of children.
MORRIS IEMMA: The last thing you want, a child who grows up and wants to track their donor, their genetic father, their genetic parent, and then to discover that the genetic parent has got some objection to the child being in existence, to … some objection to their cultural, religious or some other aspect of their background.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: But opponents of this aspect of the bill are lining up to voice their criticism. Dr Leslie Cannold is a medical ethicist, and she says it will give legal status to discrimination.
LESLIE CANNOLD: My understanding is how this bill is going to operate is that a donor can say, look I only want my gametes or my embryos to go to a Christian family. I don't want it to go to a Muslim or a Jewish or a Muslim family. I don't want it to go to a gay or a lesbian couple or a single mother, and of course that's not a particular person, that's away from a group who have a certain characteristic.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: Emily Gray is the convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. She says describes it as a form of social engineering.
EMILY GRAY: Under this legislation, it would be possible for a donor to direct that their sperm be … only go to a, for example, a white Christian married couple living on the North Shore, or a Muslim couple, or a Jewish couple, or indeed a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman. We believe that this is a dangerous road to go down. It's akin to social engineering.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: But the bill does have its supporters. Among them is Leonie Hewitt from the Donor Conception Support Group.
LEONIE HEWITT: As in, you know, the rights of the child will need to be paramount, and if donors … donors must be able to choose where their gametes go, because what happens in, you know, 10 to 15 years, 18 years time, and the donors find that their gametes have gone to people that they don't feel comfortable with.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: And Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby says the issue is not about race or religion but about the child born as a result of the donation.
JIM WALLACE: If the child is that person's progeny, if it's more likely - given the law - that that person is going to have contact with the child in the future because they'll be known to the child. If perhaps even later we might find that he has liability for the child, then he must have some say over the circumstances in which that child is going to grow up.
MICHAEL EDWARDS: However, medical ethicist, Leslie Cannold, remains unconvinced with these arguments. She says it's her understanding that it's illegal to discriminate in other aspects of life based on religious, racial or sexual grounds.
LESLIE CANNOLD: And yet this seems to be saying that certain people in certain circumstances can do just that, they can point to a group of people and say, "No, I don't want them to have access to this", and this is something I think we'd all agree is very important, which is the capacity to have the chance of having a child.
ELEANOR HALL: That's medical ethicist, Dr Leslie Cannold, ending Michael Edwards' report.

Call by Gay Politician to Relax Restrictions on Condom Ads in European Union

Michael Cashman MEP: “If we really wish to take public health seriously we should do everything we can to promote the normalisation of condom use.”

BRUSSELS, November 29, 2007 — Restrictions on condom advertising should be relaxed in order to combat rising levels of sexually transmitted disease, according to a senior Euro MP.
Labour’s Michael Cashman made the call for pre-watershed condom advertising as part of a campaign to mark World Aids day on Saturday.
The lifting of TV advertising restrictions of condoms across the EU has the support from the 219-strong Socialist Group in the European Parliament.
The current guidelines in the UK restrict condom adverts before 9.00pm on all channels except Channel 4, which can show adverts after 7.00pm. The organisations which oversee the guidelines are the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee for Advertising Practices.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, fears about HIV led to young people exercising greater care and using condoms,” Mr. Cashman said this morning.
“But, unfortunately, as a nation we have appeared to have become complacent.”
“Amazingly there are people who still think that HIV is a disease that only affects groups such as homosexuals and drug users. Those who think this way are not just being ignorant; they are being reckless.
“HIV does not discriminate. Having unprotected sex is like playing Russian roulette but every chamber of the gun is loaded.”
“It is young people who are most at risk and they are the very people who need to be informed about using condoms. They need an environment where they can see, talk about and use condoms,” he added.
There has also been a worrying rise in reported cases of other sexual transmitted diseases. In 1997 there were just 301 reported cases of syphilis. That figure rose to an astonishing 3,702 last year. The number of reported cases last year for Chlamiydia was 113,000.
Mr. Cashman believes that allowing advertising before the watershed will help to remove some of the taboo that is still associated with condoms. The Family Planning Association (FPA) has also called for restrictions to be lifted and has described the current rules as having a “Victorian attitude”.
A review of condom advertising has also been recommended by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV.
“If we really wish to take public health seriously we should do everything we can to promote the normalisation of condom use,” Mr. Cashaman continued.
“That is why I am using the occasion of World AIDS Day to call on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee for Advertising Practices (CAP) to review the guidelines on condom advertising.”
Mr. Cashman, who was a founding director of Stonewal, is the current president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights
■ In an initiative to mark World AIDS Day, Socialist Euro MPs are calling for a cut in VAT on condoms and are urging condom manufacturers to reduce prices to levels closer to production costs. The United Kingdom government has already made the VAT reduction.

Oh Canada! Neighbors Drive Gay Married Couple Out of Ontario Town

by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Boston Contributor
Wednesday Nov 28, 2007

A gay married couple say that they were forced by anti-gay locals to flee their home in a small Canadian village.Terry and Ryan Hamilton had only lived in Bothwell, an Ontario village, for six months when, they say, they were forced out by the antipathy of a group of villagers, The Chatham Daily News reported (link: story was also run in the London Free Press ( couple say that their property suffered vandalism, including shrubs being uprooted in their yard and a decorative pond being destroyed, as well as the words, "Die fags" being spray-painted on their home.During a 9-hour loss of power, they say, locals ran around their house shouting anti-gay threats and rapping on their windows as the couple took refuge inside with a rake and a hoe in their hands.Said Ryan Hamilton, "There was no way we could stay, we were suffering such tremendous hate crimes."Added Ryan, "They were doing everything they could to make our lives a living hell." The Chatham Daily News reported that the couple, who were married in 2005 under Canada’s legislation allowing gay and lesbian families access to marriage equaity, called in more than 30 incidents of vandalism, threats, and mischief to local police.Police Chief Carl Herder said, "The phrase, ’Die fags’ was spray painted on their front door."Continued Herder, "That certainly would fall within the definition of a hate crime under the criminal code."The couple’s troubles began early last June and continued up until they finally abandoned their rented home this month, leaving Bothwell for Chantham. The men said that in addition to the spray painted hate message and the vandalism to their yard, their vehicles also suffered damage.The couple also said that they were subject to anti-gay slurs and threats; at one point, Ryan said, he was accosted while driving, being verbally abused by men occupying a pickup who then threatened him with a tire iron and pursued him down country byways until Ryan took refuge at a farm house and called for the police."He would have beaten me to death," said Ryan.Continued Ryan, "He was a homophobic redneck."The policeman who responded to Ryan’s call followed after him to see him home safely, but the police were not always courteous or concerned, the couple said, citing the night of the power outage, when the responding officer dismissed the men’s concerns, saying that he had the rest of the village to protect.The memory of that night, late last month, has stayed with the couple.Ryan characterized the experience as "the most horrible nightmare," saying, "It was like rabid dogs running around the house." Said Terry, "We figured they were coming through the window that night."Terry continued, "That was the scariest night of our lives." That was the night on which the hate speech was painted on the couple’s door. Terry said that the people attacking the house were also yelling threats and slurs, including the phrase, "Die, faggots!"The Chatham Daily News interviewed various people around the village about the Hamiltons’ claims, and heard unsympathetic reactions.One woman told the newspaper, "I think they made a lot of their own problems" because, she said, "They didn’t just stay there and live like a normal couple." Added the woman, "Sure something did happen to them, but was it as bad as they said?"Continued the woman, "I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t know anybody who was treated as bad as they say they were." The woman said that the men talked constantly about their woes, and cited a lesbian couple who have lived in Bothwell without any problems.John Dingman was quoted by the article as saying of the Hamiltons, "They were a nice set of guys," but Dingman echoed the opinion that the couple invited problems.Said Dingman, "They were all about their gay rights and that."Added Dingman, "They didn’t have to keep on harping on it."Dingman continued, "They were trying to force themselves too much." Another villager told the paper that he did not know the Hamiltons personally, and his opinion was that whatever their difficulties, the Hamiltons were not targeted for being gay.The man said he thought the couple was trying to create a stir, and speculated that they were looking to create a situation and then exploit it with a lawsuit.The couple said they were, in fact, thinking of pursuing a complaint against the local police. Said Terry, "We were being terrorized, and they did nothing."Terry added that "the terror of not having the police there for you" was as acute as that created by the attacks against them, and said that he now suffers from nightmares and paranoia, and has had to go into counseling.The couple had lodged a complaint with the mayor of the village in mid-October, which prompted the village police to action. Herder said that he had re-opened a number of the men’s complaints, assigning an officer to look into them. However, said Herder, the police had not ignored the Hamiltons’ calls; said the police chief, "We had done quite a bit prior to that complaint," such as watching over the Hamiltons’ house, meeting with the men, and dealing with the incidents as hate crimes.The force’s media relations officer, Sgt. Gary Conn, told the paper that police kept an eye on the Hamiltons’ home for two consecutive nights, and that every incident was reported, with suspects being interviewed. However, despite all these efforts, Conn said, a lack of evidence prevented any charges being brought. Said Conn, "All citizens have the right to live free of any form of harassment."Conn also told the paper that the investigations continue, and noted that the crimes have no statue of limitations.The Hamiltons said that while they did not keep their married status a secret, they did not flaunt their sexual orientation. Said Ryan, "People just thought we were disgusting and wanted us out."In the end, the couple did move out, with financial assistance both from government and from a private GLBT organization, the Chatham-Kent Gay Pride Association.The paper reported that the men had expressed relief to be away from Botham and were finding life in Chatham to be much more pleasant for them.Even with their experience behind them, the Hamiltons wanted their story known, the article said, so that the wider public would be aware, Terry said, "that this still goes on in this day and age."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Uruguay Set To Legalize Civil Unions

by Newscenter Staff
September 14, 2006 - 1:00 pm ET

(Montevideo) Uruguay is set to become the latest country to recognize the legal rights of gay couples.
Congress is expected to pass legislation creating a civil union registry for same and unmarried opposite-sex couples. The measure already has passed the Senate.
The measure was a campaign promise of the ruling leftist coalition and is expected to encounter little difficulty in House.
Same-sex marriage will remain illegal in Uruguay, something LGBT rights groups say they will continue to fight. But, they say the civil union bill is a major step in the right direction in a region where the Catholic Church dominates much of everyday life.
Because of the marriage ban judges have been unsure how to rule in a number of cases involving same-sex couples, particularly in areas of adoption, pensions and inheritance.
Sen. Margarita Percovich , the author of the legislation said the bill would give couples entering civil unions the same rights as marriage.
Under the legislation couples would have be together for at least five years and sign a registry.
In neighboring Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul state which lies along the border, passed civil union legislation in 2004, two years after Buenos Aires passed a similar law.
But the measure in Uruguay would make the country the first in South America to have a national civil union law. Chile could soon follow. Legislation will be introduced in the Chile Congress later this year to allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.

