Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has defended a Christian street preacher fined £1,000 for saying that homosexuality is a sin.
Baptist Shawn Holes was taken from a busy shopping street in a police van and locked in a cell for the night. He appeared in court the next day charged with uttering homophobic remarks in a breach of the peace that prosecutors said was aggravated by religious prejudice
Campaigner Peter Tatchell has defended Christian street preacher Shawn Holes, who was fined £1,000 for saying that homosexuality is a sin. Tatchell attacked the fine as heavy-handed and totally disproportionate . The price of
freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.
Just as people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should have the right to criticise homosexuality. Only incitements to violence should be illegal.
Holes, an American preacher who was travelling around Britain with a dozen colleagues, was arrested in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, on March 18. When asked about his views on gays, Holes said he told questioners: Homosexuals deserve the wrath of God -
and so do all other sinners - and they are going to a place called Hell. He also said he told listeners, when asked for his views on Islam, that he believed there is only one true Christian God and he believed the Prophet Mohammed is a sinner like
the rest of us .
Holes appeared before Sheriff Rita Rae on March 19, charged under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Although he denied criminality, Holes said he felt he had no choice but to plead guilty. He explained: I am not a rich man and was due to fly
back to the U.S.
New film censorship guidelines, set to take effect on March 15, have received guarded reception from the local artistic community.
Malaysian Film Producers Association president Ahmad Puad Onah, said: With the new guidelines, the Film Censorship Board is willing to discuss the story and give options to filmmakers on how to change certain scenes that may be deemed offensive.
It is very helpful. Previously, the censorship board only accepted the finished product. So, the filmmakers have to bear the extra cost of omitting whatever needs to be cut and even suffer losses if the film is banned.
He was among those in the local film community who had a chance to view and discuss the new guidelines. Ahmad said: My worries are the verbal and oral instructions given. The minister still can cut out scenes if these are 'deemed' sensitive in
relation to current issues, even though these comply with the guidelines.
The four key areas that the filmmaker has to consider is the need to be sensitive towards public order and safety, respecting religious aspects, social culture and moral values.
It will also encourage producers to exercise self-censorship. As filmmakers, we need to heed the negative ramifications of producing provocative and offensive subjects. If we are making a movie for the Malaysian audience, of course we need to abide by
the laws of the country.
Film maker Datuk Paduka Shuhaimi Baba said: I think it is a good move as I think the board is trying to be more liberal and they are now breaking a lot of barriers. They now allow us to submit and discuss the script if they feel we have touched on
taboo areas, which makes it less stressful for movie makers. The board is more open to discussion and involving related parties like filmmakers in drafting the guidelines reflects this fresh approach.
Gay men can at long last be depicted in Malaysian films - so long as they repent or even go straight in the end.
Strict censorship rules in the mostly Muslim country mean books and films are routinely banned or scenes deleted that are deemed detrimental to moral values or religious sensitivities.
The new censorship guidelines reverse a ban on scenes featuring homosexuality, Malaysian Film Producers' Association president Ahmad Puad Onah said. But there's a catch: We are now allowed to show these scenes . As long as we portray good
triumphing over evil and there is a lesson learnt in the film, such as from a gay (character) who turns into a (straight) man. Previously we are not allowed to show these at all.
The new rules, he insists, will allow greater freedom of expression for film-makers. But kissing, undressing and obscenity scenes will still be banned: We can do almost anything now but we are urged to give due considerations on the film's impact on
certain areas like public order, religion, socio-culture elements and moral values.
It is not just homosexuality - subjects such as illegal racing can also be depicted. A report at the weekend said local movie V3 Road Gangster was being shown in the cinemas since the illegal racers either died or were caught by police at the end.
Malaysia's censorship guidelines made public on the Home Ministry's Web site this week make the dishonest claim that adults should be free to choose whatever material they wish to watch, as long as the material is legitimate in terms of the law and
does not have the potential to cause harm.
...But... the new rules list dozens of elements that might be objectionable, but indicates a movie containing them might not necessarily be prohibited. In another departure from previous guidelines, it notes that curse words might be
allowed based on whether they are appropriate in the context of a film.
All profanities and scenes of amorous kisses will be excised if they are overly explicit, such as involving nudity.
Religious sensitivities in this Muslim-majority country take up a chunk of the guidelines, which discourage scenes of Muslims drinking alcohol, gambling and becoming involved in vice. ...BUT... it would be permissible if the filmmaker wants to depict a person's transformation from being evil to good.
Also, depictions of Muslims who convert to other religions should not highlight the benefits (of the act) without showing its ...BAD... consequences.
