Michael Marsh, a US gamer wanted to set up a gay/straight alliance club in PlayStation Home, Sony's new free 3-D virtual world component for the PlayStation 3.
The problem was that the words he was using - gay , lesbian and bisexual
- were being filtered from text chats and were not being allowed in the naming of clubs or in postings in club forums.
Marsh said he raised the issue with Home community managers during the private beta test, but the problems persisted after
the public beta introduction of Home on Dec. 11.
I can understand if they're filtering out profanity, but if feel like it's discrimination, Marsh said: By blocking a word like 'gay,' which is a preferred term by the gay community,
you're encouraging it as a bad word.
Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesman Patrick Seybold said Home employed filters to prevent defamation in Home's closed test version. But when the service went public, he said, it should have
started allowing those words. Some other users, however, noticed that the filtering continued, and blocked words like Christ , Jew and even Hello , which apparently was flagged because it starts with the word hell . Seybold
said the company is looking into the censoring of words in Home's clubs.
President-Elect Barack Obama is drawing criticism from many supporters for his choice to deliver the invocation at next month's inauguration. Obama selected the Rev. Rick Warren, a leading evangelical opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage. Warren
supported California's recent gay marriage ban and has compared abortion to the Nazi Holocaust. In a recent interview with the Web site beliefnet.com, Warren said he thinks gay marriage is comparable to incest, polygamy and child abuse.
Rick Warren: I'm opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling
Interviewer: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?
Rick Warren: Oh, I do. I just say, for 5,000 years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion. This is
not a Christian issue. Buddhists, Muslims, Jews -- you know, historically, marriage is a man and a woman.
After Warren's inauguration appearance was announced, Obama was forced to defend his choice, speaking in Chicago last
Barack Obama: It is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I
intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency.
What I've also said is that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. And I would note that a couple of years ago, I
was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak. And that
dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign's been all about.
Workers who have devout religious beliefs could be forced out of their jobs following an ruling by an employment appeal tribunal. The warning comes after a Christian registrar who claimed she was treated like a "pariah" for refusing to carry
out civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples lost her case on appeal.
A tribunal ruled that Islington Council had not discriminated against Lillian Ladele because of her faith, although it added that the town hall had not treated her
Christian groups fear the decision will send a message to other employers that they can get rid of staff whose religious convictions prevent them from carrying out certain tasks.
Ladele, who worked in the register office of
Islington town hall in north London for 16 years, believes homosexuality is contrary to God's law and so refused to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples after they were made legal three years ago.
year a tribunal found that the council had unlawfully discriminated against her on the grounds of her religious belief, after she told how she was picked on and bullied for her beliefs and was threatened with the sack.
But on Friday an
Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the council's appeal, ruling that the earlier hearing had erred in law and that there was no basis for concluding that any discrimination had been established.
It stated: The council were not
taking disciplinary action against Ms Ladele for holding her religious beliefs; they did so because she was refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies and this involved discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
The council were
entitled to take the view that they were not willing to connive in that practice by relieving Ms Ladele of the duties, notwithstanding that her refusal was the result of her strong and genuinely-held Christian beliefs.
Ladele now intends to
appeal against the new judgement.
Lithuania's Foreign Minister, Petras Vaitiekunas, recently told the mainly Catholic country's parliament that Lithuania is one of the most homophobic countries in the EU – this has to be viewed as a fact , a law that could make life even worse for
Lithuania's gay population looks set to be enacted in the New Year.
The Lithuanian parliament last week accepted amendments to the law on the protection of minors. One amendment asserts that a detrimental effect on the development of minors
is caused by public information that agitates for homosexual relations which defy family values. The proposed legislation is expected to be adopted next year but will go before a Parliamentary committee first. LGBT advocacy group
Tolerant Youth Association (TJA) said: Neither agitation nor family values are defined in the newly-approved law proposal, therefore it would allow a ban on basically any non-negative information on homosexuality.
It would be possible not only
to ban websites and films (eg B rokeback Mountain ) positively presenting homosexual relations, but also discos, exhibitions, demonstrations and other public events related to homosexuality if these could be accessed by minors.
Islamic governments are expected to join with the Vatican in protesting against a French-backed declaration in the UN General Assembly that calls for the decriminalisation of homosexuality worldwide.
Rama Yade, France's secretary of state for
human rights, will visit Manhattan this week to throw her weight behind a statement supported by dozens of nations that blasts the outlawing of certain types of sexual behaviour.
The 13-point declaration urges states to ensure that sexual
orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.
While the controversial document is not binding in international law, it has provoked hostile
responses from leaders of religiously conservative nations that regard homosexuality as sinful.
