Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights
Saturday, June 25 2011 19:24

International News February 4 - february 17, 2011

By  Rex Wockner

Euro MPs blast Lithuanian bill
The European Parliament on Jan. 19 called on Lithuania's Parliament to reject a proposed law that would punish "public promotion of homosexual relations" with a fine of up to $3,900.

The Euro Parliament also called on Lithuania to review existing laws that ban gay information from any place where a minor could possibly see it, censor mentions of sexual orientation in advertising, and exclude gay protections from the nation's educational equal-opportunity policy.

Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: "We need to educate people -- including children and youth -- about the different forms of sexuality that have always existed in every culture, everywhere in the world, including in Lithuania. Hiding facts from young people generates fearful attitudes, prejudice and hate, something Europeans stand united against."

Brit gay couple win hotel case, Christians must pay damages
A British gay couple, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who are in a civil partnership, will receive $2,872 each in damages from Cornwall hotel owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull, Christians who refused to rent them a room with a double bed. The ruling was handed down Jan. 18 by the Bristol County Court, which found that the Christians violated the nation's ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In court, the couple claimed they hadn't discriminated based on sexual orientation because they also refuse to rent such rooms to unmarried heterosexual couples.

Gay leader Peter Tatchell commented: "People of faith should not be permitted to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against other people. ... If the court had ruled that the Bulls were allowed to ban gay couples from sleeping together in the same room, it would have opened the floodgates to a deluge of similar religious-motivated claims for exemption from the equality laws."

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement's chief executive, the Rev. Sharon Ferguson, added: "Peter and Hazel Bull may well have sincere convictions about the nature of marriage -- this ruling does not deny them these convictions. But if you are running a business you must make your services available to all without discrimination ... and excluding people, especially when our scriptures are full of exhortations to welcome the stranger ... is no way to defend and uphold Christian values."

Buenos Aires Bears clubhouse attacked
Homophobes attacked the Buenos Aires Bears clubhouse Jan. 15, shouting anti-gay abuse, throwing rocks and bottles at members, and burning a mattress and garbage up against the entrance, local media reported. Several bears reportedly were injured by projectiles when they ventured back outside to put out the fire. Police arrived and ended the attack but made no arrests. Representatives of the club filed a complaint with the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism, which vowed to help them pursue criminal charges for property damage, personal injury and attempted murder.

Spain's same-sex marriage law could face repeal effort
The head of Spain's opposition Popular Party has said he may work to repeal the 2005 law that legalized same-sex marriage if the party wins the elections at the beginning of 2012, which is a possibility.

"I don't like (same-sex) marriage and I believe it's not constitutional," Mariano Rajoy said in a recent interview. He said any legislative action would come after a decision is issued in a long-delayed Constitutional Court case challenging the law, and if the people of Spain support repealing the law.

In an interview, veteran gay activist Jordi Petit said he isn't overly concerned about Rajoy's threat.

"It's not a given that Rajoy will head the PP in 2012," Petit said. "And they said the same thing years ago about the laws on divorce and abortion, then when they won the election, they didn't do anything. Beyond that, many important PP mayors have married homosexual couples."

GLHRC worried for Cameroon activists
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission says it is deeply concerned over recent threats to LGBT rights defenders in Cameroon.

The organization said that Alice Nkom, chairperson of the Association for the Defense of Homosexuality, has been threatened with arrest by state officials and with violence from segments of civil society.

Harassment of Nkom and the organization has mounted since Jan. 4 when local media reported that the group will receive a grant from the European Union for "support and training for sexual minorities."

The harassment has included a fatwa from the Coalition of Cameroonian Youth, televised denunciations of Nkom and the group by representatives of the Communications Ministry and the Bar Association of Cameroon, police cars parked outside the group's offices for hours on end, and Minister of External Relations Henri Eyebe Ayissi's reportedly urging the EU to cancel the grant.

U.S. Embassy seeks investigation of Honduran killings
The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa has urged the Honduran government to "vigorously investigate" five murders of LGBT people that took place since Dec. 18.

The embassy expressed "great concern" about the killings and said "the protection of Honduran law extends to all citizens regardless of sexual orientation."

The government must "take all necessary steps to protect LGBT persons, who are among the most vulnerable to violence and abuse in Honduras," the U.S. officials said.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, there have been at least 31 murders of Honduran LGBT people since the nation's coup d'├ętat in 2009.

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