(Poland) - Gay Americans Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton found a media frenzy when they arrived at Warsaw airport yesterday for a three-day visit. The couple, who were married in Canada, hit the international headlines when their wedding image was used in Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s televised prime-time address to scare the Polish people against supporting the Lisbon Treaty, arrived to Warsaw for a three-day visit. The trip is sponsored by TVN Television. Their first day in Poland was an opportunity to meet with Polish Gay rights leaders Tomasz Szypula and Greg Czarnecki from the Campaign Against Homophobia (Kampania Przeciw Homofobii – KPH) as well as other members of the LGBT community.
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(USA) - As the head of the LGBT desk at the Human Rights Watch (HRW), Scott Long bears critical responsibilities for investigating human rights abuses and advocating greater freedoms for our community worldwide. That is estimable work, by any measure. One occupational hazard, however, of taking on a highly specialized charge on matters of such delicacy involving repressive and dangerous regimes is undoubtedly a compounding sense of proprietorship, a fatigued feeling that others "shouldn't mess with my turf, they should stay out of my bailiwick." On matters related to anti-Gay repression in Iran, dating back almost three years, Long seems to have fallen into that trap, indeed to have fallen quite far.
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(Croatia) - Josip Situm, 25, was detained by police for carrying the homemade bombs. He was charged soon after with planning to hurl the cocktails at the crowd. Although he denied the charges, insisting he decided after he arrived at the parade not to throw the bombs, Situm admitted that he disapproves of homosexuality because he is Roman Catholic. On 28 February, Situm became the first person in Croatia found guilty of a hate crime. He was convicted of endangering lives and property at the Pride parade and sentenced to 14 months in prison and psychiatric treatment. Situm’s conviction was a major victory for Croatia’s LGBT community, for whom street violence is nothing new.
(UK) - The British Government is currently failing Gay refugees, Peter Tatchell told a rally in Whitehall, outside the Prime Minister’s official residence 10 Downing Street. Over 120 protesters braved hail and rain on Saturday to demand that Gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, be granted refuge in the UK. They also urged asylum for the Iranian Lesbian refugee, Pegah Emambakhsh, and an estimated 12 other Gay Iranians who are at risk of deportation back to Tehran. There were calls for a “fundamental reform” of the way the Home Office treats LGBTI asylum applicants. “The British government had ordered Mr Kazemi to be deported back to Iran,” said protest speaker Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.
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(EU) - The Mayors of Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia have declined to take part in a campaign affirming freedom of assembly and expression for LGBT people in Europe. The Europe branch of the International Gay and Lesbian Association wanted the leaders of those cities to join 19 others in Europe and declare their support for their initiative. The Mayors of Paris, Nicosia, Amsterdam, Winterthur, London, Stockholm, Cologne, Barcelona, Venice, Vienna, Bologna, Manchester, Copenhagen, Budapest, Ljubljana, Zürich, Berlin, Dublin and Luxembourg have all pledged their support.
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(UK) - The British Government is coming under pressure from members of both houses of Parliament, mainly Liberal Democrats, to “come clean” about policies on who are deported to Iran – especially Gay men and women. At lunchtime at Prime Minister’s Question in the House of Commons, Greg Mulholland, the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, raised the matter, complaining about refugees being deported to Iran.
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(Poland) - A Gay man from the United States on Tuesday voiced outrage against Poland's President Lech Kaczynski for publicly using a video of his marriage to bash the EU's proposed charter of rights. Kaczynski used a prime-time televised address Monday to argue the EU's proposed Charter of Fundamental Rights, linked to the bloc's crucial reforming Lisbon Treaty, could allow homosexual marriage in Poland, a devoutly Catholic country. A video of the couple's marriage in Toronto, Canada was broadcast nationwide to illustrate Kaczynski's presidential address.
