Old video embarrasses Canadian MP
The New Democratic Party in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan found a 17-year-old videotape recently when it moved into the Opposition offices at the provincial legislature in Regina, and federal Tory MP Tom Lukiwski is highly embarrassed by it.
On the amateur tape, in which staffers of the Saskatchewan Progressive Conservatives are goofing around for the camera, Lukiwski, who was then the party’s general manager, says: "There’s A’s and there’s B’s. The A’ are guys like me, the B’s are homosexual faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit diseases."
The tape, recorded the night of the Saskatchewan leaders’ debate during the 1991 election, was released to the media by the provincial NDP on April 3.
"If I could take those comments back, I would," Lukiwski said April 3. "I would give anything to take those comments back. They do not reflect the type of person that I am. I can only say that on behalf of myself, my family and my children, I am sorry. I am ashamed."
In response to the brouhaha, federal opposition MPs urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to strip Lukiwski of his post as parliamentary secretary in the Conservative caucus.
"The member was 40 years old when he made these hateful remarks," said Liberal MP Scott Brison. "Allowing the member to remain an officer of the House of Commons defaces this institution."
But on April 7, Harper said, "I believe when such apology and remorse is sought from an individual member, the generous and high-minded thing to do is to accept that apology."
Panama National Police chief says gays OK
The head of Panama’s National Police, Rolando Mirones, said April 3 that gays can be police officers as long as they obey regulations, laws and the Constitution while on the job.
Speaking on radio station La Exitosa, Mirones said: "It would be bad to ask a person if he is homosexual or not, because this has nothing to do with his responsibilities.
"I believe that if the person has the moral, ethical, psychological and physical capacity to be a police officer, it doesn’t matter what his preference is or what he does at home in his free time, as long as it’s nothing illegal."
Justice Minister Daniel Delgado Diamante was not happy with Mirones’ remarks.
"I cannot imagine a homosexual policeman and this is a situation that from a personal point of view, I reject completely," he told local media.
Delgado added that National Police regulations prohibit homosexual acts.
Retired Gen. RubÃ©n DarÃo Paredes also spoke out against Mirones, telling the newspaper CrÃtica: "At first, I thought … Mirones was joking with the journalists. … I am sure that today, with calm and meaningful reflection, the director perhaps has realized that he made a lamentable slip."
The head of the gay group New Men and Women of Panama, Ricardo Beteta, told CrÃtica that Mirones’ statement was "a very important step," but noted that police regulations say that "if the institution discovers that an officer has a gay or lesbian life, it is cause for firing."
"So, he should change the regulation that now is the law of the land so that his words truly have value," Beteta said.
Government to study Irish gays in London
The sociology department at Britain’s University of Essex has received a $164,000 grant from the United Kingdom government to investigate the experiences of Irish gays living in London.
Project head RÃ³isÃn Ryan-Flood told the Press Association wire service she hopes to "uncover the ways in which contemporary sexual citizenship, migration and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender imaginaries of the metropolis are mutually implicated in complex ways."
A Taxpayers’ Alliance spokesman denounced the grant as "straight out of a political correctness joke book."
Trouble reported for gays in Shanghai
Following reports of a police crackdown on gay men in Beijing, a posting on the Singaporean gay e-mail list SiGNeL said a similar operation is under way in Shanghai.
"Three or four of the major clubs have been closed by the police following raids," the informant said. "Another one, m7, was visited by the police last Saturday [March 29] and the music stopped at 2 a.m. Not sure if this is a sign of things to come."
Beijing police raided and closed two gay bathhouses on March 20 and 21, according to a report circulated on Asian gay mailing lists by AIDS activists in China and Malaysia.
The March 26 report said the popular gay bathhouse Club Oasis was raided March 20, and 70 patrons and employees were taken into custody. It said the patrons were released 30 hours later but the staff remained jailed.
The report said a second Oasis bathhouse also was raided March 21 and the staff, but not the customers, were taken into custody.
The report also included a list of other recent alleged police actions against gays in Beijing, including a bar raid and temporary closure, raids of cruisy parks, and arrests of sex workers tracked down via their Web postings.
Activist delays Olympic Torch in London
The bus carrying the Olympic torch was delayed in London’s Oxford Street on April 6 by well-known activist Peter Tatchell of the gay-rights group OutRage.
Tatchell ran in front of the bus and held up a poster which said, "Free Tibet, Free Hu Jia."
Police wrestled Tatchell to the pavement, deposited him on the sidewalk and released him without charge after questioning.
"Hu Jia was jailed for 3 1/2 years last week for campaigning for free speech, Tibetan autonomy, environmental protection, and for the human rights of the rural poor and people with HIV," Tatchell said.
"He exposed the Chinese government’s coverup of the use of HIV-contaminated blood, the lack of support and care for people with HIV, and he challenged social prejudice and discrimination against people with the virus.
"Hi Jia is a truly heroic figure, who … kept campaigning, even though he knew it would put him at risk of arrest, torture and imprisonment."
Tatchell said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown "shamed himself and Britain" when he greeted the torch at his official residence "at a time when China is shooting dead Tibetan protesters and jailing and torturing hundreds of political prisoners."
"All countries that love freedom, democracy and liberty should refuse to host the Olympic torch and boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics," Tatchell said. "Athletes should wear Tibetan flags during their events and on the podium when they collect their medals."
The torch also encountered messy protests in Paris and San Francisco this month for the same general reasons.
Editorial assistance by Bill Kelley
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 18, 2008.