Indian police have forced closure of an exhibition of eminent photographer Sunil Gupta at Alliance Francaise in Delhi following an anonymous complaint that its content was supposedly obscene.
Gupta's exhibition, Sun City and Other Stories: Paris-San Francisco-Delhi, had opened to an enthusiastic response, and was scheduled to run till mid-April. An exploration of gay life, the exhibition featured 16 colour pictures taken by
Gupta in France two years ago. The project involved a fictional narrative loosely based on the French science fiction film La Jetee , using homosexuality as a medium to connect to the life in Paris.
Gupta said the Alliance Francaise management informed him that the exhibition would be shut down for a day because of a fair at the cultural centre. However, I was informed by a third party in the evening that it would remain shut. No formal
letter was sent...the decision was taken by the Alliance, he added.
Members of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust issued a statement protesting the unexplained shutdown:
If major institutions like them [Alliance Francaise] cannot stand up against complaints made by a single individual and support the work of an artist they have invited to exhibit, they do not deserve the respect or patronage of the art community
... We hope the Alliance will clarify the circumstances which have led to yet another instance of moral policing against the freedom of expression.
Madonna said in a Facebook posting that she plans to speak out against a new anti-gay law in St. Petersburg during her August 9 concert in the city. Now, it seems she could actually be charged under that same law.
The law, which took effect March 11, in part prohibits the propaganda of homosexuality among minors. Gay rights activists say it would criminalize reading, writing or speaking about gay, lesbian, or transgender people.
The bill's author, city assemblyman Vitaly Milanov, says he wants Madonna charged under the new law if she speaks out against it during her concert. He said he was willing to attend the show to control its moral content.
A group of Russian gay rights advocates plans to picket the concert, saying Madonna is cashing in on their struggle and urging her to cancel the show. The law will stay in force, Madonna will leave and the Russian LGBT-community will be
humiliated even more, Nikolai Aleksev, the head of the LGBT advocacy group Gay Russia, wrote on his blog.
Other Russian gay rights groups disagreed with that tactic, and welcomed the attention the superstar had given to their cause. We consider that Madonna's visit and her address to millions of her Russian fans with words in support of freedom of
expression for everyone will bring more good than a boycott would, said Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT Network.
Muslim and African countries have walked out of a Human Rights Council panel set up to tackle the issue of murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the world.
Speaking before the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation exited the chamber, Pakistan described homosexuality as licentious behaviour while African group leader Senegal said it was not covered by global human rights accords.
Nigeria, the location of many attacks on male and female homosexuals, claimed none of its citizens were at risk of violence because of sexual orientation or gender identity, before it too left the chamber.
Mauritania, for the Arab group, all of whose members are also in the OIC, said attempts to impose the controversial topic of sexual orientation would undermine discussion in the council of other human rights problems.
The walkout came after the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and the human rights high commissioner, Navi Pillay, told the session that gay people should be protected by all governments:
We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
This is a monumental tragedy for those affected -- and a stain on our collective conscience. It is also a violation of international law. You, as members of the Human Rights Council, must respond.
A report said 76 countries among the UN's 192 members had laws criminalising homosexual behaviour. At least five, in particular Iran, implement the death penalty, while efforts are under way in Uganda to introduce the same punishment.
Malaysia's High Court has dismissed a bid by campaigners to challenge a police ban on a gay arts festival, in a rare legal case involving gay rights.
Organizers of the Sexual Independence festival had hoped to overturn a ban imposed last November on the event, which would have featured musical performances, talks on sexuality issues and a poster exhibition. The festival was meant to
promote dialogue about gay issues in Malaysia.
Police ordered activists to scrap the event after Muslim organizations claimed it would disrupt public order.
High Court Judge Rohana Yusuf ruled in favor of government lawyers who said police were empowered to declare the ban.
Festival organizers said they would appeal the verdict.
The Russian city of St. Petersburg has passed a law aimed at eliminating what its backers called propaganda of homosexuality among minors. Other cities have vowed to look into adopting similar measures.
