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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 28, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 39
International News - Scott Wittet
Section One
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International News

by Scott Wittet

BALLPLAYER SUSPENDED FOR HOMOPHOBIC SLUR
Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games last week by the Toronto Blue Jays for displaying a message in Spanish that can be interpreted as 'You are a faggot' during a game against the Boston Red Sox.

Pictures posted online showed the Blue Jays shortstop with the slightly ungrammatical phrase 'Tu ere maricon' written in his eyeblack, a greasy substance players often wear under their eyes to reduce glare. The slur did not appear to be directed at any person in particular.

'The suspension is the result of his decision to display an unacceptable message while participating in a Major League game,' the Blue Jays said in a statement. 'The Blue Jays want to reaffirm that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.'

Escobar's suspension began immediately. The Blue Jays said he also would be required to participate in an outreach initiative to help educate society about sensitivity and tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued a statement backing the decision.

'Today's actions show that MLB and the Toronto Blue Jays are committed to creating an environment that all fans and families can enjoy, not a place where discriminatory language and anti-Gay attitudes are accepted,' GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said.

GIRLS BEAT IRAN CLERIC OVER DRESS CODE
They may be a far cry from Western counterparts fighting for the right to breast-feed - or go topless - in public, but two girls clobbered a cleric recently in a small town in Iran when he admonished one of them to cover herself more completely.

CNN reports that the cleric said he asked 'politely,' but the girl's angry reaction and some pugilistic teamwork with her friend landed the holy man in the hospital, according to an account Monday from the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.

Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti said he encountered the girls on his way to the mosque in the village of Shahmirzad for noon prayers in late August and told one of them to cover up, the report said.

'She responded by telling me to cover my eyes, which was very insulting to me,' Beheshti said. So he asked her a second time to cover up and also to put a lid on what he felt was verbal abuse.

The girls hit him, and he hit the ground.

'I don't remember what happened after that,' he said. 'I just felt her kicks and heard her insults.'

Beheshti, who emerged from the infirmary three days later, said he did not file a complaint against the girls.

Arguing with morality police or private individuals telling women to cover up is rare in small towns. It's more common in larger cities, where women are more likely to take a stand.

WORLD CELEBRATES BISEXUALITY
On September 23, cities around the world celebrated the 14th annual International Bisexuality Day, also known as Bi Visibility Day and Bi Pride Day.

Gay Star News writes that, similar to the International Day Against Homophobia and World Pride Day, International Bisexuality Day has gained popularity as a day to be doubly proud of the Bisexual community.

'This Bi Pride Day I celebrate the heroes who helped me get here, and all the people who work toward a world where none of us live without being able to love ourselves,' wrote BiNet USA board member Faith Cheltenham in an article for The Advocate.

'No one should need a permission slip to fall in love, and no one should have anyone else's definitions define them.'

The International Lesbian and Gay Association of Europe (ILGA-Europe) wrote in a press release:

'Unfortunately, there is still significant misunderstanding about Bisexuality and even denial of Bisexuality's existence. Bisexual people, similarly to other groups within the LGBTI community, face discrimination and social exclusion.'

According to september23.bi.org, the U.K. celebrated Bisexuality Day with musical and community events in Brighton, Cardiff, London, and other locations.

In France, members of four LGBT organizations - Bi'cause, SOS Homophobie, Mag Jeunes LGBT, and Act-Up - took to the streets to share information about Bisexual diversity.

And in the U.S., the Los Angeles Bi Task Force hosted its third annual Bi arts festival, showcasing the work of Bisexual performing and visual artists.

AUSSIE SENATOR RESIGNS IN GAY MARRIAGE ROW
An Australian senator has resigned from his party's front-bench team after he provoked outrage by comparing Gay marriage to bestiality.

Cory Bernardi also warned that allowing same-sex unions could lead to calls to legalize polygamy.

'The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society - or any other type of relationship,' he said.

'There are even some creepy people out there & [who] say it is OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals.

'Will that be a future step? In the future, will we say: 'These two creatures love each other, and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union'? I think that these things are the next step.'

In a subsequent radio interview, he stood by his comments, telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 'We've already had complaints from those in the polyamorous community about [how] this will discriminate against them.'

