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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 27, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 04
International News - Scott Wittet
Section One
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International News

by Scott Wittet - SGN Contributing Writer

TORTURE KILLING OF ANOTHER TRANS PERSON IN MEXICO
On January 17 the body of a man wearing women's clothes was found by police in a town near Monterrey in Northern Mexico after local residents heard gunshots and explosions.

LGBT Asylum News reports that the body was lying face down and was about 25 years old. It showed signs of torture, of being shot as she was beaten, and her hands were semi-amputated.

The body has not yet been identified but had a tattoo with the name 'Pamela.'

The Trans Murder Monitoring project recorded 23 reports of murders of Trans people in Mexico in 2011.

Last August, in Mexico City, the first national march against anti-Gay hate crimes took place.

Unfortunately, LGBT Mexicans fleeing for U.S. sanctuary are increasingly finding their asylum requests turned down.

KIWI CELEB CIVIL UNION IN COVER STORY
Handsome TV weatherman Tamati Coffey and his partner Tim Smith shared a detailed account of their recent civil union in a women's magazine cover story.

The New Zealand Woman's Weekly report was a colorful multi-page spread describing how the striking couple joined hands in a flamboyant ceremony featuring a wedding party of showgirls, performances by drag queens Buckwheat and Tess Tickle, and the pair's pet dogs in feather boas.

The couple danced down a pink carpet to 'We Are Family' while on their mothers' arms.

The 40-minute ceremony featured moving speeches from several of Coffey and Smith's Gay and Lesbian coupled friends, who spoke about what love means to them. The event also included a band playing The Beatles' 'All You Need Is Love' and two 'Tower of Balls' wedding cakes.

Coffey said he knows there will be some who disagree with his decision to legalize his relationship with his same-sex partner, but pointed out that the Gay community disagrees just as strongly with the fact that same-sex couples can't get married in New Zealand.

'At the moment we have this second-class citizen thing called a 'civil union' ... as much as I wanted to wait for us to be able to marry as the rest of society do, I'll take the current option, as life's too short.'

NZWW deputy editor Catherine Milford explained, 'In our mind there was never any doubt this would be our cover story. Tamati Coffey is a hugely popular TV celebrity, and he is well-known among our readers,' she says.

'While we were aware that not all our readers would see this in the same light, it's our responsibility as a national magazine not to show discrimination of any sort.'

Milford says there has been quite a lot of feedback.

'Our demographic is women 35+, and we have a high level of readership in rural areas. We did expect a degree of pushback, and yesterday we lost two subscribers who cited us featuring Tamati and Tim's wedding as the reason they were cancelling their subscriptions,' she says.

'However, the positive feedback has far outweighed the negative, which I see as an excellent step forward for both the magazine and for New Zealand.

'The magazine celebrates our 80th anniversary this year - it seems only fitting that we are still breaking boundaries and bringing to the fore stories that make a difference to our readers.'

HONDURAS COULD BE TEST OF NEW AMERICAN POLICY ON GAY RIGHTS
From U.N. chambers to the halls of the State Department, global pressure on countries to protect the rights of homosexuals and Transgender people is increasing.

Tim Johnson of Washington's Tri-City Herald reports that for Josue Hernandez, the new emphasis can't come fast enough.

The 33-year-old Gay activist from Honduras bears the scar of the bullet that grazed his skull in an attack a few years ago. He's moved the office of his advocacy group four times. Still, he feels hunted in what is arguably the most homophobic nation in the Americas.

'We are in a deplorable state,' Hernandez said of homosexuals in Honduras. 'When we walk the streets, people shout insults at us and throw rocks. Parents move their children away.'

Joining a push that originated in Europe, the Obama administration said in December that respect for LGBT rights is now a factor in its foreign policy decisions.

But even as that view grows more prevalent, it has yet to translate into better security, less hostility, or fewer killings in places like Honduras, a nation of 8 million people in Central America.

Since the beginning of 2010, Honduras has tallied at least 62 homicides within the LGBT community, and some experts say the count may be far higher. Some victims have been mutilated or burned.

