UK introduces new law to protect against Anti-Gay hatred

A new law which criminalises incitement to homophobic hatred could land perpetrators with a fine or prison sentence of up to seven years.

The new offence of using threatening language with intent to provoke hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation came into effect this week and has been welcomed by gay rights groups.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the UK’s leading lesbian, gay and bisexual charity said: “The newly-extended criminal offence of incitement to hatred will go some way towards addressing the hatred and violence directed towards lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in Britain at a time when homophobic attacks are on the increase.

“It sends a strong signal that such behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society. Just like race, a person’s sexual orientation is an intrinsic characteristic for which no citizen should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence”

The new legislation is aimed at offenders who incite genuine hatred and does not extend to all criticism or the telling of jokes with a homosexual theme by comedians.

A ‘free speech’ amendment was recently included to the measure after religious leaders and comedians expressed concern that they could face prosecution under it.

Stonewall branded the concerns alarmist: “The important new offence will help prevent and tackle acts of serious hatred against individuals defined by reference to their sexual orientation, with a high threshold for prosecutions which must be approved by the Attorney General and heard before a jury” they explained.

Throughout their campaign for the legal change Stonewall says it uncovered a range of extreme websites and material stirring up hatred against gays and lesbians.

“This new legislation will send a strong positive signal, encouraging more lesbian, gay and bisexual people to report hate incidents. Gay people are entitled to live without fear like everyone else”

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

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London to protest over gay Malawi couples’ imprisonment

Malawi may have come to the world’s attention recently via a certain pop star’s adoption escapades; however a far more disturbing event is currently bringing it world-wide condemnation.

Two of the countries gay citizens, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been held in police custody since last December – their crime? – holding a traditional wedding ceremony.

Being gay is a criminal offence in Malawi. The couple is now facing up to 14 years in jail if convicted.

Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto defended the decision saying: “Our laws criminalise homosexuality and what the two did was clearly breaking the laws of Malawi.”

Malawi is a member of The Commonwealth.

Despite being dependant on foreign aid (mostly from the UK) the country’s government has rejected international concern saying that Malawi is a sovereign country with its own laws and that it will not be influenced by the West in the running of its affairs of state.

Amnesty International is calling for immediate release of the couple. The group’s UK Director Kate Allen said: “The arrest of the two men solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation amounts to discrimination and it is in violation of their rights to freedom of conscience, expression, and privacy.”

Having twice been denied bail Monjeza and Chimbalanga are pleading not guilty to charges of gross indecency.

A protest, organized by several gay groups, is being held in central London on Monday – the day a verdict on the case is expected.

“We want Steven and Tiowonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi’s anti-homosexuality laws

“These laws violate the equality and non-discrimination provisions of Article 20 of the Malawian Constitution and Articles 2, 3 and 4 and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold,” said gay activist and co-organiser of Monday’s protest, Peter Tatchell.

“The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has failed to speak out loudly against the arrest and jailing of Steven and Tiwonge, even though equality and human rights are supposed to be key Commonwealth principles,” he added.

The protest is scheduled to take place outside the Commonwealth Secretariat’s head office in central London.

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

Ben & Jerry’s Gay wedding

In September last year Ben & Jerry’s sweetened up the gay marriage debate by rebranding their ‘Chubby Hubby’ ice cream as ‘Hubby Hubby’ in support of same-sex unions.

Back then, In a statement issued by the company, Walt Freese, Chief Executive Officer of Ben & Jerry’s said “At the core of Ben & Jerry’s values, we believe that social justice can and should be something that every human being is entitled to. From the very beginning of our 30 year history, we have supported equal rights for all people. The legalization of marriage for gay and lesbian couples in Vermont (Ben & Jerry’s home state) is certainly a step in the right direction and something worth celebrating with peace, love and plenty of ice cream.”

In honour of the legalization of gay marriage in Wahington D.C last week resident Ben & Jerry’s super-fans Keith Spangler-Vellios and Andreas Vellios decided to return the favour by tieing the knot at their local parlour.

The new law, approved in December, came into effect just last week. Ben & Jerry’s cofounder David Catania attended the ceremony.

“Equal rights and treatment for all people was a founding principle of Ben & Jerry’s when we started the company over 30 years ago,” Jerry Greenfield, cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s, said in a statement.

“We are proud that the District of Columbia is recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry and are happy to celebrate the milestone with an ice cream wedding cake and best wishes for the happy couple.”

The district now joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont as the only places in America where gay marriages can be conducted.