Somali gay bloggers receive death threats

afrol News, 29 November -
By Rainer Chr. Hennig

After the website Somali Gay Community was launched earlier this month, the staff behind the site has received death threats. The news about the website, which major Somali media picked up from afrol News, caused a storm of debate that included threatening hate messages. But it also gave the new gay site very many hits and members, documenting needs in Somali society.
Muraad Kareem, one of the Somalis behind, was astonished by the row of events that followed the publishing of an article about the website by afrol News. "Major Somali news websites have picked it up the article that you .. published. People were outraged to see such article on 'Hiiraanonline' which is a major news website. People could not believe that a major Somali news website would publish such article. They have asked it to be removed and their messages were horrific and hateful," Muraad tells afrol News."One of the messages was saying that they will hunt us down beyond enemy lines," he continues. "I was ignoring these messages but when I started to worry when my name, address, telephone number and that of Andrew Prince was posted on" Andrew Prince, a UK-based gay activist and web developer, stood behind the technical aspects of the Somali website. Also he was surprised by the amount of "hate writers" attacking him and Muraad on Somali blogs. He recalls: "One individual calls for us to be 'hunted down in the street and stoned like dogs' while another said, 'Allah will punish them', another, 'It's a western illness', and yet another, 'motherfocker if I ever see you on the street, am gonna chop you to pieces then feed ur crap to dogs' – this last one from a Muslim woman." The two reveal that several individuals were going a step further than just threatening. Some investigated the whereabouts of the two and published this information on a Somali website. According to Mr Prince, "the site was threatened with being hacked so I had to take extra security steps to protect the site so that it stays online to serve the community that it was intended for." Muraad adds there were indeed attempts to hack the website. While both try to play down the threats, they still have had to react to them. "I have taken measures to secure my safety, and that each member of the group," Muraad told afrol News. "Also the crime is been reported to the police. We have laws that protect us from these ignorant people and nothing they will do will stop us." And some Somali news websites have understood they should not contribute more to these threats. has removed the personal information about the two posted on the site by readers and has removed the forum that they have dedicated to the Somali gay website. Muraad nevertheless is more encouraged than scared by the experience so far, he reveals. The enormous amount of reactions to his project has indeed been mostly positive, documenting the great need among Somalis for a gay forum. During its first week online, the site registered over 133,000 hits. "Somali Gay Community is growing and we are getting positive feedbacks from our members," he says. "We are focused on our aim to reach out to those who need us the most." "I do not think that the threat will stop there. People will continue to find who we are but we are not scared. We are aware that we have broken a big social code and people would want to take revenge but what we are trying to achieve is well worth the risk we have taken," concludes Muraad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hungary Mulls Rights For Gay Couples

by Newscenter Staff
Posted: November 12, 2007 - 11:00 am ET

(Budapest) Hungary's left-of-center coalition government is reportedly considering legislation that would give limited rights to same-sex couples.
The move comes a week after a Parliamentary committee turned down a similar proposal. Last Wednesday the Human Rights Committee heard from LGBT activists and members of the small Free Democratic Party in the coalition who called for a free debate in Parliament.
FDP member Peter Gusztos said denying property and inheritance rights to same-sex couples was discriminatory. A member of a Budapest LGBT rights group compared laws limiting rights to opposite-sex married couples to the country's anti-Jewish laws of the latek 1930s.
The majority Socialist Party said that society is not yet ready for such a step and pointed to a recent court ruling that upheld the current law.
What prompted the change in attitude by the government is not known, but the country has been prodded by the European Union to recognize gay and lesbian relationships.
How much support there is within the cabinet also is not known. Right-of-center politicians in Parliament have said they would vote against any measure recognizing same-sex relationships.
Right groups have been calling for amendments in the marriage law to allow property, pension and inheritance rights. They also want the right for same-sex couples to adopt children.
Western European members of the EU all recognize same-sex relationships. Only the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain allow same-sex marriage. Britain has civil partnerships with all of the rights of marriage. The other states have varying forms of civil unions or domestic partner registries.
In July several hundred skinheads and right-wing activists threw rotten eggs and smoke bombs at people participating in a gay rights parade in Budapest.
A week earlier a member of the coalition government's cabinet came out. Gabor Szetey became the first Hungarian cabinet minister to announce he is gay.

Swiss political party's anti-gay posters evade prosecution

9th November 2007 17:30 staff writer
A Swiss right-wing political party will not face charges over advertising posters which called gay couples infertile.The Swiss People's Party (UDC) was campaigning earlier this year against a proposal to extend tax benefits to same-sex partners in Geneva. The party's general secretary added to the controversy by saying that gay people contribute nothing to society because they do not have children. An overwhelming majority of voters in Geneva eventually voted in favour of granting gay and lesbian couples equal inheritance rights and other benefits.In the May 20th referendum 83% voted in favour of the changes, which were supported by all political parties except the UDC.The Geneva prosecutor Daniel Zappelli said the law set down by Switzerland's highest court "does not protect 'indistinct' groups such as homosexuals from insults. "Ethnic, racial and religious groups are the only ones given legal protection from offensive remarks," he said, according to the Tribune de Geneve.Gay groups are to ask for a change in the law.May's referendum result means same-sex couples will be exempt from inheritance tax when one of them dies. The Geneva Canton now has the same laws as the rest of the country. As the proposal related to a change in the tax regime, a canonical referendum was required. Switzerland passed legislation to recognise same-sex partnerships in 2004, and it came into effect on January 1st 2007. Same-sex civil unions, which were approved by a country-wide referendum in 2005, do not grant full marital rights to gay and lesbian couples.The unions have a similar legal status, but gay couples are barred from adopting children or from receiving IVF treatment. The referendum was the first time in Europe that the issue of same-sex partnerships had been the subject of a plebiscite. The partnership legislation was passed by the Council of States and the National Council in 2004

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Netherlands To Promote Gay Rights In Third World

by Newscenter Staff
Posted: November 7, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Amsterdam, Netherlands) The Netherlands has told its ambassadors in countries receiving foreign aid they must lobby those nations to decriminalize homosexuality and provide LGBT civil rights.
The announcement was made in the Netherlands' Parliament by Development Minister Bert Koenders.
The Netherlands is a major donor to developing nations giving almost $6-billion annually - mostly in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Koenders told Parliament that a study by the government found that homosexuality is illegal in 18 of the 36 countries to whom the country provides financial aid.
"The Netherlands will promote as much equal treatment of homosexuals as possible. We will not avoid awkward discussions about this," he said in a statement to lawmakers.
He also said, however, that ambassadors have been told to avoid the subject of gay rights in those countries where international rights groups believe such a discussion could result in a backlash against gays.
Koenders's statement does not tie foreign aid to gay rights, but the move is the strongest yet of any Western country.
The Netherlands is a world leader in LGBT civil rights. In 2001 it became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

