(more news below this acticle)
Nepal's gays caught between rapes and raids
Sudeshna Sarkar (Indo-Asian News Service)
Kathmandu, August 11
As Kathmandu Police raided eight so-called massage parlours in the capital and arrested six couples caught in compromising positions, another branch of the force was rounding up homosexuals.
While 31 people were arrested in the massage parlour raids Monday, 39 gays were picked up from streets, discos and restaurants and put behind bars. By Tuesday evening, at least one person arrested in the parlour raids was released but none of the gays. Not even a detainee who had a finger reportedly broken in a baton blow by the police.
Sunil Pant, founder and president of Blue Diamond Society, a Kathmandu-based gay rights organisation, fears this is part of a concerted effort by militant anti-gay groups and individuals to stamp out the recently started gay movement in Nepal.
"In the patriarchal Nepalese society, any male person not conforming to accepted norms of masculine behaviour is deemed unworthy and available for exploitation," says Pant.
"Though Nepal has a significant homosexual population, the community has been in the closet for a long time due to social stigma and oppression.
"Their invisibility lifted to some degree since 2000 when Blue Diamond Society started working with male homosexuals on HIV and AIDS as part of the AIDS control policy of the government.
"But now there is a backlash from a section of society still holding on to a mediaeval mindset."
Pant cites a string of incidents where 'metis', or men with feminine characteristics, have been subjected to abuse and violence. Many of these incidents, he adds, show active participation by government agencies, like police and security forces.
One of the most serious attacks occurred last week when a gay was abducted from the streets in the early hours of the morning, raped, slashed in the throat and left bleeding on the road. He is still in hospital. No one has been arrested.
In June, three men were picked up and taken to a guesthouse where they were raped at knifepoint and assaulted. Though police arrested two people, the case is still pending.
For Pant, as worrisome as the attacks is a writ petition filed by a lawyer last month. The petition is against the government, alleging it is allowing people's morals to be corrupted by not closing down Blue Diamond Society. The Supreme Court, where the writ petition as been filed, has asked the government to show cause why the society should not be closed down.
Pant says the attacks against the gay community are being monitored by several foreign diplomats whose governments are concerned at the anti-gay, anti-liberal sentiments and government complicity.
Currently, he is trying to mobilise a signature campaign and is asking people to send letters to various ministerial and police departments.
"The government needs to stand up to its commitment to human rights," Pant says. "They (needs to) treat all Nepalese, including métis, with dignity."
--Indo-Asian News Service
California to rule on authority to marry gay couples
BY THOMAS PEELE AND RANDY MYERS
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - (KRT) - The California Supreme Court will rule Thursday on whether San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had the right to issue marriage licenses to thousands of gay couples earlier this year.
The ruling is not expected to decide the constitutionality of gay marriage in the Golden State, but whether Newsom had the right to ignore the state's gay marriage ban, which he said violates both the California and U.S. constitutions. If the court rules against the city, both the state attorney general and three city residents are asking the justices to invalidate the marriages.
The decision will be posted at 10 a.m. on the court's Web site, www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions, according to a spokeswoman for the court.
"This isn't so much whether the marriage license are valid (but) if the mayor had the power to order the clerks to perform the ceremonies," Stanford University Law Professor Pam Karlan said Tuesday.
Man stabbed in shoulder on subway
A man was stabbed in the shoulder aboard a Brooklyn subway by a man shouting anti-gay epithets, police said yesterday.
The suspect, Melvin Ashford, 37, of Inwood, was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal possession of a weapon and aggravated harassment, police said.
The 40-year-old victim was treated at the scene by an EMS crew and did not require hospitalization.
The incident happened at 12:57 p.m. Monday aboard the northbound "J" train at the Gates Avenue stop.
A police source said Ashford walked up to the man, whom he does not know, used an epithet and stabbed him in the shoulder.
Lawyer challenges MVUSD's proposed harassment policy
By: KELLY BRUSCH - MURRIETA ---- A local attorney is challenging a sweeping anti-discrimination policy the Murrieta school board will consider this week, on the grounds that it would violate students' and employees' First Amendment rights.
