TV & Radio
Gay pop star's "coming out" causes stir in Mexico
By Greg Brosnan
Sat Mar 3, 8:41 PM ET
A 22-year-old pop star's announcement that he is gay, making him the first high-profile member of Mexico's show-business elite to "come out" in public, has caused a stir in the deeply conservative Catholic country.
Christian Chavez, one of six members of the glitzy pop band RBD, told fans he was homosexual after photographs were published on a gossip Web site purporting to show him tying the knot with his partner in a ceremony in Canada.
"Certain photographs were released that show a part of me, a part that I was not prepared to speak of in fear of rejection, of criticism," he said in a statement on the group's Web site (www.grupo-rbd.com).
"I don't want to keep on lying and lie to myself because of fear," he said.
The news was splashed across the front pages of most Mexican newspapers on Saturday along with photographs of Chavez with the pink spiked hair that makes him stand out among the members of the band that grew out of a popular soap opera.
Homosexuality is still barely out of the closet in most of Mexico, where sugary boy-meets-girl telenovelas heavily influence notions of love and romance and many in the Roman Catholic Church strongly oppose gay unions.
Media pundits doubted Chavez would have spoken out were it not for the photographs, but praised his courage in a conservative nation where few artists admit to being gay.
"Christian Chavez showed a lot of bravery," columnist Yuriria Sierra wrote in Excelsior newspaper. "Why has no Mexican public figure ... felt comfortable enough to openly express their sexual preference?"
Mexican gay rights activist Sergio Villarreal said it was understandable previous generations of gay artists had kept their sexuality a secret for fear of public rejection, but hoped Chavez's courage would set a new example for the young.
"This young man represents a new way of seeing things, less prejudiced and more open," he said. "Christian Chavez's decision symbolizes this new way of seeing life and raises hope of a more inclusive future with more respect for differences."
FANS' LOVE 'BIGGER THAN ALL OF THIS'
RBD grew out of the television soap opera "Rebelde" (Rebel), set in an elite Mexico City boarding school where the three boy and three girl members of the group starred as students who go against the grain by starting a band.
Chavez said he hoped his fans would understand.
"Although I'm scared and filled with uncertainty I know that I can rely on the support of my fans, their love is bigger than all of this," he said.
Young Mexicans' feelings were mixed.
"It's fine, people have the right to choose, you can't force anybody to be something they're not," Juan Blancas, 17, said on Saturday as he gave out fliers in a Mexico City mall.
"I say no, it's really not on," 16-year-old Carla Gonzalez said as she walked past a music shop with a friend, adding, "You couldn't tell."
［メキシコ市 ３日 ロイター］ メキシコの人気ポップグループ「ＲＢＤ」のメンバー、クリスチャン・チャベスさん（２２）が同性愛を告白したことについて、カトリック教徒の多い同国では波紋が広がっている。
Japan won't apologize again for WW2 sex slaves: PM
Sun Mar 4, 2007 11:20 PM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday Japan will not apologize again for forcing women to act as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers in World War 2 even if a U.S. House of Representatives resolution demanding an apology is adopted.
But Abe said he stood by a 1993 Japanese government apology that acknowledged that the military played a role in setting up and managing wartime brothels and that coercion was used.
"I have to say that even if the resolution passes, that doesn't mean we will apologize," Abe told a parliamentary panel, reiterating the government stance that the U.S. resolution contains factual errors.
Abe has said since becoming prime minister last September that he stands by the 1993 apology, a statement he repeated on Monday. This has disappointed many of his conservative supporters who shared his past criticism of the statement.
But last week, Abe sparked a fierce reaction from South Korea when he appeared to question the degree to which physical coercion was involved in recruiting the women for the brothels.
"There is no evidence to back up that there was coercion as defined initially," he told reporters on Thursday, apparently referring to accusations that the Imperial Army had kidnapped women and put them in brothels to serve soldiers.
On Monday, he said there seemed to have been some apparent cases of coercion, such as by middlemen, but added: "It was not as though military police broke into peoples' homes and took them away like kidnappers."
On Saturday, South Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement saying Abe's denial of coercion was regrettable and cast doubt on the sincerity of Japan's previous apology.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said on Monday that the government stood firmly by the 1993 apology.
"Looking at the various media coverage and comments, I believe they were not based on an appropriate interpretation," he told a news conference.
U.S. House of Representatives member Michael Honda, a California Democrat, has introduced a non-binding resolution calling on the Japanese government to "formally and unambiguously apologize for and acknowledge the tragedy that comfort women endured at the hands of its Imperial Army during World War Two".
"Comfort women" is a Japanese euphemism for the estimated 200,000 mostly Asian women forced to provide sex for Japan's soldiers at battle-zone brothels during the war.
Honda, one of a handful of U.S. lawmakers of Japanese descent, has said he is alarmed at efforts by some conservatives in Japan to withdraw or revise the government's earlier admission of a state role in the brothel system.
A group of ruling party lawmakers was set to urge the government to water down parts of the apology and had drawn up a report on changes it wanted made, the Yomiuri Shimbun said last Thursday.
But Shiozaki said he did not believe this was the case, adding: "I don't think there are efforts being made to amend or retract the statement."
Anti-gay discrimination fuels HIV/AIDS in Africa: report
Thu Mar 1, 11:30 AM ET
African governments are denying access to HIV prevention, counseling, testing and treatment to gay, bisexuals and transgender people, according to a new report.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in a report entitled 'Off the Map' said same-sex practicing couples are being denied basic human rights.
Africa is the continent hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. With slightly more than 10 percent of the world's population, it is home to 60 percent, or more than 25 million people, living with
"But nearly a quarter of a century into the epidemic, there is a wall of silence that surrounds AIDS and same-sex practices that may prove to be a significant obstacle to conquering the disease," according to the 124-page report by New York based- non-governmental organization.
"Same-sex transmission of HIV in Africa has been under-counted, under-researched and under-funded," it added.
The report lists numerous cases where African gays and lesbians have been denied treatment, ridiculed and embarrassed and described the double discrimination of being homosexual and HIV positive.
Cary Alan Johnson, the author of the report, said the denial of homosexuality in Africa contributes to the human rights violations against gay people and increases their vulnerability.
"Homophobic stigma, the denial of homosexuality, and legislation that criminalizes same-sex behavior, all serve to push the issue of same-sex HIV transmission further underground, and drastically limit HIV services," Johnson said.
"All of the social inequalities and prejudices increase the vulnerability of gay and lesbian people. If that vulnerability is not addressed...the entire AIDS prevention programs that African governments are committing to are threatened," he added in an interview.
The report urges governments in Africa to repeal all laws that criminalize same sex consensual behavior. In countries which have no anti-homosexuality laws, it calls on leaders to end the arrest, harassment and persecution of people because of their sexual orientation.
Other recommendations include training healthcare professionals to ensure they respect the right of patients and the appointment of specialists in same-sex HIV issues.
"We want African governments to use their resources from their own coffers and from international donors to fund programs that address the issue of HIV prevention among gay and lesbian Africans," Johnson added.
IGLHRC’s New Study Reveals How Anti-Gay Discrimination Fuels HIV/AIDS Crisis in Africa
Date: March1, 2007 Africa » USA » Press Release
Shocking testimony on how medical staff humiliated an HIV positive gay patient: “He died in part, I think, because he had no place to go.”
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Hossein Alizadeh 212-430-6016 firstname.lastname@example.org
(New York, NY, March 1, 2007) –The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today published a new study, Off the Map, which for the first time reveals how African governments and the global HIV/AIDS policy and funding community is denying basic human rights to same-sex practicing people in Africa. The report documents some shocking examples of how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are denied access to effective HIV prevention, counseling and testing, treatment, and care.
Off the Map is the result of a year-long research project conducted through interviews with leaders of African lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations, international aid officials, HIV/AIDS project managers, and health care providers. The study also takes advantage of existing scholarly works in this area, and policy documents produced by international agencies and government bureaus. The report highlights the fact that,
“Africa, a continent with slightly more than ten percent of the world’s population, is home to 60 percent, or more than 25 million people, of those living with HIV…[the disease] is having a decidedly harsh effect on same-sex practicing people. But nearly a quarter of a century into the epidemic, there is a wall of silence that surrounds AIDS and same-sex practices that may prove to be a significant obstacle to conquering the disease.”
Multiple testimonies in the report demonstrate how homophobia limits the access of African gays to HIV/AIDS programs. K.S., a 23-year-old gay man in Mombasa, Kenya reported that he was chased out of a public health clinic when he asked to be examined for an anal STI. Romeo Tshuma, a Zimbabwean human rights activist, remembers accompanying a gay friend to a health care center in Harare to seek treatment for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), where, “the nurses were not helpful.... They embarrassed him, after that he wouldn’t go to a hospital because of the embarrassment. He died in part, I think, because he had no place to go.”
Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s Senior Specialist for Africa and the author of the reports believes that the widespread denial of homosexuality in Africa contributes to human rights violations against African LGBT and increases the HIV vulnerabilities of gay people, “Homophobic stigma, the denial of homosexuality, and legislation that criminalizes same-sex behavior, all serve to push the issue of same-sex HIV transmission further underground, and drastically limit HIV services.”
IGLHRC’s new publication calls for specific actions by the U.S. government and other major international donors, international AIDS service organizations, private volunteer groups, and national and local African authorities to improve the access of LGBT in Africa to HIV prevention, treatment, and care services.
IGLHRC plans to use the findings of this report to push for a more comprehensive and equitable solution for the HIV crisis in Africa. “Off the Map offers specific solutions to address the roots of failure of HIV policies in Africa,” said Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “In the next few months, we will work with our domestic and international partners to educate policy makers on the devastating impact of their HIV programs on the LGBT population in Africa. We hope that they will take steps to correct the injustice against African LGBT people affected by HIV.”
To mark the official launch of the report, IGLHRC will be hosting an expert panel in New York City. Co-sponsored by Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Gay Men of African Descent, and New York State Black Gay Network, the event will be held at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center on March 1, 2007, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. More details on this event are available on IGLHRC’s website.
The preface to the124-page report was written by South African Supreme Court Justice Edwin Cameron. The report is available in a digital PDF version and in hard copy. For more information about this book and how to receive a copy, please visit IGLHRC’s website (www.iglhrc.org)
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in San Francisco and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information.