Pic of the day

For no particular reason, we were talking in the office today about the old sitcom Family Matters, whose breakout character was Steve Urkel. Urkel was a total nerd, played with spastic commitment by a kid named Jaleel White.

Everyone, I give you Steve Urkel, as an adult. To steal a catchphrase, “Did he do that?”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Panic among Kenya’s gays after PM’s arrest threat

Remarks seen as setback to HIV/AIDS prevention efforts

TOM ODULA | Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — An official with Kenya’s largest gay rights organization said there is panic among its members following remarks made by Kenya’s prime minister that homosexuals should be arrested.

The office of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya received calls from concerned members, some of whom are HIV-positive and fear they will be arrested when they collect life-prolonging medicine from government clinics, board member Nguru Karugu said Monday, Nov. 29.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday said homosexuals who are found in the midst of sex acts will be arrested. Odinga’s spokesman said in a statement Sunday night that the prime minister was quoted out of context.

In an audio recording of Sunday’s speech heard by The Associated Press, the prime minister says in the Kenyan language of Kiswahili that “if a man is caught having sex with the other we jail them, or if a girl is caught with the other … we will jail them.” In the latter part of his statement he used profanity to explain lesbianism.

“We want a country that is clean, a clean way of doing thing has clean mannerisms … we do not want things to do with sodomy,” Odinga said.

Kenya’s laws prohibit “sex against the order of nature.” That charge is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Karugu said the prime minister’s remarks are big blow to Kenya’s efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. He said the government has included gays in its plans to combat the virus.

Civil rights activist Zawadi Nyongo called for a protest outside the prime minister’s office today.

Odinga’s spokesman, Dennis Onyango, said the prime minister was trying to convey how groups opposed to the country’s new constitution — which was adopted in August — used lies and scare tactics to get people to vote against it.

Onyango said the prime minister gave two examples of opposition propaganda that the new constitution would legalize gay marriage.

“He then added a rider that even if the constitution allowed gay marriages, census data showed there were more women than men in Kenya and people would naturally go for marriage with the opposite sex,” Onyango said. “The highlight on the alleged order for a crackdown completely missed the point.”

—  John Wright

Congressman’s office reaches out to gay couple separated by immigration law

Aurelio Tolentino, left, and his partner, Roi Whaley

On Friday, we posted this blog about Roi Whaley and his partner, Aurelio Tolentino. Just to catch you up Tolentino, a registered nurse from the Philipines, had come to the U.S. on a work visa and met Whaley in a support group for people with HIV. When he applied for his green card, the federal government learned Tolentino had HIV and, under a policy that has since been revoked by President Barack Obama, officials told Aurelio he would have to leave the country.

Tolentino applied for asylum, since he had already faced violence in his home country because of his sexual orientation and would probably face more if he went back. But that was denied. So he went to Canada to stay with his mother and applied for asylum there. That, too, was denied and he now faces the prospect of having to return to the Philipines. And at the same time, Whaley has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is visiting Tolentino in Canada this month, but unless something changes, it will likely be the last time the two partners are able to see each other.

Whaley, with the assistance of Immigration Equality, had asked his congressman, Democrat Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., for help in getting a humanitarian parole that would allow T0lentino back into the U.S. to be with Whaley in his final months. But Taylor’s office had refused.

That seems to have changed now. Steve Ralls with Immigration Equality called me this morning to let me know that after we posted the earlier blog about the couple’s plight, Taylor’s office has reached out to Whaley to try and help.

“We heard from Taylor’s office today (Tuesday, Sept. 7). He has reached out to Roi and said they want to work with him to see how they can best help him,” Ralls said. “We hope that [Taylor] will work with Roi’s attorney here at Immigration Equality on finding a way for Aurelio to be here in this country with Roi. It is a very positive step forward.”

Of course, if Whaley and Tolentino had been able to be legally married, or even if the U.S. had dropped its antiquated rule on allowing HIV-positive immigrants and visitors into the country earlier, this wouldn’t be such a problem. But for now, let’s just hope that Taylor and Immigration Equality can find a way for these two people who love each other to be together when they need each other most.

—  admin