AIDS societies call
for release of imprisoned
The International AIDS Society and the Society for AIDS in Africa have demanded that Senegal release nine men who were sent to prison for eight years on Jan. 6 for the crimes of engaging in gay sex and belonging to a "criminal association," the HIV-services group AIDES Sénégal.
"The arrest of these men based purely on their sexual orientation represents a major setback for the Senegalese response to HIV, which is widely viewed as a model in Africa," SAA President Joanna Mangueira said Jan. 12.
The nine men were sentenced in Dakar, the capital, after being arrested and jailed Dec. 19 following a raid on the apartment of gay leader Diadji Diouf.
At the trial, prosecutors used condoms and lube confiscated during the raid to prove that the men had engaged in gay sex.
The men received the maximum five-year sentence for doing what the Penal Code calls "an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex" and three additional years for being members of the "criminal" HIV organization.
Sweden gives $340K
to promote gay
rights in Vietnam
The Swedish Embassy donated $340,000 to promote GLBT rights in Vietnam on Jan. 9.
The money was given to Vietnam's Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents.
Some of the funds also will used to combat domestic violence.
Another trans murder
A transgender rights activist was gunned down near the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa on Jan. 9, according to Human Rights Watch.
Cynthia Nicole, 32, was shot by unknown assailants from a passing car in the town of Comayagüela. She was hit three times in the chest and once in the head.
"Cynthia Nicole fought tirelessly to secure basic rights protections for transgender sex workers," said Juliana Cano of HRW's LGBT Rights Division.
She was a leader in the trans-rights group Violet Collective and represented trans people at various national conferences and in the media.
The killing was the sixth in a series of violent attacks against Honduran trans people since October. Two of the other victims also died.
"The transgender community is terrified," said Indyra Mendoza, director of the Honduran lesbian and feminist organization Cattrachas.
Scottish activists seek
access to marriage
Scotland's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network launched a petition Jan. 13 urging the Scottish Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage.
Network director Nick Henderson told The Herald newspaper that the current system of civil partnerships for gays but marriage for straight people "is inherently unequal," even though United Kingdom civil partnerships carry all the rights of marriage.
"Equality means all citizens should be treated the same," Henderson said.
The petition also seeks approval of religious marriages for same-sex couples in cases where a given faith is willing to perform the marriages.
Two transgender activists in Guayaquil, Ecuador, were fired from their jobs as cashiers at Hotel Oro Verde one day after attending a transgender roundtable discussion and cultural fair at the Coastal Ministry, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported Jan. 15.
IGLHRC said it strongly suspects Mía Albarracín and Diane Rodriguez were fired because of their participation in the widely publicized event, organized by the local transgender group Silueta X, which Rodriguez heads.
IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick wrote letters to four federal government ministries pointing out that the Ecuadorean Constitution bans employment discrimination based on gender identity and urging them "to investigate the alleged discrimination, compensate the victims fairly, and take all necessary measures to ensure that similar acts of discrimination are not repeated in the future."
"We also request that your ministry put pressure on Hotel Oro Verde and its parent company Hotver SA to adopt an anti-discrimination policy that explicitly protects sexual orientation and gender identity," Ettelbrick said.
The European Parliament is pushing the 27 member states of the European Union to do better in treating gay people equally.
The parliament adopted a report Jan. 14 that urged member nations to recognize each other's same-sex partnerships and marriages, and condemned homophobic hate speech by political and religious leaders.
The report also calls on the European Commission to propose legislation to criminalize anti-gay hate crimes, guarantee the right of free movement within the EU for same-sex couples, and assure that gay people seeking asylum from anti-gay nations receive it.
The parliament further requested that a study be done to gauge the level of harassment and violence experienced by transsexuals in the 27 nations.
The European Union is composed of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
At least 14 of the nations allow same-sex marriage or have civil-union or registered-partnership laws that grant some, most or all of the rights and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples.
In related news, Thomas Hammarberg, the human rights commissioner for the 47-nation Council of Europe, recently denounced the mistreatment of transgender people in member nations.
"Some people seem to have a problem with the mere existence of human beings whose outer expression of their inner gender identity is not the same as their gender determined at birth," Hammarberg said. "Aggression against transgender persons cannot however be excused as resulting from ignorance or lack of education. These attitudes cause serious harm to innocent and vulnerable people and must therefore be countered. ... There is no excuse for not immediately granting this community their full and unconditional human rights."
"Council of Europe member states should take all necessary concrete action to ensure that transphobia is stopped and that transgender persons are no longer discriminated against in any field," he said.
The Council of Europe is composed of Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
—Assistance: Bill Kelley