Experts point to conservative religious sentiment, machismo, rampant impunity, and social pressure on police to 'cleanse' undesirables for the violence against people who defy sexual and gender norms.

'The connotation of being Gay, Lesbian, or Trans here is that we are worthless. We have no rights. We should be killed,' said Ramon Antonio Valladares, leader of the nonprofit Sanpedrana Gay Community.

For Gays, the battle can be both public and private. Some relatives shun them when they reveal their sexual orientation, forcing them onto the streets. Many, struggling to survive, turn to prostitution to earn a living.

Despite public antipathy, dozens of Gay activists gather in front of the federal prosecutor's office in Tegucigalpa on the 13th of every month, the anniversary of the 2009 slaying of Walter Trochez, a prominent activist killed in a drive-by shooting.

Hostility toward LGBTs spilled into mainstream media in October.

When promoters announced a benefit concert by pop singer Ricky Martin, who is openly Gay, evangelical and Catholic leaders demanded that he be detained at the border to 'protect the moral and ethical principles of our society.' President Porfirio Lobo ordered immigration to let him in, saying that anything else would be 'a highly reprehensible act of intolerance.' Still, youngsters under 15 were banned from the concert because of alleged 'erotic content.'

Under pressure from Washington, in November Honduran authorities ordered police to set up a unit to investigate crimes against LGBTs. That unit and a partner squad of a prosecutor, three detectives, and two analysts are supported through U.S. funds. But there have been fewer than five arrests in LGBT slayings so far.

RECORD CROWDS AT MELBOURNE QUEER FEST
An estimated120,000 people participated in the Midsumma Carnival, the opening event of Melbourne, Australia's, annual Queer arts and cultural festival, setting an attendance record.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) reports that Parliamentarian Clem Newton-Brown and Tourism Minister and acting Minister for the Arts Louise Asher were among the officials who gave welcome speeches at Carnival. 'It's a very, very good event for Melbourne obviously,' Asher told The Age newspaper. 'I'm delighted to be here to add government support to a major event on the Melbourne calendar.'

Speaking on behalf of the City of Melbourne, Councilor Jennifer Kanis addressed the crowd, holding her 4-month-old baby. 'I hope this little one remembers his first Midsumma for the rest of his life,' she said, praising the festival for representing 'all that is fantastic about Queer culture.'

Two stages at the Carnival showcased everything from drag and burlesque performers to the ever-popular Dulcie's Dog Show, with prizes including cutest bitch, sexiest 'boy' dog, best owner and dog combo, and biggest tail.

First time Carnival attendee Jonathan Doherty hoped his Jack Russell, Bulley, would win cutest dog. So did Bulley undergo any extra grooming in preparation? 'Oh, god no, I took enough time getting myself ready,' said Doherty. 'It's great that I can wear my makeup here and feel totally normal and accepted,' he said.

Midsumma 2012 runs until February 5.

TRANS WOMAN KILLED BY CUBAN POLICE
Florida-based news website Cubanet is reporting that a young Transgender woman, 18-year-old Leidel Luis, known as Jessica, died after a brutal beating in a prison in southern Cuba.

It is alleged that she was picked up at a traffic stop January 4th by police who called her a 'faggot, nigger, and disgusting.'

According to another prison inmate, her body was removed to an unknown location after she was found dead in her cell in the middle of the night.

As reported in SGN last week, Cuba's Communist Party Congress, which opens 28 January, plans to adopt pro-Gay provisions. Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, niece of Fidel Castro, and the leading advocate for LGBT rights in Cuba, wrote on her blog that the revision of the Family Code in 2013 will include recognition of same-sex couples.

However, continuing police harassment in Cuba, including arrests, has been reported on a number Gay Cuban blogs. Blogger Francisco Rodríguez Cruz has condemned 'irregularities' committed by Cuban police, who, he says, have repeatedly fined visitors to a Gay meeting spot in central Havana. And last September another Transgender man died in custody in Havana.