Bernardi had to stand down from his post as secretary for the opposition party leader, Tony Abbott, after criticism of Bernardi's comments came from across the political spectrum.

The center-right coalition of which Abbott's Liberal party is a member opposes same-sex marriage, but Abbott said of Bernardi's remarks, 'They are views that I don't share. They are views that many people will find repugnant.' He said Bernardi offered his resignation during a forthright discussion.

BELGRADE PRIDE BANNED AGAIN
An MP from Serbia's governing coalition has told media that this year's Belgrade Pride parade will be cancelled once again for 'security reasons.' The announcement came just days before the city's Pride festival was due to begin, according to Gay Star News.

On September 17 Belgrade Pride organizing committee member Goran Miletic told a coalition of NGOs that the festival was prepared for the Pride march to take place on October 6.

However, last week United Serbia MP Dragan Markovic said that the parade would be cancelled after all. It appears that non-parade-related Belgrade Pride events will be allowed to take place.

The parade has been banned most years since it first took place in 2001. Authorities allowed a march in 2010, but anti-Gay rioters caused more than 1 million euros in property damage.

Last year's Belgrade Pride parade was banned by the country's interior minister just three days before the event, after far-right groups threatened to riot again.

Serbia, along with other states aspiring to E.U. membership, has been urged by the European Parliament to do more to defend the rights of its LGBT citizens.

CAMEROONIANS 'PERCEIVED' AS GAY GET FIVE YEARS
Two men in the West African country of Cameroon have been sentenced to five years in jail under suspicion of being Gay.

Gay Star News reports that Franky Djome and Jonas Singa Kumie had an appeal hearing September 21, after receiving a five-year prison sentence for being 'perceived' as Gay.

'The judge gave the highest possible sentence to Franky and Jonas because their vocabulary was 'feminine,' because they drank a beverage that's perceived to be something Gay men drink, and because the clothes they were wearing were not masculine enough,' said Michel Togué, Jonas and Franky's attorney.

'Our country is throwing innocent people in jail just for being different, and it needs to stop.'

Over the past two weeks, more than 100,000 people signed a petition by AllOut.org, an international Gay rights group, asking Cameroon President Paul Biya and Minister of Justice Laurent Esso to reverse a separate decision to jail Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé.

Mbédé was sentenced to three years' prison for sending a text message to another man that said, 'I'm very much in love with you.'

Mbédé has already served one-third of his prison sentence and has allegedly been subject to abuse in custody.

Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut.org said: 'The cases of Franky, Jonas, and Roger are not isolated incidents - these are systematic violations of the most basic human rights.'

Male and female homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon under Section 347 of the nation's penal code, with a penalty of five years in prison plus a fine.

In 2011, more than a dozen men were arrested under Section 347, solely on suspicion of homosexuality.

SCOTTISH CHURCH PANICS OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
Terms such as 'husband' and 'wife' could vanish from official paperwork if the Scottish government legalizes same-sex marriage, say officials of the Free Church of Scotland.

In addition the church said it is 'unconvinced' by the safeguards being proposed by the government to people and institutions who object to Gay marriage.

The comments came after a delegation from the Free Church met with a Scottish government official last week to discuss the planned legalization of same-sex marriage, revealed the Scotsman newspaper.

The Free Church has accused the government of 'ignoring' the results of the church's own consultation in which the vast majority of Scottish respondents opposed the move. However, its poll was largely criticized as misleading, biased, and flawed.

A recent poll by YouGov and Stonewall Scotland instead show that 64 percent of Scots support marriage equality.

GAY LIFE CHANGING IN URBAN CHINA
Gay Star News contributor Lingxiao Song recently interviewed two Gay men living in Changchun, a city of 7.5 million in northeastern China. Here a summary of his report.

Living a Gay life in Shanghai or Beijing isn't too bad these days, with dozens of Gay bars and clubs. But what if you are Gay in one of China's rapidly industrializing and hugely populated 'third tier' cities?

'It's not as difficult as it used to be,' says Zhi De, a 22-year-old college student from Changchun who came out in high school. 'Being a Gay is pretty much the same as being a heterosexual person - we have our own way of dating.'

