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World News
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Rex Wockner

This article shared 2128 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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Russian gay leader Alekseev abducted, released

Moscow Pride founder and leader Nikolai Alekseev has reported that he was abducted by government agents of some sort at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport Sept. 15 and held for more than two days.

He was seized after passing through passport control and taken to a room by security officials and an airline worker, he said. There, his luggage, documents and computer were examined for more than two hours.

Alekseev then was turned over to what he called "hulking men in civilian clothes, with faces not disfigured by intellect," who removed him from the airport via nonpublic passageways and drove him to a police facility two hours away, where he was further searched. In a moment when he was left alone, Alekseev used his iPad to discover where he was.

"I got my iPad and with two taps learned my location," he said. "If I did not have this device, I would have never found out where I was the first day. Thanks, Apple! The location showed up as the city of Kashira. I began frantically finger-zooming the map to find the exact address, but there was no 3G Internet there and the EDGE network loads maps very slowly. ... Afraid that they would catch me, I disconnected the iPad completely. Then they tried to get into it, but couldn't, because it was password-protected."

Alekseev said he was mocked and insulted, called "faggot" and "pederast," probably drugged via a glass of water, and eventually presented with a paper to sign, which said that an agreement had been reached to drop his lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights over Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's bans of gay pride parades. He didn't sign it, "despite persistent 'advice' not to enter into conflict with the authorities."

The second night, Alekseev was moved to another police facility in the city of Tula, farther south of Moscow, he said. Around the same time, someone used his cell phone to text false information to the media -- saying that Alekseev was in Belarus, had sought political asylum there, and was dropping his European court cases.

When this was reported in the media, activists and journalists around the world who have regular contact with Alekseev strongly suspected that the information had not come from Alekseev or that he was no longer in control of his own mind.

Alekseev was released on the outskirts of Tula early the morning of Sept. 18, made his way to the city center, and took a bus to Moscow, he said.

"I intend to sue the Domodedovo Airport and its aviation-security services, which violated international law and forced me back under Russian jurisdiction," Alekseev said.

"In addition, my ticket was bought in Switzerland. Thus, the contract between Swiss Air Lines and the passenger falls under Swiss law. In this regard, I will seek a trial in Switzerland. I will also demand a complete investigation into the basis of crimes against me in the form of illegal deprivation of freedom and kidnapping."

( Though he speaks English fluently, Alekseev's primary lengthy account of his ordeal was written in Russian on his LiveJournal blog, and the quotations here have been translated. On Facebook, Alekseev said he would "get mad" if he tried to translate it. )

In a five-year battle with Luzhkov, who has banned the gay pride march each year and sent police to arrest small groups of activists who defied the bans, Alekseev, a lawyer, has filed a series of lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights. The court has merged the cases and is expected to deal with them this year.

"It appears the Russian authorities realize their inevitable humiliating defeat at the European Court of Human Rights and employ such desperate methods as intimidation, threats and abduction to prevent it," said the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA-Europe.

Gay Saudi diplomat seeks U.S. asylum

The former first secretary of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Los Angeles has requested asylum in the United States because he says he'll be executed for being gay if he returns home.

"If I go back to Saudi Arabia, they will kill me openly in broad daylight," Ali Ahmad Asseri e-mailed media outlets in mid-September.

Asseri said Saudi officials ordered him home after finding out he's gay and is friends with a Jew. He apparently has been in hiding since.

The U.S. does grant asylum to foreign gays if the U.S. is convinced they face genuine harm in their native lands. The laws treat gay asylum-seekers as members of "a particular social group."

Saudi Arabia's entry in the United States' 2009 State Department Human Rights Reports says: "Under Shari'a as interpreted in the country, sexual activity between two persons of the same gender is punishable by death or flogging. It is illegal for men 'to behave like women' or to wear women's clothes and vice versa. There were few reports of societal discrimination, physical violence, or harassment based on sexual orientation. There were no organizations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. There was no official discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. Sexual orientation could constitute the basis for harassment, blackmail, or other actions. No such cases were reported."

The entry continues: "On June 13, Riyadh police arrested 67 men from the Philippines for drinking and dressing in women's clothing at a private party. According to their embassy, police released the men to their employers while charges were being processed. In 2007 the newspaper Okaz reported the public flogging of two men in the city of Al-Bahah after being found guilty of sodomy. The sentence was 7,000 lashes."

Honduran policeman sentenced for stabbing trans woman

Honduran police officer Amado Rodríguez Borjas will spend 10-13 years in prison after being convicted Sept. 9 in a stabbing attack on a transgender woman in Tegucigalpa.

The woman, Nohelia Flores Álvarez, was abducted and stabbed 17 times on Dec. 18, 2008, after she refused to have sex with Rodríguez when he approached her in public, Human Rights Watch said.

"The case was fraught with acts of intimidation, with police, a witness and prosecutors as well as Nohelia threatened by anonymous attackers and callers," said HRW researcher Juliana Cano Nieto. "On March 21, unknown men kidnapped Nohelia and threatened to kill her if she continued with the case. She was shot in the arm in the ensuing struggle with the kidnappers but managed to escape."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ended up providing protection to Flores and some other people involved in the case.

Human Rights Watch says that "nearly every" transgender person it has spoken with in Honduras has told of personal "harassment, beatings and ill-treatment at the hands of police."

George Michael sent to jail

Gay pop singer George Michael was jailed for eight weeks in London on Sept. 14 for crashing his car into a building last July after apparently mixing pot and prescription drugs.

The court also took away his driver's license for five years and fined him nearly $2,000.

It was Michael's fourth incident of being caught driving while seemingly impaired, and his second conviction on such charges.

60 LGBT protesters arrested in Kathmandu

Around 60 LGBT protesters were arrested in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sept. 14, apparently for demonstrating too close to government buildings. They were demanding that the government issue identity cards to transgender people showing that their sex is neither male nor female but rather a "third" reality.

Gay MP Sunil Babu Pant said on Facebook that he was among the detainees.

"We had a meeting with Prime Minister today," he wrote Sept. 16. "He said he would solve the Citizenship ID problem soon, but we need to keep the pressure."

Israeli Supremes: City must fund gay center

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled Sept. 14 that the city of Jerusalem must fund the LGBT community center, Jerusalem Open House, the same as it funds other social groups' institutions.

JOH Executive Director Yonatan Gher said the decision follows "years of homophobic refusal of City Hall to support the JOH and its activities ( and ) almost five years of legal struggle."

"The direct result of this groundbreaking ruling is that no official body within Jerusalem will be able to discriminate gays, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people as a policy," Gher said.

Irish support same-sex marriage

Sixty-seven percent of the Irish support legalization of same-sex marriage, according to an Irish Times/Behaviour Attitudes poll released Sept. 15.

But only 46 percent of those questioned support gay adoption.

The poll also found that 91 percent of respondents do not think less of people who come out as gay or lesbian.

Gay activists said the results mean Ireland's new civil-union law already is passé and it's time to legalize same-sex marriage.

Assistance: Bill Kelley

This article shared 2128 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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