A North Carolina National Guard member thought to be the first United States soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi said he 'snapped' and shot the 17-year-old boy after they had consensual sex, The News & Observer reported. Pvt. Federico Merida, 21, of Biscoe, pleaded guilty during a court-martial in Iraq to shooting the Iraqi national guard private, whose name the Army withheld. The 'gay panic' motive was the third that Merida offered after saying that the boy attempted to rob him and that they boy forced him to have sex. In an agreement with the Army that limited his prison sentence to no more than 25 years, Merida pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder but guilty to murder without premeditation. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of giving false statements in his initial explanations. He was found not guilty of dereliction of duty for having consensual sex while supposedly guarding the camp.
A gay Nigerian man has secured asylum in the United States, according to an Immigration Equality press release. 'Ojo' ( not his real name ) fled his native Nigeria after an angry mob murdered his second partner upon discovering that the two were romantically involved. He arrived in New York without proper entry documents and was immediately taken into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. After a second trial with the Board of Immigration Appeals, he was granted asylum after presenting crucial evidence and having a witness testify on his behalf.
Indian lesbian couple to demand marriage recognition
Two young lesbians who 'married' each other in India's Punjab state say they will demand that officials recognize their union, Britain's The Independent reported Dec. 11. 'Raju' and 'Mala' eloped from their homes in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar in late November, then returned, announced they had married in a Hindu ceremony, and urged their families and the state to accept them. Raju's mother, Ranjit Kaur, told local media: 'It is humiliating for us and for humanity. We only wish they are joking.' Raju's father demanded that police arrest the couple, but police said the women had not broken any law.
Filipino gay activists marched on the House of Representatives in Manila Dec. 8 demanding free HIV testing, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Government statistics suggest HIV infections and AIDS cases have doubled in the past two years.
Malta's Civil Court ordered the Director of Public Registry to change the gender on the birth certificate of a woman who had a sex-change operation. Justice Noel Cuschieri ruled Dec. 14 that the government's refusal to alter the document disrespected Sabrina Tanti's private life in violation of her fundamental human rights. He also ordered the authorities to pay the costs of the lawsuit. Singapore's police department and Home Affairs Ministry banned a gay circuit party called SnowBall.04, saying it would be 'unacceptable to the large majority of Singaporeans' and 'contrary to public interest in general.' The Dec. 25 party, organized by the Fridae.com Web site and Jungle Media, was allowed in 2002 and 2003. In a statement, the police department said it permitted the previous parties because it had been assured they were not gay events. But, in fact, 'patrons of the same gender were seen openly kissing and intimately touching each other.' This year's party had sponsorships from Heineken, Qantas, the InterContinental Singapore Hotel and other big-name companies.
— Rex Wockner and Andrew Davis