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New Delhi Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In a ruling that is only binding in the National Capital Territory (for now), the Delhi High Court has decriminalized homosexuality in a decision with sweeping implications for one of the world's largest gay populations. 

Analyst, Rex Wockner has done an excellent analysis of the decision. Here is an excerpt:

What about the rest of India? It certainly carries weight there but is, at the moment, legally binding only in the National Capital Territory. What could happen next is that (A) the national government could appeal the ruling to India's Supreme Court, (B) the national government could accept the ruling and not appeal it, (C) the national government could accept the ruling and use it as ammo to introduce a bill in Parliament to duplicate the ruling in national law, and/or (D) anti-gay parties to the lawsuit could appeal to the Supreme Court. Regardless, gay sex is now legal in India's National Capital Territory and, as the Queer Media Collective put it: "This is the first time a court as senior as this, with such respected judges, has given a decision on homosexuality. Because of that it sends a powerful signal to the legal establishment across the country. We are confident that judges, lawyers and police officers across the country will understand and follow the Delhi High Court's lead."

The most damning bit of the ruling: "The criminalisation of homosexuality condemns in perpetuity a sizable section of society and forces them to live their lives in the shadow of harassment, exploitation, humiliation, cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of the law enforcement machinery."

Well done New Delhi, now bring on the rest of the country!


Michael Jackson Will Always Be the King Of Pop

Today has been a sad day for the millions of people across the globe that grew up listening to Michael Jackson's music, following his dance steps and watching the spectacle that was his life. He was one of the first true global icons, and unfortunately his life was cut tragically short at just 50 years of age, after a cardiac arrest, following an alleged dose of the presecription medications supplied by his physician.

Michael was intensly rehersing for his upcoming run of 50 record breaking show at London's 02 arena in Los Angeles, when he collapsed at his LA home.

Without repeating the intense news stories and headlines that have bombarded news outlets and online, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Jackson for being an icon and inspiration millions. Unfortunately due to later legal and finacial woes, there will always have to be a "but" to these types of articles, but personally, i just want to make this a positive story on the massive impact Michael had for poor people, charities, not to mention his record breaking musical acheivments... everyone has their favourite Michael Jackson memory or moment, even if you didnt classify yourself as a "fan" - everyone knew of Michael Jackson, (we would love to hear them in the comments section) and now the world know what it is like to loose a 21st Century Icon. 

Michael luckily had the opportunity of selling out his comeback shows prior to his death - he may not have gotten to perform the series of shows, but now his fans gave him the greatest validation by selling out 50 shows in a matter of hours... the fact is that he is always going to be the KING of pop.


Perez Hilton Backlash Continues

Post the incident with the Black Eyed Peas, Perez Hilton did himself a real disservice by using an anti gay slur as an insult to the musician - but as part of this drama, Perez stated that he would donate any money from a lawsuit to the Matthew Shepherd Foundation - the only problem is, it that the foundation does not want it.


Here is the statement they released today:

The Matthew Shepard Foundation was surprised to learn this morning via media reports that blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) has announced he plans to donate, to our organisation, the proceeds of a lawsuit he is contesting over an altercation which has been widely reported in recent days.

We had no advance notice or contact from Mr. Hilton or his representatives regarding this proposal, nor any communication since he posted this plan to his website.

We do not know the details of the lawsuit, whether it has been filed, the nature of his claims or the likely outcome. But because the lawsuit presumably involves the physical attack prompted by Mr. Hilton’s admitted use of an anti-gay slur, the Foundation will be unable to accept any funds obtained in such a manner.

We very much appreciate the generosity of the offer to support our continuing work to memorialize Matthew through activism in defence of sexual minorities and in favour of understanding, compassion, and acceptance. But because so much of our work involves education to reduce the use of hateful language against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, or those so perceived, it would be inappropriate for us to benefit financially from circumstances in which such a verbal attack was involved.

While we applaud Mr. Hilton’s apology to the LGBT community and their loved ones for his use of such a slur, we also feel compelled to point out that use of epithets can often lead to physical violence, as it appears it may have in this case, and that the Matthew Shepard Foundation has worked for more than 10 years to bring to people’s attention the consequences of hateful or inolerant language.

Judy Shepard
Chair, MSF Governing Board

It's a shame that one word could destroy alot of the good work Perez did for GLBTI rights during his run in with that "beauty queen".



Prop 8 Decision Announced

GLAAD just released this statement by President Neil G. Giuliano on today’s decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, the anti-gay ballot initiative that eliminated the ability of same-sex couples to marry in California:


Today, we express our deepest disappointment in the California Supreme Court’s decision, which continues to deprive an entire class of Californians the fundamental freedom to marry.

Thankfully, the court has protected the marriages of the more than 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who married before Nov. 5, 2008. It is vital that media outlets not only share these couples’ stories, but also those of the many gay people and couples in California who have again been denied the fundamental right to marry.

It is wrong to stand in the way of giving committed couples the legal protections they need to take care of and be responsible for each other and their families. We thank the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the City of San Francisco and the other counsel and plaintiff couples for their steadfast advocacy and commitment to fairness and opportunity for all Californians. 


