Haiti AIDS group members dead
Fourteen men who worked for or were aided by SEROvie, Haiti’s largest organization serving gay and transgender people with HIV, were among those killed during the Jan. 12 earthquake, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Only two people from the group survived.
The message of the men’s tragic death came from an e-mail SEROvie’s leader Steve La Guerre managed to send to IGLHRC asking for help.
“We were having our usual support-group meeting on a quiet Tuesday afternoon when the worst happened,” La Guerre wrote. “The sound is unforgettable. I can’t even describe the horror as the ceiling and the wall of the conference room started to fall and the chaos started.”
IGLHRC executive director Cary Alan Johnson said his group has sent funds directly to SEROvie to allow their services and supplies to continue to reach their clients. The group is also sending funds to Colectiva Mujer y Salud, a feminist Dominican organization that has crossed the border into Haiti to assist with direct relief to the LGBT community there.
Cruises join forces for Haiti relief
The owners of Atlantis Events, Olivia Cruises and RSVP Vacations have joined to raise funds for earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, the three companies announced Jan. 15.
Each of the three cruise lines has pledged to donate $7,500, with Olivia offering a limited number of free cruises to passengers who donate $7,500 or more. The cruise lines are urging that passenger donations be made through the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross will bundle these funds and record them as contributions from LGBT Americans to the people of Haiti.
“So many of our passengers have been touched by the destruction and poverty in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country,” said Judy Dlugacz, president of Olivia. “It is important that as LGBT Americans, we come together to show our community’s solidarity and support for those living through this unimaginable disaster.”
Atlantis CEO Rich Campbell said he would spearhead efforts to raise additional money for Haiti.
Malawi stands firm on gay case
The Malawi government announced Jan. 18 that it would not cave to international pressure to release two gay men who have been imprisoned on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency after engaging in a same-sex-marriage ceremony last month.
The men face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty.
Malawi Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto said in a statement that Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were “clearly breaking the laws of Malawi.”
“As government, we cannot interfere in the court process,” Thoto said. “We depend on our Western friends, yes, but we are a sovereign country.”
International donors fund 40 percent of the southeast African nation’s budget.
Among those who have protested the men’s arrest are Amnesty International, more than 20 members of the Scottish parliament and the United Kingdom gay-rights group Outrage!
A verdict in the men’s case is expected next month.
China to sit out Mr. Gay pageant
China will not send a delegate to the Worldwide Mr. Gay pageant next month, an organizer said Jan. 18, after police blocked his event to choose a Chinese contestant.
Police shut down the first-ever Mr. Gay China pageant just before the event started Jan. 15, but organizers had planned to privately select a candidate from the eight contestants. They have now reversed their decision, so no one from China will compete at the pageant in Oslo, Norway.
“This was a very carefully considered decision,” said Ben Zhang, a pageant organizer. “We just cannot send anyone; the organizers and competitors came to this decision together.”
Homosexuality remains a sensitive topic in China. Gays are frequently discriminated against and any Chinese national who competes at the pageant would likely be the target of uncomfortable scrutiny, especially after police canceled Mr. Gay China.
Police cited a lack of permits for canceling the pageant at a swanky Beijing club. Chinese authorities frequently cite procedural reasons for closing down gatherings deemed politically sensitive.
Antigay march planned for Uganda
Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa said Jan. 15 that he plans to stage a “million man” march in February to support the antigay bill pending in parliament.
Ssempa, who holds close ties to American evangelicals including pastor Rick Warren, positioned the march as a response to international pressure against the bill, which originally proposed the death-penalty for gay people in certain instances.
Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni recently appeared to distance himself from the severe bill, and leaders have claimed the death penalty provisions were revised to life imprisonment.
“We want to give a postcard that [Museveni] can send to his friend [U.S. president] Barack Obama,” Ssempa said in front of posters stating “Africans Unite Against Sodomy” and “Barack Obama Back Off.”
He said the march is planned for Feb. 17, reported Reuters.
Death sentence for gay murder
A gay Chinese man received a death sentence Jan. 14 after he was found guilty of killing his German sex partner in July.
The 21-year-old hotel employee was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by a court in Zhongshan City in Guangdong Province in south China.
The young man began having sex with the 68-year-old German last January, but broke up with him, saying he did not like gay sex. He returned to his rented apartment in July after his ex promised not to harass him.
“But he was nevertheless harassed by the German man the next day despite repeated warnings,” reported China Daily. “The young man then hit the German man in the left temple with a hammer and killed him, the court heard.”
The victim’s body was dismembered and scattered in different places across the city. Neither man’s name was revealed.