Polish LGBT advocate among dead in crash
The April 10 plane crash that killed the homophobic Polish President Lech Kaczynski has also claimed the life of Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, one of the most outspoken advocates for LGBT rights in Poland.
Jaruga-Nowacka served as Poland’s deputy prime minister between 2004-05 and was a vocal critic of the homophobic policies and pronouncements of the country’s late president.
Kaczynski, as mayor of Warsaw, repeatedly banned gay pride marches from taking place within the capital.
Jaruga-Nowacka spoke out at a banned event in 2005.
“I am here to express my protest against the mayor’s decision, which is a violation of the Polish constitution and of civic rights,” she said. “I am here to show my respect for the Polish tradition of tolerance.”
Jaruga-Nowacka regularly spoke at other gay-rights rallies, where she suffered verbal abuse from extremist nationalists and Christian groups.
She was traveling with the president to an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, where Soviet troops killed thousands of Poles, when the plane they were traveling in crashed near Smolensk Airport.
All 96 people aboard the plane died in the crash, including the pilots.
Dead supremacist may have gay link
South African police investigating the murder of well-known white supremacist Eugene Terre’blanche are looking into allegations that he attempted to have sex with the suspects accused in the crime.
A lawyer for the two black laborers charged with the murder has claimed that Terre’blanche attempted to have sex with at least one of the defendants. Police in Johannesburg had earlier claimed an unspecified pay dispute was at the heart of the slaying. Officials have not commented on the defense lawyer’s account.
A leader long on the margins of South African politics following the end of apartheid, Terre’blanche was known for his racist and homophobic diatribes as founder of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement. He served six years in prison beginning in 2001 for assaulting a gas-station worker and for the attempted murder of a security guard in 1996.
Terre’blanche was found half-stripped and beaten to death on April 3 at his family farm near Ventersdorp, 60 miles west of Johannesburg. Thousands of his followers waved apartheid-era flags at his funeral last Friday.
Lesbian couple wed in Argentina
A lesbian couple exiled during the Argentine military dictatorship from 1976-83 were able to marry in their home country on April 9.
Norma Castillo and Ramona Arevalo, both 67, were married by Judge Elena Liberatori.
The couple is behind a campaign, “Same Right, Same Names,” by the LGBT Argentine Federation to bring about marriage equality.
Two gay male couples have married in Argentina since December, when the high court ruled in their favor to allow them to wed. Liberatori also performed the ceremony for Damian Bernath and Jorge Salazar in March.
Malaysia could see first gay film
Cinema audiences in Malaysia could soon see the country’s first gay-themed film after censorship guidelines were eased.
“Dalam Botol,” or “In a Bottle,” is about a man who undergoes gender reassignment to the detriment of his relationship with his male partner.
The film will not show kissing or nudity, which are banned. However, producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman said she hoped to show scenes of the male leads cuddling at international film festivals.
Those scenes are unlikely to pass censors in Malaysia and are expected to be cut for versions shown there. Previously, gay characters in films were completely banned and Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest film “Bruno” fell afoul of censors last year.
But recently the Malaysian Film Producers Association announced changes that would allow gay characters to be shown as long as filmmakers imply that homosexuality is wrong and has negative consequences.
Malaysia has strict rules on public morality. Homosexuality is not specified as a crime, but Section 377 of the penal code prohibits sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Malaysia also has a prohibition on “gross indecency with another male person,” with up to two years in prison for those found guilty.
Philippines OK gay political party
A gay political party in the Philippines has won the right to be recognized as a legitimate party for the first time.
The Philippine Supreme Court recently overturned a ruling barring Ang Ladlad (Out of the Closet) from contesting national elections in May.
The Elections Commission denied the party, made up of LGBT members, accreditation on the grounds that it is immoral and offensive to Christians and Muslims.
The party seeks antidiscrimination laws and support for gay-related businesses, among other things.
Judges said the party had complied with all legal requirements and did not break the law, as homosexuality is not illegal.
“We hold that moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system,” the judges said in their decision.
Ang Ladlad seeks to win 50 of the 286 seats in the House of Representatives set aside for marginalized groups.
Gay victims desecrated
A report claims the bodies of dead gay men in Senegal are being unearthed by homophobic mobs and, in some cases, left on their families’ doorsteps.
The Associated Press reports there have been a number of such incidents in the last few years.
Last May, the body of Madieye Diallo, who died of HIV/AIDS, was exhumed from a cemetery. The process was filmed on a mobile phone and the footage was sold in the market in the town of Thies, where he lived. The report said Diallo’s body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the cemetery with shovels. They dug up his corpse, spit on his torso, dragged his body away and dumped him in front of his elderly parents’ home.
Homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years in Senegal. In Africa, 37 countries have laws against homosexuality and campaigners say a wave of homophobia is spreading across the continent.
At least four incidents of gay men’s bodies being exhumed in Senegal have been confirmed in the last two years, despite the country’s reputation for tolerance.