August 24, 2006
RACE WAR: WHY SUMNER REDSTONE SHOULD FIRE LESLIE MOONVES AS HEAD OF CBS
Sumner Redstone, it appears, is in the mood to do his Donald Trump imitation. Redstone (left) just hollered -- via the press -- "You're fired!" at wacko Tom Cruise. The Scientology star has been running around the world using his celebritude to try to get governments to be nice to Scientology, a notorious cult-racket.
That's what Tom the Terror did recently when, on a visit to France, Cruise (right) got a lengthy private interview with the man who will be the conservatives' next presidential candidate, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy -- who also happens to be Ministre des Cultes, which in French means he's Minister for Religion. Scientology has been having some legal difficulties these last years in France, where the secular tradition in government is a lot stronger than it is here. The froggies know the professional Scientologists are a bunch of escrocs (con artists to you.) So, I shed no tears for their front-man Tommy the Terror getting the boot.
But if Sumner wants to swing the axe, he should chop off the corporate head of CBS, Leslie Moonves. Why? Because Moonves (left) has just approved a programming idea as loony as anything to come out of Cruise's mouth, and a disgustingly dangerous one to boot.
You see, Don Kaplan of the New York Post reports today that CBS chief Moonves has approved a new twist for the "Survivor" program. "In a first for network-television game shows, 'Survivor' producers have divided up the contestants by their ethnicity and will let the groups duke it out for supremacy: blacks vs. whites vs. Latinos vs. Asians," today's Post tells us, adding: "You could call it 'Survivor: Race War.'" (And Rupert Murdoch's Post is a paper that knows a thing or two about fanning the flames of racial and ethnic conflict -- it's a been a circulation-building specialty of the Murdoch Post's editors for years. As a lad I worked for awhile on the Post when it was still owned by Dolly Schiff and was America's most liberal daily paper--one that had championed racial equality and integration even before the '60s civil rights movement. What the paper has become since Rupert bought it never ceases to make me sad.)
Le mot juste about the Survivor race caper came from Lisa Navarrete, the Latino civil rights leader who is a vice president of the National Council of La Raza, and who told the Philadelphia Inquirer: "I can't decide if the producers are completely naive and clueless or completely soulless." Indeed.
Navarette added, "They could think it's no big deal, but the premise of Survivor is not a friendly contest. It gets very competitive and it's tempting in that setting to nurture stereotypes." That's an understatement -- Survivor is a cut-throat, take-no-prisoners ethical sewer of a show. And this "race war" theme is a base appeal to the dark side of the American consciousness -- setting up racial and ethnic conflict as a way to boost the show's sagging ratings (Survivor dropped out of the Top 10 shows on the tube in the last Nielsens).
The late poet Charles Bukowski (left) once observed that, "Bad taste has made more millionaires than good taste" (and if Bukowski didn't become a millionaire, it wasn't for lack of following his own maxim). Moonves' lapse in taste in approving this Survivor appeal to gutter instincts and racial conflict is entirely mercantile in its motivation. Yeah, let the gooks and the spics and the macacas and the white-bread boys do each other dirt in prime time -- hate sells.
This is the sort of thing one would expect from Fox TV. Over at the Peacock Network, the honchos had some minimal brains and at least a modicum of sensitivity. The Post also reports that "a race-war edition of 'The Apprentice'" was put forward by its producers last year "after its star, Donald Trump, suggested it during an interview. At the time, NBC put the brakes on the idea."
By contrast, Redstone's boy Moonves green-lighted Survivor's bald, ratings-driven appeal to race prejudice and ethnic strife. And for playing the race card, old Sumner ought to exercise his talent for defenestration on his unprincipled network chief, and deliver to Moonves that too-familiar Trumpism, "You're fired!"
POLISH GAYS TO SUE RULING PARTY OVER HOMOPHOBIC SLURS
I wrote the following article for Gay City News -- New York's largest gay weekly -- which will be published in its latest edition hitting the newsstands tomorrow:
In one incident, Pawel Zyzak, editor in chief of a party magazine, Right Turn!, wrote that gays are “animals” and were “the emissaries of Satan sent to destroy the Catholic Church.” (Poland is the most Catholic country in Europe.)
At the same time, in the northern city of Koscierzyna, a leading Law and Justice member of parliament who is also a member of the party’s governing council, Waldemar Bonkowski (RIGHT), placed a large, homophobic banner on the wall of the local party headquarters. “Today it’s gays and lesbians -- what’s next, zoophilia? Is that liberty and democracy? No, that’s syphilisation! Our Polish pope [the late John Paul II] is looking down from the sky and asking, Whither goest thou, Poland?” the banner read.
Well-known gay activist Lukasz Palucki told me, “I’m working with lawyers to prepare a lawsuit against the Law and Justice Party under Section 212 and 216 of Polish criminal law for these two hate-filled statements.” Those sections of the law prohibit hate speech and incitement to discrimination. “Even though the party is trying to control Poland’s courts and judges, and even though a lawsuit is expensive, we will do it,” Palucki added.
The right-wing, nationalist Law and Justice Party, which came to power in elections last fall, is headed by the ultra-homophobic Kaczynski brothers (LEFT) -- Lech Kaczynski is Poland’s president, and last month he named his identical twin brother Jaroslav as the country’s prime minister. The Kaczynskis brought into their coalition government the notoriously homophobic League of Polish Families, a Catholic extremist party whose leader, Roman Giertych (RIGHT), was appointed minister of education. In June, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the new Polish regime’s homophobia, and specifically denounced the League, whose leaders "incite people to hatred and violence" against gay people, said the resolution. Prime Minister Jaroslav Kaczynski has announced his intention to seek a law banning gays from teaching in the schools.
After the country’s leading daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, gave prominent coverage to the two latest incidents of unabashed queer-baiting by the Kaczynskis‘ party, the incident became a media event. A vice-president of the Law and Justice Party, Tadeusz Cymanski (RIGHT), said of the homo-hating banner erected by his colleague Bonkowski, “I fully agree with my colleague. We have to stop expansion of gay movements -- and we will!”
