By Scott Wittet -
SGN Contributing Writer
BERLIN ACTIVISTS MOCK RUSSIAN ANTI-GAY LAWS
Gay activists created a fake Berlin Wall checkpoint in the city during the annual Christopher Street Day Gay Pride march, to protest 'homosexual propaganda' laws in Russia.
Around 750,000 people attended the June 23 event, reports Gay Star News. The parade was led by a two-story-high float sponsored by Lufthansa Airlines, featuring hunky air stewards with their uniforms painstakingly painted onto their toned bodies.
Berlin has been in the forefront of protests against Russian legislation that bans the 'promotion' of homosexuality. Activists fear the laws will silence any debate on Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans issues in Russia.
Near the Russian embassy in Berlin, a Checkpoint Charlie-style sign was erected, warning Pride-goers that they were 'entering the Russian sector' where 'homo propaganda' and 'free speech' were banned.
Activists fired rainbow tickertape and silver glitter over the marchers as they passed the sign.
The parade floats were packed with revelers dancing and celebrating, enjoying the sunshine.
But as the parade passed the Jewish and Gay holocaust memorials, the sound systems were shut off and the partygoers fell silent in respect and remembrance.
The party continued late into the night at the Brandenburg Gate and at clubs across the city.
ACTIVISTS DENOUNCE LEBANON'S FORCED 'MEDICAL EXAMS'
Lebanese human rights activists are objecting to so-called 'medical' examinations that some doctors there say can determine sexual orientation.
Men suspected of being Gay are taken by police to a doctor, who has them undress and submit to a rectal exam.
The doctor checks for traces of semen and takes a picture of the anus to study its shape.
While it still is illegal to be Gay in Lebanon, the Middle Eastern country has been considered more tolerant than its neighbors.
French newspaper Le Monde reported that lawyer and activist Nizar Saghieh is leading the opposition to what he described as 'examinations of shame.'
Saghieh said that in one recent case, three men were arrested near the home of a Lebanese political leader. Police determined they were not spies, criminals, or activists, but as one of the men was considered effeminate, they all were taken to a police station where they were forced to submit to anal exams to determine whether they were Gay.
Saghieh said, 'These young men hadn't done anything wrong, which shows how absurd this method is.'
He added that the goal of the examinations was not only to humiliate, but also to intimidate.
Lebanese artist and activist Alexandre Paulikevitch said, 'There's something perverse, some sort of sick pleasure, in submitting alleged homosexuals to such examinations.'
Human Rights Watch, which has denounced similar abuses in Egypt after mass arrests at a Gay club in 2001, described the exams as akin to 'acts of torture.'
MALAYSIA TACKLING ITS HOMOSEXUAL 'PROBLEM'
Gay Star News reports that Dr. Mashitah Ibrahim, a deputy minister of Malaysia, recently told officials that the government is mounting a number of initiatives to 'stop the spread of homosexuality,' including 'prevention efforts' and legal enforcement. She also asserted that the national constitution does not protect the rights of LGBT citizens.
'A series of rehabilitation and treatment courses will be given to Muslims who have deviated from societal norms,' said Ibrahim. These, she said, will include a touring show that aims to educate teenagers about social ills caused by 'homosexual lifestyles,' such as HIV/AIDS, as well as a program for 'repented Transsexuals.'
There are no legal and religious provisions in Malaysia that allow homosexuality, free sex, or same-sex marriage, she said, adding that being LGBT is against Islam.
When asked about the legality of targeting LGBTs, Ibrahim replied that the Gay community is not protected by the constitution.
'Article 8 of the federal constitution says there must be no discrimination of citizens in terms of religion or sex. 'Sex' has never been interpreted to mean sexual orientation - it has always been interpreted to mean either male or female, and they are [the only ones] protected by the constitution,' said Ibrahim.
Also in Malaysia, Deputy Education Minister Mohd Zarkashi recently told parents to look out for the 'signs' of LGBT tendencies in youth. He said parents must 'prevent youngsters from experimenting and making a choice of this unnatural practice as a lifestyle later on.'
A Malaysia Lesbian, who gave her name as Suzie, said she is fed up with the ongoing government-sponsored campaign against the LGBT community.
'How long are Malaysian politicians and government officials going to take before they understand that we are not choosing to be Gay?' she asked, adding that the 'crackdown' on LGBT youth is 'going to cause more damage to young people than they realize.'
NEW DOCUMENTARY ON TRANS MEN IN INDIA
Sangama, an NGO that fights for the rights of sexual minorities in India, last week released a documentary on Indian Trans men, who are known as hijras.
The 74-minute film, Chittegalu Haaradali (Let the Butterflies Fly), premiered in Bangalore.
It had already won the award for best feature-length documentary at the Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, where it competed against 120 other films from 30 countries.
Kerala High Court Chief Justice Manjula Chellur was a special guest at the launch event. She commented on the importance of accepting sexual minorities in society and urged people to think about the difficulties that hijras face before pointing fingers at them.
The film candidly illustrates the personal struggles that hijras go through in their daily lives, depicting the true story of a hijra named Shilpa, who was forced to undergo castration.
SECOND KIEV PRIDE ORGANIZER ATTACKED
The committee chairman of Kiev Pride 2012 was beaten up last week in Kiev, Ukraine.
Taras Karasiychuk was assaulted by a group of men around midnight while returning to his home, according to Gay Star News. They used homophobic slurs during the attack and did not steal anything from Karasiychuk, leading Pride organizers to believe the attack was pre-planned.
'There is no question that this was a homophobic attack, and possibly a specifically targeted attack on a Kiev Pride organizer,' Kiev Pride organizer Stanislav Mishchenko said.
