OFFICIALS RECERTIFY ¬'FIRE¬'
The lesbian- themed film Fire will return to Indian movie theaters without any cuts, the Censor Board said Feb. 14.
The film was recalled in December after radical members of the right- wing Shiv Sena party trashed at least 15 cinemas where it was playing. They ripped up posters and smashed furniture and snack counters.
A party spokesman warned that theaters can look forward to more of the same.
"Shiv Sena will launch popular agitation against cinemas which screen vulgar films," said Jai Bhagwan Goyal, the party¬'s Delhi leader. "This is a well- planned conspiracy to destroy the Indian culture."
The movie centers on two sisters- in- law who, unhappy in their marriages, fall in love with each other. It has won 14 awards in international film festivals.
Orthodox Christians have threatened staff and destroyed posters at Bucharest, Romania¬'s Nottara Theater in protest against the gay- themed play Angels In America, police said Feb. 13. Police have been posted inside and outside the theater to prevent disruptions.
"Romania is among the last bastions against homosexuality, but it has to fall in the end," Director Theodor- Cristian Popescu told reporters.
The nation¬'s Chamber of Deputies rejected full legalization of homosexuality last June, creating a rift with the Council of Europe and imperiling Romania¬'s hopes of joining the European Union and NATO.
Current law states: "Same- sex relations taking place in public or resulting in a public scandal shall be punished by one to five years imprisonment. Enticing or seducing a person to practice same- sex relations as well as propaganda, association or other forms of proselytizing with the same aim shall be punished by one to five years imprisonment."
AMEX CREATES GAY
The large Canadian travel agency American Express is targeting gays and lesbians with a toll- free number that connects to gay travel specialists, the company announced Feb. 15.
"Our research indicates the gay and lesbian community are higher- than- average income earners who tend to travel a lot, with 60 percent taking one or two pleasure trips a year and more than 25 percent taking three or four," said James Grundy, director of consumer travel for Amex Canada Inc.
Spokeswoman Martha McNairn added: "There is a market out there and we have found that the gay and lesbian community is looking for this type of service.
"There are always going to be people who will be extreme in their opposition to gay and lesbian issues but I would feel that the number who would feel so strong as to take their business elsewhere would be very few," she said. "It is presently not a concern."
CANADIAN SUPREMES TO RULE ON GAY EROTICA
The Canadian Supreme Court agreed Feb. 18 to rule on whether Customs can seize gay books and magazines that officers believe are obscene. The case stems from a 13- year battle by the Vancouver gay store Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal has said it is up to courts not Customs officials to define obscenity.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that Customs had discriminated against homosexuals in violation of the equality and freedom- of- expression provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by routinely singling out gay porn for confiscation.
The South African government recently distributed thousands of condoms that had been perforated when they were stapled to safe- sex pamphlets, newspapers reported Feb. 13.
The AIDS- awareness drive was part of National Condom Week. Officials blamed a packaging company but did not rule out sabotage by anti- condom activists.
U.K. GAYS UNDERSERVED
BY AIDS MONEY
Sixty- eight percent of Britons with AIDS and 60 percent of those recently diagnosed HIV- positive are gay men but only 20 percent of government money spent to prevent HIV is targeted on gay men, the National AIDS Trust revealed Feb. 22.
"It is possible that we are seeing needless cases of HIV infection in some areas due to a culture of institutionalized homophobia," said Trust spokesman James Fitzpatrick. "We call on health authorities to review their HIV work with gay men and ensure they grasp this opportunity."
The figures are even more askew in some localities. In Liverpool, 63 percent of the city¬'s HIV patients are gay men but only 11 percent of prevention funding is aimed at them. In Bournemouth, 75 percent of HIV- positives are gay men yet only six percent of the prevention budget targets them. Forty- six percent of Bournemouth¬'s budget is aimed at halting transmission among intravenous drug users.
* Lambda Publications, The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,1115 W. Belmont 2D, Chicago, IL 60657; PH ( 773 ) 871-7610; FAX ( 773 ) 871-7609. See Outlines, Nightlines, Out Resource Guide, Clout! Business Report, Blacklines and En La Vida on the web at www.windycitymediagroup.com