Gay activist Palucki, one of the organizers of this year’s successful Warsaw Gay Pride March, explained that “the Polish word in Bonkowski’s banner, ‘syfilizacja’ (syphilization) is a word of his own invention made by combining syphilis and civilization. He also can’t even speak good Polish -- ‘zoophilia’ in Polish should be written ‘zoofile,’ but he wrote ‘zoofilisci.’ We’re dealing here with an uneducated cretin.”
The homophobic article in the Law and Justice party bulletin by Zyzak, Michal Rolecki of the Web site GayPoland.pl told me, “was pseudo-theological nonsense -- it really means the author should see a psychiatrist.”
In a related development, Polish police announced that, after a three- month investigation, they have arrested the man who knifed an activist whose name had appeared on a hit-list published by the neo-nazi Blood and Honor website. The website targeted lesbian and gay activists as “enemies of the white race” and called for their assassination, providing photographs, names and addresses.
During this year’s Warsaw Gay Pride March, members of the Law and Justice Party’s youth division, the All-Polish Youth -- a thuggish strong-arm group, largely composed of skinheads, which has been responsible for many violent attacks on gay events, and many of whose members are also members of Blood and Honor -- were observed taking photographs of participants in the Pride March. Gay activists suspected that the photos would have wound up on the Blood and Honor website.
The police said that the 24-year-old Blood and Honor member arrested in the stabbing of the activist had confessed to the crime. As a result of the police investigation, the hit-list of gays and lesbians was taken down from the website--at least for the moment.
Also, Warsaw city authorities announced earlier this month that they would refused any request for a subsidy for the city’s annual Gay Pride March after newspapers reported that Pride organizers planned to seek financial help from the city on the grounds that the march helps promote tourism, and constituted a boon to the Warsaw‘s hotels, restaurants, and bars. Over 1000 foreigners came to Warsaw in June to join in the Pride March -- but Miroslaw Kochalski, a spokesman for the mayor, said the march was “immoral and a danger to the inhabitants of Warsaw,” and that no request for a subsidy would be considered.
For background information, see these previous DIRELAND reports on Poland: August 3 -- Polish Gays Fear New Prime Minister; July 21 -- European Parliament Condemns Poland's Homophobia; June 8 -- Poland's Crackdown on Gay Groups; March 29 -- Warsaw: The Siege of Le Madame--A Polish Stonewall?; March 31--Warsaw: Police Attack Le Madame, Expel Occupants; December 1, 2005 -- Polish Gays Fighting Back -- Demonstrations in 8 Cities; November 21, 2005 -- A First-Hand Account of An Official Gay-Bashing; October 28, 2005 -- Is Poland's New President Another Putin, or Another Peron?; October 25, 2005 -- Poland Could Lose E.U. Voting Rights Over New Regime's Homophobia; October 24 -- Poland Elects A Homophobic, Hard-Right President;
August 19, 2006
IRAN: A LESBIAN TORTURE VICTIM SPEAKS
I wrote the following article for The Advocate -- the national U.S. gay and lesbian weekly -- which published it today (a complete list of my reports on Iran, including six other interviews with Iranian gay and lesbian torture victims, can be found at the end of this post). :
Maryam knew she was a lesbian from an early age, but in Iran, being gay is punishable by death. Facing far more than parental disapproval, she was kicked out of school, fired from a job, imprisoned, and tortured, all in an unsuccessful effort to change her sexual orientation. Finally, she escaped to France, where her asylum request was still pending at press time.
In this interview, a lesbian victim of torture in the Islamic Republic of Iran speaks on the record for the first time about the horrors she suffered at the hands of a regime that has made homosexuality illegal and punishable by death. Maryam, 25, was expelled from school, forcibly hospitalized, arrested, and tortured for being a lesbian before finally escaping Iran. She eventually wound up in France, where she currently lives in an internment camp. Although she's filed an application for asylum as a sexual refugee, given the conservative French government’s new crackdown on illegal immigrants, Maryam could be deported back to Iran at any moment. “I don’t know what I will do if the French government sends me back to where my execution pillar is awaiting me!” she says. Doug Ireland spoke to her by phone, aided by a Persian translator, from Paris, where she had traveled for a day to file documents for her asylum request. Here, in her own words, is Maryam’s story:
“I was born in 1981, a child of the Islamic Republic. When I was 16 and in high school (I studied literature and science), I had a classmate named Azi who later became my girlfriend. We were always together. She would lay her head on my shoulders, touching my hands and my body. With these tender acts the love grew between us. We later shared our feelings and emotions, until it was unbearable for us to separate from each other. The only pleasurable time we had was in school, because we couldn’t see each other anywhere else. Our dream was to rent an apartment and live together.
“One day Azi and I were studying for final exams in her house, and we felt enormous desire for each other. We forgot that the house door was unlocked. Azi’s parents came in unexpectedly and found us naked in each other’s arms. The first thing they did was to inform my mother, then the school authorities. My mother was furious and told me, ‘You brought me shame and disgrace. Why don’t you wait to find a good husband and marry? Why are doing such blasphemy?’
“The school authorities gave us a very hard time. They interrogated us and accused us of an illegitimate act against Islamic laws, against Sharia law. Then they expelled us. We each received an official letter from the Ministry of Education in Tehran indicating that because of our unlawful act against Sharia law, we were prohibited from being registered in any other school in the country.
“Azi and I were jobless for one year. We couldn’t even register at night schools. After a year I found a secretarial job in a commercial company. Later, I recommended Azi for work at the same company. Now we were together again.
“One day we went to the restroom together, kissing each other in a secluded place, unaware that we were seen by someone who reported us to the company’s ‘Office of Guiding’ [run under clerical supervision]. Azi was so afraid she resigned her job immediately, but I stood strongly on my feet and answered their questions. They accused me of having psychological problems and said that my behavior with Azi was a sign of a mental disturbance or insanity. They gave me a three-month leave of absence to be under the treatment of doctors. They ordered me to be hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic for two weeks. Each night I had to take a handful of tiny pills, and then I would become unconscious, and wasn’t able to recognize anything around me! After a while they convinced me that I was sick and had psychological problems.
“Months passed, and I went back to work. But I felt worse—the hospitalization had made me crazy. Finally, a sympathetic doctor diagnosed that I’m homosexual and told me that I don’t have any mental health problems. He emphasized that I should return home immediately, but the Office of Guiding did not agreed with his diagnosis.
