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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Boy George imprisoned for 15 months
Gay British singer Boy George has been sent to prison for 15 months for falsely imprisoning a male escort in George's London apartment.

George and an accomplice handcuffed Audun Carlsen to George's bed (or wall; reports varied) and allegedly beat him, accusing him of having stolen nude photos from George's laptop that were taken during a previous rendezvous between George and Carlsen after they met on Gaydar.co.uk.

Judge David Radford said the attack on Carlsen was "callous and humiliating" and "shocked, degraded and traumatized him."

"He was deprived of his liberty and human dignity without warning or proper explanation to him of its purpose, length or purported justification," Radford said.

Carlsen eventually escaped and ran into the street in his underwear, still wearing handcuffs.

London's Daily Telegraph paid George a visit in prison and reported: "Overweight and looking the picture of misery, the troubled singer sits on a bed, writing autographs for the trickle of curious fellow inmates from London's Pentridge Prison who have demanded them."

British reports said George has been given an $8.40-a-week job in the prison kitchen serving food.

Nigerian House votes to ban same-sex marriage
Nigeria's House of Representatives voted unanimously in mid-January to ban "marriage between persons of same gender, solemnization of same and other matters related therewith."

Leo Igwe of the Nigerian Humanist Movement called the vote "a step backward for Nigeria's democracy and a breach of the nation's human rights obligations."

"Banning Gay marriage will increase homophobia and attacks on Lesbian and Gay people," Igwe said. "It will undermine Nigeria's efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially among Gays. [W]e humanists call on President Musa Yar'dua not to sign this oppressive and retrogressive bill into law."

On January 21, the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights called for suspension of European Union aid to Nigeria "unless the state homophobia in the country is terminated."

"The only result this law is going to achieve is raising hatred against Gay, Lesbian and Transgender citizens of Nigeria," said Intergroup President Michael Cashman. "I do not understand how legislators in such a big and diverse country can be so cruel and indifferent to millions of their own people who are already such a marginalized and oppressed minority."

Polish MP to be reprimanded over blog post
Polish MP Janusz Palikot will be reprimanded by his ruling Civic Platform party for writing on his blog that former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who heads the opposition Law and Justice Party, should, once and for all, tell the public whether he's Gay.

In a follow-up post, Palikot reportedly added that he has been contacted by people who claim Kaczynski sexually molested them.

Kaczynski has been sporadically and casually outed over the years, without evidence, by Gay activists, newspapers and even former President Lech Walesa. Kaczynski, whose identical-twin brother is Polish President Lech Kaczynski, has never been married and reportedly has always lived with his mother and a cat.

As punishment for his blog posts, Palikot will lose his position as chair of Parliament's Friendly State committee, which oversees removal of government red tape, the Warsaw Voice reported January 21.

ILGHRC gets a new leader
Veteran Gay activist Paula Ettelbrick will step down as head of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on March 1 and be replaced by Cary Alan Johnson, who currently is the organization's senior Africa specialist and lives in Cape Town.

"Cary is a true visionary and proven leader," said the organization's board chairs. "We have great confidence in Cary's ability to continue IGLHRC's incredible momentum in challenging abuse and discrimination around the world."

Johnson, who is from Brooklyn, New York, has lived in Africa for two decades. Prior to joining IGLHRC, he worked as Africa regional director for the Margaret Sanger Center International, as the country representative for Africare in Rwanda and then Zimbabwe, and as a field officer for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., and has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

Johnson will relocate from IGLHRC's South Africa office to its New York City headquarters. IGLHRC also has an office in Buenos Aires and staff in Washington, D.C., and Quezon City, Philippines.

Study finds Iranians acknowledge having Gay sex
A study by an Iranian academic has found that 24 percent of Iranian women and 16 percent of Iranian men acknowledge having had Gay sex at least once.

Sociologist Parvaneh Abdul Maleki presented her data in Tehran at the recent Third Conference on Well-being in the Family, according to a report at ghatreh.com.

Maleki also reported that 26 percent of women and 73 percent of men admit masturbating, a sin for Muslims.

The news report called homosexuality and masturbation "sexual abnormalities that require multi-dimensional treatment [via] cultural, medical and education campaigns."

Speaking in New York City in 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously said: "We in Iran ... don't have hamjensbaz [a derogatory term for homosexuals] like you have in your country. In our country, there is no such thing. In Iran ... absolutely such a thing does not exist as a phenomenon. I don't know who told you otherwise."

In September 2008, Ahmadinejad backtracked a bit, telling U.S. TV interviewer Larry King: "I said it's not the way it is here [in the U.S.]. We have actually a law regarding it and the law is enforced. [Homosexuality] is an act that is against human principles. ... It can cause psychological problems, social problems that affect the whole society. Remember that God's rules are to improve human life. In our religion, this act is forbidden and the Parliament has legislated about it."

Ahmadinejad added: "Of course, we do pay attention that in Iran nobody interferes in the private lives of individuals. ... In their own house, nobody ever interferes with people."

There have been persistent, though unconfirmed, reports for years that Iran hangs men for the crime of engaging in sodomy, but the only sodomy-related executions that have been publicized involved individuals who were accused of additional crimes as well, such as rape.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has said it suspects that other charges often are tacked onto sodomy cases to prevent the public outrage that would accompany executions carried out solely for the crime of consensual adult Gay sex. The group also has said it believes executions solely for Gay sex are taking place out of the public eye.

"Our suspicions [are] that their current practice really is to rid society of Lesbians and Gay men," the organization said in 2007.

But Human Rights Watch has said it cannot fully document any executions in Iran in recent years carried out solely for the crime of consensual adult Gay sex.

In a 2008 interview with the U.S. radio program Democracy Now!, Ahmadinejad said Iranians are not executed solely for engaging in homosexual acts.

"Those who kill someone else or engage in acts of rape could be punished by execution," he said. "Otherwise, homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hung. ... So, we don't have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment."

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures top: Cary Alan Johnson
below: President Ahmadinejad on Larry-King

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