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男女共同参画 計画案まとまる (NHK 2005/12/26)
女性リーダー３割目標…男女共同参画基本計画案 (読売 2005/12/26)
育児退職女性の再就職支援 政府、プラン決定 (共同 2005/12/26)
首相「男も女も個性発揮できる社会を」―男女共同参画基本計画 (日本経済 2005/12/26)
モデル地域でＮＰＯ連携 (中日 2005/12/27)
指導的地位の女性、2020年度に３割に・男女共同参画会議 (日本経済 2005/12/26)
Japan to boost sex equality
Tuesday, December 27, 2005 Reuters
Japan is set to approve a plan to promote gender equality - but, in a sign of conservative lawmakers' worries about a breakdown in traditional values, the document warns against doing away with all sex-based social distinctions.
The new plan, to be approved by the Cabinet today, aims to increase women's presence in leadership positions in all fields to 30 percent by 2020 - a tough target given that the proportion of female managers in the country was 9 percent in 2003 compared with 46 percent in the United States, according to the International Labor Organization.
The plan also includes measures to help women return to work after leaving to raise children, to encourage their entry into fields such as science, technology and disaster relief, and to eradicate violence against women, according to a draft approved by the government's Council for Gender Equality Monday.
"Prime Minister [Junichiro] Koizumi said that he wanted the Cabinet to approve the plan quickly and that he was determined to create a gender- equality society in which men and women can have dreams and expectations by fully exercising their individuality and abilities," Kuniko Inoguchi, state minister for gender equality, said.
Two decades after the enactment of an Equal Employment Opportunity Law, Japanese women lag those in many advanced countries in terms of political clout and earning power.
Japan ranked 43rd out of 80 countries in 2005 terms of a "gender empowerment" rating, the plan noted.
Faced with a shrinking labor force due to Japan's sagging birth rate, many Japanese companies are stepping up efforts to mobilize women managers and workers more fully.
But in a nod to concerns among some conservative ruling lawmakers about fraying traditional values, the plan defines "gender" as a value-neutral term and warns against trying to eradicate all gender-based customs, from separate changing rooms for school kids to a traditional dolls festival for girls.
"To deny sexual differences using the term `gender free,' to do away with masculinity and femininity and differences between men and women, and to aim at the neuterization of human beings, or to deny the family and traditional culture such as the dolls festival differs from the society of male and female equality sought by the people," the plan states.
Advocates of improving the status of Japanese women have expressed worries that the phrasing reflects a backlash against recent progress toward gender equality. Inoguchi, however, defended the wording. "We decided to include for the first time a clear definition of `gender' to resolve misunderstandings," she said, adding there had been cases of "confusion" when local authorities had tried to implement gender equality programs in the past.
胎児の性別 教えた医師は懲役刑 (東京 2005/12/27)
2005年 12月 26日 月曜日 17:42 JST
［北京 ２６日 ロイター］ 中国政府は、男女別中絶の要因になっているとして、胎児の性別を判定した医師および医療従事者に最長３年の実刑および罰金を課す方向で法律を改正する。国営メディアが２６日に伝えた。
China law threatens jail for sex-selective abortions
Sun Dec 25, 2005 11:01 PM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - A new Chinese law calls for prison terms of up to three years and fines for doctors and other health workers who assist in telling the gender of unborn babies, leading to abortions, state media said on Monday.
The legal amendment would give new teeth to a government campaign to outlaw the selective abortion of female foetuses and correct an imbalance in the ratio of boys to girls that has grown since China's one-child policy was introduced more than 20 years ago.
"The revision is aimed to prevent the selection of a child's gender when not conducted for medical purposes," An Jian, a member of China's parliament who discussed the amendment over the weekend, was quoted as saying.
"Artificial gender selection can jeopardise China's population structure, leading to social instability," An wrote in a report.
Government figures show 119 boys are born for every 100 girls in the world's most populous nation. About 40 million men may live as frustrated bachelors by 2020.