The law, which follows similar legislation passed elsewhere, appears to be a reaction to increasingly vocal efforts by groups calling for gay rights, particularly in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Vitaly V. Milonov, the law's principal drafter and an outspoken proponent of Russia's Orthodox Church, who has referred to gay people as perverts, has accused gay rights activists of waging an aggressive campaign of conversion among
Russia's children with the backing of Western governments. In an TV interview after the bill passed, he said: This is a declaration of Russia's moral sovereignty.
Under the new law, public actions directed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors will be punishable with fines of up to $17,000. The law defines propaganda of homosexuality as the targeted
and uncontrolled dissemination of generally accessible information capable of harming the health and moral and spiritual development of minors, particularly that which could create a distorted impression of marital relations.
Igor Kochetkov, the head of the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, a rights group based in St. Petersburg, countered:
This is a law that can be used, and will be used, to conduct searches of organizations and prevent public actions, he said. Most importantly, it will be used for official propaganda. Officially homosexuality will be considered illegal, something
incorrect and something that cannot be discussed with children. It will create a negative atmosphere in society around gays and lesbians as well as our organizations.
The Mardi Gras Film Festival expects to be granted an exemption from film censorship laws so it can screen four films featuring real sex acts.
Despite the law prohibiting the public screening of (hardcore) X-rated films in New South Wales, the festival's director, Lex Lindsay, said:
We are confident the classification board will be satisfied with our rationale for screening these works ... and that the content in each of these works, whilst being sexually explicit, is of a nature and artistic standard suitable for public
screenings to a group of educated and interested adults.
The Mardi Gras Film Festival opens in Sydney on February 16 at cinemas in Newtown, Parramatta and the Hoyts Cinema complex in Moore Park.
Two of the films, Homme au bain (Man at Bath) and Sagat , feature penetrative sex between men, and In Their Room: Berlin depicts a casual sex encounter during which the actors perform oral sex. Community Action Centre contains frequent sex scenes between transgender individuals, which Lindsay suggested in a submission to the classification board could lead to a possible X-rating.
A spokesman for the board, Brian Kent, said organisers of film festivals wishing to screen unclassified films in the festival must apply for an exemption:
If it is likely that an unclassified film will be X18+ or Refused Classification, the exemption will not be granted, he said.
[There may be a little hype going on here. Britain's film censors at the BBFC passed Man at Bath 18 uncut with the comment: Contains strong sex and nudity. If there is any real sex going on, the BBFC usually
comment that it contains 'real sex' rather than 'strong sex'].
Australia's Classification Board has banned two films from the program for the Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The films, Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin , contain some unsimulated sexual activity. The Board has refused the exemption from classification on the grounds that should the films undergo the classification process
in Australia they would be granted an X classification. X-rated films are not allowed to be screened publicly in New South Wales.
Festival director Lex Lindsay expressed his disappointment at the decision to members in an email:
Obviously I am astoundingly disappointed with this decision and didn't expect the Board to use such a stringent interpretation of the 20-year-old Classification Act in assessing these films, he wrote.
I believe these films are not only appropriate for public viewing, but strongly deserving of festival screenings to an informed and sympathetic audience who have chosen to see them. Regrettably, I believed the Classification Board might agree
To contextualise my decision, Community Action Centre, bringing together the work of a number of video artists responding to the simple idea that our bodies are art, has just been purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has
exhibited at the Tate Modern, London. It will now not be screening in Australia.
As a curator of the world's most important new screen images of queer people, life and art, I wanted to bring you this film, but unfortunately our classification system has made that impossible.
Offsite: Statement from Festival Director Lex Lindsay
24th February 2012. From mgff.queerscreen.com.au
In order to screen unclassified material, all Australian film festivals must request an exemption from classification for the content they have programmed. The Classification Board have chosen to refuse this exemption for two of the titles
selected for this festival. Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin.
