Friday, June 29, 2007

GLBT DIGEST June 28, 2007

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The New York Times

June 28, 2007
Ms. Bolden's Black Mark

Discrimination is disturbing wherever it shows its face. But it isespecially deplorable in public schools, which are supposed to uphold thevalues of tolerance and basic fairness. Marion Bolden, superintendent ofNewark's schools, seemed to forget that recently when she ordered one highschool to blot out a yearbook picture of a gay student and his boyfriendkissing. Ms. Bolden said she thought the picture - which was covered overwith black marker - was "suggestive" and "looked fairly illicit." Photos ofheterosexual couples kissing were left untouched.

Ms. Bolden has apologized to the student, 18-year-old Andre Jackson, and thebooks are being reprinted. Even so, some hurts just can't be apologizedaway. Mr. Jackson, who came upon the crudely defaced picture in the companyof high school friends, said of the experience: "I was hurt. I feltembarrassed and abused." Other gay students undoubtedly felt the same.

Ms. Bolden blames the controversy on a misunderstanding. She says thatsubordinates were troubled by the photo and brought it to her attention, butdid not show her pictures of heterosexual couples that she says should alsohave been expunged. But the fact that school officials employed twodifferent standards when judging the yearbook pictures suggests adeep-seated prejudice that needs to be rooted out. In schools which aresupposed to teach the value of free speech to a free society, theSoviet-style impulse to go immediately for the black marker also needsrethinking.


The New York Times

June 28, 2007
Religion and the Law (1 Letter)
To the Editor:

"Gay Marriage, a Touchy Issue, Touches Legislators' Emotions" (news article,June 21) speaks of Assemblyman Dov Hikind, "who said he opposed gay marriageon religious grounds," echoing the religious objections expressed by someother members of New York's Legislature. Do we need to remind theselegislators that they took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, notthe tenets of their religion?

If they vote according to their religious beliefs rather than theirunderstanding of the Constitution, they have legitimately opened the door tobeing questioned about those beliefs, something that Americans have beenloath to do but that becomes necessary if their religious principles takeprecedence over the Constitution.

Some religious bodies have endorsed gay marriage. Is our legislative processthen to become a fight to see which religion will dictate our laws?

Andrew Weiss
Margaretville, N.Y., June 21, 2007


The New York Times

June 28, 2007
Church Dissidents Lose Property Appeal

Three congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church over theappointment of a gay bishop are not entitled to property claimed by theEpiscopal Diocese of Los Angeles, a California appeals court has ruled.

In a unanimous decision on Monday overturning a lower court ruling, athree-judge panel supported the diocese's assertion that the property -buildings and other items - did not belong to the individual congregations,but was held in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church, the Americanarm of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

State property laws vary to such an extent that legal experts say the rulingwill probably not set a precedent in similar disputes around the country,where other congregations have broken with the Episcopal Church. But theyalso said the ruling's encyclopedic discussion of church propertyprecedents, especially in California, could make it a persuasive resource inother cases.

"This is a very scholarly opinion, and trial judges know when a decision ismore learned," said L. Martin Nussbaum, a Colorado Springs lawyerrepresenting the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado in a dispute with a breakawayparish. "This will have persuasion beyond its jurisdiction and will havepersuasion beyond the state of California."

In August 2004, All Saints Church in Long Beach, St. James Church in NewportBeach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood voted to leave the LosAngeles Diocese and the Episcopal Church. Their departure stemmed from adispute over biblical authority and interpretation that culminated a yearearlier with the church's consecration of V. Gene Robinson, a gay man in along-term relationship, as bishop of New Hampshire. The churches placedthemselves under the authority of Anglican bishops overseas.


The New York Times

June 28, 2007
Former Ex - Gay Ministry Leaders Apologize
Filed at 8:29 a.m. ET

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Three former leaders of a ministry that counsels gays tochange their sexual orientation apologized, saying although they actedsincerely, their message had caused isolation, shame and fear.

The former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization ExodusInternational said Wednesday they had become disillusioned with promotinggay conversion.

''Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integralpart of themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families,'' thethree said in a statement released outside the Los Angeles Gay & LesbianCenter.

The statement was from former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, who left thegroup in 1979, Jeremy Marks, former president of Exodus InternationalEurope, and Darlene Bogle, the founder of Paraklete Ministries, an Exodusreferral agency.

The statement coincided with the opening of Exodus' annual conference, whichis being held this week at Concordia University in Irvine.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,3062106,print.story

Wilton Manors: Stonewall festival honors community, political activists
June 28, 2007

Three community leaders were given leadership awards at the Stonewall StreetFestival and Parade gay pride event last week.

The Dana Manchester Humanitarian Award was presented to Richard Rogers andBill Mullins, said festival chairman Marc Hansen.

The couple, who have been together for 46 years, have volunteered withseveral charitable efforts, including the Poverello Center.

The Karl Clark Community Service Award went to Michael Albetta, Hansen said.Albetta is a political activist who serves as president of the Florida Gay,Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Caucus.