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

Gay church weddings get House of Lords blessing

Gay men and women can now marry in churches after the House of Lords voted in favour of lifting the ban on religious premises hosting same-sex unions.

An amendment to the Equality Bill, tabled by out Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming support in the Lords which includes senior clergy in the Church of England.

Still pending House of Commons approval, the amendment gives religious venues the option to host civil partnership ceremonies.

Currently legislation forbids religious premises to conduct gay unions; however various liberal denominations have been blessing gay partnerships once a civil ceremony has already taken place.

In an interview with The Independent Lord Alli rebuked suggestion that the amendment means churches will be eventually forced to accept gay marriage.

“Religious freedom cannot begin and end with what one religion wants,” he said. “This amendment does not place an obligation on any religious organisation to host civil partnerships in their buildings. But there are many gay and lesbian couples who want to share their civil partnership with the congregations that they worship with. And there are a number of religious organisations that want to allow gay and lesbian couples to do exactly that.”

Although the amendment was backed by senior bishops in the Lords it has been strongly opposed by conservative Christians.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre told The Times: “What is being advanced as an issue of religious freedom today will be used to remove religious freedom in the future.

“Homosexual activists have made clear that this is not the end. It is a step towards forcing churches to conduct same-sex unions that would go against their beliefs. Changing the law will further blur the distinction between marriage and what the Government put forward as a purely secular ceremony.”

The Quakers, Liberal Judaism and The Unitarians have welcomed the amendment.

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at  www.maleforce.com

By Gary Cosby

Related Link: 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7037062.ece

Gay fantasy alert! Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner to deliver at Oscars

Gay fantasy figures Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner are giving The Oscars a hand presenting awards at this year’s ceremony.

Lautner and Efron are immensely popular with gay men and straight women around the world – regularly topping hottest hunk polls.

In an attempt to bring some youthful heat to the show, producers this year have approached Efron and Lautner along with Kristen Stewart and Miley Cyrus to hand out the gongs.

Efron became a world wide star thanks to the Disney Channel’s High School Musical movies in which he played teen pin-up basketball captain Troy Bolton. The 22 year old actor has since gone on to star in the films 17 Again and Me and Orson Wells.

Lautner, currently the highest paid teenage actor in Hollywood, skyrocketed to fame in the Twighlight movies. He acquired teen-hunk status after gaining more than 30 pounds of solid muscle for his starring role in The Twighlight Saga: New Moon. A martial arts expert, Lautner recently presented at The Golden Globes.

Lautner’s Twighlight co-star Kristen Stewart similarly has become world famous via the film’s outstanding success around the globe. In her next movie role she plays rock’n’roll icon Joan Jett in The Runaways.

Myley Cyrus, daughter of Ache Breaky Bill Ray is also making a name for herself in tinsel town. Her next film The Last Song is set for release on March 31st.

In true Oscar’s tradition three of last year’s winners, Penelope Cruz, Sean Penn and Kate Winslet returning to present awards.

The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, which takes place on March 7, will be Cyrus and Efron’s second appearance and Twighliters Lautner and Stewart’s first.

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit www.maleforce.com

By Gary Cosby

Elton John: Jesus was Gay!

Elton John has upset religious fundamentalists by inferring that Jesus Christ was a gay man.

In a new interview the 63 year old pop star said: “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.

“On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East – you’re as good as dead.”

His comments have sparked a row with high profile evangelical minister Ian Watson, who recently led a campaign against gay clergy men in Scotland.

Watson told The Daily Record: “There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in what Elton John has said about Jesus being gay.

“Jesus was a Jew and Jewish law regards homosexual practices as a sin. When Jesus challenged his enemies to prove him guilty of sin, they couldn’t do it. Therefore, I have no doubt whatsoever that he was not a gay man.”

In the interview with Parade the Rocket Man singer talks candidly about his previous addiction to drugs and how he “lost the plot” during the period he was addicted to Cocaine.

“For some people a gram of cocaine can last a month. Not me. I have to do the lot, and then I want more. At the end of the day, all it led to was heartache.

“Just about every relationship I ever had was involved with drugs. It never works. But I always had to be with someone, good or bad, otherwise I didn’t feel fulfilled.

John who has been clean for many years goes on to say how he’s grown tired of being a celebrity.

In support of his religious ‘gaff’ the chaplain for Church of Scotland group Affirmation Scotland, the Rev Lindsay Biddle, said: “I think it’s wonderful for anybody, including Elton John, to imagine Jesus as being like them.

“This is very common, and in the Western world we do it all the time, imagining Jesus to be white when, in fact, he was a man of colour.”

 By Gary Cosby
 
For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

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