by Rex Wockner
SGN Contributing Writer
Gays arrested at Moscow demo
Fresh from his reported two-day kidnapping by unidentified government officials, Moscow Gay leader Nikolai Alekseev, along with 10 other activists, was arrested in Moscow September 21 for staging an unauthorized demonstration at City Hall against Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's strident homophobia.
The demo, dubbed 'Luzhkov Faggot,' took place on Luzhkov's 74th birthday and played off a recent court case in which Gays unsuccessfully sued him for defamation for having called Gays 'faggots' ('gomiki') on television.
The protesters were cited and released.
Alekseev has reported that he was abducted by unidentified government agents September 15 at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. He said they drove him to a police station two hours away, mocked and insulted him, called him "faggot" and "pederast," probably drugged him via a glass of water, and eventually presented him with a paper to sign that said an agreement had been reached to drop his lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights over Luzhkov's repeated bans of Gay pride parades.
Alekseev said he didn't sign the paper, "despite persistent 'advice' not to enter into conflict with the authorities."
During the ordeal, someone used Alekseev's mobile phone to text false information to the media, saying that Alekseev was in Belarus, had sought political asylum there and was dropping his European court cases.
Alekseev was set free on the outskirts of the city of Tula early the morning of September 18, made his way to the city center and took a bus to Moscow, he said.
He's planning to sue the airport, its security agents and Swiss International Air Lines because he was in an "international" part of the airport when he was seized and "illegally" forced back into Russian territory.
Gays, others unite to protest pope in London
As many as 20,000 LGBT people and others protested Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to Britain on September 18 in London.
"We got 10 times more people than we expected at the protest," said British Gay leader Peter Tatchell, who organized the demonstration. "This is awesome for a small campaign with no office, paid staff or proper funding."
Tatchell called the "Nope Pope" march and rally "the world's biggest protest against any pope for many, many years."
It filled an area stretching from Hyde Park Corner to Piccadilly Circus.
Tatchell said the goal was to "expose the pope's sexist, homophobic and reactionary dogmas."
Activists push for "third sex" ID cards for Nepalese Transgenders
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV has called on Nepal's Home Ministry to issue "third sex" citizenship cards to Transgender people in accord with a 2007 Supreme Court decision.
"The legal verdict, which was the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Blue Diamond Society, obligated the government to issue citizenship cards to Transgender people ... recognizing their gender as a 'third sex," the forum, known as MSMGF, said September 19. "Despite lobbying by activists to move the Home Ministry to deliver on this ruling, Transgender and meti individuals in Nepal today still do not have citizenship cards reflecting legal recognition of their gender identity."
MSMGF and openly Gay Nepalese MP Sunil Babu Pant say that without the cards, Transgender people are denied access to education, jobs, health care, inheritances, passports and foreign travel.
LGBT people staged a protest over the matter in Kathmandu on September 14, resulting in some 60 arrests, apparently because the demonstration occurred too close to government buildings.
Activists later had a meeting with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, and Pant wrote on Facebook, "He said he would solve the Citizenship ID problem soon, but we need to keep the pressure."
"Governments that deny fundamental rights to their citizens - in this instance, communities that are already marginalized - actively exclude these individuals from civic participation as equal members of society," MSMGF said. "This sends a strong message to the people of Nepal and the broader global community that prejudice supersedes social justice and human dignity."
Founded at the 2006 International AIDS Conference, MSMGF is the only global HIV advocacy network specifically devoted to the needs of men who have sex with men. It is governed by a 20-member committee of internationally recognized advocates and HIV professionals representing each major region of the world.
St. Petersburg Queer festival happens despite roadblocks
The Festival of Queer Culture in St. Petersburg, Russia, kicked off September 16 despite apparent pressure from the government to block the events.
Organizers had to find a new venue for the opening and a photo exhibition after the St. Petersburg Union of Artists reportedly broke a contract for use of its facilities at the last minute.
The union's head reportedly told festival organizers that the city's Committee of Culture had urged that the events be canceled because they promoted "propaganda of homosexuality."
The 10 days of activities included workshops, discussions and events with poets, photographers, musicians, actors, and dancers.
German foreign minister gets hitched
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle entered into an official same-sex partnership with Michael Mronz on September 17 in Bonn. Mayor Jürgen Nimptsch conducted the small, private ceremony.
In July, Westerwelle, who also is vice chancellor, presided over the opening ceremonies of Gay Games VIII in Cologne.
U.N. officials call for decriminalization of Gay sex
Top United Nations officials called September 17 for the decriminalization of Gay sex and Transgender identity worldwide.
"No doubt deeply rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights."
Ban's message was delivered in Geneva by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay.
In her own remarks, Pillay said there is nowhere in the world where LGBT people live entirely free from discrimination or the threat of harassment or attack.
"But in 78 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity," she told the event, which was held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
"If we are all entitled to the full range of human rights and to equal protection of the law, then I believe it can never be acceptable to deprive certain individuals of their rights, indeed to impose criminal sanctions on those individuals not because they have inflicted harm on others or pose a threat to the well-being of others but simply for being who they are, for being born with a particular sexual orientation or gender identity," Pillay said.
With assistance from Bill Kelley
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