“At work, one of the officials of the Office of Guiding asked me, ‘Do you see any changes in you?’ I answered, ‘No, I’m the same one as I’ve been before.’ He said, ‘Don’t you want to be a real human like others?‘ I said, ‘I was a real human before!’
“I was fired the same day. When I left work, two men came out of a car and politely asked, ‘May we talk to you for a moment?’ ‘Sure,’ I said. They led me to the car, in which were sitting two more men. They blindfolded me, and I was driven in the car for 45 minutes. They took me to an old building, leading me by taking my sleeves (because they shouldn’t touch my body), then they took me to a room and took off the blindfold. I opened my eyes—now I could see the two men, who were aged 40 to 50.
“‘I must know who you are!’ I said. But instead of answering, they cursed me and spat in my face and said, ‘You’re a filthy, disgraced, shameless pagan.’ Through the door, I could hear men screaming who were under torture.
“One of the men burned my legs with a cigarette. I screamed, and they cursed me. I spent four days in this prison in a dark room with a single bed and cockroaches. They took me to the bathroom only once a day and did not allow me to call my mother. During the four days they tried to ‘treat’ my ‘sickness’ with verses of the Koran. I was hopeless and in despair. I was only 19. After four days they forced me to confess: They dictated to me a statement saying I’d committed a blasphemy and wouldn’t do it anymore. I was so afraid, I signed it. Then I was released but remained under police supervision.
“They took my file to the health branch of the University of Shahid Beheshti and assigned me to two women psychologists who ‘treated’ me for six months. They tried to convince me that I was falsely inculcating myself with the notion that my attraction is only to females. At the end of this ‘treatment,’ they offered to change my sexuality through surgery, and later ordered me to have it. ‘No,’ I said. ‘I’m Maryam, a girl, and I do not want to be a man!' The female doctor told me, ‘If you don’t change your sexuality and you continue unlawful acts, your future will be a death sentence.’
“Six more months passed, and I was still under the control and supervision of the Ministry of Intelligence. I lost my desire to continue living, as life had no meaning to me anymore, and I wanted to commit suicide, because I had no hope. I was rejected and banished from society. I took a handful of tranquilizers to end my life. I was almost unconscious when I heard my mother’s screaming, while she took me to the hospital. After my mother saved me, I decided to leave the country. I found a smuggler who helped me to go to Turkey.
“I had been saving my money since I had worked in that business company. My mother also helped me financially. I was 21 years old when I left the country by bus two years ago. After two days I was in Turkey. The smugglers stole my passport. From Turkey I went to Greece, then Bulgaria. I had to change vehicles several times, from cars to trucks. And I had to hide in the back of the vehicles. At borders I had to be silent. I finally arrived in France, where I was left in the small city of Alençon, about 100 miles west of Paris.
“I spent the first night in a telephone cabin, then the next day I presented myself at a police station. The French police treated me very nicely. But then they put me in an internment camp, where I now live. We are given a subsistence income of 300 euros each month. I have to extend my temporary resident card every three months. But I’m afraid that I’ll be refused asylum and deported.
“The situation for gays and lesbians in Iran is not good. They can’t live the way they want to and have no rights. The government tells us that execution is the homosexual’s destiny. And lesbians have to be stoned to death. [Iranian president] Ahmadinejad’s government is much worse than the preceding one. If I'm forced to go back to Iran, I’ll definitely be executed."
For background on the new wave of anti-gay repression in Iran, see my previous articles: July 21, 2005 -- Iran Executes Two Gay Teenagers (Updated); August 11 -- Iran Sources Question Rape Charges in Teen Executions; August 12 -- Two New Gay Executions Scheduled in Iran, Says Iranian Exile Group; August 17 -- Iran's Deadly Anti-Gay Crackdown: With Two More Executions Scheduled, the Pace of Repression Steps Up.August 25 -- Iran's Anti-Gay Purge Grows: Reports of New Executions. September 8 -- Iran and the Death of Gay Activism. September 20 -- "They'll Kill Me" -- A Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks of His Ordeal ; September 29 -- Iranian Gays Urgently Appeal for Help ; October 5 --"Shocking New Photo of Hanging of Gay Iranian Teens"; October 6 -- Canada Introduces UN Resolution Condemning Iran's Human Rights Record; November 24, "Save Us"-- A Gay Iranian Who Married His Partner Begs for Help from the West ; January 12, 2006 -- "Kidnapped: Another Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks"; January 4, 2006 -- "Iran's Anti-Gay Pogrom"; January 27, 2006 -- "A Call to Solidarity: U.S. Gay Groups Must End Their Isolationism; February 8, 2006 -- "An Iranian Trans Torture Victim Speaks from Inside Iran." February 9, 2006--Stop the Deportation of Saba Rawi; March 3, 2006-- "Dutch to End Freeze on Deportation of Gay Iranians"; March 4, 2006-- "Commotion in Dutch Parliament Over Deportation of Gay Iranians."; March 16, 2006-- "England: Another Gay Iranian Faces Deportation"; April 20, 2006-- "Dutch Deportations of Gay Iranians on Hold"; April 26, 2006-- "iran Hacks Websites to Bury Anti-Gay Pogrom"; May 31, 2006-- "Iran Exports Anti-Gay Pogrom to Iraq"; June 14, 2006-- "An Iranian Gay Activist's Moving Plea." June 25, 2006 -- "Iran's Gay Refugees Find a Safe Haven in Canada." ; July 4, 2006 --"Global Protests July 19 To Commemorate Hanging of Two Iranian Gay Teens." July 5, 2006 -- "From Inside Iran, An Underground Gay Activist Speaks: 'If I'm Found Out, No Physical Sign of Me Will Remain'" August 3, 2006 -- "Iran: Setting the Record Straight" ; August 6, 2006 -- "From Inside Iran, a Message from the Gay 'Zine MAHA"
Also, don't miss Rob Anderson's excellent article in the New Republic, "How America's Gay Rights Establishment is Failing Gay Iranians."
