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Rex Wockner
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About 130 people marched under the theme, "Does love have gender?"

The events also were a celebration of a law passed last December that criminalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation. The vote on the bill in the Løgting (parliament) was an uncomfortably close 17-15.

Politicians from Sweden, Denmark and Iceland traveled to the islands to join the festivities, which were organized by the Association of Nordic LGBT Student Organizations and the Faroese GLBT group Friðarbogin.

"It is important for us ... to see this great support from our friends in the Nordic region," said Friðarbogin's Tina Jacobsen. "We hope [it] will help our own politicians to see the importance of speaking about human rights."

The post-parade festival took place in Vaglið, the main square of the capital city, Tórshavn. About 200 people attended.

In a speech, Løgting member Finnur Helmsdal called for passage of a law creating registered partnerships for same-sex couples.

The Faroes, population 47,000, are a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark located north of Scotland, halfway between Norway and Iceland. The capital has 19,000 residents.

GLBT activists staged a groundbreaking press conference in Kampala, Uganda, Aug. 16 to launch a media campaign called "Let Us Live In Peace."

They hope to engage the nation in a public conversation, humanize Gay people and reduce routine police abuse.

"We step into the public today to give a face to the many who are discriminated against every day in our country," the group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said in a statement.

"[Y]ou see homosexuals and transgender people every day without realising that it is what we are. We do not harm anyone. We are your doctor, your teacher, your best friend, your sister, maybe even your father or son."

In response to the event, Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Nsaba Buturo told the BBC that the nation will not grant Gays any rights or decriminalize Gay sex, which is punishable with life in prison.

Government spokesman Kirunda Kivejinja responded that "homosexuality is repugnant."

Five days later, hundreds of Christian, Muslim and Bahai residents staged an angry anti-Gay rally.

They denounced homosexuality as immoral and demanded that U.S. journalist Katherine Roubos be deported. She is a Stanford University student who has been writing about Gay issues while interning at Kampala's Daily Monitor newspaper.

In conjunction with the rally, Buturo and Ugandan Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi called for the arrest of people who ignore the ban on "carnal knowledge against the order of nature."

Brazil's national health-care system will pay for sex-change operations following a decision by a regional federal court in Porto Alegre that the surgery falls within the constitution's guarantee of access to medical care.

The court said transsexuality is "a sexual-identity disturbance where individuals need to change their sexual designation or face serious consequences in their lives, including intense suffering, mutilation and suicide."

Candidates for the procedure will have to undergo psychological evaluation for two years and receive approval from a medical panel.

The government had argued it could not afford to offer the surgeries, but opted not to appeal the ruling. A sex-reassignment operation costs approximately $1,000 in Brazil and could be sought by one in every 10,000 residents, the Ministry of Health said.

The president of Madeira, an autonomous Portuguese archipelago located 360 miles (576 km) off the coast of Morocco, called same-sex marriage "filth" and "degradation" at an Aug. 18 political rally on Porto Santo Island, reported PortugalGay.PT.

"Wanting the marriage of homosexuals and all these things that the socialist government is preparing, these are not causes -- this is filth, this is degradation," said Alberto João Jardim. "This is killing the values that we Portuguese -- our national soul -- have learned from the cradle and that our parents have taught us."

Jardim also denounced a new Portuguese law that permits abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy. He has refused to implement the statute in Madeira.

"When you make laws against human life, it is a precedent that we can't accept and then, afterward, they cover other rights or offend other people's rights in the name of the absolute state," the president said.

Madeira and another group of Portuguese islands, the Azores, have autonomous regional governments but are supposed to enforce Portuguese national laws.

Madeira has some 250,000 residents, of which about 101,000 live in Funchal, the capital city on Madeira Island.

Despite several mainstream-media reports to the contrary, 18 men arrested in Bauchi, Nigeria, Aug. 5 on charges of vagrancy, cross-dressing and practicing sodomy as a profession will not face the death penalty.