Sex scenes, including homosexuality and unnatural sex, remain discouraged, extending to erotic voices and kissing on body parts that could arouse sex, including the neck, chest and ears. Women should not wear bikinis that are too
tiny and tight, according to the guidelines.
Passionate hugs between men and women or gay people are also discouraged.
Movies that should be promoted include those highlighting virtues such as respect for God, honesty, courage and environmental preservation.
A new law has come into force in Scotland to tackle hate crimes against gay or disabled people.
The act puts hate crimes against disabled or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on the same footing as racist incidents.
The legislation was put forward by Green MSP Patrick Harvie in 2008.
The Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Act brings Scotland into line with the rest of the UK by widening the definition of hate crimes. It means courts must take into account the motivation for the offence, which may result in a more severe
Harvie's member's bill gained cross-party support when it was introduced at the Scottish parliament. He said: Personally, I am also delighted to see Scotland's first Green-initiated legislation go onto the statute books, and I have been pleased to
work very closely with the Scottish government on the issue.
A gay couple were turned away from a bed and breakfast by its Christian owner who claimed it was against her convictions for two men to share a bed.
Michael Black and John Morgan booked a double room at the B&B in Cookham, Berkshire.
When they arrived, Susanne Wilkinson and her husband Francis refused to allow them to stay. The owner said later that she had turned them away because it was against her policy to accommodate same sex couples.
Black and Morgan claimed they were treated like lepers as a result of their sexuality. They reported the matter to Thames Valley police and have given a statement to police. Under the Equality Act 2006 it is illegal to discriminate against people on the
grounds of sexual orientation.
Black said: We're two respectable middle-aged men. John is leader of the Lib Dem group on Huntingdon town council. This was the first time either of us had experienced homophobia at first hand, despite being aged 56 and 62. We were shocked and
embarrassed. Mrs Wilkinson saw us both before we got out of the car and immediately acted in an unwelcoming, cold way, but my boyfriend and I were polite and friendly. She apologised for turning them away and she returned their deposit and was in no
way abusive, the couple said.
Mrs Wilkinson said: I don't see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I've held for years just because the government should force it on me. The property is not a hotel. It operates as a guest house and private home.
Mr Wilkinson said: We are Christians and we believe our rights don't have to be subordinated. We have religious freedom and we are not judging that but we are not prepared to have that sort of activity under our roof.
The Christian B&B owners who wouldn't give a double bed to a homosexual couple have been deluged with hate mail, including a threat to burn down their home.
Mike and Susanne Wilkinson have been subjected to abusive phone calls, text messages and emails since the story emerged in the media.
And police officers arrived at the couple's home last night to look into the abuse.
Mr Wilkinson described the abuse, saying: There must have been 900 emails, and I would say half of them are really abusive and threatening . I'm really saddened that so many people have articulated themselves in such a foul way.
The Christian Institute's Mike Judge said: Whether you agree with the Wilkinsons' beliefs or not, a diverse society is one that respects diversity of opinion. Surely the world is big enough to let people disagree. Suing someone because you don't like
their beliefs is illiberal, undemocratic and has no place in a free society.
While the challenge mounted by individuals and NGOs to the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalising gay sex is still pending in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has quietly set in motion a move to take same-gender sex out of
A communication from the MHA to the Ministry of Law and Justice, sent earlier this week, asks the latter to prepare a draft of an amendment Bill to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the most striking feature of which is that Section 377 would no longer deal
with the offence involving voluntary carnal intercourse against the order of nature between consenting adults of the same gender.
The proposed amended Section 377 reads: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse with animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to
A Catholic adoption society has won a High Court ruling that could lead to it becoming exempt from having to consider gay couples as parents under UK equality laws.
Catholic Care, based in the diocese of Leeds, West Yorkshire, says it will have to give up its work finding homes for children if it has to comply with the laws.
It came to court to challenge a Charity Commission refusal - backed by the Charity Tribunal - to grant it an exemption from new equality regulations which prohibit discrimination against same-sex couples wanting to adopt.
Mr Justice Briggs, sitting in London, ruled the Commission had misinterpreted Regulation 18 of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which allows for exemptions. The judge ruled the purpose of 18 was to allow exceptions if they could be
justified under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination.
He said Catholic Care was in a very unusual predicament with its status as an adoption agency of last resort for 'hard to place' children . The arguably pre-eminent needs of those children who will otherwise be left unadopted may
constitute a very special and unusual case for recognition under Article 14, quite unlike any other to be found in the existing jurisprudence, but none the worse for that , said the judge.
