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International News - Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

UK Ministry of Defence paid $6.2 million to sacked soldiers
The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence has paid $6.2 million to people who were kicked out of the armed forces before the Gay ban was lifted in 2000, officials said November 7.

Sixty-five people have been compensated, receiving an average of $96,300 each.

"Over the past few years the MoD has made strenuous efforts to reach amicable settlements in relation to those legal claims which remained outstanding and we are pleased that compensation has now been awarded in all these cases," a spokesman said.

Britain's armed forces lifted their Gay ban on orders from the European Court of Human Rights.

Belarus capital bans Gay protest
City officials in Minsk, Belarus, banned a planned Gay demonstration at the Russian Embassy, reported October 27.

The group BelQueer hoped to protest the "growing number of cases of violation of the rights of LGBT people" in Russia, including "groundless" police raids on Gay clubs, "mass detentions," "insults to Gays and Lesbians, and the official ban [on] the international gay cinema festival ... in St. Petersburg."

In a letter to organizers, Minsk City Council Deputy Chairman Mikhail Titenkov reportedly said, "The City Council did not permit a picket in front of the Russian Embassy in Minsk because the application had been done not within the framework of the national law 'On Mass Events.'"

Capleton concert canceled in Basel
A concert by Jamaican reggae singer Capleton was canceled by organizers in Basel, Switzerland, on November 6.

The groups Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Basel and Stop Murder Music Bern had opposed the concert "because Capleton has performed songs encouraging violence against Lesbian and Gay people, in violation of his commitment to abide by the terms of the Reggae Compassionate Act (RCA) - an agreement that he signed in early 2007, whereby he undertook to not perform 'murder music' songs any more," said British activist Peter Tatchell, who has campaigned against Jamaican dancehall singers' anti-Gay lyrics.

Tatchell said Stop Murder Music Bern was able to prove that Capleton "performed songs that incite homophobic violence" after he'd signed the RCA.

In recent years, other dancehall singers have seen their concerts canceled sporadically in several countries as a result of Gay activists' complaints to concert venues and promoters.

Hungarian Parliament passes new hate-crime laws
Hungary's Parliament passed legislation in early November extending hate-crime laws to cover members "of a social group" and making it possible to initiate civil proceedings against someone who engages in degrading or intimidating behavior toward another based on "sexual orientation."

The changes need the approval of President László Sólyom and also must be able to withstand possible Constitutional Court challenges.

The court previously has struck down so-called hate-speech laws on freedom-of-speech grounds.

Dutch men convicted of injecting sex partners with HIV
Two men in Groningen, Netherlands, were convicted November 12 of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm by injecting several men with HIV-infected blood after apparently sedating them during Gay sex parties arranged over the internet.

One of the perpetrators, who was also convicted of rape, received a nine-year prison sentence and the other was sentenced to five years.

The Groningen District Court determined that while all the victims in the case were HIV-positive, there was no way to know if the assaults caused their infections, given that they had willingly participated in barebacking orgies.

Resistance in UK to Gay adoption
A recent ICM Research survey conducted for the United Kingdom's National Adoption Week revealed a high degree of resistance to adoption by Gay couples.

The poll of 1,007 people found that 40 percent of those questioned think Gay male couples should not be allowed to adopt and 36 percent think Lesbian couples should be banned from adopting.

Susan Cotton, adoption manager for the charity Action for Children, told the BBC the findings were "shocking and disappointing."

"We have successfully placed children with both Gay couples and single people. We know it works," she said.

Caribbean health officials call for repeal of buggery laws
Some government officials in attendance at the recent annual meeting of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS called for repeal of laws that criminalize Gay sex as a pathway to slowing the spread of the virus, the Caribbean Media Corporation reported.

"If we repeal the Buggery Act it reduces risky behavior and puts the onus on men who have sex with men to act in a responsible way," said Dr. Peter Figueroa, head of the Jamaican Ministry of Health's AIDS program. "When people see themselves as excluded or discriminated against and stigmatized, it promotes risky behavior."

The health minister of the island nation of Dominica, John Fabien, agreed, saying: "We need to take this to another level, I think the level of prime ministers. ... The whole question of men who have sex with men ... we can't bow our heads in the sand and say it does not happen. I will be driving the process back home and try to see how we could get things going. ... We need to really fall in line and try to get it off the books."

Barbados' health minister, Dr. David Estwick, asked, "What are we going to do about reaching men who have sex with men when we have laws against their sexual activity in most Caribbean countries?"

Jamaica's Figueroa added that when Gay sex is stigmatized, "it drives not only the epidemic underground, but it also means that men who have sex with men disguise their sexuality, take on a girlfriend and have sex with women who are unaware that they are really people who have sex with men, and therefore this acts as a bridge in terms of HIV transmission from the Gay community."

The meeting was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

According to Amnesty International, 11 Caribbean-area nations continue to ban Gay sex - Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

With assistance by Bill Kelley

pictures top: Peter Tatchell

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