St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly passed on Wednesday a law penalizing the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors.© RIA Novosti. Andrei Stenin
13:54 29/02/2012ST. PETERSBURG, February 29 (RIA Novosti)
St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly passed on Wednesday a law penalizing the dissemination of material promoting homosexuality and pedophilia among minors.
The law, passed in the third and final reading, imposes fines of up to $16,000 on individuals and up to $160,000 on legal entities for the promotion of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender practices among minors.
Twenty-nine of 50 legislators voted for the law with five against and one abstention.
It follows similar bans in the southern Astrakhan and central Ryazan and Kostroma regions in Russia.
The new legislation effectively outlaws any Gay Pride events.
The St. Petersburg LGBT group Coming Out said the bill was “homophobic” and aimed at diverting public attention from Russia’s “real political and social problems.”
Homosexuality was illegal in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by the late President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment is still widespread.
The Secret Court of 1920 was only discovered in 2002 (Photo: Chensiyuan)
Harvard University is being called on to formally reverse the results of a secret investigation which saw several students expelled in 1920 for being gay.
A protest is scheduled for Wednesday when Lady Gaga will visit the institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts to launch her Born This Way anti-bullying foundation.
The Their Day In The Yard movement will call on the university to issue posthumous degrees to the men it expelled and formally abolish the Secret Court.
In 1920, following the suicide of undergraduate Cyril Wilcox, Harvard’s Acting Dean Chester Greenough was alerted to a number of students holding gay parties that an anonymous tip-off said “beggared description”.
The letter received by the dean named some gay students and asked: “Isn’t it about time an end was put to this sort of thing in college?”
In the early summer of that year, Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell formed what he called a Secret Court to identify the university’s actively gay students at the university and expel them and others deemed to be too close them.
Lowell’s court only came to light in 2002 after a chance discovery in the university archives.
Eugene R. Cummings, a gay 23-year-old dentistry student, killed himself using drugs from a university sick bay before he could be expelled by the court.
Some students who were expelled went on to marry, some died prematurely. Two students were allowed to return to the university but the institution cut its ties with seven others.
The movement Their Day in the Yard was originally founded in 2010 and aims to secure the official abolition of the 1920s court and posthumous degrees for the deceased men.
In 2002, Harvard University’s President Lawrence H. Summers said: “These reports of events long ago are extremely disturbing. They are part of a past that we have rightly left behind. I want to express our deep regret for the way this situation was handled, as well as the anguish the students and their families must have experienced eight decades ago.
“Whatever attitudes may have been prevalent then, persecuting individuals on the basis of sexual orientation is abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university. We are a better and more just community today because those attitudes have changed as much as they have.”
A petition to current Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust which has 2,600 signatures, says: “I write to ask that you officially abolish the Harvard Secret Court of 1920.
“Furthermore, I urge you to grant the seven expelled students posthumous honorary degrees. These students have no justice until their records have been expunged and the Court’s decision is reversed. Until this is done, the Court and its work is still very much alive.”
Pink Shirt Day is an inspired act of subversion. Confronting violence with a non-violent act of solidarity for those who are bullied and, in too many instances, unable to defend themselves. Brilliant.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
BY ANDREA HOUSTON - Plan on wearing pink tomorrow (Feb. 29) to stand in solidarity against bullying and homophobia for the 5th Annual Pink Shirt Day.
Pink Shirt Day started in 2007 when two Nova Scotia students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, decided to take a stand after they saw a Grade 9 student attacked by a group of bullies when he wore a pink shirt to school.
The bullies called him “fag” and “homo” and even threatened to kill him if he ever wore pink again, the Chronicle Herald reported.
Shepherd and Price decided to take action. That night they bought as many pink shirts that they could find in thrift shops around town and distributed them to their friends to wear the next day at school.
Almost every student in the entire school showed up wearing pink shirts. Price says, “The bullies got angry. One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted.”
According to Shepard, when the bullied kid saw the group of kids in the pink shirts, “he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off his shoulder.”
Since then, Pink Shirt Day has spread across North America as a day for all students and adults everywhere to stand up to bullying.
Singer, songwriter, blogger, and LGBT activist
Posted: 02/28/2012 3:05 pm
Can you guess which one is me?
A recent study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health has found that one in 10 children faces an elevated risk of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse due to gender nonconformity (meaning kids whose interests, pretend play, and activity choices before the age of 11 fall outside the bounds of those typically expressed by their assigned sex). As a result of the abuse, many will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by young adulthood, which can lead to a smörgåsbord of risky behaviors such as drug abuse, promiscuity, and self-harm, as well as producing physical symptoms such as chronic pain and cardiovascular problems.
