Τρίτη, 27 Μαρτίου 2012

Trans child committed to mental institution.

Activists protest German court's decision to institutionalize an 11-year-old transgender child
Berlin's Kammergericht rules that 11-year-old trans child can be institutionalized
Activists will protest a German court’s decision to commit an 11-year-old trans child to a mental institution.
Alex Kaminsky currently lives with her mother, who supports her gender identification as transsexual.
However, her divorced father objects to his child's decision and, after the advice of a new nurse working on the case, the Youth Welfare Office in Berlin obtained a court order, allowing them to hospitalize Alex.
The nurse claimed that the mother had ‘induced’ the child’s transsexuality and therefore Alex had to be removed from her sphere of influence.
Despite an appeal by the mother, Berlin’s Kammergericht court ruled on Thursday (23 March) that Alex can be forcibly institutionalized in the Berlin Charité hospital, according to German lifestyle magazine Naz.
The Kaminskys’ lawyer called the ruling ‘startling’ and said: ‘The view that transsexuality can be induced over years without any resistance is nowhere represented in the expert literature. That is an invention of the nurse.’
Activists are outraged by the decision and will protest outside the Berlin senatorial department for youth today (26 March) at 3pm.
The ‘Stop Alex forced institutionalization at once’ group say it is ‘not an isolated story’.
Their appeal states that, ‘Institutions like the youth office and the Charité use force on humans through enforcement and psychological pressure. Each gender and each gender identity is a right, not a disease.’
More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition against the decision.
And the Brussels-based International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) have expressed their concern for the child's welfare.
In a statement, the gay rights group called on the Berlin authorities to intervene with the actions of the Youth Welfare Office and stop the removal of the child from her mother.
‘We find it extremely irresponsible and unacceptable to remove any child from a loving and supportive home without thorough research and consultation with experts.’
The group added: ‘We would like to highlight the endangerment of forced "therapy" to make children fit into the gender roles the society thinks are right for them.
‘IGLYO follows the wealth of research that shows that reparative therapy regarding sexual orientation or gender identity can be seriously harmful to the child.’
The Kampinsky lawyer says he will appeal to the Verfassungsgericht constitutional court.


Gay adoption law is rejected in Slovenian referendum.

A national referendum in Slovenia has rejected a new family law that included a clause to allow same-sex couples to adopt children under certain circumstances.
Had the law been passed, it would have allowed gay couples to adopt the biological children of their partner, but would not have allowed them to adopt children of a third party. The law was initially drafted by Slovenia’s previous, left-wing government.
About 55 per cent of the votes counted in the referendum rejected the law. This rejection is something of a double blow, as a new family law cannot be drafted for another year.
Conservative Catholic, Serbian Orthodox and Muslim communities in Slovenia got together and signed a petition prior to the referendum, asking their fellow Slovenians to reject the law, stating: “Marriage and family are of utmost importance for the development of the human person and society.
“For this reason, we all have an obligation to protect the values of marriage and of family as a community of a husband and a wife, and children.”
Ironically, Slovenia has allowed official registration of same-sex relationships since 2006 and is seen as a relative haven of tolerance in the Balkans.

Last week the European Court of Human Rights rejected a case brought by a French lesbian couple who wished to have the right to jointly adopt in France
Same sex couples have been able to jointly adopt in the UK since 2007.


Albania: Proposed gay pride march provokes homophobic comments.

With gay rights activists in Albania set to organise the country’s first ever gay pride parade in Tirana on May 17, religious groups and the Royalist Party have been quick to denounce the proposed plans.
Reacting to the plans, announced on Friday, Albania’s deputy defence minister and leader of the Royalist Party, Ekrem Spahiu, had this to say: “My only commentary on this gay parade is that they should be beaten with truncheons.”
Meanwhile, both Muslim leaders and the Catholic Church have also spoken strongly against the plans. “Such public demonstration is an abuse of human rights and freedoms and presents a danger for the morals and tradition of the Albanian family,” one Mr Agron Hoxha, representing the Muslim community, told local media. Echoing these comments was the spokesman for the Catholic Church, Gjerg Meta, who said that “homosexuality is opposed to the natural order and the morals of society.”
This is not surprising, given that most of Albania’s population of 3.2 million are Muslims, and the patriarchal society is deeply homophobic. However, since the country formally applied to become a member of the European Union, it has taken steps to outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities, mainly on the basis of recommendations from the Council of Europe, passing two laws to that effect in 2009 and 2010.
Albanian gay rights organisations have been quick to react to Mr Spiahu’s outburst. “This is a call to violence, and we will ask through our lawyers that Spahiu be convicted, in accordance with Albanian law, to a prison sentence of up to five years,” said Kristi Pinderi, spokesman for an anti-discrimination organisation. These comments were also reiterated by the LGBT wing of Human Rights Watch.
However, the Royalist Party has officially released a statement saying homosexuality “is a sexual deviation, a vice, a misfortune or a curse that cannot be tolerated.”
Update: The Associated Press reports that Albania’s prime minister has issued a rebuke to Spahiu’s comments, saying they were “unacceptable” and “an excess.”


Σάββατο, 24 Μαρτίου 2012

Nobel peace prize winner defends law criminalising homosexuality in Liberia.

