International News

Youth center opens after shooting

A community center for gay youths in Tel Aviv reopened on Aug. 3, two days after a shooting there killed two and wounded 15.

Police continue to hunt for the masked gunman who entered the center Aug. 1 and fired upon a support-group meeting in the basement, killing counselor Nir Katz, 26, and group member Liz Trobishi, 16.

The black-clad, hooded gunman fled the center on foot.

Most of the wounded were reported to be minors, with four of them critically injured.

Members of the gay community in Tel Aviv rallied Aug. 2 to condemn the attack, which they called the worst-ever against Israel’s gay community.

Officials said it remained unclear whether homophobia motivated the attack.

Nitzan Horowitz, the only openly gay member of the Israeli Parliament, denounced the attack as a hate crime, echoing many other leaders in the country.

U.S. accused of killing gay Iraqis

U.S. soldiers have been accused of aiding in the execution of gay Iraqis.

Two gay Iraqi refugees made the accusations during a fundraising event at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters.

Several violent images of a beheaded gay Iraqi were shown to the audience by one of the men, who goes by the name “Hussam.” He shocked the audience by claiming U.S. soldiers have also detained and executed Iraqi men perceived to be gay.

Images were shown of a U.S. soldier standing over a group of naked men chained together who Hussam claimed were gay. Hussam said he has images of their execution but did not show them to the audience.

“When it comes down to our armed services … who potentially have contributed to atrocities like that, I’m just appalled,” said Dana Beyer, a transgender activist and Chevy Chase, Md., resident who attended the event. “And I hope that we will pursue this through the government, through the State Department and through the Department of Defense, because this just can’t be left standing.”

Several members voiced their skepticism of the events that Hussam detailed in his speech.

“It’s very difficult for me to believe that my country would allow its military to engage in the conduct that has been apparently documented,” said Chris Farris, a gay D.C. resident who also attended the event. “I would urge the U.S. government to react.”

Portugal upholds gay-marriage ban

The constitutional court in Portugal upheld the country’s ban on same-sex marriage July 31 in a 3-2 ruling against a lesbian couple’s appeal.

A Lisbon registry office denied plaintiffs Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao when they tried to marry in 2006. Portuguese law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but it also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Pires and Paixao took their case to a Lisbon court, where their claims were rejected.

In its July 31 ruling, the high court said the question before it was not whether the Portuguese constitution allows same-sex marriage, but whether it compels same-sex marriage to be accepted. The court ruled no on the latter.

Paixao said she and her partner plan to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Aussies protest marriage ban

Some 2,000 demonstrators marched on the Labor Party’s annual conference in Sydney, Australia, to protest the continuing ban on gay marriage.

Chanting “gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right,” many of those outside the conference July 31 wore wedding veils and participated in mock ceremonies.

Four- hundred Labor delegates had earlier voted to uphold the party’s position on the issue.

Labor promised in its election manifesto to keep marriage for heterosexuals only, although it plans to “recognize” gay couples to make it easier for them to claim entitlements and medical benefits.

Similar events featuring rallies and mock weddings were held in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Protesters fail to halt Belfast Pride

A group of 70 Christian protesters gathered at Belfast Pride Aug. 2 but were mainly ignored by the 6,000 revelers marching the streets.

The group, led by the Rev. David McIlveen of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, protested outside St. Anne’s Cathedral, while a smaller gathering demonstrated outside City Hall.

Belfast Pride, which was allowed to pass unhindered for the second year, is usually targeted by religious protesters. Free Presbyterian protesters infiltrated the march in 2006, handing out extracts from the Bible.

It sparked controversy in 2007 when one marcher carried a placard saying, “Jesus is a fag.”

Belfast city councilor Christopher Stalford led calls for restrictions on future gay parades, claiming he was offended by the placard.

Belfast Pride has been held every year since 1991 despite calls from the Free Presbyterians and others to ban it.

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected].