Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

By Dhanya Nair


Photo: Sunil Pant

Mumbai: The upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the world wide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement may not have anything in common but keeping in mind the fact that homosexuality is illegal in over 80 countries with India being one of them, international pressure groups are urging that the rights of this marginalised community be seriously addressed this election season.

On Wednesday, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) with a coalition of four countries in the South Asian region, where homophobia and discriminatory laws against homosexuality is rampant, chaired their first meeting in the city. Countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India in coalition with SIDA will work collectively to ensure that rights of this minority community are looked after seriously.

Giving teeth to this Mumbai Chapter was Nepal’s gay Member of Parliament, Sunil Babu Pant. “Abuse of the LGBT community takes place all over the world part of this is also the discriminatory laws we have. In Nepal we brought a sea change when a small Communist party put the LGBT rights on their election manifesto and came to power. Today Nepal as a country is more open to accept us in the mainstream society,” said Pant. Pant says India can go a long way if a similar approach is adopted here. “Acceptance of the LGBT community in the mainstream is a two-way process. Though homophobia has to be reduced at the grass root level, lot of this change can also take place if our rights are protected. Since India considers itself to be a champion of democracy, it should make serious efforts to put an end to unfriendly laws,” said Pant.

As this coalition’s main ambition is to bring changes in LGBT rights in South Asia, their main aim for India is to change the controversial section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which defines homosexuality as a criminal offence. The coalition formed by SIDA will be meeting in Delhi next month to discuss the issue with the government. “We had filed a PIL with the Delhi High Court eight years back to change this section. There is a serious need to scrap this section as this gives the state the right to intervene in anyone’s personal life. The section has been used for harassment, physical and sexual violence in the past. Hence the LGBT community seriously thinks that the Act is more of a corruption issue than law and order one,” said activist lawyer, Aditya Bandyopadyay.


Gays Demand China Free AIDS Advocate at Olympic Torch Protest:
A press conference was supposed to be held today at 11 AM at United Nations Plaza by Tibetans living in the US, to demand China end its occupation of their country. I went to it expecting 2 or 3 dozen Tibetans and their supporters would be standing behind a microphone tree, explaining what they hope to accomplish as the Olympic torch passes through town.

What I found when I got there was a full-fledged rally, held in front of a large elevated stage near the north end of the plaza, and perhaps five-hundred protesters waving flags, chanting slogans and handing out flyers.

I hooked up with five other gay men who were there to call for the release of Chinese AIDS advocate Hu Jia, sentenced to three years in jail last week for pro-democracy advocacy, and to add our voices to the “Free Tibet” chorus.

Here are two photos of us posing for the cameras:

I’m proud a handful of us gays were present today, and will be attending other pro-Tibet events today and tomorrow, as the Olympic torch wends its way through San Francisco. And big thanks to the other gays who showed up today in support of our Tibetan friends and incarcerated AIDS advocate Hu Jia.

By Michael Petelis :


Dangerous Attraction
by Anna Kirey
18 October 2007

The LGBT community in Kyrgyzstan is gaining some momentum as it strives for its rights, but members still face widespread discrimination and violence – both on the streets and in their own homes.


The roots of prejudice against the LGBT community run deep in Kyrgyzstan, a predominately Islamic country. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2005 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Kyrgyzstan, “people of nontraditional sexual orientation, particularly homosexual men, were among the most oppressed groups, although the country does not outlaw homosexuality. Those whose sexuality was publicly known risked physical and verbal abuse, possible loss of work, and unwanted attention from police and authorities, particularly lower-ranking police. Incarcerated gay men were often openly victimized in prisons by inmates and officials alike.”

During the Soviet era, sex between men in Kyrgyzstan was a criminal offense. The Kyrgyz Criminal Code of 1998 lifted the legal ban on homosexual acts, but discrimination and denial still reach high into the realms of state power. Tursunbek Akun, the head of the State Human Rights Commission, said in 2004 that homosexuality is “one of those negative consequences of the Western civilization that gradually comes to us together with elements of democracy.”

“Non-traditional sexual orientation offends the honor and advantage of men and women and historically developed interfamily relations of the Kyrgyz,” he continued.

At a roundtable discussion in May 2005 about homophobia and transphobia, two representatives from the Interior Ministry, who would not give their names, said that they do not believe LGBT individuals’ human rights are violated in Kyrgyzstan and that they have never heard of violence against members of the LGBT community. One representative went on to say, “Let’s say I walk in a park with my son – I have just one son — there are two guys walking holding each other’s hands. I would beat them up.”

Moreover, some doctors and psychologists treat non-traditional sexual identities as mental flaws. An Open Society Institute-Soros Foundation Report on the LGBT community’s access to health care quotes a psychologist in the southern part of the country as saying, “LGBT are people who probably had defects during their upbringing.”

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