FINNISH COURT HALTS DEPORTATION OF GAY IRANIAN
Finnish public radio network YLE reports that the Supreme Administrative Court reversed a Finnish Immigration Service decision to deport an Iranian asylum seeker who would face persecution in Iran for being Gay.

The court felt that the case should be examined more closely, and insisted that the Immigration Service carefully determine whether Iranians have a legitimate reason to fear persecution in their homeland because of sexual orientation.

YLE recently reported that Finland has deported asylum seekers to countries where they can face severe penalties for their homosexuality.

In Iran, homosexuality is punishable with imprisonment or execution.

TRANS PEOPLE 'HUNTED FOR FUN' IN KUWAIT
According to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report entitled 'They Hunt Us Down for Fun,' Kuwaiti police have tortured and sexually abused Transgender women using a discriminatory law, passed in 2007, which criminalizes 'imitating the opposite sex.'

The 63-page report documents the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and persecution that Transgender women face in the Middle Eastern country. HRW urged that the government of Kuwait should repeal the law and hold police officers accountable for misconduct.

Based on interviews with 40 Transgender women, as well as with Ministry of Interior officials, lawyers, doctors, and members of Kuwaiti civil society, the report found that the ill-defined provisions of the law allow for numerous abuses.

Police have free rein to determine whether a person's appearance constitutes 'imitating the opposite sex' without any specific criteria. Transgender women reported being arrested even when they were wearing male clothes and later being forced by police to dress in women's clothing. The authorities then claim that they arrested them in that attire.

The women reported suffering multiple forms of abuse by police while in detention, including being forced to strip and being paraded around the police station, being forced to dance for officers, sexual humiliation, verbal taunts and intimidation, solitary confinement, and emotional and physical abuse that could amount to torture. Redress for these violations is difficult, as few of them reported the misconduct due to fear of retribution and re-arrest.

In several cases Human Rights Watch found that police officers took advantage of the law to blackmail Transgender women into sex. The women said that before the new law, while sexual advances by the police were commonplace, they could decline such advances, whereas now police had leeway to imprison them if they refused.

Nadim Houry, deputy director for the HRW Middle East and North Africa, explained that '[The law] is like giving a green light to authorities, not only to police but even members of society, to arrest and torture Transgender persons and use force with impunity.'

One of the testimonies in the report is the case of Rima, 27, who admitted to virtually being a sex slave during her college days.

'In October 2009, I passed a checkpoint right outside my university gate. I got scared and turned back, but the policeman got suspicious. I stayed on campus for five hours until I was sure that the checkpoint [had] moved. The next day I saw the same police officer. When I was walking towards my car, he stopped me and asked for my ID. I gave it to him, and immediately the sexual harassment started. He forced me to take off my top so he could see my breast, right in the middle of the parking lot. When I told him he had no right to treat me that way, he said 'either you take my number and meet me for sex or I will take you to prison.'

To avoid arrest and torture, Rima accepted the offer from the police officer and was enslaved for the rest of college, the testimony says.

Despite an official recognition of gender identity disorder (GID) by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health as a legitimate medical condition, the law makes no exception for people who have been diagnosed with GID.

U.K. MEN CONVICTED OVER GAY HATE LEAFLETS
Three Muslim men from Derby have become the first people in Britain to be convicted of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexuality after they distributed leaflets calling for Gay people to be killed, reports The Guardian newspaper.

In a landmark case, a jury ruled that Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed, and Razwan Javed had breached hate crime laws by handing out the leaflets outside their mosque prior to a Gay pride parade in July 2010. Two other men, Mehboob Hussain and Umar Javed, were found not guilty of the same charge.

Sentences will be handed down in February.

One leaflet, entitled 'The Death Penalty?' stated that 'The death sentence is the only way this immoral crime can be erased from corrupting society and act as a deterrent for any other ill person who is remotely inclined in this bent way.'

A Gay man who received the leaflet in his mailbox felt he was the victim of a hate campaign and said: 'They made me feel terrorized in my own home. Sometimes I wondered whether I would be getting a burning rag through the letterbox or if I would be attacked in the street.'

