by Rex Wockner
Former Singapore PM favors legalization of gay sex
Former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the nation’s founding leader, suggested April 23 that if people are born gay, then gay sex should not be illegal.
“If in fact it is true — and I have asked doctors this — that you are genetically born a homosexual, because that’s the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes, you can’t help it — so why should we criminalize it?” Lee told a meeting of the ruling party’s youth wing, according to the Straits Times newspaper.
“Let’s not go around like this moral police … barging into people’s rooms. That’s not our business,” he said.
“Gross indecency” between men is punishable with up to two years in prison in Singapore, though the ban doesn’t seem to be enforced.
Lee, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990, is presently a special cabinet minister in the government of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Former British PM outed
Several British newspapers outed former Prime Minister Ted Heath April 24, reporting allegations that police warned him in the 1950s to stop cruising for gay sex in public toilets if he wanted to continue in politics.
Heath, who died in 2005, was undergoing background checks for the post of privy councilor at the time.
The reports quoted an article published in the New Statesman magazine in which Brian Coleman, a senior Tory member of the London Assembly, said it was “common knowledge” that “Heath managed to obtain the highest office of state after he was supposedly advised to cease his cottaging activities in the Fifties when he became a Privy Councillor.”
“Cottaging” is a British expression that means looking for gay sex in public toilets, which are called cottages. The term also is sometimes used to refer to park cruising.
The day after the New Statesman article appeared, Coleman reiterated to The Times, “It was certainly not a secret that he [Heath] was an old queen.”
Heath was prime minister from 1970 to 1974. He was a bachelor and never publicly discussed his sexuality.
Several politicians responded to the New Statesman article by saying they had always believed Heath was heterosexual, asexual or celibate.
A privy council in monarchies is similar to a nonmonarchy’s cabinet. The United Kingdom has both, with its cabinet being the most powerful committee of its Privy Council.~
Rosie spurns Bermuda
Rosie O’Donnell has told Bermuda to clean up its gay act.
The island has been axed as a stop for her next GLBT R Family Vacations cruise because last time one of her cruises stopped there, about 100 Christians greeted the vacationers with an unpleasant protest.
Some of the same folks were threatening to demonstrate again this year.
“There is a minority of vocal churches who do not welcome us,” R Family said on its Web site. “We feel that our cruise would be more enjoyable with an alternate itinerary to ports where we know we are welcome by everyone.”
Gays not always welcome as neighbors
An analysis of data from the 24-nation Human Beliefs and Values survey has found that between 6 percent and 36 percent of people in Western nations don’t want gays living next door.
“It’s everybody except Scandinavians,” said John Mangan, an economics professor at Australia’s University of Queensland who has been studying the data. “The most prevalent form of bigotry is homophobia,” he told the Australian Associated Press.
About 36 percent of Northern Irelanders don’t want to live next to homosexuals. Neither do 29 percent of Italians, 28 percent of Irish, 27 percent of Austrians and Greeks, 26 percent of Portuguese and 25 percent of Australians.
Swedes are happiest with gay neighbors. Only 6 percent have a problem with them.
The data also shows that liberals, wealthier people, people with jobs and people with more education are more gay-friendly, Mangan said. His research appears in the economics journal Kyklos.
In related news, the percentage of Czechs who wouldn’t want to live next door to a gay person decreased from 42 percent to 29 percent between 2003 and 2007, a new Public Opinion Research Center poll has found. Researchers questioned 1,046 residents over age 15.
Gaydar founder jumped to death while on drugs
The co-founder and chairman of the popular Gaydar Web site was high on ketamine (Special K) when he flung himself from the balcony of his eighth-floor penthouse in London on Feb. 10, an inquest has found.
Gary Frisch, 38, reportedly shouted “wahey!” before jumping to his death.
“I saw him standing on the balcony with his hands on the rail. He somersaulted over the top,” houseguest Darren Morris told the coroner’s court, local media reported.
Frisch was under treatment for depression and had been on a weeks-long drug binge, the inquest heard.
Ketamine can cause hallucinations and confusion.
Jerusalem bomb seen as warning to gays
Jerusalem police say a pipe bomb detonated near a construction site April 20 was meant as a warning to gays planning this year’s pride march. Anti-gay flyers were strewn around the bomb site.
A tractor operator was slightly injured in the blast.
“This attack was a direct response to our request for a permit from the police for our June 21 march,” Noa Sattah, head of the city’s gay center, Jerusalem Open House, told Gay City News.
Last year, two bombs were found with anti-gay flyers beside them. Neither exploded.
Israeli lesbian wins full pension
Israel’s Haifa Labor Court has told the Mivtahim Pension Funds to give a lesbian whose partner died a full widow’s pension rather than the half-pension the company gives to widowers, the Ha’aretz newspaper reported April 22.
Attorney Dori Spivak of the Human Rights Program at Tel Aviv University successfully argued that surviving partners should be classified according to their gender, not the gender of the deceased.
Mivtahim is presently appealing another case in which the National Labor Court ruled there should be no differences between widow and widower pensions.
Thai gays seek constitutional protection
Thai gays have begun campaigning for LGBT protections in the new constitution being drafted in the wake of last September’s military coup d’etat.
“[W]e hope the guarantee of rights for the third sex in the constitution will pave the way for amendments in other laws to give gays equal rights,” Natee Teerarojjanapongs of the Thai Political Gay Group told Reuters.
He said that despite Thailand’s relatively gay-friendly reputation there is still “clear prejudice.”
The Royal Thai Army ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Sept. 19, 2006. Following the bloodless coup, the military called off an election, dissolved Parliament, suspended the constitution, detained cabinet members, prohibited political activity, stifled the media and instituted martial law.
Coup leaders promised that a new democratic government would be in place within a year. An interim charter was drafted, and retired Gen. Surayud Chulanont was installed as interim prime minister.
Toronto gets a gay radio station
Canada’s first commercial gay radio station, Proud FM, is now on the air in Toronto on 103.9 FM.
It broadcasts current hits, classic gay anthems, dance and classical music, and “unique and inclusive” talk shows.
The station says its low-power 50-watt signal reaches most of the city, and it hopes to have about 455,000 listeners per week.