TV & Radio
USA: Police abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Press release, 2006/03/23
Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people across the USA are victims of a system that fuels discrimination and facilitates torture, ill-treatment and impunity, said Amnesty International today as it launched a report on police abuses against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The report “Stonewalled – Still demanding respect” is based on interviews conducted by Amnesty International (AI) between 2003 and 2005 with members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, victims of gender-based violence, survivors of police abuse, activists, lawyers and law enforcement officials across the US.
“The interviews reveal a very clear and worrying pattern. Cases of beatings, sexual violence, verbal abuse, harassment and humiliation by law enforcement officials against LGBT people take place on any given day in detention centres, prisons, in the home, and on the street,” said Amnesty International.
In 2004 a women from Athens, Georgia, said she was forced into her apartment at gunpoint by a former County Deputy and raped because she is a lesbian. She said the officer vowed to “teach her a lesson”.
Within the LGBT community in the USA, transgender people, members of ethnic or racial minorities, young people and immigrants are particular targets of police abuse.
A Native American transgender woman told AI that in October 2003 she was stopped in Los Angeles by two police officers as she was walking along the street in the early hours of the morning. According to her testimony, the officers handcuffed her and drove her in the police car to an alley off Hollywood Boulevard where she was beaten, verbally abused and raped. After her ordeal she was thrown to the ground and told "that's what you deserve."
Despite the significant progress over recent decades in the recognition of LGBT rights in the USA, persistent discriminatory attitudes have created a situation in which abuse of LGBT people is frequently dismissed as "normal".
Victims often do not report police brutality and other crimes against them because they fear hostile or abusive response from the police and because, as they know, many reported abuses are not properly and impartially investigated.
"There are still some discriminatory laws; but the bigger problem is the discriminatory way in which many laws are applied, which often results in the arrest and detention of individuals just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Amnesty International.
In December 2003, a young African-American gay activist was waiting at a bus stop when Chicago police officers arrested him allegedly for loitering with intent to solicit. Despite providing identification and corroborating information from the organization he represents, he was detained for two days.
“Effective reform requires the backing of the highest ranks. There needs to be a fundamental understanding of the right to freely express one’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Amnesty International.
Amnesty International is calling on US federal and state authorities to take action to prevent discriminatory application of the law, to investigate all allegations of sexual, physical and verbal abuse against LGBT people by their officials and to bring those responsible to justice.
Amnesty International’s report is part of a campaign on the issue of police abuse against LGBT people in the USA launched in September 2005.
Amnesty International will also be presenting its range of concerns about the situation of human rights in the USA to the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee during 2006.
For a copy of the report “Stonewalled – Still demanding respect: Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the USA”, please see: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr510012006
For further media materials, please see: http://news.amnesty.org/
March 23, 2006 11:41 AM
Gays and lesbians to pressure U.N. on recognition
GENEVA (Reuters) - A global body representing gays and lesbians said on Monday it would seek to bring pressure on the United Nations for full recognition of their human rights at a conference in Geneva next week.
The Brussels-based International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) said the conference, held every two years in different locations, would be addressed by delegates from all continents, including countries where homosexuality is banned.
"How long can lesbian and gay rights be ignored at the U.N.? That is one of the key questions we will be addressing," said a spokesman for ILGA, Stephen Barris. "We will be discussing how we can get an official voice at last."
The conference will coincide with next week's planned session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, where last year a draft resolution on the gay rights issue presented by Brazil and backed by over 40 countries was dropped amid fierce opposition.
But the opening of the six-week annual session of the 53-nation Commission, due to be replaced this year by a new Human Rights Council, has already been postponed twice and diplomats said it may only meet for a few days at most.
The 2005 Brazilian draft -- designed to formally include freedom of sexual orientation among the human rights that the Commission was set up 50 years ago to defend -- was strongly condemned by Muslim and African countries.
In January, a U.N. committee in New York handling accreditation to the world body for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) rejected an application from ILGA without debate amid similar opposition.
ILGA, founded in 1978 and uniting 500 groups in dozens of countries, said the problems for gays and lesbians in African and Islamic countries would top the agenda next week. There will be delegates from both regions.
