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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
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International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Indian health minister: Gay sex is 'totally unnatural'
Gay sex is 'totally unnatural,' Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said July 4.

Speaking in the Hindi language at a national HIV/AIDS conference, Azad said: 'Unfortunately, in the world and in our country also, this disease has come where men have sex with each other, which is totally unnatural and which should not happen, yet it does. In our country, the numbers of men having sex with men are substantial.'

Azad later said he had been quoted out of context.

'I did not use the word 'homosexuality' and I didn't use the word 'Gay,' he said in English. 'I was referring & [to] HIV, which is a disease.'

LGBT and HIV groups denounced the incident and cast aspersions on the clarification. Some called for an apology and others demanded that Azad resign.

'These outrageous remarks linking consensual sexual activity to a disease simply encourage discrimination against men who have sex with men,' said Emily Gray, Amnesty International's researcher on sexual orientation and gender identity. 'The health minister must retract his comments, and the Indian government must reaffirm its commitment to protect the rights of all of its citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or consensual sexual behavior.'

Calcutta's Telegraph newspaper harshly criticized Azad in an editorial.

'Although, as a citizen of a liberal democracy, Mr. Azad is entitled to his personal views, backward and ignorant as they may be, he has no right to air them on a public platform as the health minister of the nation,' the paper said. 'Mr. Azad has not only seriously undermined the fight against HIV/AIDS in India but has also tainted the image of an aspiring superpower on the international stage.'

Gays arrested at Russian Embassy in Paris
Five Gay people were arrested outside Russia's embassy in Paris on July 8.

They were attempting to present a petition from AllOut.org, signed by some 14,000 people, opposing Moscow's years-long ban on Gay pride and Russia's flouting of a European Court of Human Rights ruling that the bans violate European law.

Arrested were ACT UP/Paris' Audrey Grelombe and Eric Marty, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) President Louis-Georges Tin, Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alekseev and American photographer Charles Meacham.

They reportedly were detained for not having permission to gather. Early reports suggested Alekseev might face an additional charge for some kind of alleged altercation with a police officer.

Alekseev was held in custody much longer than the other detainees. Upon his release, he Facebooked: 'Spent 10.5 hours under arrest in Paris police station. It is my first arrest outside of Russia. Hello to [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy and [Paris Mayor Bertrand] Delanoë! It is the first time I am being put in handcuffs (did not even happen in Russia). My fingerprints were taken 3 (!!!) times... I was violently attacked by the furious police officer who even wanted to open criminal case against me! There is a saying: 'To see Paris and to die.' Today I can rephrase it this way: 'I saw Paris and don't want to die. Paris died for me.' Forever!'

Later in the evening, some 45 people protested at the embassy against the earlier incident. Reports said 150 anti-riot police and 25 police vans showed up for the second demonstration.

LGBTs picket Russian Embassy in London
LGBT people picketed the Russian Embassy in London on July 1, urging that Russia's voting rights at the Council of Europe be suspended.

Despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling this year that Moscow's yearly bans of Gay pride violate the European Convention on Human Rights, authorities there prohibited the march again in May.

When a small group of people attempted to defy the ban, 18 of them were aggressively arrested, much the same as in previous years, when the activists also were beaten by anti-Gay hooligans and assaulted by religious counterprotesters.

'Prohibiting Moscow Gay Pride and arresting the participants is illegal under Russia's constitution, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly,' said noted British activist Peter Tatchell, who joined the London demonstration. 'It defies a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the event should be allowed to proceed. Some of us are now pressing the Council of Europe to suspend Russia's right to vote in the Council's parliamentary assembly. Russia must not be permitted to defy the European Court with impunity.'

Spanish same-sex marriage statistics reported
More than 18,000 same-sex couples got married in Spain between 2005, when it became possible, and the end of 2010, according to newly released government statistics.

The figures show 18,634 same-sex marriages have been registered.

However, the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals, and Bisexuals (FELGTB) believes that not all the marriages have been recorded, and that the actual number is 23,000.

In 2010, 2.1 percent of marriages were between people of the same sex, according to the official statistics. There were 2,216 male marriages and 1,367 between women.

FELGTB said that ongoing rhetoric from the Partido Popular (People's Party) about repealing the same-sex marriage law has led to an increase in marriages by same-sex couples 'because of fear of not being able to exercise their right to matrimony if the PP wins the elections.'

Same-sex marriage campaign launches in Uruguay
Uruguay's Colectivo Ovejas Negras (Black Sheep Collective) has launched a TV-ad campaign featuring 34 Uruguayan celebrities saying they support legalization of same-sex marriage.

A marriage-equality bill was introduced in Parliament three months ago.

'The bill - written by Uruguay's first transgendered lawyer - will soon be discussed by Parliament, and we're optimistic,' said the collective's Álvaro Queiruga.

The ads are online at youtube.com/ovejasweb.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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