Facebook deletes extremist anti-gay groups

Serbian sites contained death threats

by Matt Comer and Andy Harley

BELGRADE, Serbia — Please protect us. That was the plea from gays and lesbians in Serbia to their government, the police and the wider world during the 2008 holiday season.

A 2007 Belgrade joint action against fascism and anti-Semitism by Queeria Center and Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

A 2007 Belgrade joint action against fascism and anti-Semitism by Queeria Center and Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

The staff and contributors of the Serbian gay and lesbian website Queeria Center, are constantly receiving death threats and threats of physical violence, including from recent Facebook.com groups.

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“Every day threats are being sent to the website’s official email address to the effect that the website is going to be hacked, that we are sick people who should be treated, that all of us (LGBT population) should be killed,” said Predrag Azdejkovi´c, the editor of Queeria and one of the main targets.

Two anti-Queeria groups had been formed on the Facebook website, before site administrators there quickly deleted them. One was called “Queeria, Pederi Mar˘s iz Srbije” (Queeria, queers get out of Serbia) and had 406 members.

The other group had 2,554 members and was created by Ivan Ivanovic. Both groups, and eight others, were reported to Facebook administration, leading to their deletion.

“Facebook has looked into these groups and has confirmed that they violate Facebook’s Terms of Use,” a UK spokesperson for the company said. “As such, both groups have been removed.”

Eight similar groups were removed later.

“The Facebook team is monitoring this particular matter closely and will certainly take groups down that violate its Terms of Use,” the spokesperson said.

Members of both groups had publicly advocated death threats to the activists at Queeria, whose photographs, the organization said, had been circulating among the members of both Facebook groups.

Additionally, the groups advocated breaking and entering the Queeria Center premises, as well as the homes of gay activists. The groups had also suggested violence against all gays and lesbians.

A week prior, posters were put up in the center of Belgrade by the nationalist group, Na˘si (Ours).

The posters read, “While Serbs are being laid off, look who is being financed by Boris Tadi´c [the Serbian president] and the government of Serbia. The Serbian Ministry of Culture, within its remit for projects in the field of public information, has recently granted 256,500.00 dinars for the website of a faggots organization — Queeria Center — which is promoting faggots’ rights and slandering the Serbian Orthodox Church in the most despicable way. Is this what the democrats had been promising before the elections? The association Na˘si.”

The Queeria Center activists are also a regular subject matter of the Nazi Stormfront website, where violent, anti-gay rhetoric is common.

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“You can also find threats to the Queeria Center activists on other nationalistic message boards and blogs,” said Azdejkovi´c. “The Queeria Centre is asking the general public in Serbia and abroad, and especially the authorities in this country, to do their utmost to protect the activists of gay and lesbian rights groups in Serbia.”

Azdejkovi´c added, “Although we are gay, we have equal rights like other citizens of this country and we deserve the same legal treatment and protection. ”

Serbia is a member of the Council of Europe and is an applicant to join the European Union.

— Andy Harley is the editor of UK Gay News. Portions of this article re-printed from UK Gay News at www.ukgaynews.org.uk.

News in Brief

During a New Year’s Eve raid, Kuwaiti police arrested 22 gay men and several male and female youth. The directions for the raid came directly from the Ministry of the Interior. Although rarely enforced, Kuwait, a Muslim nation, bans homosexuality and cross-dressing. If convicted of homosexuality, the maximum penalty can range from seven to 10 years in prison. Arab Times,
arabtimesonline.com.

After a decade-long fight, a gay war widower will receive his pension. New laws in Australia will allow the elderly man to receive payments. Edward Young met his partner, Larry Crains, in London in 1960. Crains had served with the Australian Army during World War II. Young won an important decision from the United Nations in 2003, when its Commisson on Human Rights cited Australia for breaking an international human and civil rights covenant. Brisbane Times,
brisbanetimes.com.au.

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has said a BBC program is homophobic, after it contained slurs against bisexual actress Lindsay Lohan. The host, DJ Spoony, was accompanied by porn actor Ron Jeremy on the show. Tatchell said, “The remarks by DJ Spoony and straight porn actor Ron Jeremy were gratuitously sexist and homophobic. The production company and the BBC should have never broadcast them. The upcoming repeats should either cut or bleep-out their stupid, bigoted remarks. The BBC should also issue a public apology.” PinkNews.co.uk.

A 40-year-old Chinese man in Nanjing has been arrested in an illegal gay prostitution operation in which he forced dozens of young men to work in the sex industry. The man is also accused of forcing several to have sexual relations with himself. The youngest was 18. The man is thought to have had up to 100 different clients per day. Gayapolis.com; Shanghai Daily, shanghaidaily.com.

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