The Nobel peace prize winner and president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has defended a law that criminalises homosexual acts, saying: "We like ourselves just the way we are."
In a joint interview with Tony Blair, who was left looking visibly uncomfortable by her remarks, Sirleaf told the Guardian: "We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve."
Liberian legislation classes "voluntary sodomy" as a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in prison, but two new bills have been proposed that would target homosexuality with much tougher sentences. The normally charismatic and eloquent Nobel laureate, when questioned, was brusque, "I won't sign any law that has to do with that area. None whatsoever," she said impatiently.
Blair, on a visit to Liberia in his capacity as the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a charity that aims to strengthen African governments, refused to comment on Sirleaf's remarks.
When asked whether good governance and human rights went hand in hand, the British former prime minister said: "I'm not giving you an answer on it."
"One of the advantages of doing what I do now is I can choose the issues I get into and the issues I don't. For us, the priorities are around power, roads, jobs delivery," he said.
Over his 10 years as prime minister, Blair became a champion for the legal equality of gay people, pushing through laws on civil partnerships, lifting a ban on gay people in the armed forces and lowering the age of consent for gay people to 16.
A Catholic convert, he called on the pope to rethink his "entrenched" views and offer equal rights to gay people. But gay rights, he said, were not something he was prepared to get involved in as an adviser to African leaders.
With Sirleaf sitting to his left, Blair refused to give any advice on gay rights reforms. He let out a stifled chuckle after Sirleaf interrupted him to make it clear that Blair and his staff were only allowed to do what she said they could. "AGI Liberia has specific terms of reference … that's all we require of them," she said, crossing her arms and leaning back.
There have been no recent convictions under the sodomy law, according to the latest US state department human rights report. However, anti-gay activists have promoted two new bills which would take the legislation much further. One would amend the penal code to make a person guilty of a second-degree felony if he or she "seduces, encourages or promotes another person of the same gender to engage in sexual activities" or "purposefully engages in acts that arouse or tend to arouse another person of the same gender to have sexual intercourse", carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.
The second bill – drafted by the ex-wife of the former president Charles Taylor – would make gay marriage a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Jewel Howard Taylor told the Guardian: "[Homosexuality] is a criminal offence. It is un-African." She went on to say: "It is a problem in our society. We consider deviant sexual behaviour criminal behaviour.
"We are just trying to strengthen our local laws. This is not an attempt to bash homosexuals."
The gay rights debate erupted in Liberia after the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, announced in December that America's foreign aid budget would promote the protection of gay rights, prompting speculation that funds would be tied to rights records.
The announcement brought unprecedented attention to homosexuality in a country where until recently gay people and lesbians lived in secret, but generally not in fear for their lives. Since Clinton's remarks, Liberian newspapers have published numerous articles and editorials describing homosexuality as "desecrating", "abusive" and an "abomination".
"Over the last six months, we've seen a worrying increase in anti-gay rhetoric, intolerance and indeed attacks on individuals fighting for the rights of Liberians in same-sex relationships," said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in west Africa.
In the past month alone there have been at least six homophobic attacks in the capital, Monrovia.
One 21-year-old gay man, who recently left Monrovia to move to the countryside after some of his friends were threatened, said he now lived in fear of mob violence, a common occurrence on the streets of Monrovia. "You and your brother walking down the street, they may actually jump on you and beat you, kill you, and when they say: 'Oh they are gay, that's the reason we killed them,' nothing will come of it," he said.
Homosexuality is already illegal in 37 African countries. In Uganda, a bill proposing custodial sentences for homosexuality is still being considered, although it no longer contains the provision for the death penalty. Ten women were recently arrested in Cameroon accused of being lesbians, while in Nigeria, homosexual activities are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel peace prize last year for her work in campaigning for women's rights. The 73-year-old became Africa's first female president in 2006 and was elected for a second term last year. "If she tried to decriminalise the [current anti-gay] law it would be political suicide," said Tiawan S Gongloe, the country's former solicitor general. Without a majority government, Sirleaf desperately needs the support of other MPs to tackle other issues such as corruption, exploitation of the country's natural resources and mass youth unemployment, he said.
After 14 years of civil war that ended in 2003, Liberia is still one of the poorest countries in the world.
Gongloe also said the country was still not ready for a debate on gay rights. "Liberians need public education on the issue. Our society is not at that point yet to have a civil conversation on the issue," he said.
While President Sirleaf said she would not sign any bill that changes the current sodomy law, she also won't sign the recently introduced, much tougher, bills. "If she vetoes the proposed laws, she will have done the right thing," said Corinne Dufka from Human Rights Watch, who has written to Sirleaf on the issue. 'If she moves to scrap the existing 'voluntary sodomy' law which criminalises consensual same-sex acts, she will have left a truly positive legacy on behalf of gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender Liberians.'
At an African Union summit earlier this year Ban Ki-moon urged African leaders to respect gay rights and to stop treating gay people as second-class citizens and criminals.
When pushed on the UN secretary general's comments, with Sirleaf at his side, Blair responded: "I'm not saying these issues aren't important, but the president has given her position and this is not one for me."
• This article was updated on 21 March 2012 to restore material cut in the editing process. The restored material clarifies the stance that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is taking on laws concerning homosexuality in Liberia. That is: she refuses to dismantle the existing anti-sodomy law, while also refusing to sign two new bills that toughen the law.


Photo of two men kissing removed from Facebook.

Reportedly breached decency codes but company has since reposted it.
An advertisement for a cultural project against homophobia that featured two men kissing on the lips was temporarily removed from a Facebook page because it apparently breached the social media company's decency code.
The code bars images of a 'political, sexual or other sensitive' nature.
But the Madrid-based Visible Culture group, which posted the image - by artist Juan Hidalgo - as part of an advertisement for its 'Gay Art Looks For A Home' program, objected very publicly to the photo's removal and replaced it with the same photo with the word 'censored' super-imposed over it.
'Can a kiss between two men be inappropriate' the page administrators posted in response. 'Apparently, Facebook thinks so. ... Until when are we going to put up with this Facebook nonsense? Are we really in the 21st century?'
On Friday (23 March), Facebook returned the original photo.
The company explained to Towleroad.com: 'Upon investigation, we concluded the advertisement does not violate our guidelines and was removed in error. The ad is now running and we apologize for the inconvenience.'


Παρασκευή, 23 Μαρτίου 2012

Politician wants Madonna prosecuted if she speaks out in St. Petersburg.

She has vowed to speak out despite new law prohibiting 'the propaganda of homosexuality'.
St. Petersburg city assemblyman Vitaly Milanov, the author of anti-gay law that just went into effect, says he will attend Madonna's concert in the Russian city tuis summer to see if she follows through with her vow to speak out for the gay community.
The ‘homosexual propaganda’ law in the city went into effect on last Saturday and there have been calls for the singer to cancel her concert there.
But instead, the superstar said earlier this week the she plans to use the occasion to speak out.
'I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed,' she said. 'I’m a freedom fighter.'
In response, Milanov told the Russian Interfax news agency he was willing to attend the show 'to control its moral content. ... I’m ready to personally suffer a couple of hours of her concert.'
Moscow-based journalist Masha Gessen on Tuesday (20 March) had urged Madonna to cancel the concert in St Petersburg which resulted in the singer speaking out.
'I don’t run away from adversity,' Madonna said. 'I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity.'
The new law makes it an administrative offense to engage in any 'propaganda' that could give minors 'the false perception that traditional and nontraditional relationships are socially equal.'
Violations can carry fines ranging from about $170 for individuals up to $16,700 or organizations and businesses.

Σάλος στην Αλβανία από δήλωση υφυπουργού για τους ομοφυλόφιλους.

Σάλο προκάλεσε η δήλωση του Αλβανού υφυπουργού Άμυνας Εκρέμ Σπάχια, ο οποίος τάχθηκε κατά της παρέλασης ομοφυλοφίλων...στις 17 Μαΐου στα Τίρανα.

Ο Σπάχια δήλωσε σε αλβανική εφημερίδα ότι "ανήκει σε συντηρητικό κόμμα που σέβεται και εκτιμάει τις παραδόσεις ως ανώτερες αξίες του έθνους" και πρόσθεσε "το μόνο που μπορώ να πω είναι να πάρω ένα ξύλο και να τους βαράω"!
Η κοινότητα ομοφυλοφίλων της Αλβανίας ανέφερε ότι η δήλωση αυτή αποτελεί σοβαρό πλήγμα για το σύνταγμα της χώρας που απαγορεύει τον κοινωνικό ρατσισμό και ζητάει από τον πρωθυπουργό Σαλί Μπερίσα να απομακρύνει τον Σπάχια από το αξίωμα του.

Πηγή:www.radio-klepsydra.com & thestival.gr

Louis-Georges Tin: Activist and Nobel Prize nominee.

We speak to Louis-Georges Tin, who has fought for gay rights at the UN, founded International Day Against Homophobia and may now get a Nobel Prize.

