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International News Moscow gay pride parade uncertain

At press time, the decision on the Russian capital’s first gay pride march is up in the air.

Well-known gay-rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev claimed that the city council had given the go-ahead to the proposed march on April 26, which was dismissed by Moscow’s central district head, who said he was not aware of any such event.

The Moscow city government says it is “studying” a request by Alexeyev to hold the country’s first-ever gay pride march in the capital.

“We are studying the proposals and will reply in due time,” Lyudmila Shvetsova, overseer of the capital’s social policy, said.

The current mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, told a radio station back in February he was not in favor of the idea of a gay pride march through the city.

Last October, the Strasbourg Court fined Russia for banning gay pride marches in Moscow and fined the city’s authorities $41,090 in damages and for legal fees. This ruling, Alexeyev said at the time, was “a crippling blow to Russian homophobia on all accounts.”

Yury Luzkhov, the previous mayor of Moscow who was dismissed last September, had been an outspoken critic of the proposals to allow gay parades, describing them as “satanic.”

Malaysia’s gay-cure camp sparks anger

A Malaysian “gay-cure” camp for effeminate teenagers should be abolished, the country’s women’s minister says.

Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said that the decision, by the state of Terengganu, violates the Children’s Act and would damage the boys.

“The experience of being singled out on the basis of perceived characteristics is an extremely traumatizing experience, particularly for adolescent teens,” she said.

A Terengganu state official said that 66 boys, ages 13-17, were identified by teachers as having effeminate mannerisms.

On April 18, they began a four-day “self-development course” in the hope of dissuading them from being gay or transgender.

Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia and state education director Razali Daud said authorities wanted to “limit” the numbers of gay and transgender people.

Sexual-rights activist Pang Khee Teik said the move was homophobic and would not “cure” any gay or trans children.

“All the students will learn from these camps is that they are expected to behave a certain way,” he said. “And in order to avoid further ridicule, perhaps they will learn to pretend better. In the end, we are only teaching them how to be a hypocrite.”

Irish trans woman wins payout

A transgender woman from Dublin, who was ordered by her employer to dress as a man for client meetings, has been awarded over $57,679 by Ireland’s Equality Tribunal.

Louise Hannon — who worked part-time for First Direct Logistics until January 2007, when she took a full-time position — said she told her employers about her gender identity in 2006. But once she legally changed her name to Louise in March 2007, she said, a pattern of discrimination began.

Hannon’s boss told her “to work for another three months as a male and then she could begin to come to work dressed as a woman, but would have to change back to a man when meeting clients.” She was also asked not to use the women’s restroom.

Hannon was then allegedly asked to work from home for a few months and was eventually told that her presence at the office “created a bad atmosphere.”

Angela Kerins, chairperson for the Equality Tribunal, which ruled that Hannon had suffered discrimination and constructive dismissal, said the decision was groundbreaking.

“Transsexual people are born into a society which is not structured to cater for their own identity,” she said. “The journey undertaken by transsexual people to recognize their own identity, as being different from their assigned identity, involves a process and decision-making that is both courageous and beyond the capacity of many to fully appreciate.”

Japan elects first out politician

Taiga Ishikawa, 36, won a seat in a Tokyo ward assembly in the Japanese capital’s local elections on April 24. He is the first openly gay person to hold office in Japan.

“I hope my election victory will help our fellows nationwide to have hope for tomorrow, as many of them cannot accept themselves, feel lonely and isolated and even commit suicide,” Ishikawa said. “As a ward assembly member, I would like to reinforce support for LGBT children in schools.”

Ishikawa revealed his sexuality in his 2002 book “Where Is My Boyfriend?”

“Many of my readers told me they were isolated and that my situation in the book was so similar to theirs,” he said.

In response, Ishikawa founded a nonprofit organization called Peer Friends, which hosts get-togethers in various Japanese cities, to allow young gay men the opportunity to meet others.

Nigeria’s gay church attempts comeback

The leader of Nigeria’s only gay church plans to bring services back, three years after gay witch hunts forced the House of Rainbow to shut its doors.

The Rev. Rowland Jide Macaulay, who founded the church in 2006, is orchestrating its reopening, though he lives in London through a self-imposed exile.

After two years of operating the church, Macaulay said public backlash, and brutal attacks outside of the hotel in Lagos where the service was held, led to the House of Rainbow’s demise.

Macaulay is rebuilding his faith community by recruiting small teams in local areas across Nigeria and Ghana to lead prayer meetings and Bible study groups. Eventually, they hope the small meetings can lead to forming a full church. Macaulay is also considering applications for prayer leaders in Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

He said that having a gay-affirming faith community is important because “religion is a backbone to life in Nigeria, so we all want to go to church, but we don’t want to lie to God about who we are.”

Comic fined for lesbian insults

A Canadian comic has to pay nearly $16,000 to a lesbian he heckled during a stand-up act at a Vancouver restaurant three years ago.

Guy Earl was ordered to pay the money to Lorna Pardy for harassing her and her girlfriend during his act. The restaurant owner was ordered to pay Pardy $7,500.

Earle says he plans to appeal the ruling, saying all he did was insult audience members who insulted him first. He said Pardy threw a drink in his face before he insulted her, and he denied much of what he was accused of saying.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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