Following the verdicts, Sue Hemming, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service's special crime and counter-terrorism division, said: 'This case was not about curtailing people's religious views or preventing them from educating others about those views - it was that any such views should be expressed in a lawful manner and not incite others to hatred.'

The CPS said it had had to establish not only that the leaflets were insulting and abusive, but also that they were threatening and had been distributed with intent to stir up hatred.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, noted: 'People from all communities will feel safer knowing that the law now makes it harder to stir up hatred and violence against Gay people.'

FROM HOMOPHOBIA TO A MOVING APOLOGY IN TURKEY
Turkish attitudes toward Gay and Transgender people are slowly improving - in the media at least, according to The Guardian. A new indie movie, Zenne Dancer, finally hit the screens in Turkey after winning five major awards at the country's foremost film festival. The movie trailer is on YouTube.

In daily parlance, the word zenne refers to a man who dresses up like a woman and dances in front of an audience, a custom that goes back to the early Ottoman empire. The film is inspired by the true story of Ahmet Yildiz, a 26-year-old student who was the victim of a 2008 'honor killing' by his own father for being openly Gay.

The murder and subsequent media coverage played an important role in increasing awareness about the hardships Transgender and Gay communities endure in Turkey's patriarchal society.

Just a few days before the release of the film the Turkish High Court of Appeals ordered a daily newspaper to pay compensation for calling Gays 'sexual perverts.' It was a major step in a country where a study conducted in July 2011 as part of the World Values Survey, revealed that, when asked what kind of people they would not want to see living in their neighborhood, 84% answered 'homosexuals.' The list of unwanted neighbors continued with AIDS patients, unmarried couples, and atheists.

Mehmet Binay, producer and co-director of Zenne Dancer, says all kinds of minorities, including Gay and Lesbian people, are asking to be recognized and demanding their rights.

But values change slowly.

Transsexual Bulent Ersoy, one of the country's most famous and popular singers, claimed she had once met Deniz Gezmis - an iconic leader of the 1968 leftist movement - and sang for him. Afterwards he had bought her a gazoz, a soft, bubbly drink.

Lawyer and ex-revolutionary Bozkurt Nuhoglu responded to the story with an angry press statement. 'Gezmis would have never befriended this Transsexual singer,' he claimed, 'since he was against such people of lower morals.' Nuhoglu added that if she kept talking that way the comrades of Gezmis would punish her.

Turkish media covered the story with a critical eye. Numerous articles were published denouncing the sexism and homophobia of Nuhoglu's statement.

What happened next testifies to Turkey's complexity. Nuhoglu sent an unexpected letter of apology to Pink Life, an organization struggling for the rights of the transgender community. It was a moving letter, very well thought-out and well written.

'One of my favorite films has been The Kiss of the Spider Woman,' Nuhoglu said in the letter. He apologized for behaving exactly the way Valentin - an initially homophobic character played by Raul Julia - had done in the first half of the movie. He asked for pardon from the Transsexual singer and all those he had hurt unwillingly.

EDINBURGH MAYOR CALLED ON TO PROTEST ST. PETERSBURG ANTI-GAY LAW
A coalition of groups has called on the lord provost (mayor) of Edinburgh, Scotland, to ask officials in St. Petersburg, Russia, to throw out their new 'homosexual propaganda' law. Edinburgh is a sister city of St. Petersburg. If enacted, the St. Petersburg law would allow the authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of about $1600 for 'public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, Lesbianism, Bisexuality, and Transgenderism among minors.' Commentators say it would rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of Gays and LGBT organizations.

Tom French, policy coordinator for the U.K. Equality Network, said: 'The twinning of St. Petersburg and Edinburgh provides the lord provost with a legitimate platform from which to raise grave concerns about the treatment of the LGBTI community and to call on the governor of St. Petersburg to oppose the legislation.

Failure to do so would be tantamount to condoning this draconian and extremely harmful legislation.'