Louis-Georges Tin is one of the world’s leading LGBT activists and an important campaigner on race issues in his home country, France.
He became famous after launching the International Day Against Homphobia (IDAHO) and taking the battle to decriminalize gay sex worldwide to the United Nations, sparking progress which continues to this day.
He’s now being promoted by his friends and colleagues as a possible Nobel Prize winner for this December, with the hope that – if successful – his win will put lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights further up the international agenda.
I spoke to him from Paris about his campaigns to date and his plans for the future.
You have a big track record not only in gay rights but also in race issues. Race issues can still be a hot topic in France, so can you tell me what you are doing at the moment?
Now I am the president of the black movement in France which is the CRAN, the council representing black organisations. I was the co-founder and I became president two months ago.
Race issues have become very political. This is related to anti-immigration policies and our home affairs minister tended to raise this issue in a very hard way. For example recently he said not all civilisations are equal, some are superior and some are inferior.
What practical things have you done around CRAN or with other organisations around race you are proud of.
The latest thing we have done is a pact for equality and diversity. It is a platform of 200 proposals, not only against racism or homophobia but against all kinds of discrimination.
There are about a dozen organisations behind this, the biggest anti-discrimination organisations in France on homophobia, on age, on race, on disability. It is the first time these organisations have worked together in this way and it will be sent to all the candidates for the French presidential elections so there is the platform in the newspaper. Also a book will be issued.
It is still relatively unusual for one person to have a high profile campaigning about race issues and LGBT issues. Do you have a perspective on racism in the gay scene and gay community?
There is a problem. It would be wrong to deny it. What I’m trying to do is combat racism in the gay community and homophobia within some black communities as well.
It is true that many people may be surprised to see me in important positions of responsibility in both areas which isn’t very common. But what I tend to say is that it’s the same issue, that all discrimination is the same issue.
One of my comments is that 100% of French people are exposed to discrimination – and that could be said of British people or Germans or any nationality. Why? Well if you just consider the five European criterias for discrimination which are origin, handicap, gender, sexual orientation and age, these criteria gather more than 80% of the population of everywhere. If you take the people who are not in those criteria, well they are a minority but all of them are young, have been old and may be exposed to discrimination.
So anyone is directly exposed to discrimination, has been, will be or may be. So discrimination is not a matter for minorities it is a matter for every single person who is directly concerned even if he or she does not realize.
Do you think it’s important for both communities to see you as a role model working in both areas?
I think I would be proud to be so. We need role models and I needed them when I was younger, both as a gay person and a black person. And if it can be a connection as well between both communities, which usually don’t speak to each other, that will be a great achievement.
You mentioned being young then. What was it that inspired you as a young person about doing campaigning and human rights work?
I remember when I was 14 or 15 years old, I was still living in Martinique where I was born. At the time there was not a single gay organization in my country, not a single gay bar, nothing on television.
I felt very isolated and lonely, as many people did. But when I realized that in other countries there were people fighting like this I made a promise to myself to try to do for others what I would have liked to have for myself as a young person. So I made a promise to myself.
IDAHO is the most world famous thing you have done that is picked up around the world…
More than 100 countries now. It is recognized in 12 countries officially but it happens in more than 100 countries.
So what gave you the idea and how did you set it up?
I had the idea of a day and in 2000. I was just getting out of a French debate relating to same-sex unions and I was very concerned about all these politicians or journalists or other people speaking against LGBT people in general.
It occurred to me I could make a dictionary of all these silly arguments. At the same time I was involved in other days, like women’s day. But it made more sense to do the book first, which was published in 2003. And after that I felt I had been thinking about homophobia for three years so I decided that I was ready to launch the day as a tool to fight homophobia at the roots.
The idea was launched officially in 2004 and the first day was celebrated in 2005. It was very stressful. We were glad the first year to have 40 countries taking part but it was a very, very difficult year. I had not a single minute for myself. From August 2004 to June 2005 I worked every day from 7am to midnight from Monday to Sunday. In the end it was a success but I was too tired to be happy.
Subsequent to that you started to focus on decriminalization at the UN...
The fact that so many countries in the world criminalize homosexuality is a shock for anyone who cares about human rights. So one of my main issues when I launched IDAHO was the notion of decriminalization.
We were fortunate enough to contact friends who signed the petition, including some with Nobel prizes. I started to ask many governments to bring this issue to the UN and finally I found one, two years later, that was France.
On 17 May 2008 it was the first time ever that this issue was raised in the General Assembly of the UN. The text was supported by 68 countries.
Mow I’m working to have not a declaration like in 2008 but a resolution. The difference between a UN declaration and a resolution is a resolution is supposed to be a legal constraint. A declaration is only symbolic, and it’s important to have symbols, but nobody is compelled to follow it. Whereas people are supposed to follow a resolution.
Of course I don’t believe that Iran or countries like this will follow any resolution on gay rights but many other countries would be more than influenced by such a resolution so I am working, especially this year, to ask the French government to bring in a real resolution because we need that desperately.
Countries like the US and UK have been more vociferous for LGBT rights recently, is the time right to get powerful allies?
Unfortunately I think our allies are not strong on this issue. Many things are said but, as far as the resolution is concerned, everybody is very shy.
Many allies will say it’s too early but I think it’s not too early for the people who are in jail it is not too early. If Barack Obama is not reelected in November it will be very, very difficult to have any resolution during the four, or possibly eight, coming years. American diplomacy is obviously the strongest in the world and if you don’t have this ally with you it is very difficult to have any progress. People believe to do a resolution now would be risky but to wait would be even more risky.
What is your level of optimism that decriminalization can be achieved?
Often I tend to thank all the people who did not try to break my optimism in all my campaigns and these people are not very numerous. For example, when I launched IDAHO, everybody said to me ‘that’s stupid, it will never happen, you don’t have any budget, you don’t have any staff, you don’t have any offices, so I don’t see how you can make it.’ When we started the campaign for decriminalization everybody said the same thing.
But I think we shall make it. We shall overcome. Obviously there are many places where it is difficult not even to be gay, but just to be free. But globally the situation gets better every day. I dare say even in Uganda.
The situation is terrible in Uganda, I went there twice, once in 2008 and once in 2010. I know what people suffer in Uganda. However I don’t think it is too silly to say that many people know what is happening in Uganda now.
So formerly they were chased but nobody would care, now they are chased but many people care, like Barack Obama and David Cameron and so on. There is now a battle between people who fight for freedom and the others and this battle did not exist five years ago. The situation is still a disaster but now there is an international awareness about the issue and I think homophobic people in Uganda and elsewhere are losing ground.
People are saying countries like France, US, UK still aren’t perfect so shouldn’t lecture Africa about LGBT rights until they sort themselves out...
I don’t agree at all with these arguments, if only perfect people could lecture others there would never be any international campaigns on anything.
Sometimes I can hear people from other countries saying ‘but you French people are also, sometimes, homophobic’. And I say ‘that’s true, and please if you can help us solve this, I would be glad’.
Is there any other work you are doing?
Within the context of IDAHO we launch other campaigns as well, for example the campaign on transphobia which is a very difficult issue that many people don’t even understand – it’s not that they don’t agree, it’s just they don’t understand.
But we managed to secure a decision on 17 May 2009 in France, because the French government decided to remove the so-called ‘transexualism’ from the list of mental disorders so that was a great decision because it was the first country to remove it from the list of mental disorders. So that was a great step even if France is still a very transphobic country in many other ways.
And on 17 May 2010, the minister of health of France went to Geneva asking the World Health Organization to do the same thing, to remove ‘transexualism’ from the list of mental disorders. Of course, that will take some time but recently Spain decided to do the same thing, the European Parliament voted going in the same direction. So this is something we are very proud of.
Also we launched a campaign on education, asking UNESCO to include homophobia in their fight against all discrimination, in a spirit of peace. For several years they refused to take this into account. But on 17 May 2011, Irina Bokova, the director general of UNESCO made a speech on LGBT rights and this is the first time ever that someone in that position raised LGBT issues and then she launched a campaign on homophobia.
How do you feel about the possibility of getting a Nobel Prize for your work?
I had been contacted several times, three or four times, especially in 2008 after the campaign in the UN and it did not seem very relevant for me at this time because I had so many things to do.
I was contacted this year again and my friends they convinced me the Nobel campaign would also help the campaign for a resolution at the UN. So I said if you want to do this, that’s ok. I have to campaign for my own issues but if you want to do it, that’s ok.


Πέμπτη, 22 Μαρτίου 2012

Indian government insists gay sex is ok.

Attorney general hopes to end confusion in Delhi High Court over its stance on Section 377.
Government tells Indian Supreme Court is supports 2009 lifting of gay sex ban
The Indian government insists that it supports the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize gay sex.
The announcement by Attorney General G E Vahanvati, follows confusion over the government’s stance on the issue, which is currently being debated again in Delhi High Court.
Criminalizing gay sex among consenting adults in private is a violation of fundamental rights, Vahanvati said, reported The Times of India.
Last month, government lawyer, PP Malhotra,said gay sex was 'highly immoral and against societal order’.
The home ministry subsequently issued a statement distancing themselves from Malhotra’s statement, saying it was a ‘miscommunication’ and he was reading from the wrong file.
Vahanvati said although the government had opposed dilution of the gay sex ban law, Section 377, as far as consensual relations in private was concerned, it later realized that the high court verdict was correct and had enlightened the government.
But the court has criticized the government for its ‘casual’ and neutral position on the issue, saying it was concerned parliament was not discussing it.
‘They have taken this case very casually. This practice needs to be condemned and we are going to say it in our judgment,’ the bench had observed.
Section 377, an old colonial law which outlawed same-sex relationships and made them punishable by a 10-year jail term, was overturned in 2009.
However, the debate returned to the court in January, with anti-gay activists, political and social groups arguing for the 148-year-old law to be reinstated.