These two films contain some real sexual activity, and the Classification Board refused this exemption on the grounds that they believe, should these films undergo the classification process in Australia, they would be granted an X
classification. There's nothing wrong with X classified material, but the current laws state you may not publicly screen it. As such, we won't.
Update: Bath is Running
26th February 2012. From mgff.queerscreen.com.au , thanks to Bob
One of the 3 films originally identified as prone to censorship by the Australian Classification Board has survived and will play at the Mardi Gras festival on 28th February. Man at Bath survived the censors, whereas Community Action
Centre and In Their Room: Berlin were banned on the grounds that they would likely be X Rated.
Man at Bath will now be shown with the warning: This film contains some explicit sexual content.
A Ugandan MP has revived a controversial anti-gay bill but dropped the provision for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.
A BBC correspondent says MPs laughed, clapped and cried out: Our bill, our bill, when its architect David Bahati reintroduced the draft legislation as a private members bill.
The bill increases the punishment to life in prison for homosexual offences. Anyone failing to report to the authorities a person they knew to be homosexual would also be liable to prosecution.
But those found guilty of aggravated homosexuality - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a serial offender - would no longer face the death penalty, as originally proposed.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was shelved in 2011 after an international outcry.
Five Muslims who distributed leaflets calling for gay people to be executed have appeared in court accused of inciting hatred.
One leaflet said the death penalty had been passed against all homosexuals and showed a mannequin hanging from a noose.
Another showed a figure burning in a lake of fire with a list of punishments for homosexual acts.
The five defendants, all from Derby, are the first to be prosecuted under new laws banning the stirring up of hatred due to sexual orientation. Ihjaz Ali, 42, Razwan Javed, 28, Kabir Ahmed, 28, Umar Javed, 38, and Mehboob Hussain, 44, were
arrested following complaints about leaflets distributed in Derby before a gay pride parade in July 2010.
The material was handed out in the street as well as posted through letterboxes.
The first, titled Death Penalty? , claimed that Allah permitted the destruction of gay people and the only question is how it should be carried out .
The second, titled Turn or Burn , featured the figure in a blazing lake with the warning that the decriminalisation of homosexuality was the root of all problems .
A third, GAY...God Abhors You told of severe punishment for homosexuals.
Bobbie Cheema, prosecuting, told Derby Crown Court the pamphlets were threatening, offensive, frightening and nasty and had been designed to stir up hatred and hostility against homosexual people .
The maximum penalty for the offences is seven years in jail. The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, continues.
Muslim extremists who handed out leaflets calling for homosexuals to be hanged, stoned and burned to death have been convicted of gay hate crime.
Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed are the first to be prosecuted under new laws against inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Ali, 42, Ahmed, 28, and Javed, also 28, all of Normanton, Derby were found guilty of distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. They will be sentenced next month.
Two others who distributed the leaflets, Mehboob Hussein, 44, and Umar Javed, 38, also of Normanton, were cleared of inciting hatred.
It has also emerged that Muslim fanatic and hate preacher Anjem Choudary was secretly invited by the group's ringleader, Ihjaz Ali, for a series of meetings in Derby. The group had links with the extremist organisation Al-Muhajiroun, which is
banned under UK anti-terror laws.
Moderate Muslim leaders who spoke out against the group's activities were targeted in a hate campaign in which their faces were printed on wanted posters; *
The Daily Mail also reported that police had to be called during local elections because the group' s supporters were standing guard at polling stations, ordering Muslims not to vote.
Three muslim extremists have been jailed after becoming the first to be convicted of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation for handing out leaflets calling for gay people to be executed.
Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed gave out the pamphlet, entitled The Death Penalty?, that showed an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and quoted Islamic texts that said capital punishment was the only way to rid society of
Ali was jailed for two years and Ahmed and Javed for 15 months each.
It must be incredibly expensive for Christians to keep on fighting this losing battle. The law simply does not allow people to discriminate against gays. There simply is no exception for christians, much as they would like one. Would it be to
much for Christians to accept that they should love their neighbours even if they are gay. After all that's what the great man said.