He ordered the Commission to reconsider the case and to analyse whether an exemption was justified in the light of his judgment.
The judge's decision was warmly welcomed by Catholic organisations but greeted with dismay by critics including the National Secular Society, which described the ruling as the first major setback for the protection of gay people from discrimination by
religious groups .
Comment: Adopting Hypocrisy
After the Pope had to apologise for the Irish Catholic church covering up child abuse by it's priesthood we get news that a Catholic Adoption agency has won the right to exclude homosexuals from using their services.
Perhaps the same service will protect children further by not letting them near ANY Catholic priests... somehow I think not, it's fine to cover up child abuse by your own people but not ok to be gay and give kids a loving home.
A California state senator who has been a staunch opponent of homosexual rights was forced to admit that he himself is gay.
Republican lawmaker Roy Ashburn, a divorced conservative Roman Catholic, came out on KERN radio, saying he felt compelled to address rumours that he had visited a gay nightclub near the Capitol before his arrest last week for drunk driving.
I am gay. And so, those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.
Ashburn has consistently voted against gay rights measures since he was elected to the state Assembly in 1996. He has said those votes reflected the way constituents in his district wanted him to vote.
A statement issued after Ashburn's arrest said: I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuses for my poor judgement. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences of what I did.
Senator Ashburn was arrested after leaving Faces, a gay nightclub in midtown Sacramento, according to cbs13.com.
Writing on The Gospel According to Hate, (ex) Father Tom said:
What happens when a good Catholic, married father of four, grandfather of two, tea-bagger, Reagan lover, Republican, senator, and staunch opponent of gay rights takes a state-issued vehicle out for a spin after dark on your tax
Ding! Ding! Ding! He goes to a Sacramento gay bar (appropriately named Faces), gets trashed, picks up a trick, drives away drunk, swerves all over the road, gets pulled over, and blows a whopping .14 into the breathalyser.
My dear heretics, it's time to canonize another conservative Catholic and Republican anti-gay hypocrite.
Senator Roy-Toy has voted against every piece of civil, immigration, labor, LGBT, and women's rights legislation since being elected, but that didn't stop him from having his boys on the side.
The American Family Association has announced today that the organization's founder and longtime leader, Donald Wildmon, has resigned after more than 30 years as chairman of what has long been one of the leading anti-gay organizations in the country.
According to a press release, Wildmon has resigned due to ongoing health concerns caused after he was bitten last summer by a mosquito carrying the St. Louis encephalitis virus. Wildmon said that he will continue to work with AFA, and that his son, Tim,
who has been with the organization for 24 years, is expected to succeed him as chair.
According to the press release: The retired United Methodist minister [Donald Wildmon] began AFA in 1977 in his dining room with a typewriter and a used offset press. Today the ministry operates on a $20 million annual budget with 175 employees. The
ministry owns and operates 180 radio stations, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 170,000 and an internet presence of 2.5 million supporters.
Here are just a few examples of how Wildmon has used his budget and his influence to try and stall LGBT rights:
Wildmon is first national religious leader to call on GOP officeholders to purge their staffs of LGBT people after the Congressman Mark Foley scandal in 2006.
Wildmon calls on his supporters to take action against McDonald's after the fast food chain joins the National GLBT Chamber of Commerce in 2008.
Wildmon and his AFA troops worked to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008.
Wildmon called for a boycott of PepsiCo because the company supported gay rights.
Amnesty International has called on the authorities of Lithuania to remove all restrictions on the distribution of public information relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people decreed in a new law.
The controversial Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information enters into force 1 March.
This law will violate the freedom of expression and will directly discriminate against people on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity, said John Dalhuisen, expert on discrimination at Amnesty International.
It will stigmatize gay and lesbian people and exposes advocates for their rights to the risk of censorship and financial penalties.
This law is an anachronism in the European Union.
The new law now classifies any information which denigrates family values or which encourages a concept of marriage and family other than stipulated in the Constitution and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania as detrimental to
children and consequently bans it from places accessible to them.
As marriage is defined in Lithuanian law as the union of a man and a woman, any public promotion of same-sex partnerships, or advocacy for equality in marriage, would be prohibited under the new law.
An art exhibition portraying Jesus as the gay son of a prostitute has been closed after the organisers at Granada University in Spain admitted that furious protests from churchgoers meant that they could no longer guarantee the safety of its
creator, Fernando Bayona.
The exhibition also shows Jesus having sex with Mary Magdalen before turning gay. There is a lot of anger and there have been some very serious threats to both the artist and our staff, said a worker at the university.