French lesbian adoption ruling 'does not discriminate'.

Stonewall says we need to do 'heavy lifting' to push through gay marriage in UK after lesbian adoption ruling in Strasbourg.
European Court of Human Rights
European judges have backed a previous decision by the French courts to refuse a woman the adoption of her lesbian partner’s child.
French couple Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois complained to the European Court of Human Rights after one of the women had her application to adopt her partner's child denied.
The pair, who have a civil partnership, maintained that their right to private and family life had been infringed in a way which discriminated against them in comparison with opposite-sex couples, whether married or not.
However, judges in Strasbourg ruled that there was no evidence of a difference in treatment based on the applicants’ sexual orientation and that opposite sex civil partners would also be prohibited from obtaining a simple adoption order.
Judges said: ‘The court reiterated that the European Convention on Human Rights did not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.
‘If a state chose to provide same-sex couples with an alternative means of recognition, it enjoyed a certain margin of appreciation regarding the exact status conferred.’
The court’s decision follows the launch of a 12-week consultation on gay marriage in the UK and rights group Stonewall said the ruling highlights the importance of equal marriage laws.
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said: ‘This judgement does confirm that we need to do the heavy lifting to secure same-sex marriage through parliament, rather than relying on the European Court of Human Rights.
‘We hope that all supporters of equal marriage will make their voices heard by responding to the government’s recently-opened consultation.’
Stonewall last month published a draft parliamentary bill for giving married same-sex couples equal legal rights, outlining the legislative steps needed to implement a policy now supported by all political party leaders and saying a gay marriage bill is so simple, it could be included in the Queen's Speech.
Launching the consultation on 15 March, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Put simply, it's not right that a couple who love each other and want to formalize a commitment to each other should be denied the right to marry.’
The proposals would allow partners to have a civil wedding and take the same vows and commitments as opposite sex couples.
However, the plans have faced fierce opposition from both religious leaders and a minority of members of the Conservative Party.
For more information on Stonewall's equal marriage campaign, visit www.stonewall.org.uk/marriage


Politician calls for gay rehab center in Malaysia.

Malaysian MP calls for gay rehab center in response to newspaper interview with gay cure counselor.
Parliament of Malaysia
In the Malaysian parliament yesterday an MP called for the government to set up a rehabilitation center to ‘combat’ homosexuality.
‘We have to find a solution to combat these activities from getting rampant just like the efforts we take to combat drugs,’ Datuk Baharum Mohamad said, according to The Malaysian Insider.
Baharum also cited an unnamed study that found 30% of Malaysian men are gay. ‘A study has found that, right now, three out of 10 men in Malaysia are gay. This is scary,’ he said.
Earlier this month in an interview published in Utusan, the most popular Malaysian language daily newspaper in the country, Hushim Salleh, a counselor who claims to have ‘reversed’ 1,000 gay people, said:
‘These last five years I have found that gays and bisexuals are increasing in numbers and according to their admission, they claim that out of 10 men in urban areas, three are gay.’
This suggests the MP acquired his figures, and his homophobic rhetoric from the extensive interview, during which Hushim pleaded with the government to address what he sees as a ‘disease’ that will ‘destroy’ Malaysia. He said:
‘They [gay people] could be anyone whether politicians, professionals or students… If the government agrees to the demands of LGBT groups, our country will be destroyed and it is possible that one day our Prime Minister may be a gay.’
Hushim agreed to a question from the journalist suggesting a ‘drug rehabilitation center’ for gay people, saying: ‘I support the establishment of such centers and the government must do. If we do not handle this situation, Allah will do something terrible.’
Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of the Seksualiti Merderka sexualities festival that was banned earlier this year, tweeted that the counselor, politician and journalist are all ‘idiots’.
Pang told Gay Star News that it is not the first time the idea of gay rehab centres has been mooted in Malaysia. ‘In fact over the last few years, camps have been conducted specifically for non-gender-conforming men in government run tertiary institutions, and last year, infamously, for secondary school teenagers,’ he said.
Pang said the fact that Malaysian LGBT teenagers survive ‘the discrimination, bullying and marginalisation’ in school is ‘testament to their tenacity and intelligence’.
‘Why can't we focus on teaching people how to be proud of what they contribute to the world?’ Pang asked. ‘LGBT Malaysians have much to teach Malaysians to be proud of our own uniqueness and of the diversity that we each bring to the community.’
Following the failure of the repeal of last year’s ban on Malaysia’s Seksualiti Merderka, Pang is now working on providing educational ‘sensitisation workshops for anyone who wants to understand sexual orientation and gender identities better’. The workshops will use ‘the latest studies, human rights principles and scientific knowledge,’ he says.


Τρίτη, 20 Μαρτίου 2012

Canada warns tourists visiting anti-gay Russia.

Canadian foreign minister John Baird says St Petersburg gay gag law is contrary to country's 'core values'.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird warns gay tourists visiting Russia
Photo by Andrew Rusk
The Canadian government is warning gay tourists visiting Russia after St Petersburg passed a gay hate bill.
Earlier this month, the governor of St Petersburg, Georgiy Poltavchenko, signed a bill into law which is designed to gag the local gay and transgender population.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs is now warning gay travelers to Russia to 'avoid displaying affection in public, as homosexuals can be targets of violence.'
'Canada’s ambassador has written to the Russian government to express our deep concern and, yes, we have at his request, put a travel advisory on our website,' Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said today in parliament, according to The Toronto Star.
Baird also told parliament that the law 'runs contrary to core Canadian values of freedom of speech, of human rights and the rule of law.'
The law effectively prohibits public discussion of LGBT issues and similar rules have also been introduced in the country's Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions.
Gay rights campaign group AllOut.org has urged holidaymakers to stay away from the city and Russia until the law is repealed.
Russia recently announced that it wants to spend $11 billion dollars in five years to attract tourists from around the world and All Out hope to hurt the popular holiday destination in the wallet.
'By validating a new regime of censorship and intolerance, Governor Poltavchenko has diminished the reputation of his city with the stroke of a pen,' said Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut.org.
'Over 95,000 people have promised not to visit the "new" St Petersburg after this law goes into effect. Travel companies are considering revising their scheduled trips to the city.
'Together, we have sent a very clear message to St Petersburg and leaders like them around the world - there will be a high price to pay for advancing the cause of bigotry and intolerance.'
The St Petersburg proposals have attracted widespread criticism, including diplomatic pressure from the US State Department and Europe, a large-scale digital petition and a European Parliament resolution against them.


Russian Court Refuses to Register Gay Pride Group for Olympics .

Sochi Court Rejects Gay-Pride Group.  

The Moscow Times
A Krasnodar region court has refused to register the Pride House in Sochi organization on the grounds that fighting homophobia is immoral.
The group, started by activists from the web portal GayRussia.eu, aimed to open a space for holding conferences and other events in the run-up to and during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
A Krasnodar region court in November rejected an application by the group to officially register. The group appealed but was turned down again last month.
In its decision, published online this week, the court said it was refusing to register the organization on the grounds that its aims contradicted "public morality" and could result in the destruction of society's notions of good and evil.
"[The group] will be capable of enacting large-scale ideological influence on citizens, and the goals of the movement must not go against the bases of law and order or public morality," the court said.
New York's Human Rights First condemned the decision.
"The organization is concerned that the court construed homosexuality as 'extremist' behavior and urges the Russian government to amend vague anti-extremism laws to prevent their misuse," the statement said.