Stonewall today welcomed a decision by the Court of Appeal to uphold a landmark court ruling in favour of a couple refused a hotel room by the owners of a hotel in Cornwall.
Civil Partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy had been turned away from the Chymorvah Hotel near Penzance in 2010 by owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull. In January 2011 a judge at Bristol County Court ruled that the Bulls' behaviour amounted to
direct discrimination, and awarded a total of £ 3,600 damages to Mr Hall and Mr Preddy.
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: We're delighted that the Court upheld the judgment. The Court's decision vindicates Stonewall's hard lobbying to make it illegal to deny goods or services to someone just because they happen to
be gay. That obviously includes hotel rooms for many gay holidaymakers, which can only be a good thing in a Jubilee year. I hope Mr and Mrs Bull will now feel content to go home to do God's good work as Easter approaches, instead of relentlessly
pursuing a happy couple through the courts.
Supporters of an East End gay pub are battling to stop it being included in a hit-list of sex entertainment establishments the council wants to close down.
Around 750 people have signed a petition to exempt the White Swan in Commercial Road from Tower Hamlets Council's plans to ban any venue from offering lap-dancing, pole-dancing or sex shows.
Campaigners, who first presented the petition in November, now accuse town hall chiefs of ignoring their concerns as they have had no response despite being told they should receive one within 28 days.
The White Swan's popular Wednesday nights sometimes feature male strippers but the campaign group is arguing there are no advertisements that could offend passersby and no prostitution or sexual activity of any kind .
Daryl Stafford, leading the campaign, said:
If we live in a truly multi-cultural society where people truly respect the lifestyles of others this simply would not happen. The venue has run its comedy male amateur strip night for 26 years without a single complaint.
And with a touch of 'I'm alright Jack', he added:
The legislation was originally set up to stop women being exploited and coerced into the sex trade... But there are no women involved in this. It's a men only night and stripping is voluntary."
Jack Gilbert, of LGBT group Rainbow Hamlets, said:
If they are making an argument that something is a social nuisance or has a history of causing anti-social behaviour and exploitation then the White Swan does not meet any of these criteria at all.
A council spokesprat said:
There was a record number of responses to the consultation and it was clear that residents felt strongly about the matter. No decision has been made in relation to which premises would be deemed to be sex establishments.
And with a particularly inept piece of politically correct confused thinking, Conservative group leader at Tower Hamlets, Peter Golds told BBC London:
I, like most reasonably minded people, have concerns about scantily clad women being exploited ....BUT... consenting adults looking for a laugh, a joke and comedy is not exploitation.
The original petition was highlighted in an
article by Jane Fae:
Lesbians in Ecuador are demanding an end to torture clinics designed to make them straight .
online petition , addressed to Ecuadorian Health Minister, David Chiriboga and launched last month welcomes moves by the Ecuadorian government to close some 27 such clinics -- but points out that over 200 are still open.
According to the petition letter, escaping patients have reported cases of physical and psychological abuse including verbal threats, shackling, days without food, sexual abuse, and physical torture -- all inflicted in an attempt to cure their sexuality.
This is the beginning of the end -- the end of women suffering physical and emotional abuse (and even torture and sexual assault) in Ecuadorian clinics trying to cure them of being lesbians.
All around Ecuador, countless women were being held against their will in hundreds of these so-called clinics. For ten years, a group of brave women in Ecuador who call themselves Fundacion Causana tracked down survivors, documenting their
stories and bringing them to light. But the situation wasn't changing.
Then, something incredible happened. A petition that Fundacion Causana had started on Change.org calling on the Ministry of Health to take action was signed by more than 113,000 people around the world. Suddenly, officials were ready to meet with
Fundacion Causana and take responsibility for the violence against women and LGBT Ecuadorians happening on their watch.
Now, the Ecuadorian government is working hand in hand with Fundacion Causana to eradicate these clinics from Ecuador, free the women trapped there, and run a national public awareness campaign to fight homophobia.