August 16, 2006
UGANDA: NEW ANTI-GAY WITCH-HUNT
In the East African country of Uganda, the country's leading tabloid, Red Paper, on August 8 published a list of 45 alleged homosexuals, whom the paper characterized as "men who like to give it to other men from behind," reports today's daily e-bulletin of the French gay monthly Tetu. A scandal-and-sex sheet modeled on the popular, downmarket British tabloids, Red Paper listed the profession, the city of origin, and in some cases information on the friends and/or partners of those accused of being gay, most of whom were from the country's capital, Kampala, and its suburbs. In Uganda, homosexuality is punishble by life imprisonment.
Tetu quoted a gay Ugandan expat living in France as saying that most of the people outed by Red Paper "have fled the country if they had the means to do so -- principally to Europe, since the only African country in which they would not be persecuted is South Africa."
The Ugandan tabloid denounced homosexuality as "an abominable sin, in fact a mortal sin that's against nature," and said it wanted to "demonstrate how rapidly this terrible vice known as sodomy is eating away at our society."
At the same time, yesterday's Toronto Globe and Mail reports on the case of a 22- year-old Ugandan, Emmanuel Ndyanabo, who was "chased out of his native country this month for wanting to attend the International AIDS Conference in Toronto." The Canadian daily says that "Ndyanabo has applied for refugee status in Canada for fear of being persecuted if he returns to Uganda."
"Ndyanabo is gay, and being a homosexual in Uganda is a crime that comes with a life term in prison. He has already been arrested for running a counselling service for HIV-positive kuchus (homosexuals) in Kampala and his family blamed him for his father's death last year. 'Somehow, because I am gay, that killed my father, they say.' So when he was granted a bursary this month to attend the Toronto conference, he saw it as a long-awaited sign of hope to meet and speak with others like himself. But at the airport, a customs official told him they were on the lookout for people wanting to attend this summit.
"'He [still] stamped my passport, looked at me and said, 'I wish you luck. But do not come back if they [security] let you through,' " Ndyanabo told the Globe and Mail.
Persecution of homosexuals is nothing new in Uganda, a country in which roughly have the population is Catholic and another third belongs to a homophobic split-off from the Anglican Church. In 2004, the government began a campaign of arresting gay people after a radio call-in show featured a lesbian and two gay men as guests to talk about AIDS prevention. The publication of the list of gays by Red Paper could well trigger another such wave of arrests.
Last October, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) said that “Uganda is engaged in an active campaign of legislative overkill and coercion to silence an emerging community...LGBT people live in fear because of aggressive government intimidation."
August 14, 2006
IRAN'S PRES. AHMADINEJAD LAUNCHES HIS OWN BLOG
Not satisfied with the Tehran regime's attacks on websites and bloggers -- a number of whom have been jailed -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (photo left) has now started his own blog. Reuters reported yesterday that Ahmadinejad "used his first entry to recount his poor upbringing and ask visitors to the site if they think the United States and Israel want to start a new world war....But he admitted his opening blog, which runs to more than 2,300 words in the English version, was too long. 'From now onwards, I will try to make it simpler and shorter,' he wrote."
Reuters said that the website will be available in Persian, Arabic, English and French. However, when I visited the blog this morning, the French version did not appear to be working, and the English version was very truncated, and contained only a short excerpt from the 2300 word first blog-post by Ahmadinejad about which Reuters reported. To read the full Reuters dispatch, click here. And, if you want to visit Ahmadinejad's blog, click here.
Meanwhile, "Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer, estimates that at least 50 bloggers have been detained since last year.Iranian bloggers first started proliferating about five years ago," according to Business Week., which also quoted "Isa Saharkhiz, a member of the Iranian branch of the Committee to Protect Journalists, [who] said: "The crackdown on bloggers is part of a growing censorship policy by the state."
Ahjadinejad's blog does have a comments section -- it will be interesting to see whether critics of the regime will begin posting comments on it, and whether they will be displayed. One might well imagine that opponents of the regime will stage a "blog-in" and flood the site with comments.
The website StopCensoring Us--Watching Internet Censorship in Iran had nothing on Ahmadinejad's blog on its website today -- in fact, this website, which used to be posting useful news, hasn't had an entry since May 11, which suggests it's a bit moribund. The editor of StopCensoringUs is Hossein Derakhshan (aka Hoder -- considered by many the "blogfather" of the huge Iranian blogging movement, he is now based in Toronto).. But Hoder (photo right) seems to be putting his energy into Editor: Myself, his own blog (giving much less time to StopCensoringUs..
On his personal blog, Hoder comments today on Ahmadinejad's debut: "Ahmadinejad is a populist rather than a fundamentalist. Yet, I can't really convince myself that he's really taken up blogging.The website has only one post now and it's not clear if he's written it specifically for this 'blog.' We should wait and see how it goes and then decide to call it a blog..." You can read the rest of this post and Hoder's other recent offerings on his blog by clicking here.
If you saw Mike Wallace's long interview with Ahmadinejad in Tehran last night on CBS's "60 Minutes," you'll know that Mike didn't lay a glove on him. The Iranian president simply fillibustered and ignored the questions he didn't want to answer by changing the subject. Mike tried to ask Ahmadinejad about his statement that the Holocaust was a myth, but the Iranian president pirouetted away from the question, as he did when asked what he thougt of George W. Bush. Obviously well-briefed on Wallac'es interrogatory style, Ahmadinejd gave deliberately long answers that kept the number of questions short. In all, little of substance was learned, Mike questions were as easy to hit as Nerf-balls, and Mike came way with very little "hot copy" from his interview.
If you want to visit the home page for Ahmadinejad's blog, click here, (The English, Arabic, and French versions are obtained by clicking on the appropriate maps in the blog's upper-right-hand corner.) It may take you several tries to get through -- it did me, and the message I got was that the server was "too busy," so apparently lots of people are flocking to tune in to Ahmadinejad's maiden blogging effort (do we beleve he really will write the blog himself?) It's clearly designed as a propaganda tool.