The festival and parade are held every June, to commemorate the 1969Stonewall uprising in New York City, which was the beginning of the moderngay rights movement.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7421882,print.story

Sharon Gless gets ready for Miami in new TV role on USA
June 28, 2007

A generation of girls grew up watching tough, capable, yet vulnerably humanNew York City police detectives Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless) and MaryBeth Lacey (Tyne Daly) on Cagney & Lacey, American TV's first seriousdramatic series with two female leads. (The first season of the CBS show,which ran from 1982-1988, was recently released on DVD.)

Gless, 64, who won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for the series, hadbeen a busy working actress and, reportedly, the last "contract player" forUniversal Studios, itself the last Hollywood bastion of that salariedapprentice system for actors. Roles in a slew of Universal telefilms andseries like McCloud, Ironside and The Rockford Files led to a role on Switch(CBS, 1975-1978) as Maggie Philbin, the befuddled secretary who nonethelesshelped her private-eye/con-artist bosses with their elaborate stings.

Gless succeeded Meg Foster as Cagney starting with episode seven. She alsowound up succeeding co-creator Barbara Corday as the wife of series'executive producer Barney Rosenzweig, who then created the lawyer series TheTrials of Rosie O'Neill for Gless in 1990.

More recently, Gless played Debbie Novotny, the eccentric but supportivemother of a gay man, in Showtime's Queer as Folk (2000-2005), and startingtonight, at 10 p.m., she plays another mom, hypochondriac Madeline Westen,in the USA Network caper series Burn Notice, about a fired spy (JeffreyDonovan) stuck in Miami.

Q. I understand Gless Street in Los Angeles is named after your family.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1143306,print.story

Police in Moscow block gay rights rally
The Associated Press
June 28, 2007

MOSCOW Police blocked gay rights activists from holding a demonstration inthe Russian capital Wednesday and detained two of them even though theprotest was authorized by city authorities.

About two dozen activists aimed to hold the rally outside the EuropeanUnion's representative office in Moscow to demand that the EU impose a visaban on Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has banned gay rights parades and calledhomosexuality "satanic."

Although the planned demonstration had been sanctioned, police said theydecided to block it because it would interfere with construction takingplace nearby.

"Authorities in Moscow have broken the law again by not allowing ourpicket," activist Alexey Davydov said.

Demonstrators tried to unfurl a banner, but police dispersed them, grabbingDavydov and another demonstrator and forcing them into a police bus.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4766044,print.story

Broward County: Grant to encourage safety in schools for sexual minorities
June 28, 2007

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network of South Florida recentlyreceived a $10,000 grant from the John C. Graves Charitable Fund at theCommunity Foundation of Broward.

GLSEN will use the money to expand its Safe School Project in BrowardCounty, according to executive director Robert Loupo. The program isdesigned to help make schools safer for all students, especially sexualminorities.

For more information, visit .


The Sun-Sentinel,0,6329991,print.story

Arts United celebrates gay pride month with people's choice awards
Special Correspondent
June 28, 2007

Fort Lauderdale artist Alfred Phillips is turning a winning streak into alocal tradition. For the third year in a row, he nabbed the people's choiceaward at the opening reception for "United and Proud," on view through June30 at the Fort Lauderdale Main Library's Gallery Six.

Presented by Arts United in celebration of June as gay and lesbian pridemonth, the annual exhibition invites Arts United members to show work in allmedia, regardless of whether it supports the gay pride theme.

Phillips' acrylic painting Hanging Out combines elements from fourphotographs he took in Hawaii of three shirtless young men sitting on apier. This strikingly simple yet arresting image portrays the trio withtheir backs to the viewer, so we only get a glimpse of a face in profile. Anintensely blue sky is a focal point of the painting; intriguingly unknown iswhat they themselves are focusing on. Phillips explains what he saw thatday: "These three dudes were looking at girls on boogie boards. There was asurfboard here and clouds in the sky, but I kept it pure with saturatedcolor."

Slice-of-life paintings are Phillips' specialty. Seascapes, patio scenesand, most recently, people find their way onto his canvases. While hispaintings are always sold to collectors, he says he faces a challenge, "I'mtrying to understand what it takes to get validation from critics. But I'veonly been doing this for four years."

A few other bright lights merit mention in an exhibition that is largelydull and sometimes excruciatingly bad. Bob Gilmore's exceptional color photoMorning Light stands in stark contrast to the overblown digital disastersdominating the space. Shot from an apartment window, the image is agraphically composed stunner featuring squarish buildings, clouds, a band ofsky and a beige stripe of African dust.


Thursday, 28 June 2007 07:10
NORML's Open Letter to Sen. Norm Coleman

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman acknowledges on his website that he was a"campus organzizer in the '60s" when he attended Hofstra University inHempstead, NY. His Wikipedia entry states: "He ran for student senate andopined in the school newspaper that his fellow students should vote for himbecause he knew that 'these conservative kids don't fuck or get high like wedo... Everyone watch out, the 1950s' bobby-sox generation is about to takeover.'" Several photos (reproduced here) show the then longhaired Colemanspeaking through a bullhorn and unfurling an anti-war banner with otherstudents.