A special session would be held for activists and organisations "who seek to organise courageously in the Islamic world," a statement from the organisation said. But it indicated it would aim to avoid head-on confrontation.
"ILGA is aware of the increasing Islamophobia in the West and has always been careful to differentiate itself from those activists who failed to be sensitive on this issue," the statement declared.
Africa, it said, would be central to the conference, with special attention to developments in Nigeria -- where gays and lesbians are fiercely condemned both in the mainly Muslim north and the largely Christian south.
Also attending will be representatives of the U.N.'s World Health Organisation for discussion on AIDS prevention, and of global labour union bodies for debates on discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace.
New Push To Get LGBT Rights On UN Agenda
2006/03/23 07:35 朝鮮日報
「軍服務中の同性愛者を保護」 中央日報・日本語版 2006/03/22
Poll: Acceptance of Gay Marriage Up
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The public backlash over gay marriage has receded since a controversial decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003 to legalize those marriages stirred strong opposition, says a poll released Wednesday.
Gay marriage remains a divisive issue, with 51 percent opposing it, the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found. But almost two-thirds, 63 percent, opposed gay marriage in February 2004.
"Most Americans still oppose gay marriage, but the levels of opposition are down and the number of strong opponents are down," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. "This has some implications for the midterm elections if this trend is maintained. There are gay marriage ballot initiatives in numerous states."
Gay marriage got intense media coverage in 2004 after the Massachusetts court case, the decision by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to issue thousands of marriage licenses to gay couples and similar cases. But the intense focus on gay marriage has declined in the last year.
In 2004, opponents of gay marriage were able to pass ballot initiatives banning the practice in 11 states, from Georgia to Oregon. Those gay marriage initiatives also helped conservatives rally their voters to the polls.
The number of people who say they strongly oppose gay marriage has dropped from 42 percent in early 2004 to 28 percent now. Strong opposition has dropped sharply among senior citizens and Republicans.
People are now evenly split on allowing adoptions by gay couples and six in 10 now favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
Legal challenges of laws on gay marriage could result in more court decisions that stir public opinion, but this midterm election year is starting with far less public anxiety about one of the nation's most volatile social issues.
The telephone poll of 1,405 adults was conducted March 8-12 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
On the Net:
Pew Research Center: http://www.people-press.org
Less Opposition to Gay Marriage, Adoption and Military Service
Only 34% Favor South Dakota Abortion Ban
Released: March 22, 2006
2006年 03月 22日 水曜日 17:29 JST
［クウェート ２１日 ロイター］ 性転換手術を受け女性になったクウェート人の元男性が性別変更の公式な認定を求めていた裁判で、クウェートの最高裁判所は２０日、この訴えを退けた。女性とは認められないとする下級裁判所の判決を支持したもの。法廷関係者が２１日明らかにした。
Khaleej Times Online >> News >> MIDDLE EAST
Kuwait court refuses to recognise sex change
21 March 2006
KUWAIT - Kuwait’s highest court has upheld a ruling refusing to recognise as female a man who underwent sex-change surgery almost six years ago, judicial sources said on Tuesday.
They told Reuters the court late on Monday upheld a lower court’s ruling against Kuwaiti national Ahmed Dousari, in his 30s, barring any official recognition of his new gender.
Dousari underwent the procedure in 2000 in Bangkok and changed his name to Amal (Arabic for Hope) after returning home.
Dousari’s landmark petition for recognition was upheld by a court in 2004 based on medical reports and forensic examination.
But the ruling was overturned on appeal the same year after Islamist lawyers and political activists opposed the judgment, saying it would open the door for more such operations, which they consider immoral.
Web posted at: 11:18 JST
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 21, 2006
Press Conference of the President
James S. Brady Briefing Room
10:01 A.M. EST
Q Mr. President, two years ago, Gavin Newsom, the Mayor of San Francisco, heard your State of the Union address, went back to California, and began authorizing the marriage of gay men and lesbians. Thousands of people got married. The California courts later ruled he had overstepped his bounds. But they were -- we were left with these pictures of thousands of families getting married, and they had these children, thousands of children. Now, that might have changed the debate, but it didn't. In light of that, my question is, are you still confident that society's interest and the interest of those children in gay families are being met by government saying their parents can't marry?