NZ Prime Minister to attend gay family picnic

The Prime Minister of New Zealand is among the country's political leaders who have confirmed they will attend the Big Gay Out family picnic day in Auckland this weekend.

John Key was elected in November, the first National Party government since 1999.

He had attended the picnic twice as party leader, but this will be his first visit as Prime Minister.

The Labour party leader Phil Goff will also attend Big Gay Out, New Zealand's largest outdoor GLBT family event attended by more than 10,000 people.

"Labour MPs, including former Prime Minister Helen Clark, have been a regular fixture of the event since its inception nine years ago," reports

"Back in 2007, Key's first appearance at the Big Gay Out prompted criticism in Parliament, when Labour's Annette King accused the National leader if showing a narrow attitude to gay people by wearing a pink shirt to the event."

During Labour's nine years in office there has was progress on LGBT rights in New Zealand.

The Civil Unions Act passed into law in 2004 and the abolition of discriminatory measures against same sex couples became law in 2005.

U.N.: H.I.V. Spreading Through Prisons Worldwide

H.I.V. is spreading through overcrowded prisons around the world, mostly through rampant drug abuse, according to the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Reuters reports. The official, Antonio Maria Costa, warned of a "health bomb" that will be set off when infected prisoners are released; overcrowding is particularly bad in Africa and Central America.*

SanFransisco's Mayor Pushes Gay Rights Forward

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took President Obama and the Democrats to task for ignoring the inequities faced by gay Americans even while they praise America’s civil rights record. Said Newsom: “How can you argue separate is not equal and then argue that separate is equal – but only if you’re gay? It’s everything I’m not.”


EastEnders and Are You Being Served Star Dies From Cancer

Actress and TV legend, Wendy Richard, best known for her portrayal of Pauline Fowler in the long-running soap opera EastEnders, has died aged 65.

Newspapers have reported that the actress was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer last year and underwent chemotherapy. 

Her agent confirmed her death but had no further details. 

Richard's earlier roles included that of sales assistant Miss Brahms in the TV sitcom Are You Being Served.

Israel, Arab states at odds over first UN gay rights declaration

Israel has joined a group of United Nations member states calling for the institution's first gay rights declaration, an initiative which has met with resistance by an Arab-backed opposition.

The declaration that was presented Thursday at the UN General Assembly calls for decriminalization of homosexuality.

Syrian representative read out a statement drafted by the opposition, arguing that the declaration would result in more sex crimes against children.

France and the Netherlands initiated the declaration following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary that was marked earlier this month.

"This is the first time in history that a group of member countries voices its objection to discrimination that is based on sexual identity and orientation," said Dutch foreign minister, Maxime Verhagen. "The issue is no longer taboo," he added.

The United States, Russia and China have abstained on the matter.

The nonbinding declaration was read out by Argentina at a plenary session, and so far diplomats promoting it have gathered 66 supporting signatures.

source: Haaretz Israel News

Bollywood Goes Gay

In most of India, gay culture is still stuck in the closet. But there's one place where it's busting out into the open — the big screen.

India's flamboyant movie industry, best known for its epic-length musicals, is starting to produce films with some great gay content.

The new Bollywood hit Dostana features plenty of queer characters, including a guy who sleeps with a facemask that says "Well Hung." Its stars are even attracting a gay fan base. The Times of India recently ran a story with this amusing headline: "Sure, gays hit on me! Admits Bollywood hunk and beach boy John Abraham." [pictured]

I haven't seen Dostana yet, but I caught the other new movie that's got the gay community talking. Fashion is the story of a young Indian model's rollercoaster rise and fall and rise, and it's a thinly-veiled remake of the camp American classic Showgirls.

There's two types of supporting characters in Fashion — the gay pals who try to help the star, Priyanka Chopra, and the bitchy, backstabbing queens who stand in her way. Everyone in the movie is a walking stereotype, including the heteros, and they all fall prey to the modelling industry's favourite vices, from hard drugs to drunk driving to casual sex.

Fashion is packed with music video-style runway montages and over-the-top plot twists. It's destined to be a drag queen classic.

But homosexuality isn't just being played for laughs in Bollywood. Three years after its release, all the guys I've met in India are still talking about My Brother Nikhil. The AIDS drama features a championship swimmer from Goa who catches the disease, gets ostracized from his community (including his parents), but finds loving support from his longtime male companion.

For the first hour, the film takes a nudge-nudge wink-wink attitude towards homosexuality, and you have to read between the subtitles to figure out what's really going on. But then it gives the couples' back story, and it's portrayed in a totally positive way. Even the main character's parents come around in the end.

There's no gay kiss in My Brother Nikhil (and definitely no gay sex) but considering India's laws against homosexuality, the movie is definitely ahead of its time.

Unfortunately, not everyone supports Bollywood's progressive new attitude towards queers. Protesters in Northern India recently shut down a cinema that was screening the film Dostana. According to The New Indian Express, it took police an hour to stop the demonstrators.

The other reality to keep in mind is that most Bollywood hits are essentially fantasy films. They depict a vision of India — rich, clean and urban — that doesn't exist for most of the population. But as the country modernizes, more people are slowly sharing in its success. Hopefully, Bollywood's progressive views will eventually catch on, too.
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