The Chinese tradition of preference for sons -- seen as carrying the family name and being able to provide for their parents in old age -- was bolstered after the one-child policy was introduced to curb China's population, now over 1.3 billion.
Sex-selective abortion is banned but ultrasound has made it easier to know a baby's gender in advance, increasing the chances for aborting girls.
"The amendment specifies that anyone who assists others with gender selection will face heavy fines and a three-year jail sentence," the China Daily said.
China has vowed to reverse the trend of its gender imbalance by 2010. It previously launched a tentative scheme to pay moderate pensions to rural parents with no sons and educate them that "girls are as good as boys".
Quiet pink revolution in dark before dawn?
By Liu Yunyun (Beijing Review)
Updated: 2005-12-26 11:42 China Daily
Being gay in China is beginning to lose its stigma, but it's still not easy coming out for them.
Little over four years ago, homosexuality was still officially classified as a mental disorder in China. On December 16, 2005, China's gays and lesbians celebrated their first national festival.
BEING MYSELF: Conan Liu, like many gays in big cities, doesn't conceal his sexual orientation.
It's a huge leap forward in a country long associated with closed attitudes toward alternative lifestyles.
Despite the stigma and public admonishments, China's gay community is taking its first tentative steps out of a closet that was, until recently, firmly bolted.
In 1997, the word "hooligan" was deleted from China's criminal code in reference to gays arrested for soliciting in public places.
The move is considered by many as the de facto decriminalization of homosexual acts and was followed in April 2001 by the deletion of homosexuality from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.
Now, marking gay-awareness month June 12 by flying kites in Beijing, Shenyang and Fuzhou, and turning out in numbers for the country;s first national gay and lesbian festival December 16 in Beijing, organized by Cui Zi' en, a gay associate professor at the Beijing Film Academy, are acts that illustrate changing attitudes toward the pink revolution.
The word tongzhi, literally meaning comrade (people with the same ideals), is now widely accepted by gays and lesbians as a self-reference in this country. Googling the Chinese character for tongzhi produces some astonishing results.
There are many gay activities taking place on the mainland. Gay bars, spas, meetings, bathhouses and a thriving online community are allowing open venues for gatherings that not long ago were restricted to public toilets and parks.
Sociologist and gay novelist Tong Ge’s impassioned call for "comrades to melt the frozen land with our body heat" galvanized Chinese professionals into lobbying the government for the approval of same-sex marriage, regardless of the very real obstacles lying ahead.
Zhang Beichuan, China's leading scholar in the field of homosexual study and winner of 2000 Barry & Martin Prize awarded to individuals making outstanding contributions to the AIDS awareness campaign, estimates there are 40 million homosexuals on the Chinese mainland, far more than the official figure of between 5 and 10 million released by the Ministry of Health in December 2004. This huge number, equal to the population of Spain, can no longer be ignored by society.
'I Like the Way I Am'
Conan Liu, 24, a tax consultant with one of the Big Four accounting firms, told Beijing Review that he has never tried to conceal his sexual orientation since finding out he is gay.
Zhang Beichuan, China's leading expert in homosexuality [chsa.org]
Unlike the older generation, Conan's age group is more willing to talk about their lives and love experiences. Fashionably dressed and charming, Conan is proud of who he is. "My friends usually say that I need to be protected," he smiled, saying that he seldom has difficulties either at work or in his life.
"Most people around me understand and accept my homosexual orientation," Conan said. As for those who don't like men behaving in a feminine manner, he's defiant. "I like the way I am and I will stay away from those who dislike me. It's no big deal."
In spite of his carefree attitude, Conan has not been able to admit his sexual orientation to his parents. It's a common situation throughout the Chinese gay community.
In interviews conducted with gay people, Beijing Review found that family members were always the last to know and the most difficult to tell. A Confucius saying may best explain the Chinese difficulty in accepting homosexuality: There are three things that are unfilial--disobeying one's parents, not supporting one's parents and, the most important, not continuing the family line.
Hao Ting, a 17-year-old sophomore at Peking University, said that most of his friends know he is gay. But he still felt uneasy telling his parents. Chinese homosexuals do not want to disappoint their families by not being able to produce heirs.
As Zhang Beichuan noted, homosexuals in China mostly feel guilty and sorry for their family. Homosexuality can be tolerated as long as they still give birth to the next generation, as the Chinese have a strong sense of family ties, said Zhang Beichuan. "But it is too painful to marry a person that you don't really love."
An Yi, Beijing's 10BAR owner, shared his experience with opening the first lesbian bar in Beijing in 1998. A bar operated by one of his friends was losing money due to poor management and inconvenient location.
Being part of the gay circle, An suggested the owner re-design the bar for lesbians only. "At that time, we dared not advertise openly in the streets or through publications. Word of mouth was the only way to get people in," he recalled.
In just two months, the city's first lesbian bar was a popular venue on weekends. However, it eventually shut down due to lack of sustained spending power and a relatively small group of lesbians in the city.
A survey released by psychologists in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, finds more homosexuals in coastal cities than in inland cities, with more gays than lesbians.
The survey also reports an above average IQ and 93 percent of respondents having senior high school education or above. Because of the more diversified education, Zhang Beichuan said homosexuals are more aware of their emotional and physical needs.
China's gays who are open about their sexual orientation are mostly young people with higher education and a relatively free working and living environment. Apart from an uneasiness to tell parents, they live a good life in bigger cities.
"If you asked to have an interview with me two or three years ago, I would reply with an absolute 'no' as the social environment was not as tolerant as it is today," said An.
He believes the gay scene is in the "dark before dawn" phase, and predicts the government will legalize same-sex relationships and marriage in the near future.
It is also his belief that China will never ban homosexuality. "Many of my guests and customers are high-ranking government officials and executives of big companies," explained An. "Do you think those people will shut their eyes to a law that will prohibit or punish themselves? Things are destined to change for the better."
Decorated with classical Chinese lanterns, lively rockeries and green artificial bamboo, 10BAR now sees a weekly income of around 80,000 yuan ($10,000), up from about 8,000 yuan ($1,000) a year ago.
Currently, there are more than 10 bars catering to gays and lesbians across urban Beijing, according to An. Moreover, hundreds of websites are devoted to the gay scene in China, with almost every city having a dedicated site.
"People are busier making money now," said Tony Li, owner of Shanghai's Vogue gay bar. "They don't have time to bother other people, and they are getting more and more information from abroad, so there is a higher degree of tolerance toward gays."
China's prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai this year began offering a course focusing on sociological aspects of homosexuality. "The previous course mainly focused on how to prevent AIDS in homosexuals. But now, we will pay more attention to the development of a proper view about homosexuals," said Gao Yanning, who lectures students in the class. "We will give students equitable information on homosexuals and help eliminate students' prejudice."
Ma Lu, a dropout of the University of Science and Technology of China, would have never thought his classmates or roommates would understand his sexual orientation before he admitted he was gay.
At first, his roommates were shocked and even tried to introduce him to girls. But their effort was in vain. Gradually they accepted him. He was surprised that he was not discriminated against and the attitude of his peers has given him the courage to speak openly about his sexual orientation. "I am proud of being a gay," said Ma.
Most of those who choose to "come out" about their homosexuality are the only child in the family, said Fudan University Professor Gao Yanning, adding that Chinese parents prefer to tolerate their children's sexual orientation rather than lose them.
For homosexuals, their great expectation is the legalization of gay and lesbian marriages. They need a certificate to show to others that they do want to take responsibility for a family.
"Neither society nor the law gives us the right to take responsibility," complained Li Yan, a bisexual, who spoke to Beijing Review at the Rainbow Bar, a lesbian bar in Beijing.
"Nobody knows how much I want to take responsibility for my 'wife'," said another patron named Ba Jian (pseudonym)."I want to stay with her, but there is no chance for us getting married due to social pressure."
Zhang Beichuan told Beijing Review that according to his research, same-sex relationship usually lasts for 30 months. The average time span for a heterosexual relationship is about 36 months, after which they either break up or get married.
"If there is no marriage option and support, what will happen to heterosexual lovers? Who knows?" Zhang argued. About 75 percent of homosexuals are hoping to find a life-long same-sex partner, but the proportion of those who do is less than 5 percent.
"We gays or lesbians will not bear children. I think that is good news for our society, which is overloaded by the huge population," joked Ma Lu.
His view is surprisingly reflected by Li Yinhe's proposal to legalize homosexual marriage. Li, who submitted the same-sex marriage proposal to China's top legislature twice, in 2000 and in 2004, said from historical data and cross-culture study, countries that are burdened with a fast-growing population normally adopt a relatively tolerant policy toward homosexuals; while countries with small populations are strict with same-sex marriage, because the homosexual population will directly influence the whole population of a country.
"Statistics show that homosexuals account for 3 to 4 percent of the total population. In China, the homosexual population is between 39 million and 52 million. As there is no law permitting same-sex marriage, those people will finally form a family with a heterosexual and bear children. If they can form a family with a homosexual, then it will be conducive to the population control of our country," said Li who has suggested an amendment to the Marriage Law that "changes the wife and husband expression into spouse and the enactment of a new same-sex marriage law. Although her proposals have not met with success, she remains optimistic about the future of the same-sex marriage.
There is also a need by the gay community to have more coverage in the media about same-sex relationships so they can keep in touch with happenings within the community.
Currently only the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada have laws legalizing same-sex marriage. South Africa's highest court recognized a lesbian marriage December 1, and gave the country's parliament a year to extend legal marital rights to all same-sex couples.
Other countries offer gay people a form of partnership with more restricted rights than heterosexual marriage. In 1999, France introduced a civil contract for cohabiting couples irrespective of gender, and Germany has enacted legislation for "life partnership" for gay people.
"It is a legislative trend across the world," said Li Yinhe. "China will definitely catch up with this trend, in spite of obstacles we are confronted with now."
"Ultimately, people will accept the idea that everyone has the right and freedom to love and marry, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual," concluded Zhang Beichuan. "Love is, after all, the most beautiful thing in this world."
Pocket Dictionary of China’s Homosexuals
Tongzhi (comrade): used by Chinese gays and lesbians to refer to themselves
Rainbow flag: recognized colors of gay and lesbian pride since the 1980s, with red standing for light, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for calmness, blue for art, and violet for spirit
1: refers to the male role in a gay relationship
0: refers to the female role in a gay relationship
T: refers to tomboy, or the male role in a lesbian relationship
P: stands for the Chinese Pinyin po, or the female role in a lesbian relationship
419: used to indicate a one night stand
MB: money boy, normally known as male prostitute
Uncle: a respectful title for older tomboy
Cover Story/ Rookie power: The latest group of first-time lawmakers could determine the next LDP president.
(IHT/Asahi: December 24,2005)
By TORU HIGASHIOKA
The Asahi Shimbun
A letter was sent Dec. 8 to each of the 83 new Lower House members elected on the coattails of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's popularity in September.
Written by LDP Secretary-General Tsutomu Takebe, the letter said, "Prime Minister Koizumi has instructed us to hold a meeting with him for all rookie Lower House members who do not belong to a faction."
In veiled terms, the words made clear that anyone who joined a faction would not be invited to Koizumi's year-end party Dec. 20.
About a third of the newcomers were erased from the guest list.
The prime minister's year-end party was part of a developing battle in the LDP to win over the formidable bloc of rookie lawmakers known as "Koizumi children."
First-time Diet members of the LDP have rarely received so much attention from their more experienced colleagues. But given the numbers involved, party heavyweights know the rookies could wield considerable influence in the vote next September to choose Koizumi's successor as LDP leader.
"It's no exaggeration to say that those 83 individuals will create the momentum for next year's party presidential election," Takebe said at a Dec. 14 party in Tokyo.
Even the Mori faction, the largest in the party and which has two possible candidates to succeed Koizumi--Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda--has taken note.
"Left on their own, the first-termers could be a destabilizing element in the party presidential election," said one faction executive.
Koizumi, who has pushed for an LDP system that is not heavily influenced by party factions, has encouraged the rookies to remain "independent."
On Dec. 2, Koizumi held a meeting with the first-termers at his official residence to assure them of his support.
"The secretary-general and I will definitely create a structure for campaigning that will not require joining a faction," he told the group.
The party has hosted training sessions for the new lawmakers on policy and Diet affairs, and arranged meetings with business leaders. Koizumi even agreed to pose for campaign photos with each first-termer.
Still, about 30 of the new Lower House members have joined factions in the three months since the Sept. 11 Lower House election.
Their reasons vary. Some say the party training sessions were not enough to teach them how to handle requests from constituents or how to create personal political networks. Others said that not joining a faction would leave them out of the loop politically.
Some first-termers are trying to set up horizontal ties with their cohorts rather than rely on the vertical ties typical of a faction in the party.
Seiji Hagiwara, who quit as mayor of Okayama to run for the Lower House, joined nine other newcomers to set up a study group.
On Dec. 14, the group presented a proposal to revise the basic plan for equal gender opportunity to Kuniko Inoguchi, state minister in charge of gender equality and measures to deal with the declining birthrate.
In the past, it was unheard of for rookies to present policy proposals. Inoguchi, herself a first-term Lower House member, praised the group's move as capturing the essence of what politicians must do.
Another rookie group plans to submit a bill to the next Diet session to promote eco-tourism.
There is even a group of first-term female Lower House members debating new measures for agriculture.
Still, these rookies are finding it hard to ignore some political concerns.
For one thing, 14 of the 83 first-termers gained their seats exclusively through the proportional representation constituency.
The 14 fear that their ranking on the party roster in the next election could be left up to Koizumi's successor, whoever that may be.
Some rookies have not yet set up personal support groups, held fund-raisers or begun to seek corporate political donations--all vital steps to getting re-elected.
"Most of us, just under the surface, are thinking only about the next election," said a first-termer who gained a seat through the Tokai bloc of the proportional representation constituency after losing in the single-seat district.
But before that happens, the biggest political event is September's vote for Koizumi's successor.
During his Dec. 2 meeting, the prime minister told the newcomers: "The functions of factions will decline. I think it would be better if you just observed what they did for a year or so."
When asked Dec. 12 what he would do in the run-up to that election, Koizumi said, "I will support someone. I will have to use my single vote."
Some in the LDP fear that Koizumi's influence over his "children" could lead to the eventual formation of a new "Koizumi faction" comprising those members.
The first-termers have already formed what they call the "83 group," led by Masatada Tsuchiya.
"We will not unite in support for a specific candidate (in the presidential race)," Tsuchiya said.
But one rookie Lower House member said: "I plan to keep a close eye on what Koizumi does. It will be much easier to just follow what he does. And it will be easier to explain to voters."
Korematsu was seen as a traitor, a test case, an embarrassment and, finally, a hero.
The New York Times Magazine
December 25, 2005
Fred Korematsu | b. 1919
He Said No to Internment
By MATT BAI
In February 1942, a little more than two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which effectively decreed that West Coast residents of Japanese ancestry - whether American citizens or not - were now "enemy aliens." More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans reported to government staging areas, where they were processed and taken off to 10 internment camps. Fred Korematsu, the son of Japanese immigrants, was at the time a 23-year-old welder at Bay Area shipyards. His parents left their home and reported to a racetrack south of San Francisco, but Korematsu chose not to follow them. He stayed behind in Oakland with his Italian-American girlfriend and then fled, even having plastic surgery on his eyes to avoid recognition. In May 1942, he was arrested and branded a spy in the newspapers.
In search of a test case, Ernest Besig, then the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union for Northern California, went to see Korematsu in jail and asked if he would be willing to challenge the internment policy in court. Korematsu said he would. Besig posted $5,000 bail, but instead of freeing him, federal authorities sent him to the internment camp at Topaz, Utah. He and Besig sued the government, appealing their case all the way to the Supreme Court, which, in a 6-to-3 decision that stands as one of the most ignoble in its history, rejected his argument and upheld the government's right to intern its citizens.
After the war, Korematsu married, returned to the Bay Area and found work as a draftsman. He might have been celebrated in his community, the Rosa Parks of Japanese-American life; in fact, he was shunned. Even during his time in Topaz, other prisoners refused to talk to him. "Allof them turned their backs on me at that time because they thought I was a troublemaker," he later recalled. His ostracism didn't end with the war. The overwhelming majority of Japanese-Americans had reacted to the internment by acquiescing to the government's order, hoping to prove their loyalty as Americans. To them, Korematsu's opposition was treacherous to both his country and his community.
In the years after the war, details of the internment were lost behind a wall of repression. It was common for Japanese-American families not to talk about the experience, or to talk about it only obliquely. Korematsu, too, remained silent, but for different reasons. "He felt responsible for the internment in a sort of backhanded way, because his case had been lost in the Supreme Court," Peter Irons, a legal historian, recalled in a PBS documentary. Korematsu's own daughter has said she didn't learn of his wartime role until she was a junior in high school.
Korematsu might have faded into obscurity had it not been for Irons, who in 1981 asked the Justice Department for the original documents in the Korematsu case. Irons found a memo in which a government lawyer had accused the solicitor general of lying to the Supreme Court about the danger posed by Japanese-Americans. Irons tracked down Korematsu and asked if he would be willing, once again, to go to court.
Perhaps Korematsu had been waiting all those years for a chance to clear his name. Or maybe he saw, in Irons's entreaty, an opportunity to vindicate himself with other Japanese-Americans. Whatever his thinking, not only did Korematsu agree to return to court but he also became an ardent public critic of the internment.
When government lawyers offered Korematsu a pardon, he refused. "As long as my record stands in federal court," Korematsu, then 64, said in an emotional courtroom oration, "any American citizen can be held in prison or concentration camps without a trial or a hearing." The judge agreed, ruling from the bench that Korematsu had been innocent. Just like that, the legality of the internment was struck down forever.
In the last decade of his life, Korematsu became, for some Americans, a symbol of principled resistance. President Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. Six years later, outraged by the prolonged detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Korematsu filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, warning that the mistakes of the internment were being repeated. Still, Korematsu's place among contemporaries in his own community remained obscured by lingering resentments and a reluctance to revisit the past. When he died from a respiratory illness in March, not a single public building or landmark bore his name. It wasn't until last month that officials in Davis, Calif., dedicated the Fred Korematsu Elementary School. It was an especially fitting tribute for Korematsu, whose legacy rested with a generation of Japanese-Americans who were beginning to remember, at long last, what their parents had labored to forget.
上野千鶴子講演「ジェンダー・セクシュアリティ研究に何ができるか」の危うい公私論 mascka dot com
今度オークランドに行く時にはお気に入りのコリアンレストランに連れて行く予定のマサキくんによる The Survival 経由で上野千鶴子氏による講演「ジェンダー・セクシュアリティ研究に何ができるか？」を読む。「初学者にも上級者にも面白いものを」との要望に応え、いろいろな事を広く語る内容でかなり分かりやすい内容だけれど、そのうちセクシュアリティについて論じた部分に危ういものを感じたので以下にコメントする。また、上野氏の引用が気になって言及されている文献を読んでみたところ文献利用に疑問を感じたので、それについても述べることにする。なお、講演の全文が公開されているサイトにおいては「引用は一切許可できない」と書かれているけれど、許可を得なければいけない理由が思いつかないので勝手に引用する。
米国「トランスジェンダーを含むヘイトクライム法案」の舞台裏 - mascka dot com
TransNews Annex 経由で Washington Blade の記事「Frank says trans issue stalled Senate hate crime measure」(12/21/2005) という記事を読む。米国連邦法のヘイトクライム（特定の人種や性的指向などの集団への差別感情を動機として起こされる犯罪）防止条項を修正して保護対象を拡大する法案がいま審議されているけれど、上院でこの法案がスムースに通過しないのはトランスジェンダーの人たちまで保護対象に含めようとしているからだ、とバーニー・フランク下院議員が指摘しているという内容。フランク議員は米国の政界では最も有名な同性愛者だけれど、「トランスジェンダーの権利を主張するとゲイの権利までもが通らなくなる」としてトランスジェンダーの権利を後回しにする傾向があるので、今回も「またフランク議員か」という声がトランス・コミュニティからは聞こえる。と、これだけなら「トランスを切り離すことで自分たちだけいい思いをしようとするけしからんゲイ」というよくあるパターンなのだけれど、この法案を巡る攻防には裏やそのまた裏があるという話をワシントンＤＣで議員たちにロビー活動をしている友人から仕入れたのでレポートする。
US: Frank says trans issue stalled Senate hate crime measure
社説：均等法改正 男女差別のない職場に 朝日 2005/12/26
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA
December 22, 2005
Two Transgender Sex Workers Shot in Guatemala, One Fatally, by Men Believed to Be Police, Says Amnesty International
Organization Mobilizes Membership to Call for Investigations and Protection
(New York)--One transgender woman in Guatemala was killed and another remains in serious condition after both were shot in the head by men whom witnesses believe were police, Amnesty International said today.
"This is, sadly, only the latest in a string of murders of transgender people in Guatemala," said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "Once again, not only have police and government authorities failed to protect transgender people, but they also may be directly complicit in their deaths."
According to a local organization, there have been seven homicides of transgender sex workers in Guatemala City this year.
The incident occurred in the early hours of December 17th in Guatemala City, at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and 11th Street, when four men on motorbikes ordered two women to stop at an intersection, and then shot them. The women, Sulma (legal name Kevin Robles) and Paulina (legal name Juan Pablo Méndez Cartagena) were both transgender sex workers. Paulina was hit twice in the head; she died minutes later. Sulma was hit three times but survived, and is in serious but stable condition in a hospital. She can only speak with difficulty, as one of the bullets reportedly smashed all her front teeth.
Amnesty International is concerned that as Sulma witnessed the killing of Paulina, the attackers are likely to attempt to silence her. Authorities have not responded to requests to protect her.
Several other transgender sex workers witnessed the shooting, but are reportedly too scared to give testimony, fearing police reprisals. Police have reportedly been patrolling the streets near the shooting, in an apparent effort to intimidate the witnesses.
Since 1999 Sulma has been a member of, and worked as a volunteer for, the Guatemala City-based Organización de Apoyo a una Sexualidad Integral frente al SIDA, or Integral Sexuality AIDS Support Organization (OASIS), which works on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and provides support to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. Paulina had worked as a paid staff member for OASIS since 2004.
Amnesty International today mobilized its membership to contact Guatemalan authorities, calling for them to take immediate measures to protect Sulma in accordance with her own wishes, and to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the attack against Sulma and Paulina, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice. The organization also called for authorities to take immediate measures to end the intimidation of sex workers and LGBT people, and of those working with OASIS.
"The Guatemalan authorities need to hear that they have a responsibility to protect the basic human rights of all their citizens, including their LGBT citizens, and that their lack of responsiveness will not be tolerated," said Michael Heflin, director of OUTFront, AIUSA's program on LGBT human rights.
Amnesty International said that the LGBT community in Guatemala regularly faces attacks and threats; transgender sex workers have been particularly vulnerable to attack since October 1997, when Luis Palencia (known as María Conchita), an active member of OASIS, was shot dead. Police officers are often allegedly involved in attacks, raising fears of a clandestine policy of "social cleansing" within the police force, intended to drive sex workers off the streets.
