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International News - Rex Wockner
Section One
ALL STORIES
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International News

Zimbabwean leaders denounce Gays
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai lashed out at Gay people on March 25 during a belated International Women's Day event.

Mugabe said: "Three days ago, I heard that some people want us to discuss the issue of Gays in the new constitution. How do we even begin to talk about it? Those who engage in homosexual behavior are just crazy. It's just madness. Insanity. We can't do it or the dead will turn in their graves. ... If you are doing that [Gay sex], you are destroying nationhood. [It's] an alien practice that is being exported into our country."

"In Britain and the United States, I saw an archbishop blessing a Gay wedding," the president added. "I want to see how they will procreate. If they manage, then I will admit that I don't know."

Tsvangirai said: "The president has spoken on the issue of Gay rights, men who breathe to other men's ears. Never. I don't accept that culture. Why do you look for other men when women make up 52 percent of the population? Men are few."

A spokesman for the group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe called the developments "very worrying."

Zimbabwe will begin drafting a new constitution on April 10.

German foreign minister signs on as Gay Games sponsor
Germany's openly Gay foreign minister and vice chancellor, Guido Westerwelle, has signed on as a sponsor of Gay Games VIII, which will be held in Cologne from July 31 to August 7.

He will preside over the opening ceremonies in RheinEnergie Stadium.

"Dr. Guido Westerwelle sends an important signal for more tolerance and acceptance of Gays and Lesbians in our society," said Games Cologne Executive Officer Annete Wachter.

Some 12,000 participants and tens of thousands of spectators are expected at the games.

Meanwhile, the Outgames, a competing LGBT Olympics-type event, announced March 31 that the Antwerp City Council has unanimously "agreed to an extensive support package."

The 3rd World Outgames are scheduled for 2013 in the Belgian city.

The Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association, which oversees the Outgames, said the council "approved extensive support in the areas of logistics, infrastructure, but also marketing and communication, culture, sport, diversity and tourism."

Regional versions of the Outgames will be held in 2011 in Vancouver, Canada, and Wellington, New Zealand.

Guernsey to lower Gay age of consent
Legislators in Guernsey, a British crown dependency in the English Channel, voted unanimously in March to lower the legal age for Gay sex to 16, the same as for straight sex.

On March 25, the government announced it would implement the change.

Home Minister Geoffrey Mahy said an unequal age of consent amounted to discrimination based on sexuality.

"These are not choices that people make, but are part of who they are," Mahy said.

Deputies in the legislature, which is called the States of Deliberation, also voted to decriminalize sex acts that take place between more than two males.

British Gays say pope must resign
About 50 protesters, including members of the Gay group OutRage!, demonstrated outside London's Westminster Cathedral on March 28 demanding that Pope Benedict XVI resign for "covering up child sex abuse by Catholic clergy."

Mainstream media have reported in recent weeks that before he was pope, Benedict may have dealt with pedophile-priest cases inappropriately.

"In 2001, the pope wrote to all Catholic bishops worldwide, ordering them to maintain 'papal secrecy' about sex abuse by clergy," said OutRage!'s Peter Tatchell. "He threatened to excommunicate anyone who spoke about it. This makes the pope personally responsible for the cover-up."

In 2001, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the successor body to the Inquisition, which is charged with rooting out doctrinal errors and heresy and meting out discipline, among other things.

Under Ratzinger's leadership, the congregation excoriated Gay sex as "intrinsically disordered," "objectively disordered," "a serious depravity," "against the natural moral law" and "sins gravely contrary to chastity."

In 2003, Ratzinger wrote: "Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity."

Russian court OKs ban on Gay "propaganda"
Russia's Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint from Gay activists March 31 which argued against the Ryazan region's ban on "exposing minors to homosexual propaganda."

Gay activists Nikolai Alekseev, Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet had claimed the ban violates a constitutional guarantee that only federal laws can limit constitutional rights, as well as guarantees of freedom of thought and speech, and freedom from discrimination.

The court, however, ruled that regional legislators are permitted to create administrative offenses that limit citizens' rights. It also said Russia's constitution specially protects "the family, motherhood and childhood."

Further, the court wrote, "The ban of such propaganda - as a purposeful and uncontrolled activity connected to dissemination of information which can harm health, morals and spiritual development, including formation of distorted perceptions about the social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional marriage relations among persons who are deprived due to their age of the ability to critically evaluate such information - cannot be considered as breaching the constitutional rights of citizens."

Alekseev said activists also appealed against the ban to the European Court of Human Rights last year.

"The Ryazan ban contradicts Article 10 of the European Convention, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression," he said. "We are sure to win this case in Strasbourg."

In March 2009, Baev and Fet deliberately violated the law by carrying pro-Gay signs near a school and library in downtown Ryazan, which is 200 km (120 miles) southeast of Moscow.

They were fined 1,500 rubles ($51) each.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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