Monday, November 19, 2007

South Korea Drops Sexual Orientation from Anti-Discrimination Bill

by Chrys

Wednesday Nov 7, 2007

When South Korea’s Ministry of Justice proposed in early October a federal law that would prohibit certain forms of discrimination, sexual orientation and a wide range of other categories were included.According to Democratic Labor Party officials and news reports, however, the current version of the law has been changed to exclude protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, military status, nationality, language, appearance, family type, ideology, criminal or detention record and educational status.New York City-based Human Rights Watch recently pressed the South Korean cabinet to re-introduce those protections."The current version of the bill is a disappointment," Jessica Stern, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender program of Human Rights Watch, said in a release. "A supposed landmark non-discrimination law has been hollowed out to exclude Koreans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, who are in need of protection."The proposed new law was intended to strengthen the existing National Human Rights Commission Act, which already bars discrimination on the basis of most categories, including sexual orientation, by requiring the president and other levels of government to develop plans to eliminate discrimination. But as revised by the justice ministry, the new law would actually remove protections many groups.The inclusion of sexual orientation in particular had come under attack in South Korea. The Congressional Missionary Coalition, a coalition of Christian right members of the National Assembly, plans to hold forums in November to oppose the law. A petition, spearheaded by an organization called the Assembly of Scientists Against Embryonic Cloning, was sent to all branches of government claiming that if the bill becomes law, "homosexuals will try to seduce everyone, including adolescents; victims will be forced to become homosexuals; and sexual harassment by homosexuals will increase." Such untrue and prejudicial allegations are not only insulting and degrading to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Koreans, but they create a climate of hostility and hatred that can endanger their well-being.International human rights law is clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited, and South Korea’s treaty obligations require it to enforce that prohibition. South Korea has previously demonstrated international leadership on this issue. At the third session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, South Korea, along with 53 other nations, delivered a statement recognizing the abundance of evidence of human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and calling on the UN to give these issues attention.With respect to transgendered people, while the South Korean Supreme Court ruled last year that individuals who have undergone sex reassignment surgery are entitled to change their legal identity, it seems unlikely that the proposed new law would cover discrimination against them. Human Rights Watch called on South Korea to ensure that the law would extend to discrimination based on gender identity."South Korea has previously shown leadership by condemning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but this commitment must be consistent," said Stern. "The government should maintain its track record and reintroduce comprehensive categories for protection."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Expert sees hope for legalizing gay marriage in China

"About 90 percent of Chinese people believe that homosexuality will exercise no influence on job selections, which exceeds the number of 86 percent in America. This is a noticeable progress and it may mean more tolerance towards homosexuality in China,"said Professor Li Yinhe, a sociologist focusing on sexology with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Many experts believe that the tolerance of homosexuals has indicated progress in social civilization in China. There are about 30 million homosexuals in China, based on academic estimates. The higher a person's position in the social hierarchy, the more likely he or she will be tolerant; to accept homosexuality is very common among white collar-workers with a good income in China, said Li.

Love between people of the same sex was regarded as a crime 20 years ago and a mental illness as little as 10 years ago in China. Often, the social pressure for same sex couples does not come from the public, but rather their families, as most parents aren't ready to accept their children as homosexuals.

Qiao Qiao is the owner of a lesbian bar in Beijing. "I knew that I liked girls when I was a teenager, but I always constrained my emotions. I could not talk about sex with my parents and it was impossible to tell them I was a homosexual," Qiao said.

Qiao's mother unexpectedly found out her daughter was lesbian after she had a romantic fling with a woman she met in a bar. Her parents were surprised and could not understand, and even opposed to Qiao's love affairs at the beginning, but later they understood their daughter and showed their acceptance.

"I can understand the feelings of parents. Many of them believe that raising children is essential to support them in their old age, which is a Chinese tradition," said Mr. Sun, who works for a media company.

However, as advances are made in science and technology, more and more homosexual couples are choosing to have children. Qiao and her girlfriend have tried artificial insemination, and although they were not successful they will continue to try.

As a researcher on homosexuality, Li Yinhe is leading the call for legalizing gay marriage with many proposals and she is the interest representative for the minority of homosexuals in China.

"There are no extreme moral opponents against homosexuality in China, so it is easier for the same sex lovers in China to claim their rights than in the Western countries, and China is always making progress,”"said professor Li.

Nicaragua to decriminalise gay sex

16th November 2007 17:11
Joe Roberts

Consensual gay sex will no longer be a criminal offence in Nicaragua under a new civil code due to come into effect on March 2008.

The surprise news was announced earlier this week by the Nicaraguan National Assembly, reports La Prensa.

Under old legislation passed in 1992, "anyone who induces, promotes, propagandises or practices sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomy and shall incur one to three years' imprisonment."

This article criminalises not only gay men, lesbians and bisexual people in same-sex relationships, but is vague enough to permit the prosecution of individuals for activities such as campaigning for LGBT rights or anyone providing sexual health information or services.

Nicaragua's new code removes all reference to this, reflecting changing social mores in a country which Amnesty International targeted this year for contradicting numerous provisions in international human rights law.

The vast majority of countries throughout the Americas have abolished their sodomy laws.

José Pallais, president of the Nicaraguan Parliament's Commission of Justice and Legal Issues, said the changes marked a modernisation, placing legal rights over the state's moral code.

He added: "We are not creating a code of the Catholic Church here, we are creating a democratic code under modern principles and principles of legality."