Having been born one of these gender-nonconforming kids many years ago, I know firsthand the experience described in the study. These new findings suggest that even if I had not been birthed into a fundamentalist Christian cult, my parents would still have had their work cut out for them with regard to keeping me safe. (I plan to add this new info to my ever-growing parental forgiveness file as soon as I finish writing this.) Sad as it may be, from the moment I took my first breath, I was something of a moving target in this world.
Though I have identified as a cisgender male my whole life, as a kid I always enjoyed playing with dolls, making jewelry, singing, acting, and dancing — all things considered “girly” by society and, at the very least, by the mean kids I grew up around in rural Nebraska. I gravitated toward girls my own age back then, not because I wanted to be one of them but because they were nice to me, and we had the most in common. The other boys took note of these similarities, and they teased me relentlessly.
I was a sweet, sensitive kid who didn’t like sports, which made me the target of much bullying and harassment from kids my own age all the way until college… but this isn’t breaking news. Everybody already knows that we faggy kids get our asses kicked as we grow up, and most of us don’t need a Harvard study to tell us what the long-term effects of that abuse are, because we are still living them out to this day. But hey, it gets better, right?
By Guest Blogger on Feb 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm
Today, a coalition of public policy and family advocacy organizations released “LGBT Families of Color: Facts at a Glance,” which sheds light on the disparate impact of outdated laws and family policies on LGBT families of color and their children. The publication explores the challenges that LGBT Families of color face on a daily basis and dispels the myth often perpetuated in the media that LGBT families are largely white and middle class.
According to “LGBT Families of Color,” there are roughly 2 million children in the United States being raised in LGBT families and 41 percent of these families are people of color. Both black and Latino same-sex couples are more likely to raise children than white same- sex couples. Black lesbians for example are twice as likely to be raising children as their white lesbian counterparts. The report also notes that:
Children of color, in particular, are more likely to be raised in diverse family configurations that include de facto parents and are more likely to be raised by LGBT parents. Therefore, antiquated laws have a disproportionately negative impact on children of color.
An alarming number of LGBT families of color are living in poverty. For example, 32 percent of children being raised by black same-sex couples are living in poverty compared to 7 percent of children raised by married heterosexual white parents. Yet many of these families, simply because they are LGBT, are denied access to safety net programs and federal and state tax benefits that would improve their economic situations.
A legal challenge has been lodged at the European Court of Human Rights to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality in Northern Cyprus
28 February 2012 | By Dan Littauer
Campaigners have launched a legal challenge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
North Cyprus still fully enforces homophobic British Colonial Laws, where Articles 171 and 173 punishes ‘unnatural sex’ (eg homosexuality) with five years jail and gives three years imprisonment for attempts to commit such acts.
Since 1974 the island has been effectively divided. The Republic of Cyprus (the south, which is mostly Greek) was required following a court ruling by the ECtHR in 1993 to repeal the laws (the Modinos v Cyprus case), finally being forced to do so by Council of Europe in 1998 under the threat of expulsion and cancellation of its European Union accession treaty.
However in North Cyprus, ruled by the unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) these laws are continually being enforced.
On 29 January this year two men were sentenced for consensual gay sex. This is despite assurances given in 2011 by the leader of the TRNC, Derviş Eroğlu, that the law will be repealed, following international outcry over the sentencing and arrest of five men for homosexuality (in two separate cases); including against the former Finance Minister of TRNC which was widely covered by the local media in a homophobic manner.
The UK based Human Dignity Trust (HDT), in collaboration with a local group called Homofobiye Karşı İnisiyatif or Initiative Against Homophobia (IAH), have lodged a case to repeal these laws in the ECtHR against Turkey, the country responsible for protecting and promoting human rights in the TRNC as it is not recongised as a country by the European Union.
The challenge, brought anonymously by the plaintiff because of fears he will be prosecuted, asserts that his private and family life are violated by the existence of these laws. He also argues that the discrimination he suffers amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment.
Commenting, human rights barrister and chief executive of the Human Dignity Trust Jonathan Cooper said: ‘The fact that homosexual relations remain criminalised in Northern Cyprus is a violation of international law and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.
‘Criminalisation of identity puts people beyond protection of the law. This is not an issue of gay rights but one of upholding universal human rights. More than 80 legal systems across the globe continue to criminalise homosexuality – almost half the countries in the world.’
Speaking with Gay Star News Reşat Şaban of the IAH said the laws ‘obviously have a big effect [In Northern Cyprus] on the lives of LGBT people’.
