Seven of nine men accused of sodomy in the African nation of Cameroon were found guilty in June and sentenced to ten months in prison. Since they have been jailed for over a year following their arrests at a gay bar, they are expected to be released shortly, said the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Two other men were found not guilty.
IGLHRC head Paula Ettelbrick said she does not understand ‚Äúon what basis the convictions were made as there was no evidence presented by the prosecution of the commission of sodomy.‚ÄĚ She said homosexuality itself is not banned in Cameroon, and a conviction for sodomy requires being apprehended or witnessed in the act.
Minister of Justice Amadou Ali has said the men were jailed to ensure ‚Äúthat positive African cultural values are preserved.‚ÄĚ Two other men were convicted on sodomy charges earlier this year and sentenced to one year in prison. Four women are awaiting trial on the same charges.
IGLHRC says Cameroon ‚Äúhas become famous this past year for detention of its citizens on ‚Äėsodomy charges,‚Äô sanctioning the expelling of young women from secondary schools for their stated sexual orientation, and for ‚Äėgay baiting‚Äô high-level officials and public personalities with charges of homosexuality in local papers.‚ÄĚ
2.4 Million at Sao Paulo Pride
In the largest gay pride parade in the history of the world, 2.4 million people turned out in S√£o Paulo, Brazil, June 17, police said. It was the city‚Äôs 10th gay parade. The march continues to grow each year even though activists complain that antigay discrimination remains at high levels. At least 81 Brazilians were murdered in antigay hate crimes last year. The parade theme was ‚ÄúHomophobia Is a Crime.‚ÄĚ
In Mexico City the same day, 160,000 people hit the streets for the city‚Äôs 28th pride march. Organizers demanded equal rights and opportunities, legal recognition of same-sex families, and reform of the educational system to present GLBT people in a fair manner.
The five-hour parade began at the Angel of Independence monument and ended at the Z√≥calo, the huge square that is Mexico‚Äôs political epicenter. Speakers at the post-parade rally included the president of the¬† Mexico City Human Rights Commission and the director of the National Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS. Among several politicians in attendance was presidential candidate Patricia Mercado of the Social Democratic and Farmer Alternative party.
Pop singer Gloria Trevi also spoke. ‚ÄúYou should not have to fight for your rights to acquire them or have them, because you were born with them,‚ÄĚ she said. Trevi also performed her latest single, ‚ÄúEverybody‚Äôs Watching Me‚ÄĚ (‚ÄúTodos me miran‚ÄĚ).
ILGA-Europe Head Marries
The head of the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, Patricia Prendiville, and her partner, Sheila Quinn, got married in Brussels June 16. The Irish couple have lived in Belgium since Prendiville took the ILGA-Europe job in 2004.
Belgium is one of four nations where same-sex couples have access to traditional marriage.
Latvia Deletes Gay Protections
Latvia‚Äôs Parliament rejected sexual-orientation protections in a workplace antidiscrimination bill June 15. Such protections are a requirement for membership in the European Union, to which Latvia belongs. It is the only member of the 25-nation union to flout the requirement.
On June 21, President Vaira Vike-Freiberga vetoed the bill and returned it to Parliament. ‚ÄúLatvia is legally bound to implement [European Union] Directive 2000/78/EK,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúConsidering the aforementioned, as well as the fact that banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation would protect persons with a traditional sexual orientation as well as homosexuals, I consider it logical to identify this form of discrimination along with those already stated in the law.‚ÄĚ
The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association is urging the European Commission to launch an infringement proceeding against Latvia.
‚ÄúWhen Latvia has joined the EU it has also taken up crystal-clear commitments on non-discrimination, but the debate in the Latvian Parliament ... has shown a provocative and open disregard of these very obligations,‚ÄĚ said ILGA-Europe Co-chair Riccardo Gottardi.
Estonia Beefs Up Gay Protections
Estonia‚Äôs Parliament voted to increase protections for GLBT people June 15. In a 62-18 vote, lawmakers criminalized incitement of hatred, violence or discrimination based on, among other things, sexual orientation. Violators face a fine or jail sentence. They also banned human-rights violations or unfair advantages based on sexual orientation.
The author of the amendments said Estonia was lagging behind other European nations in protecting gay people. ‚ÄúNow homophobia has been criminalized here as well,‚ÄĚ said People‚Äôs Union MP Jaak Allik.
Life Sentences in Gay-Bash Murder
Two London men were jailed for life June 16 for killing a gay man as he walked through cruisy Clapham Common. Thomas Pickford, 25, and Scott Walker, 33, punched and kicked Jody Dobrowski, 24, in October 2005. He later died in a hospital.
Passersby heard the two shouting antigay slurs during the attack. Dobrowski‚Äôs face was so mangled by the beating that his body had to be identified by fingerprints.
Pickford and Walker will be eligible for parole in 28 years.
Cuban State TV Airs Gay Soap Opera
Cuban tate TV has launched a soap opera with gay characters. The Dark Side of the Moon features, among others, a married father who gets involved with another man and then contracts HIV.
Some gay Cubans told foreign media it is unfortunate that the series suggests AIDS is a punishment for engaging in gay sex.
- Assistance: Bill Kelley