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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Court overturns shutdown of Lambda Istanbul
Turkey's Supreme Court on November 27 overturned a decision to dissolve the Gay group Lambda Istanbul.

A lower court had agreed with city officials who claimed the organization was unlawful, immoral and against family values.

"Finally, justice has arrived," Lambda said in an English-language statement. "We are stronger now with the overturn of the decision to close down Lambda Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association. As people who face violence, who get expelled from our jobs, who are excluded and isolated, who are denied their legal rights, our voices will now multiply; and as the LGBTT movement we will be louder when we shout out our right to equality."

"Decisions influenced by prejudices will remain inevitable, and inequality, discrimination and intense human rights violations will prevail as long as 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' are not added to the equality clause of the constitution," the group said.

Lambda has been in existence since 1993 and has been officially registered for two years. The group continued to operate during the appeals process.

HIV diagnoses among European Gay men nearly double since 2000
HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) increased 86 percent in 23 European countries between 2000 and 2006 - from 3,003 cases to 5,571 cases - according to a report in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Researchers from the EuroHIV program analyzed data from 24 of the 27 member nations of the European Union along with data from Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, and compared those figures with similar year-2000 data gathered from 23 nations.

There were 7,693 new HIV cases reported overall among MSM in 2006, of which 2,597 occurred in the United Kingdom. Other nations with high diagnosis rates included the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal and Switzerland.

Much lower rates of MSM diagnoses were found in Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia, even though Hungary saw a 118 percent increase over 2000 and Slovenia saw a 257 percent increase.

Four nations saw a decline in new HIV diagnoses among MSM over the six-year period: Cyprus, Iceland, Lithuania and Luxembourg (though Luxembourg's rate is still high).

The researchers said stepped-up HIV testing may have affected the statistics to some degree, meaning an increase in diagnoses may not correlate precisely with an increase in actual infections.

They also suggested that infections may be increasing as HIV-positive men who have sex with men live longer and remain sexually active and presumably able to pass on the virus.

Other findings included:

o In 20 countries, the percentage of MSM who had full-blown AIDS at the time of their HIV diagnosis decreased from 25 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2006.

o In 30 countries, full-blown AIDS diagnoses decreased from 2,422 in 2000 to 1,445 in 2006.

o In those same countries, HIV-related deaths decreased 57 percent over the period, from 876 in 2000 to 373 in 2006.

"We have reported a recent increase in the number of HIV diagnoses among MSM in nearly all [European] countries, and in some countries this probably represents a true increase in incidence," the researchers said. "This, combined with the high prevalence of HIV reported in many Gay community settings, the high prevalence of HIV among MSM diagnosed with STI [sexually transmitted infection] and the high sexual mobility of this population, highlight the need for a Europe-wide HIV prevention strategy."

Chinese Gay HIV cases increase
The percentage of Gay men in China who are HIV-positive increased from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 4.9 percent this year, the Ministry of Health said November 28.

But straight sex remains the predominant way HIV is transmitted in China, accounting for 40 percent of new infections, compared with 28 percent from IV drug use and 5 percent from Gay sex.

The Gay statistics were based on data collected from 18,000 Gay men in more than 60 cities. China has recorded a total of 260,000 HIV cases, 77,000 AIDS cases and 34,000 AIDS-related deaths.

Moscow Gays lose another pride-parade court case
Gay pride organizers in Moscow lost yet another court case December 2 against city officials who continue to ban pride parades each year.

In frustration, pride organizers applied 155 times this past May to stage a Gay pride parade, and were rebuffed each time.

The Moscow City Court rejected claims that the bans violated Russian and European law.

In banning the parades, Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and city officials have cited security and public-disorder concerns.

"The bans of all 155 Gay human rights marches in Moscow will be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights," said lead pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev.

Similar appeals from previous years' bans already are awaiting Euro Court action.

Despite this year's ban, on June 1 about 35 activists misled police into going to the wrong location and successfully staged three surprise actions.

As city and riot police blockaded City Hall, activists pulled off a demonstration nearby at the Tchaikovsky statue outside the Moscow Conservatory. They unfurled a banner and flags, spoke with journalists who had accompanied them to the location, and chanted, "Tchaikovsky was also Gay," "No to homophobes" and "Equal rights for LGBT."

The action lasted about 15 minutes, after which the group staged a very brief march down the street, then dispersed before police could arrive.

A bit later, a second action took place across the street from City Hall. Activists blockaded themselves inside a third-floor apartment and draped a large banner above the street that read, "Rights for Gays and Lesbians - homophobia of Moscow mayor should be prosecuted." They also released 250 balloons from the apartment's windows.

Anti-Gay protesters threw garbage and eggs at the apartment balcony and at least 36 of them were arrested, police said. Police eventually broke down the apartment's door and arrested the people inside, charging them with taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and disobeying a police order.

The protesters who were removed from the apartment spent the night in jail. The charges against them were eventually dropped.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top:Moscow
bottom: Moscow

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