Malaysia: Reform leader arrested again

Global News Notes

by Jack Kirven    
Published: July 26, 2008 in Beyond the Carolinas

Reform leader arrested again
KUALA LAMPUR, Malaysia — This Southeast Asian nation is experiencing heightened political divisions and tensions resulting from a gain in power by opposition forces seeking to wrest control from the ruling parties. This past Spring, Anwar Ibrahim led the opposition People’s Justice Party to a stunning electoral victory, breaking the National Front coalition’s two-thirds-majority hold on parliament for the first time in 40 years. The opposition also won control of five states.

Dirty politics and a legal system that doles out jail time for same-sex activity means that charges of homosexuality can be fabricated to imprison political opponents. This might be the case for Ibrahim who was arrested July 16 for allegedly sodomizing a male aide.

Ibrahim’s car was surrounded by 12 masked police officers who forced him into a van with tinted windows. He was taken to police headquarters where he was interrogated for eight hours. After questioning he was taken to a local hospital for examination. It is not clear why he required medical observation. Ibrahim was released on bail the following day.

In 1998 while serving as Deputy Prime Minister, Ibrahim was arrested on similarly dubious charges of sodomy and corruption. He remained in prison for six years until his conviction was overturned in court. “There is no basis for this whole fabrication and malicious attacks. It is just a repeat of the 1998 script. You can see the pattern,” Ibrahim said in a statement.

LGBT parents website Down Under
VICTORIA, Australia — Life partners “Rodney and Jeff” have developed the website www.GayDadsAustralia.com to serve an expanding community of LGBT parents in Australia seeking information and resources. The couple, who have a son named Ethan, were frustrated by the lack of resources for families like theirs. The informative site offers advice about LGBT parenting and adoption, calendar listings, resource listings and a discussion forum, there is also an informative blog. Networking and support are an integral part of the site.

Anglican bishops snub enclave
LONDON, England — In the latest flap around the growing schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion, over a quarter of the world’s Anglican bishops did not attend the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference at Canterbury. The rogue bishops met instead in Jerusalem at their own conference, where they discussed issues surrounding their opposition to the ordination of gay clergy.

New Hampshire’s Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop ordained in the Anglican Church’s 450-year history, has consistently refused to retire his office, despite the threat of a break in the international fellowship. Also at issue is the blessing of same-sex marriages. Most of the absentee bishops come from staunchly conservative dioceses in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.

Russian LGBT protest banned
MOSCOW, Russia — Governmental agencies in Eastern Europe and Russia regularly ban LGBT marches, festivals and demonstrations citing an inability to provide the security required to protect attendees. Most recently an LGBT protest here was banned by municipal authorities unwilling to provide protection for citizens exercising their right to assemble peaceably. The demonstration was planned to occur in front of the Iranian Embassy to protest the execution of LGBT people in that nation.

There are currently five lawsuits being heard in the Russian courts stemming from complaints about canceled LGBT events. Two concern the banning of Pride marches in 2006 and 2007 while the remaining three are concerned with other protests that were banned or canceled. Article 31 of the Russian Constitution protects citizens’ right to assemble.

ACT-UP Paris protests Syrian hate
PARIS, France — A group of 15 demonstrators staged a protest outside the Syrian embassy during the Bastille Day celebrations organized by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy had invited leaders from the Middle East and from Euro-Mediterranean countries to watch a spectacular demonstration of French national pride. The countries represented, however, have a reputation for institutionalized homophobia where LGBT people are routinely targeted for violence and discrimination.

In response, ACT-UP Paris staged demonstrations outside the embassies of the nations involved. The protestors were arrested and Sarkozy has refused to repudiate the invited leaders for condoning and/or encouraging homophobia under their respective regimes. ACT-UP has demanded that Nicolas Sarkozy and Secretary of State Rama Yade renounce policies that encourage hate crimes and hinder the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Thus far, those demands have not been met.