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(Germany) - A fluffy yellow bedspread is severely tucked around the hospital-style bed, there's a wheelchair-accessible shower and a token pot plant. At first glance, the Asta Nielsen Haus in Berlin looks like the average old people's home. But this is a pioneering facility - the first in Europe to cater exclusively for Gays and Lesbians. The idea of a Gay-only project for elderly people was first mooted at a "Gay and Grey" congress in Cologne in 1995. It reflects fears among Germany's first openly Gay generation about what will happen when they are too frail to care for themselves. "At the moment, most Gay and Lesbian residents keep themselves hidden. Imagine one Gay person in a home of 100 people. It can be lonely and isolating," says Christian Hamm, who is on the board of the organisation behind the care-home plan. Hamm and his associates are now drawing up plans for an assisted-care retirement centre for Gay people in another Berlin district.
Note: Read more on Guardian
(UK) - The British government announced Thursday that it was ending efforts to deport Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old Iranian who has been studying in Britain – a move that should be applauded by human rights activists everywhere. Had he been forced to return to Iran, Kazemi would almost certainly have been executed there. Roger Roberts, one of eight members of the House of Lords who petitioned British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to allow Kazemi to stay in Britain, declared: “There is no doubt that he will be persecuted and possibly face state-sanctioned murder if he is forced to return.”
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(USA) - A traveling exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum uses photographs, documents, and artwork to chronicle the Nazis' arrests and persecution of tens of thousands of Gay men from 1933 to 1945. The exhibit, on display through the end of the month at the University of Rhode Island, gives voice to what its curator describes as "one of the lesser-known stories of the Nazi era." The exhibit begins just before the Nazis rose to power, when an estimated 1.2 million Gay men lived in Germany and a Gay culture flourished in nightclubs and cafes. But after Adolf Hitler took power, the Nazis began closing Gay clubs, and in 1934 the Gestapo asked local police departments to compile lists of men believed to be Gay. A law known as Paragraph 175 that had previously prohibited "unnatural indecency" between men was reworked to dramatically expand the range of illegal behaviors. By 1938, even a perceived wayward glance or touch could be interpreted as criminal by the courts.
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(Canada) - The Canadian Refugee Board needs to establish clearer guidelines on sexual orientation to help adjudicators avoid stereotyping Gay and Lesbian refugees who have little proof they are Gay, say legal experts. Last week MP Thomas Mulcair exploded at hecklers in the Commons and later shed tears at a news conference after Immigration Minister Diane Finley refused to allow Canada's latest Gay refugee claimant Kulenthiran Amirthalingam stay in the country on compassionate grounds. He later told the Montreal Gazette that he had seen a disturbing video depicting the kind of brutal punishment Gay men receive in Malaysia, including strapping a naked man until raw flesh was exposed. Amirthalingam, who is now back in Malaysia where he spent time in jail for being Gay, was declared not credible by the one-adjudicator panel. He joined a growing list of refugee claimants who have been rejected because they can't prove they are Gay.
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(Netherlands) - A Gay Iranian teenager faces deportation from Britain and execution in his home country after a Dutch court refused to hear his asylum claim. Mehdi Kazemi, 19, will be forced to return to Britain, where his asylum application was rejected last year. He is then expected to be removed to Iran where his boyfriend was hanged two years ago for 'sodomy.' The ruling will put the Home Office under renewed pressure to reassess his case - or face the possibility of sending a young man to his death. The department’s own guidance concedes that Iran executes homosexuals but rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of Gay men and Lesbians.
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(UK) - Homophobic abuse is endemic in schools, with "Gay" now the most common put-down by pupils in the classroom, teachers say. A "conspiracy of silence" in schools and colleges means homophobia is now seen as so normal that some teachers believe they risk disrupting classes - and making themselves a target of abuse - if they challenge students' behaviour. More than 70% of teachers have heard put-downs in their school or college that refer to sexuality, according to a survey of 268 teachers by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. In particular, teachers report that pupils routinely use the term "Gay" in a pejorative manner. Nearly two-thirds of teachers and lecturers have heard homophobic language on a regular basis. A quarter encountered it several times a week and about 16% of them daily. Boys are significantly more likely to talk about sexuality in a bullying way, but half of teachers have seen girls do the same and nearly 12% said they had seen similar behaviour in the staffroom.