Since that time, the Brooklyn, NY-born politician graduated from theUniversity of Iowa Law School and stayed in the Midwest, where he worked asa prosecutor in Minnesota for 17 years before his two terms as mayor of St.Paul. In 1996, he switched parties - from Democrat to Republican - and in1998 he lost the Minnesota governor's race to Jesse Ventura. In 2002,Coleman was elected senator by a 2% margin. He benefitted from the suddendeath of the state's incumbant Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash 11days before the election.

NORML board member Norm Kent, who is a lawyer as well, went to Hofstra withColeman. Kent recently received a form letter from Coleman regarding hiscurrent anti-marijuana positiion. It reads, in part: "I oppose thelegalization of marijuana because, as noted by the Office of National DrugControl Policy, marijuana can have serious adverse health affects onindividuals. The health problems that may occur from this highly addictivedrug include short-term memory loss, anxiety, respiratory illness and a riskof lung cancer that far exceeds that of tobacco products. It would also makeour transportation, schools and workplaces, just as examples, moredangerous."

Offended by Coleman's comments, Kent fired of a letter to his former smokingbuddy.

Dear Mr. Coleman,


Wednesday, 27 June 2007 20:48

LEAD Georgia Calls to Lift FDA's Ban on Blood Donations From Gay Men

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the 1983 banon blood donations from gay men will not be lifted. The FDA is saying thatthe policy can protect people from HIV infection through transfusions.

In 1983, when AIDS was spreading mainly among white gay men, the FDA decidedto put a ban on all men who had had sex with other men since 1977. Thereasoning for the ban in 1983 was based on the FDA's decision that all gaymen having had sex during the specified time were considered to be at higherrisk of contracting and transmitting HIV and hepatitis, thus being a dangerto the health of the blood recipients.

"Testing for HIV and other infectious diseases has improved enormously since1983. The strict testing of today disqualifies blood if it is infected withHIV," states Chuck Obina, President/CEO of LEAD Georgia.

The only exception to the screening is men newly infected within a threeweeks period prior to donating. "Admittedly, this 'window period' duringwhich someone can be infected with HIV and not test positive is a risk, evenwith the best of screening tests," states Obina. The right approach for theFDA is to exclude anyone having engaged in risky sexual or drug behavior fora month prior to donating blood.

Joseph Mendoza, Chief Operating Officer of Lead Georgia states "the risktoday of contracting HIV or hepatitis C, for example, from a bloodtransfusion is one in two million or less. In fact, the rates are so low, wecan only do statistical models to determine the odds."

"The policy adopted by the FDA is outdated and prevents potential donorsfrom contributing to blood banks, despite the ongoing need for donors. Whatthe FDA is not considering is that refusal to lift the ban and modify policyis now discrimination against the gay community," stated Obina.

About Lead Georgia (


The Advocate

June 28, 2007
California court rules against Episcopal breakaway parishes

Buildings used by three California Episcopal parishes that broke away fromthe mother church in a dispute over a gay bishop should be placed under thecontrol of the Los Angeles diocese, an appeals court ruled.

Relying on church law, the state's 4th District Court of Appeal ruledMonday, ''The right of the general church in this case to enforce a trust onthe local parish property is clear.''

But the three judges on the panel made it clear they were staying out ofdoctrinal disputes.

''Readers will look in vain in this opinion for any indication of whatreligious controversy may have prompted the disaffiliation,'' Judge David G.Sills wrote. ''That controversy is irrelevant to this action.''

The appeals court reversed lower court rulings in favor of the threeconservative parishes - St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints Churchin Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood.


The Advocate

June 28, 2007
Hillary Clinton announces national LGBT steering committee

Hillary Clinton's campaign announced today the formation of "LGBT Americansfor Hillary"-a national steering committee made up of more than 65 LGBTleaders (full list included below), all of whom have personally endorsedClinton for president.

This committee will work with the campaign on several areas includingpolitical outreach, communications, policy advice and counsel, andfund-raising. The press release noted that the move came on the eve of the38th anniversary of Stonewall, June 28, 1969-you have to hand it to Clintonand her advisors on this one.

Among others, every major openly gay elected official from New York State ison the list-including all four gay members of the state legislature and outNew York City Council speaker Christine Quinn.

"I've seen how Hillary Clinton's experience, commitment, and leadership havemade a difference for the LGBT community," said Speaker Quinn, who isexpected to run for mayor in 2009. "From her efforts to defeat the FederalMarriage Amendment to standing up for our rights in employment practices,there is no one else in this race who will fight harder for the LGBT

Clinton met with LGBT leaders last year to strategize leading up to theFederal Marriage Amendment vote last summer and met again with about 40activists and elected officials in October during her Senate reelectioncampaign for a Q&A with members of the press present.


Blair Era Ends
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(London) The decade of Tony Blair's stewardship of Great Britain came to anend on Wednesday with the handover of power to Gordon Brown.

Blair's tenure as Prime Minister was marked by the passage of three majorbills affecting the lives of gays and lesbians.