The men, who were detained at a wedding party at the Benko Hotel, were charged under Section 372, Subsection 2(e) of the Bauchi State Shariah Penal Code, which allows for punishment of one year in prison and 30 lashes.

In addition, at an Aug. 21 hearing in the Tunda Al Khali Area Court, Judge Tanimu Abubakar determined the men should have been charged only under the section's vagrancy and cross-dressing provisions.

Prosecution of the case was turned over to the Bauchi State Ministry of Justice, instead of the police. The next hearing is Sept. 13. Tanimu released at least five of the men on $158 bail and returned the others to jail.

An angry mob of Muslims, hopeful that the men would be sentenced to death, threw rocks at them as they left the court building. Police fired tear gas to disperse the mob, which also tried to set the court house on fire.

Activist Joseph Akoro of the Nigerian Gay group The Independent Project has told the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission that the men actually were not dressed as women when they were arrested.

"This leads us to believe that the charges have been drummed up to incite hatred against Gay people," Akoro said. Police, working together with the Hisbah Islamic anti-vice squad, also had detained several other people at the wedding party, but released all the women and non-Muslims.

International Gay activists consider Nigeria to be highly homophobic. Earlier this year, the National Assembly considered, but did not act on, an extreme anti-Gay bill that would have outlawed Gay marriage, public or private gatherings of Gay people, visiting a Gay Internet site, and nearly everything else associated with being Gay. Local activists worry that the bill could be reintroduced at any time.

In addition, the head of Nigeria's Anglican church, Archbishop Peter Akinola, is the leading anti-Gay voice in the worldwide Anglican Communion. There are more Anglicans in Nigeria (15 million) than in any other nation except the United Kingdom (26 million). The denomination has 77 million members worldwide.
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

"The federal government is proposing regulations that would effectively kill adult social-networking sites [such as Gay.com, BigMuscleBears, Manhunt, etc.]. This is being done under the guise of fighting child pornography. You have until September 10 to object to these regulations. ... Obviously, none of this has anything to do with child pornography. Instead, it is a blatant attempt to end the ability of consenting adults to use adult social-networking sites to meet other people for sex. Obviously, if these regulations go into effect, they will kill this industry."
-From an Aug. 28 action alert from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. See tinyurl.com/2k4te9.

"According to the police report, the undercover officer set up his position in the restroom at noon on June 11. A few minutes later, Craig entered and sat in the stall next to him. Craig began tapping his right foot, touched his right foot to the left foot of the officer in the stall next to him and brushed his hand beneath the partition into the stall next to him. He was then arrested."
-From an Aug. 27 Washington Post report on the "disorderly conduct" arrest of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Craig pleaded guilty Aug. 8 and paid $575 in fines and fees. A 10-day jail sentence was stayed. In an Aug. 27 statement, Craig denied he engaged "in any inappropriate conduct" and claimed the airport police "misconstru[ed] my actions." (Note from this column for Lesbian and straight readers: The gestures cited in the police report have specific meanings and are universally understood in the men's-room cruising scene across the globe. The foot-tapping means, "I'm looking for sex." The brushing of the hand beneath the partition translates, "Get down on your knees and place your penis underneath the partition so I can touch or fellate it.") Craig was outed by blogactive.com last October. See tinyurl.com/yxqqgr. The Idaho Statesman daily newspaper finally published all its research on Craig's sex life on Aug. 28. See tinyurl.com/yrpqt2. The police report can be viewed at tinyurl.com/2sw3dw.

"What's up with elected officials like Senator Craig? They stand for so-called 'family values' and fight basic protections for Gay people while furtively seeking other men for sex. Infuriating pathetic hypocrites. What more can you say? ... And by the way, why are Minneapolis tax dollars being used to have plainclothes police officers lurking idly in airport restroom stalls?"
-National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman in response to the Aug. 27 news of the arrest of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, in a cruisy men's room.