She stressed that that it inflicts emotional and psychological difficulties because ‘you never know where the limit of “unnatural sex” would [be applied]’. Once arrested, Şaban explained, ‘everyone would know it’.
According to her the local media even ‘publishes openly names and pictures of suspects’ which in effects ostracises LGBT people, ‘like as if it is a big crime to love someone.’
Legal sources suggest that Northern Cyprus may well now accelerate procedures to repeal the laws rather than be forced to by the courts. The TRNC and Turkey would wish to avoid a similar pressures to those that have brought against to the Republic of Cyprus.
Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the LGBT Intergroup, in the European Parliament promised to keep up the pressure on the TRNC.
He said: ‘The current criminal code wreaks lives, and Derviş Eroğlu’s promise must be followed by steadfast action. I will personally go to Cyprus in order to meet him, other leaders and NGOs, and encourage repealing this outdated piece of legislation which has no place in Europe—or anywhere in the world.’
A long read but well worth the time.
Liberals applaud themselves for championing gay marriage. But there are ghosts at the weddings.
- By Frank Rich
- Published Feb 26, 2012
(Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
When the news came last June that the New York State Senate had voted to legalize same-sex marriage, I was at a dinner party that felt like New Year’s Eve, only with genuine emotions. Everyone at the table—straight, gay, young, old—was elated. Later, as my wife and I headed home past an Empire State Building ablaze in the rainbow colors of Pride Week, we were still euphoric at having witnessed one of those rare nights when history is made. Same-sex-marriage adversaries constantly proclaim that gay unions threaten “traditional” marriage. But in truth, it’s a boon to discover that a right you’ve taken for granted is so treasured by others that they’ll fight to get their fair share of its rewards—and its trials.
Fran Lebowitz is correct to remind us that not all gay people (any more than all straight people) are beating down the doors to what she calls “the two most confining institutions on the planet, marriage and the military.” But for those who have been, the dawning of marital equality and the demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell” are twin peaks in the checkered cavalcade of American social justice.
Since that night, the good news on gay civil rights has kept coming. This month alone, legislative and judicial actions have made same-sex marriage the law in Washington State and Maryland and nudged it closer to reality in California and, Chris Christie notwithstanding, New Jersey. A Valentine’s week New York Times–CBS News poll, echoing others over the past year, found that Americans now favor marriage over separate-and-unequal civil unions as the legal option for gay couples; less than a third of the public believes that gay families should be denied both. Each day the gay-rights bandwagon attracts unexpected recruits in the vein of the legal odd couple of Ted Olson and David Boies. No less a pitchman than Lloyd Blankfein is making public-service ads for same-sex marriage. Bill O’Reilly is defending Ellen DeGeneres from American Family Association vigilantes demanding that JCPenney ditch her as a spokesperson. Being in with the gays, it’s clear, has become a savvy (if not necessarily selfless) way to attach a halo to almost any troubled brand, from Goldman Sachs to some precincts of the Rupert Murdoch empire (though not the New York Post or Wall Street Journal, the only major dailies in the state that disdained large front-page headlines after the Albany victory).
Compared with the other civil-rights battles in America, especially the epic struggle over race that has stained and hobbled the nation since its birth, the fight over gay equality is remarkable for its relative ease, compact chronology, and the happiness of its pending resolution. There’s no happier ending to any plot than a wedding. But, as last June’s celebration has gradually given way to morning-after sobriety, it’s also clear that something is wrong with this cheery picture. Two things, actually.
The first is obvious: Full equality for gay Americans is nowhere near at hand. One of America’s two major political parties is still hell-bent on thwarting and even rolling back gay rights much as Goldwater Republicans and Dixie Democrats (on their way to joining the GOP) resisted civil-rights legislation and enforcement in the sixties. In most states, sexual orientation can still be used to deny not only marriage but also jobs and housing, as well as to curtail adoption rights. America’s dominant religions remain largely hostile to homosexuality, and America’s most cherished secular pastime, professional sports, is essentially a no-gay zone. The bullying of gay and transgendered children remains a national crisis. While Nielsen tells us that gay concerns and characters are “the new mainstream” of television—figuring in 24 percent of broadcast prime-time programming last season—we do not yet live in the United States of Glee.
The second thing that’s wrong with the picture is far less obvious because it has been willfully obscured. In the outpouring of provincial self-congratulation that greeted the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, some of the discomforting history that preceded that joyous day has been rewritten, whitewashed, or tossed into a memory hole. We—and by we, I mean liberal New Yorkers like me, whether straight or gay, and their fellow travelers throughout America—would like to believe that the sole obstacles to gay civil rights have been the usual suspects: hidebound religious leaders both white and black, conservative politicians (mostly Republican), fundamentalist Christian and Muslim zealots, and unreconstructed bigots. What’s been lost in this morality play is the role that many liberal politicians and institutions have also played in slowing and at some junctures halting gay civil rights in recent decades.
