International News


Gay men attacked by mob in Kenya

Police in Kenya rescued three men thought to be gay from a crowd of hundreds of angry youth “baying for their blood” on Feb. 12.

A gay wedding that was planned for later in the day in the coastal town of Mtwapa, where the violence occurred, did not happen, as the two men who planned to marry went into hiding.

The Daily Nation reported that two men suspected of being a couple by residents were flushed out of their apartment and that police found wedding rings on their fingers.

The mob was part of a protest, dubbed Operation Gays Out, led by religious leaders in Kenya, including Sheikh Hussein Ali, from the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, and Kilifi district representative Bishop Laurence Chai.

“We thank God for saving this town from being turned to Sodom and Gomorra of this era as we may be on the verge of being doomed had these criminals managed to conduct their evil exercise within our neighborhood,” Chai said.

Hussein said the angry mob was “ready to shed their blood to protect the dignity of Mtwapa town and called on the residents to raise against the vice.”

Transgender no longer ‘illness’ in France

France has become the first country in the world to declassify transgenderism as a mental illness.

Health minister Roselyne Bachelot announced last May, before the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, that the country would move to de-list the condition as a mental illness.

A government decree on Feb. 10 confirmed the change.

Although France has made the move, the World Health Organization and the American Psychiatric Association continue to list the condition as a mental illness rather than a medical condition.

However, trans advocates hope this will encourage them to follow suit.

In December, the second International Experts’ Meeting on HIV Prevention for MSM, WSW (men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women, respectively) and Transgenders called for transgenderism to be classified as a medical disorder, to help trans people avoid the stigma of mental illness.

Medical opinion once held that homosexuality was a mental illness. The WHO removed it from the list of mental disorders in 1990.

Pro-gay activists meet in Uganda

Activists assembled by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala met secretly in Uganda on Feb. 14 to launch their campaign against the antigay bill pending in parliament.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala, one of the few religious organizations in Uganda that is supporting the gay community, held the conference to highlight the need for an end to discriminatory treatment of the gay population in Uganda.

According to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the conference aimed “to achieve permanent, fundamental, real equality for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people by affecting fundamental changes in the attitudes of society; to defeat discriminatory legislation and exclusionary policies and practices; and to build a strong social movement of BGLT people with a fully representative and activist base.”

EU:Countries must protect gays

The European Parliament has said that Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey must prove they can offer “genuine protection” to gay people in order to join the European Union.

The three countries have been criticized for their records on LGBT rights, and reports given to the European Parliament reminded the candidates that protections such as antidiscrimination laws were “non-negotiable” conditions to join the union.

Croatia was criticized for its 2009 de-facto ban on Zagreb Pride and the government’s failure to implement antidiscrimination laws.

In Turkey, the country’s penal code raised concerns for “allowing for the systematic persecution” of gay, bisexual and trans people, while Macedonia was told to cover sexual orientation and gender identity in its antidiscrimination laws.

“I am happy that our amendments in favor of LGBT rights in the progress reports for Macedonia and Croatia were adopted by the European Parliament,” said MEP Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights. “We have reaffirmed that antidiscrimination standards must apply in candidate countries.”

“Accession criteria are crystal clear: Minorities must be protected from discrimination as laid out in Article 19 of the Treaty — and that includes sexual orientation,” added MEP Michael Cashman, Lunacek’s co-president. “This is not an à la carte menu: It is at the core of the European Union, and we will be rigorous in its application.”

South African wins Mr. Gay World

A South African man has won the title of Mr. Gay World 2010.

Charl Van den Berg, a 28-year-old restaurateur from Cape Town, was named the winner at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Feb. 14.

“It’s my aim to help break down stereotypes and differing mindsets in the global community and promote oneness and equality for all people by bridging the gap between those mindsets,” Van den Berg said. “It is my understanding that people are people before we are different.”

Bryon Adu, 24, from Australia, came in second place; Rick Dean Twombley, 33, from Hong Kong, came in third; and fourth place went to 26-year-old Xiadai Muyi from China.

Xiadai’s identity was kept secret after Beijing officials tried to prevent him from joining the contest.

A pageant to decide Mr. Gay China was due to be held in the city last month but was stopped by police after organizers apparently obtained the wrong permits.

Instead, organizers chose Xiadai to compete secretly.

Larry Nichols can be reached at [email protected].