The policy is an outgrowth of several incidents involving fights between students last year, at least one of which Murrieta Valley Unified School District officials say was racially motivated.
The proposal defines and prohibits racial, sexual and religious harassment and bullying of any sort. It also describes how students and staff may be disciplined for such conduct and how they may file a complaint if they believe they have been victimized, according to the proposal.
Attorney Richard Ackerman, a partner in Lively and Ackerman of Temecula, wrote a letter to the Murrieta school board outlining his objections to the proposed policy.
Korean Court Rules Gay Marriage Illegal
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(Seoul) For the first time a Korean court has ruled on the subject of same-sex marriage.
The case involved a lesbian in city of Incheon west of Seoul who sought alimony and a share of her former partner's assets.
The woman is identified only as Kim and the former partner as Lee.
When the couple's relationship soured three years ago after 21 years of living together, 45-year-old Kim asked for her fair share of assets based on restitution and marriage.
I would like to see a bill board that proclaims hetrosexuals can change or republicans can change... but I know they never can...
Billboard in New Paltz will proclaim gays can change
By Jesse J. Smith , Freeman staff 08/11/2004
NEW PALTZ - A group opposed to same-sex marriage is raising money for a roadside billboard that will proclaim homosexuality is not an innate characteristic but a lifestyle that can be left behind.
The billboard, to be placed on the south side of state Route 299 in New Paltz, will feature a black-and-white photograph of Stephen Bennett, who says he was a homosexual before a religious conversion enabled him to become straight. His wife and two children also are in the photo, which carries the caption, "Wonderful husband. Loving father. Former homosexual. Jesus Christ changes lives."
The billboard is part of the New York Christian Coalition's "Truthful Witness Campaign," which has, since April, picketed the ongoing same-sex weddings at the LeFevre House Bed and Breakfast on Southside Avenue in New Paltz.
Victory Fund Endorses 50 Candidates in 22 States, More Expected
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (U.S. Newswire) — The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund today announced that its recent endorsement of five more candidates puts its number of endorsed gay, lesbian, and transgender candidates for public office at 50 for 2004. Endorsements are made at every level of government and more will be announced in the 2004 election cycle.
“Gay and lesbian lawmakers should be involved in decisions about marriage equality and any other public policy issue that impacts our rights,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of Victory Fund. “We need members of our community, at every level of government, in the middle of this debate as voting equals, rather than trying to exert influence from outside the process,” he added.
With strategic consideration to the possible path of the anti- gay Federal Marriage Amendment, and the state-level battles over state amendments and referendums, the Victory Fund is also targeting 26 states that lack any openly gay or lesbian members in their legislatures.
Some early wins in 2004 indicate that Victory Fund endorsees are likely to fare well, including:
Second suit filed to keep anti-gay marriage amendment off Louisiana ballot
One challenge to a proposed amendment that would lock a same-sex marriage ban into Louisiana's constitution was quickly dismissed Tuesday. A second challenge will be heard Friday. "We filed a backup lawsuit," said John Rawls, attorney for the Forum for Equality and three individual plaintiffs who want to keep the measure off the September 18 ballot.
Both suits against the proposal were filed last Friday in New Orleans. Both contend that the proposed amendment should not be on the ballot on the grounds that it was illegally approved by the legislature and would invalidate gay and lesbian partners' contracts with each other
Judge Dismisses Challenge To Anti-Gay Louisiana Amendment
(New Orleans, Louisiana) A lawsuit challenging a proposed amendment to Louisiana's Constitution banning same-sex marriage was immediately dismissed in court on Tuesday morning.
The suit was filed last Friday by a group of people trying to keep the issue off the September 18th ballot.
The proposed amendment includes language that would ban civil unions and still other language that could be interpreted as outlawing the extension of domestic partnership benefits to unmarried couples.
The lawsuit involved a gay man who said the amendment could outlaw existing legal contracts governing his relationship with his partner, a lesbian woman who is afraid the amendment could affect her legal, contractual relationship with her lesbian partner and their children, and by a man who opposes government recognition of same-sex marriage but strongly favours government recognition of same-sex civil unions.
