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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Beijing Gays stage Valentine's Day action
About 30 Gays and Lesbians staged a public Gay rights action in Beijing on Valentine's Day.

With some of the group dressed as same-sex couples getting married, the activists walked down Qianmen Avenue, a busy shopping street near Tiananmen Square, stopping to pose for wedding pictures.

Passersby were mostly amused or surprised rather than hostile.

Police did not interfere with the demonstration.

Nepali Gays celebrate Valentine's Day in public square
Dozens of GLT people celebrated Valentine's Day with a public demonstration in Nepal's prominent Basantapur Durbar Square in central Katmandu.

The day will henceforth also be known as Pink Triangle Day in Nepal, the activists said.

"Our community needs more than one celebration per year to keep us going and growing," said openly Gay Member of Parliament Sunil Babu Pant. "Pink Triangle Day could provide a perfect midwinter lift to our spirits."

Moscow Pride seeks emergency hearing
Moscow Pride activists went to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, February 13 to plead for emergency consideration of their languishing cases stemming from Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's repeated bans of Gay pride events over the past three years.

The group also joined with around 50 local activists to stage a public protest in which one banner read, "Need there be deaths at Moscow Gay pride for the European Court to react?"

When Gays have staged unauthorized pride events in Moscow, in spite of Luzhkov's bans, they have been beaten by anti-Gay protesters and police.

During a week of lobbying, the Moscow delegation also held meetings with representatives of the Council of Europe (CoE, which oversees the court), members of the European Parliament, and human rights officials from the European Commission.

"Meetings at the CoE were tough," said Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev. "It was in fact the unpleasant surprise of all this trip. At the CoE, we were told, basically, to put less pressure, that we have to wait, that in several years things will change, that they work 'hard' to make it evolve."

"There is a clear gap between Strasbourg and what people suffer in the whole of Europe," he said. "By staying global, this organization does not act locally. We all got the impression that the CoE is completely powerless in front of Russia."

The activists also staged a demonstration at UN headquarters in Geneva and met with officials from the UN Human Rights Commission.

"One of the conclusions we made after our meeting with this institution is that there is a gap between what we, as activists, face in our countries and what they usually know," said Nikolai Baev, a member of the Russian delegation.

Luzhkov has called Gay pride parades "satanic" and "weapons of mass destruction," and said he will never allow them in Moscow.

Burundi plan to ban Gay sex dies in Senate
A move to ban Gay sex in the Central African nation of Burundi was rejected by the Senate February 16 after having passed the National Assembly unanimously in November.

"Burundi's Senate, after significant pressure and 'heated debate,' today rejected the proposed amendment to criminalize homosexual conduct. Victory - for the moment," said Scott Long, head of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Division.

The proposal, part of a much larger bill, set a punishment of between three months and two years in prison, along with a large fine, for engaging in consensual adult Gay sex.

The Senate and Assembly must now form a commission to reconcile the two versions of the bill before sending it to President Pierre Nkurunziza.

"Any reconciliation could, potentially, reinstate the provision criminalizing same-sex conduct," said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. "Whatever the outcome, the fact that the majority of senators voted against the provision shows a growing recognition that all citizens are entitled to the full enjoyment of human rights irrespective of their sexual orientation."

Eighty-four of the world's 195 nations ban Gay sex.

HIV rate climbs in Asia
Gay and Bisexual men in Asia are having risky unprotected sex, causing dramatic climbs in HIV infection rates, said officials attending a World Health Organization HIV/AIDS conference February 18 in Hong Kong.

The gathering heard that more than 30 percent of Gay and Bisexual men in Bangkok are HIV-positive, while some Chinese cities report a rate as high as 18 percent, and China as a whole has a rate of 3.8 percent among Gay/Bisexual men.

The director of China's AIDS-control center, Wu Zunyou, said amphetamine use and internet hookups are factors in the climbing infection rate.

HIV now is China's deadliest infectious disease, according to a new report from the Ministry of Health.

More than 8 percent of Gay and Bisexual men in Jakarta are HIV-positive, the conference heard, as are 7.8 percent in Cambodia.

Phelpses banned from entering UK
Anti-Gay Kansas pastor Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley have been banned from entering the United Kingdom, the Telegraph reported February 19.

The "God hates fags" team had announced plans to picket a performance of The Laramie Project on February 20 at a school arts center in Basingstoke, Hampshire.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behavior by inciting hatred against a number of communities. ... We will continue to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country."

In an interview with the BBC, Shirley Phelps-Roper stated: "There are members of WBC [Westboro Baptist Church] that are not named Phelps. ... Unless they intend to begin checking the bare backsides of every person coming into that country to find that tattoo that says 'Property of WBC,' they will have no way of identifying who is from WBC."

In the end, a single, unidentified demonstrator showed up and was chased off by about 50 counterprotesters, the BBC reported.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures: Strasbourg Demonstration

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