S.A. AIDS GROUP SUES OVER DRUG ACCESS
South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign sued the national and provincial health ministers Aug. 21 to force them to give anti-HIV drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women to thwart transmission of the virus to their babies.
The government has procrastinated in making anti-HIV drugs available to South Africans because President Thabo Mbeki believes it has not been proven that HIV is the cause of AIDS.
Some 200 babies are born HIV-positive every day in South Africa. Eleven percent of the population is believed to carry the virus.
IGLHRC CALLS FOR PROTEST OF KOREAN NET CENSORSHIP
The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission Aug. 23 called for protests against South Korea's new ban on gay Internet content.
The Ministry of Information and Communications ( MIC ) adopted an Internet content rating system that classifies gay and lesbian Web sites as "harmful media" that must be blocked to protect young people.
The ministry acted after an April decision by the Korean Information and Communications Ethics Committee ( ICEC ) that classified homosexuality as "obscenity and perversion" in its "Criteria for Indecent Internet Sites."
Korean activists trace the roots of this definition to a 1997 law that categorizes "homosexual love" as "harmful to youth."
Since the MIC accepted this definition in July, access to most Korean gay/lesbian Web sites has been blocked. On July 30, Ivancity.com, the nation's largest gay Web site, was shut down by the Internet service provider ( ISP ) that hosted it, without any notice or request for content modification. Gay online clubs at two of Korea's biggest Web portals ( Daum and Say Club ) also were deleted, reportedly on orders from the ICEC.
The new restrictions require Internet cafes and other public computer facilities accessible to youth to install filtering software, and force ISPs to block access to all questionable Web sites. They also enforce "an Internet content rating system which is likely to contain a number of components: a list of officially banned sites, a regime of compulsory self-rating by Web-page designers, and blockage of Web sites based on a control list of keywords," IGLHRC said.
"The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission joins the Lesbian and Gay Alliance Against Discrimination in Korea, a coalition of over twenty lesbian and gay rights organizations ( as well as Web site masters ) , in calling for urgent letters of protest to end this Internet censorship, revise the repressive 1997 law, and protect freedom of expression in Korea," the group said.
For addresses and additional information, visit iglhrc.org .
CHIAPAS BANS ANTI-GAY DISCRIMINATION
The southern Mexican state of Chiapas, site of the Zapatista indigenous peoples uprising, has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The vote by the 40 members of the state legislative body was unanimous as a new penal code was approved.
Article 205 punishes "crimes against the dignity of persons, which consists of incitation to hate or violence ... vexation or exclusion of a group of people, negation or restriction of a group of people, and negation or restriction of employment rights based on age, sex, pregnancy, civil status, race, language, religion, ideology, sexual orientation, skin color, nationality, origin and social or other position."
The state of Aguascalientes and the Federal District also ban anti-gay discrimination. There are 29 other states.
Anti-gay Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe signed a law Aug. 24 criminalizing willful transmission of HIV.
The punishment will be up to 20 years in prison.
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."
U.S. ENDS HIV
The U.S. State Department said Aug. 23 it will no longer subject locally hired employees of its overseas diplomatic missions to mandatory HIV testing.
The new policy applies both to foreigners and locally hired Americans.
Officials said there have been about 20 instances where embassies, consulates and other U.S. overseas facilities refused to hire or fired someone who tested HIV-positive.
HIV-positive Americans living in the U.S. will continue to be denied foreign-service jobs "because the condition for employment in the foreign service is worldwide availability and ... adequate HIV medical care is not universally available worldwide," a spokesman said.
CANADIAN GAY TV CHANNEL TO LAUNCH
A gay TV channel will launch Sept. 7 in Canada, available via satellite and digital cable.
PrideVision TV will offer shows such as "DykeTV," "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" ( a "lewd" look at habitual cruisers ) , "Got 2B There" ( about circuit parties ) , and "Shout!" ( a current-affairs program ) .
Some cable companies have indicated disinterest in carrying the channel, a PrideVision spokesman said.
ANTI-GAY NATIONS MAY NOT JOIN E.U.
Former East Bloc nations that want to join the European Union will have "full attention" paid to their treatment of gays and lesbians, E.U. Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said July 26.
In a letter to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, Verheugen said, "New Member States will be expected to accept [ the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation ] upon accession [ to the E.U. ] "
Equal treatment of gays and lesbians is a basic principle of the European Union, he said.
The comments were believed to be directed at Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania and Romania, among other nations.
"Mr. Verheugen's statements are a welcome confirmation that the European Commission sees sexual orientation discrimination as something which accession country governments must tackle," said Romanian gay leader and ILGA activist Adrian Coman. "This comes on top of the position already adopted by the European Parliament, which has warned that it will not give its consent to the accession of any country that violates the human rights of lesbians and gay men."
According to ILGA: "Discriminatory attitudes and practices are widespread in many of the accession countries. There is neither an acceptable level of respect for the human rights of the lesbian, gay and bisexual minority, nor anything approaching adequate protection from discrimination in many of these countries."
AUSTRALIAN PM NIXES GAY MARRIAGE
There will be no legal gay marriage in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard said Aug. 23.
"I don't believe in gay marriage," he said. "We should be completely tolerant and fair-minded about people's sexual preferences but I don't believe homosexual relationships should be given the same place in our society such as traditional concepts as marriage."
Asked if he'd be disappointed if he had a gay son, Howard said: "I wouldn't love him any less, but ... I would be disappointed. I haven't met a parent yet who wants their children to grow up gay."
TO SETTLE GAY
The British Home Office has offered a settlement of approximately $22,000 each to seven men convicted of violating a law that bans gay sex in private between more than two people, The Guardian reported July 27.
The government hopes to avert an embarrassing defeat before the European Court of Human Rights where five of the men filed suit, the newspaper said.
The men were prosecuted in 1998 under the 1967 Sexual Offences Act after a private video tape of their escapades emerged.