Brazil to fund sex-change operations

by Rex Wockner

LGBT people in the Faroe Islands celebrated their pride Aug. 17-19 with a parade, festival, panel discussions and movies.

About 130 people marched under the theme, "Does love have gender?"

The events also were a celebration of a law passed last December that criminalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation. The vote on the bill in the Logting (parliament) was an uncomfortably close 17-15.

Politicians from Sweden, Denmark and Iceland traveled to the islands to join the festivities, which were organized by the Association of Nordic LGBT Student Organizations and the Faroese LGBT group Fri�arbogin.

"It is important for us ... to see this great support from our friends in the Nordic region," said Fri�arbogin's Tina Jacobsen. "We hope [it] will help our own politicians to see the importance of speaking about human rights."

The post-parade festival took place in Vagli�, the main square of the capital city, Torshavn. About 200 people attended.

In a speech, Logting member Finnur Helmsdal called for passage of a law creating registered partnerships for same-sex couples.

The Faroes, population 47,000, are a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark located north of Scotland, halfway between Norway and Iceland. The capital has 19,000 residents.

Brazil's national health-care system will pay for sex-change operations following a decision by a regional federal court in Porto Alegre that the surgery falls within the constitution's guarantee of access to medical care.

The court said transsexuality is "a sexual-identity disturbance where individuals need to change their sexual designation or face serious consequences in their lives, including intense suffering, mutilation and suicide."

Candidates for the procedure will have to undergo psychological evaluation for two years and receive approval from a medical panel.

The government had argued it could not afford to offer the surgeries, but opted not to appeal the ruling.

A sex-reassignment operation costs approximately $1,000 in Brazil and could be sought by one in every 10,000 residents, the Ministry of Health said.

Madeira president denounces gay equality

The president of Madeira, an autonomous Portuguese archipelago located 360 miles (576 km) off the coast of Morocco, called same-sex marriage "filth" and "degradation" at an Aug. 18 political rally on Porto Santo Island, reported PortugalGay.PT.

"Wanting the marriage of homosexuals and all these things that the socialist government is preparing, these are not causes -- this is filth, this is degradation," said Alberto Joao Jardim. "This is killing the values that we Portuguese -- our national soul -- have learned from the cradle and that our parents have taught us."

Jardim also denounced a new Portuguese law that permits abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy. He has refused to implement the statute in Madeira.

"When you make laws against human life, it is a precedent that we can't accept and then, afterward, they cover other rights or offend other people's rights in the name of the absolute state," the president said.

Madeira and another group of Portuguese islands, the Azores, have autonomous regional governments but are supposed to enforce Portuguese national laws.

Madeira has some 250,000 residents, of which about 101,000 live in Funchal, the capital city on Madeira Island.

Arrested Nigerians do not face death penalty

Despite several mainstream-media reports to the contrary, 18 men arrested in Bauchi, Nigeria, Aug. 5 on charges of vagrancy, cross-dressing and practicing sodomy as a profession will not face the death penalty.

The men, who were detained at a wedding party at the Benko Hotel, were charged under Section 372, Subsection 2(e) of the Bauchi State Shariah Penal Code, which allows for punishment of one year in prison and 30 lashes.

In addition, at an Aug. 21 hearing in the Tunda Al Khali Area Court, Judge Tanimu Abubakar determined the men should have been charged only under the section's vagrancy and cross-dressing provisions.

Prosecution of the case was turned over to the Bauchi State Ministry of Justice, instead of the police. The next hearing is Sept. 13.

Tanimu released at least five of the men on $158 bail and returned the others to jail.

An angry mob of Muslims, hopeful that the men would be sentenced to death, threw rocks at them as they left the court building. Police fired tear gas to disperse the mob, which also tried to set the court house on fire.

Activist Joseph Akoro of the Nigerian gay group The Independent Project has told the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission that the men actually were not dressed as women when they were arrested.

"This leads us to believe that the charges have been drummed up to incite hatred against gay people," Akoro said.

Police, working together with the Hisbah Islamic anti-vice squad, also had detained several other people at the wedding party, but released all the women and non-Muslims.

International gay activists consider Nigeria to be highly homophobic. Earlier this year, the National Assembly considered, but did not act on, an extreme anti-gay bill that would have outlawed gay marriage, public or private gatherings of gay people, visiting a gay Internet site, and nearly everything else associated with being gay. Local activists worry that the bill could be reintroduced at any time.

In addition, the head of Nigeria's Anglican church, Archbishop Peter Akinola, is the leading anti-gay voice in the worldwide Anglican Communion. There are more Anglicans in Nigeria (15 million) than in any other nation except the United Kingdom (26 million). The denomination has 77 million members worldwide.

Assistance: Bill Kelley

More International News

  • Latest News

Enter To Win

Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more

Special Section: Pride Guide
Lake Effect

Hot off Season 7 of the LOGO channel's "Ru Paul's Drag Race" phenomenon, Darienne Lake of Season 6 spoke with Between the Lines about her upcoming hosting gig at Motor City Pride June 6.

View More Pride Guide
This Week's Issue

Download or view this week's print issue today!