Censorship of homosexuality on New Zealand pay TV channels set to continue for some time yet despite a number of gay people
objecting to a man-on-man kiss being blurred on the E! channel.
Viewers expressed their concern to GayNZ.com after Sky TV's E! channel blurred over a scene from the movie I Love You Philip Morris of actors Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor kissing. They felt it was unnecessary and conveyed the message that
two men kissing is somehow shameful or unpalatable.
They don't censor scenes from movies and shows where there is violence and all sorts of gross stuff, why should they think two men tenderly kissing was an affront, argued Raymond of Auckland. Why would they put a large oval 'modesty
patch' over two men kissing? asked Dominic of Wellington.
The American producers of the E! entertainment news programme say the scene was blurred because of the restraints placed upon us due to the international nature of our programmes and channels.
The E! spokesperson said New Zealand viewers see an international version of the programme that goes out worldwide just hours after it is assembled. We have to ensure our content is compliant in all of the territories that we transmit in, and
unfortunately there are some territories that same sex kissing is required to be blurred.
Gay New Zealand television producer Glenn Sims of RedFlame Media says he understands where the E! producers are coming from, but believes that the conservative sociology of the American TV marketplace which got so indignant about a flash
of nipple in prime-time a few years ago is just as much to blame as the institutionalised homophobia of some of our Asia/Pacific neighbours such as Singapore and Malaysia. Censoring such gay-themed content reinforces homophobia, he acknowledges.
E! says it tries to be sensitive to the different requirements of each territory and claims to be in the process of overcoming the technical hurdles that will allow us to create territory-specific versions of our shows.
Organisers of last year's first-ever Moscow Gay Pride have today formally taken their case of the ban by the authorities
in the Russian capital of both a parade and a picket to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
This follows the unsuccessful appeals against the bans through the Russian court system, which are now exhausted, as far as requirements of European Court's jurisprudence are concerned.
The organizers are considering appealing pride bans to the Russian Supreme Court parallel to their European Court application though it will not effect the consideration of the case in Strasbourg.
At the same time, Moscow Pride organisers announced that this year's Moscow Pride will definitely be going ahead, and that an application for a parade will be made in accordance with Russian law, two weeks before the event, scheduled for Sunday
May 27, the day in 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia.
The application to the European Court of Human Rights combines two cases: one concerning the ban by Moscow authorities of the gay pride march and the second concerning the banning of the alternative pride picket, both scheduled for May 27, 2006.
In the application, the litigants claim that in denying permission to stage both the march and the picket the Russian Federation breached Article 11 (right to freedom of peaceful assembly), Article 13 (right to effective court protection) and
Article 14 (discrimination ban) in conjunction with Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Russia is a signatory.
The Vatican condemned Britain's proposed equality law, complaining that legislation to give homosexual equal rights violates natural
The Vatican launched an unprecedented attack on the human rights policies of Gordon Brown, claiming that they threatened religious freedom and urging Catholic bishops to fight back with missionary zeal .
The Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, added his voice to the assault, describing the new equality legislation as unjust .
In what was interpreted as an attack on Harriet Harman's Equality Bill, which is going through Parliament, the Pope urged the 35 Catholic bishops from England and Wales in Rome on a five-yearly ad limina visit to make a united stand against it. He
claimed that the proposed equal rights laws threatened longstanding British traditions of freedom of speech.
The Pope's words indicated the level of Catholic anger, shared at the highest levels of the Church of England, at the Labour Government's repeated moves to marginalise religion in public life.
The Pope said: Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to
impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.
Surprise at the Pope's remarks is giving way to more determined opposition to his views, with the National Secular Society vowing to set up a Protest the Pope campaign to hold demonstrations during Benedict's visit this year.
Aware of the growing controversy, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, in Rome leading the 34 other bishops of England and Wales on an ad limina, or five-yearly visit to see the Pope, said that Benedict XVI was only saying publicly what many devout
I think [the Pope's] words will find an echo in many in our country who are uneasy that perhaps one of the unintended consequences of recent legislation is to drive religious belief and practice into the sphere of the private only, the
Archbishop said. Related Links
Archbishop Nichols told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that the Pope had a right to express his views, which he denied were party political: The way in which our public life is organised is something to which everybody has a right to
The National Secular Society has threatened to bring together gay groups, victims of clerical abuse, feminists, family planning organisations and pro-abortion groups in a new group, the Protest the Pope Coalition, to be launched later this week.
The taxpayer in this country is going to be faced with a bill of some £20 million for the visit of the Pope, a visit in which, he has already indicated, he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination, said Terry Sanderson, the
society's president: We have a petition online where people can make clear their opposition to the state funding of this visit.