Πηγή.Τhe Moscow Times

Dubai police chief denies gay party arrests.

The Dubai Chief of Police has denied reports of 30 arrests in the emirate but says homosexuality is illegal and against the local norms.
Emirates 24/7, a Dubai based paper, reported that Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai police’s commander-in-chief has denied the report published by PinkNews.co.uk saying that a group of about 30 people, some of whom are reportedly gay were arrested during a private party on 9 March, at the Shangri-La hotel, in Dubai.
In addition he is quoted as saying that ‘Homosexuals and homosexuality exists in all countries of the world, but is prohibited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as behaviour contrary to norms, customs, traditions and religion as well.’
The paper also quoted an unnamed Dubai police officer saying: ‘The UAE Penal Code prohibits anything that might conflict with religion, values, customs and traditions.’
The United Arab Emirates Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender group (UAE LGBT), however, has collected first hand witness accounts which the campaigners insist prove that the party did happen and arrests arrest did take place.
Adilah, a lesbian member of UAE LGBT, said: ‘My friends were at the party and it did happen, we now know that the hotel security staff tipped off the police who then proceeded with the arrests.
‘People were released the following day after signing a testimonial they would “not do it again”, although two people we know of are still unaccounted for and may be still held in prison because of their sexuality.
‘If “Homosexuals and homosexuality is prohibited in the UAE as behaviour contrary to norms, customs, traditions and religion as well”, then what about drinking, live music, celebrating Christmas and Easter? Aren’t those behaviours contrary to norms, customs, traditions and religion of the UAE? Or are they ok because UAE tolerates it for the sake of economy/profit?
‘And if the “The UAE Penal Code prohibits anything that might conflict with religion, values, customs and traditions,” but yet tolerates everything mentioned above for the sake of economic prosperity and touristic reputation, shouldn’t it take into consideration not to penalise homosexuals for being gay in their private settings?
‘Instead of persecuting LGBT people for leading personal lifestyles, we suggest they continue to promote no public displays of affection for both gays and straights, and hopefully the homosexuals they despise so much, but who contribute to the GDP of the UAE, can be aware of the do’s and don’t's in this land, just like everyone else, leading safe lives and not “offend” anyone who doesn’t necessarily lead the same lifestyle,’ she suggested.
Abdullah, the chair of the group stated: ‘The UAE engages in behaviour that is regularly at odds with the customs and religion of the country but that is because we are a diverse multicultural country and their actions should be reflecting that.
‘Outlawing homosexuality is contradictory and homophobic and does not equal good governance. We should all be equal under the law. Their duty first and foremost should not be terrorizing our community especially when we are in a private setting.
‘Denying the reports is equally damaging as it raises a sense of panic and confusion in the community, I personally implore the lieutenant to review his statements and protect the integrity of Dubai police.’
Ali, a 25 year old law student from Dubai and member of the UAE LGBT group affirmed: ‘I wish countries like the UAE would be a little less self-contradictory; at least for the sake of their own integrity if not Islam.
‘If alcohol – which is prohibited – could be served to Muslims and non-Muslims alike in controlled spaces, I see no reason for the charges pressed against the two boys that may still be held in custody, whatever their private expression was, no big deal should be made of it.
‘My problem is not with the rules or the laws’, he stressed, ‘my problem is with the officials cheating themselves and more importantly their faith in order to gloss over our country’s image.
‘If the reason for the alcohol allowance is the diversity of people, then let it be known that a human reality is sexuality, which includes LGBT. And we deserve equal treatment.’


Madonna urged to cancel St Petersburg gig in August.

American-Russian journalist Masha Gessen calls for St Petersburg boycott over ‘gay propaganda’ law.
Journalist Masha Gessen has called for Madonna to boycott St Petersburg over new anti-gay laws.
Photo by Rodrigo Fernandez.
A Moscow-based journalist has today urged pop idol Madonna to cancel a concert in St Petersburg on 9 August because of the ‘homosexual propaganda’ law in the city which went into effect on Saturday.
Writing on the New York Times Latitude blog website, Masha Gessen, who holds dual American and Russian nationality and lives in Moscow, pleads with readers ‘not to visit’ St Petersburg which she describes as ‘one of the most beautiful cities on earth’.
‘I am especially asking you not to go if you are the singer Madonna, who is scheduled to play a concert there on 9 August,’ she writes.
‘And if you are Mercedes-Benz or PepsiCo, the two foreign companies that have signed on as partners of this year’s economic forum, scheduled to take place there 21 to 23 June, I am asking you to pull out.’
She also urges anyone who has been asked to participate in any of the many conferences and festivals that will take place in the city this summer to decline the invitation and for those considering a holiday there to ‘take your vacation somewhere else’.
The new law, which was reported internationally during the bill stages as it passed thought the city legislature, makes it an administrative offense to engage in ‘the propaganda of male homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism among minors’.
The law defines propaganda it as the intentional and unregulated distribution in a publicly accessible manner of information that can harm the health or the process of moral and spiritual development of minors, including forming among them the false perception that traditional and non-traditional relationships are socially equal, Gessen writes.
Also an offense under the law is the public display of affection among same-sex couples.
Fines range from up to 5,000 roubles ($172 €125) for individuals and up to 1 million roubles ($34,400 €25,000) for organisations.


French gay couple lose adoption appeal at European Court.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against a lesbian couple from France who were seeking to jointly adopt a child one of them had conceived.
Valérie Gas and Nathalie Dubois had a child through artificial insemination in Belgium but the law in their native France forbids unmarried couples from jointly adopting a child.
Mme Dubois will continue to be recognised as the girl’s biological mother but her partner will not as the Court ruled that this law applies equally to gay and straight couples.
France’s Civil Solidarity Pacts, or PACS as they are usually known, confer some domestic partnership rights, but fewer than a marriage would.
Crucially in the case decided last week, the system is open to both gay and straight couples who are equally barred from adoption while in a PACS.
Though a straight couple in France can marry if they choose and thus become eligible for adoption whereas a gay couple cannot, the Court ruled that there was no right to a gay marriage.
Mme Dubois and Mme Gas’ daughter was born in 2000. The French courts accepted that they were bringing her up jointly but ruled that the only way Mme Gas could adopt the girl would be for Mme Dubois to relinquish all her parental rights, as joint parenting was only permitted by a husband and wife.
The European Court of Human Rights found that this rule would be applied in the same way to a straight couple in the gay couple’s situation so did not amount to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The couple maintained that their rights under Articles 14 (prohibition of discrimination) and 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights were being infringed by the law.
The applicants argued that since a straight couple in their situation could circumvent the bar to adoption by marrying, they were being discriminated against.
But a chamber of seven judges upheld the European Court of Human Rights’ earlier view that gay couples do not yet have the right to access marriage equally.
It referred back to a 2010 case, Schalk and Kopf v. Austria, in which it affirmed that governments were not obliged to offer gay couples equal rights to marriage.
However, as Professor Robert Wintemute explained to PinkNews.co.uk last year when discussing the Equal Love campaign’s legal challenge of the UK’s ban on gay marriages, the court had expressed in an opinion in that case that the article governing the right to marriage may not always be interpreted as referring only to straight couples.
He said: “Although the court ruled that Article 12 of the Convention did not yet impose an obligation on European governments to allow same-sex couples to marry, the court changed its interpretation of Article 12, saying that it ‘would no longer consider that the right to marry enshrined in Article 12 must in all circumstances be limited to marriage between two persons of the opposite sex’.
“When more Council of Europe countries than the current seven (out of 47) allow same-sex couples to marry, the court will be willing to consider ordering all of them to do so. The number of European countries that allow same-sex marriage increased from three in 2005 to seven in 2010, and could double again while this case is pending.”
Since the Equal Love campaign’s legal challenge to lift the ban on gay marriages and straight civil partnerships was launched, the government has unveiled proposals to allow gay couples to marry. A public consultation began last week into how to introduce equal marriage rights, but the government does not yet plan to allow straight couples to access civil partnerships.