Margaret Awino-Kafeero, a diplomat from Uganda's mission to the UN, which currently chairs Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meetings at
the world body, said many Muslim governments rejected the declaration.
OIC delegates have discussed the gay-friendly statement and agreed that governments choosing to prosecute homosexual behaviour should object to the declaration independently.
The OIC decided it will be each individual country's decision, Awino-Kafeero said.
The declaration indirectly criticises more than 80 countries in which homosexuality is punishable by law.
The Vatican's permanent observer
to the UN has already revealed Holy See opposition to the statement, which is still being drafted and carries the support of 56 countries.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican opposed the resolution because it would add new
categories of those protected from discrimination and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.
France's declaration is backed by EU members and has won support from non-western countries, such as Ecuador
and Uruguay as well as two OIC members, Gabon and Guinea-Bissau.
In an atmosphere where Turkey is being criticized for the slow pace of its EU reforms, the country refuses to sign a declaration calling all states to take steps to stop the criminalization of homosexuality, contradicting its commitments to
the EU in promoting human rights
Turkey breaks company with EU in gay vote Turkey refused to sign a European Union-led declaration presented last week at the United Nations calling all states to take steps to stop the criminalization of
homosexuality. The move contradicted Turkey's commitments to the EU to promote human rights for all without any discrimination.
Italian politicians, commentators, and gay rights groups are taking Italian state television to task for airing the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain without two scenes depicting sexual encounters between its male lead characters, reports the
The Oscar-winning film tells the story of two cowboys who fall in love and have a years-long secret affair. Protesters say that the unaired scenes — in which the two lead characters, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath
Ledger, kiss and have passionate sex in a tent — are central to the film's plot and would never have been cut from the film if they involved heterosexual characters.
RAI TV said in a statement that the cut version of the film, provided by the
distributor to be shown during prime time, had been aired by mistake. No one had checked for an uncut version for the late-night airing in question, it said.
But some protesters said that the scenes should have stayed in no matter when the film
I don't believe it was an oversight, I believe it was preventive censorship, said gay rights advocate and former lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria, adding that cutting the key scenes was like showing the Mona Lisa without its head.
It is grotesque that RAI censored scenes that have the same content as those seen in most prime-time movies, conservative lawmaker Benedetto Della Vedova was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Luigi Vimercati, a
center-left lawmaker, told the paper he would take up the issue in parliament.
A court in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region has sentenced a freelance journalist to six months in prison and a fine for writing an article about gay sex, a penalty that media groups say violates the law and underscores the lack of press freedom in
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, groups that monitor press freedom across the world, are among the international organizations demanding the release of Adel Hussein, who was arrested Nov. 24 in the
Kurdish city of Irbil.
Hussein, whose article appeared in Hawlati in April 2007, is the second Kurdish journalist to land in prison in the past month. On Nov. 8, the editor in chief of the Hawal newspaper, Shwan Dawoody, was given a month in jail
and a fine for a series of stories his paper ran that were critical of the judiciary in Sulaymaniya, which is part of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region.
The court that sentenced Hussein, who is a doctor specializing in sexual and reproductive
diseases, said he had violated public custom by writing about health issues related to gay sex. Hussein's story was scientific, not prurient, and did not encourage homosexual behavior.
A regional press ad, for Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, was headlined THE WORD OF GOD AGAINST SODOMY . Further text stated:
Last year in the 'gay pride parade' a banner stating "Jesus is a Fag" was carried
by one of the participants. The supporter of homosexuality was able to walk through the streets of Belfast displaying this offensive placard in spite of the presence of the PSNI, representatives from the Commission and the march organisers. The act of
sodomy is a grave offence to every Bible believer who, in accepting the pure message of Gods precious Word, express the mind of God by declaring it to be an abomination. (Leviticus, ch18 v22, Thou Shalt not lie down with mankind, as with womankind; it is
an abomination.) This unequivocal statement clearly articulates Gods judgement upon a sin that has been only made controversial by those who are attempting to either neutralise or remove the guilt of their wrongdoing. As a result, we are now witnessing a
hostile spirit being exerted against the testimony of Gods precious Word and those who adhere to its teachings. It is imperative that everyone whose faith is centred upon the authority of the divinely inspired scriptures maintain a strong and public
stand for the ethical and moral standards that will ultimately exalt the nation. (Proverbs, ch14 v34, Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.)
The issue of human rights is no longer a
basis for this parade, as successive governments have legislated for the lowering of the age of consent, the authorisation of civil partnerships and the inheritance rights of a nominated partner. It is a cause for regret that a section of the community
desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality, which in certain incidences has provoked the unacceptable and totally unjustifiable response of violence. Such a response, however, must not intimidate the church into silence.
