Life sentence in antigay slaying
A 20-year-old Liverpool man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an 18-year-old gay man who was brutally beaten and left in the street to die.
James O’Connor was 19 when he beat and kicked Michael Causer to death after a party on July 25, 2008. He was one of three men charged in the killing.
O’Connor pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors that took a hate-crime charge off the table. His co-defendant, Michael Binsteed, 19, pleaded guilty to perverting the cause of justice and was given 34 weeks in custody that was suspended for two years.
A jury absolved the third suspect, Gavin Alker, 19, who had been charged with murder but pleaded not guilty, last month.
Causer was part of a group that had met during a night out at a local pub. After heavy drinking, the group went to the home of one of the men’s grandmother to “sleep it off.”
During Alker’s trial, the prosecution alleged that Alker discovered from one of the other men that Causer was gay. Prosecutor Richard Pratt told the jury that Alker initiated the assault.
At the same trial, Alker blamed O’Connor for the murder.
After the assault, as Causer lay unconscious, Alker, Binsteed and O’Connor decided to dump Causer on a street. They moved Causer over a fence and dragged him to the road.
Paramedics found Causer barely breathing and suffering massive brain injuries. He died eight days later when doctors declared him brain dead and a ventilator was removed.
With good behavior, O’Connor could be out of prison in about 11 years.
“This is another black day for Michael,” Causer’s parents, Marie and Michael Causer, said outside court. “It’s just pathetic.”
Tommy McIlravey, of Liverpool’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Network, commended Liverpool police for their part in the investigation, but said the judiciary has failed.
“The law has failed because no one has been convicted of a hate crime,” he said. “It’s second-class justice and it seems to happen all the time. It begs the question: What do you have to do for it to be a homophobic attack?”
Trans man pregnant with twins
A Spanish man who was born female is claiming he is pregnant with twins after a course of fertility treatment.
Ruben Noe Coronado, 25, plans to bring up the babies with his partner, Esperanza Ruiz, 43. The couple hope to marry before the babies arrive in September.
Coronado interrupted his gender-reassignment treatment in order to become pregnant.
“I’ve gone public with this so people start to see a transsexual pregnancy as normal,” he said. “But I am thinking of selling the picture everyone’s going to want of me looking pregnant. If I don’t do it, someone else will and they’ll make a fortune.”
However, he vowed not to sell photographs of his children, claiming he wanted to protect them.
Last July, Thomas Beatie became the first trans man to give birth.
Born Tracey Lagondino, he had been legally living as a man since age 24 but had kept his female reproductive organs.
His wife of five years, Nancy, was unable to conceive. The couple is expecting a sibling for their baby girl this summer.
Australia to blacklist gay sites
Several gay Web sites have been included in a recently drawn-up list of Web sites banned by the Australian government.
The government is proposing a law that requires Internet service providers to filter and block inappropriate content, such as that related to terrorism and abusive images of children.
However, gay and straight porn sites, YouTube links and certain Wikipedia entries have been included in its scope of Web sites to be blacklisted.
The blacklist of about 2,395 banned sites was obtained by Wikileaks, a Web site that allows anonymous whistleblowers to leak official documents. Wikileaks plans to publish the list on its Web site, having previously revealed the blacklists from Denmark, Norway and Thailand.
The Sydney Morning Herald also gained access to the list and stated about half of the banned Web sites are not associated with child pornography. The sites include online poker portals, YouTube links, gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia pages and the homepages of private companies and medical practitioners.
The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, said that secret censorship systems were “invariably corrupted.”
He pointed to the example of more than 1,200 sites criticizing the Thai royal family, which were on the Thailand censorship list, originally created to prevent child pornography.
Assange obtained the blacklist after Australian Communications and Media Authority added Wikileaks to its blacklist following the site’s decision to publish the Danish blacklist.
The ACMA is investigating the leak of the blacklist and considering a range of actions, including possible criminal prosecution.
Sen. Stephen Conroy, the communications minister, said the leak and publication of the blacklist would be “grossly irresponsible” and undermine efforts to improve cyber safety.
“Under existing laws, the ACMA blacklist includes URLs relating to child sexual abuse, rape, incest, bestiality, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime,” he said. “No one interested in cyber safety would condone the leaking of this list.”
The blacklist is provided to makers of Internet filtering software that parents are able to install on their PCs. However, if the government proceeds with its proposed Internet filtering scheme, sites on the blacklist will be blocked for all Australians.
Hotel sued for refusing gay couple
A gay couple in England has filed a lawsuit against Christian hotel proprietors who refused to let the men stay together in the same room.
Martyn Hall and his civil partner, Steven Preddy, are seeking $7,286 in damages for “direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who own the seaside hotel in Cornwall, contend they have a policy dating to 1986 permitting only married heterosexuals to share rooms. The Bulls had received a warning in August from the Stonewall gay-rights group that they were violating the law.
Mrs. Bull said she took the two-night booking over the phone from Hall and Preddy, both of Bristol, in September because she wrongly assumed they were straight. When Hall and Preddy arrived and their reservation was rejected, the men reported the incident to the police.
A lawyer for the Bulls is defending the couple under the European Convention on Human Rights, which he says protects their right to act according to their religious beliefs.
Tennis pro in gender controversy
Tennis insiders are grappling with issues of sexual identity and biology regarding an up-and-coming German star on the international circuit.
Sarah Gronert, 22, was born with both male and female genitalia but underwent surgery to become female both legally and physically. However, some coaches, players and officials charge that she seems unnaturally strong for a woman and speculate, based on her birth condition, that she may benefit from a higher-than-average distribution of male hormones. Thus, the authorities question whether she should be allowed to compete against women at all.
Schlomo Tzoref, who coaches player Julia Glushko, claims that Gronert has a clear advantage and should not be able to compete against women.
“There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams,” he said.
Gronert, ranked 619 by the Women’s Tennis Association, beat Glushko, ranked 325, and three other opponents in a tournament in Ra’anana, Israel, a few weeks ago.
“This is not a woman, it’s a man,” Glushko added. “She does not have the power of a woman and no woman has such a technique.”
According to her WTA record, Gronert has played nine tournaments around the world and has won two, including the Ra’anana tournament on March 2 and a January tournament in Kaarst, Germany.
Denmark set to expand adoption
Denmark Parliament introduced a bill March 17 that would give equal adoption rights for civil partners and straight married couples.
The proposal, from Civil Centre Party founder Simon Emil Ammitzbøll, grants partners registered in civil unions the right to adopt unrelated children both domestically and internationally.
Currently, gays and lesbians can adopt individually in the country and couples can adopt their partner’s existing children. The bill will grant same-sex couples the right to adopt jointly, in line with straight married couples.
Other Nordic countries, such as Iceland, Norway and Sweden, already allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly.
According to figures from 2007, 103 of 712 stepchild adoptions were from couples in civil partnerships.
Most adoptions involving unrelated children tend to take place abroad, making it difficult for Danish same-sex couples to do so, as many countries will not allow homosexual adoption.