Following the attack, Karasiychuk was taken to hospital where an MRI revealed a double fracture of the jaw.
Karasiychuk is due to undergo surgery soon and has been moved to a safe location while he recovers.
The attack came a month after authorities cancelled the planned Kiev Pride march, just 20 minutes before it was scheduled to start. The reason they gave was that a group of 500 right-wing thugs were en route to disrupt the event.
After marchers had been evacuated from the area by police, Svyatoslav Sheremet and two other activists were beaten and tear-gassed by a group of about a dozen young people.
The day before, an LGBT-themed photo exhibition was attacked and vandalized at Kiev's Visual Culture Research Center.
The attack on Karasiychuk comes as the Ukrainian Parliament considers a bill which would amend the country's public morality laws, media laws, and criminal code to further stigmatize Gay people and criminalize the so-called 'promotion' of homosexuality, as has already happened in several cities in Russia.
RIGHT-WING ISRAELI POLITICIANS SLAMMED FOR ANTI-LGBT RANTS
Anastasia Michaeli, a conservative member of the Israeli Knesset, spoke out again on June 20th against the country's LGBT community.
'Young girls get pregnant, get abortions, which hurt their chances of having children, and in the end they become Lesbians,' Michaeli said.
Her remarks came a week after she apologized 'if anyone was hurt' by an earlier statement that Gays were sexually abused as kids, commit suicide at 40, and are 'turning Israel into Sodom.'
Days later, another right-wing MK, Uri Ariel, stated that Gays shouldn't be drafted into the Israeli army, as they 'negatively affect its effectiveness.'
Condemnation of both politicians came swiftly, and from across the Israeli political spectrum. However, in an interview after her most recent comment, Michaeli remained indignant and unapologetic.
'[Homosexuality] is an attack on children's rights, an attack on family rights, and an attack on women's rights,' the lawmaker said. 'It is violent and vulgar. It is ignorant and a completely unacceptable perversion.'
A police complaint has been lodged by a private citizen against Michaeli, asserting that her remarks were not only insulting but constituted criminal incitement, as they legitimized attacks against LGBT people.
Shai Doitsh, chair of the Israeli LGBT Association, said, 'Michaeli shows immense ignorance and there is no connection between her words and reality. It is regrettable that her and MK Ariel's attempts at self-publicity are based on attacking the LGBT community, without fully understanding the serious implications and weight such incitement by legislators carry for the public at large.'
He concluded, 'My redress is less aimed at her or MK Ariel's hateful ignorance, but more at their masters, Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman & and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who have stayed silent following such statements.'
UGANDA BACKS OFF LGBT GROUP BAN
One day after Uganda Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo announced he would ban 38 groups he claims promote homosexuality (see last week's SGN), he appeared to backtrack, saying, 'No government official is supposed to harass any section of the community and everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others.'
Lokodo's apparent reversal may have been due to continued international pressure on Uganda to improve its abysmal LGBT rights record.
However, based on the earlier threat, activists predict there may still be arrests and closure of HIV/AIDS clinics soon.
Lokodo told Reuters, 'I have got a record of meetings that they have held to empower, enhance, and recruit [homosexuals].'
Although the non-governmental organizations which he intends to 'de-register' have not been named, activists say if the plans go ahead it will not only affect LGBT rights work in Uganda.
Award-winning activist Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda said, 'NGOs in Uganda don't just do LGBT work but also do work on HIV/AIDS, legal support for women, and other things, so if they were to shut down these groups, it will affect lots of different people in the country.'
That said, Lokodo's statement is the first time the Ugandan government has in any way recognized rights of Gay people.
Mugisha told the Associated Press, 'I think we've really challenged Lokodo now, as this statement shows. He's facing the pressure.'
The statement followed an internal government meeting in which Lokodo was reportedly told to tone down his anti-Gay rhetoric due to the increasing international news coverage.
Lokodo also is the subject of a court case claiming he violated the right of Ugandans to assemble when he had police break up a Gay meeting in February.
'We are seeking a declaration that his acts were illegal,' said Francis Onyango, the lawyer who filed the case on behalf of Uganda's Gay community.
LESBIAN ALIEN COMPANION RUMORED FOR DOCTOR WHO
The Time Lord may be joined by a Lesbian alien in the upcoming season of the long-running British TV show Doctor Who.
According to the Daily Star, Madame Vastra, from the planet Sirulia, is set to return in 2013.
Vastra, played by Neve McIntosh, was popular with fans when she starred in the 2011 episode 'A Good Man Goes to War.'
In the episode, Vastra is seen living with her partner, Jenny (Catrin Stewart), in Victorian London. She is asked by the Doctor to help protect the daughter of his companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan).
Fans loved Vastra and Jenny, and they were soon asking head writer Steven Moffat to create a spin-off show featuring the pair.
'I was pleased by the reaction to them, but not surprised. They really cut through as characters, given how little screen time they had,' Moffat said.
'I certainly wouldn't be averse to them returning. It's just a thing that worked, isn't it?'
If Vastra does return, she will surely meet the Doctor's new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman - who portrayed a Lesbian in the British soap Emmerdale.
TOP TEN WEDDING DESTINATIONS FOR GAY COUPLES
PinkNews reports that the online travel advisor Cheapflights has released a list of the 10 favorite destinations for Lesbian and Gay couples who wish to marry. Washington, D.C., tops the list.
The U.S. capital city legalized equal marriage in 2009 and has long been host to a large LGBT community, the company says. It is one of only three U.S. destinations to make the list.
After Washington, the top destinations are, in order: Montréal, Amsterdam, Madrid, Provincetown (Mass.), Stockholm, Buenos Aires, New York City, Reykjavik, and Oslo.
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