THE PRESIDENT: I believe society's interest are met by saying -- defining marriage as between a man and a woman. That's what I believe.
同性愛者に養子認めず～縁組禁止令が全米に拡大 - US フロントライン
from the March 15, 2006 edition
Several states weigh ban on gay adoptions
Catholic Charities' move to stop adoption work focuses new attention on same-sex couples who adopt children.
By Amanda Paulson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
My Side of the Mountain
A gay-themed film becomes a surprise hit in Korea.
By Mark Russell
March 27, 2006 issue - Like "Brokeback Mountain," South Korea's "The King and the Clown" is a mainstream movie featuring homosexual characters that urges viewers to put the story ahead of sexual politics. But unlike the highly publicized "Brokeback," the $4.2 million "King and the Clown," produced by Eagle Pictures, emerged from obscurity. It's since become the biggest film in Korean history, seen by 12 million of the country's 47 million citizens. That translates into $77.5 million at the box office; by comparison, the highest-grossing foreign film ever shown in Korea, "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," made only $38 million. "Before the première, we knew it was good," says director Lee Jun-ik. "We hoped it might sell 5 million tickets. But nobody could have predicted what happened."
Fantastic word of mouth has fueled the film's success. Despite being a period drama devoid of big-name stars, "The King and the Clown" has sparked enough buzz to draw swelling crowds week after week. Set 500 years ago, it's the story of two traveling entertainers—the macho Jang-seng and the effeminate Gong-gil—who become official performers in the royal palace. The movie skillfully mixes comedy and drama, against a fast-paced backdrop of high-wire acrobatics and clown culture, and has obviously struck a chord with audiences.
The gay scenes are subtle but not sugarcoated. When the movie begins, an unscrupulous troupe leader is pimping Gong-gil to lecherous nobles for food. In the palace, King Yon-san leaves his concubine because he is so fixated on the feminine Gong-gil. As with "Brokeback," filmmakers focused on the human nature of the relationships , which many in the conservative country found liberating. "While I was sitting in the theater, I thought, Oh, my god, director Lee, thank you so much," says gay actor Hong Suk-chun, who was virtually blackballed from television when he was outed five years ago.
"The King and the Clown" is paving the way for other gay-themed movies. On March 1, "Brokeback Mountain" was released, selling a modest but respectable 150,000 tickets so far. Last week, the Japanese indie film "La Maison do Himiko," which also deals with homosexuality, opened and quickly sold 70,000 tickets. "In terms of audience reaction, 'The King and the Crown' definitely helped," says Josh Lee, vice president of international sales at CJ Entertainment, which imported "Brokeback" to Korea—and is selling "The King and the Clown" abroad. Soon, the rest of the world will get to see what all the buzz is about
３月２１日、オランダで同性愛者とイスラム教徒のサッカーの試合が行われた（２００６年 ロイター/Michael Kooren）
2006年 03月 22日 水曜日 08:29 JST
［アムステルダム ２１日 ロイター］ オランダのアムステルダムでは２１日、同性愛者とイスラム教徒が参加したサッカーのトーナメントが開催された。
Match of today: gay v Muslim
Emma Thomasson in Amsterdam
Wednesday March 22, 2006
A Muslim team played a gay side at football yesterday in an event held to counter the Netherlands' rising homophobia, which is often blamed on immigrants.
"There is tension between the gay and Muslim communities and a lot of this tension comes from ignorance," Frank van Dalen, head of an umbrella group of gay groups, said. "We want to show we can live with each other."
Dutch social tensions have risen in the Netherlands since the 2002 murder of the openly gay anti-immigration populist Pim Fortuyn. High-profile attacks on gay people in Amsterdam last year stoked a debate about homophobia.
