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Singapore's Parliament decriminalized oral and anal sex for heterosexuals Oct. 23 but declined to also legalize Gay sex.

Penal Code Section 377A punishes sex between men -- "gross indecency" -- with two years in prison. The law is rarely, if ever, enforced.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supported keeping the ban, saying Singaporean society is conservative and he didn't want to encourage Gays to start pushing for such things as access to adoption and marriage.

"We do not approve of them [Gays] setting the tone of mainstream society," Lee said. "They live their lives, that's their personal space. But the tone of the overall society, I think, it remains conventional, it remains straight and we want it to remain so.

"We were right to uphold the family unit when Western countries went for experimental lifestyles in the 1960s -- the hippies, free love -- but I'm glad we did that because today, if you look at Western Europe, marriage as an institution is dead."

About 50 people picketed Saudi Arabia's embassy in London Oct. 19 in protest against the nation's reported floggings and executions of Gay men.

On Oct. 2, two Saudi men convicted of sodomy in the city of Al Bahah received the first of their 7,000 lashes in punishment, the Okaz daily newspaper reported. The whippings took place in public, the report said.

The London protest, staged just prior to a state visit by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, was organized by the National Union of Students and the Gay direct-action group OutRage!

"As well as flogging and executing Gay people, the Saudi leaders are guilty of detention without trial, torture and the public beheading of women who have sex outside of marriage," said OutRage! leader Peter Tatchell. "The country is a theocratic police state."

Activist Brett Lock added, "Saudi leaders should be shunned until they stop their homophobic persecution and their many other human rights abuses."

The activists delivered a protest letter to the Saudi ambassador, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.

Anti-Gay Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his Europhobic, homophobic Law and Justice Party lost control of the government in the Oct. 21 general election.

They were replaced by the center-right Civic Platform party, which apparently is slightly less hostile to Gays and is much friendlier toward the European Union.

Although Gay activists, newspapers and former President Lech Walesa reportedly have spread unsubstantiated rumors that the unmarried Kaczynski is secretly Gay, Kaczynski has called Gays "perverse," and his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, has warned that if homosexuality "were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear."

Gay groups expect Civic Platform to be, at minimum, less overt in thwarting social and political progress by the nation's Gay population.

"After two steps backwards, made thanks to the ruling party of Kaczynski twin brothers, the time has come for a step forwards," activists Pawel Walczak and Michal Minalto said in a posting at the Gay Web site

"We may be glad that two years of irresponsible government are over, two years of increasing threats for and discrimination of Lesbians and Gays. However, a lot of work is before us."

The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association was prevented by the mayor's office from publicly displaying a 30-meter rainbow flag during the group's 11th annual conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, Oct. 25-28.

Mayor Juozas Imbrasas also blocked an identical action in May when the display was planned as the centerpiece of the city's first Gay pride celebration. He also banned the European Union's traveling "anti-discrimination truck" from visiting the city at the same time.

City officials said the flag display could cause "riots."

More than 200 people attended the ILGA-Europe confab, which was otherwise unmolested by the city government.

"We are appalled that an EU member state repeatedly violates the right to a free and peaceful assembly," said Deborah Lambillotte, co-chair of ILGA-Europe's executive board. "LGBT people have the same right to express their views and concerns publicly and, as any other citizen of the European Union, to enjoy the rights guaranteed in the Lithuanian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights."

Ireland must grant transsexuals amended birth certificates or face legal action in the European Court of Human Rights, Dublin High Court Justice Liam McKechnie ruled Oct. 19.

Postoperative transsexual dentist Lydia Foy, 60, who launched the court challenge in 1997, called the decision "a wonderful breakthrough after such a long, long time."

Foy said transsexuals need new birth certificates because when the document doesn't match one's current name or appearance, "you can be outed and embarrassed" anytime a birth certificate is needed for paperwork requirements.

McKechnie said the state's refusal to issue Foy a new document had subjected her to "stress, humiliation, embarrassment and loss of dignity," and jeopardized her right to privacy.

The Philippine Supreme Court ruled Oct. 24 that a woman who had a sex-change operation cannot change her name and sex on her civil-registry record.

Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio wanted to change her name to Mely, identify her gender as female and marry her boyfriend.

The court said Silverio "succeeded in altering his body and appearance through the intervention of modern surgery [but] no law authorizes the change of entry as to sex in the civil registry for that reason."

For what it's worth, however, the court acknowledged "that there are people whose preferences and orientation do not fit neatly into the commonly recognized parameters of social convention and that, at least for them, life is indeed an ordeal."

A family court judge in Sheffield, England, who resigned to avoid having to approve adoptions by Gay couples, has launched an appeal to get his job back.

Andrew McClintock, 63, is claiming discrimination based on religious belief.

A lawyer for the government said United Kingdom law supports Gay adoptions, and that a tribunal that refused to excuse McClintock from same-sex cases had acted correctly.
picture above: Brett Lock; below Peter Tatchell
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