Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
by Rex Wockner
South African AIDS leader marries
Well-known South African AIDS activist Zackie Achmat and his activist boyfriend Dalli Weyers were married near Cape Town Jan. 5.
South Africa is one of six nations where same-sex couples have access to full marriage.
Hundreds of people attended the wedding, including Mayor Helen Zille. Gay High Court Judge Edwin Cameron conducted the ceremony, sporting eye glitter for the occasion.
The wedding cake was a chocolate-brownie tower with a king and a cowboy on top.
Achmat, 45, is the founder and chairman of the Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa’s leading AIDS-activist organization.
“We decided that the marriage statement as a same-sex couple was a profound one and we want the union to be seen as equal,” Weyers told the Sunday Times before the wedding.
Same-sex marriage also is legal in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States (Massachusetts only). Numerous nations (and eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia) offer civil unions or registered partnerships that grant same-sex couples some, most or all of the rights and obligations of matrimony.
Brazilian gay activist murdered
Brazilian gay activist Francisco Tecio de Oliveira Soares was stabbed to death Jan. 3.
His naked body was found in the hair salon he ran in the northeastern city of Crato.
Police have speculated the killing was a crime of passion, given that nothing was stolen from the salon.
Tecio, 38, organized several local gay pride parades and had been involved in gay activism for more than two decades.
Dutch artist receives death threats over gay Muslim photos
Dutch artist Sooreh Hera, an Iranian exile, has received death threats and gone into hiding after a museum in The Hague planned to display her photos of gay men wearing masks of the prophet Muhammad.
“They said to me, ‘We’re going to burn you naked or put a bullet in your mouth,'” Hera, 34, told London’s The Times.
“They condemn homosexuality but in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia it is common for married men to maintain relations with other men,” she said.
The municipal museum later decided not to mount the photos because, said director Wim van Krimpen, “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive.”
Hera accused van Krimpen of “censorship” and caving in to “pressure from Islamists,” and withdrew the rest of her pictures from the exhibition.
A museum in Gouda then said it will put up the photos. The director of that institution has received death threats and is under police protection, The Times said.
Straight bouncer called ‘breeder’ wins discrimination case
A straight bouncer at the Bournemouth, England, gay club Dreams was awarded $12,400 in compensation Jan. 4 because the club’s manager called her a “breeder” and fired her, the BBC reported.
An employment tribunal in Southampton agreed that Sharon Legg, 33, was unfairly dismissed from her job.
She received $6,000 for hurt feelings and the remainder for the firing itself.
“It’s an achievement basically for gay, bi and straight people,” Legg told the network. “It’s about basically proving a point that you just don’t treat people like that … whether you’re straight, gay or bi.”
“If … the shoe was on the other foot, I don’t think it would be tolerated,” she said.
Traveling government exhibit celebrates Czech gay history
A government-curated exhibition documenting and celebrating Czech gay history has opened in Prague and later will travel around the nation, including to small towns, Radio Prague reported Jan. 9.
The exhibition’s curator is the government’s minister for human rights and minorities, Dzamila Stehlikova, and its coordinator is veteran Czech gay activist Jiri Hromada.
“Twenty years ago homosexual citizens were the first group who began to speak about human rights,” Stehlikova said. “Now, after 20 years of gay and lesbian development, we have a registered-partnership law, and the homosexual minority is part of democratic society, with its own structure and with a very interesting cultural and social life.”
The exhibition, now at the capital’s House of National Minorities, includes gay magazines, old photos, and videos of the disturbing debate in the Chamber of Deputies over the registered-partnership law.
Openly gay singer Pavel Vitek told Radio Prague: “What I have been most taken by is … the history, which you now forget, of the period at the end of the 1980s and the start of the ’90s. And I have also really been struck by the discreditable language used by our politicians, both men and women, when registered partnerships were being discussed. It’s certainly worth hearing Justice Minister Parkanova and others again!”
Stehlikova is excited about taking the exhibit on the road.
“In some small towns many people with homosexual orientation have complications with coming out and this exhibition will help them to understand their own identity and to begin to live their own lives,” she told Radio Prague.
Gay Canadian organ donors to face extra scrutiny
Males who had sex with a man within the past five years will face heightened scrutiny in the organ-donation system under a Health Canada policy enacted in December, The Globe and Mail reported Jan. 10.
Health officials will speak to the donor’s family and friends to glean information about the individual’s behavior and warn potential recipients of the details.
Even though organs are tested for such things as HIV and hepatitis B and C, officials worry that the testing may not be definitive.
Canada bans blood donation by any man who has had sex with a man, even once, in the last 22 years.
Moscow polling-place protesters acquitted
Thirteen gay activists detained Dec. 2 at a Moscow polling place have been acquitted by a local magistrate’s court.
Some of the activists had “voted” by writing “No to homophobes — No to Luzhkov” on their ballots.
Strongly anti-gay Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was scheduled to vote at the same site an hour later. He banned the city’s first two gay pride parades in 2006 and 2007, calling them “satanic.”
The activists — including Moscow Pride organizers Nikolai Alekseev, Nikolai Baev and Alexey Davydov — were taken into custody by police and security forces and held for seven hours at the Tverskoi district police station for allegedly picketing without advance notification to the authorities.
But the court determined that no picket had occurred and that police were unable to specify a crime the activists had committed. As such, it also was illegal for police to detain the activists for more than three hours.
“This is our first considerable victory in courts in the legal fight with Moscow authorities and Moscow mayor personally,” Alekseev said Jan. 11. “Lawlessness of the authorities can be witnessed during all our actions but up to now we never won in court. This is a positive signal.”
He said the activists may sue the police for illegal detention and arrest.
Assistance: Bill Kelley
Filed from San Diego