Russians charged for promoting homosexuality
Two Russian gay activists were convicted on April 6 of promoting homosexuality in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow.
The Ryazan region is the only area in Russia with a law barring discussion of homosexuality to minors. The law is used to bar schools from any discussion of gay issues.
Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet, both associated with Moscow Pride, were charged with “propaganda of homosexuality to minors” for carrying a banner advocating gay rights close to a school and a library.
The banner declared, “Homosexuality is normal” and “I am proud of my homosexuality.”
Baev and Fet said they wanted to show that the law is unconstitutional.
The court fined the pair 1,500 rubles, or approximately $50, each.
“We will now file a complaint with the Russian Constitutional Court,” said Russian gay-rights leader Nikolai Alekseev, who attended the protest but was not charged.
Last month, Alekseev and other gay leaders called on contestants of the Eurovision Song Contest to speak out from the stage for LGBT rights in Russia. The contest, which will be broadcast throughout Europe, is being held this year in Moscow.
The finals will be broadcast on May 16, the day Moscow Pride will hold its pride festival. The city already has barred the group from having a gay pride parade.
Laws against homosexuality were repealed at the end of the Communist era, but Moscow city officials have refused to allow gays to hold a pride march for years.
Moscow Pride has seven cases already pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
Gay Iraqi murder on the rise
Six gay men were murdered in Iraq within the past two weeks, allegedly because of their sexual orientation.
The killings took place in two separate incidents in Sadr City, the Shiite-dominated slum district of Baghdad.
Two men were killed on April 2 after a prominent cleric issued anti-gay remarks. The killings are believed to be the work of relatives who were shamed. Police said they suspected the killings were at the hands of family members because no one has claimed the bodies or called for an investigation.
Homosexuality is punishable by up to seven years in prison in Iraq.
In another incident, the bodies of four men were found buried on March 26 with the words “pervert” and “puppies” written on their chests. “Puppies” is a derogatory local word for gay people.
Sadr City is home to the Mahdi Army, a militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. An anonymous official denied that the militia is behind the killings of gay men, although he said the Mahdi Army is urging people to stop practicing homosexuality.
“Such people have brought shame on Sadr City people,” the official said. “The blame falls on the security forces who do little to combat this phenomenon or to stop the flow of pornography materials into Iraq.”
U.N. accused of spreading homosexuality
Ugandan ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo has accused United Nations member countries of being involved in a covert mission to “impose homosexuality” on other nations.
Speaking at a press conference April 3, Buturo also said that Uganda will not bow to international pressure to adopt gay rights.
“At the United Nations, there are attempts by some nations to impose homosexuality on the rest of us,” he said. “We have learned that they want to smuggle in provisions on homosexuality. Yesterday I spoke to [Uganda U.N.] Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda and reminded him of Uganda’s position, which opposes legalization of homosexuality. It is the duty of Ugandans to be vigilant, because agents of immorality are busy using all lies and deceptions to hurt our society.”
The minister claimed people were being recruited to “become gay,” saying: “Many lies are being peddled. Such lies include foolish claims that some people are born as homosexuals. They are busy enticing Ugandans to join them. This is causing great concern among Ugandans.”
Ugandan LGBT groups have hit back at claims that they are “recruiting” school children into homosexuality.
“We know that sexual orientation is not changeable,” they said in a statement. “We are homosexuals and cannot change. In the same way, we cannot change heterosexuals into homosexuals. We cannot recruit. We cannot, do not, have never and never will ‘recruit.’ We can only deduce that those leveling these claims aim to inflame the public against us, a minority group.”
A number of speakers have appeared at events in recent weeks claiming to have “quit” homosexuality and confessing to previous bribery of children to “turn gay.”
At a recent press conference, Victor Mukasa, coordinator of the Uganda Minority Sexual Rights group, attacked Stephen Langa of Family Life Network for spreading allegations of gay recruitment.
He claimed the “former” homosexuals presented by Christian groups have been paid to fuel hate against gays.
Activists say Uganda, with a population of 31 million, has some 500,000 gays and lesbians.
Sweden legalizes gay marriage
On April 1, Sweden became the seventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Following a five-hour debate in Parliament, the legislation was overwhelmingly passed on a 261-22 vote, with 16 abstentions. The new law will go into effect May 1, replacing a 1995 law that allowed civil partnerships.
Six of the country’s seven political parties backed the bill. Only the Christian Democrats voted against it.
“This is a great victory,” said Soren Juvas, president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights.
A parliamentary committee studying civil partnerships in 2007 called them “outdated” and recommended Parliament allow same-sex marriage.
The new law does not require churches to conduct same-sex weddings, but the Church of Sweden — a Lutheran church and the largest denomination in the country — will consider a motion this fall to allow pastors to perform gay weddings.
The Swedish Lutheran Church has offered blessing services for couples in civil unions since 2007, but has balked at allowing pastors to perform weddings for gay couples.