RELATED READING: The L.A. Times had a very interesting report on the trip to Los Angeles by Akbar Ganji (photo right), the famous dissident Iranian journalist only recently released from prison, who warned the audiences he spoke to that U.S. military intervention in Iran would only lead to more oppression by Tehran of its citizens. The article also talked with sceptics about Ganji from the "Irangeles" contingent (as the large community of exiled Iranians in L.A. is called), and a lot of those critics of Ganji seem to be from former Pahlevi circles. Read the entire L.A. Times article on Akbar Ganji by clicking here. ....Hoder, too, has a question-raising post on his blog today noting that Reza Pahlevi has endorsed Ganji's call for a global hunger strike in support of Iranian political prisoners, and said this and a number of other facts and people he cites supports "my hypothesis that the people who organized Ganji's hunger strike were the same ones who were behind the Reza Pahlavi and Mohsen Sazgara's Referendum movement. There was definitely something going here, beyond Ganji's naivity." You can read Hoder's comment, "Reza Pahlevi and Ganji's Hunger Strike," by clicking here.
NOT TO BE MISSED is my old friend Seymour Hersh's sharp-eyed and sharp- tongued report just posted on The New Yorker's website, "WATCHING LEBANON: Washington's Interests in Israel's War." The inimitable Sy (photo left), ahead of the pack as usual, reports the Iran connection: he says the Bush administration "was closely involved in the planning of Israel's retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah's heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground...." You must make time to read Sy Hersh's latest New Yorker article by clicking here.....By the way, the French weekly Le Canard Enchaine reported last week that Washington is keeping a steady supply of bunker-busting bomgs and other key munitions flowing to Israel for its war in Lebanon through its base in Diego Garcia....
August 11, 2006
NEW POLL SHOWS EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ADDICTED TO PORN
A new poll released this week by ChristianNet.com -- which bills itself as "the world's most-visited Christian website" -- in conjunction with Second Grace Ministries shows that those born-again, Evangelical Christians are addicted to porn.
"The poll results indicate that 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography," said Clay Jones, funder and President of Second Glance Ministries. Moreover, he said " 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year; and 20% of the church-going female participants struggle with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis."
And, added ChristianNet's president, Bill Cooper, "We directed over 100,000 inquiries to Second Glance Ministries in one year...We are seeing an escalation to the problem [of porn addiction] both men and women who regularly attend church."
Christian right Evangelicals are, of course, always in the forefront of censhorhip crusades (see, for example, my L.A. Weekly article "The New Blacklist: How Corporate America is Bowing to Anti-Gay Christian Boycotts") But this new poll suggests that it's time to call the Christers' "culture wars" the "hypocrisy wars."
August 10, 2006
SHIRIN EBADI, IRANIAN NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER, SAYS SHE'S IN DANGER OF ARREST
In the wake of the ban by the Tehran regime on the organization headed by Iran's Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi (left), the Defenders of Human Rights Center, which was announced last Saturday, Ebadi has issued a statement in which she says "there is a high possibility that they will arrest us." Here is the full text of Ebadi's statement, just received:
کانون مدافعان حقوق بشر
There is a very important matter I would like to discuss with you. I conduct my human rights activities through the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC). I am the president of this center and we have three important responsibilities: We report the violations of human rights that take place in Iran; We defend political prisoners pro-bono--about 70% of the political prisoners in Iran are clients of our center and we do not charge them for our srevices; We support the families of these prisoners both financially -- if they require financial aid -- and spiritually.
This center is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and has been registered there. It has also been awarded a human rights prize by the Human Rights National Commission in France. This center is very well known and credible in Iran. Two days ago the government announced that this center is illegal and provided we continue our activities, they shall arrest us. Of course me and the other members of the center do not intend to shut down the center and we shall continue our activities. However, there is a high possibility that that they will arrest us. The government's action in this regard is illegal.
Therefore, I kindly request that you broadcast this message by all means and gather spiritual support for our center. This center has been established and working for more than four years now. I believe this decision of the government has been triggered by my memoir (cover, left) being published. In any case, I am happy that my memoir has been published, for the truth must be told.
Shirin Ebadi (photo above right, Catherine Zeta-Jones congratulating Shirin Ebadi at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, December 11 2003)
You can visit Shirin Ebadi's website by clicking here. You can read Ebadi's Nobel Prize Lecture by clicking here. And you can order Ebadi's memoir, "Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope," by clicking here.
August 09, 2006
HARSH CRACKDOWN ON TURKEY'S GAYS
I wrote the following article for the new issue of Gay City News -- New York's largest gay weekly newspaper -- which hits the newsstands tomorrow:
This past week has seen Turkish gays the target of multiple attacks, by both the government and an organized homophobic mob.
Last Friday, the entire press run of Turkey’s only gay and lesbian magazine, published by the Ankara-based gay organization Kaos GL (logo right), was confiscated by police before it could be distributed to bookstores and kiosks. The 28th issue of the quarterly magazine, which bears the same name as the association that sponsors it and has been continuously published since 1994, was seized on a court order sought by the national government’s prosecutor in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, under a law for "protection of general morality."
The national government of the Republic of Turkey has been controlled by an Islamist party, the AKP (Justice and Development Party), since 2002, and so are a significant majority of local governments.
Gokkusagi (The Rainbow Association) of Bursa, Turkey’s third-largest city with a population of 2 million, had called a demononstration for Sunday, August 6, to protest an attempt by the governor of Bursa to shut down the association under the same "general morality" statute. But before the LGBT group could hold its march, the association’s headquarters, where the gay protesters had assembled—and which also serves as a gay cultural center—was besieged by a stone-throwing, homophobic mob of 500, trapping some 100 gays, lesbians, and transgendered inside as the anti-gay hooligans chanted, "There is no way out here, you will die!"
The anti-gay demonstration was organized by the city’s Association of Tradesmen Supporting Bursaspor, the local football team, with the help of its Web site. (Photo right: Transgendered activists confront homophobic mob besieging Bursa Gay Community Center last Sunday)
In a press conference held by the football supporters to call their anti-gay demonstration, the Tradesmen’s Association’s president, Fevzinur Dundar, declared: "Bursa is the city of Ottoman sultans and religious men. This city does not deserve to be humiliated by these people who are outside society. We will stop them from marching. If the governors and politicians do not want these people to be lynched, they must make their attitude clear."
Even though the gay group had obtained a legal permit for its march in Bursa, organizers accused police of failing to insure the march could take place and prevent violence.
