by Rex Wockner
President Chavez: I’m not gay
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he isn’t gay.
“I’ve been accused of everything,” Chavez said Sept. 15 at a rally in Barquisimeto. “The only thing they haven’t accused me of is being homosexual. Well, now they’ve started to accuse me of being homosexual. I don’t have anything against homosexuals because I respect whichever human condition, but the thing is: I consider myself sufficiently macho to pulverize any accusation along those lines.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Chavez continued. “Let them say about me whatever they have the urge to. … I couldn’t care less that they say what they say about me, and that they threaten me with what they threaten me with.”
Protests target Nicaraguan gay sex ban -photos
Amnesty International activists staged various protests and embassy and consulate visits targeting Nicaragua’s ban on gay sex Sept. 13 — in Berlin, Stockholm, Montreal, Mexico City, Santiago, Asuncion and Taipei.
Nicaragua is one of only two nations in North, Central or South America than ban gay sex (the other is Guyana). Nicaraguan Penal Code Article 204 states, “Anyone who induces, promotes, propagandizes or practices in scandalous form sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex commits the crime of sodomy and shall incur one to three years’ imprisonment.”
“This article potentially criminalizes not only gay men, lesbians and bisexual people in same-sex relationships, but is vague enough to permit the prosecution of individuals for activities such as campaigning for LGBT rights or anyone providing sexual health information or services,” said AI LGBT coordinator Tony Pitman. “Anyone imprisoned under this law would be considered by Amnesty International to be a prisoner of conscience.”
Pitman urged activists around the world to “flood the Nicaraguan authorities” — in Nicaragua and at diplomatic outposts — with protest letters calling for repeal of Article 204.
Elsewhere in the region, several Caribbean islands still ban gay sex, including Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Iraqi gay group needs money for safe houses -photo
The London-based group Iraqi LGBT says it has run out of money to fund its five “safe houses” in Iraq.
Targeted gays flee to the houses to hide out from the Mahdi Army, the police and other “militant death squads” that have executed “hundreds” of gay people solely for being gay, the group said.
“Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, gay people in Iraq have suffered particularly intense persecution,” Iraqi LGBT said in its plea. “The United Nations and the U.S. State Department have issued reports documenting some of the more recent killings.”
The group said each safe house costs about $1,800 a month to operate — $800 for rent, $400 to pay two armed guards and $600 “for gas, fuel for electricity generators, food, clean drinking water, hygienic supplies and the like.”
Each house has between 10 and 12 residents, the group said.
Iraqi LGBT said it has been funded in the past by its own members, friends, Heartland Alliance, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and Rev. Patricia Ackerman, an Anglican priest.
Checks or money orders can be sent to K. Sahi, 13 Campden Hill Mansions, Edge Street, London W8 7PL, England. More information is available at http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com.
Air New Zealand goes way gay -photo
Air New Zealand will offer a gay flight Feb. 26 from San Francisco to Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia.
The flight will feature drag queens, flight attendants performing a cabaret show, pink cocktails, pink feather boas, gay movies (not that kind), gay music, gay goodie bags and contests, among other gimmicks the airline thinks appeal to gay men.
The affair reportedly also includes a “Get Onboard, Girlfriend” party before departure.
The roundtrip fare for the 14-hour flight is around $1,000.
Portugal expands gay equality
Portugal’s new penal code, which took effect Sept. 15, includes several new laws concerning sexual orientation, PortugalGay.PT reported.
Same-sex couples are now treated the same as opposite-sex couples in areas such as domestic violence, murder (the penalty is higher if the victim is one’s partner) and obstruction of justice (the penalty is lower when one is protecting a partner).
The code also enhances the penalty for murders committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation, and criminalizes the organizing, assisting or promoting of group actions that “foment discrimination” based on sexual orientation, under penalty of one to eight years in prison.
It also makes it illegal to “promote … violence against a person or group of persons based on sexual orientation” in the media or on the Internet, under penalty of six months to five years in prison.
The code also equalizes the age at which it is legal to have sex — 14, if there is no “abuse of inexperience”; 16, otherwise — and the laws on sexual abuse.
The maximum penalty for any crime in Portugal is 25 years in prison.
Nova Scotia changes birth certificate rules for gay parents
The Canadian province of Nova Scotia changed its regulations regarding birth certificates Sept. 20 so that a gay couple can be recorded as a newborn’s parents.
The province previously had registered only biological parents, but determined that the policy violated the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Lesbian mom Jamie O’Neill had filed a complaint with the provincial Human Rights Commission after being told the only way she could be named as the parent of her partner’s newborn daughter was by adopting the infant.
Ottawa gays take over straight bar
A new group in Ottawa, Ontario — Guerilla Gay Fare — took over a straight bar the evening of Sept. 14, the gay newspaper Capital Xtra! reported.
The group, which signed up 600 members in two weeks via a Facebook.com profile, plans to infiltrate a different straight establishment monthly to reclaim public space and get gays to mingle with straight people.
About 100 people took part in the first action at Tila Tequila in the Byward Market area.
Organizer Tim Campbell told Capital Xtra! that Tila Tequila employees seemed “really happy” about the event, with staff saying, “You guys are welcome to party here” and “This is a great thing.”
Similar guerrilla gay groups exist in a few U.S. cities.