Activists march in India
Hundreds of gay-rights supporters waved flags and danced past traffic during marches through three Indian cities June 28 to celebrate gay pride and call for the decriminalization of homosexuality in the deeply conservative country.
Activists took to the streets of the southern cities of Chennai and Bangalore and the capital, New Delhi. Marching bands blared horns and pounded drums while men wearing saris and women waving rainbow flags chanted for their rights.
The New Delhi parade passed near the Delhi High Court, which is reviewing a law that prohibits gay sex and stipulates a punishment of 10 years in prison.
Law Minister Veerappa Moily also said he would soon meet with two other government ministers to discuss changing the country’s anti-homosexuality laws.
Gay-rights activists said momentum is on their side.
“This piece of legislation makes no sense,” said Ponni Arasu, 25, a law student and march organizer. “You cannot deny people their basic civil rights.”
Sex between people of the same gender has been illegal in India since a British colonial-era law included it as a forbidden sexual act “against the order of nature.”
Activists said the law sanctions discrimination and marginalizes the gay community. Health experts maintain the law discourages safe sex and has been a hurdle in fighting HIV and AIDS. Roughly 2.5-million Indians have HIV.
Supporters of the law, which include leaders of the Hindu right, argue that gay sex should remain illegal and that open homosexuality is out of step with the nation’s values.
Sexual minorities are slowly gaining acceptance in some parts of India, especially in its larger cities. Many bars have gay nights and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.
Still, being gay is deeply taboo in India, and many marchers covered their faces because they hadn’t told their friends and families about their sexuality.
Marchers said the parade was meant to send a message to authorities to repeal the law criminalizing gay sex, known as Section 377 of the Indian penal code. But it was also meant to reach Indians still in the closet.
“We’re going to tell them that you’re not alone,” said Arasu. “We are all going to be around to support you so you can live with dignity.”
Gay referee speaks out
A Turkish soccer referee recently spoke out after he was fired for being gay and then outed to the press.
“They thought I was an ant that they could crush, they thought I would run away and hide in a corner,” said Halil Ibrahim Dincdag. “But they have destroyed my life and I will fight them to the end.”
Dincdag, a soccer referee in Trabzon, Turkey, for 13 years, has gotten much support from the country after deciding to come out on a popular television sports program. Three-quarters of the 80 referees in Trabzon have called him to offer support, while 30,000 people have signed a petition started by Turkey’s most influential newspaper in support of his campaign.
“The day the press started writing about me, I went into a coma, and the day I appeared on TV I died,” Dincdag said. “Thirty-three years of my life had disappeared. Since then, I have been trying to resurrect myself.”
Dincdag was fired in March for being gay and, shortly afterward, news reports started popping up about him across the country. Though homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, there is widespread homophobia typical of many Middle Eastern countries.
Lithuanian prez vetoes antigay law
The president of Lithuania has vetoed a law that would have banned from schools materials promoting gay relationships.
Human Rights Watch said sources in the eastern European country had confirmed that President Adamkus vetoed the Law on Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.
The law would ban materials that “agitate for homosexual, bisexual and polygamous relations” from schools or public places where they could be seen by youth, on the grounds that they would have “detrimental effect on the development of minors.”
The country’s parliament has the option of overriding the presidential veto.
U.K. gay paper suspends printing
Pink Paper has announced it is suspending printing due to the economic downturn.
A statement issued June 24 said the newspaper would suspend its print and distribution schedule at the end of that month.
It is hoped that printing can be resumed when the economy improves.
“The decision to suspend fortnightly print and distribution of Pink Paper has been one of the toughest we have had to make in a long time, but in order to ensure that we can continue providing a service to the LGBT community in future, we have taken the decision now, rather than when the situation has worsened to a point that we would need to cease Pink Paper all together,” said Kim Watson, media director of the Millivres Prowler Group, which owns Pink Paper. “We are looking forward to increasing delivery of our weekly newsletter and ensuring that our Web site continues to grow in its visitors and interaction.”
Pink Paper, which was launched as a weekly LGBT newspaper in 1987, will continue to produce content for its Web site, www.pinkpaper.com.