The tournament was part of a conference on fighting discrimination against immigrants who come out as gay, particularly prejudice from Muslim people against gay Muslims. As well as gay men playing Muslims, women played Latin American men, but lost 8-0.
The Muslims beat the gay team 4-0 and then went on to win the final 4-1.
Same-sex marriage numbers settle down in Netherlands
20 March 2006 - Expatica
AMSTERDAM — The number of same-sex marriages has stabilised since the introduction of gay marriage in the Netherlands five years ago.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) said on Monday 1,166 gay and lesbian couples got married in 2005, compared with 1,210 the year before. Demographics professor Jan Latten at the CBS expects approximately 1,200 gay or lesbian marriages in 2006 as the marriage rate so far this year is at the same lvel as this time last year.
Some 2,414 gay or lesbian couples married in 2001 when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage. There was also a rush to the registry office the following year when 1,838 same-sex couples tied the knot.
"There was an element of hype in 2001. Lots of people who had already been together for 30 or 40 years got married," he said. The numbers peaked in 2002.
"After that it decreased. Everyone asked how this was possible because the opening up of marriage seemed to be so popular. It appears this peak was the 'start-up' effect. The figures in 2004 and 2005 were roughly equal," Latten said.
Latten expects the marriage impulse has stabilised in the gay and lesbian communities and the annual marriage rates will be similar from now on.
Gay people get married less than heterosexuals mainly because gay people less often have children than heterosexuals. "Children are still often the reason for getting married," Latten said.
The divorce figures compiled by the CBS do not differ for heterosexual and same-sex couples. The CBS said it is noteworthy, however, that married lesbians who divorce tend to do so earlier than married gay men.
The total number of marriages - heterosexual and same-sex - has fallen noticeably in the last five years. In 2001 82,091 couples married compared with 73,861 last year.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
'Maybe I'll be a feminist in my old age'
She quit London for New York after being hounded by the press. Five years later, Björk has a new relationship and a new baby. But, she confesses, she's still homesick for the British sense of humour
Sunday March 13, 2005
It's impossible to be neutral about Björk. Her critics certainly have plenty of ammunition. She eats roast puffin. She has a bonkers fashion sense and speaks in a mix of Nordic and Mockney. Spitting Image made a puppet of her. She had a very public fight at Bangkok airport with a photographer who got too close to her son (images of Björk banging the woman's head on the floor went round the world). Director Lars Von Trier even claimed she tried to eat her dress during filming of Dancer in the Dark .
But for many people, her arrival on the late-Eighties British music scene (as part of the Icelandic punk band, the Sugarcubes; then as a solo artist) was a breath of fresh air. We'd not seen such an exotic, counterculture figure - one who wore plaits for heaven's sake - since the days of Lene Lovich. Broadly speaking, women in rock are 'babes' or 'troubled', but the image of Björk sprinting down the street in Spike Jonze's 1995 video, It's So Quiet (performing dance steps from a 1940s MGM musical) made it clear she has no time for sexual stereotypes. Neither model-thin, nor conventionally gorgeous, her stage charm rests on her sheer vitality.
Her only 'weak' spot seemed to be her relationships with men. Her marriage to Sugarcubes bassist Thor Eldon ended when their son was only a baby (she was a single mother at 22). There were broken engagements to bad boys, Goldie and Tricky, but no one seemed to match her intellectually. Then, four years ago, she met the American multi-media artist Matthew Barney (best known for his surreal Cremaster Cycle of films). Today, they live in Noel Coward's old house across the Hudson from Manhattan, with their baby daughter, Isadora. It seems a marriage of true eccentrics. Barney is a master provocateur (in 2003, he filled New York's Guggenheim with tapioca, petroleum jelly and beeswax) and he has worked as an athlete, model and medic - so one senses conversation is never dull.
The couple guard their privacy fiercely, but for the first time they are working together. Björk is writing a soundtrack for Barney's new film, Drawing Restraint 9, to be premiered in June in Japan. 'It's really liberating to do a project that's not just about me,' she enthuses. 'I mean I love being a very personal singer-songwriter, but I also like being a scientist or explorer.'
