Section One

April 15, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 15

Sun, Feb 14, 2016


105 men jailed in Saudi Arabia for homosexual conduct

Around 105 men were sentenced to jail and flogging in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in late March and early April for alleged homosexual conduct.

The men were arrested March 10 at a private party for dancing and “behaving like women,” reports said.

On March 26, a Jeddah court, meeting in a closed session from which defense attorneys were excluded, sentenced 31 of the men to prison for from six months to one year, and to 200 lashes each. Four other men received two years’ imprisonment and 2,000 lashes.

More than 70 other men were released, reportedly because they had influential connections. But on April 3, they were summoned back to a police station and informed that they, too, had been sentenced to a year in jail.

“Prosecuting and imprisoning people for homosexual conduct are flagrant human rights violations,” said Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program. “Subjecting the victims to floggings is torture, pure and simple.”

The International Commission of Jurists also denounced the sentences.

“These convictions and sentences are unacceptable — and imposing them based on the victims’ real or perceived sexual orientation, or their consensual sexual conduct, is worse,” said Secretary-General Nicholas Howen. “Saudi Arabia is a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. We call on the government to stop these practices, which disregard basic principles of human rights law that all members of the Commission should uphold.”

Men jailed for private, consensual sex in Fiji

A 55-year-old Australian man and a 23-year-old Fijian man were jailed for two years in Fiji April 6 for having consensual sex in private.

Tourist Thomas Maxwell McCosker, a retired university teacher from the state of Victoria, and Dhirendra Nandan, a deliveryman, were convicted of “unnatural offence” and “indecent practice between males” after pleading guilty to having sex in an apartment in the city of Nadi.

Magistrate Syed Mukhtar Shah called their crimes “something so disgusting that it would make any person vomit.”

“If you wanted to have fun, you should have stayed in Australia instead of trying to come to Fiji and exploit our young boys,” Shah told McCosker. “You should have known that such indecent acts are illegal.”

Police became aware of the men’s activities after McCosker reported a theft of $1,500 in Australian currency. When police questioned Nandan in connection with the theft, he reported that he and McCosker had been making pornographic photos and videos together to sell on the Internet. Eighteen of the pictures were used as evidence in court.

Indian sodomy-ban case advances

India’s Supreme Court has expressed interest in hearing a case brought by the AIDS organization Naz Foundation against Section 377, the law that bans Gay sex.

The case was rejected last year by the Delhi High Court which ruled that the law could be challenged only by people who have been affected by it.

Naz appealed, arguing that the ban makes its anti-HIV work more difficult among men who have sex with men.

The Supreme Court responded by asking the national government, the Delhi city administration, the Delhi police commissioner, the National AIDS Control Organisation and the Delhi State AIDS Control Society to file statements of their position on the case with the court.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code states, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment...for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Italian region elects openly Gay president

Openly Gay communist Nichi Vendola was elected president of Italy’s southeastern Puglia region April 4.

He defeated rightwing incumbent Raffaele Fitto of Forza Italia, the national government’s main party, receiving 49.94 percent of the vote to Fitto’s 49.14 percent.

Vendola has been a member of Parliament for more than a decade.

Catalonia OKs Gay adoption

The Parliament of Spain’s autonomous Catalonia region, where Barcelona is located, legalized adoption by same-sex couples March 31.

Gay adoption also is permitted in the Navarre, Basque and Aragon regions of the country.

“This a very positive development that protects the interests of children who already live or will, in the future, live in Gay and Lesbian families,” said the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals.

Dutch Gays and straights divorce at same rate

Since the Netherlands became the first nation to legalize full same-sex marriage in 2001, Gays and straights have divorced at about the same rate.

New government statistics show that 5,751 same-sex couples got married between April 1, 2001, and the end of 2003 — and 63 got divorced. There were 243,000 heterosexual marriages and 2,800 heterosexual divorces during the same period.

The divorce rate for Lesbians was slightly higher than for Gay men, the Central Bureau for Statistics said.

Full same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, in eight of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, and in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Numerous nations and states/provinces/regions grant same-sex couples many or nearly all matrimonial rights via registered-partnership or civil-union laws.

Serbian women’s center attacked

The Serbian women’s organization Zrenjanin Educational Center was hit with antiGay and racist graffiti April 6.

The façade of the organization’s office was painted with “Faggots, get out of Serbia!”, “Serbs give birth to healthy and white children, not faggots,” and “Jews, get out of Serbia!”

“This act constitutes a call for violence should be publicly condemned,” said the Serbian Lesbian group Labris. “We request from the authorities to take immediate measures against the perpetrators according to the law.”t

Madelyn Arnold