The first was the repeal of the notorious Section 28. The law had beenenacted by the then-government of Margaret Thatcher and mad it illegal forschools to teach there is anything positive in homosexuality.

Repealing the law led to a showdown with the House of Lords which Blairultimately won.

Enacting legislation creating civil partnerships led to another showdownwith the Lords but again Blair was victorious in 2005. The law givessame-sex couples the same rights as married opposite-sex couples.


Gays Arrested As Homophobic Moscow Mayor Handed Fifth Term
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 3:00 pm ET

(Moscow) Moscow city lawmakers on Wednesday elected Mayor Yuri Luzhkov to afifth term in office despite concerns from civil rights groups that he hasshown little respect for human rights.

The vote came as police dispersed a small group of LGBT activists protestingagainst Luzhkov in front of the European Union office in Moscow.

About two dozen gays were demanding that the EU impose a visa ban on themayor over his opposition to LGBT rights.

The demonstrators tried to unfurl a banner, but police dispersed them,arresting two protestors.

Luzhkov, who had the backing of President Vladimir Putin, was re-elected bythe 35-seat Moscow City Duma in 32-3 vote.


Poll: Public Support For Gays Growing
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 3:00 pm ET

(Atlanta, Georgia) A poll released Wednesday shows that for the first time amajority of Americans believe that gays and lesbians could not not changetheir sexuality even if they wanted to.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 56 percent ofrespondents do not believe sexual orientation can be changed.

That is a marked change in the past six years.

A 2001 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found only 45 percent of respondentsbelieved sexuality was unchangeable and in 1998 a CNN/Time poll the numberwas 36 percent.

When asked whether homosexuality is nature or nurture the 515 peoplesurveyed in the new poll respondents were more closely divided.


Anti-Gay Liberal Joins Canada's Conservatives
by The Canadian Press
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Thunder Bay, Ontario) Prime Minister Stephen Harper has welcomed anotherfloor-crosser to the Conservative caucus, although it is unclear how longthe new Tory team member will stick around.

Joe Comuzzi, who sat in Parliament for 19 years as a Liberal, was applaudedby Tory supporters in his Thunder Bay riding Tuesday as he welcomed Harperto the northern Ontario city.

Comuzzi said he had grown increasingly uncomfortable with Liberal policiesin recent years, and had been attracted to the Tory platform for some time.

``I saw the change in the new Conservative party,'' Comuzzi said.

``It truly respected family values. It truly respected ... the earnings andthe taxpayer's money that is paying into the (government) coffers everyday.''


Court Rules Against Episcopal Gay Foes
by The Associated Press
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Santa Ana, California) Buildings used by three Episcopal parishes thatbroke away from the mother church in a dispute over a gay bishop should beplaced under the control of the Los Angeles diocese, an appeals court ruled.

Relying on church law, the state's 4th District Court of Appeal ruledMonday, "The right of the general church in this case to enforce a trust onthe local parish property is clear."

But the three judges on the panel made it clear they were staying out ofdoctrinal disputes.

"Readers will look in vain in this opinion for any indication of whatreligious controversy may have prompted the disaffiliation," Judge David G.Sills wrote. "That controversy is irrelevant to this action."

The appeals court reversed lower court rulings in favor of the threeconservative parishes - St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints Churchin Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood.


Bush Threatens To Veto DC Budget For Not Blocking Domestic Partner Funds
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 27, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Washington) President Bush issued a warning to Congress on Wednesday thathe will veto budget appropriations for the District of Columbia unless themeasure contains language barring the district from using any of the moneyfor its domestic partner registry.

The registry allows same and opposite-sex unmarried couples to registertheir relationships.

Three quarters of the District of Columbia's budget comes from localrevenue - city taxes and fees. But, about $120 million in additional fundscomes from the federal government.

That money is contained in the Financial Services and General GovernmentAppropriations Act.

Under Republicans the legislation stated that none of the federal moneycould be used to support the partner registry. When Democrats took controlof Congress the requirement was removed.


Saving 'Traditional Marriage' Bigger Than Banning Gay Nuptials Catholics
by The Associated Press
Posted: June 28, 2007 - 8:00 am ET

(Denver, Colorado) U.S. Roman Catholic bishops began a campaign this week tostrengthen the institution of marriage by encouraging spouses to performsimple day-to-day gestures for one other.

The campaign, a series of radio and television spots, is part of a broadereffort to bring a greater Catholic voice to the debate over the meaning ofmarriage.

The spots show ordinary people in parks and other public places answeringthe question "What have you done for your marriage today?" The answers -waking up early with the baby, organizing a date night - are meant topromote small acts of kindness as medicine for making marriages last alifetime.

Missing from the spots is any overt religious message, although they areidentified as Catholic and end with an invitation to visit . The Web site promises resources forCatholic and non-Catholic couples on everything from conflict resolution tofinances.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, a member of the bishops' committee onmarriage and family life, said the spots deliberately avoid religion toreach a wide audience.


