Human Rights Watch denounced India on Jan. 11 over the arrests of four gay men in the city of Lucknow.
The men were nabbed at a picnic in a public location Jan. 4 and charged with operating a âgay racketâ on the Internet and engaging in âunnaturalâ sex.
Police âaccused them of belonging to an âinternational gay clubâ centered around [a] website,â the organization said. âReports received by Human Rights Watch indicate that undercover police, posing as gay on the website, entrapped one man, then forced him to call others and arrange a meeting where they were arrested.â
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Human Rights Watch said Indiaâs colonial-era sodomy law threatens human rights and encourages the spread of HIV.
âLucknow police have a shameful record of harassing gay men as well as non-governmental organizations that work with them,â the organization said, âThey are able to do so because Indiaâs government clings to the criminalization of homosexual conduct, which only prevents people from coming forward for HIV/AIDS testing, information, and services.â
In July 2001, Lucknow police raided the local offices of two HIV organizations, Naz Foundation International and Bharosa Trust. Four staff members, who were accused of running a gay sex racket and distributing âobsceneâ HIV-education materials, were jailed for 47 days.
Charges of sodomy, criminal conspiracy, aiding and abetting a crime, and sale of obscene matter were later dropped after international human-rights groups complained.
In New Delhi, meanwhile, some 25 gay activists staged a protest Jan. 12 demanding that the new arrestees be released. The demonstration took place outside a building owned by Uttar Pradesh state, where Lucknow is located.
Section 377 of Indiaâs penal code, titled âOf Unnatural Offences,â punishes âcarnal intercourse against the order of natureâ with up to 10 years in prison. A legal case against the law, brought by the Naz Foundation, is pending before the Delhi High Court.
Marriage Battle Hits Estonia
An update to Estoniaâs family law is set to ban same-sex marriage and block recognition of same-sex marriages from elsewhere.
Several nongovernmental organizations have banded together to fight the legislation and to demand passage of a civil-partnership law for same-sex couples.
In a letter to government officials, the organizations state, âWe demand you ... stop ignoring the issues and problems of same-sex families and help to develop a more tolerant and equal society, an appropriate society of a member state of the EU [European Union].
âFour to six percent of Estonian society has sent a clear message of having a strong need for an institution that would define the partnersâ rights and obligations in same-sex families,â the letter said. âFamily, it means love, safe home, socially secured position, common values of humanity, protection of children and assetsâwhat kind of country would not want to support such an initiative?â
Activists elsewhere are asked to join the campaign. Contact Lisette Kampus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishop Suggests Politicians Consider Martyrdom
The Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, Alberta, has suggested that Catholic politicians should opt for martyrdom rather than support things that contradict church doctrine, such as same-sex marriage, The Globe and Mail reported Jan. 9.
âCatholic politicians have a duty to be morally coherent. They cannot live as spiritual schizophrenics,â Bishop Fred Henry told the Zenit Catholic news agency. âAll Catholic politicians would do well to imitate the example of St. Thomas More, who by his life and death taught that man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.â
More, chancellor to King Henry VIII, was executed in 1535 for refusing to acknowledge the king, rather than the pope, as head of the English church.
Canada is one of five nations where same-sex couples have access to full marriage. As the nation debated the issue in recent years, prime ministers Paul Martin and Jean ChrĂ©tien, both Catholics, made clear distinctions between their personal faith and their political duty to ensure that all Canadians are treated equally.
â[This] is about the Charter of Rights,â Martin said in June 2005 after the House of Commons voted 158 to 133 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. âIn a nation of minorities, it is important that you donât cherry-pick rights. A right is a right.â
In 2004, Bishop Henry said ChrĂ©tien might go to hell because of his support for gay marriage.âHeâs putting at risk his eternal salvation,â the bishop said.
Kissing Gays Kicked Out Of Los Cabos Hotel
A gay couple from Mexico City says security guards from the Hotel Presidente InterContinental in Los Cabos beat them up and threw them and their luggage into the street last month after they briefly kissed in the swimming pool, Reuters reported. The couple said the guards told them, âWe donât like faggots.â
But a hotel spokesman claimed Gerardo Eliud, a 27-year-old public relations officer, and Samir Habdu, a 24-year-old air steward, were evicted for making âinappropriate advancesâ to other guests. The couple filed a criminal complaint against the hotel for assault and for alleged theft of belongings. They also plan to complain to Mexicoâs national human-rights commission, Reuters said.
Police Investigate Muslim Leader For Antigay Comments
London police are investigating the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, for antigay comments he made to the BBC.
In a Jan. 3 interview, Sacranie called the United Kingdomâs new same-sex Civil Partnership Act âharmful.â
âIt does not augur well in building the very foundations of societyâstability, family relationshipsâand it is something we would certainly not ... encourage the community to be involved in,â he said. Sacranie also called homosexuality ânot acceptable ... in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that come along in a society.â
The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from a member of the public, the BBC said.
They will determine if the remarks violated the Public Order Act.