LOST IN PARADISE: NEW GAY FILM FROM VIETNAM
Recently SGN reported that a Gay-friendly play was being produced in Ho Chi Minh City, and now there's a new Vietnamese movie portraying Gay love explicitly and in a positive light. It recently won an award at a Thai film festival and will be screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

In director Ngoc Dang Vu's Lost in Paradise, Khoi, a naive 20-year-old, travels to the big city to begin a new life. As he's looking for a place to live he befriends Dong, a handsome extrovert who offers to share his apartment (Dong is a common Vietnamese name). When Khoi goes to check the place out, he meets Lam, who also lives there. Khoi decides to stay, but while he showers, Dong and Lam - who turn out to be boyfriends - run off with his cash and belongings. It's not long before Lam is himself abandoned by Dong, and winds up back on the street as a hustler.

Meanwhile the penniless and disillusioned Khoi takes on menial jobs to survive. Lam and Khoi are eventually reunited, and despite Lam's past actions, the two become closer and closer - even though Khoi becomes more and more troubled by Lam's dangerous source of income.

At the same time, Cuoi, a mentally handicapped man abandoned by his family, attempts to befriend a female sex worker. Her pimps do not take kindly to his hanging around - they say he is scaring away customers - but she takes pity on him and ultimately becomes his protector.

Lost in Paradise exposes the hardships of people living on the fringes of Vietnamese society: dangers and abuse in the world of prostitution; Gay-bashing; the difficulty of sustaining a meaningful relationship under harsh circumstances; and the pariah-like status of people with disabilities.

BLACKMAIL ALLEGED AT GAY TEEN MURDER TRIAL
The jury at the Scottish trial of Craig Roy, accused of killing Gay teenager Jack Frew in 2010, was told that the Gay defendant was being blackmailed by the schoolboy and that the two had slept together, reports PinkNews.

In a police statement, Roy's sister Robyn said her brother admitted to her he had 'slit Jack's throat.'

'I asked him why he done it and he said, 'He's being blackmailing me. It was only meant to be a threat.'

'He said Jack had been pestering and annoying him for over a year. He said he had slept with Jack once and that Jack kept asking for sex ever since and was blackmailing him.'

A friend of Frew's, Calum Chisholm, told the court that he and Jack were in contact by SMS just before the alleged incident took place.

Chisholm testified that the message said, 'Ha, ha! Well Craig Roy wants to meet me later. Threesome?' It was later followed by another one: 'Meeting behind the church now if you want to join.'

The mother of the defendant said her son was acting normally that afternoon. But later, Christopher Hannah, Roy's boyfriend, called her saying that Roy had hurt someone.

Hannah was the first person to arrive at the scene, after being called by Roy. It was Hannah who called emergency services.

The court was played the emergency call, where Hannah is heard sobbing and referring to Frew: 'Someone's murdered him. His throat's slit.'

When asked if he knew who slit Frew's throat, he said: 'My boyfriend did it.'

The case continues.

AUSTRALIAN RADIO HOST 'DISLIKES LESBIAN NAME'
An Australian radio host has reportedly gotten tired of her middle name, Ellen, because it 'sounds a bit Lez.'

Jackie O, 37, whose full name is Jacqueline Ellen Marie Henderson, presents the most popular breakfast radio show in Australia.

Gay and Lesbian rights groups say it was a clear reference to U.S. comedian and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres.

Senthorun Raj of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said, 'Comments that describe a person's sexual orientation in a derisory way send a harmful, broader message that that sort of ridicule is acceptable. That is something we actively try and speak up against.'

A representative of the radio station's owners told Australia's Daily Telegraph yesterday that Jackie O would not be making any further comment about the incident.

The presenter was the subject of controversy in 2009 after a 14-year-old girl's participation in a lie detector stunt went badly wrong.

In a live segment, the girl was questioned on her experience with sex and drugs by her mother, along with Jackie O and co-host Kyle Sandilands.

After initially protesting that she was scared to participate, the girl agreed to answer some questions.

