WORLD BRIEFS

Posted on 19 Jan 2006 at 11:34pm
By Rex Wockner – Wockner News Service

Human Rights Watch criticizes India over arrests of 4 gay men
Human Rights Watch denounced India on Jan. 11 over the arrests of four gay men in the city of Lucknow.

The men were nabbed at a picnic in a public location, Jan. 4 and charged with operating a “gay racket” on the Internet and engaging in “unnatural” sex.
Police “accused them of belonging to an “‘international gay club’ centered around [a] Web site,” the organization said. “Reports received by Human Rights Watch indicate that undercover police, posing as gay on the Web site, entrapped one man, then forced him to call others and arrange a meeting where they were arrested.”

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Human Rights Watch said India’s colonial-era sodomy law threatens human rights and encourages the spread of HIV.

“Lucknow police have a shameful record of harassing gay men as well as nongovernmental organizations that work with them,” the organization said, “They are able to do so because India’s government clings to the criminalization of homosexual conduct, which only prevents people from coming forward for HIV/AIDS testing, information, and services.”

In July 2001, Lucknow police raided the local offices of two HIV organizations, Naz Foundation International and Bharosa Trust. Four staff members, who were accused of running a gay sex racket and distributing “obscene” HIV-education materials, were jailed for 47 days.

Charges of sodomy, criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting a crime, and sale of obscene matter were later dropped after international human rights groups complained.

In New Delhi, meanwhile, some 25 gay activists staged a protest Jan. 12 demanding that the new arrestees be released. The demonstration took place outside a building owned by Uttar Pradesh state, where Lucknow is located.
Section 377 of India’s penal code, titled “Of Unnatural Offences,” punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” with up to 10 years in prison. A legal case against the law, brought by the Naz Foundation, is pending before the Delhi High Court.

Los Cabos hotel kicks gay Mexican couple out for kissing in pool
A gay couple from Mexico City claims security guards from the Hotel Presidente InterContinental in Los Cabos beat them up and threw them and their luggage into the street last month after they briefly kissed in the swimming pool, Reuters reported.

The couple said the guards told them, “We don’t like faggots.”

But a hotel spokesman claimed Gerardo Eliud, a 27-year-old public relations officer, and Samir Habdu, a 24-year-old air steward, were evicted for making “inappropriate advances” to guests.

The couple filed a criminal complaint against the hotel for assault and for alleged theft of belongings. They also plan to complain to Mexico’s national human rights commission, Reuters said.

Estonia activists fight lawmakers plans to ban same-sex marriage
An update to Estonia’s family law is set to ban same-sex marriage and block recognition of same-sex marriages from elsewhere.

Several nongovernmental organizations have banded together to fight the legislation and to demand passage of a civil-partnership law for same-sex couples.

In a letter to government officials, the organizations state, “We demand you … stop ignoring the issues and problems of same-sex families and help to develop a more tolerant and equal society, an appropriate society of a member state of the EU [European Union].

“Four to six percent of Estonian society has sent a clear message of having a strong need for an institution that would define the partners’ rights and obligations in same-sex families,” the letter said. “Family, it means love, safe home, socially secured position, common values of humanity, protection of children and assets what kind of country would not want to support such an initiative?”

Activists elsewhere are asked to join the campaign. Contact Lisette Kampus at lisette@diversity.ee.

Bishop suggests politicians consider martyrdom instead of gay marriage
The Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, Alberta, has suggested that Catholic politicians should opt for martyrdom rather than support things that contradict church doctrine, such as same-sex marriage, The Globe and Mail reported Jan. 9.

“Catholic politicians have a duty to be morally coherent. They cannot live as spiritual schizophrenics,” Bishop Fred Henry told the Zenit Catholic news agency. “All Catholic politicians would do well to imitate the example of St. Thomas More, who by his life and death taught that man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.”

More, chancellor to King Henry VIII, was executed in 1535 for refusing to acknowledge the king, rather than the pope, as head of the English church.
As the nation debated the issue of gay mariage in recent years, prime ministers Paul Martin and Jean Chr?tien, both Catholics, made clear distinctions between their personal faith and their political duty to ensure that all Canadians are treated equally.

“[This] is about the Charter of Rights,” Martin said in June 2005 after the House of Commons voted 158 to 133 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. “In a nation of minorities, it is important that you don’t cherry-pick rights. A right is a right.”

In 2004, Bishop Henry said Chr?tien might go to hell because of his support for gay marriage.

“He’s putting at risk his eternal salvation,” the bishop said.

Police investigate Muslim leader for anti-gay comments made on TV
London police are investigating the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, for anti-gay comments he made to the BBC.

In a Jan. 3 interview, Sacranie called the United Kingdom’s new same-sex Civil Partnership Act “harmful.”

“It does not augur well in building the very foundations of society stability, family relationships and it is something we would certainly not … encourage the community to be involved in,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 20, 2006.

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