"The police could have taken the required measures, but they didn’t. They even sought to dissuade us from holding the event," Emir Birant, an activist from Ankara’s Kaos GL, told Agence France-Presse by telephone from Bursa. "There was absolutely no help from the authorities, which clearly demonstrates how homosexuals are regarded in Turkey."
The transgendered individuals were particularly prominent in the Bursa gay protest.
"The president of the Bursa Rainbow Association is transgendered, and so are about half its members," Cihan Huroglu of Lambda-Istanbul told Gay City News. "For the event, many transgenders from Ankara from the association Pink Life had arrived. Also around five trans-people from Istanbul had come. Altogether there were around 25 transgendered people among the 100 trapped in the Rainbow Center" during the homophobes’ siege, according to Huroglu.
Pink Life was founded in Ankara on June 30 as Turkey’s first association of transvestites and transsexuals.
After the siege ended, "The activists from Istanbul and Ankara eventually were deported with police escorts to the bus station, and safely returned home. But those who lived in Bursa had to wait a little longer until the football game started before they could leave safely," Huroglu told Gay City News. "The police claimed that they would not be able to protect the LGBT activists, and said if they tried to march they would be taken into custody. Stones were thrown into the center’s windows, and also at the buses when the LGBT activists were trying to leave."
"The Bursa group—whose full legal name is the Rainbow Association for Protecting Transvestites, Transsexuals, Gays and Lesbians, Solidarity, and Development of Cultural Activities—is an LGBT group that was formed in March this year, and has about 170 members," Huroglu explained. "Their cultural center houses their regular meetings and gives social support to the gay community. Their most significant activity to date was their campaign against the executions of gay people in Iran—last month they collected petition signatures on the street, which was the first open political appearance of an LGBT group in Bursa."
Government authorities, at the end of July, began legal proceedings to shut down the Bursa Rainbow Association not only under the "general morality" provisions in the Turkish Civil Code used to ban Kaos GL Magazine, but by citing constitutional clauses relating to "protection of the family."
A similar procedure was used to try to outlaw the Kaos GL association last September—but after worldwide protests, especially in Europe, the government dropped the effort a month later. However, as Huroglu pointed out, "That was at the time of the fragile first-stage negotiations for Turkey’s accession to the European Union," which requires full human rights for gays and lesbians of its member states. Now Turkey’s attempt to join the E.U. has somewhat stalled, and, said Huroglu, "the atmosphere in Turkey today is a bit less pro-E.U., and there is no provisional political threshold from the E.U. as there was last fall to encourage the government to show an extra effort" to conform to E.U. human rights norms.
The issue of Kaos GL Magazine that gave authorities the excuse to seize it last week included a special section entitled "Vision of Sexuality, Sexuality of Vision: Pornography," with contributions by writers, academics, feminists, painters, and photographers discussing "cultural and artistic criticism of pornography via gay-lesbian sexuality," according to a statement by Kaos GL’s editors, who insisted the magazine was "criticizing and questioning pornography." Yet the government obtained a court order banning the magazine as "pornographic." (Photo left: Murathan Mungan, author, poet, and Turkey's most performed playwright, is openly gay, a Kaos GL supporter, and often a speaker at Kaos GL events.)
Umut Guner, one of the founders of the Kaos GL association and chief editors of its magazine, told Gay City News, "There is still massive discrimination against LGBT people in both the public and private sector. It is very difficult for someone to press charges when he or she faces discrimination based on sexual orientation; Turkish laws do not recognize crimes of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgenders, who are often the most visible part of the LGBT community, continue to face discrimination and physical harassment by society. Just like gays and lesbians, they have little legal recourse. Homosexuality has never been illegal in modern Turkey, but the government has refused to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or sexual identity."
The only political party to have embraced lesbian and gay issues is the tiny, libertarian/socialist ODP (Freedom and Solidarity Party), which in 1997 even nominated a transgendered candidate, Demet Demir (photo left), for an Istanbul City Council seat. But in the last national elections, the ODP got only 0.3 percent of the vote.
In fact, said Guner, "It is difficult in Turkey for a political figure to embrace the idea of banning discrimination against gay people, because homosexuality is still seen as a taboo. However, this taboo is slowly changing. Some left-wing politicians have expressed sympathy for gay people‘s rights—but no right-wing politician has."
Guner added, "Turkey has changed a lot in the last ten years. For instance, a demonstration, with rainbow banners flying, would have been unimaginable a decade before," but this year, Istanbul held a ten-day Gay Pride Festival, including a July 1 Pride March that had 150 participants.
By way of comparison, Guner noted that, "In 1993, a group of mainly German gay and lesbian activists planned a three-day seminar in Istanbul on ‘Sexual Freedom Activities,’ meant to give support to a nascent and nervous Turkish LGBT movement. It had workshops on homosexuality and politics, and speeches by German politicians and foreign social scientists and artists. Istanbul authorities closed the event down. Twenty-eight foreign guests were arrested and deported. Bars friendly to gay and lesbian people in Istanbul were raided; one of the Turkish organizers of the seminar was jailed. Now such repression would be impossible."
Guner agreed that Turkey’s ambitions to join the European Union are playing a key role in changing the atmosphere for gay people.
"Turkey hopes to join Europe, not shut the door," Guner said, adding: "All LGBT organizations, including Kaos GL, have been hampered by legal difficulties and occasional harassment. Yet we benefit from an environment in which censorship is relaxing, civil society is enjoying greater, if imperfect, space. The consequent sense of freedom is palpable in Turkish culture at large, and gays and lesbians feel it as well; so too do some in Turkey's large communities of transgendered people."
In view of the recent debate here over Iran, in which some gay activists in the U.S. have insisted that a "gay identity" is a form of cultural imperialism and insensitivity when applied to Arabic and Islamic cultures, Guner was asked his views on the question. He replied, "In my personal opinion, a ‘gay’ identity is not incompatible with Eastern, Arab, and Islamic cultures, which also means that ‘democracy, human rights, freedom’ are not incompatible with Eastern, Arab, and Islamic cultures. I believe Turkey has a chance to become the first predominantly Muslim country which will embrace all those Western values, including respect to individuals who are different because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity."
