World briefs

Posted on 11 May 2006 at 8:24pm
By Rex Wockner

English gay bar targeted in apparent arson attack; blaze contained before it spread
A gay bar was torched in Bolton, England, on April 26, the Bolton Evening News reported.

Arsonists poured gasoline on the front door of the Star and Garter Public House and set it alight. Firefighters extinguished the blaze before it spread. Landlady Christine Riley said the incident “could have been a homophobic attack.”

Two men were detained by police for questioning. Bolton is a suburb of Manchester.

Turkish military court orders objector to serve, says homosexuality a disorder
A gay Turkish man who has refused since 2001 to serve in his country’s military on the grounds that he is a conscientious objector must serve a compulsory 15 month stint, according to a ruling by the Military Court of Appeals.

Mehmet Tarhan, 27 has been detained twice since 2001 for two months in April of 2005 and again upon his release in June 2005. He was tried in August 2005 and given two-year sentences on two charges of insubordination.

Tarhan has also refused to undergo a physical examination to establish his homosexuality. Tarhan has said he considers the medical certificate deeming him to be disabled because he is gay as evidence that the state, itself, is disabled.

The Military Court of Appeals ruled on May 2, overturning Tarhan’s four-year sentence on the grounds that it was disproportionately high. The court also said that because Tarhan refuses to undergo further medical exams to determine his homosexuality, he must be recruited into military service, according to reports in the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet.

The newspaper said the court used the term “advanced stage of psychological disorder” in describing homosexuality.

European court rules for transsexual in lawsuit over retirement pension
The European Court of Justice ruled on April 27 that the United Kingdom should have given a transsexual woman her retirement pension at age 60, when women become eligible, rather than at age 65, when men become eligible.

The U.K. withheld Sarah Richards’ money because her birth certificate says she is a man and the nation did not, at the time Richards turned 60, allow changes to a birth certificate following sex-reassignment surgery.
Richards underwent sex reassignment surgery in 2001.

The court said that was discriminatory “unequal treatment.’

The U.K. laws were later changed, and birth certificates now can be altered, but the policy was not made retroactive and did not apply to Richards.

Sites reporting on Iran’s mistreatment of gays knocked off by government hackers
Web sites reporting on Iran’s mistreatment of gays were knocked off the Internet this month by Iranian government hackers, journalist and blogger Doug Ireland reported in Gay City News.

“The goal of the hack attack was to bury news of, and stifle protest about, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s massive anti-gay pogrom,” Ireland said.

Among the sites taken down were those of the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization and the British gay-rights group OutRage.

The front page of PGLO’s site has been replaced by a “parked” page with links to gay shopping. OutRage’s site displays only the line: “No website is configured at this address.”

OutRage has doggedly pursued the story of Iran’s alleged ongoing executions of men who the group says were found guilty of engaging in gay sex. The group’s latest research is online at http://petertatchell.net/international/iranstatemurder.htm.

Ireland said websites of Iranian exile groups also have been hacked.

Moldovan authorities block demonstration at Parliament by gay activists
City officials in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau refused to authorize a rally by gay activists planned for May 5 in front of Parliament.

The demonstration, planned by the GLBT organization Information Center GenderDoc-M to press for an antidiscrimination law, would have coincided with the Fifth Moldovan LGBT Pride Festival.

Interim Mayor Vasile Ursu said he blocked the rally because religious groups and others threatened to stage counter protests.

The three days of pride events included movies, plays, concerts, a conference on non-discrimination and a lesbian soccer match.

OutRage accuses Iraqi police of executing 14-year-old for gay sex
The British GLBT activist organization OutRage reported on May 4 that Iraqi police in the al-Dura district of Baghdad executed a 14-year-old boy outside the child’s house in early April on the grounds that the boy corrupted society and created a scandal by having sex with men.

OutRage said that the boy, Ahmed Khalil, was in fact a victim of poverty who had been forced to have sex for money and food in order to help his family.
Ali Hili, an exiled gay Iraqi who is Middle East Affairs spokesman for OutRage and coordinator of an Iraqi GLBT group in the United Kingdom, said he had been told of the execution by friends living in Baghdad.

Hili said that, according to eye witness reports, four uniformed police officers arrived at Khalil’s home in a four-wheel-drive police truck. The officers then dragged the boy out of the house and shot him twice in the head, at point-blank range, before riddling his body with bullets, according to reports by a neighbor who saw the shooting, Hili said.

Hili said the Iraqi police have been “heavily infiltrated” by members of the Shia paramilitary Badr Corps who are “seeking to impose a fundamentalist morality on the people of Iraq.”

“Badr’s policy is to murder gay people, prostitutes, unveiled women, sellers and consumers of alcohol and people with Sunni-sounding names,” Hili said. “Inspired by the Shia spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has issued a death fatwa against lesbians and gays, Badr is kidnapping and executing people suspected of homosexuality, even young kids.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 12, 2006.

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