The chief rabbi of Amsterdam, Aryeh Ralbag, was temporarily relieved from his post by the board of the Orthodox Jewish community, after he signed a document describing homosexuality as an inclination which can be modified and healed.
Ralbag had recently signed the document titled Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality, which called on authority figures to guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations.
The community group known as the NIHS said in a statement:
Rabbi Ralbag's signature may give the impression the Orthodox Jewish community of Amsterdam shares his view. This is absolutely untrue. Homosexuals are welcome at the Amsterdam Jewish community.
The suspected honour killing of a gay man in Turkey has provided the inspiration for a new film that aims to raise awareness about homophobia in the country.
The producer and co-director of Zenne Dancer , Mehmet Binay, has taken inspiration from the tragic death of 26-year-old Ahmet Yildiz, a close friend, who he claims was murdered in 2008 by his own father for being gay.
As reported by CNN, Yildiz's father is still at large, with court documents identifying him as the main suspect. A copy of the indictment suggests the father's motive to be that he did not accept the victim to be in a gay relationship .
Speaking to CNN, Binay said:
Death and murder is still on the agenda of our country. We can't get rid of this mentality. People need to tolerate each other. They need to understand that different identities can live next to each other without disturbing each other.
When lawmakers enact censorship they rather assume that the people doing the censoring are somehow morally or intellectually superior to people thought to be in need of censorship.
Tokyo recently enacted a law to give city government powers to censor manga on grounds of promoting illegal or immoral sexual activity.
escapistmagazine.com have published a fine example showing the dregs of intellect that may hide behind the label of 'censor'. This was taken from meeting minutes of the 2nd Miyazaki Prefectural Commission for the Promotion of Healthy
Youth Development . At this point, the commission was discussing boys love and ladies comics which, although not-pornographic, do tend to be rather risque.
Committee Member A:
In these books there is some violence and cruelty, and most have sexually provocative material.
In particular, many include scenes of women taking the lead ahead of men, and I think they'll promote the prejudiced view that women want this.
And if you keep getting these depictions of women taking the lead, matters soon develop in a homosexual direction and it must become difficult to develop sexually in a normal fashion, mustn't it?
This may not always be the case, but I think for the male consciousness they may end up thinking they cannot take the lead themselves, and so they tend to turn homosexual more often as a result.
I can't help but think it is very dangerous to our young people, should they see this sort of material mixed in amongst normal books.
No objection to these ideas were recorded in the minutes, but some comments have suggested this may be due to the Japanese custom of avoiding public criticisms of others, particularly those more senior.
The group suggested that some manga should be labeled as urgently designated harmful entertainment, but did not recommend any specific titles for the classification.
A gay artist from India has been attacked for featuring gay-related work in his latest exhibition.
Balbir Krishan was assaulted by a disguised assailant who later defaced part of the collection in a brief vandalism spree.
The Times of India report that the attacker entered the exhibition space at New Delhi's Lalit Kala Akademi gallery with his face covered by a handkerchief. He pushed and kicked Krishan, a double amputee who has lost both his legs, while hurling
The artist said the crime happened after he received a number of telephone threats regarding his exhibition, which centres around same-sex relationships. The unidentified caller accused the artist of spreading homosexuality in India and
being determined to ruin Islam .
Posters designed to promote the event were also burnt and ripped in the run-up to the opening night.
And above all else, love your neighbour...
Unless he is gay of course!
Christians in Zambia have organised a march in the capital city to pressure the government to clearly state that homosexuality is not tolerated in the country and should not be protected by the new Zambian constitution.
The march, organized by Christian NGO Zambia Rainbow Coalition which has called for a new clause in the constitution that would explicitly define marriage as a union between a man and a women, which would presumably exclude the possibility of
introducing same-sex marriage at any time, reported Zambia Watchdog.
This [homosexuality] is a new concept to our culture which Zambians will not entertain as in Zambia we do not even have local terminology for homosexuality, Rainbow Coalition director of programs Malekano Mwanza told Zambia Watchdog.