Nepal will host Asia's first gay Olympics.

LGBT sportspeople will compete in track and field, volleyball, football, martial arts and tennis in Kathmandu in September.
Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal's first openly gay politician
The national stadium is booked, top class athletes have been drafted in as coaches and referees and the date is set for Nepal to host Asia’s first gay Olympics this September, the organisers announced yesterday.
‘The aims for organising this event are to mainstream LGBTs into the larger society, promote healthy lifestyles and promote health mentally and spiritually,’ said Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay politician and head of gay rights group Blue Diamond Society and the LGBT travel company Pink Mountain.
Another gay sports tournament, AsiaPacific Outgames debuted in 2008 in Melbourne and was held in Wellington in 2011, but has yet to be held in Asia. Nepal has expressed interest in hosting the next tournament in 2014.
Nepal has some of the most progressive attitudes to LGBT rights in Asia. The national consensus last year recognised a third gender, and earlier this year one of the country’s biggest sit com stars proudly announced his child’s gender realignment surgery.
In 2008 Nepal's Supreme Court ruled that it would end discrimination to LGBT people, including the right to marry. The law allowing same-sex marriage is likely to be part of the new constitution which is expected to be finalised before 31 May this year, following a six month extension.


Δευτέρα, 19 Μαρτίου 2012

“Greece is lying about gender identity legislation. Greece's political fraud.“

Athens 8 March, 2012

Greek Transgendered Support Association
(Court of first appeal no. 7646/2010 – Metropolitan District of Athens no. 19388)

Press Release

Subject: “Greece is lying about gender identity legislation. Greece's political fraud.“

The Greek Transgendered Support Association (TGSA) with this press release denounces the Greek delegation to the United Nations, which, by means of its permanent representative to the UN, ambassador Giorgos Kaklikis reported that:

“As about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Greece has strong anti-discrimination legislation, which prohibits, among others, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to that, the Greek government, is presently investigating the subject of recognition of same sex couples. I would like to emphasize that we fully support your efforts in this field and we urge you to continue the work that you do in that direction”.

These, among others, where the words of the Greek ambassador to the UN, Mr Kaklikis in the 19th Assembly of the Human Rights Council, addressing the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (video of the ambassador's speech can be found in the following url: http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2012/03/greece-item-2-13th-meeting-19th-session-human-rights-council.html).

We wish to strongly denounce the Greek Representatives to the UN for spreading unabashed lies and for political fraud, because the legislation in Greece makes absolutely no provision for discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.

We wish to denounce the state for its stance in the matter of gender identity and anti-discrimination legislation. Despite the continuous encouragement of the Greek Transgendered Support Association and other local organizations, despite the continuous encouragement of the European Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, for the inclusion of gender identity in anti-discrimination legislation, and also the legislation against the dissemination of hate speech and hate crime, the Greek state has taken absolutely no steps towards that direction.

Instead, the Greek state through its Representative in the United Nations is lying in a provocative manner, commits political fraud against its international partners and in essence is mocking its citizens.

The Greek Transgendered Support Association (TGSA) will continue with all its resources the interventions towards all the Parliamentary Parties and bodies in Greece but also all international organizations, for the inclusion of gender identity in the anti-discrimination legislation but also the legislation against the dissemination of hate speech and hate crimes, as well as towards the recognition of gender identity.




Ah,yeah!That's it!!!

Travel to Athens in crisis and support the 6th Outview:
Athens International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

We are asking all of you to ask for your support for the 6th Athens International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Due to the economic and social crisis in Greece, tolerance towards difference has been minimized and racism is on the rise. Gay rights among political agendas are at the bottom even for LGBT politicians. It’s so important for us that this year as many of you as possible attend our festival, to participate as viewers or exhibit your art or organise a workshop or represent an organization or make any sort of statement.

It is terribly important to show that an economic crisis doesn’t mean that human rights should be ignored. This is why we are making this call to you to attend our festival and give a strong international LGBT presence and show Greece and the world that we won’t be silenced.

If you plan on visiting Greece use this festival as an excuse to finally make it over and along with your other plans include attendance at the festival.

Our Festival this year will take place at Cervantes Institute who fully support us. It’s going to last 10 days, from 3 – 13 May and it’s right next to Sydagma square in the center of Athens, just 10 min from the Acropolis.

Even in crisis we know how to party and we still offer openhandedly our great traditional hospitality. We promise you a great time with a lot of tsipouro, ouzo and many films. We have collaborated with a travel agency and we have made some really cheap tour packages that you can see below or you can search by yourselves online and find something much cheaper!

Please contact us at this email info@outview.gr for requests and please don’t forget that any of you that can, in one way or another, participate actively in Outview. Send us info of what and how you want to participate.

Looking forward to your response


•3 nights in hotel 100m from festival, http://www.panhotel.gr
•3day film pass
•Guided tour of acropolis museum,

Single room €175
Double room/sharing €125
Triple room/sharing €120

Prices per person in Euros (€), upon request and availability.

Outview Film Festival Team


European Parliament calls on Nigeria to reverse anti-gay laws.

Following violence and economic concerns in the African state, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution on Nigeria which condemns in part the current legal threats to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.
Nigeria’s Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill was proposed in 2011, and has since been amended by the Nigerian Senate to punish those in a same-sex union with 14 years’ imprisonment, and anyone ‘aiding or abetting’ such unions with 10 years in prison.
The Parliament said in addition to locals, tourists and aid workers in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership are at risk of arrest and prosecution, those working in embassies but without diplomatic protection will also be subject to prosecution.
The European Parliament is calling “on the Nigerian Parliament to reject the ‘Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill’ which, if passed, would put LGBT people – both Nigerian nationals and foreigners – at serious risk of violence and arrest”.
It also “calls for the abolition of current legislation criminalising homosexuality, in some cases making it punishable by stoning”.
The law currently punishes gay acts with 14 years’ imprisonment or death by stoning in some regions.
Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: “Nigeria is already among the world’s top oppressors of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Why such a law now? Nigeria needs to follow the example of countries like Rwanda, Kenya or South Africa, which prove African nations don’t need to persecute the vulnerable in order to strive.”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the LGBT Intergroup, said: ”Our Nigerian sisters and brothers have the European Parliament’s full solidarity in these difficult times. No group has ever called for same-sex marriage in Nigeria; our fellow lawmakers should stop obsessing about citizens’ private lives, and start tackling the dire socio-economic situation in Nigeria.”
In December, activists delivered a copy of a 60,000-strong global petition addressed to the Nigerian President Goodluck Johnson, urging him not to sign in the law if it is passed by the House of Representatives.


30 gays arrested in Dubai says unconfirmed reports.

