Serbian police have arrested six suspected antigay extremists in connection with attempts to disrupt a Pride march.
Police canceled the march, which was to be held Oct. 2 in Belgrade, over fears of mass violence.
Some of those arrested were found with ski masks and baseball bats.
Riot police were deployed across Belgrade and other cities over the weekend to quell any trouble.
A Pride march was held last year in Belgrade for the first time in 10 years, but ended in violence as 20,000 people held a counter protest.
This year, reports claimed that extremists were planning to use violence and start fires to disrupt the gay-rights march.
Pride organizers were unwilling to cancel the event and accused authorities of giving in to threats.
But human-rights minister Milan Markovic said many people could have been killed.
“It’s far from the truth that the state has capitulated and that hooligans are more powerful than the state; that’s complete nonsense,” he said.
Instead of holding a march, gay-rights advocates held an indoor press conference.
Serial killer targeting gay men in Johannesburg
There are fears that a serial killer may be targeting gay men in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Four gay men have been discovered bound and strangled in their homes in the last 10 months. In each case, there was no sign of a break-in and little was stolen, the South African newspaper Independent reports.
In the most recent case, 39-year-old Barney Van Heerden was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home. Security guards found his car gate open and his front door unlocked.
In December 2010, Jim Cathels was found bound and strangled at his home in Berea.
Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, was found bound and strangled in Kensington, where he was house-sitting for a friend.
On Sept. 11, a week before Van Heerden’s death, Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, was found dead in the same way at his home in Kliptown, Soweto. In this incident, the victim’s body had acid poured over it.
Police working separately on the four cases have not publicly discussed a possible link; but there are fears in the gay community that the cases may be connected.
Forensic specialist Dr. Mark Welman said: “It would be remiss of investigating authorities to not consider possible links.”
40 detained during Moscow gay-rights rally
Russian police say they detained dozens of antigay protesters and gay-rights activists during a gay Pride rally in central Moscow.
The Oct. 1 rally was one of the few gay-rights events sanctioned by authorities. In recent years, several attempts to hold gay Pride marches in Moscow and other Russian cities have been blocked by police, Russian Orthodox Church activists and soccer fans.
Moscow police spokesperson Anatoly Lastovetsky said 40 people were detained Oct. 1.
He said that police were “finding out whether [the detained] were part of the rally or the people who tried to thwart it.”
During the rally, several men were seen trying to pelt the protesters with tomatoes and unfurling posters with pejorative remarks about homosexuality.
Canadian group accused of transphobia
A right-wing Canadian group claims that school equality policies are “corrupting children.”
The Institute for Canadian Values ran an ad in the National Post recently urging adults to stop “confusing children” by teaching them about gay and transgender people.
The ad, which shows a little girl, says: “Please! Don’t confuse me. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transexual, transgendered, intersexed or two-spirited.”
Appealing to the leaders of the three major Ontario parties, it continues: “Please tell me you will stop telling teachers to confuse me. I face enough in the world already.”
The ad serves to revive last year’s “Stop Corrupting Children” campaign.
According to gay newspaper Xtra!, the ad wrongly claims that optional sex-education lessons are mandatory.
The National Post’s manager of advertising sales told Xtra! that the newspaper had received plenty of complaints and would probably not run the ad again.
Transgender activist Chase Joynt has created a spoof ad in response, which says: “Please! Don’t insult me. Teach me to question everything!”
“I thought it was manipulative to use the face of a small child,” he said. “Where the ad is doing the most damage is in not only presenting trans identities in any form as invalid and shameful, but also to rely on the education system to disseminate these lies.”
Spain to open first gay retirement home
Work will begin on Spain’s first gay and lesbian retirement home, the December 26th Foundation, in Madrid in the coming months.
The luxury center will have 115 apartments, a gym and a swimming pool. Residents will have access to yoga, Tai Chi and a restaurant. Its owners say it will be open to anyone, regardless of sexuality, but will be gay-friendly.
“We want to make sure old people who are gay can live out their lives freely with dignity and among equals,” said Federico Armenteros, a representative for the foundation.
The foundation is named for the 1979 date when Spain’s antigay law was repealed.
Gay-rights activists say negative attitudes toward homosexuality are still common in the elderly, especially in care homes.
Jose Maria Herreras, 65, has already made plans to move in as soon as work is completed. He said that in his current accommodation, he is insulted and ignored by other residents because he is gay.
“I have to make myself as invisible as possible — go back in the closet — so they don’t notice me. And I spend as much time outside the home as possible,” he said. “This is somewhere where everyone will be equal. It’s a totally different home where we won’t have to hide who we are. We will be people. I will be free again.”
British passport forms to go gender-neutral
Following on the heels of the United States, which in June began issuing gender-neutral passport applications and citizenship forms for children of American parents born out of the country, passport forms in the U.K. are being updated to include options for same-sex parents.
Instead of being limited to the traditional “mother” and “father” entries, the new forms are expected to include options for “parent one” and “parent two.”
Agencies will also issue gender-free passports to allow transgender people to opt out of identifying themselves as specifically male or female.
According to Sam Dick, head of policy at the gay-rights group Stonewall, “These changes simply reflect the realities of modern life for families — making it clearer for same-sex parents applying for passports for their children and more straightforward for the officials who process them.”
A spokesperson for the Identity and Passport Service said, “It is essential that any parent provides the necessary information on their status as parents or guardians when applying for a passport on behalf of their child. This protects the interests of the child and ensures that IPS are able to issue passports securely and safely to the right person.”
The new forms are expected by the end of the year.
Will Honduras ban Ricky Martin?
Some people don’t want Ricky Martin to visit Honduras this month as part of his world tour, but it’s not entirely clear if right-wing religious leaders or government officials are objecting.
Martin is scheduled to perform in Tegucigalpa on Oct. 16. The minister of interior of Honduras, Africo Madrid, is telling the media that evangelical and Catholic leaders want Martin’s visa denied in order to “protect the moral and ethical principles of our society.” Madrid said the Christian officials don’t approve of Martin’s homosexuality or the fact that he’s a proud father of two children. “His nuclear family is not the type of family that Honduran society and laws approve of,” Madrid said.
But El Heraldo newspaper reports that sources in the Honduran secretary of state’s office claim there have been no written petitions to deny Martin entry into Honduras. Considering this as well as Madrid’s statements to the media, it may be Madrid who really doesn’t want Martin coming to his country.
Gay former NBA star starts HIV support group
John Amaechi, the openly gay former basketball player, is supporting a new HIV program aimed at African communities in the United Kingdom.
The 40-year-old, who is of Nigerian heritage, launched the three-year Terrence Higgins Trust program Sept. 30.
The program will see 15 volunteers each year taking a two-month training course on HIV and mentoring skills.
They will then hold training workshops in the community on HIV treatment, prevention and stigma.
Amaechi, who now works as a psychologist and political activist, said, “I’m proud to be endorsing such an innovative community-focused project, which will make a tangible difference through the powerful medium of peer-to-peer support. HIV is now a manageable condition, but people are still dying needlessly because of a lack of education about the virus and social stigma, which contributes to fears about HIV testing in African communities.
“As someone with Nigerian roots, I know just how complex cultural beliefs are about sexual health and how important it is that this group has specialist support to counter prejudices and equip people with the information and tools they need to look after their health and the health of their families.”
The former NBA star came out in 2007 in his book “The Man in the Middle.”
— compiled by Larry Nichols