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February 11, 2006

26 Men Imprisoned 5 Years Each for Being Gay in United Arab Emirates

Uae_map In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday, "As many as 26 people were sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Abu Dhabi for admitting to be gays and organizing a cross-dressers party and wedding at a hotel," reports WebIndia News, in a story written with a decidedly anti-gay tinge. "Their arrest had made news in November last year when they gathered at a hotel in Ghantout, a desert region on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway to org anise a gay wedding. Police got wind of the meeting and swooped on the hotel and arrested the participants...." The men were charged with homosexuality, a crime under Sharia law, although police acknowledged that none of the men were engaged in a sexual act when police raided the event.

WebIndia added that reports in local newspapers in the UAE "said the gays defended themselves in the court saying they were proud of their act and were keen to practice it......The police had broken up the riotous wedding party with balloons and champagne last year at a hotel and took into custody some 12 men in Arab dress and others dressed as women who were to be the 'brides' at the wedding," although other reports said some of those arrested asserted they were transgendered. An Indian disc jockey who had come to perform as part of the celebration was among the arrested.

An earlier report said the gays may be given hormone treatment to correct their behavior, since sodomy is punishable by death under the Islamic sharia law in force in the UAE  "In 2005 UAE police made mass arrests at another event, also described by authorities as a gay wedding in the conservative emirate of Sharjah and at the Khor Fakkan beach resort in Fujairah emirate," notes 365gay.com in its report on the sentencing. The UAE has also just banned the film "Brokeback Mountain," as part of "its efforts in protecting the society from unethical and immoral practices."

The question for privileged U.S. gays is, will our national gay institutions -- like HRC and NGLTF -- maintain the same discrete silence about these 26 unjustly imprisoned men, the latest victims of Sharia law's brutal punishments for homosexuality, as they've observed about persecution of gays in Iran, Poland, the Baltic countries, Nigeria, Nepal and more? Or will our national gay groups join the global fight for gay freedom, liberation, and the basic human right to love whom and how they wish, according to the dictates of their natures? See my recent article for Gay City News, "A Call to Solidarity: U.S. Gay Groups Must End Their Isolationism."

INDIANA CONSIDERS ANTI-ABORTION RELIGIOUS DEFINITION  OF LIFE More evidence of galloping theocracy from the American heartland: The Indiana State Legislature is considering a bill that would tell women seeking an abortion that life as "begins at conception," CNN reports Baby_cries_cartoon on its website. "To put our religion or faithful beliefs into a statute that's going to be law, without being able to back it up scientifically, I have real hard questions about doing that," said Indiana Rep. John Elmer, a Republican who voted against the bill.

Indiana is one of 29 states with "informed consent" laws that require women seeking an abortion to receive information about the procedure, according to the Stomacher Institute, a reproductive rights organization in New York and Washington, D.C., that researches and tracks state abortion legislation.Most tell women assistance is available for prenatal care, childbirth and infant care if they decide to carry their pregnancy to term. Three states -- Arkansas, Nevada and Wisconsin -- provide information about the possible psychological effects of an abortion. Only South Dakota has beginning-of-life language similar to Indiana's proposal, which would require women seeking an abortion to be informed in writing that "human life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm."

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