An United Arab Emirates LGBT group claims that more than 30 men have been arrested by government forces for being gay. The United Arab Emirates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group has received reports that 30 people who are believed may be gay were arrested in private ‘after’ party last at 5am, last Friday (9 March) in the Shangri La Hotel, Dubai.
It was said the party was ambushed and all present were taken for questioning. Some of the men are reported to be from prominent Emirati families.
It is unclear at this point if the men are still in detention or have been freed, nor if any charges have been brought against them. Neither UAE LGBT nor Gay Middle East have not been able to verify the details and hotel staff were cagey when questioned about the incident by us.
The United Arab Emirates has strict federal laws regarding homosexuality and each emirate has their own specific laws. While the Emirate of Dubai has technically severe laws they are usually not strictly enforced.
‘It was a private party in a private hired space where people were behaving and not even engaging in any public display of affection, so I can’t imagine why they got arrested,’ said Adilah, a lesbian member of UAE LGBT told GME.
‘The CID [police] don’t just bust private parties, either someone ratted the party out or some hotels guests or staff complained about the noise in the middle of the night, I am just shocked that this happened!’ she protested.
‘We waited a few days,’ she continued, ‘to see if it would get a note in the press. It didn’t as the authorities knew it would create uproar. We only knew that they were kept in detention for a few days, but have no idea if they are still locked up.
‘Plus some of the boys are from prominent Emirati families, so something may have been arranged with the police and the press to silence this story, its very difficult to find out accurate details.’
‘My heart goes out to the boys, who must be feeling humiliated and in terror have sat or even still sitting in a cell. No one deserves to be incarcerated for being who they are, especially when it doesn’t hurt anyone around them.
‘This was a private party, one amongst hundreds if not thousands taking place in the UAE on a Friday night. The boys risk huge consequences and discriminations in their future careers if their names get out, not to mention the lives of some of them are at risk if their families are conservatives, as it may lead to so called “honour killings”.’
Abdulla the chair of UAE LGBT told GME: ‘As an activist This is disheartening, the government’s actions towards our community are horrid and deplorable especially at a time where the public has expressed willingness to engage in a debate about the issues our community faces, just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender!’
UAE LGBT is appealing for information, if anyone has any details please to be send an email via the GME editorial to editor@gaymiddleeast.com.


Protection pre-conception, should gay parents consider it?

The Court of Appeal has handed down a decision today in a case brought by lesbian parents seeking to marginalise the relationship between their son and his natural father.
The focus of the parents’ argument was that they wanted to bring up the child in a two parent family. In contemplation of that they sought to reach an agreement with a close male friend. They entered into an agreement – pre conception – whereby he would act as a donor but would then have no further role in the child’s life. Whilst understandable from the parents’ point of view it would have been extremely difficult for a court to uphold this agreement if it were not in the best interests of the child.
The question on everyone’s lips now is whether same sex couples should enter into pre conception agreements such as this and if so should or would those agreements be upheld by courts in the future?
The question arises as a result of changing attitudes towards same sex couples and their legal rights. It would be easy to say on the one hand that following on from the recent highly publicised prenuptial agreement case (Radmacher) such agreements should be given considerable weight. After all the decision in Radmacher was based, at least in part, on the courts taking the view that adults should be able to regulate their own affairs provided there is no undue influence.
However we must recall that in the case of pre nuptial agreements these usually deal with finances rather than the level of contact parents should have with their children following on from divorce. Indeed it is difficult to see a court upholding an agreement which, for example, states that if a married couple later separate the father will see his child for two hours each week. Inevitably the court would take into consideration the welfare checklist as set out in the Children Act.
The overriding principle of the Children act is that the court must do what is in the best interests of the child. That test must be undertaken at the time the matter comes before the court. It seems highly unlikely, in my view, that the courts, despite their efforts to ensure they are keeping up with social change, would feel able to uphold an agreement made in relation to a child several years ago.
The other point of difference in relation to pre nuptial agreements is of the course the need for some level of equality of bargaining power. The courts will consider whether each party had independent legal advice before entering into the agreement or at the very least whether they had the opportunity of doing so and whether if they did not they were disadvantaged in their ability to deal with the agreement. Is it possible to measure the levels of bargaining power when one is dealing with such an emotional topic as a parent/child relationship?
Whilst therefore it is easy to say that such pre conception agreements should be upheld is it right that greater weight should be attached to an agreement made pre conception to an agreement made post conception by a heterosexual couple or indeed a lesbian couple? It is difficult to see why different criteria should attach. Does it really make a difference to the child’s best interests whether he or she was born at the time the agreement was entered into? The salient facts are of course that the donor is a natural parent. As a natural parent the child has a right to know him and to maintain a father child relationship in all but the very most extreme cases. Should this really be any different because a donor decided pre conception that he would never have any contact with his child, especially when the donor is a close family friend and is therefore coming into contact with that child on a regular basis.
In summary it is difficult to see how a pre conception agreement such as the one in this case could have been upheld. If such agreements are to be upheld then they must surely only be upheld when the parties have each had independent advice or at the very least having a high level of understanding of what they are entering into. It is this which causes difficulty. If each party has capacity or is commercially aware there is equality of bargaining power when discussing financial issues. I think the difficulty comes in how we assess equality of bargaining power in relation to a donor who has not yet seen or bonded with his unborn child but may later go on to do so.
Whilst it may seem fair at first blush to hold a donor to a pre conception agreement the consequence would inevitably lead to agreements being made by heterosexual couples and couples looking to regulate the position post conception. It is this which renders such agreements difficult. That said this case is perhaps unusual in that the couple in the case decided today sought to reach an agreement with a man with whom they maintained a friendship. It was inevitable he was going to come into contact with this child.
One has to query whether this situation would arise in other than those fewest of cases if the donor never later came into contact with the child. Would he be making an application and more importantly would it be in the child’s best interests for him to have contact – he may by then be in an established environment where knowledge of his natural father may seek to de stabilise the situation. Once can certainly see that in that scenario it would be far easier to uphold the agreement. It has been acted upon to the extent there has been no bonding.
It seems that from a practical point of view if a same sex couple seek to ensure a donor does not later seek contact the donor should never be a close friend, should not come into contact with the child at all and if there is an agreement at least then there is an argument to say that the disruption to the children would be so great that it would not be in his or her best interests.
An agreement in those circumstances would serve to show that intention existed from the beginning and having been acted upon to date it would now be detrimental to the child to resile from it. Having an agreement is not of itself sufficient: it is the choice of donor and the action taken after the birth of the children which are likely to determine what would happen if the donor made a later application for contact.
Amanda Melton is a Partner and Head of the Family Group, at Matthew Arnold & Baldwin LLP.


Denmark: Equal marriage law to take effect in June.

Denmark’s prime minister has announced that equal marriage laws will come into effect in the European country on 15 June this year.
At a press conference, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who took office in October last year, announced that gays would be allowed to marry in time for the summer, the Copenhagen Post reports.
She said: “We have looked at two laws that will provide the gay and lesbian community the opportunity to get married in the church and at city hall.
“The administration and I firmly believe that this is a natural step to take in a modern society like Denmark.
“The law will go into effect on June 15, so already this summer we’ll see the first gays and lesbians getting married in Danish churches.”
Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex unions, in 1989, and acts of homosexuality were decriminalised in 1933.
The law will not compel priests to marry gays.
Ms Thorning-Schmidt said: “It will be up to each priest whether he or she will perform gay marriages, but the government gives all members of the church the right to get married in church, whether they want to marry a person of the opposite or same sex.”
Denmark will join European countries including Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal in allowing gays equal access to marriage.


No Pride in Eastern Europe.