Former 'Ex-Gay' Leaders Apologize For 'Bringing Harm'
by The Associated Press
Posted: June 28, 2007 - 10:00 am ET

(Los Angeles, California) Three former leaders of an international ministrythat counsels gays to change their sexual orientation apologized for theirefforts, saying that though they acted sincerely, their message had causedisolation, shame and fear.

The former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization ExodusInternational said Wednesday they had all, over time, become disillusionedwith the group's ideas and concerned about what they described as thewrenching human toll of such gay conversion efforts.

"Some who heard our message were compelled to try to change an integral partof themselves, bringing harm to themselves and their families," the three,including former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, said in a joint writtenstatement presented at a news conference in Hollywood. "Although we acted ingood faith, we have since witnessed the isolation, shame, fear and loss offaith that this message creates."

The news conference was held in a courtyard outside an office of the LosAngeles Gay & Lesbian Center. It was timed to coincide with the opening ofExodus' annual conference, which is being held this week at ConcordiaUniversity in Irvine and expected to draw about 1,000 people.

Exodus' president, Alan Chambers, said he disagreed with its critics and theministry's methods have helped many people, including him.


Iraq descends into clericalism and barbarism

Iraqi gay human rights activist, Ali Hili, reveals that for mostordinary Iraqis, life is now worse than under Saddam Hussein's brutalmisrule. Watch his Talking with Tatchell interview here:

Saddam was a tyrant. It is good that he is gone. But since theAmerican and British-led invasion in 2003, a once prosperous nationhas been reduced to chaos, impoverishment and terror. Homophobia,sexism and religious intolerance are spiralling out of control.

Despite Iraq's immense oil wealth, mass unemployment and poverty arenow the norm. In many regions, public utilities and welfare provisionhave collapsed.

Although many Iraqis are attempting to forge a peaceful, democraticfuture, much of the country is blighted by prejudice, war, mob rule,witch-hunts and sectarian violence. Most people live in a state ofpermanent insecurity and fear.

Suicide bombings, assassinations and death squad killings are dailyoccurrences. Some of this indiscriminate violence is perpetrated byforeign al-Qaida terrorists and by Sunni insurgents, includingloyalists to Saddam's now defunct Baathist regime.

But many of the killers are linked to leading Shia parties in thewestern-backed Iraqi government, in particular to the Supreme Councilfor Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and its armed wing, the Badrmilitia. Other killers belong to the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal tofirebrand fundamentalist cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.


English Version:

Interview with an Iranian Lesbian in order to convey her Protest to theWorld
By Darya and Baran
Translated by Ava

Persian Version:

To all the lesbian women of Iran:

As of this day we will walk in the path of freedom, hand in hand, withlinked arms, firm steps and heads held high. We will break the chains thatbind us - chains of captivity, chains of fear. With solidarity, strength,and pride we shall stand up for life in freedom. The time of censorship,oppression and isolation has come to an end. The time has come to speakcourageously of injustice, tyranny, and violation. If you and I don't airour cries of pain and sorrow to the world, we will die in a prison ofterror. With one voice let us convey the problems of a lesbian Iranian womanto the world. If you and I remain silent, not only our rights but those ofcountless others shall be sacrificed. What are you waiting for? Together,let us cry freedom.

If you are interested in working with us, contact us at:

*For confidentiality reasons, names have been changed in the followinginterview.

---Please introduce yourself, in whatever way you prefer, to our readers.

I am Taraneh, an Iranian lesbian. I'm 48 years old. 17 years ago I became arefugee in Europe.

---When did you realize you were a lesbian?

From childhood I preferred to have girlfriends rather than boyfriends.

---Why did you become a refugee?

I am a lesbian. For this reason I was arrested countless times. I went toprison and ultimately sentenced to death [by hanging]. I remember the firsttime I was arrested; I was 21 and a student in Esfahan. I was making lovewith my girlfriend in a car when I was arrested. I was kicked out ofuniversity. I spent 3 months in prison. I was whipped. Eventually I went toIndia to continue my education. But my family did not want me to stay thereso I had to return to Iran. From there began the rest of my problems.

---What problems did you have in Iran as a lesbian woman?


We saw the light, but too late for some
Philip French
Sunday June 24, 2007

The Observer

In September 1957, when the Committee on Homosexuality and Prostitutionmade public its findings and recommendations, known as the Wolfenden report,I'd arrived at Indiana University to begin graduate studies. Theuniversity's Bloomington campus was then best known for the Kinsey Institutefor Sex, Gender and Reproduction. Its founder and head, Dr Alfred Kinsey,the zoologist turned sexologist, had recently died.

The institute rightly claimed responsibility, through its seminal 1948and 1953 Reports on the Sexual Behaviour of the Human Male and the HumanFemale, for creating the climate of opinion that led to the part of thereport recommending that sexual activity between consenting males in privateshould no longer be a criminal offence.

A meeting was held to discuss the recommendations, about which Ireported to one of my closest friends, Sir John Wolfenden's gay son, Jeremy.Somewhat naively, I believed that legislation would soon follow. But Jeremy,who after graduation from Oxford that summer had started full-time work atthe Times, wrote to tell me about the hostile response of the British pressand politicians. Years would pass, he opined, before anything was done. Hewas right.

