Lesbian PM wins in Iceland
Johanna Sigurdardottir, the lesbian named interim prime minister of Iceland in February, led her center-left coalition to a resounding victory in elections on April 25.
With 90 percent of the votes counted by April 26, Deutsche Welle reported that the Social Democratic Alliance of Social Democrats and Left Greens had won an absolute majority of 52 percent of the seats in parliament, a first for a left-wing government in the country. The coalition led by Sigurdardottir, a Social Democrat, is projected to win 35 seats, a majority in the 63-seat parliament.
The 66-year-old Sigurdardottir was appointed head of a caretaker government earlier this year after a severe banking crisis toppled the previous conservative government. Iceland received a $10-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund, unemployment is surging and the economy is expected to contract by at least 10 percent this year.
Sigurdardottir, a proponent of European Union entry as a solution for the economic woes, faces a significant first challenge in persuading her governing partner, the Left Greens, who oppose EU entry.
When Sigurdardottir was appointed, she became the first openly gay head of government in modern times and her country’s first female prime minister. The former flight attendant had served in parliament since 1978, and earned high approval ratings for her service as a cabinet member.
The mother of two married her partner in a civil ceremony in 2002.
Burundi outlaws homosexuality
The government of Burundi has criminalized homosexuality, punishing offenders with up to two years in prison.
Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, secretly signed the legislation into law on April 22.
In March, the lower house of the African country’s parliament reversed a Senate vote that rejected the amendment to the new criminal code.
However, thousands of citizens took to the streets in a government-organized demonstration to protest at the Senate decision not to criminalize homosexuality.
Under the Burundian constitution, the National Assembly prevails in cases of conflict between the two houses of Parliament.
The new law makes being gay a crime for the first time in the country’s history.
Gay- and human-rights groups are campaigning to have the law repealed, saying it violates fundamental human rights.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and some 60 other groups have spoken out over the move.
“Burundi has taken a disappointing step backward by legalizing discrimination,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The government has fallen back on ‘custom’ and ‘culture’ to justify this repressive step, but there can be no justification for stripping some of Burundi’s people of their fundamental rights.”
Singapore to host LGBT event
An unusual day in the park this month will show support for Singapore’s LGBT population.
Supporters will gather in a “smart mob” on May 16 wearing pink caps, hats, accessories or sunglasses.
The plan is to form a human pink dot that will be photographed from the air.
The event Web site states: “Do you support the freedom of LGBT people to love? Then show your support by joining our smart mob at Hong Lim Park on 16th May! This is NOT a protest nor a parade, just a simple call for open-minded Singaporeans to come together to form a pink dot, of which aerial photographs will be taken. This pink dot is a celebration of diversity and equality, and a symbol of Singapore’s more-inclusive future. This event is 100-percent legal — no registration is required.”
The pink-dot event has been billed as Singapore’s first public show of support for the LGBT community.
“The topic of homosexuality was last broached openly more than a year ago, during Parliamentary debates on Section 377A — the penal code that criminalizes homosexual acts,” organizers said. “Not much has changed for LGBT Singaporeans since then, many of whom continue to live secret lives, afraid of compromising relationships with their family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Today, many Singaporeans harbor negative impressions about the LGBT community. Discordant laws and policies aside, ignorance and fear are potent catalysts for prejudice and bigotry. This goes against the grain of a diverse and inclusive Singapore.”
The government has declared that private, consensual, adult homosexual sex would no longer be prosecuted but it remains illegal.
Ukraine police accused of harassment
More than 80 people who were arrested by police at a gay club in Kiev in early April had their human rights violated, activists claim.
The Council of LGBT Organizations of Ukraine said the arrests were supposedly part of an investigation into the murder of a gay man, Dmitriy Kandyba.
During the evening of April 10, according to the group, officers of a special department detained at least 80 patrons at the popular gay club Androgin and took them to a police station.
The group said in a statement: “Some detainees reported rude and offensive treatment by the police officers and also claim that the officers used force against them. At the police station, the officers illegally (without following the respective procedures) took fingerprints and photos of the detained.”
Additionally, the group said the arrestees were forced to sign a letter stating they didn’t have any complaints against the police.
Activists called the raid surprising, as it was just two weeks after the murder.
In addition, the police possessed a photo of the suspected criminal, leading Ukrainian LGBT organizations to believe that the goal of the operation in Androgin club was not to identify the murderer, but to threaten the LGBT community and collect personal data on visitors to the gay club.
The council said similar incidents of police harassment of the gay community have been recorded.