It was, after all, the trustees of the Smithsonian Institution, not a Bible Belt cultural outpost, who bowed to pressure from the militant Catholic League just fifteen months ago to censor the work of a gay American artist who had already been silenced, long ago, by AIDS. It was a Democratic president, with wide support from Democrats on Capitol Hill, who in 1996 signed the Defense of Marriage Act, one of the most discriminatory laws ever to come out of Washington. It’s precisely because of DOMA that to this day same-sex marriages cannot be more than what you might call placebo marriages in the eight states (plus the District of Columbia) that have legalized them. DOMA denies wedded same-sex couples all federal benefits—some 1,000, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ programs—and allows the other 42 states to ignore their marriages altogether.
Fears for safety of Mr Gay World’s black African contestants, as Zimbabwean pulls out and Ethiopia’s entry flees country
28 February 2012 | By Matthew Jenkin
The Mr Gay World contestant from Ethiopia is now a refugee after receiving death threats.
The global male beauty pageant, which is this year held in Johannesburg, from 4 to 8 April, was last week celebrating after getting its first black African finalists.
However, the competition was shaken at the weekend when Zimbabwe’s Taurai Zhanje pulled out due to ‘some very serious considerations’, which Mr Gay World’s Africa director, Coenie Kukkuk, hints are linked to the country’s political situation in the run up to a general election.
Now Mr Gay Ethiopia, Robel Gizaw Hailu, has been forced to flee his home, fearing his life, and does not intend to return to his native country in the foreseeable future, Kukkuk revealed to Gay Star News.
Despite currently in hiding, Hailu is still competing in the contest, along with other black African finalists Wendelinus Hamutenya from Namibia and Lance Weyer from South Africa.
Hamutenya was the first ever Mr Gay Namibia, but in December last year he was attacked with a glass bottle after being followed by two men while on his way home.
Kukkuk told GSN he is sad about recent developments, but says unfortunately the persecution of LGBT people in Africa is still the norm.
‘The Zimbabwean delegate had to withdraw, the Namibian delegate was assaulted and the Ethiopian one is getting death threats,’ he said.
‘I do not think LGBTI people in the West really have an idea what black LGBTI Africans have to deal with on a daily basis. That is why most of them still are, and will remain, closeted.’
South Africa has won the Mr Gay World title twice, in 2010 and 2011.
However, Kukkuk says despite South Africa boasting one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, the country’s political will is still not strong enough to really assist black LGBT citizens.
He said: ‘In the big cities in South Africa and in the predominantly upmarket or predominantly white areas, it is tolerated and even accepted, but sadly in the black rural areas it is still a taboo. One that you can pay for with your life.’
Kukkuk added there might be a candidate from Ghana to take Zimbabwe’s place, but they are not sure yet.
Homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries, with Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria allowing for the death penalty.
A new constitution is currently being drafted in the run-up to elections and he called for voters to reject gay rights in the charter.
Mugabe, who has ranted about homosexuality for years, has previously branded gays ‘worse than dogs’.
Posted: 02/28/2012 6:09 am
NEW DELHI (AP) — The Indian government Tuesday clarified to the Supreme Court that it accepts a recent ruling legalizing gay sex in the country.
A lawyer told the Supreme Court that the government would not challenge a 2009 order by the Delhi High Court striking down a colonial-era law that made gay sex a crime.
The order was appealed by conservative groups and the Supreme Court is now hearing opinions from those groups as well as gay rights activists.
The latest statement comes days after another government lawyer told the court that gay sex was “highly immoral” and should be banned. The government quickly denied that lawyer’s statement, prompting confusion about its stance on the law.
On Tuesday, a Supreme Court justice asked the government’s lawyers to file an affidavit to reconcile the two divergent positions heard in court. Neither lawyer explained Thursday’s confusion.
The 2009 high court order had said that treating consensual gay sex between adults as a crime was a violation of fundamental rights protected by India’s constitution.
Sex between people of the same gender had been illegal in India since the 1860s, when a British colonial law classified it as “against the order of nature.”
Prosecutions were rare, but the law was used frequently to harass people.
Over the last decade, homosexuals have slowly gained a degree of acceptance in some parts of India, especially its big cities. The last two years have also seen large gay pride parades in New Delhi and other big cities, including Mumbai and Kolkata.
Still, being gay remains deeply taboo in most of the country, and many gays and lesbians hide their sexual orientation from friends and relatives.