By then, Jeremy, who was godfather to my eldest son, had drunk himselfto death. He died in December 1965 while in Washington as the DailyTelegraph correspondent. For a while, rumours circulated that he was thevictim of the CIA, the KGB and/or our SIS. A play by Julian Mitchell aboutJeremy's life and relationship with his father, in which there's a characterloosely based on me, will be broadcast on BBC4 in September.

I first met Jeremy, widely regarded as one of the most brilliant men ofhis generation, in 1954, a year that was a turning point in my life.



What liberation did for us...
Leading gay figures tell their own stories
Sunday June 24, 2007

Stella Duffy
author, 44

There's misplaced joy over how things have changed. I don't see thatthe same thing has happened for lesbians as it has for gay men. We didn'treally get the feminist revolution we hoped for. If you don't have manywomen in Parliament, there won't be many lesbians in Parliament. I'm happyfor Elton and David, but we don't have a lesbian couple of a similar statusand people often forget that gay includes women.

Things are getting better, but my partner and I still wouldn't kiss onthe Tube. I really mind when gay people aren't 'out'. I have Asian friendsand they don't have any choice - the colour of their skin makes them out. Ibelieve we'll change the world and make it better if we're all out. It isvery unfortunate that the ghastliness of the Iraq war has obfuscated some ofthe good things Labour has done, one of those being the Civil PartnershipAct. I certainly never expected that by my forties I would be able to getmarried to my partner in a civil partnership.

David McAlmont
musician, 40

I was born in England but grew up in Guyana, listening to British actslike Boy George and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I saw people like Erasureand Marc Almond strutting their stuff and thought it was OK to be out andproud here. I had been living in South America as a born-again Christianand returned to England in 1987 so that I could be gay. I didn't realisewhat a novelty it was to have a black, gay man in that arena. It wasshocking, some of the questions journalists came up with. Somebody whowanted to sign my first group, Thieves, to their label was surprised todiscover there was such a thing as a black gay man. I'm accustomed tohearing West Indian people say that homosexuality is a white disease, butthere were white people who felt that, too. Ten years ago I went toNorthern Ireland to do a show and it got cancelled. They were about to passpro-gay legislation and there were protests against it, so the last thingthey wanted was a screaming poof on TV.


Church weddings for gays soon a reality in Sweden
Posted on den 28 juni 2007 (EST)

Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adoptchildren, looks set to allow gays to marry in the Lutheran Church, withplans to introduce a new marriage law in January 2008.

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - If the so-called "gender neutral" marriage legislation isadopted, the Scandinavian country would become the first in the world toallow gays to marry within a major church.

Other countries only allow gays to hold civil ceremonies.

Sweden's current law from 1987 defines marriage as being between a man and awoman. The new law would strike any reference to gender.

While heterosexuals can currently marry in either a civil ceremony or achurch ceremony, homosexuals are only allowed to register their partnershipsin a civil ceremony.

"I think it would be great if the Swedish law passed. In changing the laweverybody could be equal in the eyes of the law," Soeren Andersson of theSwedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights toldAFP.

"It's a kind of a revolution in a way. Because when you look at the bigSwedish Church, if you would have asked it five years ago it would probablyhave said 'no we would not accept this'," he added.


UPDATE: Call for Action: Transgender couple sentenced to 3 years in prison;need your letters of support

Dear friends,

Women Living Under Muslim Laws has received updated information on thecase of Shamial Raj and Shahzina Tariq of Faisalabad, Pakistan. Shamial hada sex change operation and has been living as a man for years. He andShahzina Tariq married for love last year, despite the fact that Shahzina'sfather had wanted her to marry a person to whom he owed money. Shahzina'sfather and other family members continued to harass the pair and took legalaction against Shamial accusing him of kidnapping their daughter, despitethe consensual nature of their marriage. On the 28th of May, 2007 the LahoreHigh Court decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Shahzina andShamial under section 377 (unnatural offences). However the couple wassentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine on chargesof perjury.

Their petition challenging the above verdict is currently pending inPakistan Supreme Court (SC). On June 21, 2007 a medical report was submittedto a Lahore High Court Justice, which was not made available to thepetitioners' counsel, although access to this report is essential for theirdefence. We strongly support the right of Shahzina Tariq and Shamial Raj tolive their lives according to their own wishes, and urge authorities to takeimmediate action to address the several police reports [FIRs - 'FirstInformation Reports'] initiated by Shahzina's father against Shamial Raj. Ifthese are not quashed then Shamial could be arrested again as soon as he isreleased from prison on bail.

Currently Shahzina pledges to stand firm with Shamial. Shamial issuffering the negative attitudes of those around him. He is kept in a smallroom alone without even the possibility of sleeping in the courtyard, a?privilege' extended to all prisoners during the summer.