Abortion will remain illegal, however, after insufficient legislative support to change the law.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

In Rape Case, a French Youth Takes On Dubai

Published: November 1, 2007

Correction Appended
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 31 — Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old, was having a fine summer in this tourist paradise on the Persian Gulf. It was Bastille Day and he and a classmate had escaped the July heat at the beach for an air-conditioned arcade.
Just after sunset, Alex says he was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.
There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them.
Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai’s luxury hotel towers.
Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai’s status as the Arab world’s paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners.
The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.
“They tried to smother this story,” Alex said by phone from Switzerland, where he fled a month into his 10th-grade school year, fearing a jail term in Dubai if charged with homosexual activity. “Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news, they hide it. They don’t want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages.”
Alex and his parents say they chose to go public with his case in the hope that it would press the authorities to prosecute the men.
United Arab Emirates law does not recognize rape of males, only a crime called “forced homosexuality.” The two adult men charged with sexually assaulting Alex have pleaded not guilty, although sperm from all three were found in Alex. The two adults appeared in court on Wednesday and were appointed a lawyer. They face trial before a three-judge panel on Nov. 7. The third, a minor, will be tried in juvenile court. Legal experts here say that men convicted of sexually assaulting other men usually serve sentences ranging from a few months to two years.
Dubai is a bustling financial and tourist center, one of seven states that form the United Arab Emirates. At least 90 percent of the residents of Dubai are not Emirati citizens and many say that Alex’s Kafkaesque legal journey brings into sharp relief questions about unequal treatment of foreigners here that have long been quietly raised among the expatriate majority. The case is getting coverage in the local press.
It also highlights the taboos surrounding H.I.V. and homosexuality that Dubai residents say have allowed rampant harassment of gays and have encouraged the health system to treat H.I.V. virtually in secret. (Under Emirates law, foreigners with H.I.V., or those convicted of homosexual activity, are deported.)
Prosecutors here reject such accusations. “The legal and judicial system in the United Arab Emirates makes no distinction between nationals and non-nationals,” said Khalifa Rashid Bin Demas, head of the Dubai attorney general’s technical office, in an interview. “All residents are treated equally.”
Dubai’s economic miracle — decades of double-digit growth spurred by investors, foreign companies, and workers drawn to the tax-free Emirates — depends on millions of foreigners, working jobs from construction to senior positions in finance. Even many of the criminal court lawyers are foreigners.
Alex’s case has raised diplomatic tensions between the Emirates and France, which has lodged official complaints about the apparent cover-up of one assailant’s H.I.V. status and other irregularities. The tension and growing publicity over the case seem to have prompted the authorities to take action.
Mr. Demas, from the Dubai attorney general’s office, said he had no intention of prosecuting Alex and was seeking the death penalty for the two adult attackers. “This crime is an outrage against society,” he said.
However, the investigation file in Alex’s case and a pair of confidential French diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times confirm the accounts of inexplicable and at times hostile official behavior described by Alex and his parents.
“The grave deficiencies or incoherence of the investigation appear to result, in part, from gross incompetence of the services involved in the United Arab Emirates, but also from the moral, pseudoscientific and political prejudices which undoubtedly influenced the inquiry,” the French ambassador to the United Arab Emirates wrote in a confidential cable dated Sept. 6.
Most infuriating to Alex and his mother, Véronique Robert, is that police inaccurately informed French diplomats on Aug. 15, a month after the assault, that the three attackers were disease-free, the diplomats say. Only at the end of August did the family learn that that the 36-year-old assailant was H.I.V. positive. The case file contains a positive H.I.V. test for the convict dated March 26, 2003.
“They lied to us,” Ms. Robert said. “Now the Damocles sword of AIDS hangs over Alex.”
So far the teenager has not tested positive for H.I.V., but he will not know for sure until January, when he gets another blood test six months after the exposure.
A doctor examined Alex the night of the rape, taking swabs of DNA for traces of the rapists’ sperm. He did not take blood tests or examine Alex with a speculum. Then he cleared the room and told Alex: “I know you’re a homosexual. You can admit it to me. I can tell.”
Alex told his father in tears: “I’ve just been raped by three men, and he’s saying I’m a homosexual,” according to interviews with both of them.
The doctor, an Egyptian, wrote in his legal report that he had found no evidence of forced penetration, which Alex’s family says is a false assessment that could hurt the case against the assailants.
In early September, after the family learned about the older attacker’s H.I.V. status and the French government lodged complaints with the United Arab Emirates authorities, the Dubai attorney general’s office assigned a new prosecutor to the case. Only then were forensic tests performed to confirm that sperm from all three attackers had been found in Alex.
Alex stayed in Dubai in order to testify against his attackers, and went back to school in September, despite suffering unsettling flashbacks.
In early October, however, the family said, their lawyer warned Alex that he was in danger of facing charges of homosexuality and a prison term of one year.
Veteran lawyers here say the justice system is evolving, like the country’s entire system of governance that has blossomed as the economy and population have exploded in just a few decades. Despite its shortfalls, the United Arab Emirates have combined Islamic values with the best practices from the West to create “the most modern legal system among the Arab countries,” said Salim Al Shaali, a former police officer and prosecutor who now practices criminal law.
In business and finance, the nation has worked hard to earn a reputation for impartial and speedy justice. But the criminal justice system has struggled, balancing a penal code rooted in conservative Arab and Islamic local culture, applied to an overwhelming non-Arab population of foreign residents.
A 42-year-old gay businessman who would speak only if identified by his nickname, Ko, described routine sexual harassment by officials during his 13 years living in Dubai. He cut his shoulder-length hair to avoid attention, he said, but after years of living in fear of jail or deportation, he is leaving the country.
Although rape victims here generally keep quiet, some who have been raped in Dubai have shared testimonials in recent days on, a Web site started by Alex’s mother.
Prosecutors moved forward with the case against her son’s attackers only as a result of public pressure and diplomatic complaints, Ms. Robert believes. Now, she hopes, the attention could prompt more humane and even-handed justice for future rape victims here.
On advice of his lawyer and French diplomats, Alex says he will not return to Dubai but wants very much for the men to be convicted.
“Sometimes you feel crazy, you know?” he said. “It’s hard, but we have to be strong. I’m doing this for all the other poor kids who got raped and couldn’t do anything about it.”

