World Briefs

Posted on 06 Mar 2008 at 11:57am
By Rex Wockner – Wockner News Service

Argentinian leader supports gay marriage
New Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner supports legalization of same-sex marriage, according to the president of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI).

In a Feb. 24 interview with the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarín, María José Lubertino was asked, "With [former President Raúl] Alfonsín the divorce law was established. Will Cristina’s accomplishment be gay marriage?"

Lubertino responded, "I have no doubt. … If they didn’t want me to advance this issue, they wouldn’t have put me in charge of INADI."

Jamaican cop seeks asylum in Canada
A Jamaican police officer that recently came out publicly now feels his life is in danger and is hoping to emigrate to Canada, the Toronto Star reported Feb. 25.
Jamaican Constabulary Force officer Michael Hayden, 24, faced abuse and attacks from homophobic fellow officers even before formally coming out in The Jamaica Star newspaper.

But now he says he’s received death threats and has gone into hiding.

"I want to stay here and fight," he told the Star. "But it’s not safe for me. My life is in great, great jeopardy."

A spokesman for the force declined comment.

Gay men are routinely attacked and beaten by anti-gay mobs in Jamaica, which international activists consider to be among the world’s more overtly homophobic nations.

Activists call for release of Moroccan men
Human Rights Watch and the Moroccan Human Rights Association on Feb. 26 demanded the release of six men jailed under a law that bans gay sex.

The men were arrested in November after a video circulated online showing them at a supposed gay-wedding celebration in the town of Ksar el Kbir, Morocco.

"The prosecution produced no evidence at trial that the defendants had violated Article 489, which provides prison terms for persons who commit ‘lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex,’" the human rights groups said. "The men all denied the charges."

An appeals court later upheld the men’s prison sentences, which ranged from two to 10 months.

A petition demanding repeal of Article 489 is on HRW’s Web site. See tinyurl.com/335oem.

Five gays run for legislature in Nepal
Five gay men are running for seats in Nepal’s national legislature in the April 10 election.

The new 601-seat Constituent Assembly will replace an interim legislature that has been in place since Parliament was dissolved in early 2007.

The gay men are candidates for the large Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), which is part of the ruling alliance.

Sunil Pant, founder of Nepal’s leading gay group, the Blue Diamond Society, is among those seeking office.

In December, Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government to pass new laws and rewrite old ones to extend equal rights and anti-discrimination protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people. The ruling came in a public-interest case filed by gay organizations.

"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," the court said.

The court also ordered the government to form a committee to study same-sex marriage in other nations with a view to changing Nepalese law in that area, as well.
At present, "unnatural" sex is illegal in Nepal under penalty of up to two years in prison.

Iranian peace activist speaks out for gays
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi expressed regrets over her nation’s treatment of gays in a speech at Madrid’s Cultural Center in mid-February, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

"This is the first time she openly addresses the issue of legal persecution of homosexuality in Iran," said IGLHRC spokesman Hossein Alizadeh. "The state-run Iranian media are now out to get her, accusing her of promoting immorality."

IGLHRC has become increasingly vocal in the past year about Iran’s ongoing executions of teens and men accused of engaging in sodomy, even though in nearly all the cases that have been publicized the individuals were accused of other crimes as well, such as rape.

The organization has said it suspects that other charges often are tacked on to sodomy cases to prevent the public outrage that would accompany executions carried out solely for the crime of consensual adult gay sex. The group also believes executions solely for gay sex are taking place out of the public eye.

"[O]ur suspicions [are] that their current practice really is to rid society of lesbians and gay men," the organization said in July.

African lesbians meet in Mozambique
About 75 women attended the Coalition of African Lesbians conference in late February in Maputo, Mozambique.

Spokeswoman Fikile Vilakazi told reporters the group’s top goal is decriminalization of homosexuality.

Conviction in Zagreb pride incident
A man who was arrested as he prepared to throw gasoline bombs at marchers in last year’s gay Pride parade in Zagreb, Croatia, was convicted of attempted assault and a hate crime Feb. 25.

Josip Situm, 25, told the court his Roman Catholic faith drove him to oppose gay parades. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison with mandatory psychiatric treatment. The case marked Croatia’s first hate crime prosecution.

Twelve other anti-gay demonstrators were arrested during the city’s sixth Pride parade, and several were found to be carrying Molotov cocktails or tear gas. Around 30 of the 300 marchers were assaulted in numerous incidents after the parade ended. At least 10 sustained minor injuries and two required medical treatment.

The marchers were jeered at and spat on by right-wing youths throughout the parade route. A line of police in riot gear marched along on both sides of the parade.
Zagreb Pride called Situm’s sentence "a great turning point for the entire community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer persons and our position in society because it is the first ruling for a crime conditioned by hate based on sexual orientation."

But Pride’s Marko Jurcic also expressed "deep disappointment with Zagreb’s police for failing to file criminal charges for all the other attacks that happened simultaneously with Situm’s."

Editorial assistance by Bill Kelley

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 7, 2008.

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