Zhi loves his city and his life there. He says Changchun has everything a Gay man needs to have fun and socialize. 'Gay bars like Woodhouse and Mbar are really popular,' he says, 'even though they are small. There also are Gay massage spas.' Even 10 years ago, Gay men in Changchun didn't have any of this. 'Some older Gays told me they could only go to the darkest place in parks to meet people and have sex,' says Zhi. 'And there was no way for them to get together, because they always had to go back to their marriage and family.'

Most of the previous generation of Gay men in China married women, due to family and societal pressures.

Shao, a Gay man in his 30s who is married with a child, says he hasn't touched his wife since his son was born.

His wife knows he's Gay, but stays with him anyway because she's worried what her friends and family would think if they knew the truth. If she got a divorce, it would be financially difficult to raise her child as a single mother. And from her perspective, getting divorced for marrying a homosexual man is too much disgrace to bear.

'It's a major situation with us Gay people in China,' says Shao. 'Wives of Gay men are pretty much like widows. Nobody can change the situation for us. It could only cause trouble (like losing my job) and hurt the ones I love (like my parents) if I came out.'

For Zhi the situation is different. 'I came out to my parents when I was 18,' he says. 'For four years, they freaked out, got angry, and swore they would never talk to me again. But they speak to me now.'

Zhi says he definitely won't end up marrying a woman, and he has harsh words for Gay men who do. 'I've fought this far - it would be stupid to stop now. I'm not like those marriage fakers. They make everybody miserable just because they can't be honest with people, including themselves.'

Like Zhi, more and more young Gay men are leading very different lives from older generations. They are braver and more optimistic.

'Being Gay is not easy anywhere in the world,' Zhi says. 'Fifty years ago, American Gays were miserable. But look at them now! It's all because they fought for themselves. China is developing well in everything. It would be silly to believe Gay people are doomed.'

NIGERIAN ACTOR JAILED FOR GAY SEX
A Nigerian court has sentenced a 29-year-old actor to three months' imprisonment under an archaic colonial law that deems sodomy 'against the order of nature,' reports the U.K. Guardian newspaper.

Bestwood Chukwuemeka, a minor star in the 'Nollywood' film industry, pleaded guilty after a male friend he had had sex with in his home reported him to the police.

'I was under the influence of alcohol and I want the court to temper justice with mercy,' local media reported him saying.

Nafisatu Buba, the sentencing magistrate at a court in the capital, Abuja, said the sentence would send a message to others. 'This would serve as warning to other youths who hide under the influence of alcohol to commit crimes,' she said.

Anal sex is illegal in Nigeria and is punishable by whipping or stoning in some states in the predominantly Muslim north, although no stonings are known to have been carried out to date. Prosecutions are rare, but Nigerian society is generally unanimous in its anti-Gay views.

Earlier this month the popular comedian John Okafor, nicknamed 'Nigeria's Borat,' said Gay actors are a 'virus' in the local film industry. 'If there is any way in this world that people can make them stop it or kill it, please do it,' he said.

Last November, Nigerian lawmakers proposed a bill making same-sex displays of affection a criminal offense and same-sex marriages punishable by up to 14 years in prison. But the bill later stalled amid an outcry from local activists.

INDIAN TRANSGENDERS IN MALAYSIA NAME NEW ELDER
In a ceremony steeped in tradition and color, G. Kanama, 75, was ordained as the main elder of the local Indian Transgender community in Malaysia last week, reports The Star newspaper.

Kanama replaces M. Asha Devi, who died in August.

According to Asha Devi's anointed daughter, Cheenu Parameswary, '[Kanama] is the most suitable candidate to replace our late mother.'

Cheenu explained that the local Indian Transgender community has been intact for seven generations.

Asha Devi's post-funeral prayers also were held during the event, led by the late matriarch's three anointed daughters, each of them a leader of the Transgender community in their respective locales.

Asha Devi, who operated a food stall to make a living, protected scores of Transgender youths who ended up on the streets after being disowned by their families due to their sexual orientation.

She was revered and loved for her dedication to the community, and members of the Indian Transgender community from all over the world attended her funeral.

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