When I arrive for the interview, she is sprawled on the sofa, shoes off, eating tuna salad (no puffin today). She has flown in unexpectedly to talk about two new projects close to her heart. First she is releasing a DVD of videos filmed for her latest album, Medulla, widely regarded as a return to form. It's full of images of Björk dressed in a 50kg Alexander McQueen dress covered in tiny bells, and also as a hay bale (don't ask). Best of all is a spoof documentary following the making of Jonze's video for her single, Triumph of a Heart, an everyday tale of a woman and her commitment-phobic lover (played by a tabby cat called Nietzsche). The action winds up in a mad Icelandic bar with Björk's artist friends downing vodka and yodelling. It's the equivalent of a pub crawl with Björk.
Of course she was working with Jonze and Michel Gondry long before they became Hollywood stars. We talk about the success of Gondry's film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. 'Michel did a great work there. He gave Kate [Winslet] who's obviously such a huge spirit, such a vivacious lady, so much space. Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged in by male energy. But she could be at her full volume without restrictions.' A contrast, one senses with von Trier, who loves brutalising his actresses.
A true fashion radical, Björk champions designers like Rei Kawakubo and Sophia Kokosalaki (who made the 'curtain' she wore to the 2004 Olympics). She would never wear jeans and a T-shirt, she says, because they are 'a symbol of white American imperialism, like drinking Coca-Cola'. Her most famous fashion faux pas was wearing a swan outfit to the 2000 Oscars (she claims it was a conceptual joke). Does she ever tire of being eccentric? 'It's like music. So long as it's a form of self-expression, I'm quite into it, but not when it becomes about power status. I do try and wear stuff by unknown designers, and I make sure I pay because if nothing else I have money.'
Today she is wearing a vintage yellow garment that is very nearly a dress, accessorised with an orange tracksuit top, silver shoes and gold handbag. A dusting of blue eyeshadow highlights her feathery eyebrows and wonderful flat cheekbones. She looks lovely. But she is also endearingly fidgety: scratching like a small child, twisting in her chair and trying to keep her dress this side of modest.
And yet one senses a new seriousness. Björk's other project is a charity album, with all proceeds going to Unicef. It is a collection of cover versions and mixes of her 1995 song, Army of Me (the most covered Björk track ever). She posted a message on her website giving fans a week to submit tracks, then whittled 600 down to 20. With its defiant lyrics ('And if you complain once more, you'll meet an army of me'), the song is classic Björk: brutal yet tender. And it has inspired an extraordinary mix of interpretations - from Canadian extreme metal to country.
She says it humbled her: 'I was on the 12th floor in Manhattan listening to all the versions, and I could see into all these windows. I suddenly realised that in all the bedrooms all around the world, there are people so busy doing so many things. After that, I stopped walking past houses thinking, "Oh this is just a place where people are couch potatoes and lead mundane lives".'
She'd been planning the charity album for several years, but the devastation of the tsunami in South East Asia proved the catalyst. Why does she think we responded so strongly when other humanitarian disasters are ignored? 'I think because it happened just a month after the Bush election, it made people think they really had a say in rebuilding things, that they could make a difference. For the first time since the Vietnam War there seems a universal feeling among common people that they don't agree with the people who are ruling the world.'
A self-confessed 'punk anarchist', she found herself politicised by the Iraq war. 'People like me who don't follow the news that much, suddenly I was looking online every day, just to see what was going on. I don't know about you, but whatever I was doing, having dinner with music people or plumbers (a lot of my family are electricians and carpenters), everyone was talking about the war and how they disagreed with it - or agreed with it, but everyone had a position. So although it has been destructive and disastrous, the good thing is that people actually want to have a say.
'A lot of the time I get obsessed by little nerdy things in my corner that no one else is interested in. I have that nerd factor in my character. So for once I was interested in something everyone else was interested in. I'm not going to talk like I know about politics, because I'm a total amateur, but maybe I can be a spokesperson for people who aren't normally interested in politics.'
