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World News
by Rex Wockner

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A lesbian couple was sentenced to death in Bossasso, Somalia, Feb. 19 for "exercising unnatural behavior," according to numerous reports by Somali and international media.

The women reportedly were convicted under the Somali Criminal Punishment Law which is based on Islamic Sharia law.

Bossasso is a port city in the autonomous northeast Puntland region where executions reportedly are usually by firing squad.

The news reports said the unnamed women were arrested when one of them complained to police that the other refused to pay for her medical care after infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

According to the BBC, hundreds of spectators cheered when the judge handed down the death sentences.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 23, Puntland police denied that any of the reported events had occurred, one Somali newspaper reportedly printed a retraction, and the BBC said it had been unable to confirm its earlier reports.

The United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Network responded to the retraction by saying it knows who the women are and where they are jailed.




About 200 gay couples held a mass commitment ceremony in front of Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts Feb. 15.

Around 3,000 spectators and guests attended the event.

"What we are asking for is recognition of our right to be different, of our relations," said Eno Uranga, an openly gay city council member.

"We are fighting to defend human and civic rights against reactionary, homophobic and macho groups, and against some leaders of the Catholic Church," said Armando Quintero of the Democratic Revolution Party.

"It's time that people realize that the traditional nuclear family isn't the only thing out there," said participant Mirka Negroni.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera denounced the event as "a carnival" staged by people who are "confused about the sexuality that God has given them."

Two gay partnership measures are pending before the Mexico City city council, known as the Legislative Assembly. One grants gay couples equal rights in inheritance and social security; the other gives gay couples nearly all rights of matrimony.

The measures have been denounced by the Pro-Life Association as "an assassination attempt against the family," according to The Arizona Republic.


Representatives of five of Mexico's 10 gay-pride committees gathered in Aguascalientes Feb. 3 and 4 to create a communications network for organizers of gay-pride celebrations.

Delegates attended the First National LGBT Pride Conference from Aguascalientes, Mexico City, Monterrey, Tijuana and Pachuca.

"Last-minute planning and a lack of economic resources were the determining factors that prevented a majority of Mexican pride committees from attending the first conference," said Tijuana activist Alejandro Garcia.

The conference sent a message of support to gay leaders in Monterrey where, according to Garcia, "during the month of January, city and health authorities unleashed a series of illegal detentions against the patrons of five gay discotheques."




Two Egyptian men who created a gay-sex Web site have been jailed for committing an indecent act.

Sami Gamal, a 27-year-old engineer, and Gameel Gebreel, a 32-year-old accountant, posted nude photos of themselves and offered to have gay sex for pay or for free.

Gamal was jailed for three years, Gebreel for 15 months.

The judge said the men had acted disgracefully and defamed Egypt.



The gay tour at Amsterdam's Artis Zoo now features "gay" bulls, goats, dolphins, porpoises, whales, flamingos, elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas, says Director Maarten Frankenhuis.

In some cases, male animals choose male partners even when willing females are available; in other cases, the animals go gay only when segregated from females—"like in English boarding schools," said Frankenhuis.

The tour costs $12 and is available by appointment only.

"We get mostly gay people and mothers with their sons after they've just come out," Frankenhuis told Newsweek.




The British government has proposed legislation that would let gay people claim compensation if their lover is killed.

Activists urged the government to make the change after the bombing of London's Admiral Duncan Pub in 1999 when compensation was paid to partners of heterosexual victims but not gays' partners, the Independent reported Feb. 20.

"This is a hugely significant move," said the gay lobby group Stonewall. "It shows something about the value attached to lesbian and gay relations and is the biggest boost to equality between gay and heterosexual relationships since the equalization of the age of consent."




Gay and unmarried straight couples in Switzerland's Geneva canton ( province ) will have the same rights as married couples except in matters of immigration, social security, taxes, inheritance and adoption.

A partnership law called "the Pact of Civil Solidarity" passed the cantonal Grand Council Feb. 15.

According to the legislation's preamble, "Cantons are legally competent to enact anti-discrimination legislation protecting certain arrangements under which people can live together without being married."

The measure will take effect in a few months.




Field Marshal Montgomery, Britain's most famous World War II commander, was a repressed homosexual who fell in love with numerous young men, the Sunday Times reported Feb. 25.

Montgomery's sexuality is explored in a new book, The Full Monty, by official biographer Nigel Hamilton.

Hamilton did not write about Montgomery's sexuality in an earlier autobiography but says he felt compelled to do so this time after reading hundreds of letters the war hero sent to young men, some of them not even in their teens.

Hamilton says he has no proof Montgomery had sex with the boys he befriended but there is no doubt Montgomery was passionately in love with them.

Montgomery won the battle of El Alamein in 1942, turning the tide of the war in North Africa.

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