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International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

British Gay newspaper shuts down
The venerable British Gay newspaper Pink Paper ceased publication June 24 due to falling ad revenue.

However, no one was laid off by the company, which also publishes the glossy monthly magazines Gay Times and Diva, and the Pink Paper will continue to publish at pinkpaper.com.

"The publishers hope to start printing the newspaper again when the economy recovers and the advertising market improves," said Editor Tris Reid-Smith. "This time last year it was a very successful business but since then organizations have slashed their spend on print advertising, meaning the paper has been unable to cover its costs."

Veteran British campaigner Peter Tatchell called the announcement "a big blow to the Lesbian and Gay community."

"Although the online version will remain, it is no substitute for the fortnightly paper, which reached many people who are either not online or who enjoyed the portability of the printed version," Tatchell said. "Without the Pink Paper, the Lesbian and Gay community is likely to become more fragmented and isolated, with people in one part of the country being much less aware about what is happening in other parts of the country."

(Reporter Rex Wockner is a regular paid contributor to the Millivres Prowler Group publications mentioned in this report.)

New French culture minister is Gay
French President Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Gay filmmaker, writer and TV presenter Frédéric Mitterrand as culture minister June 24.

Mitterrand, 61, is the nephew of the late President François Mitterrand.

Among other activities, Mitterrand writes a column for the Gay magazine Têtu.

Netherlands Antilles won't extend all benefits to married Gays
The Common Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba has ruled that the Antillean government doesn't have to give all the benefits of marriage to married same-sex couples.

The six islands recognize same-sex marriages because they are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands was the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2001.

The ruling came in the case of a government worker who sought health coverage for her wife.

Antillean Education and Public Health Minister Omayra Leeflang called the decision a win for Antillean autonomy.

New group forms to help Gay refugees
A new organization in San Francisco aims to help GLBT refugees who are fleeing sexual or gender-based violence in their native lands.

"Only through raising consciousness of LGBT refugee issues to governments, refugee organizations, communities and the media, will help come to these individuals, who are among the most persecuted people in the world today," the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration said in a statement.

The group provides free legal counsel for GLBT refugees who have escaped their home countries, and it will conduct "wide-ranging international advocacy to advance the protection of all LGBT refugees and asylum seekers."

"LGBT refugees often fall through the cracks of the international refugee regime," said Executive Director Neil Grungras. "They have escaped systematic hatred and violence at home, and their LGBT identity brings serious new threats to their safety and protection in countries of first asylum. Many live in a toxic mix of destitution and desperation.

"The recent surge in homophobic violence in Iraq has shone a spotlight on the painful truths we're dealing with first-hand in the Middle East. LGBTs are the most persecuted people in many regions of the world today. For every reported execution, there are likely tens of judicially or family-sanctioned murders."

In recent months, several Iraqi Gays have been shot to death by militias and anti-Gay family or tribe members, some have had their anuses glued shut by death squads, and there have been allegations of executions by the government.

Reports in April said Gay men were being captured and their anuses superglued with something called "American gum," after which they were being forced to ingest a diarrhea-causing substance and sometimes died.

Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Division, visited Iraq in April and "collected several accounts" of the practice, which reportedly can be seen in mobile-phone videos that have been passed around inside the country.

"Massive abuses are taking place in Baghdad, and apparently in other cities in the center and south," Long said. "We may never know the full sweep and scope of the killings so far, amid a pervasive insecurity that brutalizes innumerable people and devastates multiple communities, but we are doing everything we can to determine and document accountability."

Saudis arrest 67 cross-dressers
Police arrested 67 mostly Filipino men for wearing women's clothing June 13 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The roundup took place at a private residence during a Philippines Independence Day party.

The men were charged with imitating women and possessing alcohol.

Similar arrests in the past have led to imprisonment and floggings.

"If the police in Saudi Arabia can arrest people simply because they don't like their clothes, no one is safe," said Human Rights Watch researcher Rasha Moumneh. "Arresting and charging people simply because the police decide that their appearance is unacceptable strikes at the heart of human freedom."

Fired Turkish Gay soccer referee fights back
Turkey's soccer federation didn't expect Halil Ibrahim Dincdag to fight back when it fired him for being Gay after 13 years of service as a referee.

But Dincdag, 33, is doing just that in an ongoing media splash - and he's getting support from the public, and the federation now has egg on its face.

The brouhaha is considered an important moment for Turkey's beleaguered Gay movement. An influential newspaper columnist compared Dincdag to Harvey Milk.

"They thought I was an ant that they could crush, they thought I would run away and hide in a corner," Dincdag told London's Independent newspaper.

Dincdag has received support from three-quarters of his fellow referees, 30,000 petition-signers, some members of Parliament, and his religious family.



With assistance from Bill Kelley

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