Friday, May 31, 2013

Nigeria: Jail for Being Gay

Nigeria's House of Representative has voted a bill to criminalise and punish with prison gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and even membership of a gay rights groups.

The bill exactly says: 
  • Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract, or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison.
  • Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.

See a copy of the bill here.

Nigeria's Senate previously passed this bill in November 2011 and the measure quietly disappeared for some time. But it came up last Thursday's session of the House, and representatives appeared to unanimously approve the proposal in a voice vote. Now, the bill has been send to President Goodluck Jonathan for him to potentially sign into law, but it isn't immediately clear if he would sign the measure.

Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, the most populated African nation with more than 160 million people. Gays face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality.

The U.S. and the U.K. governments had threatened to cut aid to the African country if it passed the bill, but Nigeria is an oil-rich nation, and one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.

If the president of Nigeria finally signs this bill it will be the first country in recent history to criminalize gay people. And this also can influence on Uganda and Sierra Leone which could follow that banning measure.

Nigeria's House of Representative
Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's President
Nigerian protesters

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Puerto Rico Expands Rights to LGBT People

After weeks of an intense debate, two LGBT rights bills have finally become laws in Puerto Rico.

This wednesday, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Puerto Rico's Governor, has signed one bill prohibiting employment discrimination based in sexual orientation. From today, employment rights and guarantees have been expanded to LGBT people, and any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity will be penalized.

Besides, a second bill signed today also expands the legal protections in cases of domestic violence to all kinds of people regardless of their sexual preference, gender identity or marital status.

However, the law's amendments approved in Senate removed the ban of discrimination in commercial transactions, property rentals, public transportation and other circs.

After signing both bills, Garcia Padilla has affirmed: "Today is not the triumph of one community over another. Today is not a song of victory of one community over another. Today, with the signing of these laws, Puerto Rico remains undefeated in this fight. Earn all, flattering and detractors, because today Puerto Rico is a better country where there is less discrimination and where advances in the struggle of the human and civil rights".

Despite this progress, the legalization of gay marriage will have to wait in Puerto Rico. The Governor expressed his opposition to equality marriage, and there is not enough parlamentary support yet to take that step.

Puerto Rico's Governor showing the signed laws

First gay wedding in France

Today has been held the first gay wedding in France, in the southern city of Montpellier.

Just after the same-sex marriage law was approved by French Parliament in April 23, and was passed by French Constitutional Court in May 18, the first gay couple has been married today, at Montpellier's town hall.

That Montpellier has been the first French city where same-sex marriage is celebrated is no coincidence, as it is a gay-friendly city and well known as the “French San Francisco” because of its large gay community.

The couple, after five years living together, had planned to marry as soon as the law came into force, They are Vincent, a 40-year-old PR firm head, and his partner Bruno, a 29-year-old government worker. They did not want any public act or a big public celebration, but after the ceremony the newlyweds have thanked publicly those who have battled for marriage equality. 

Montpellier’s mayor Helene Mandroux was agree and said she did not want a media circus. “I am not a celebrity type”, she said. “I am into values. I have told everyone: This moment should be a moment that is respectful of the event”, she added. For that reason the local administration has banned festivities outside the venue, to prevent protests or riots.

Although the last violent demonstrations of the opponents to marriage equality, according to a survey published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche, 72% of French people are tired of the anti-gay marriage protests and think they should stop.

Félicitations aux nouveaux mariés!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

LGBT Status in Europe

The International Lesbian and Gay Association in Europe (ILGA-Europe) has published the Europe Rainbow Map of May 2013, reflecting the current national legal and policy human rights situation of LGBT people in European continent.

This map uncovers the real situation of LGBT people beyond laws and gives us the whole picture of what it is like to be an LGBT person in Europe today. It reflects each country’s situation and provides overall score on a scale between 0% (gross violations of human rights and discrimination) and 100% (total respect of human rights and full equality). 

Although some countries are scoring high because they have advanced inclusive laws, the situation on the ground often is very different and a high percentage of LGBT people are adjusting their behaviours daily because they fear rejection and harassment when they are in public.

The highest scores are in UK (77%), Belgium (67%), Norway (66%), Spain (65%), Portugal (65%), Sweden (65%) and France (64%). On the opposite side are the Russian Federation (7%), Armenia (8%), Azerbaijan (8%), Moldavia (10%), Monaco (10%), and Ukraine (12%), where homophobia is greatest.

