The new mayor of Cambridge, England, is a male-to-female transsexual, and so is her partner. Liberal Democrat Jenny Bailey, 45, was appointed by fellow City Council members May 24. Her partner, Jennifer Liddle, 49, became mayoress. ‚ÄúPeople can take me as a role model if they want,‚ÄĚ Bailey told The Times. ‚ÄúBut for transgender people, all we want is to disappear and become normal, so I don‚Äôt want to let it define me.
‚ÄúWhen you go through transgender experience and come through the other side, you are just happy to get on with normal life, normal problems, so this is a wonderful opportunity.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI‚Äôm proud that I managed to get through something which was quite difficult and managed to come out of it a better person,‚ÄĚ Bailey said in another interview, with the Telegraph. ‚ÄúI certainly do not want it to eclipse being mayor. ... So many more things define me than being transgender ‚ÄĒ a medical condition I had 15 years ago and which I have now recovered from.‚ÄĚ
Bailey has two children, ages 18 and 20, from when she was married as a man. Both she and her partner had sex-change surgery in their 30s. The Telegraph said the couple chose to go public about their transsexuality after a local reporter expressed interest in writing about it.
Bailey‚Äôs ex-wife and close friend, who did not want to be named, told the Telegraph: ‚ÄúI am incredibly proud of Jenny and the achievements she has made over the last few years. She is a totally selfless person who wants to help others and make a positive impact on our community.‚ÄĚ
Lesbian Runs For Japanese Parliament
Japan‚Äôs largest opposition party has selected lesbian Kanako Otsuji as a proportional-representation candidate for the National Diet‚Äôs House of Councilors, the upper house of parliament. The percentage of votes cast for the Democratic Party overall and Otsuji‚Äôs spot on the party‚Äôs list of proportional-representation candidates will determine if she wins election July 22. If she does, she will become Japan‚Äôs first-ever openly gay MP.
Until April, Otsuji was an independent member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly, to which she was elected at age 28. While in office, she worked successfully to open Osaka public housing to same-sex couples.
Otsuji came out publicly at Tokyo‚Äôs 2005 gay pride parade. ‚ÄúHomosexual people have often kept silent for fear of discrimination and prejudice,‚ÄĚ she said at the time. ‚ÄúBy declaring I‚Äôm homosexual, I would like to highlight the problems and put an end to a vicious circle of discrimination and prejudice.‚ÄĚ
She later published an autobiography called Coming Out: A Journey for Finding Your True Self.
Osaka prefecture has a population of 8.84 million, which makes it the second largest after Tokyo prefecture.
New Delhi Gays Stage 10-Day Festival
Hundreds of gays and lesbians took part in New Delhi‚Äôs 10-day ‚ÄúNigah QueerFest ‚Äė07‚ÄĚ that began May 26 with a film night. Organizers said the festival was a celebration of gayness and a protest against Penal Code Section 377, the law that criminalizes ‚Äúcarnal intercourse against the order of nature‚ÄĚ under threat of 10 years in prison.
The law is not usually enforced but gives police a weapon with which to harass and solicit bribes from gays and scuttle HIV-prevention activities, activists say. According to a Reuters report, ‚ÄúIf couples refuse or are unable to pay a bribe, they are often put in dingy cells, brutally beaten and humiliated.‚ÄĚ
A case against Section 377 has been moving slowly through the court system for several years.
Other QueerFest events included seminars, photo exhibits, performances and a candlelight vigil.
N.Z. Civil-Union Figures Released
Statistics New Zealand reports there were 430 civil-union registrations last year. There were 397 registrations by New Zealand couples and 33 by foreign couples. Of the resident registrations, 188 were female couples, 131 were male couples and 78 were opposite-sex couples. The marriagelike civil-union law came into force in April 2005. New Zealand‚Äôs population is about 4.1 million.
Council Of Europe Head Blasts Gay-Bashing Nations
The secretary general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, says ‚ÄúEurope is often more tolerant of homophobes than [of] their victims.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSexual orientation will no longer get you jailed [but] the bigots in several European countries are free to speak and act on their homophobic beliefs without any fear of sanction from the authorities,‚ÄĚ Davis said in an article he wrote for the May 12 issue of the publication New Europe.
‚ÄúVery often the officials themselves ‚ÄĒ mayors, parliamentarians and even ministers ‚ÄĒ will be the first to voice and promote homophobic ideas. Many individuals in positions of moral authority endorse or even encourage hatred against gays and lesbians, demonstrating a deplorable failure to practice the tolerance they preach. As a result, homophobia in parts of Europe is on the increase. ... This is one minority which is left to fend for themselves.‚ÄĚ
Davis said fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights must be defended ‚Äúwith conviction, perseverance and force‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúthose who discriminate against gays and lesbians are ... breaking the law.‚ÄĚ
‚Äú[I]t is not only the human rights of gays and lesbians which are at stake,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúDemocracy, human rights and the rule of law cannot function in a society which tolerates bigotry, prejudice and hate.
‚ÄúIf we continue to look the other way, an outburst of homophobic violence is only a matter of time. That is why we must end the hypocrisy of silence and stop treating homophobic attitudes as a cultural eccentricity.‚ÄĚ
The Council of Europe, founded in 1949, promotes democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other similar agreements. Forty-seven nations are members. Decisions are made by the Committee of Ministers, which is composed of the 47 foreign ministers or their deputies. A 640-member Parliamentary Assembly, composed of members of the 47 national parliaments, conducts investigations and makes recommendations. The secretariat, headed by the secretary general, who is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly, employs some 2,000 people recruited from the 47 nations. Other council components include the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, a voice for Europe‚Äôs regions and municipalities; and the European Court of Human Rights.
Several Countries Block Gay Web Sites
A study by the OpenNet Initiative has found 25 countries that block access to Web sites based on political or social reasons. Gay sites are censored in Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, along with porn and gambling sites, the study found.
Countries that target political sites include China, Iran, Myanmar, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam. South Korea only blocks information about North Korea.
Blocking usually can be circumvented by savvy Net users using proxy servers or special software.
The research was carried out via volunteers in the nations being tested.
- Assistance: Bill Kelley