Her last album Medulla was certainly her most political - but in a unique way. She came up with an a capella album featuring only human voices: yodelling, beatbox, Icelandic choral music. It was, she says, a way to counter 'stupid American racism and patriotism' after 9/11. 'I was saying, "What about the human soul? What happened before we got involved in problematic things like civilisation and religion and nationhood?"'
The other major influence on Medulla (Latin for 'marrow') was Björk's pregnancy with Isadora: the album is full of touching, visceral songs about birth. 'I became really aware of my muscles and bones. Your body just takes over and does incredible things.' Now 39, Björk is an example of a modern gap mother, with a three-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son (Sindri now lives with his father in Reykjavik, where Björk also spends part of the year).
'It's interesting for me to bring up a girl. You go to the toy store and the female characters there - Cinderella, the lady in Beauty and the Beast - their major task is to find Prince Charming. And I'm like, wait a minute - it's 2005! We've fought so hard to have a say, and not just live through our partners, and yet you're still seeing two-year-old girls with this message pushed at them that the only important thing is to find this amazing dress so that the guy will want you. It's something my mum pointed out to me when I was little - so much that I almost threw up - but she's right.'
She's open about the problems of balancing family and work. 'It's incredible how nature sets females up to take care of people, and yet it is tricky for them to take care of themselves.' Slightly to her astonishment she is becoming interested in women's rights. Because of her mother's own militancy - 'she wouldn't enter the kitchen, I mean come on' - she reacted the other way, adoring housework, knitting and sewing.
But recently, 'I have been noticing how much harder it is for me and my girlfriends to juggle things than it is for men. In the 1990s, there was a lot of optimism: we thought we'd finally sorted out equal rights for men and women ... and then suddenly it just crashed. I think this is my first time in all the hundreds of interviews I've done, that I've actually jumped on the feminist bandwagon. In the past I always wanted to change the subject. But I think now it's time to bring up all these issues. I wish it wasn't, but I'll do it, I'm up for doing the dirty work!'
Will it inspire new songs? 'It's definitely brewing inside me. Maybe if Medulla was my personal, idiosyncratic statement about politics, whatever I do next is going to be my eccentric view of feminism. It's like any major upheaval, whether it's the revolution in France or punk for me in the 1970s, you break up all the corruption and fuck up all the bad things, so you can start really fresh. But it's the law of nature that it all settles again, so you have to keep checking yourself. You can't ever say, "OK, we sorted out corruption and everyone is equal." So I might become a feminist in my old age!'
Born Björk Gudmundsdottir in Reykjavik in 1965, she grew up in a hippy commune with her mother and stepfather, a blues musician. 'I was brought up feeling that my mother had sacrificed herself for me. Fortunately she's now got a little business doing homeopathy from home, but she's almost 60. I'm still desperate to get over that sense of guilt. I don't want my baby to feel that.'
An infant prodigy, she released her first album aged 11 and was touring the world by 18, when the Sugarcubes' first single Birthday went global. She spent years living in London, but decamped to New York in 2000, driven out by British tabloids and a terrible incident where a 21-year-old 'fan' videotaped his own suicide after mailing an acid bomb to her record company.
Like fellow emigré David Bowie, she prefers the anonymity of New York, 'where they only have one tabloid, not four all competing against each other'. She says that she resolutely avoids celebrity parties but one day might like to run a music school for children. 'Part of me is probably more conservative than people realise. I like my old string quartets, I don't like music that's trippy for trippy's sake.' I say she seems slightly wistful about being back in London. Does she miss us? 'I love England. It's no coincidence it's the first place I moved to for a more cosmopolitan life, which is the only thing Iceland lacks. You can be a very critical, unforgiving people, you knock people down when you should be cheering. But criticism can be good. And this is a country that loves comedy. I saw a poll this week of top BBC moments, and the first five were all from comedies like The Office and Monty Python. You are very good at skimming corruption off the top and revealing the integrity inside. In Britain things have to be pure,' she grins, 'You just don't get away with bullshitting.'
· Medulla: DVD and Army of Me are released in May on One Little Indian Records.
ビョーク、フェミニズムを語る (Boozer from Hellさまによる日本語訳)