Entries in Homosexual (5)


Madonna May Be Charged Under St. Petersburg Anti-Gay Law

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Pop singer Madonna has ignited controversy on both sides of a new anti-gay law in St Petersburg, Russia.

The Material Girl said in a Facebook posting this week that she plans to speak out against the law during an Aug. 9 concert in the city.

“I will come to St. Petersburg to speak up for the gay community, to support the gay community and to give strength and inspiration to anyone who is or feels oppressed,” Madonna wrote on Wednesday.

“I don’t run away from adversity. I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity,” she added.

The law, which took effect March 11, in part prohibits “the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors.”

Gay rights activists say it would criminalize even reading, writing or speaking about gay, lesbian, or transgender people. Violations can carry hefty fines, ranging from about $170 for individuals up to $16,700 or organizations and businesses.

The bill’s author, city assemblyman Vitaly Milanov, says he wants Madonna charged under the new law if she speaks out against it during her concert. He said he was willing to attend the show “to control its moral content.”

“I’m ready to personally suffer a couple of hours of her concert,” he told the Russian Interfax news agency.

Madonna spoke out after an op-ed by Masha Gessen, a Moscow-based Russian-American journalist, was published in the New York Times on Monday calling on Madonna to cancel the show and urging tourists and businesses to boycott the city.

For some gay rights advocates her pledge to use the venue to denounce the new law was not enough. A group of Russian gay rights advocates plans to picket the concert, saying Madonna is cashing in on their struggle and urging her to cancel the show.

“The law will stay in force, Madonna will leave and the Russian LGBT-community will be humiliated even more,” Nikolai Aleksev, the head of the LGBT advocacy group Gay Russia, wrote on his blog.

Homosexuality was banned in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized in 1993, though it was still declared a mental disorder until 1999. It remains highly taboo in Russia. Laws similar to the St Petersburg legislation are now being considered in other regions and the speaker of the Russian Parliament, the Duma, has promised to weigh endorsing it at a national level.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Gay’ Penguins to Be Separated at Toronto Zoo

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- The amorous connection between two inseparable male penguins will soon come to an end when the Toronto Zoo pairs them with females.

“The males will be put in with a specific female so they have the chance to get to know one another and if they bond that’s what we’re looking for,” said Bill Rapley, the zoo’s executive director of conservation and wildlife.

Buddy, 21, and Pedro, 10, lived in a zoo in Toledo, Ohio, before traveling to Canada to become part of the Toronto Zoo’s first African penguin exhibit in 18 years.

Zookeepers quickly observed courtship and mating behaviors that are typically exhibited only between males and females.

“When you put things in captivity, odd things happen,” Kevin McGowan of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., told ABC News.

“The way penguins work is they do get paired for a long time. Basically, the only other penguin they care about is their mate, so it’s important for them to find somebody who’s compatible, and if you don’t have a normal upbringing then it’s difficult to say how ‘normal’ they can be.”

Buddy and Pedro, who were both raised in captivity, pair together every night, “bray” at one another, groom each other, and never seem to tire of standing alongside each other, the Toronto Star reported.

But because the penguins have “top-notch genes,” zookeepers want them to breed with females to help populate the species, which is endangered.

According to the Toronto Zoo website, the African penguin population initially declined because their eggs had been overharvested, and many of their habitats had been disturbed. Today, oil pollution and a shrinking food supply exacerbated by commercial fishing are the major threats to their existence.

The zoo is now engaged in a species survival plan to help the species populate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Clinton: NY Vote Gives Momentum to Gay Rights around the World

US State Dept(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said New York’s vote to allow gay marriage gives momentum to the global movement, but said much remains to be done around the world.

“If we can convince people to speak out about their own personal experiences, particularly within their own families, it does begin to change the dialogue,” Clinton said, referencing a Republican State Senator from the Buffalo area who spurred colleagues to speak about how they would not want loved ones to be discriminated against.

“From their own personal connections and relationships, they began to make the larger connection with somebody else's niece or nephew or grandchild, and what that family must feel like,” she said in an address to a group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) foreign service officers, during which she was honored with their first annual award for advancing gay rights.

