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  BLACKLINES

WORLD ROUNDUP
by REX WOCKNER
2004-01-01

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CANAAN BANANA DIES

Canaan Banana, the former president of Zimbabwe who was outed and imprisoned for sodomy, died Nov. 10 at age 67 following a long illness. He was president from 1980 to 1987.

Banana was jailed on 11 charges of sodomy, attempted sodomy and unnatural acts with men in 1997. He was accused of sexually assaulting university students he taught, members of the State House football team, policemen, military officers, cooks, gardeners, aides, a job interviewee and a hitchhiker. He served only eight months of a 10-year sentence.

Current Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is the world's most vocally homophobic head of state. He has said of gays: 'What an abomination, a rottenness of culture, real decadence of culture. [Homosexuals are] repugnant to my human conscience ... immoral and repulsive. ... Animals in the jungle are better than these people because at least they know that this is a man or a woman. ... I don't believe they have any rights at all.'

On Nov. 17, the ruling ZANU-PF party's Politburo declared that Banana's body would not be interred in the nation's Heroes' Acre cemetery because he had set a 'bad example to youth.'

Instead, Banana will be laid to rest at his birthplace near the provincial capital of Bulawayo following a 'state-assisted funeral,' said Politburo Secretary for Information and Publicity Nathan Shamuyarira.

BRAZILIAN MAYOR BANS GAYS

The mayor of Bocaiuva do Sul in Brazil's Paraná state banned homosexuals and 'any element linked to this class' from moving to the town Dec. 3.

According to Reuters, Mayor Elcio Berti explained, 'This municipality is fighting to support social projects and needs to bring in industries, for which people with strong fists are needed to operate production tools.'

He also said the town, population 10,000, needs to 'preserve respect and family atmosphere' and increase its birthrate. Berti previously banned sale of condoms and other birth-control measures and reportedly handed out free Viagra to encourage reproduction.

'I need to increase the population by encouraging people to have kids, not with troublemakers,' he told the Folha de São Paulo newspaper. 'When I was a kid I used to live among criminals but even so they were all real men.'

Gay activists announced plans to sue to overturn the decree and, on Dec. 5, state officials charged Berti with violation of local and federal antidiscrimination laws and abuse of administrative power, The Advocate reported.

'Mayor Elcio Berti stepped beyond any reasonable limit,' prosecutor Agenor Salgado told the AP, The Advocate said. 'If convicted, he could face two to four years in prison, aside from losing his office.'

ANTI-GAY SINGER

CANCELS CONCERTS

Jamaican reggae star Bounty Killer canceled planned concerts in London and Birmingham, England, Dec. 5 and 6 after the gay-rights group OutRage! urged the police to arrest him on charges of inciting violence against homosexuals.

At OutRage!'s request, police warned the concert venues—the White Pearl Club in Birmingham and the Stratford Rex in London— that they could be found guilty of aiding and abetting criminal offenses if Bounty Killer performed his hit songs calling for gays to be burned, drowned, stoned, wiped out and murdered.

'The cancellation of his concerts is a victory over homophobia in pop music,' said OutRage!'s Peter Tatchell. 'Our aim is to make Britain a no-go area for singers who incite violence against gay people and other minorities.'

Among Bounty Killer's lyrics: 'Bun a fire pon a kuh pon mister fagoty. Poop man fi drown a dat a yawd man philosophy (Uh huh).'

The translation, OutRage! said, is: 'Burn the queer. Men who have anal sex should be drowned, that's a yardie man's philosophy.'

Also: 'Hear this likkle punk guh sing a battyman concept. To kill dis yah fool, to me dat is no stress. Murder dem fast just like a Federal Express.' Translation: 'Hear this little punk who sings a queer song. To kill this fool, to me that is no stress. Murder him fast, like Federal Express.'

Spokesmen for the two clubs said Bounty Killer, whose real name is Rodney Price, canceled the shows because he missed his flight from Jamaica.

RESOLUTION SEEKS TO

HELP FOREIGN GAYS

A resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 20 by Reps. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., and Christopher Shays, R-Conn., seeks to assist people in other nations who face human-rights abuses based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The resolution calls on the State Department to improve tracking of human-rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat the problem worldwide.

Supporters of the resolution cited several examples of LGBT abuse and mistreatment, including the ongoing persecution and entrapment via the Internet of gay men in Egypt; the continuing murders of transgender people in Honduras—often, allegedly, at the hands of police; and the imprisonment of Uzbek gay human-rights activist Ruslan Sharipov.

Amnesty International welcomed the resolution.

'Some 70 countries still criminalize homosexuality,' said Michael Heflin, director of Amnesty USA's OUTfront Program. 'Punishments under these statutes in some cases include torture and even the death penalty. Discrimination and violence against LGBT people by authorities and civilians remains widespread throughout much of the world. States' failure to hold perpetrators accountable creates a climate of impunity.'

America's largest gay-rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, also praised the move.

'In Zambia and Zimbabwe, GLBT individuals are threatened and brutally assaulted for their advocacy of equal rights,' HRC said. 'In Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania and Iran, GLBT people face possible execution for adult, consensual same-sex relations.

'It has often been said that with great power comes great responsibility,' the group said. 'As one of the most fortunate and powerful countries on the planet, the United States has a tremendous responsibility to speak out and protect those who may not be able to protect themselves.'


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