"Senator Larry Craig ... has violated the public trust, not just with his inappropriate and illegal behavior, but in the subsequent explanation of his actions. Innocent people don't plead guilty. ... Senator Craig owes the people of Idaho a more credible explanation than what he has provided. [A]nd now he's questioning the honesty of law enforcement officers. ... This situation may have permanently damaged Craig's ability to continue serving in the U.S. Senate. Log Cabin strongly opposes outing. It's unproductive and distracts people from the real work of convincing more Americans to support equality for Gay and Lesbian people. It's not for me to speculate about Senator Craig's sexual orientation. However, it's clear that whether it's Jim McGreevey, Ted Haggard, or someone else, life in the closet often leads to destructive, harmful, and reckless behavior."
-Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon in an Aug. 28 statement.

"[S]tanding up in front of my family and my spouse's and saying the vows out loud has me in a state of butterflies. I can go on TV and barely break a sweat, but I'm terrified of performing in front of my own family. I'm scared I'll lose it. I bawled through the last same-sex wedding I went to. You fight for something, never expecting it to happen, let alone to you, and then it does, and it can overwhelm."
-Gay author Andrew Sullivan writing on his blog Aug. 16 about his upcoming wedding in Provincetown. Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts.

"I'm just like everyone else. If you do something stupid you have to pay the price. I've been doing some gardening and really enjoyed it. I'll do whatever they want me to do. I don't want any special treatment."
-Gay pop singer George Michael to London's Daily Express on Aug. 13 as he began his 100 hours of community service for driving while under the influence of drugs. He did some gardening at a hostel for the homeless. Michael also had his driver's license suspended for two years.

"I know this sounds trite, but overall it's fairly amazing to see the major Democratic presidential candidates rallying around the idea of equal rights for same-sex couples, united in their opposition to Don't Ask Don't Tell, and advocating the repeal of the key section of the Defense of Marriage Act. It would be even more amazing if we could get a majority in Congress to pass the teeny tiniest piece of Gay rights legislation."
-Syndicated Gay press columnist Ann Rostow, Aug. 16.

"I just returned from Denmark and Sweden, where nobody cares about the Gays. In Denmark Gay marriage is legal and in Sweden it might as well be. Most of Western Europe and Canada are the same, with full marriage equality or at least equivalent rights. Straight people leave Gays alone and let them live their lives and, except for the requisite pockets of religious fanaticism, no one cares. Either they are more enlightened, not poisoned by religion or just drunk most of the time, but nobody cares about the Gays."
-Jim David, writing at The Huffington Post, Aug. 12.

"I was fixated on architecture and interiors, which of course had everybody worried. I had a really butch father - so butch I thought maybe he was a closet case. He was an FBI agent and a sports lover, and the only sport I could even participate in was swimming, because it was nice and clean and you didn't sweat."
-Gay fashion maven and TV personality Tim Gunn (Project Runway) to Out magazine, September issue.

"Having a relationship takes time, and I don't have any. I'd have to give something up, and I don't know what I'd be willing to give up. But I'm the luckiest guy in the world. There's something about living in a Gay mecca that's very purging and cathartic. I'm thrilled that all these people are having relationships and relieved that I'm not being asked to leave somebody's home because they're over me."
-Fashion maven and TV personality Tim Gunn (Project Runway) to Out magazine, September issue. In 1982, Gunn's partner of nine years ended their relationship as they sat together on the sofa watching TV, saying: "I don't have the patience for you. I can't do this anymore."

"Merv Griffin was Gay. ... We can refer to it casually in conversation, but the mainstream media somehow remains trapped in the Dark Ages when it comes to labeling a person as Gay. Maybe that helps explain why Griffin, who died of prostate cancer Sunday at 82, stayed in the closet throughout his life. Perhaps he figured it was preferable to remain the object of gossip rather than live openly as 'one of them.' But how tremendously sad it is that a man of Merv's renown, of his gregarious nature and social dexterity, would feel compelled to endure such a stealthy double life even as the Gay community's clout, and its levels of acceptance and equality, rose steadily from the ashes of ignorance."
-Ray Richmond writing in the Hollywood Reporter, Aug. 17.

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