International News: April 2014
Church Must “Evaluate” Same Sex Civil Unions
Pope Francis has once again called on Catholic leaders to be more accepting of gay and lesbian congregation members. He implored leaders to explore the possibility of tolerance for same-sex civil unions where couples’ economic and health security is at stake.
“We have to look at the different cases and evaluate them in their variety,” the pontiff said in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere delle Sera. The pope, however, did not say that the Vatican should endorse civil unions outright.
Swedish Couple Being Run Out of Town
A gay couple in rural Sweden have said they have considered leaving town after they were subjected to a third allegedly homophobic attack in as many weeks.
According to The Local, the couple, who live in the town of Kinna, had the back window of their car smashed with a large stone and had “fag,” and other expletives scratched into the side of their car. One of the men was attacked while walking their dog.
Local residents, however, attempted to make a stand against the attacks, holding a demonstration in the town square against hate crimes. No one has been arrested for any of the crimes.
Dalai Lama Endorses Gay Marriage
The Dalai Lama expressed support for marriage equality and condemned acts of homophobia during a recent interview with Larry King.
“If two people – a couple – really feel that way is more practical, more sort of satisfaction, both sides fully agree, then OK,” the spiritual leader told King. He also said he believes that each country had the right to choose for themselves whether to legalize gay unions.
GLBT Activists Attacked at Moscow Rally
A group of GLBT protestors were harassed and pelted with eggs for holding rainbow flags at a rally for International Women’s Day in Moscow, Gay Star News reported.
Shortly after the protest began, Russian police demanded all rainbow flags be immediately removed from the rally. Posters with anti-homophobia slogans were allowed to remain.
In Russia, GLBT “propaganda” is banned and punishable by hefty fines of up to 1 million Rubles (roughly $27,000).
Debate on Homosexuality in Islam Axed
The BBC received criticism for its decision to drop a planned debate about homosexuality in Islam from Free Speech, BBC Three’s live debate and discussion TV program.
Pink News reports that the show, which aired live from Birmingham Central Mosque, was supposed to feature a debate on when it will be acceptable to be Muslim and gay. However, the show’s host Rick Edwards announced at the beginning of the episode that due to “deep concerns” from the mosque, the subject would be dropped.
Ugandan Leader Signs Harsh Anti-gay Bill, Faces Consequences
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed the Draconian anti-GLBT law that imposes tough penalties for homosexual acts. As Living Out has reported, the legislation imposes a 14-year prison sentence for first-time offenders and life sentences for repeat offenders found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”
A number of countries including Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have cut aid to Uganda and political leaders and human rights organizations across the world have condemned the law. The European Parliament vows to “take immediate action in regards to political cooperation, aid, and asylum.”
The United States, Uganda’s largest donor, has also suspended some of its aid to Uganda’s Ministry of Health in response to Museveni’s decision to sign the law. The amount of money that was withheld is unknown, but the U.S. gave $3.9 million last year.
by Rachel Roth