Iranian president was
A spokesman for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Oct. 10 that Ahmadinejad was misquoted when he said at Columbia University in New York on Sept. 24 that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
'What Ahmadinejad said was ... that, compared to American society, we don't have many homosexuals,' presidential media adviser Mohammad Kalhor told Reuters.
But the Persian-speaking communications director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Hossein Alizadeh, a gay Iranian who won asylum in the U.S. based on his sexual orientation, disagreed.
Asked for comment Oct. 10, Alizadeh played an audio file on his computer over the telephone and said: 'Here is exactly what Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University: 'Absolutely not. We in Iran—we in Iran, firstly, we don't have hamjensbaz [ a derogatory term for homosexuals meaning people with loose morals who chase people of the same gender for sexual pleasure ] like you have in your country. In our country, there is no such thing. In Iran, such a thing does not—in Iran, in Iran, absolutely such a thing does not exist as a phenomenon. I don't know who told you otherwise.''
Alizadeh said Ahmadinejad again denied the existence of Iranian gays a day later at a United Nations press conference.
According to Alizadeh, a reporter for the Voice of America's Persian service asked him: 'You mentioned that there is no such phenomena in Iran as homosexuality. Could you please elaborate on that?'
Alizadeh said Ahmadinejad replied: 'Seriously, I don't know of any. As for homosexuality, I don't know where it is. Give me an address, so that we are also aware of what happens in Iran.'
Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled 7-2 on Oct. 4 that gay people can add their partners to their health-insurance plans the same as married people.
Couples will have to register their unions with a notary before applying for benefits. The ruling, which covers both private insurance and government-run health care ( known as social security ) , took effect immediately.
The court said denying benefits to same-sex partners violated their right to a dignified life and promoted an 'absolute lack of protection for couples of the same sex.'
Colombia is the first Latin American nation to have implemented such a policy nationwide.
In February, the same court extended spousal property and inheritance rights to same-sex couples.
Air New Zealand
goes way gay
Air New Zealand will offer a gay flight Feb. 26 from San Francisco to Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia.
The flight will feature drag queens, flight attendants performing a cabaret show, pink cocktails, pink feather boas, gay movies ( not that kind ) , gay music, gay goodie bags and contests, among other gimmicks the airline thinks appeal to gay men.
The affair reportedly also includes a 'Get Onboard, Girlfriend' party before departure.
The roundtrip fare for the 14-hour flight is around $1,000.
—Assistance: Bill Kelley