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Equal benefits ordered for trans

The Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, has ordered that trans people should receive equal protection and support from the government.

The three judges, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, said on July 14 that financial support must be given to trans individuals through Bait-ul-Maal (a worldwide relief and development organization) or income-support programs.

The Interior Ministry has also been directed to ensure police provide protection to trans people from criminal elements.

Islamic jurist Dr. Mohammad Aslam Khaki, who submitted the petition, took on the case after the arrests of several trans people in Taxila recently.

He said that trans people, especially those from poor families, were often subject to oppression and harassment, and were forced to earn a living through begging and prostitution.

Khaki added that trans people were often thrown out of their homes by fathers and brothers and cited the issue of identity cards showing female photos but male genders.

Gay house for 2010 Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is planning to offer what is believed to be the first house devoted to gay and lesbian athletes and their family members and friends.

Pride House, which promises to be an inclusive hangout and social space for gay and non-gay athletes, will be located in the Pan Pacific Hotel in Whistler Village, site of the skiing and sliding events, about a two-hour drive from Vancouver. It is the idea of Dean Nelson, chief executive of the promotional company GayWhistler, which organizes the annual Winter Pride festival.

Nelson acknowledged that turnout for Pride House could be modest, given the reluctance of many gay Olympic athletes to come out during their careers. He and Greg Larocque of the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association—North America, which also supports Pride House, said the primary value could lie in introducing the lives of gay and lesbian people to athletes visiting from more repressive countries.

HIV rates up for gay men in Africa

According to a new report in British medical journal The Lancet, stigma against gay men in Africa leads to risky sexual behavior that can result in HIV rates 10 times higher than among the general male population.

The study attributes the soaring HIV rates among gay men in Africa to prejudice that leads to isolation and harassment, in turn encouraging high-risk sexual behavior. Gay men contending with social stigma were more likely to be involved in sex work, have multiple partners and experience contact with intravenous-drug use.

High rates of HIV/AIDS among gay men in sub-Saharan African were “driven by cultural, religious and political unwillingness to accept [gay men] as equal members of society,” according to Oxford University researchers.

More members of society are affected, however, because many gay men in Africa hide their sexual orientation and marry women, with whom they have children while continuing to have sex with men.

The report calls for increased education and resources to fight HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, home of two-thirds of the world’s 33-million people living with HIV.

Indian court reviews gay ruling

The Supreme Court of India on July 20 declined to put a hold on a groundbreaking ruling by the Delhi high court to decriminalize gay sex between consenting adults.

Noting that there was “no threat of any consequences,” the court asked the government to make clear its stand on the issue before it revisits the matter on Sept. 14.

Two people, a popular television yoga guru and a yoga instructor, have challenged the July 3 ruling that overturned a 148-year-old colonial-era ban on gay sex. Swami Baba Ramdev filed a petition that said the “congenital defect” of homosexuality could be treated through yoga.

Religious communities in India have strongly opposed the ruling.

Activists outraged by video game

A video game that features a hunter shooting gay people is creating a furor in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

The game, “Watch Out Behind You, Hunter,” actually launched back in 2002.

The video game is hosted by a Georgian Web site but has already been banned in France, the home of the video game’s creator. The objective of the game is to shoot nudists “before they bugger you.”

A group called Gay Armenia is “completely disgusted,” finding it particularly shocking that people in Tbilisi, Georgia, adopted the concept.

Jean Christophe Calvet runs the site that hosts the game.

“I have to say that at the beginning, we really didn’t understand why the association was attacking us,” Calvet said. “The guy who came up with the game, Stéphane Aguie, wanted to mock hunters and rednecks, not gay men. Our games are not politically correct. They’re aimed at teenagers and it’s true that they’re of a juvenile humor. I realize now that this one in particular could be found shocking, but I believe that you should be able to make this kind of joke in the name of freedom of speech. Incidentally, not everyone in the gay community was supportive of banning the game.”

Adoption panel member removed

A Christian doctor has been removed from an English adoption panel after she refused to endorse applications by same-sex couples.

Dr. Sheila Matthews was removed after she asked to be allowed to abstain from voting in cases involving same-sex couples, on the grounds that it contravened her beliefs.

She was told that her beliefs on gay adoption were incompatible with equality legislation and council policies.

In the past, Matthews said she had abstained from any votes involving same-sex couples after the passing of the Equality Act in 2006, which bars any discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and requires gay couples to be viewed on an equal basis in any applications for adoption.

However, in February a same-sex couple applied and Matthews told the head of children’s services, Martin Pratt, that she was intending to abstain from any vote the panel made.

Despite her promises, she was barred from attending the panel and asked instead to meet with Pratt to explain her position. A few days later, Matthews received notice from Pratt informing her of the council’s decision to replace her due to the “significant problems” her views created for the adoption service.

Larry Nichols can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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