Two of India’s largest cities held Pride events Nov. 27, with organizers saying it was a chance to “rejoice that we are here and will always be here.”
The organizers of Bangalore Pride also said they hoped the country’s Supreme Court would uphold the 2009 ruling, which determined that laws against homosexuality violated the constitution.
They called for the state to provide public services to the LGBT community without discrimination, especially to the transgender community, with regard to voter IDs, driving licenses, pensions and old-age homes.
2,000 people attended the event in New Delhi last year.
In July, India’s health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, caused an uproar by referring to homosexuality as an “unnatural disease” from the West.
Also this past summer, a lesbian couple was granted 24-hour police protection after family members allegedly threatened to kill them.
Nigeria moves to criminalize gay marriage
Senators in Nigeria voted Nov. 29 to approve a bill that would criminalize same-sex marriage with prison terms of more than a decade for couples and those who help them marry.
The bill would penalize same-sex couples who marry with up to 14 years in prison, while witnesses and others who assist them could be sentenced to 10 years. The House of Representatives still needs to pass the bill, and President Goodluck Jonathan has to sign it, but support for the measure appears widespread in deeply religious Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa.
Same-sex marriages and homosexuality already are illegal in the country, where in some parts of the north, gays and lesbians can be stoned to death under Islamic Shariah law. Lawmakers in Nigeria have now tried three times to pass the law banning same-sex marriage, and a similar bill is being considered in Cameroon.
The Nigerian bill has drawn sharp opposition from international human-rights organizations. Advocates fear that the bill could hinder HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, stir violent antigay sentiments and criminalize couples who live together without being married.
Cameroon urged to release men arrested for being gay
Amnesty International has condemned a court in the Cameroon capital Yaoundé for sentencing three men to five years in prison on charges of being gay.
One of the men has managed to abscond from custody after jumping bail.
The men were arrested in July after police alleged they were caught performing a sexual act in a car.
Their lawyer, Michel Togue, said the arrest was a blatant violation of the country’s law.
Amnesty International’s Africa director, Erwin van der Borght, stated: “The Yaoundé court must overturn this shocking sentence, which punishes these three men solely on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation. People accused of such crimes in Cameroon often face abuse and violence from other detainees or prison officers in detention. The two men must be released immediately and the Cameroonian authorities must repeal the country’s discriminatory anti-homosexuality laws.”
Homosexuality remains banned in Cameroon and lawmakers have recently attempted to toughen legal sanctions against the LGBT community.
According to Amnesty, at least 10 individuals in Yaoundé and the largest city of Douala have been arrested under the country’s homophobic laws since March.
High HIV rates in Bahamas blamed on homophobia
An HIV policy expert in the Bahamas says the island’s high infection rates of the virus in gay and bisexual men is due to stigmatization and discrimination.
Director of the National HIV/AIDS Program Dr. Perry Gomez, was responding to comments made by Baptist Bishop Simeon Hall.
In a recent statement, Hall declared that homosexuality is “anti-family” and a “deadly practice.”
Hall made the comments after the island’s Nassau Guardian newspaper reported that gay and bisexual men account for 14 percent of all HIV infections in the country.
According to a UN study, the figure has nearly doubled since 2008.
Gomez, who was speaking at the close of the island’s 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference, said, “The issue with MSMs [is] that they are a very private group. It has been difficult in getting information from that group of people over the years and part of the issue is stigma and discrimination.”
In June, the Bahamas government expressed support for a UN Human Rights Council resolution promoting equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation.
However, same-sex marriages and civil unions remain illegal on the island.
Right-wing Polish group registers antigay logo
Poland’s first gay MP is condemning a court for allowing a far-right group to use a logo that shows the “no” symbol over two male stick figures.
One of the figures stands behind another on all fours, in a classic depiction of anal sex.
Robert Biedron, Poland’s first openly gay MP, who was sworn in this month, told reporters: “Such symbols tap directly into fascist, neo-fascist and xenophobic traditions and intolerance.”
A court allowed the National Rebirth of Poland party to use the symbol last month, before Biedron took office. The politician is now urging the ministry of justice to intervene. The group regularly targets Polish gay events with placards bearing the design.
Homosexuality and homosexual acts have never been illegal under Polish law, but there is no state recognition of gay couples.
Attempts to legislate for civil partnerships had been gaining ground until the 2005 elections when the make-up of the parliament became more conservative.
Views both for and against gay rights are often strongly held. In 2008, a Polish MP whose life was saved by a blood transfusion said she would prefer only heterosexuals donated.
Officials fear rise in HIV among Israeli gays
Israeli health officials are concerned with a “dramatic increase” in HIV rates among gay men in a figure released Nov. 29.
Of 420 diagnosed cases of HIV last year in the country of 7.8 million people, 148 were gay men, who comprised half of all new infections among men. The infection rate among gay men is a four-fold increase over 2000 figures, according to the Health Ministry.
In a 2010 study of 2,000 Israeli gay men, 20 percent reported they did not use condoms during the previous six months.
— compiled by Larry Nichols