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Bulgarians march for rights

Several-hundred people walked peacefully through Central Sofia in Bulgaria Sept. 21 to protest Russia’s antigay policies.

The participants, protected by hundreds of police officers, displayed banners calling for love, equality and sexual diversity. A Russian law bans the spread of “propaganda” among minors of “nontraditional sexual relations.”

Bulgaria, a Balkan country of 7.3-million people, joined the European Union in 2007, but gays and lesbians still face widespread hostility there.

Bangladesh refuses to decriminalize homosexuality

Bangladesh will not decriminalize gay relationships, despite United Nations recommendations.

The Bangladeshi government on Sept. 20 accepted 164 of 196 recommendations by the U.N., following a session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, but among them was not the lifting of Section 377 of the national penal code that criminalizes consensual same-sex relationships.

Abdul Hannan, a Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the U.N., told the council that his country would not accept any recommendations conflicting with “constitutional and legal provisions” or “socio-cultural values of the country.”

Representing the gay-rights group Boys of Bangladesh was Tanvir Alim, who said, “We regret that the government has rejected [the] recommendation to abolish Section 377. This rejection indicates that it’s just to avoid acknowledging human-rights violations of sexual and gender minorities.”

Section 377 is a hangover from British imperialism still reflected in the penal codes of many former colonies. Despite this, the neighboring countries of India and Nepal have both repealed the clause.

Filmmaker detained in Egypt

A gay filmmaker who has been imprisoned in Egypt, seemingly without cause, has been on a hunger strike since Sept. 16.

Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani were arrested Aug. 16. A month into their detention, the pair has begun refusing food to protest the arbitrary nature of their detention by Egyptian authorities.

“We know that they did not take the decision to begin a hunger strike lightly, and we want them to know we will do everything we can to support them and get them home soon,” Greyson’s sister, Cecilia, said in a recent statement.

Actors Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron are among 15,000 who signed a petition to release the two

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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