IGLHRC Intervenes To Halt Execution Of Child Convicted Of Sodomy in Iran

By Dennis McMillan
Published: November 8, 2007

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned that Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year old citizen of Iran of Kurdish origin from the city of Paveh in the Western province of Kermanshah, has been sentenced to death by the government. Makvan has been convicted of multiple counts of anal rape and sentenced to execution for crimes committed when he was 13 years old. On Nov. 5, IGLHRC called for an international response to stop this execution.
According to IGLHRC, imposing the death penalty for crimes committed by juveniles is prohibited under international law as well as by the Iranian legal system. In addition, IGLHRC calls on the international community to condemn the use of the death penalty as a punishment for any sex or morality-related crime, whether consensual or non-consensual, as unnecessarily extreme. In this case, since none of the alleged victims ever claimed to have been raped, and all of them admitted to the court that their initial accounts of sexual intercourse with Makvan were false and had been acquired under coercion, IGLHRC says the imposition of the death penalty is especially objectionable.
As an organization dedicated to defending the rights of sexual minorities worldwide, IGLHRC objects to any law, policy or ruling that penalizes consensual homosexual relationships among adults.
The District Attorney’s office issued an order for Makvan’s arrest on Oct. 1, 2006, after the local office of the Intelligence Service received a complaint from Makvan’s cousin claiming, in rather vague language, that Makvan had “victimized” him when both were minors. During subsequent investigations, the cousin also claimed that Makvan had engaged in homosexual sex with other people when he was 13 years old. When these individuals were brought in for questioning, each confessed to having had homosexual sex with Makvan. But according to media reports, none of these individuals claimed to be a victim of rape. During the interrogation process, Makvan was forced to confess to one case of sodomy while he was a middle school student. Makvan’s trial took place at the local branch of the Criminal Court in Kermanshah City. However, several key witnesses refused to appear in court, and the three witnesses who did appear before the judge each retracted their earlier testimony, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress.
Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. But the judge refused to accept the witnesses’ retractions. Although it is standard practice in the Iranian legal system to send alleged rape victims for a medical examination to check for evidence of sexual crimes, including sodomy, the judge did not require this procedure in this case, which could have potentially proved the innocence of the defendant.
In the absence of adequate evidence, the judge used an Iranian legal principle known as “Knowledge of the Judge,” to declare that he was certain Makvan had raped his victims. IGLHRC explains that according to the Iranian legal code, when there is not enough evidence to convict a defendant of sexual crimes, the judge may use his knowledge (in a deductive process based on the evidence that already exists) to determine whether the crime took place or not.
The judge found Makvan guilty of full penetrative homosexual sex (ighab) and sentenced him to death on June 7, 2007. The following month, Makvan’s lawyer lodged an appeal with the Iranian Supreme Court. In a ruling on Aug. 1, 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision.
Makvan is currently in Kermanshah’s city jail. Since the execution order has already been issued by the Attorney General’s office, he is in danger of being the victim of a public hanging at any time.
IGLHRC states that since Makvan was born on March 31, 1986, this fact made him a minor at the time of the crime back in 1999. IGLHRC cites Article 6(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) stating, “[A] sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.” The Iranian parliament ratified the ICCPR in 1975 and has not subsequently passed any legislation to nullify this treaty. While International Law prohibits the execution of minors, Iranian law is equally clear-cut on the subject.
According to Article 49 of the Islamic Penal Code, minors, if found guilty, are free from criminal responsibility. Note 1 of Article 49 stipulates that minors are those individuals who have not reached what Islam considers to be the age of discretion. The 1991 Amendment of Article 1210(1) of the Iranian Civil Code declares that the Islamic age of discretion is 15 full lunar years of age for boys and 9 full lunar years of age for girls.
Moreover, says IGLHRC, Article 111 of the Islamic Penal Code states, “Sodomy is only punishable by death if both parties are adults and of sound mind.” Article 113 of the Islamic Penal Code declares: “If a minor sodomizes another minor, both should be punished by up to 74 lashes, unless one of them is forced to do so.” Since the alleged sodomy happened when the defendant and his alleged partners were 13 years old, hence IGLHRC insists the death penalty should not be applicable in this case.

Ireland to introduce Civil Partnership Legislation

Ireland appears to be moving one step closer to marriage equality:

"Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan said he would publish an outline of his legislation by March 30th and vowed it would become law during the lifetime of the current Government. 'The Government has asked me to prepare a Bill which will provide for the registration of civil partnerships of same sex couples,' Mr Lenihan said. 'It will also provide protection for other relationships which lie outside marriage but which may be heterosexual or same sex.' Currently gay and lesbian couples cannot marry each other under Irish law and are therefore ineligible for the legal benefits that apply to heterosexual married couples. Legislation for civil partnerships during the lifetime of the Coalition was promised in the Programme for Government...Green Party justice spokesman Ciarán Cuffe said the Government proposal would give cohabiting gay and lesbian couples, who register their relationship with a new agency, the same rights under the law as heterosexual couples. 'This is a major step forward in Irish equality legislation,' he said."
Last July at the opening of a renovated LGBT community center in Dublin, Ireland's Taoiseach Bertie Ahern promised to push legislation that would allow same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples as soon as possible.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Thousands march in Taipei for gay rights

