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Indian state holds first Pride march

More than 100 people took part in the first-ever gay Pride march in the city of Surat in Indian state Gujarat on Oct. 6, although many of the marchers covered their faces with scarves and masks to hide their identity.

Organizers were granted permission by officials for the parade, which saw people taking to the streets in colorful outfits and dancing to Bollywood music.

Organizer Swagat M. Shah said the main purpose of the event, scheduled to take place ahead of the 2014 Indian general election, was to make local politicians aware of Gujarat’s LGBT community and to let them know they need to treat them as equals if they are to gain their votes.

Same-sex relationships were decriminalized in India in 2009 and gay people are slowly gaining acceptance in the country with Pride parades held yearly in some cities, although being gay is still a taboo subject in much of India.

Kuwait to ‘detect’ gays

The Persian Gulf kingdom of Kuwait is planning to identify LGBT people through “medical-screening tests” and bar them from setting foot inside the country and its neighbors.

According to the Kuwaiti health ministry’s director of public health Yousouf Mindkar, routine clinical screenings of those entering the Gulf Cooperation Council countries will soon include tests to “detect” LGBT people and keep them from entering.

“Health centers conduct the routine medical check to assess the health of the expatriates when they come into the GCC countries,” Mindkar said. “However, we will take stricter measures that will help us detect gays who will be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.”

Homosexual acts are currently illegal in all GCC member states including Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with those found guilty facing a possible jail sentence of up to 10 years if they are under 21. The GCC is a political and economic alliance encompassing those countries plus the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.

The announcement of these tests has triggered outrage, with LGBT groups now calling for a boycott of the soccer World Cup tournament currently planned to take place in Qatar in 2022.

“FIFA now has no option but to cancel the World Cup in Qatar,” said British activist Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, referring to the organization that runs the World Cup. “Allowing it to go ahead in these circumstances would involve FIFA colluding with homophobic discrimination. There is no known medical test to detect homosexuality. I wonder what quackery the Kuwaiti authorities plan to invent in their vain attempt to identify gay men. It simply won’t work.”

However, a FIFA spokesperson said the organization was not aware of the testing plan and reiterated that FIFA “is actively engaged in fighting against all kinds of discrimination within football and within society as a whole.”

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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