Peter Tatchell, the human rights campaigner, was also among those planning online petitions against the visit: [The Pope] seems to be defending discrimination by religious institutions and demanding that they should be above the law.
Reading MP Martin Salter came under fire when he enraged Catholics by attacking the Pope in an internet blog.
The Labour MP sparked lively debate on a national newspaper website with his near 700 word defence of the Government's Equality Bill in which he described the Pontiff as a bloke in a dress.
Salter accused Pope Benedict XVI of being deliberately misleading in his argument against the proposed legislation, adding: I find the hypocrisy of the Pope reprehensible, especially in a leader of a Church that internationally covered up its
own institutionalised abuse.
Controversial adverts for the TV broadcast of the Super Bowl
30th January 2010. From rantrave.com
The public relations/marketing teams over at Mancrunch.com must be made up of some smart guys and gals. They used CBS's
squeamishness over gay kissing to start a media firestorm. There's no such thing as bad publicity!
the banned Mancrunch.com ad is really not that racy. It's just two dudes watchin' the game together until sparks fly. It's not like the ad shows any actual spit-swapping. If it's family-friendly enough to get posted on YouTube.
So why is CBS refusing to show it during the Superbowl?
Offsite: Two guys kissing set to steal the Super Bowl show
Women's groups and gay activists are squaring up against opponents from the family values lobby over the contents of two very different television adverts that are due to air when the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts in
next Sunday's finale of the American football season. One of the commercials carries a hard-hitting anti-abortion message, and was made by a conservative Christian organisation. The other couldn't be more different: it publicises a gay dating
website called Mancrunch, and features two men holding hands on a sofa, and then passionately kissing.
Their existence immediately sparked predictable outrage from both ends of the political spectrum. Now this year's Super Bowl broadcaster, CBS, is being bombarded with calls to keep either or both of them from the airwaves.
Bollywood is the world's most prolific film industry, but for decades one plotline has dared not speak its name. Now the sub-continent's
ultimate cinematic taboo is to be broached, with the first depiction of a gay kiss.
Months before its release, Dunno Y . . . Na Jaane Kyun has already been called India's answer to Brokeback Mountain . The film, which promises to break new ground by telling the story of a serious, and explicitly sexual, relationship
between two Indian men, comes after a law outlawing homosexuality was overturned in the Delhi High Court.
Little is known of the project, which is due to premiere in May, but promotional posters showing two semi-naked young men in a passionate embrace have already fuelled controversy.
Gay activists say that they are braced for a backlash from religious and political conservatives, many of whom opposed the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code a law that bracketed homosexuality with bestiality and paedophilia as
crimes against nature , punishable by up to ten years in prison.
The decriminalisation of homosexuality is awaiting final approval by the Supreme Court, which is expected to be given after the Government backed the move last year.
A planned gay rights parade will not be able to take place in Moscow after the usual ruling by its mayor, Yuri Lushkov, the Itar
Tass news agency reported .
Lushkov, who has taken anti-gay stances in the past, called the Gay Parade a blasphemy as he announced that he would not let it go forward as planned in Europe's biggest city.
We have never approved this kind of parade before and we are not going to do it in the future, said Lushkov, who said he was exercising the will of Muscovites. He also pronounced rallies and demonstrations by gay and lesbian groups as Satanic dealings.
The Canada Border Services Agency won't let one of Damien Crosse's recent films into the country. Raging Stallion Studio's fetish flick
Piss Off was recently deemed to be obscene by Canada's border censors.
That's because CBSA says the ingestion of someone else's urine... with a sexual purpose is an indicator of obscenity. Even if it's consensual.
The border agency considers the act of urinating into someone degrading and dehumanizing, with a risk of substantial harm.
Harm , by CBSA's terms, isn't even about whether piss is bad for you. Instead, Harm in this context means that the material predisposes persons to act in an anti-social manner; in other words, in a manner which society recognizes as
incompatible with its proper functioning.
Anti-social manner? Society's proper functioning? Why is porn held to Victorian-era morality standards?
Piss Off is just the latest in a string of gay films pornographic and PG-rated that have faced barriers at the Canadian border. In CBSA's latest quarterly list of prohibited items (PDF), the agency also banned the Titan Media film Shock Treatment
, among dozens of other DVDS and books.
The BBC is to ask the nation if its comedians should be allowed to tell jokes about lesbians and gays. The issue will be part of the most wideranging piece of research on sexuality that the corporation has commissioned.