Her mother asked, 'Have you ever had sex?'

The girl revealed she had been raped at the age of 12 and the mother had been aware of it.

After a long pause, Sandilands then asked, 'Right. And is that the only experience you've had?'

Jackie O apologized repeatedly to the girl, saying they had not been aware of the incident, and immediately offered her counseling, terminating the segment.

AMSTERDAM'S CHIEF RABBI SUSPENDED OVER GAY CURE DECLARATION
According to PinkNews, Aryeh Ralbag, the chief rabbi of Amsterdam's Jewish community, has been suspended from his position after he signed a document alleging homosexuality could be 'modified and healed.'

Ralbag is reported to have signed the Torah Declaration, a document written by 25 Jews who claim to have overcome same-sex attraction and now campaign that 'change is possible,' the Jerusalem Post reports. He was among 180 rabbis and medical health professionals who signed the declaration.

The Orthodox rabbi, who is based in the U.S. but has been head of the Dutch city's Jewish community for six years, reportedly endorsed the 'Declaration on the Torah Approach to Homosexuality.'

The document claims: 'The media is rife with negative labels implying that one is 'hateful' or 'homophobic' if they do not accept the homosexual lifestyle as legitimate.

'This political coercion has silenced many into acquiescence. Unfortunately this attitude has seeped into the Torah community and many have become confused or have accepted the media's portrayal of this issue.'

It says the idea that God created 'a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable.'

It continues: 'We must create an atmosphere where a teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion. Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.

'The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support, and encouragement in their striving towards healing.'

In a statement, a Dutch synagogue board said: 'Rabbi Ralbag's signature may give the impression that the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view.

'That is absolutely untrue. Homosexuals are welcome in the Amsterdam Jewish community.'

GERMAN SOCCER HEAD URGES GAY PLAYERS TO COME OUT
Germany does not have any out Gay professional footballers and the head of the German Football Association has again urged Gay players to come out.

As reported by PinkNews, Theo Zwanziger spoke during a public forum which focused on sexuality in professional sports.

Zwanziger said that the situation is now the best ever for Gay footballers and that they should have the 'courage to declare themselves.'

The statement comes just days after a German soccer captain, Philipp Lahm, told press 'society cannot accept Gay footballers.'

Lahm went on to say, 'Sure, politicians can now come out as homosexuals. But they don't have to play in front of 60,000 spectators week after week.'

Zwanziger is not the only German football figure encouraging players to come out. In 2011, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer told a newspaper that professional footballers should not fear coming out.

He said, 'Those who are homosexual should say so. That would take a load off their minds. And the fans would get over it quickly.

'What is important to them is the performances of the player, not his sexual preferences.'

There are currently only two openly Gay professional footballers in the world, Anton Hysen and David Testo, neither of whom is German.

ISRAELI TRANS MAN GIVES BIRTH
A Transgender man in Israel has reportedly become the first in the nation's history to give birth.

Yuval Topper, 24, had his child at the Sheba Medical Center last week.

Topper underwent a sex change operation three years ago, Ynet news reported.

Topper told the paper, 'We preferred to go to Hadassah Mount Scopus, a hospital where we received excellent treatment in the past, but we were forced to head to Sheba instead as result of the birth's quick progress.

'The staff at the hospital treated us with dignity and consideration.'

Topper shocked medical staff in central Israel a few months ago after walking into an emergency room and informing doctors that he underwent a sex change operation and is pregnant.

A patient at the hospital reportedly said: 'Everyone was in shock. He looked like a man in every way and insisted that medical staff address him as a male.'

In 2010, American trans man Thomas Beatie gave birth to his third child.

Beatie, who was born female, had his first child in 2008 because his wife Nancy was unable to conceive.

Before starting a family, Beatie had been on hormone treatments, but stopped taking them in order to resume menstruating and conceive through artificial insemination.

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey in April 2008, he said, 'I actually opted not to do anything to my reproductive organs because I wanted to have a child one day. I see pregnancy as a process and it doesn't define who I am.'