Guner added, "There are reasons to be optimistic regarding the fate of Turkish LGBT people. Turkey has always been somewhere between the West and the East. Its culture includes both Western and Eastern values. These values sometimes clash with each other. We believe that a striking example of this clash is the struggle for human rights by Turkish lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. Providing solutions to the problems of the Turkish LGBT community will be one of the litmus tests for the future of democracy in Turkey, as well as for its inclusion in the European Union. Even though the LGBT movement in Turkey is still in its early stages, one can easily notice that the Turkish LGBT movement is becoming more vocal and active. Especially since the 1990s, the momentum has been steadily increasing." (Above left: " Eating, drinking and making merry at an inn"-- Illustration from the Hubanname, or The Book of the Handsome Ones, an 18th century homoerotic work by the Turkish poet Fazyl bin Tahir Enderuni.)
Guner’s organizational ambitions match his optimism, and he said that, "Kaos is considering new projects, such as a publishing house, a psychological counseling center, a law bureau for gay rights, a solidarity network with homosexuals in jail, a health center, a senior citizens facility, and a radio channel."
WATCH NEW BRIT TV DOC ON MURDERS OF IRAQI GAYS
Last Sunday in London's The Observer, Jennifer Copestake, a Canadian documentary filmmaker, had a fresh look at the systematic murder campaign in Iraq targeting gay people.. Last night, Britain's Channel 4 aired Copestake's documentary on the persecution of Iraqi gays on which her Observer piece was based. Now, this TV documentary is available, via Channel 4's website, for viewing on the 'Net by clicking here.
I broke the story on the organized "sexual cleansing" of Iraqi gays following the "death-to-gays" fatwa issued last fall by Grand Ayatollah Sistani (photo right) -- spiritual leader of all Iraqi Shia Muslims -- in my March 23 article in Gay City News, "Shia Death Squads Target Iraqi Gays", and I have written a number of followup pieces expanding on this subject since. Copestake's documentary TV report now gives this tragic story -- so far uncovered in the mainstream U.S. press -- an added sense of urgency. Copestake reports (as she wrote in her Observer piece):
"There is growing evidence that Shia militias have been killing men suspected of being gay and children who have been sold to criminal gangs to be sexually abused...(Photo left from Copestake's documentary shows an Iraqi gay being pummeled to death)
"Eleven-year-old Ameer Hasoon al-Hasani was kidnapped by policemen from the front of his house last month. He was known in his district to have been forced into prostitution. His father Hassan told me he searched for his son for three days after his abduction, then found him, shot in the head. A copy of the death certificate confirms the cause of death...
"Graphic photos obtained from Baghdad sources too frightened to identify themselves as having known a gay man, and seen by the Observer, show other gay Iraqis who have been executed. One shows two men, suspected of having a relationship, blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs - guns at the ready behind their heads - awaiting execution. Another picture captured on a mobile phone shows a gay man being beaten to death. Yet another shows a corpse being dragged through the streets after his execution.
"One photograph is of the mutilated, burnt body of 38-year-old Karar Oda from Sadr City. He was kidnapped by the Badr Brigade in mid-June. They work with the Ministry of Interior and are the informal armed wing of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, who make up the largest Shia bloc in the Iraq parliament. Oda's family were given an arrest warrant signed by the Ministry of Interior which said their son deserved to be arrested and killed for immorality as a homosexual. His body was found ten days later..."
There's a lot more of this, and it comes to life in Copestake's new British TV documentary -- so, to watch it, click here, then, once on that Channel 4 page, click on the highlighted green link reading, "Watch the report."
See also these earlier DIRELAND reports: April 13, "U.N. Agency Confirms Iraqi Gays Targeted for Murder"; April 17, "BBC First Major News Org To Run Story on Killing of Iraqi Gays."
August 06, 2006
FROM INSIDE IRAN, A MESSAGE FROM THE GAY 'ZINE MAHA
The following message was distributed today (August 6) by the editors of MAHA, the clandestine gay 'zine in Iran, who ask that it be distributed widely. MAHA means "we" or "us" in Persian. Originally begun in 2004 as a newspaper after a crackdown on Iranian gay websites by the Tehran regime, MAHA is now distributed in PDF format to its subscribers.
FROM THE EDITORS OF MAHA:
We note some differences of opinion in the international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement about how to best support LGBT people in Iran. We would like to express our view, and we believe that a great number of our readers share our opinion.Iranian society has developed despite the oppression. The demand for democracy and human rights is growing in our country.
We believe that the human rights of Iranian women, students, workers and LGBT people are not western phenomenon but aspects of universal human rights and are important for human freedom, dignity and fulfilment in Iran – and everywhere.
Despite all our difficulties and dangers, the Iranian LGBT community is getting more and more informed and is expressing its demand for human rights. We identify as LGBT people and want the same freedoms that LGBT people worldwide want.
Let no one claim there is not homophobic oppression in Iran. Every LGBT Iranian is at potential risk of arrest, imprisonment, flogging and execution. Avoiding such a fate requires leading a double life and hiding one’s sexuality. Even though there are secret gay parties and magazines, we are all at risk. Great discretion is the only thing that keeps many of us from the jails of the authorities – and worse.
Any disagreement over the reason for the execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz in the city of Mashhad last July does not alter the fact that the execution of men and women indulging in same-sex relations is mandatory in the penal code of Iran.
For the record, we believe the two teenagers were hanged (left) because of their homosexuality. The authorities are well-known for pinning false charges on the victims they execute. We urge people to never take at face value the charges claimed by the courts and newspapers. They are not reliable. In late July 2006, for example, a BBC television programme in England exposed how the Iranian authorities made false allegations about Atefah Sahaaleh, who was executed in the city of Neka in 2004 for “crimes against chastity”. The Iranian courts even lied about her age, claiming she was 22 at the time of her execution. In fact, she was only 16 – a minor, like Mahmoud and
We express our appreciation and admiration for the united efforts worldwide on July 19 in support of Iranian LGBT people, against homophobic oppression and all executions in Iran. These efforts gave us Iranian LGBTs hope and inspiration. It is good for our morale to know that people in other countries care about us and are pressing the Iranian authorities to halt their homophobic persecution.
Some prominent authorities here in Iran publicly condemned same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, following last year’s international protests against the Mashhad hangings.