Shamial and Shahzina urgently need your letters of support and solidarityaddressed to them. Your show of support is crucial for their morale at thistime, especially as this is a case in Pakistan without legal precedent.Please address your letters of support to Shahzina and Shamial and anyinformation that may assist in their appeal (e.g., relevant legalinformation on other cases of transgender or multiple gender-identifiedpeople facing adversity). You may email your letters to Nighat Said Khan whois working on this case and will take your letters to Shamial and Shahzina in prison.

Please address your letters to Shamial Raj and Shahzina Tariq and email them to:

You may also send your letters via Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre:



Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Washington Blade Online
June 27, 2007

Clinton camp announces gay steering committee
List includes activists from across U.S.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign announced Wednesday the formation of "LGBT Americans for Hillary," a national steering committee that includes more than five dozen gays.

The committee, which boasts elected officials and activists from across the nation, is slated tosupport the campaign with political outreach, communications, policy advice and fund raising.

"I am proud to have the support of suchdistinguished leaders in the LGBT community,"Clinton said. "Together, we can move our nationcloser to the promise of fairness and equality that all Americans deserve."

Names on the list, in alphabetical order, include:

* Eldie Acheson, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General; founding director, Public Policy andGovernment Affairs, National Gay and Lesbian TaskForce


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List>

*Edwards visits Center's HIV medical clinic and 24-bed transitionalliving program for homeless GLBT youth; Center CEO Lorri L. Jeanimplores him to support marriage equality

LOS ANGELES, June 26, 2007-Presidential hopeful John Edwards-the 2004Democratic vice presidential candidate and former U.S. senator fromNorth Carolina-visited the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center this morning tomeet with staff and increase his understanding of the diverse needsof the GLBT community.

Edwards' tour included stops at the Center's pharmacy and JeffreyGoodman Special Care Clinic, which provides state-of-the-art medicalcare to hundreds of low-income, HIV-positive Angelenos, and at theCenter's 24-bed transitional living facility for homeless GLBT youth,where he met briefly with residents.

"We're grateful that Sen. Edwards was eager to learn more aboutL.A.'s GLBT community and that he chose to see firsthand theimportant and life-saving work we do every day at the L.A. Gay &Lesbian Center," says Center CEO Lorri L. Jean.


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

[euro-queer] Prime Minister Gordon Brown - Friend or foe?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown - Friend or foe?
Absent from 13 of 14 gay equality votes
Doubts over Brown's commitment to gay rights
London - 27 June 2007

"Gordon Brown has missed more gay equality votes in parliament than anyother MP," said Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, OutRage!activist and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

"In 13 out of 14 votes in the House of Commons Mr Brown has not bothered toturn up and vote.

"While I doubt he is homophobic, he has failed to make any serious effort tovote in favour of gay law reform.

"The out-going Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and other Labour Ministers have amuch better track record when it comes to voting for gay equality.

"Gordon's frequent absences send the wrong signal. They suggest he doesn'tbelieve gay human rights are important.

"As the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown inherits the leadership of a Labourgovernment that is currently backing homophobic discrimination in six keypolicy areas:


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

[euro-queer] Russia: Three gay protestors detained in Moscow
Three gay protestors detained in Moscow
27 June 2007, 16:00 CET

(MOSCOW) - Police briefly detained three gay protestors Wednesday in Moscowat a small demonstration urging the European Union to deny visas to MoscowMayor Yury Luzhkov over his refusal to allow a gay pride march in thecapital, a leading activist said.

Gay community leader Nikolai Alexeyev said that "25 activists...demonstrated Wednesday in front of the European Union representative officein Moscow to protest against the ban on gay parades in Moscow."

However, police said the protest was not authorised and made arrests,Alexeyev said.

Luzhkov has consistently banned the holding of gay marches in Moscow andlast year called such events "the devil's work."


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Stonewall Democrats Criticize White House Anti-Gay Veto Threat
White House issues Veto Threat over Domestic Partnership Registry

Contact: John Marble
(202) 625-1382


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Washington, DC - Today, the National Stonewall Democrats issued thefollowing statement in response to a White House threat to vetoappropriations legislation because Democrats refuse to employ anti-gaylanguage used by the Republican leadership in recent years.

"It is unthinkable for the White House to threaten to veto an appropriationsbill because it does not include anti-gay language. This registry, which ispaid for with local funds, simply provides the documentation needed in orderfor families to purchase the most minimal private protections not affordedby the federal government to same-sex couples.

This is a misleading veto threat designed to parrot the talking points ofthe anti-gay special interests which control and finance the RepublicanParty. President Bush would never threaten to withhold federal funds fromCalifornia because it employs a domestic partnership registry. Yet,Republicans feel that the District of Columbia is their financial playgroundthat they can use to bully local families at the pleasure of their anti-gayagenda. That is wrong."

- Jo Wyrick, Executive Director

The White House issued the veto threat on Tuesday night in response to anappropriations bill being considered by Congress. H.R. 2829, the FinancialServices and General Government Appropriations Act, provides financialsupport for federal programs including the salary of the President and theDistrict of Columbia. The bill currently before Congress does not include alongstanding Republican provision which states that federal funds should notbe used to operate the District of Columbia domestic partnership registry.The provision was removed at the request of committee member CongressmanJosé Serrano (D-NY) and other Democrats.