This map clearly shows that full respect of human rights of LGBT people in Europe remains a long-term aspiration. There is no European country with a 100% score or close. And, unfortunately, in many European countries the LGBT fight is still for fundamental civil and political rights, incomprehensibly some of them inside the EU.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gay Days Orlando 2013

Since 1991, gay men and lesbians from around the world have converged in Walt Disney World in Orlando (Florida) for the Disney Gay Days, an entire week of events centered around area theme parks and attractions. 

The 2013 edition of Gay Days Orlando runs from May 28 to June 3, and is among the world's premier gay and lesbian vacation gatherings, drawing over 150,000 visitors. Attendance increases every year as the support for Gay Days continues to grow.

Gay Days Orlando is not a single event, it's comprised of multiple events staged at world famous attractions, gay & lesbian clubs, and unique venues secured for the purpose of creating a gay and lesbian atmosphere at Orlando's greatest theme parks and at multiple parties occurring during this long week.

Besides, pool parties are held all week at the host Hotels. Orlando is a perfect place to spend days soaking up the hot sun and hot scenery around a sparkling swimming pool. Better if you are surrounded by guys in speedos and grooving to the sounds of some of the world's best known DJs.

To review the calendar and more information head over to following magazines:

Men Magazine

Women Magazine

Or visit the Gay Days Orlando website.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lesbian Drama Wins Cannes Film Festival

The Palme d'Or, the top prize of Cannes Film Festival, went to "Blue is the warmest color", an intimate drama which tells the story of a lesbian relationship.

Based on a French graphic novel, the film follows the relationship between two young students in Lille, one of whom has hair dyed the blue of the title. When she reverts to her natural blonde, their affair nose-dives.

Directed by Tunisian Abdellatif Kechiche and starring Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, this film has attracted attention for its explicit sex scenes as well as the acclaimed performances of its actresses.

Director Steven Spielberg, who chaired the jury, told reporters: "I think it will get a lot of play... I think this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message."

Accepting the prize, Abdellatif Kechiche said: "I should like to dedicate this film to the wonderful youth of France whom I met during the long period while making this film". And he added: "Those young people taught me a lot about the spirit of freedom and living together".

Gay Rights Activists Detained in Moscow

On Saturday, Russian police detained dozens of gay activists in central Moscow, imposing the city's ban on gay rights demonstrations. The activists tried to unfurl banners denouncing Kremlin's anti-gay legislation in front of Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament.

Among those arrested was Nikolai Alekseev, one of the main leaders of the LGBT social movement in Russia, who was punched in face during his arrest by one anti-gay. 

Russian parliament has approved a bill to a ban on events and information about the LGBT community targeting minors, which critics say would effectively ban gay rights demonstrations and any public event.

Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but homophobia remains strong in the country. Despite Russian Constituion guarantees freedom of speech and assembly, Moscow authorities have repeatedly rejected requests by LGBT activists to celebrate a parade in the city.

Government critics and gay rights activists claim that the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church encourage anti-gay protesters groups to attack gay rallies and parades.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nevada is Closer to Equal Marriage

The Nevada Assembly has voted a resolution which could finally repeal of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, by 27 votes to 14. With this vote, the marriage equality bill will be considered by the House in the next legislative session.

Last April 27, the Nevada Senate voted in favor of this measure too. In that senate's debate, the speech of Senator Kelvin Atkinson was really impressive. "I'm black. I'm gay", he said to fellow senators.

Remember, in 2002, voters in Nevada approved an amendment to the State Constitution stating “only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state”.

In any case, if the bill is approved by the House in the future, the corresponding change in the Nevada Constitution will have to be finally voted by all citizens of Nevada in 2016. Then, the voters will have a chance to allow same-sex marriage.

Nevada State Assembly

Nevada Assemblyman James Healey, D-Las Vegas, supported the resolution

Angel Manor State: Inner Beauty

Earlier this month I posted about the incredible Angel Manor State Sim in Second Life, owned by Kaya Angel. You all could see the awesome panoramic and outdoor views in my previous post Angel Manor State: Superlative Beauty.

As I promised, today I post several close up shots and interior views, to show the incredible and perfectionist work done inside the palace. Besides the magnificient Rose Theater and some great halls, it's full of decorated rooms and charming spots.

To live in this palace is also possible now, renting one of its exclusive regal suites with or without furnitures, and always with direct view to the gardens. Ask the staff for more information.

Highly recommended, please visit the Angel Manor State Sim and enjoy, it's worth it!