Contact: Ben Somberg 212/633-4268 or Michael Heflin 646/247-7144
CHANGES FOR THE BETTER
- Ron Dicker
Sunday, December 25, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Felicity Huffman has nothing to prove in her portrayal of a man becoming a woman in "Transamerica." Even to San Francisco, home to an estimated 6,000 transsexuals. The quality of her acting, she says, "is for the transgender community to decide."
Huffman, 43, was nominated for two best-actress Golden Globes on Dec. 14 -- as Stanley/Bree in "Transamerica" and as the beleaguered mom Lynette in "Desperate Housewives," the series that has dominated America's water-cooler conversations since it premiered last year. A victory in either category would make a nice bookend with the Emmy Huffman won for "Housewives" this year.
In a phone interview from her car in Los Angeles, Huffman discusses the road to her most un-desperate situation: the dizzying night of winning the Emmy, the thank-yous from embattled housewives, the $250,000-an-episode salary that all the earnest indies in the world could never match. While she had a blip of recognition as a hard-nosed producer on the late-'90s sitcom "Sports Night" and in a guest stint on "Frasier" in 2003, "Desperate Housewives" and now "Transamerica" have changed everything.
The confluence of the two parts seemed almost cosmic. On the day she had her first reading for "Desperate Housewives," Huffman got the call from "Transamerica" writer-director Duncan Tucker that she'd gotten the part. Five days after the movie wrapped, Huffman was on the set to shoot the first season of "Housewives."
For anyone on the cusp of a breakthrough in series TV, "Transamerica" could be considered a gamble. Never stooping to caricature, Huffman plays Bree as an uptight, overeducated middle-aged matron -- who just happens to have an extra body part. Before the hormone-flooded Bree has surgery, she drives across the country in a soul-baring journey with a teenage son she never knew she had.
"I'm not a beauty. That's not my thing. So it wasn't like I was risking anything," says Huffman, whose small frame and angular face have won her more than a few brainy roles. "What I was risking is whether I could do it. There are many places to fall."
To help get into character, Huffman enlisted "Andy," a prosthetic penis she bought at a New York sex shop and stuffed into her girdle to do a urinating scene in the film. She interviewed transsexuals to nail the nuances, but she says the toughest work came in presenting Bree's emotional transformation. Bree disguises herself as a church missionary when she plucks her son from a life of street hustling in New York.
"Bree's change takes place not when she has her sexual reassignment but when her heart breaks open," Huffman says.
Filming in New York allowed Huffman around-the-clock absorption while her husband, Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy ("Fargo"), took care of their 3- and 5-year-old daughters. Macy came on board as executive producer after the film wrapped to give it "juice," Huffman says. He corralled Harvey Weinstein into a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Weinstein bought the distribution rights for his new company.
In barnstorming the festival circuit (including the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival), she says she sensed that her instinct-over-method approach connected.
"There have been usually one or two transgender people (at each festival) who stop me afterward and talk about the movie and say that it meant a lot to them and they're really glad a woman played the role," she says. "If it couldn't be a transgender woman, they're really glad it was a woman."
While sex changes have not become a dramatic thread weaving through the weekly travails on Wisteria Lane, some critics have complained that "Desperate Housewives" has weakened in its second season. Huffman counters that, this being the United States, everybody is entitled to an opinion.
As for rumors of dissension with co-stars Nicollette Sheridan, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria and Marcia Cross, Huffman denies them.
"They were waiting for us to fight before we even started airing," she says. "I mean, it was last year before we even got on the air, and we were reading rags, and I'd say, 'Look, Nicollette. I'm in a fight with you.' "
Her inner unemployed actress keeps Huffman from getting too giddy about prime-time supremacy, even if producers are already interviewing directors for the series' next season. And, like Lynette, juggling kids and work doesn't leave her the time.
"I'm completely at sea and drowning and unprepared all of the time," she says. "I haven't figured it out at all."
"Transamerica" (R) opened this weekend in Bay Area theaters.
Ron Dicker is a freelance writer.