SWEDEN RETAINS STERILIZATION AND DIVORCE RULE FOR TRANS RECOGNITION
PinkNews reports that the Swedish government has announced that it will not modernize a law from the 1970s which makes sterilization compulsory for Transgender people before the state will recognize their gender identity.

Many have argued that the current law breaks the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights which protects 'the right to respect for [everyone's] physical and mental integrity.'

The majority of the Swedish Parliament are reportedly in favor of making the change, but the process has been blocked by a small, conservative party.

Raül Romeva i Rueda, a European Parliament member from Spain, said, 'The government's decision is rather surprising: forcibly sterilizing Transgender people is recognized as inhumane across the political spectrum. It's barbaric, outdated and highly unnecessary - not to mention against Sweden's human rights commitments.'

In addition to mandatory sterilization, the 1972 law makes divorce compulsory for Trans people.

Jane Fae, feminist writer and campaigner on issues of sexual rights, commented, 'It is to be hoped that the Swedish prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, currently in thrall to a small, reactionary, right-wing party, will pluck up the courage to resist their pressure and allow reform through his parliament.

'However, we should not overlook the fact that despite Human Rights declarations to the contrary, in Europe and elsewhere, the requirement for surgery that effectively sterilizes an individual before they can be recognized in their identified gender, is pretty widespread throughout much of Europe and the United States. Or worse, as in states like Tennessee, gender assertion is not recognized at all, no matter what an individual does.'

France has been at the centre of controversy surrounding this issue, specifically in the case of Delphine Ravisé-Giard, who, despite living as a woman for some years, was told in 2010 that she had to prove that her 'change of sex' was 'irreversible' before the state would recognize her gender.

Some European countries have already put an end to sterilization as a prerequisite for recognition, including the U.K., Austria, Germany, and Portugal. Others are soon to follow.

RAINBOW FLAGS FLY IN PROTEST AT AUSTRALIAN OPEN
A Facebook group called for fans to fly rainbow flags during the Australian Open tennis tournament to protest in a 'peaceful, non-disruptive' way against anti-Gay comments made by former world champion Margaret Court, according to PinkNews.

Court, 69, started a public argument with other tennis greats by saying Gays were 'aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take.'

Later she insisted her comments had been taken the wrong way if people concluded she took issue with Gay people rather than the 'choice' of homosexuality.

She said: 'I think there's young people today that need to know it's a choice in life. And that was my side of it, bringing that forth. I've got nothing against the people themselves, I've always said that all the years I've been a minister.'

Court is now a minister and has an arena named in her honor at the annual tournament.

Protest coordinator, the Gay journalist Doug Pollard, said, 'We are not asking for a lot of noise. We just want to say that we don't agree with all the lies Margaret Court has been peddling.'

In advance of the tournament, Doug Pollard tweeted: 'Margaret Court says Lesbians 'ruined' tennis: yeah, like Gay men 'ruined' musical theatre!'

Tennis fans commenting on the Facebook page celebrated the appearance of rainbow clothing, umbrellas, and other items. Martina Navratilova reportedly wore a rainbow ribbon on her sleeve as she played a 'fantastic match.' Some claim that the Australian media and Tennis Australia have been ignoring, or downplaying, the protest.

ANWAR NOW UNDER FIRE FOR PUSHING REVIEW OF MALAYSIA ANTI-GAY LAWS
Days after being acquitted of a sodomy charge, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim continued to come under fire from his detractors, this time for appearing to support Gay rights, as reported by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

Pro-government newspapers slammed Anwar on Sunday for suggesting that Malaysia's strict laws on sodomy and oral sex should be reviewed. This in turn drew criticism from opposition politicians, who accused the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition of trying to discredit Anwar. Anwar's acquittal allows him to take part in the next general election, expected to be held soon.

Sodomy and oral sex - whether between same-sex partners or otherwise - are prohibited and punishable with up to 20 years' jail and caning. Malaysian Muslims can also be punished under Islamic laws.

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