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(USA) - Oklahoma House representative Sally Kern is under fire after an audio recording was leaked of her comparing gays to terrorists and telling fellow Republicans the "homosexual agenda is destroying this nation." The recording and accompanying YouTube video have sparked outrage from many, but Kern defends her words, telling the press: "What I'm saying, I believe in." The YouTube video posted this weekend by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund featured Kern speaking out against gays to a group of Republicans who had invited her to express her views about homosexuality. In the speech, given privately to a group of about 50 Republicans, Kern says homosexuality, "according to God's word, that is not the right kind of lifestyle. It has deadly consequences for those people involved in it." Although she claims she is "not Gay-bashing," Kern continues by saying Gays "have more suicides… there's more illness, their life spans are shorter… studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades."
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(USA) - For teens living in a shelter for abused and neglected children, school can provide a daily dose of normalcy, a place to fit in, a chance to be just another kid. It didn't turn out that way for Lawrence King. The anti-Gay taunts and slurs that Larry endured from his male peers apparently had been constant, as routine for him as math lessons and recess bells. The stinging words were isolating. His friends say the verbal cruelty persisted for months, and grew worse after the slightly built Larry pushed back by "flirting" with some of his mockers.
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(Canada) - A Gay man from Malaysia who is to be deported Thursday after being refused refugee status is pleading with the federal government to intervene and let him stay in Canada. Kulenthiran Amirthalingan made a last-ditch appeal to Immigration Minister Diane Finley, asking her to stay the March 6 deportation order to his native Malaysia. He fears persecution because he is Gay. Amirthalingan moved to Montreal in 2003 and applied for refugee status in Canada on humanitarian grounds, arguing his life was in danger because his homosexuality made him a target of Malaysian police who detained him for five days, and abused him, physically and sexually. Amirthalingan lost his refugee status case because the judge was not convinced he was Gay. He filed for a humanitarian appeal and a pre-removal risk assessment, which were both rejected by the Quebec Immigration Board.
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(Europe) - A Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) hearing on the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships will take place in Paris tomorrow. The 47-member Council of Europe predates the European Union. It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights. The hearing will involve representatives of the International Lesbian and Gay Association ILGA Europe as well as parliamentarians and academics. It will also focus on freedom of assembly and expression for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans people in the Council member states.
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(USA) - Iowa Republicans frustrated with the majority Democrats refusal to hold a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban Gay marriage have failed in their last ditch effort to advance the measure. House Minority Leader Christopher Rants attempted on Tuesday to use a procedural motion to move the amendment out of committee where it has been stonewalled and onto the floor of the House for a full vote. On a 50-to-46 vote along party lines Democrats rejected the motion. That means the issue remains in committee where it will likely die by the end of the week. Republicans have been pushing the proposed amendment since last year when Polk County Judge Robert Hanson struck down a state law limiting marriage to straight couples. To amend the Iowa Constitution simple majorities are needed in both the House and Senate in two consecutive general assemblies and then it must be approved by a simple majority of voters in the following general election.
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(USA) - Some 50 activists, including members of the Radical Homosexual Agenda, picketed the Human Rights Campaign's annual Midtown Manhattan dinner Feb. 23, Gay City News reported. They were upset over HRC's support for a version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that omits protections for transgender people. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and awaits action in the Senate. The dinner also apparently was boycotted by every GLB elected official in New York City and many other prominent Democratic officials, GCN said. Many of the protesters carried pink signs in the shape of a hand flipping off HRC while others banged on drums. They chanted: "What do we want? Liberation. ***** that assimilation."
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(Nepal) - Nepal was recently witness to a victory of sorts for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Inter-sex (LGBTI) communities. It was an undeniably historic day on 21 December 2007, when the Supreme Court of Nepal, in response to a petition filed by a coalition of local LGBTI-rights groups, ordered the government to fulfil its contractual responsibility to LGBTI individuals by amending existing legislation or formulate new laws that would permit this community to better exercise its civil and human rights. This was certainly an atypical victory for Nepal’s LGBTI movement. In the aftermath, questions are now surfacing about how ideas and identities travel across the transnational landscape, and what social contexts make these transmissions more successful in certain places and times. These questions are especially pertinent when compared to neighbouring India, the imagined custodian of Southasian democracy.
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