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Gambia passes anti-gay law
Banjul, Gambia--Mirroring legislation thrown out by Uganda’s top court on a technicality, the Gambian National Assembly passed a law calling for life sentences for cases of “aggravated homosexuality.”
The term applies to people with HIV and those who are repeatedly arrested for gay-sex offenses.
Gambia recently banned flights into the country following confirmation of the first Ebola death in Senegal, which surrounds the country on three sides. Apparently, the Gambian government is more concerned with butt-sex than hemorrhagic fever.
The legislation awaits the signature of President Yahya Jammeh, who said earlier this year, “We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”
“These draconian laws have no place in the 21st Century, and the United States must send a clear message - privately or publicly - to the Gambian leadership that a government must not trample on the rights of its LGBT citizens,” Ty Cobb, the Human Rights Campaign Director of Global Engagement.
“This bill is part of the rising tide of homophobia in many African nations, whose government leaders are working to deny the rights of their LGBT citizens through a campaign of misinformation and discriminatory laws and policies,” said Shawn Gaylord, director of Human Rights First. “The United States and the international community should continue to work closely with African human rights activists and civil society leaders to promote the protection of the human rights of all Africans.”
Transvestite prostitute screws Wall Street back
New York City--Two flunkies at a financial firm decided to throw a party at their boss’ swanky high-rise penthouse apartment when she was on vacation.
After the party wound down, however, they decided to order a prostitute from an online ad. and did not turn her away when she wound up being a transvestite.
What they did not expect, however, was that the prostitute would do to them what Wall Street did to the rest of America: rob them blind when they were asleep.
Joseph Morris and Thomas Condon fell asleep, and Ezekiel Dicks made off with about $30,000 in jewelry, Prada purses, Apple computers and other items, according to police.
Morris and Condon’s boss discovered the thefts when she returned from vacation and called authorities. They traced Dicks to a hotel, where they recovered the goods, and are charging him with grand larceny. Morris and Condon were already arrested on burglary charges for their illegal use of their boss’ apartment.
School chastised for canceling musical over gay themes
South Williamsport, Penn.--The Dramatists Guild of America send a letter to the South Williamsport High School administration for canceling a production of Monty Python’s Spamalot.
The issue was not the cancellation, but the disingenuous nature of the cancellation. The administration said that it was not because of a gay wedding in the show’s finale, but emails released later indicated that was indeed the case.
The letter, written by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, pointed out that the Dramatists Guild will work with schools to get around problematic material, but the school did not even broach the subject, canceling the show after having paid for the rights.
“In the past, when a school principal has considered censoring high school theater out of concern that the community needed some sort of preparation for a particular work’s subject matter, the Dramatists Guild has offered help for such preparation,” Schwartz wrote, noting the case of a Connecticut school production of Rent. “In fact, it appears that you wish to squander an opportunity for education by not only excluding so-called ‘homosexual themes’ from community discussion, but also by distinguishing between homophobia and discrimination against a particular gender, race, ethnicity or nationality. This is, of course, a completely specious distinction.”
“Would you cancel a school production of The Diary of Anne Frank because of concern over the sensitivities of Holocaust deniers and those with anti-Semitic views in your community? That seems unlikely,” he continues. “Why then are you so solicitous of homophobia? Of course everyone is entitled to his own views, but yours is a public educational institution and thus has an obligation to educate, not merely to placate bigotry so as to avoid ‘controversy.’ ”
“And if avoiding controversy was your sole purpose, you have clearly failed on that count in rather dramatic fashion,” he notes.
LGBT rights activist attacked
Belgrade, Serbia--An activist at a gay rights conference was beaten on September 13, suffering near-fatal injuries from the savage attack.
The 27-year old German, whose name was not released, was attacked by men who beat him with a glass ashtray, telling him that foreigners should get out of Serbia.
Closed circuit television cameras caught the attack, and officials said on September 14 that they had arrested the three individuals they believe beat the young man, who underwent surgery to relieve cranial pressure. He has since regained consciousness, although it is unclear yet if he will suffer lingering after-effects from the assault.
Facebook enforces ‘real-name’ policy
Menlo Park, Calif.--Despite a similar policy being dropped by Google Plus, Facebook is beginning to enforce their policy requiring members to use their “real names,” which would adversely affect drag performers and transgender people specifically, and LGBT people in general.
The company says that people can use pages to post as their personas, but that profiles themselves must use a person’s real name. Celebrities often use pages for their stage names.
Sister Roma of the San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, for instance, now has to have her profile under her given name of Michael Williams, and was told to create a fan page for Sister Roma.
She told SFist.com, “I use this site to keep up with friends and simply don’t want employers or crazy stalker people to log on and search me. Bottom line: I’ve been Sister Roma for 27 years/ Ask anyone what my name is, in or out of drag, and they will tell you it’s Roma.”
Towleroad.com also pointed to a ZDNet.com story about a young transgender woman who was outed when her Android phone updated its software, synchronizing Google Plus with her other applications so that the various compartmentalized pieces of information were all put together.
Trans girl elected homecoming princess
Colorado Springs--September 12 saw the dawning of a new day in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as Scarlett Lenh, 16, was crowned the homecoming princess during the Sand Creek High School football game.
Lenh said that two of the three other girls who were nominated were very supportive of her.
Scarlett began identifying as a girl about a year ago, and has begun presenting as a young woman at school.
Lenh said that she has been getting both positive and negative feedback, and some of the less-enlightened members of the school community expressed the opinion that Lenh was doing it to get attention, but she said that she has known since she was seven that she was a girl.
“It was always in the back of my mind,” she told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “In middle school I tried to block it out. This year, I got serious about expressing it. I see it as a great thing. I hope it helps people understand if they want to be something and work hard at it, it can happen.”