by Rex Wockner
Gay Iraqis win UK asylum
Two gay men targeted by anti-gay death squads in Iraq were granted asylum in the United Kingdom in late September. Ibaa, 30, had worked as a culturalprograms officer for the British Council in Baghdad. Haider, 29, was a doctor at Baghdad’s Al-Nu’man General Hospital. Both had received death threats from anti-gay militias, and a grenade had been thrown through a window at Ibaa’s home. Ibaa’s partner, Ali, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in April 2004 by men suspected of belonging to the Badr militia, according to the London-based organization Iraqi LGBT.
“No words can express how relieved and grateful I feel,” Ibaa said after the asylum ruling. “All the years of fear are over.”
Said Haider: “When I heard that I had won my appeal, I cried. … The terrible past was over. This is an opportunity to start my life all over again.”
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “militant death squads” have executed “hundreds” of people solely for being gay, according to Iraqi LGBT.
UK government tackles homophobic bullying
The United Kingdom’s Department for Children, Schools and Families has published a guidebook on “Preventing and Responding to Homophobic Bullying in Schools.”
The 140-page book, issued Sept. 21, provides principals, teachers and staff with practical information and lesson plans to help them deal with and eliminate antigay abuse.
According to research by Stonewall, the UK’s leading gay-lobby group, almost two-thirds of young gay people have experienced anti-gay bullying and 97 percent of gay pupils report regularly hearing homophobic insults at school, a third of the time from adults.
Gay soccer championship held in Buenos Aires
The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association held its 10th World Championship in Buenos Aires Sept. 23- 29, drawing 500 soccer players from 28 teams around the world.
Argentina’s Los Dogos defeated reigning champ Stonewall Football Club from London in a 1-0 shutout Sept. 29 to capture the gay soccer world cup. It was the first time the event, which received substantial support from the Argentine Football Association, had been held in Latin America.
Other sponsors included Delta Air Lines, Manhunt.net and the local gay clubs Amerika and Titanic.
Moldovan PM supports anti-discrimination moves
Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev has thrown his support behind a project to craft anti-discrimination legislation. Government ministries will work with the nongovernmental Antidiscrimination Coalition to write and pass legislation, raise awareness, train public officials and collaborate with the media.
The gay group Information Centre GenderDoc-M is a member of the coalition, along with groups representing youth, Roma (Gypsies) and other minorities.
EuroPride heads to Warsaw
Members of the European Pride Organisers Association, meeting in Stockholm Sept. 20-23, selected Warsaw as the site for the 2010 EuroPride parade — the first time the event will be staged in Eastern Europe.
The association said the move “sends a strong signal to a part of the continent where equal rights and acceptance of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are still minimal.”
Polish President Lech Kaczynski, when he was mayor of Warsaw, tried to ban the city’s gay pride march and ordered police to halt it, saying he opposed “propagating gay orientation.”
Just prior to this year’s parade, which drew 20,000 marchers, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Kaczynski’s attempt to ban the 2005 parade had violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Other cities, such as Moscow and Riga, have to learn that it is unacceptable in Europe to prohibit gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders from appearing in public,” said EPOA President Robert Kastl.
Next year’s EuroPride festivities will be in Stockholm and the 2009 events will take place in Zurich.
This year’s parade and related events in Madrid were the largest ever, attracting some 2.3 million people over a 10-day period.