We interview Australian filmmaker Logan Mucha about his gay rights in Eastern Europe documentary, showing at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival tomorrow.
The ‘dire’ plight of gay activists in Belarus, where there is no protection of LGBT rights at all, is the subject of a documentary, East Bloc Love, showing at the Melbourne Queer Film Festival tomorrow.
Gay Star News speaks to Australian filmmaker Logan Mucha about why he decided gay rights in Eastern Europe should be the focus of his first feature film, what happened when activists tried to hold a Pride march in Belarus and how the KGB are trying, unconvincingly, to infiltrate gay rights groups.
Where did you get the idea for East Bloc Love?
East Bloc Love was my first feature documentary. I started filming it when I was 23. I was overseas for eight months filming then it took me about four or five months fulltime to edit.
Two years before I made the film I traveled through Eastern Europe on holiday with my boyfriend. And we were just interested to see that the whole gay scene there was so underground. Even to go to a gay bar you had to walk down an alleyway and knock on a door and a security guard would come and take you in. I found that really fascinating, especially coming from Australia.
I decided to take a year off from studying and just go over there and start exploring why gay people were so invisible in Eastern Europe.
What did you find out?
There are so many different reasons depending on what country you’re in. It still seems like a hangover from the Soviet occupation, or some of the countries are so extremely Catholic or very right wing orthodox and just the mind set over there. Everyone was still so conservative and because they were such relatively poor countries compared to Western Europe the idea of talking about gay rights was just so low on the radar, compared to talking about economic stability or any of these other things.
What countries did you go to?
We went to six countries and five ended up being in the film. It mostly focuses on Belarus. That’s where the main story sets off from. Then we go to Poland, Romania, Latvia and Estonia.
What's life like for gay people in those countries?
All the countries apart from Belarus are part of the EU. And by being accepted into the European Union, they had to set protocols in terms of gay rights, but how much they are actually enforced is an entirely different story.
In Belarus, which is kind of like a subsidiary to Russia, homosexual ‘propaganda’ is illegal, these people have no rights, it’s impossible to form organisations, it’s illegal to have any marches or protest for gay rights.
Belarus is just literally the most depressing place I’ve been to in terms of gay rights. They have no support. The European Union can’t touch them. It’s just a really dire situation that they’re in at the moment.
Who did you meet in Belarus?
The main story starts in Belarus where we met an activist called Sergey Yenin, at the time he was only 20. He was one of the main organisers of Gay Belarus, which was an illegal gay activist group who worked out of a small apartment on the outskirts of the city. The got some grants from some organisations in the Netherlands, but they were illegal in their country.
The whole film revolved around them trying to put on their first gay pride in Belarus, which was absolutely horrible the way it turned out. They put in a lot of applications for a march and the local authorities kept denying them permission for stupid reasons, like the march was too near a metro station, or this that and the other. They kept providing alternate routes of where it was going to go but they kept getting turned down.
In the end they held their Pride march anyway with about 25 activists. Including some who’d come down from the Gay Russia organisation in Moscow. And the march lasted about five minutes before the police came and arrested everyone.
Are the activists lives in danger in Belarus? Did you ever feel frightened when you were making the film?
I was the most fearful I’ve ever been in my life. We literally spent two and a half/three weeks with this organisation. It was scary because the KGB still exists in Belarus. They haven’t even changed their name. It turned out that one person who came into the organisation while we were there filming was there from the KGB, monitoring them. It sounds like something from an old James Bond spy novel but this guy infiltrated the organisation and passed on the details, which is how their Pride march got stopped so quickly.
It was really weird because this guy came along saying he wanted to do music for the festival week. We kept thinking, ‘why is this guy trying to do music when there’s not really an event that requires music?’ He didn’t talk much and everyone had their scepticism about him. The good thing is that a lot of conversations were held without him there. A lot of people clicked on to the fact he might not be exactly who he said he was. He had a girlfriend as well. It was very strange for someone just to jump on board and want to be supportive. His motives were very unclear.
The other thing is that a lot of people inside the organisation have been approached by the KGB and asked to be recruited to get information for them.
Everyone’s extremely fearful. You can’t go out on the street and say you’re gay. There’s only one gay club in the city and it’s on the outskirts and you have to know where to go. It’s impossible to be open there. The police, wider society just don’t accept it and don’t understand it.
Will your film be shown in the countries you filmed in?
It was May 2009 in May when I filmed the march in Belarus, and last year I went back for their Pride week. They rented out a conference room there, with security and they never announced it publicly, but they had what they call a festival. They had a conference and then played my movie. It was really exciting for all the people in the film to watch themselves. It was a really weird surreal moment when everyone couldn’t believe that they were subjects of this feature documentary.
It screened at a film festival in northern UK [Rainbow Film Festival, Shropshire] and they paid for Sergey to go out and speak at the film festival, and he’d never been to Western Europe before so it was really exciting. And now the film’s being screened at Amnesty International Film Festival next month in The Netherlands are they’re flying him out again for that. It’s really exciting to know that somebody from Belarus is actually going to speak to people at the screening. So that’s been a really positive outcome from the film.
The whole point of the film is to give some media attention to this subject, because the media in Belarus don’t give them any exposure. So I like fact that now somebody from the organisation is able to go over and talk at these festival and give them an inside account. That exactly what I aimed to do but never thought was going to happen.
What's your next project?
There’s a few on the go. Last year I went over to Moscow for Moscow Pride and started work on a documentary about Nikolai Alekseev who’s the head of Gay Russia. I started working on his biography but it’s a very slow process because so much as happened since with the anti-propaganda bill that’s been passed St Petersburg and other places. So there’s so much more story to cover which I haven’t been able to do yet.
I’m also working on a new feature documentary which is all these short stories from around the world which connect into one narrative, which is actually going to be called The Last Gay Thing I Ever Do. I promised it will be the last gay activist documentary I make for a while. After three documentaries I feel it might be time to explore some other issues, but I’m still very passionate about it.
I’ll hopefully go out next year and pitch to local broadcasters for funding and be able to go out and make my own documentaries, with funding for the first time!


Τρίτη, 13 Μαρτίου 2012

St Petersburg governor signs ‘gay propaganda’ bill into law.

St Petersburg’s governor has signed into law a bill making it an offence to ‘promote’ gay or transgender personal identities with commentators fearing how badly it will ‘encourage hate’ towards the city’s gay, bi and trans people.
The city now punished the promotion of such identities with a fine of 5,000 roubles, £107 or up to 50,000 roubles, £1,070 for holders of public posts. The fines are increased tenfold again for legal entities.
St Petersburg is one of four Russian cities to have introduced a law banning the promotion of gay and trans identities among minors.
Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director for AllOut.org said: “By validating a new regime of censorship and intolerance, Governor Poltavchenko has diminished the reputation of his city with the stroke of a pen.
“100,000 people have promised not to visit the “new” St. Petersburg after this law goes into effect. Travel companies are considering revising their scheduled trips to the city. St. Petersburg’s sister cities have even begun to put pressure on the Governor to reject this law.
“Together, we have sent a very clear message to Poltavchenko and leaders around the world: there will be a high price to pay for advancing the cause of bigotry and intolerance. AllOut.org continues to stand with our partners in Russia and will work through diplomatic channels, creative online campaigns and offline events to ensure that this law is repealed and that others like it never see the light of day.”
350,000 people have watched an AllOut.org video telling the governor St Petersburg will suffer as a result of the law.
Polina Savchenko, general manager for ComingOut, a St. Petersburg-based LGBT organization said: “Authorities project ‘traditional values’ and clerical rhetoric onto politics, and prioritize ‘interests of majority’ over the value of human individuality. We realize that today, fascist-like rhetoric in Russia is becoming basis for legislative activity.
“In fact, this law has little to do with protecting minors. Today, neither homosexual people, nor human rights defenders, nor lawyers can answer the question of how this law is going to be applied in practice, due to its vague nature and non-legal terminology.”
She said: “To talk about existence of homosexuality, to publicly denounce homophobic violence, to develop sense of self-awareness and dignity in homosexual people, to promote tolerance – all of these acts can fall under the ‘propaganda’ law. This law will serve directly to further isolate and marginalize the gay community and encourage hate towards a social group.
“We are convinced that no authority can deprive people of their right to dignity, to respect of private and family life, to freedom of expression and to protection from discrimination and violence. We are offended and outraged by this act by city authorities and will continue fighting for the rights of LGBT citizens until the barbaric law is repealed.”
The British Foreign Office had said it hoped the governor would reconsider the law.
The Kaleidoscope Trust was told by the British Foreign Office: “We, along with EU colleagues, have already expressed concern to the St Petersburg legislature and the Russian MFA, that this legislation is incompatible with Council of Europe guidelines on preventing discrimination against LGBT people.”
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in February on the Russian presidential elections, later won by Vladimir Putin, denouncing the regional laws which ban ‘gay propaganda’ around minors.