The group's lawyer, attorney Randy Evans, told Civil District Judge Nadine Ramsey that the amendment was illegally approved by the Legislature and that if allowed to go to voters it would deny some Louisiana residents rights that the state constitution now defines as "inalienable" and "inviolate," including the right to equal protection under the law and the right to control one's own property.
Same-sex parent wins right to adopt
FREDERICTON — A New Brunswick human rights board of inquiry has ruled a partner in a same-sex relationship can adopt the other partner's child, and be named as one of the parents on the birth registration document.
"I am very pleased with this decision," said Alanna Palmer, Chair of the Human Rights Commission. "It is consistent with decisions elsewhere in Canada and it shows that New Brunswick is making progress in advancing equality for same-sex families."
The decision arose out of a human rights complaint filed by a same-sex partner who claimed that the government had discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and marital status when it refused to allow her to adopt her partner's child and to register the child with her surname and with her being named as a parent.
The Human Rights Commission investigated and recommended that the case be referred to the board of inquiry.
Australia to forbid gay marriage for third time
Andrew Noyes, PlanetOut Network
Australia's Labour Party caucus voted for the third time on August 10 to forbid gay marriage, but a backlash by Democrats spurred a promise by lawmakers to review the status of gay relationships.
Labour Leader Mark Latham introduced an amendment to the country's Marriage Act that indicates the party will consider "options to achieve more consistent national treatment of all de facto relationships," according to the newspaper The Australian.
Liberal lawmakers said the amendment opens the door for gay unions to be registered officially.
The amendment states, "Labor will not be redefining marriage and will be voting for the Marriage Amendment Bill 2004, but will work to eliminate discrimination against Australians in same-sex relationships across a range of federal laws, including taxation, superannuation, immigration, family law, industrial relations and government benefits."
Man charged after Brighton gay attack
Ben Townley, Gay.com UK
A man who caused facial injuries in a homophobic attack at Brighton this weekend has been charged by police.
Jamie Pearce, 23, was charged with grievous bodily harm after the attack, which took place at 4am Monday morning, hours after the city's Pride celebrations ended.
Local officers have said they believe the attack, which took place on the Lower Esplanade, was motivated by anti-gay feeling.
MP backs LGBT History Month
Ben Townley, Gay.com UK
The UK's first LGBT History Month has received official backing from the government minister in charge of equality, who has spoken of the positive messages such an event could send about sexual diversity.
In a message released earlier this week, Jacqui Smith MP said she is "delighted" to support the idea of an annual LGBT History Month and that events held across the country could push mainstream society forward towards more tolerance.
"I believe the month will be important in helping to drive the culture change to create a more inclusive society," Smith said, adding that the event could "be a great opportunity to uncover some hidden LGBT histories".
The brainchild of the Schools Out group, the national event could result in a never before seen focus on LGBT education, entertainment and celebrations.
Transsexuals headed for Athens
by Stephen Hui
“It's about time,” Michelle Dumaresq says of the Olympic committee's recent decision to allow transsexual athletes to compete in their self-identified gender.
Dumaresq, 33, broke new ground for transsexual athletes in 2001 by asserting her right to race as a woman. Now the post-operative male-to-female transsexual from Vancouver is the Canadian national champion in the women's downhill discipline.
While the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) new rules won't apply to her — since downhill mountain biking is not yet an Olympic sport — Dumaresq says she's pleased that trans athletes hoping to participate in the Games will no longer face the barriers that have dogged her.
Until recently, transsexual athletes were barred from competing in the Olympics. Then in May, the IOC's executive board approved a policy establishing the conditions under which athletes who have changed sex could participate in the games. The new rules kick in this Friday in Athens. “I think this clearly shows that we will always address issues on human rights. That's something that we find very important,” says Charmaine Crooks, an Olympic silver medallist and Canadian IOC member living in Vancouver. “It also shows that when there is an issue, we will study it and if it fits with our fundamental values and philosophies, then we will act on it and act quickly, but also act in the best interest of all athletes.”