Hong Kong High Court Judge Michael Hartmann struck down the Chinese regionâ€™s bans on gay sex Aug. 24, calling them discriminatory and unconstitutional. One of the laws punishes male sodomy with life in prison when one or both of the partners are under age 21. Another bans gross indecency between males when one or both are under age 21. The corresponding law for heterosexual sex is pegged to age 16.
The case was brought by a 20-year-old gay man, William Roy Leung, who said the laws discriminated against him. Judge Hartmann called the statutes a â€śgrave and arbitrary interference with the right of gay men to self-autonomy in the most intimate aspects of their private lives.â€ť Hong Kong has charged people under the laws at least 65 times in the past five years, activists said.
Aruba Must Recognize Gay Marriage
The Caribbean island of Aruba must recognize and register a marriage between a local woman and a Dutch woman, the islandâ€™s Superior Court ruled Aug. 23.
â€śSince Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it must comply with demands of the Kingdom,â€ť the court declared.
The Aruban government said it will appeal the ruling, taking it to the Netherlandsâ€™ Supreme Court, local media reported. A spokesman for Aruban Prime Minister Nelson Oduber said he considers it a moral issue. Kingdom law mandates that Aruba, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles recognize each otherâ€™s legal documents. But it also grants Aruba self-rule.
Charlene and Esther Oduber-Lamers got married in the Netherlands in 2001, shortly after it became the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. They then settled on Aruba. In 2004, facing harassment after they sued for recognition of their union, they moved to the Netherlands.
The couple also was faced with Aruban immigration rules that prohibited Esther, the Dutch partner, from spending more than half of each year on the island. And Charleneâ€™s government employer had refused to grant Esther spousal health coverage. Aruba has a population of 71,566.
Argentine Bishop Resigns After Gay-Sex Tape Surfaces
The 64-year-old Roman Catholic bishop of Santiago del Estero, Argentina, resigned Aug. 19 after a videotape circulated showing him having gay sex with a 23-year-old.
Diocesan authorities claimed Juan Carlos Maccarone stepped down for health reasons, but the resignation came just two days before the prominent daily newspaper ClarĂn publicized the tape. Santiago del Estero is 600 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
Bosnia Gay Movie Is A Hit
A Bosnian gay movie, Go West, was a surprise hit when it premiered at the 11th Sarajevo Film Festival Aug. 20, Reuters reported. The film chronicles the lives of a male coupleâ€”a Muslim and a Christianâ€”as they flee Sarajevo at the beginning of the 1992-95 war. The audience of 2,500 people gave the movie a lengthy standing ovation, Reuters said.
â€śI was touched by the silence during the screening,â€ť co-writer Enver Puska told the news service. â€śI could see the understanding in the eyes of people. I think that we have slightly opened the door to tolerance with this film about love and humanity.â€ť
Activists Protest Gay Iranianâ€™s Expulsion From The U.K.
British Home Secretary Charles Clarke is being asked to halt the pending expulsion of an Iranian gay man back to his homeland, the Observer reported Aug. 21. In making its request on behalf of the unnamed 29-year-old man, the gay group Stonewall pointed out that Iran has a death penalty for gay sex, and uses it. The man fled Iran and sought asylum in England after police seized a video of him and a friend kissing and arrested the friend, he said.
Iran recently executed two gay teenagers. The government said they raped another boy but activist groups claim to have information that the rape charge was bogus and that the two were hanged solely for being gay.
The Iranian exile gay group Homan reportedly claims that 4,000 homosexuals have been executed in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
London Zoo To Host Gay Day
London Zoo will host a Gay Day in September, Gay.com UK reported. Zoo officials made the move after realizing the zoo had become a hot destination for gays on dates. The day will feature DJs, drag queens and access to a special cocktail lounge. The zoo plans to make the event an annual affair.
Thai PM Pops The Penis Question
At an Aug. 23 Cabinet meeting, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra asked which Cabinet minister had embarrassed the government by getting a silicone injection to enlarge his penis, Bangkokâ€™s The Nation newspaper reported.
â€śWho did it?â€ť Thaksin asked. â€śTell me. This has affected the reputation of the Cabinet, because the news went round the world. I donâ€™t want the people to think that Cabinet members are obsessed with this kind of thing.â€ť No one fessed up.
The story became public when a woman accused a clinic of disfiguring her face, the clinic sued her for defamation, and the woman then told the penis story and asked the Cabinet minister to come forward as a defense witness in her case.
As the unusual exchange continued to unfold in the Cabinet meeting, Thaksin jokingly asked Public Health Minister Suchai Charoen-ratanakul to determine which minister had done the deed.
â€śThe next room is empty,â€ť he said. â€śCan you use it to check the ministers right now?â€ť
Deputy Finance Minister Varathep Ratanakorn replied that former public-health minister Sudarat Keyuraphan, a woman, had volunteered to carry out the check.
â€śIt wonâ€™t be hard to check,â€ť Sudarat said later. â€śJust scan ministers when they attend the next meeting. If it shows something opaque, we can guess thatâ€™s it.â€ť