Malaysiaâ€™s National Fatwa Council issued a fatwa banning lesbian sex and â€śtomboyismâ€ť Oct. 23. â€śIt is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle, including dressing in the clothes men wear,â€ť said council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin. â€ś(It) becomes clearer when they start to have sex with someone of the same gender, that is woman and woman. (We) have decided ... that such acts are forbidden and banned.â€ť
Malaysiaâ€™s civil law bans gay-male sex under penalty of up to 20 years in jail, but not lesbian sex. The country has a parallel Shariah law system for Muslims. For the moment, the lesbian fatwa is an edict rather than a full-blown law under the Shariah system. Section 377A of the civil penal code bans â€ścarnal intercourse against the order of nature,â€ť which is defined as insertion of the penis into anotherâ€™s anus or mouth.
About 60 percent of Malaysiaâ€™s 25 million residents are Muslim, predominantly ethnic Malays. About 19 percent are Buddhist, 9 percent Christian, 6 percent Hindu, and 2.6 percent practitioners of Confucianism, Taoism or another traditional Chinese religion.
Swedish Courts Rule in Three Lesbian Cases
Swedish courts recently ruled on three cases involving lesbians. The Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a lower-court decision that awarded $2,576 in damages to a woman to whom a kennel refused to sell a dog because the woman is a lesbian.
The Supreme Court also denied an appeal in the case of two lesbian couples who felt injured when a member of a local advisory board on health and welfare issues filed a dissenting opinion objecting to their adopting children. A lower court had agreed that the Discrimination Prohibition (Goods and Services) Act covers dissenting opinions by members of local government boards, but said that in the lesbiansâ€™ cases, the opinion did not carry the detrimental effects necessary to amount to â€śless favorable treatment.â€ť The adoptions were granted.
In the third case, the District Court of Uppsala ordered the County Council to pay $6,440 to a lesbian who was denied assisted donor insemination by county health authorities. One partner in a lesbian couple had undergone three unsuccessful attempts at insemination, then was refused further attempts because she had turned 40, the countyâ€™s cutoff age. The couple then asked that the other, younger partner receive the three additional allowed attempts, but the authorities refused, saying only one woman in a lesbian relationship could be treated at county expense.
The county argued that its decision amounted to treating lesbian and straight couples the same, since only one person in a straight partnership is permitted to receive assisted insemination. The court disagreed, saying the policy amounted to direct discrimination based on sexual orientation, and awarded the second woman damages. The County Council may appeal the decision.
Vancouver to Host 2011 Outgames
Vancouver has been selected to host the 2011 North American Continental Outgames, one of the regional gay sports olympics that came into existence in 2006 when the Gay Games had a falling-out with planned host city Montreal. The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association of North America made the announcement Oct. 26. Up to 5,000 athletes are expected to attend, spending around $12 million, in addition to money spent by non-athlete attendees.
GLISA sanctions a World Outgames every four years and smaller Continental Outgames in between the world events. The first world games were in Montreal in 2006 and the second games will be in Copenhagen in 2009. The first North American Continental Outgames were in Calgary in 2007 and the first Pacific Continental Outgames were held this year in Melbourne, Australia.
Trans People and GLBT Activists Arrested in India
Police in Bangalore, India, arrested more than 40 transgender people and GLBT activists, and mistreated several of them Oct. 20, Human Rights Watch reported. The events began with the arrests of five â€śhijrasâ€ť (transgender people, intersex people and eunuchs who have no precise corollary in Western cultures). When five activists from the Bangalore sexual-minorities organization Sangama then went to the Girinagar police station to assist the hijras, the activists were sent to a second police station where they were beaten and kicked. They were then returned to the first station, where two of the activists were sexually abused, HRW said. The five were charged with â€śunlawful assemblyâ€ť and â€śobstructing a public servant,â€ť and jailed.
Later, about 150 activists staged a protest outside the second police station. Six activists who entered the police station were arrested, beaten and sexually harassed, HRW said. After that, police targeted the remainder of the group outside, beating the individuals with batons and arresting 31. The activists were kept in a van for seven hours and were not fed or allowed to use a toilet for 18 hours, HRW said.
All arrestees appeared before magistrates on Oct. 21 and 22 and were released. But some still face charges ranging from extortion (in the case of the hijras) to unlawful assembly and rioting, HRW said.
Bangalore, one of Indiaâ€™s most modern metropolises, is the nationâ€™s third-largest and fastest-growing city. It is nicknamed the Silicon Valley of India.
Australian Activists Seek Apology From Jerry Lewis
The Australian Coalition for Equality called on U.S. comedian Jerry Lewis to apologize Oct. 26 for using the word â€śfagâ€ť at a press conference in Sydney two days earlier. Asked his opinion of the game cricket, Lewis said: â€śOh, cricket? Itâ€™s a fag game. What are you, nuts?â€ť He then reportedly flounced about effeminately handling an imaginary cricket bat.
â€śMr. Lewis owes an apology to the gay community, to cricketers, and to comedians for debasing their trade with his cheap homophobia,â€ť said ACE spokesman Rodney Croome.
Last year, during his annual Labor Day muscular-dystrophy telethon, Lewis referred to a production crewmanâ€™s imaginary son as an â€śilliterate faggot.â€ť He later apologized, saying, â€śI obviously made a bad choice of words.â€ť
Trans Marriage Case Begins in Malta
A Constitutional Court case began in Malta Oct. 22 challenging a Civil Court decision that a post-op transsexual woman could not marry her fiancĂ© because she is still male. The Malta Gay Rights Movement said the case is the last stop before an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
-assistance: Bill Kelley