Tim Davie, BBC director of audio and music, will chair a working group on the portrayal and inclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. It will examine how they are reflected in the corporation's use of language, tone, stereotyping, humour and
The report was commissioned last August, months before the corporation received hundreds of complaints over a headline on the BBC News website relating to a debate on Ugandan government policy. It asked: Should homosexuals face execution? The corporation apologised and amended the headline.
2CV, a research group, will conduct the project for the BBC, with a report due this summer. It will even canvass parts of the community, such as religious bodies, that are seen as anti-homosexual.
Davie said: As a public service broadcaster, we have a responsibility to serve all of our audiences and it's vital that we reflect the differences among all of the UK's diverse communities, nations and regions.
Gay rights groups have long called for the BBC to include more gay characters in its output. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, which lobbies for lesbian, gay and bisexual interests, said: This is long overdue. Stonewall research
into BBC output found that during 168 hours of programmes, gay lives were represented positively for just six minutes.
The letters and emails come in a daily tide. Filth! they cry. Shame on you ; You
are a very sick person ; The soul that sinneth shall DIE . For the past six months, the head of Glasgow's museums and art has been under siege from Christian fundamentalists, who have vowed to oust her from her job.
Dr Bridget McConnell, head of Culture and Sport Glasgow (CSG), the £100 million charity in charge of the city's culture, says she is alarmed by what she describes as a personal witch hunt against her.
It is almost like being physically abused, she said. You get knocked down by it every day and you pick yourself up, but then you come in the next morning and it happens all over again. It's attrition.
Since July, when a row broke out over an art exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) featuring homosexuality and religion in which comments were written on a Bible, Dr McConnell whose organisation funded the exhibition has been targeted
by an organised group of protesters. Related Links
She has received up to 2,000 letters, e-mails and phone calls attacking her and objecting to the art show. There have been petitions and personal visits to her office. Her office has been routinely picketed by groups with a loud hailer, calling
upon her to repent, and her staff have been harassed.
Police are known to be concerned at the targeting of Dr McConnell and on at least one occasion officers had to be called to demonstrations outside the art gallery when staff were seriously intimidated .
On a website linked to an English organisation called Christian Watch, www.csgwatch.com, the campaigners openly declare their intention is to have Dr McConnell removed from her post.
The controversy began last summer as a result of an exhibition called sh[OUT]!, which contained works by renowned artists such as David Hockney and Robert Mapplethorpe, and had as its theme the representation of gay people in art. The exhibition
was part of a wider contemporary art programme on themes including violence against women and sectarianism. A secondary exhibition within sh[OUT], called Made in God's Image, invited visitors who felt excluded from the Bible, especially on the
ground of sexual orientation, to record their names in its margins.
But some people recorded doodles and obscenities. The Bible was placed behind glass but the story reached the newspapers where, in Dr McConnell's view, it was distorted by parts of the media to suggest that people were being actively encouraged to
deface the Bible. The story was picked up by the international media and stirred outrage around the world. The majority of people who are complaining didn't see the exhibition, but were responding to the Daily Mail story, she said.
On the website set up by Christian Watch, www.csgwatch.com, the protesters state their aim is to stop the city supporting events and programmes that insult Christ, the Bible, Christians and to have Bridget McConnell removed from her position
55 British Members of Parliament (MPs) have condemned Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
They have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 575) in the UK Parliament, urging the scrapping of the Bill. Support for the parliamentary motion comes from across the political spectrum, from left to right. Many more signatures are expected as MPs
return to the House of Commons.
The EDM, drafted by east London Labour MP Harry Cohen, urges the Ugandan government to uphold international humanitarian law by abandoning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalizing same-sex acts between consenting adults in private, and
outlawing discrimination against gay people.
That this House calls on the British Government and the European Union to press the government of Uganda not to proceed with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which violates the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter of Human and People's Rights; abhors that this Bill, currently before the Uganda parliament, proposes the death penalty for repeat homosexual acts, extends the existing penalty of life
imprisonment for anal intercourse to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have homosexual relations and imposes life imprisonment for contracting a same-sex marriage; notes that under the
provisions of the Bill membership of providing funding for gay organisations advocating gay human rights and providing condoms or safer sex advice to gay people will result in a sentence of between five and seven years for promoting homosexuality
and that a person in authority who fails to report offenders to the police within 24 hours will incur a three year prison sentence; further notes that this monstrous proposed law contains extra-territorial jurisdiction so that it will apply to
Ugandans who breach its provisions whilst living abroad, even in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence, and that such Ugandans living overseas could be subject to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda; and demands that
the Ugandan government uphold international humanitarian law by abandoning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalising same-sex acts between consenting adults in private, and outlawing discrimination against gay people.
