Indiaâ€™s Supreme Court on Feb. 3 told the Delhi High Court to reconsider a case challenging the nationâ€™s ban on gay sex.The lower court had dismissed the case on a technicality, claiming that the plaintiff, the AIDS organization Naz Foundation, lacked standing to bring the case because Naz had not been injured by the ban. The court also said homosexuality is an â€śunnatural offenceâ€ť and is opposed by Indian society.
Naz had argued that the law, Penal Code Section 377, interferes with its anti-HIV work by forcing gays to stay closeted.
The Supreme Court ordered the Delhi court to consider the case on its merits and rule on the constitutionality of Section 377, which punishes â€ścarnal intercourse against the order of natureâ€ť with up to 10 years in prison.
40,000 At Melbourne Pride Celebration
More than 40,000 people turned out for the 11th gay pride parade in Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 5, The Australian newspaper reported. Ninety-three contingents traveled down Fitzroy Street to Cantani Gardens, where a concert was staged.
A report in The Age newspaper referred to â€ścamp frivolity from the perennial drag queens, scantily clad leather-men and dykes on bikesâ€ť but then noted, â€ś[O]verall it was just a bunch of very ordinary-looking people walking down the street without a float in sight.â€ť The city fire department marched for the first time, joining a group of about 40 state and local police officers.
â€śItâ€™s a physical demonstration of our acceptance of all parts of our community that we protect, and a show of support for any gay firefighters we have,â€ť Deputy Chief Fire Officer Keith Adamson told The Age.
Gays March In Tsunami-Ravaged Phuket
More than 1,000 gays, reportedly from some 40 nations, turned out for the annual gay pride parade in tsunami-ravaged Phuket, Thailand, Feb. 5. Reports said the celebration was aimed, in part, at helping revive gay tourism on Phuketâ€™s Patong Beach, which suffered a sharp drop-off in visitors following the December 2004 tsunami.
A Reuters report said that more than 400 tourist-oriented establishments closed due to a lack of business after the tidal wave hit the island.
Australian Prime Minister Opposes Civil Unions
Australian Prime Minister John Howard opposes not only same-sex marriage, which has been banned in Australia, but also civil unions, which he called a â€ścop-outâ€ť on Feb. 7.
Some members of Parliament are pushing for a British-style civil-partnership act in Australia, in the wake of the United Kingdomâ€™s law taking effect in December.
â€śMost of the gay people I talk to, all they want is to have an opportunity to formalize a commitment to each other and get the same sort of recognition as any other couple who have committed themselves to a relationship,â€ť Liberal MP Warren Entsch, a former crocodile farmer from far northern Queensland state, told The Age newspaper.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has affirmed that individual states are free to pass civil-union laws if they want to, regardless of the federal governmentâ€™s hostility to the idea on a national level.
Only the island state of Tasmania has done so to date.
Jerusalem Gay Pride Stabber Gets 12 Years
A man who stabbed three marchers at last yearâ€™s Jerusalem gay-pride parade was sentenced to 12 years in prison Feb. 8 for attempted murder.
Yishai Schlissel, 30, had admitted to police: â€śI came to murder on behalf of God. We canâ€™t have such abomination in the country.â€ť None of the victims was seriously injured.
Mayor Uri Lupolianski had tried to prevent the parade, which drew about 10,000 marchers, but he was thwarted by the courts. Gay activists blamed Lupolianskiâ€™s â€śincitementâ€ť for the violence.
UAE Bans Brokeback Mtn
The United Arab Emirates has banned the hit film Brokeback Mountain, the Khaleej Times reported Feb. 9.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Information said films depicting gay romance or sex destroy the morals and values of a society.
The decision was hailed by the Consultative Council of Sharjah emirate.
The head of the councilâ€™s Committee on Financial, Economic and Industrial Affairs, Abdullah Al Amiri, said the romantic homosexual inclinations of Brokeback Mountainâ€™s lead characters are offensive to Muslims and Arabs because Islam forbids abnormal behaviors.
Brazil To Hand Out 25 Million Condoms
Brazilâ€™s health ministry is handing out 25 million condoms during carnival season, the Australia AP reported Feb. 7. The rubbers will be distributed in public squares, at dances and in health clinics. Carnival begins Feb. 25.
China Publishes Gay Sex Report
The first report on â€śmen-to-men sexual behaviorsâ€ť has been published in China, the Xinhua news service reported Feb. 9.
â€śMSM in China: Surveying Sex and Self-Identityâ€ť examines the sex lives of Chinese gays via 400 in-depth interviews and case studies, Xinhua said. The studyâ€™s 15 chapters also look at gay feelings and self-expression among several social and cultural groups.
The research was funded by the Ford Foundation. The report was written by a scholar who is known in the media as Tong Ge, the pen name he has used when writing gay novels.
Assisted by Bill Kelley