In remarks to the same group last year, Clinton declared that gay rights are human rights, a take on her 1995 Beijing declaration about women’s rights. Since then, Clinton’s diplomats have put that into action around the world, including the U.S. Ambassador to Italy who helped bring Lady Gaga to a gay pride parade in Rome.

“We made it absolutely clear that so far as the United States is concerned, and our foreign policy and our values, that gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” Clinton repeated Monday.

In December, Secretary Clinton made one of the first celebrity “It Gets Better” videos, providing hope to LGBT youth after a spate of high-profile suicides raised the profile of bullying victims.

More recently, the U.S. helped usher in statements of support for gay rights in the United Nations and its Human Rights Council.

Monday, Clinton said despite gains in the past year, “we cannot forget how much work lies ahead.”

“Life is getting better for people in many places, and it will continue to get better thanks to our work,” she said, calling the fight for gay rights “one of the most urgent and important human rights struggles of all times.”

“It is not easy, but it is so rewarding,” Clinton said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syria: Mystery Swirls Around Allegedly Kidnapped Gay Blogger

Photodisc/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- It was an alarming message, echoing widespread reports of the recent brutal crackdown taking place across Syria by government forces. "Amina was seized by three men in their early 20's," the blog post read. "One of the men then put his hand over Amina's mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan..."

It was the first word about the alleged disappearance of a gay Syrian-American woman named Amina Abdallah Araf. Her "A Gay Girl in Damascus" blog had gained notoriety online as an "out Syrian lesbian's thoughts on life, the universe and so on."

But three days after word was posted about Araf's supposed kidnapping on the blog by someone calling herself Araf's cousin, American officials say they have no record of an American by that name and no one appears to have ever seen or spoken to Araf directly.

Articles were written about the eloquent, brave and knowledgeable Araf, but interviewers only communicated with her by e-mail or online chat. Even a Montreal woman, with whom Araf had exchanged some 500 emails over six months, had never heard her voice.

Making the story all the more confusing are the many pictures supposedly of Araf, photos of a pretty, brown-haired young woman with a mole above her left eyebrow. A Croatian woman living in London with no ties to Syria says the photos were stolen from her Facebook page.

"I've never met her. I'm not part of her blog. I'm not friends with her,'" Jelena Lecic told the BBC. "This has put me in danger. This person is a gay activist in Syria. I really don't feel comfortable."

Araf's blog was noticed at the end of April as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad tried to crush the uprising across Syria that has now claimed around 1,300 lives and resulted in arrests many times higher. She wrote well, had a good knowledge of Syria and admitted her homosexuality in a country where to be gay is illegal.

"I am an Arab, I am Syrian, I am a woman, I am queer, I am Muslim, I am binational, I am tall, I am too thin; my sect is Sunni, my clan is Omari, my tribe is Quraysh, my city is Damascus," she wrote in a post.

On Sunday, just a day before the "cousin" wrote about Araf's disappearance, a poem called "Invitation" was posted that started:

"Look long into my wand'ring eyes Follow my gaze cross these dark'ning skies Place all your trusts in my hands And follow me to other lands"

The next day, someone who identified herself as Rania O. Ismail wrote on the site, "We do not know who took her so we do not know who to ask to get her back. It is possible that they are forcibly deporting her."

Deported, theoretically, back to the U.S. since she said she had claimed to have been born in Virginia, which the State Department has not been able to verify.

The blog has been silent since Monday as speculation flies and the blog posts are picked apart for clues.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prominent Syrian Blogger Disappears in Damascus

George Doyle/Stockbyte(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Amina Abdallah, a blogger who has gained recognition during the Syrian uprising for her blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus," has disappeared.

Abdallah's cousin wrote on the blog that Amina was taken Monday by three men in their 20s "assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia."

"One of the men then put his hand over Amina's mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad," Rania Ismail wrote.

Abdallah describes her blog as "An out Syrian lesbian's thoughts on life, the universe and so on..." --  this, in a country where homosexuality is not just taboo, but illegal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio