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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 2, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 48
International News - Scott Wittet
Section One
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International News

by Scott Wittet - Special to the SGN

Gay clergy row threatens mass resignations from Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland anticipates mass resignations resulting from its decision to allow the ordination of Gay ministers. As many as 150 conservative and evangelical ministers are threatening to quit. The rebellion began after the Church of Scotland became the first major Presbyterian Church in the world to allow openly Gay and Lesbian ministers to take up parishes at its general assembly in May, despite evidence that 20% of its elders and office-bearers could leave in protest. The assembly also opened the way for the full ordination of Gay ministers within two years.

At least six ministers have left since the assembly in May, with one minister and his entire congregation poised to leave as a group in the first large-scale protest.

One obstacle to mass departures is that ministers who resign lose their home, income, and future pension payments. Congregations would lose their church and its buildings.

The Rev. Peter Johnston, of the liberal One Kirk group which supports Gay ordination, said he believed some rebels were threatening to leave simply to put pressure on the church, but hoped most critics wanted to keep talking about a harmonious solution.

Queer Pride celebrations in New Delhi, Bangalore
On November 27, hundreds took to the streets for New Delhi's fourth Queer pride parade. Under the watchful eye of the Delhi police, marchers distributed masks, whistles, candies, rainbow-colored scarves, and pamphlets articulating demands.

'This is not a protest march, but a celebratory march,' Rahul Sharma, 25, a member of the Delhi Queer Pride Committee, said. 'This march is to take ownership of the streets of Delhi and to walk on the street like a normal person, without fear of being harassed or made fun of.'

In July 2009, Gay sex was decriminalized in New Delhi, but activists report that the community still faces many obstacles. Being Gay is still illegal under Indian national law.

Sharma said the march was an attempt to influence legislation to end discrimination against the Gay community. Activists also want to end targeting of the community by the police and 'hooligans.'

A two-minute silence was observed at the conclusion of the parade to mourn for the 14 hijra (eunuchs) who lost their lives in an accidental fire in east Delhi last week.

And in the southern 'cyber city' of Bangalore - home to many local and multinational tech companies - 800 to 1,000 software professionals danced and sang their way across town accompanied by activists and corporate groups from other Indian cities.

Indian Transgender leader killed in drive-by shooting
Sonia Masi, the face of the Transgender community in Gujarat, India, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in a car the evening of November 24. Police sources reported that there were four gunshot wounds.

In 2008, an attempt was made on Sonia's life, but she managed to survive. Sonia was Imran Ajmeri before she became a eunuch and changed her name. She rose to prominence five years ago when she ran for local office. She also frequently participated in national-level fashion events.

Police said that Sonia had made a lot of enemies on her way to becoming the face of hijra in Gujarat. She also became a target for various gangs in the city, including gangs of rival eunuchs.

Vancouver man, 79, stabbed 130 times for killer's 'fear of homosexuals'
A man has told a Canadian court his 'fear of homosexuals' led him to murder an elderly man who he claims propositioned him, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Last week, George Phillip Holt was convicted of stabbing 79-year-old Reginald Haynes 130 times.

Holt said: 'I killed the guy by accident.'

The murder occurred in August 2004, when Holt claims Haynes asked him to engage in a sex act for $50.

Holt and Haynes had been living at the Columbia Hotel in Vancouver, but the crime went unsolved for some years.

The defendant testified that he was high on cocaine at the time Haynes asked him to perform oral sex.

He said: 'I started to lose it because I have a fear of homosexuals.'

A jury found him guilty of unpremeditated second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence.

Cameroon: Five-year prison sentence for Gay sex
Last July in the West African country of Cameroon, three men were arrested after police alleged they were performing a sexual act in a car. Last week, the men were sentenced to five years in prison. The sentences are believed to be the toughest prescribed by the country's law.

Gay rights groups in Cameroon have reacted in horror. 'It's a shocking and unacceptable,' said Alice Nkom, president of the Gay advocacy group Adefho. She added: 'It is not worthy of a country that speaks of human rights.'

But Sismondi Barlev Bidjocka, head of an umbrella youth organization that includes more than 400 associations, said that he was 'very pleased' by the ruling, adding that the West was trying to impose its values on Cameroon. 'We are in a war against homosexuals,' he said.

In a statement Amnesty International's Africa Director Erwin van der Borght demanded that:

'The Yaoundé court must overturn this shocking sentence, which punishes these three men solely on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation.

'People accused of such crimes in Cameroon often face abuse and violence from other detainees or prison officers in detention.'

'The two men must be released immediately and the Cameroonian authorities must repeal the country's discriminatory anti-homosexuality laws.'