From Equality Florida

Gay-Straight Student Network Launched in Florida
FIU Student, Gloria Bauta, Selected to Lead Effort

(Miami) Today, Equality Florida announced the launch of the Florida Gay Straight Alliance Network, an unprecedented effort to provide a support structure for the growing number of student-run Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools across the state. The Network is a program of Equality Florida and will serve to facilitate communication and peer support among students, as well as provide them with leadership training and resources to build, strengthen and sustain their GSAs.

The Network will be headed up by FIU student Gloria Bauta, a native of South Florida, who has been instrumental in the leadership and success of various collegiate GSAs.

"Gloria has a passion for student organizing that is contagious," said Stratton Pollitzer. GSAs are changing the world by erasing bigotry in the schools. They deserve support and Gloria will be a tremendous resource for thousands of students across the state.

Most recently, Gloria has spearheaded the student movement for the creation of an LGBT Resource Center on the campus of Florida International University. She has also been involved in youth leadership development programs, such as the Barton Center's Adventure Camp program and FIU's Center for Leadership and Service.

"I am excited to be a part of the effort to sustain and strengthen GSA's across the state,"" said Bauta. "There is enormous potential in student-led organizing on Florida's campuses and the Network will be instrumental is supporting those efforts."

GSAs are student-led and organized groups that help to create a safe and welcoming school environment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These clubs act as a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their straight allies, as well as serving to educate the school community on issues that affect them.

Equality Florida is Florida's only statewide human rights organization dedicated to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Through education and advocacy, the organization is committed to building a state of equal rights for all Floridians, inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.


June 21, 2007 - From Dawn newspaper, Pakistan's largest English newspaper

An identity under scrutiny

By Jessica Stern

Having lived more than half his life as a man, choosing his behaviour and changing his body to show the world the man he feels himself to be, Shumail Raj is trying to be what most men want to be

- an honest man
Shumail Raj and Shehzina Tariq have become the centre of a tragedy known throughout Pakistan and the world. Who are they? Eight months ago, Shumail and Shehzina were married in a ceremony that Shehzina describes as "a love arriage." But since their story became public, they have been called every sort of name by reporters, lawyers, comedians, by people in the street.

Press reports refer to them as a "she-couple", a "same-sex couple", and as two "girls" or "lesbians." Their union has been dismissed as the country's first same-sex marriage. Yet Shehzina Tariq has stated clearly "We are not homosexual". Everyone, it seems, gets to say who they are

- except the two themselves.
Instead, as a result of saying what they feel themselves to be, they have found themselves in conflict with the law. On May 28, they were sentenced to three years' imprisonment for perjuring themselves

- for having told the Lahore High Court that Shumail Raj was a man.A court-appointed panel of medical examiners had to be called in to settle the issue of legal identity. It was more important to identify the history behind Shumail Raj's full beard and masculine build than to recognise his right to privacy, his dignity and self-respect.

The prosecution of the couple and their humiliating depiction in the media has overlooked vital facts. Everyone has a biological sex, the body they are born with. However, everybody also has a sense of the self which transcends the body. Without that sense we are more than just what we are given, we would have no clothes, no jewellery, no hairstyles. We would practice no artifice upon ourselves. We would take no joy in making ourselves look beautiful or strong by our own standards, patterning our looks on others or choosing a different guise or style.

Beyond biological sex, there is gender. Biological sex means how we classify bodies as male or female, based on factors such as hormones, chromosomes, and internal and external organs. Gender describes not what is "male" or "female," but what is "masculine" or "feminine" -

-- what different societies consider to be such; what individuals feel to be such. Everyone has an individual experience of how "masculine" or "feminine" they are. Some feel their inner selves to be different from how their bodies are categorised.

The Universal Declaration of Human rights states "all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights" and "recognition as a person before the law" is a basic human right. The law should not condemn you because you seek to have your identity recognised. Its purpose should be to uphold an individual's fundamental human rights, and respect and protect personal identity, dignity and freedom.

Courts from Europe to Brazil to Egypt have upheld the right of people to have the genders they live in recognised by the law. In Egypt this legal finding was upheld by a fatwa from the sheikh of Al Azhar.

Human rights also include the right to health. The World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations' coordinating authority for health, observes that transgender people

- people whose gendered selves are different from their bodies - experience "a desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one's anatomic sex." Their health and well-being depend on their being cared for and recognised as who they feel themselves to be.

The imprisonment of Shumail Raj and Shehzina Tariq sends the message that people born female have no right to call themselves male, even when that is how they see themselves. Shumail Raj may have been born female, but he underwent two surgeries to alter his gender, the first at the age of 16. He intends to go abroad for the third surgery that he feels would complete his growth into a man.

Now 31, Shumail has lived more than half his life as a man, choosing his behaviour and changing his body to show the world the man he feels himself to be. Shumail Raj is not a perjurer

- nor is Shehzina Tariq. He is trying to be what most men want to be, an honest man.
The writer is a researcher with the New York-based Human Rights Watch.


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