The ASA received seven complaints:
1. four complainants believed the ad's content was homophobic and, therefore, offensive and
2. six complainants believed the ad was likely to provoke hatred and
violence against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The ASA noted the ad
prominently stated Published by the Kirk Session of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church and recognised that readers would understand that the text was representative of the beliefs of a specific group and indicative of their opinion only. We
considered, however, that some of the text used in relation to homosexuality, for example, ... declaring it to be an abomination ... , . .. God's judgement upon a sin ... , . .. remove the guilt of their wrongdoing ... , ... a
cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality ... , went further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable.
We considered that particular care should be taken to avoid
causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation, and concluded that this ad had caused serious offence to some readers.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency) but did not breach 8.1 (Matters of opinion).
should not appear again in its current form.
2. Not upheld
We understood that the complainants were concerned because the ad called for an outdoor meeting to be held in protest of the act of sodomy and
to voice disapproval of the Belfast Gay Pride parade on the same day as the parade was arranged; they believed this action could be read as an attempt to spread hatred and incite violence against supporters and members of the Pride movement and LBGT
While we appreciated the complainants' concern, we considered that the ad did not in itself incorporate language likely to incite a violent emotional response. We considered that it would be clear to readers that it represented the
views of a specific group, which were not universally held, and would be deemed extreme by some. We acknowledged, therefore, that the ad conveyed an opinion that was controversial for some readers but concluded that it was unlikely to provoke hatred or
violence against the LGBT community.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 8.1 (Matters of opinion) and 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) but did not find it in breach.
Two senior lawyers have advised the church that the ASA ruling had gone too far legally and a groundswell of public support has begun behind the Rev David McIlveen of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in Belfast.
McIlveen said he
had been inspired by the level of support he had since received: After Wednesday's Press conference I had missed 24 calls on my mobile and when I got home I had to spend some time going through about 50 messages of support on my answer machine.
A legal expert who specialises in both sexual orientation and freedom of speech said the ASA had got the balance wrong between the two issues, and that its ruling could be open to judicial review.
Dermot Feenan of the University of Ulster
School of Law explained that rights to express religious views must be balanced with the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexuality.
He said the advertising code used by the advertising authority prohibits adverts likely to
cause serious offence, but that the authority did not show how the offence caused by this advert was serious enough to warrant censorship: There was no evidential basis for its finding that the ad went further than the majority of its readers
were likely to find acceptable.
Moscow's mayor, who has banned gay rights parades in the past, vowed Thursday to continue his ban on what he called sexual minority propaganda , according to Russian news agencies.
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called homosexuality satanic
, said City Hall has banned, and will continue to ban, the propaganda of the views of sexual minorities. Those views, he is quoted as saying, could become one of the factors for the spread of HIV.
City Hall has rejected repeated
requests by public organizations to draw attention to gay rights with parades. Attempts by activists to defy the ban have ended violently in some cases and petered out in others.
Catholics in Poland are calling for a boycott of furniture retailer IKEA because its catalogue features pictures of same-sex couples.
National newspapers and news websites have covered the story and the concerns of some religious people that the
Swedish company is trampling on Christian concepts of family.
For their part, IKEA has robustly defended its advertising and has refused to respond to the boycott. Homosexuality is one of the essential elements of living in contemporary
society, said IKEA spokesperson Karolina Horoszczak.
The boycott is being led by Fronda.pl website. Treating single-sex relationships on a par with married couples is impermissible, said Grzegorz Górny, the editor-in-chief of
Fronda: IKEA's publication is a promotion of a particular style of living, which does not deserve public propagation.
The Lahore high court has banned the screening of Bollywood flick Dostana across Pakistan, saying it has some highly objectionable gay content.
The court held that the movie propagates homosexuality, which is not only illegal in
Islamic Republic of Pakistan but also considered a crime punishable by whipping, imprisonment, or even death.
The petitioner maintained that Dostana promotes gay marriage which is prohibited in Islam and all other religions. Gay marriage is an
atrocious and obscene act, more likely to be performed by someone of unsound nature, the petitioner said.
The Lahore high court subsequently directed the chairman of Pakistan Film Censor Board not to allow screening of the film and furnish the
transcript of Dostana before the court at the next hearing of the case.
The Delhi High Court on Friday has reserved its verdict on petitions filed by gay rights activists seeking decriminalisation of homosexual acts among consenting adults in private.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar
asked the Centre and anti-gay rights activists, including senior BJP leader B P Singhal, to file their response in the matter by next Monday.
The petitioners pleaded that the criminal provision against homosexual behaviour should be scrapped for
consenting adults who indulge in such acts in private.
They contended that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which provide punishment upto life imprisonment is violative of their fundamental right.
The Centre, however, opposed the
petition saying that such behaviour is immoral and cannot be allowed in Indian society.