TAIPEI (AFP) — Thousands from Taiwan's gay and lesbian community marched through the streets of Taipei Saturday demanding more rights for homosexuals, organisers said.
The parade took a carnival-like mood with marchers waving rainbow flags, colourful balloons and signs. Some were dressed in flamboyant period costumes while others only wore swim trunks despite the cool weather.
"We have to make our voices and demands heard so that the government will do more to promote gay rights," said Way Chao, a 22-year-old serviceman from southern Kaohsiung.
In a symbol of unity, participants will raise coloured placards to form a giant rainbow flag later Saturday in a bustling business district in Taipei, organisers said.
The parade reached its climax with a rally outside Taipei City Hall, where Taiwanese pop diva A-Mei was recognised as a goodwill ambassador by organisers for her support of the gay community.
The singer, who performed some of her hit songs to the cheering crowd, endeared herself to the gay audience when she released a music video depicting a gay wedding scene several years ago.
Despite the festive atmosphere, organisers hoped to get some serious messages across to the public.
"We urge the parliament to pass the anti-discrimination bill and the same-sex partner bill to promote gay rights," said co-organiser Wang Ping, secretary-general of Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan.
Taiwan's cabinet in 2003 drafted a controversial bill to legalise same-sex marriages and recognise the rights of homosexual couples to adopt children, the first country in Asia to do so.
However, the law has yet to be passed and some gay groups have criticised the bill as a ploy to woo voters.
"We also hope the government will protect the freedom of speech of the gay community," Wang added, referring to a 2005 guilty verdict against a gay book dealer for selling pornographic magazines.
In 2005, a district court in northern Taiwan sentenced J.J. Lai, owner of a gay bookstore in Taipei, to 50 days in jail on obscenity charges in a ruling which outraged the gay community.
Lai argued that similar materials are easily available for heterosexual readers. However, his appeal was rejected by the Taiwan High Court.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ugandan “Ethics” Minister To Stop Gay “Spread”
Doesn't See Limits of Deportation

Oct 9, 2007
Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo and his homophobia keep chugging right along. The politico, who claims gay activists want him dead, vows to stop the so-called “spread” of homosexuality:
The Government shall do whatever it takes to block the spread of homosexuality.
[Gays] are trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society. I will endeavor to block it. I can assure you on that. Let them go to another country, and not here.
Poor, foolish Buturo, don’t you realize that exporting gays won’t do any good. There’ll always be another one right behind.

China gets to grips with gay marriage debate

9th October 2007
Asavin Wattanajantra
Chinese academics are calling for the country's estimated 40 million homosexuals to be given the right to marry.Professor Li Yinhe, a sociologist and campaigner for LGBT rights, and Zhang Beichuan, a leading scholar of homosexuality, have been at the forefront of a campaign to allow same-sex marriage in China.Although the world's most populous country has a conservative culture, partly due to Communist repression, laws have been slowly relaxed, with homosexuality effectively being decriminalised in 1997.Li Yinhe previously attempted to submit same-sex marriage proposals to the National People's Congress, China's highest legislative body, but did not succeed due to lack of support from delegates.Campaigners say that it would also promote safe sex and prevent the spread of HIV/ AIDS.China Daily reports that Zhang Beichuan feels that "legal unions for homosexuals would lead to more stable same-sex relationships" and "help better protect the legitimate rights of same-sex lovers." The report in China Daily is significant as the press in China is controlled and censored and the newspaper is the widest-read state-run title published in English. Many scholars and members of China's burgeoning gay community feel that the country has retreated to its traditional ambiguity about homosexuality, with religions such as Buddhism and Taoism promoting diversity. Unlike other religions such as Christianity, homosexuality has never been viewed as a sin.This extends to literature and historical accounts as well as in practice, where it was often the case that young men could have sex with each other for friendship and married men take concubines of both sexes, as long as they were married and produced reported that last year when China approved its first gay and lesbian organisation, Happy Together, which counts professors, teachers and students among its members.

U.K. Offers New Hate Crime Protections

New legislation which will strengthen the protection to the public from sex offenders and hate crime has been set out in proposals by the UK's Government.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw signalled in the House of Commons the Government's intention to introduce amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
The new legislation will allow police, probation and prison services to notify members of the public if a sex offender poses a risk to children.
A further proposal will create a new offence which would extend protection already provided for religious and racial groups to gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:
"It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last 10 years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality. It is time for the law to recognise this."
Equalities Secretary Harriet Harman said,
"Fighting hatred, prejudice and discrimination will be at the heart of everything this government does."
The new law would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but it would protect them from incitement to hatred against them because of their sexual orientation.
The amendment on sex offenders will put a legal duty on the MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) agencies, which include police, probation and prison services, to consider disclosing information about convicted child sex offenders to members of the public in all cases. The presumption will be that the authorities will disclose information if they consider that an offender presents a risk of serious harm to a child.
A further amendment will also allow the Government to make changes to the information those on the sex offenders register must provide to the police. This includes requiring offenders to provide information about email addresses, new relationships with any woman who has children, and if they are living in the same house as someone under 18.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"We are committed to protecting children from sexual predators and the proposals being laid out today will strengthen that protection.
"Children are a unique and particularly vulnerable group, as they are unable to protect themselves and are more easily manipulated than adults. Sex offences against children cause lasting harm, both to victims and their families.
"The UK already has the strongest restrictions on child sex offenders and these proposals which follow on from the publication of the Child Sex Offenders Review earlier this year will help us to continue doing all we can to protect them."
The Justice Secretary has also indicated that the Government will listen to views on whether the incitement offence should be further extended to cover hatred against disabled and transgendered people. The Government is ready to bring hatred against disabled and transgendered people within the offence if a case for this can be made.
He also said he wanted to review the law on self defence. He said;
"There can be no justice in a system which makes the victim the criminal. So I want to look again at the law on self defence to ensure the focus is right and that those who act proportionately are not treated like criminals. My aim is to complete the review in time to allow for this issue to be addressed in this Bill."

Human Rights Watch Calls U.S. Out On Uganda’s Gay Ways

"Supporting prejudice with cash is an approach with deadly consequences for all.”

Oct 12, 2007
Human Rights Watch had some harsh words for the United States government yesterday. Our government’s accused of turning a blind eye to Uganda’s misuse of HIV/AIDS funds, a blissful ignorance HRW’s Scott Long calls “dangerous”:
When the US funds abstinence-only programs in Uganda, it tells people that LGBT people’s sexualities are dangerous and must be denied. Supporting prejudice with cash is an approach with deadly consequences for all.…US politicians and pocketbooks underwrite hatred in Uganda. The US has no business lending an aura of respectability to policies that undermine human rights and public health.
Long and his activist friends want the United States to take a stronger stand against the African nation’s homophobic politics. Or, rather, a stand - period.