We hope this motion will send a signal from the British parliament to the Ugandan government that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill constitutes an outrageous attack on the human rights of Uganda's lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens, said Peter
Tatchell of the London-based gay human rights group OutRage!
Even if the death penalty is dropped, the Bill will still be unacceptable. It will still violate the equality guarantees of international human rights agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, added Tatchell.
Less than an hour before the contestants were due on stage, Chinese police scrapped the country's first gay pageant, showing just how
far homosexuality is from winning acceptance in this conservative society.
Ben Zhang had gathered a host in drag, some of China's most prominent gays and a carefully invited audience at a swish, black-walled club designed by Philippe Starck in the heart of Beijing.
The eight contestants were in make-up when a group of uniformed police marched into the club. Zhang said that they told him there was nothing wrong with the homosexual content, but: You did not do things according to procedures. Related
Zhang had said that he hoped a successful pageant would encourage greater awareness and tolerance in a country where gays are frequently discriminated against and ostracised.
Difficulties for gays are easing, but are still widespread in a country that officially considered homosexuality a mental disorder until 2001. Last June China's first gay pride festival was held in Shanghai, albeit with some events cancelled at
the last minute by the authorities.
The UN's top human rights official has called on Uganda to drop a proposed anti-homosexuality law that would impose the death penalty on some
gay and lesbian people.
Navi Pillay, the UN's high commissioner for human rights, joined a growing chorus of opposition condemning the bill as discriminatory and called for homosexuality to be decriminalised in the country.
The bill proposes draconian punishments for people alleged to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered namely life imprisonment, or in some cases, the death penalty, she said: To criminalise people on the basis of colour or gender is
now unthinkable in most countries. The same should apply to an individual's sexual orientation.
Pillay called on the Ugandan government to put the draft bill on hold because it breaches international human rights standards.
The UN said Uganda's parliament may discuss the bill as early as next week. It has provoked criticism from western governments and gay rights groups and protests in London, New York and Washington.
A Ugandan preacher said he was planning a million-man march to support the legislation. Pastor Martin Ssempa, who has close ties to US evangelicals and to the family of the president, Yoweri Museveni, said the demonstration was being
organised for 17 February. We want to show how many people support the bill, Ssempa told journalist
Kuwait has banned the screening of a supposedly controversial Egyptian film, saying that it promoted a culture of debauchery.
The film, Bedoon Rakaba (Out of Control or Uncensored), was produced in 2009 and addresses lifestyles centering on drug uses by young people and lesbianism, a taboo subject in Arab cinema and society.
According to the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan, a member of the censorship board said that some of the scenes were too hot and that the lesbianism theme was too bold. The member stressed that the scenario was very weak and failed to address the
controversial issues properly.
In the film, the main character, Ahmad Fahmy, is a drug addict and an alcoholic who inherits a colossal fortune when his father dies. Actress Ola Ghanem plays the role of a lesbian who seeks to lure young girls into her way of life.
Commenting on the furore caused by the film upon its release in Egypt, Ola said that art had the responsibility to examine homosexuality trends and behaviour and to discuss the reasons and facts for their occurrence. However, the film sought only
to convey the idea of same sex relationships and purposely omitted scenes of an intimate nature, she said.
Breaking his silence on Uganda's controversial homophobic bill which was put forward by a member of the ruling party Uganda's
president, Yoweri Museveni, said it had become a foreign policy issue and needed further consultation before being voted on in parliament.
The proposed law, which has been pushed by local evangelical preachers and vocally supported by senior government officials, also threatens life imprisonment for anyone convicted of gay sex.
While broadly supported domestically, the legislation has caused a storm of protest abroad and consternation from western donors who fund a large chunk of Uganda's budget.
Addressing a party conference, Museveni said numerous western leaders had spoken to him about the bill.
When I was at the Commonwealth conference, what was [the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper] talking about? The gays. UK prime minister Gordon Brown ... what was he talking about? The gays, said Museveni.
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had also called him to express strong concerns about the proposed law, he said. It's a foreign policy issue, and we must handle it in a way that does not compromise our principles but also takes into
account our foreign policy interests.
Museveni said the proposed law did not necessarily reflect party or government policy and his cabinet would discuss the bill with David Bahati, the MP who introduced it, before it was put to a vote.
A gay rights campaigner has rejected a Northern Ireland assembly member's call for homosexuals to seek psychiatric
David McCartney from the Rainbow Project was responding to comments from Iris Robinson, who is the chair of the Stormont health committee.
Robinson said with help, gay people could be turned around .
McCartney said there was no body of evidence to support this and asked to meet the MP.
