ARMENIA LEGALIZES GAYS
The former Soviet republic of Armenia legalized gays Jan. 9.
The National Assembly repealed criminal code article 116 which punished sex between males with up to five years in prison.
At least 15 men had been jailed in recent years for the crime of consensual adult sex.
The law change likely was related to the Council of Europe's demand that countries hoping to join the 44-nation organization decriminalize homosexuality.
BRITAIN SENDS PIANIST BACK TO ZIMBABWE
One of Britain's most promising pianists, Michael Brownlee Walker, 25, is being sent back to Zimbabwe after his application for asylum was rejected by the Home Office, The Observer reported Jan. 5.
Brownlee Walker, who is gay and the great-grandson of one of Zimbabwe's earliest white settlers, fears he will be harassed and/or detained because of his name and because he has attended protests in Britain organized by the Zimbabwean opposition group Movement for Democratic Change.
His family's property—along with that of other Zimbabwean whites—recently was confiscated and his parents and brother fled the country.
'I have no family there now,' he told The Observer. 'They were all advised to evacuate because it was so dangerous. They had started to kill farmers including people we knew.'
Brownlee Walker also fears he will be victimized because of his sexuality. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said of gays: 'What an abomination, a rottenness of culture, real decadence of culture. [Homosexuals are] repugnant to my human conscience ... immoral and repulsive. ... Animals in the jungle are better than these people because at least they know that this is a man or a woman. ... I don't believe they have any rights at all.'
Brownlee Walker says organized anti-gay violence is common in Zimbabwe, although news of such incidents rarely makes it into the international media.
'Victimization of the gay community is universal and constant in Zimbabwe,' affirmed leading British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who has long campaigned against Mugabe. 'No one is safe.'
BLAIR GOV'T WANTS TO REPEAL SECTION 28
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government Jan. 7 announced its support for repeal of the infamous Section 28, a 1988 law that prohibits spending public money to promote homosexuality and bars schools from teaching the 'acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.'
Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford told the House of Commons the law is 'unnecessary and undesirable' and 'gives considerable offense to many people whose lifestyle is stigmatized' by it.
The U.K.-wide law was repealed locally in Scotland by the newly created Scottish parliament on June 21, 2000.
MOSCOW GAY CLUB TRASHED
The Moscow gay club Central Station was looted and trashed during or just after the October hostage crisis at the Dubrovka Theater, which is in the same building as the club, the Moscow Times reported Nov. 19.
Club founder Ilya Abaturov said tens of thousands of dollars of cash, liquor and sound equipment were stolen, either by special-security forces who used the club as a staging area to storm the theater, or by builders and police who had access to the club after the special agents left.
Abaturov also found the words 'Wretched Faggots' ('Golubiye Tvary') scrawled on a wall, and some furniture was busted up.