South African Gays Got Proud

Brave Rain, Wind For Gay Celebration
Oct 8, 2007
Rain can’t hold South Africa’s gays down:
An estimated five thousand gays and lesbians – and their friends and families – turned out for the 18th annual Joburg Pride Parade in Rosebank, Johannesburg, today despite the inclement weather.
“We’re amazed and humbled at the support that our community has shown towards the new Pride organisers,” said Tracey Sandilands, Chairperson of the Joburg Gay Pride Festival Company. “The fact that thousands braved the rain and cold to assert the importance of Pride shows that the event remains entirely relevant.”
Simon Nkoli would be proud.

(Simon Nkoli was an anti-apartheid, gay rights and AIDS activist in South Africa who died in 1998. For more info, see

Cambodia’s MSM Face HIV Threat

Oct 9, 2007
The late 1990’s were a deadly time in Cambodia. 3.7% of the population were infected with HIV and the trend seemed poised to grow. In an effort to save their citizens, the government launched an “aggressive” safe-sex campaign. It worked. These days, only .9% of the population carries the deadly retrovirus. One specific group, however, hasn’t heard the warnings: men who have sex with men.These males, who don’t identify as gay or bisexual, are largely unaware of - or choose to ignore - safe-sex guidelines. And they’re paying the price.
“There is a very serious concentrated epidemic among MSM,” says Tony Lisle, Cambodia’s UNAIDS country coordinator.
Noting that MSM make up roughly four percent of all men in the country, he adds: “The hidden MSM population is significant and if we don’t avert new infections the MSM epidemic could contribute significantly to the overall (HIV) prevalence rate.”
Prevalence among men engaging in gay sex is 8.7 percent, nearly 10 times the norm, while incidences of other sexually-transmitted diseases are rapidly rising, indicating that fewer MSM are using condoms.
In addition to finding new informational angles, outreach workers have to blast through generations of discrimination and social stigma. If they fail, well, the entire nation may suffer.
Luckily, the government has unveiled MSM-specific working groups to spread awareness. One clinic, founded in 2003, started with only a couple of clients. They now serve 200 a month.

Queer Coppers Forced Out In Chile?
Activists Petitioning President
Oct 12, 2007

It’s a case of first degree discrimination down in Chile, where two coppers say they were forced to quit after colleagues found out they’re gay lovers.
The two policemen, Victor Rivas and Armando Salgado, say superior officers threatened to out them unless they signed resignation forms. Police authorities, in contrast, claim the two resigned voluntarily.
The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Freedom (MOVILH), Chile’s leading pro gay rights group, described the case as an example of “brutal discrimination.”
“Here you have two [coppers who were forced to quit their jobs just because they’re gay. It’s brutal discrimination,” said MOVILH President Rolando Jiménez. “We have proven evidence of similar cases in the past and we know that the Carabineros internal investigative branch has looked into presumed homosexuality among officers, treating such sexual orientation as a crime.”
Jiménez and his allies have already held talks with police officials and plan on discussing the matter with President Michelle Bachelet.
MOVILH also took on coppers in February, when two men said cops verbally abused them for cuddling in public. One officer allegedly said they weren’t born, but were shat: “You are the scum of society You two weren’t born, your mothers shit you out.” Charming.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Scotland: New commissioner pledges action on gay rights and equal pay for women"

By Adam Forrest
Scotland has lagged behind England on hate crime, says Morag Alexander

SCOTLAND'S GAY and lesbian communities are not being given the same protection from hate crimes as those in England.
In an interview with the Sunday Herald, the new Scottish head of the Commissioner for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) said she would push for parity as one of her main priorities.
Morag Alexander will be responsible for the work of the new body from tomorrow, and says she intends to advance the cause of equality issues unique to Scotland.
As well as championing race and gender equality, the CEHR has new responsibilities for sexual orientation, age and religion. Alexander said: "I don't think there is sufficient protection in legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Scotland."
"My collegues in the LGBT lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender communities are keen that we have better protection against hate crime. They are not as well protected as they are under the law in England, and that's an area we'll look at."
The CEHR will look after reserved equality matters, while the impending Scottish Commission for Human Rights will examine rights issues arising from devolved areas. Alexander, who lobbied Scottish MPs in 1997 to have equality issues completely devolved to Scotland, acknowledged the possibility that extra powers could be transferred in future.
She said: "We know the SNP government want to see equal opportunities devolved, but we will be having our own national conversation about it, listening to the communities that make up Scotland. I want to hear what people have to say. If they think changes need to be made, I'm open-minded about it.
"It's really important we establish the CEHR as a credible, independent organsiation. The commission is fundamentally important to the delivery of equality in Scotland."
The new commissioner wants her committee to conduct more research on discrimination relevant to rapidly changing life in Scotland. "We need better statistics and data on a range of Scottish equality issues; that's where we are behind at the moment," she said.
In order to modernise discrimination lawandtomakeitmoreeffective, theWestminstergovernmenthas committedtointroducingasingle equality bill during this parliament. The discrimination law review has proposed a more streamlined legislation. The new commissioner for Scotland was critical, however,ofagreenpaperalready published on proposed legislation. "I found it very disappointing, and the response of the CEHR will be very robust," she said. "We don't think it goes far enough."
As well as wishing to see more anti-racism initiatives in Scottish schools and legislation, and more support for disabled people to allow independent living, Alexander was also firm that more needed to be done to close the gender pay gap.
She said: "The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970, but we still have this significant pay gap. I'd like to see all employers carrying out pay audits so they can demonstrate either that they don't discriminate or if it throws up evidence, then to put it right."