Robinson made her comments on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show. She said she would defend her right to express religious beliefs, while also condemning violence against the gay community: I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my
offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals - trying to turn away from what they are engaged in. I'm happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become
Sinn Féin's Education Minister Catríona Ruane said politicians should be guided by equality legislation: There are equality laws in the north of Ireland. I think it is really important that politicians play a leadership role and
that leadership role should be not to say anything that could possibly inflame the situation or cause further distress.
The Ugandan lawmaker who proposed a highly contentious bill that would, if enacted, broaden the criminalization of homosexuality in
the east African nation said Friday that he will refuse any request to withdraw the legislation.
Member of Parliament David Bahati said he felt the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is necessary to protect Uganda's children from being recruited into homosexuality: I stand by the bill. I will not withdraw it . The process of
legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on.
Bahati's statement was made one day after Minister of State for Investment Aston Kajara said the government would ask Bahati to scrap the bill because they fear backlash from foreign investors.
Ever since the bill was tabled, there have been a lot of outcries not only here but from all over the world, Kajara said. There has been negative publicity on Uganda which is not good for investment. As government, we shall talk to the
private member who brought it to parliament and request him to withdraw it.
Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni has signalled his opposition to a death penalty clause in proposed anti-homosexual legislation.
Museveni has told colleagues he believes the bill is too harsh and has encouraged his ruling National Resistance Movement Party to overturn the death sentence provision, which would apply to sexually active gays living with HIV or in cases of
same-sex rape, according to a copy of the draft law.
The bill, however, still says anyone convicted of a homosexual act which includes touching someone of the same sex with the intent of committing a homosexual act would face life imprisonment. It is unclear whether Museveni supports that
Gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell said that even if the death penalty was removed from the bill, it would still contradict several major international conventions on human rights, which could cause donors to reduce their aid to Uganda: Even a
softened bill will be extremely repressive and discriminatory. Even before this new law, homosexual relations were punishable by life imprisonment and there was widespread discrimination and mob violence. The status quo won't change.
A senior minister suggested scrapping the death penalty in favour of counselling. The death penalty is likely to be removed, said James Nsaba Buturo, Uganda's minister of state for ethics and integrity. The president doesn't believe in
killing gays. I also don't believe in it. I think gays can be counselled and they stop the bad habit.
Ruling party spokeswoman Mary Karoro Okurut said she also agreed with the president that some punishments in the bill should be dropped. But she said she would still push for a modified version of the bill when it comes to parliament in late
February or early March.
India's first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride shop has opened up in Mumbai. The flagship shop, Azaad Bazaar, on
16th Road, Bandra, sells a range of items such as mugs, T shirts, and ashtrays to encourage lesbians and gays to have pride in their identity and identify straight supporters.
Products include double male symbol, female symbol, bisexual symbol and sexy bitch stud earrings. Mugs saying Equal Rights 377, Ban 377, Pink Sheep of the Family and Out in India are also available.
A range of rainbow-coloured bangles, fake eyelashes, key chains and photo frames are stocked too the rainbow being an international symbol of gay pride, with the rainbow flag often used at LGBT rights marches.
Homosexuality among consenting adults was made legal in July 2009 when it was decriminalised by the High Court of Delhi. The case is now in the Supreme Court, which is why the shop still stock mugs saying Ban 377, owner Sabina says. She co-founded
the business under the name Jailbird, with her partner Simran in 2006.
Sabina refuses to reveal their full names, but says they are both women in their early 30s, who are entrepreneurs who recognised a gap in the market. She estimates there are up to 20 million middle class members of the LGBT community in
The shop does not sell sex toys or kinky products. We have gay people who walk in with their families, and their nephews and nieces race around the store. It's a very safe space, Sabina says.
The store also has a noticeboard promoting gay events, support groups and helplines. It's not just a gay pride store, it's a socially conscious store, Sabina said.
Those who want to police the behaviour of women and gays do not really have faith in their traditional vision of sexuality.
Diligent readers of yesterday's Times will have come across the report about the imprisonment in Malawi of two men who had just become engaged. Tiwonge Chimbalanga a transvestite and Steven Monjeza, both in their early twenties, pledged
themselves to each other in front of 500 witnesses, and then were carted off to jail, and may now face a sentence of 14 years.
The fate of the two men may have gained salience from recent events in Uganda. There the parliament has been considering a draft law, drawn up by a David Bahati, MP for West Kabale, entitled the Anti-Homsexuality Act, whose provisions aim to prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex
, with penalties including life imprisonment and for aggravated homosexuality the death penalty.