Jamaican gay man drowns while trying to scape anti-gay mob
A Jamaican gay man, Nokia Cowen, drowned Dec. 28 after he jumped into Kingston’s harbor while being chased by a mob, according to the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, the country’s best-known gay group.
“In an attempt to flee this mob, the young man jumped into the Kingston harbor and perished because he could not swim,” the organization said. “JFLAG condemns the prevalence of incidents such as this and we implore the highest members of government to clearly indicate that violence based on sexual orientation, both perceived and actual, is unacceptable in Jamaica.”
Anti-gay violence is common in Jamaica. In another recent incident, leading AIDS activist Steve Harvey was killed in Kingston on Nov. 30. According to police, at least four assailants forced their way into his home and abducted him in his Jamaica AIDS Support company car. His body was found in a rural area with gunshot wounds to the back and head.
Gay activists in Jamaica and elsewhere also have been fighting a years-long battle with several famous dancehall reggae singers whose lyrics, activists say, support anti-gay violence or, in some instances, murdering gays and lesbians.
Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, T.O.K., Bounty Killer, Capleton and Sizzla are among the singers targeted in those protests.
United Kingdom law allowing gay couples to adopt goes into effect
On the heels of the United Kingdom’s new Civil Partnership Act granting registered same-sex couples the rights and obligations of marriage, England and Wales extended adoption rights to unmarried straight and gay couples on Dec. 30.
Adoption previously was limited to married opposite-sex couples and single people. The change was passed by Parliament three years ago but only now took effect.
“This is very important at a time when too many children wait too long in temporary care waiting for an adoptive family or, in some cases, never have the chance of adoption at all,” said Felicity Collier, chief executive of the British Association for Adopting and Fostering.
Transgender vicar, wife suing U.K. government over marriage law
A vicar in Port Talbot, Wales, who changed her sex is planning to sue the United Kingdom government before the European Court of Human Rights because she will be forced to annul her marriage to her wife when recording the change in government records, IC Wales reported.
Dian Parry, 66, and her wife of 45 years, Anita, would have to end their union and enter a civil partnership instead under the United Kingdom’s new same-sex Civil Partnership Act.
The couple plan to argue that this violates the European Convention on Human Rights’ guarantees of respect for privacy and family life as well as provisions on the right to marry and not be discriminated against.
Scottish cardinal denounces U.K.’s Civil Partnership Act
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholics, denounced the United Kingdom in his New Year’s homily for enacting the new Civil Partnership Act, which grants registered same-sex couples the rights and obligations of marriage.
Speaking at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, O’Brien said the government had “promoted alternative lifestyles while undermining values which for generations have been treasured,” London’s The Times reported.
“Human societies throughout history and across cultures have flourished only when they have built their human relationships on the rock of marriage,” he said.
A spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association said O’Brien’s remarks “could lead to an escalation of violence against gay people.”
Muslim leader says U.K. partnership law is a bad omen for society
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, has denounced the United Kingdom’s new Civil Partnership Act that took effect in December. It grants registered same-sex couples the rights and obligations of marriage.
Speaking to the BBC Jan. 3, Sacranie said, “This is 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.”
Sacranie called homosexuality “not acceptable in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that come along in a society.”
Gay activist Peter Tatchell of OutRage! told the BBC that since both the
Muslim and gay communities suffer prejudice and discrimination, they “should stand together to fight Islamophobia and homophobia.”
Polish court refuses to begin criminal trials against 75 arrested in gay march
Courts in Poznan, Poland, in late December and early January refused to begin criminal proceedings against 75 people who were arrested at a Nov. 29 gay Pride march that had been banned by Mayor Ryszard Grobelny, the Campaign Against Homophobia reported on Jan. 5.
The marchers were charged with taking part in an illegal gathering. A few hundred people joined the demonstration. They were harassed by members of the group All Polish Youth, who shouted “Let’s gas the fags” and “We’ll do to you what Hitler did with Jews.”
Warsaw’s gay Pride parade was also banned by local officials last year and the year before.
Then-Mayor Lech Kaczynski, who is now Poland’s president, called last year’s planned march “sexually obscene.” An improvised parade took place on June 10 anyhow, with more than 2,500 participants.
Spain to offer asylum to gays facing death because of sexual orientation
Spain is planning to alter its asylum laws to take in gays who face the death penalty or serious punishment in their home countries based on their sexual orientation, according to a draft law obtained by the newspaper El Pais.
A report in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper said the changes also would apply to women facing sex discrimination.
The draft reportedly requires immigration officials to base decisions on an objective examination of the facts rather than subjective concerns, such as a hunch that an applicant might be lying.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 13, 2006.