Homosexuality remains banned in Cameroon and lawmakers have recently attempted to toughen legal sanctions against the LGBT community. Thirty-eight of Africa's 53 countries currently have laws penalizing homosexuality.

Amnesty says at least 10 individuals have been arrested under the country's homophobic laws since March.

In September, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Cameroon President Paul Biya expressing concern over the country's desire to introduce even tougher anti-Gay laws.

High HIV rates in the Bahamas blamed on homophobia
An HIV policy expert in the Bahamas says the island's high infection rate in Gay and Bisexual men is due to stigmatization and discrimination.

Director of the National HIV/AIDS Programme, Dr. Perry Gomez, was responding to comments made by the Baptist bishop Simeon Hall. In a statement, last week, Hall declared that homosexuality is 'anti-family' and also a 'deadly practice.'

He made the comments after the island's Nassau Guardian newspaper reported that Gay and Bisexual men account for 14% of all HIV infections in the country's population.

According to a U.N. study, the figure has nearly doubled since 2008.

In June of this year, the Bahamian Government expressed support for a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution promoting equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation. However, same-sex marriages and civil unions remain illegal on the island.

Mugabe has always been outspokenly critical of Gays
President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has described U.K. plans to divert aid away from governments that fail to recognize citizens' human rights 'satanic,' Zimbabwean state media reports.

Mugabe told a crowd: 'Do not get tempted into that [homosexuality]. You are young people. If you go that direction, we will punish you severely.'

'It is condemned by nature. It is condemned by insects and that is why I have said they are worse than pigs and dogs.'

This week, the U.K. government confirmed plans to redirect aid away from overseas governments that fail to recognize human rights, including Gay rights, but said it will still ensure aid reaches those in need.

Earlier this month, a Ugandan presidential official, John Nagenda, told the BBC his country was 'tired of these lectures' and that the Commonwealth nations should not be treated like 'children.'

In October, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai performed an apparent about-face on previous homophobic views, saying he believes Gay rights are 'human rights.'

Outcry forces Pakistan to hold back on 'obscene' text message blocks
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority is reconsidering plans to block 'obscene' words from text messages, including many Gay-related words.

Following widespread offence and confusion caused by a leaked list of 1,600 words the Authority wanted blocked, a spokesman told AFP that it would be carrying out more consultations with various groups.

They hope to produce a trimmed-down list of words to block.

Words on the current list include 'Gay,' 'Lesbian,' 'homosexual,' 'fairy,' 'condom,' and 'back door.'

Many common swear words were included, but other less obviously offensive phrases included 'Jesus Christ,' 'athlete's foot,' and 'flatulence.'

The PTA had reportedly ordered mobile phone service providers to start blocking the offensive words by November 21. But a spokesman told AFP, 'At the moment we are not blocking or filtering any word. No final decision has been taken in this regard.'

Vietnam stages first Gay drama
A new play, called Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Turquoise, and Violet, is the culmination of hours of talking with a group of Gay men about the challenges they face in society. The work is the result of several months of hard work of G-link, a Gay support group in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the largest city in the country.

The group began thinking about the drama in June.

The play depicts the life challenges of Gay men who are rejected by their families, isolated by friends and colleagues, and forced to maintain two identities to hide from the curious eyes of society. It revolves around the life of a Gay man who is forced to marry a girl to maintain his family line. During his marriage, he strives to maintain a relationship with a boyfriend, resulting in suffering for his family, wife, and boyfriend.

Le Minh Thanh, head and founder of the G-link Group, said he and his friends developed the play with the aim of changing the public's view of Gay men.

The play received funding and technical support from the U.S. State Department's President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program.

G-link has also completed a documentary on the life of a Gay man who has achieved success. It will be broadcast on Vietnamese TV through the end of the month.

Jonathan Ross, public health office director for USAID Vietnam, praised the courage of the man who was willing to appear in the documentary. Discrimination against the LGBT community was in conflict with Vietnamese traditions, which essentially are gracious and show compassion, Ross added.

Transgendered woman seeks Hong Kong court ruling for right to marry
A Transgendered woman will ask Hong Kong's top court to affirm her right to marry her boyfriend.

The lawyer of the 36-year-old said the case would go to the Court of Final Appeal after a lower court refused her.

The plaintiff, identified only as W, had a male-to-female gender reassignment operation in 2008 and has successfully applied to change her name and gender on her identity card and school records.

But city marriage registration officials have since 2008 denied her the right to marry, a stance backed first by the High Court in 2010 and on Friday by the Appeal Court.

Lawyer Michael Vidler told the South China Morning Post that Hong Kong 'stands as an island' among places such as mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore, where Transgendered people can legally marry.

'W looks like a woman and acts like a woman,' he said. 'In all respects, other than the right to marry, she is treated as a woman.'

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