This shows that your protests are having an effect.
The authorities in Tehran are concerned about the bad publicity they are getting all over the world.
Please do not stop. International protests are effective and we urge all groups around the world to work together for the common good of LGBT Iranians.
There is growing activity by Iranian LGBTs, both inside and outside Iran, to enlighten people about sexual diversity and respect for individual sexual orientation. Our E-magazine is part of that process.
The Iranian LGBT community in exile plays an important role in the struggle for LGBT rights in Iran. We believe that unity and cooperation between all LGBT Iranian activists is vital and important and we advocate this unity.
LGBT rights are part of human rights and they will be achieved in Iran by a joint effort from all Iranians for a democratic and modern Iran. International support for the democracy struggle inside Iran, at every level, is laudable and helpful.
We express our strongest opposition to any military intervention or military action against our beloved county Iran. It will not help the democratic struggle here but only strengthen the position of the conservative religious hardliners. War would close down the opportunities for reform. The authorities would use the pretext of “national security” to suppress debate and dissent, including the work of LGBT Iranians
Within our country, LGBTs need to make alliances with other oppressed sectors of the population who share our commitment to democracy and human rights. It would be a mistake to see LGBT rights as separate from the broader humanitarian struggle in Iran. Isolating our movement would keep it weak and marginal. LGBT rights should be a part of the mainstream Iranian democratic agenda.
We believe that Iranian LGBTs need support at every level, both nationally and internationally – from the UN, EU and national governments, and from human rights, NGO and LGBT organisations worldwide. We value your solidarity.
International pressure on the Iranian authorities regarding human rights and LGBT rights is effective and we welcome it.
Portraying homosexual rights in Iran only as a socio-cultural issue is harmful for our unity and the success of our struggle. It is our view that LGBT rights are about social, cultural, economic, legal and political justice. One cannot fight for LGBT people but ignore discrimination in the law and the fact that the Iranian authorities have made sexual orientation a political issue by denouncing and outlawing same-sex relations, and by punishing LGBTs with imprisonment and violent abuse, including torture and
We do not agree that the LGBT issue in Iran is purely a cultural matter. LGBT rights are a political issue too. Achieving LGBT rights in Iran demands hard work, both socio-cultural and political – changing laws and institutions, as well as changing people’s values and attitudes.
Iranian homosexuals are oppressed by the authorities. But in some other Muslim countries, like Lebanon and Turkey, LGBT people are able to form their own organisations, organise conferences and publish their information. This shows that greater liberalisation is possible in a Muslim country.
That is why, we strongly believe that in the current situation, the central obstacles against homosexual rights in Iran are the anti-homosexual laws. That is why the removal of discrimination against LGBT people in the country’s penal code is vital. It would pave the way for a significant improvement of LGBT people’s lives by changing the law and removing the threat of arrest and other abuses. We also need democratic, reform-minded people to lead the country and to secure changes in the education system and the media to combat homophobic prejudice and to promote understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.
Due to the current homophobic repression in Iran, we are unable to openly express our demand for LGBT human rights. That is why international LGBT pressure on the Iranian authorities, in solidarity with Iranian LGBT people, is most vital and welcome.
We thank you for your support -- MAHA
For more information on the debate over Iran in the gay community, see the following new articles in this week's issue of Gay City News: "Iran--The Fog of Debate: Are 'Crackdown' and 'Terror' Really Different?" by Duncan Osborne; "Iran, George W. Bush, and the Death of Human Rights-- a Letter from the Editor," by Paul Schindler, Editor, Gay City News; "Iran: Setting the Record Straight," by Doug Ireland; Op-Ed: "People-to-People Dialogue Key to Human Rights Progress," by Mitra Roshan and Kourosh Shemirani
For background on the new wave of anti-gay repression in Iran, see my previous articles: July 21, 2005 -- Iran Executes Two Gay Teenagers (Updated); August 11 -- Iran Sources Question Rape Charges in Teen Executions; August 12 -- Two New Gay Executions Scheduled in Iran, Says Iranian Exile Group; August 17 -- Iran's Deadly Anti-Gay Crackdown: With Two More Executions Scheduled, the Pace of Repression Steps Up.August 25 -- Iran's Anti-Gay Purge Grows: Reports of New Executions. September 8 -- Iran and the Death of Gay Activism. September 20 -- "They'll Kill Me" -- A Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks of His Ordeal ; September 29 -- Iranian Gays Urgently Appeal for Help ; October 5 --"Shocking New Photo of Hanging of Gay Iranian Teens"; October 6 -- Canada Introduces UN Resolution Condemning Iran's Human Rights Record; November 24, "Save Us"-- A Gay Iranian Who Married His Partner Begs for Help from the West ; January 12, 2006 -- "Kidnapped: Another Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks"; January 4, 2006 -- "Iran's Anti-Gay Pogrom"; January 27, 2006 -- "A Call to Solidarity: U.S. Gay Groups Must End Their Isolationism; February 8, 2006 -- "An Iranian Trans Torture Victim Speaks from Inside Iran." February 9, 2006--Stop the Deportation of Saba Rawi; March 3, 2006-- "Dutch to End Freeze on Deportation of Gay Iranians"; March 4, 2006-- "Commotion in Dutch Parliament Over Deportation of Gay Iranians."; March 16, 2006-- "England: Another Gay Iranian Faces Deportation"; April 20, 2006-- "Dutch Deportations of Gay Iranians on Hold"; April 26, 2006-- "iran Hacks Websites to Bury Anti-Gay Pogrom"; May 31, 2006-- "Iran Exports Anti-Gay Pogrom to Iraq"; June 14, 2006-- "An Iranian Gay Activist's Moving Plea." June 25, 2006 -- "Iran's Gay Refugees Find a Safe Haven in Canada." ; July 4, 2006 --"Global Protests July 19 To Commemorate Hanging of Two Iranian Gay Teens." July 5, 2006 -- "From Inside Iran, An Underground Gay Activist Speaks: 'If I'm Found Out, No Physical Sign of Me Will Remain'" August 3, 2006 -- "Iran: Setting the Record Straight"
Also, don't miss Rob Anderson's excellent article in the New Republic, "How America's Gay Rights Establishment is Failing Gay Iranians."