Olympics not good for LGBT people
BEIJING, China — During the preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics Beijing was given a massive overhaul. Streets were widened and buildings were demolished. All the construction happened at the expense of many residents and businesses. It is widely known that China used the Olympics in an attempt to recreate its reputation throughout the world as a modern economic power; however, the international scrutiny the capital and the rest of the country have experienced show that a great deal of injustice was perpetrated in an attempt to display a spit-polished demeanor.
LGBT people in particular suffered as a result of the preparations for the games. In all of Beijing there are purportedly only two clubs for LGBT people, one support group for men and nothing for women and transgender individuals. Before the Olympic building projects began nearly all the LGBT clubs, organizations and support centers were demolished in an attempt to push gays and lesbians further into the shadows.
Benjamin Han, a local resident, says of being gay: “It’s probably more restricted in Beijing than in other cities in the country. In general, it is still very much a taboo topic. You don’t talk about it at work, you don’t talk about it with your family. You only talk about it when the other person knows something about it already and you really trust them.”
The government also strictly controls dialogue about homosexuality, regarding it a Western problem in the country that should be ignored as much as possible. “Things could change in China in the next 10 years, but I’m not looking forward to the wait,” Han said. “This is a Confucian society, and these values are not going to go away.”
At least one gay club stayed open. Destination, described by Atlanta’s Southern Voice as “the most popular, contemporary gay bar in Beijing,” was attended by foreign tourists, including former NBA star and out athlete John Amaechi.
Aussie MP seeks LGBT marriage
CRANBERRA, Australia — Breaking with her party’s conservative stance regarding homosexuality and LGBT marriage, Louise Pratt is the third openly LGBT member of parliament to come out during the current parliament’s term and is the first member of parliament to be openly partnered with a transgender person. During her first speech in parliament she addressed her concerns about the inequality experienced by the LGBT community in terms of marriage rights. Pratt revealed that her male partner was born female but began the process of sexual reassignment in 2006.
“I look forward to a time when we will have removed at a federal level all discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexuality, to a time when my partner is not denied a passport because his gender is not recognized under our laws; to a time when my friends’ children all enjoy the same rights and protections under commonwealth law regardless of whether their parents are straight or gay; to a time when if my gay friends wish to be legally married, they can be.”
Pratt’s maiden speech draws a strong division between herself and the rest of her party, which is led by Kevin Rudd’s conservative administration.
Church ordered to pay teacher
PRETORIA, South Africa — As previously reported in Q-Notes, a gay music teacher had sued his former employer, NG Kerk Moreletapark School, for dismissing him because of his sexuality. The deacons of the school, which has religious affiliations, had called Johan Strydom into a meeting and fired him when he refused to discuss with them his relationship with his long-term partner.
The High Court demanded that the school pay Strydom nearly $50,000 of the $100,000 he had asked for. The court said the school had undermined Strydom’s character and reputation and had wrongfully denied him access to salaries owed to him. Judge Dion Basson also demanded that the school issue a public and unconditional apology to Strydom.
LGBT handshake spreads bacteria
BERLIN, Germany — An Arabic language magazine in Germany has been reported to the local authorities for spreading incitement to violence. Al-Salaam, a free paper distributed throughout the region at restaurants, printed a story accompanied by graphic photos entitled “A flesh-eating bacteria and sexual abnormality.” The article claims that Muslim men should avoid shaking hands with gay men because, “one never knows what kinds of bacteria and germs are found on them.”
The article was reported to the authorities by the Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg. Both organizations are now investigating the newspaper. Alexander Zinn, spokesperson for the LGBT support group, said, “We have reported it as a crime to the police and it is now being examined to determine whether it should be dealt with as defamation or incitement. We would appeal to the more liberal parts of the community to help us with this, and we also need the engagement of the integration representative of the city senate. This is one of many signs of something that keeps on coming up. Something needs to be done and we need to work together to try to tackle the problem.”
No answer on age of consent
JOHANESBURG, South Africa — The Constitutional Court refused to make a decision as to whether or not the current LGBT age of consent (19 years old) should be lowered to match the heterosexual age of consent (16 years old). It also refused to standardize the age for all at 18 years old, since the constitution names everyone under 18 a minor. Because the court cannot make law it said the issue should be brought before parliament.