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04/19/2007


The Gay Rights Push (And Push Back) In Southeast Asia: VIDEO

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For one day in June, the tiny city-state of Singapore brims with bright pink clothing, banners, and festivities to mark the annual "Pink Dot" gathering, a celebration in support of inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love. This year's celebration, the fifth such event, was the biggest so far; at 21,000 people it was the largest civil-society gathering in Singapore history.     

But for all Pink Dot's success, the Singapore government's official ambivalence regarding gay rights reflects a common hesitation among Southeast Asian countries when faced with this new notion of human sexuality. Like our own 50 state variety of attitudes towards LGBT rights, some Southeast Asian countries are beginning to take their first hesitant steps towards equality, while others seem to be reinforcing their disapproval of homosexuality.

Continue, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Indonesia: No Porn During Holy Month

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Happy Ramadan to you! Sadly, it will be a sweaty and restless Ramadan in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, for Indonesian Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring shall attempt to eliminate the viewing of online porn during the holy month:

“As this is the Ramadhan fasting month, we need to strengthen our efforts,” ... Sembiring told reporters at a press conference at the ministry on Wednesday. 

Tifatul, known for his antics such as claiming he was “forced” to shake the hand of US First Lady Michelle Obama during a visit to Jakarta, said that the crackdown would focus on local Internet service providers (ISP).

The viewing of porn is always illegal in Indonesia, thanks to the 2008 Pornography Law -- which outlawed both pornography and "pornoaction," which may include kissing one's spouse, wearing bikinis, or the baring of a lady's shoulder -- but, according to The Jakarta Post, porn is especially dangerous during Ramadan:

[According to Ashwin Sasongko, the "director for informatics applications" at the Communication and Information Ministry,] the crackdown was launched for the benefit of Muslims, who were expected to refrain from sexual intercourse during daylight hours during Ramadhan, among other things.

“We are responsible for protecting the younger generation from consuming destructive pornographic content on the internet,” Ashwin said.

“This is really important especially ahead of Ramadhan. We hope that Muslims can fast peacefully,” Ashwin added.

At least one million pornographic websites have been blocked in Indonesia so far. There are at least one million more to go, according to te Communication and Information Ministry, though their math may be untrustworthy -- the Ministry also claims to have received "at least" 100 million complaints about online pornography in the last year, which equals rather a lot of Indonesians Googling pages they don't want to see. (The year before, the Ministry reported just over 800 such complaints.)

The Global Post notes that some Indonesians have been unable to resist porn's evil allure, including at least one Indonesian in Tifatul Sembiring's own political party:

... Tifatul's views are significantly more conservative than the norm in Indonesia, where voters have time and again offered only scant support to his fundamentalist Prosperous Justice Party ... Last year, a parliamentarian with the party resigned after fellow lawmakers caught him watching porn on his mobile phone.

In parliament.

The Jakarta Post notes a Google report that Indonesia ranks third in the world in internet users seeking pornography, behind only China and, for some reason, Turkey. 


Gaga Forced To Cancel Indonesian Concert

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There shall be no Born This Way Ball in Indonesia.

After clerics in Jakarta spent several weeks fuming and fretting over the social implications of allowing Lady Gaga, lover of sodomites and revealer of body parts, to perform in the world's largest Muslim country, Gaga's security team was so inundated with threats and portents that they forcibly canceled the concert.

From CNN:

The pop diva appeared to acknowledge [the situation] in a post on Twitter on Saturday: "There is nothing Holy about hatred."

Islamists and conservative Muslims have decried Lady Gaga's upcoming concert, saying her revealing costumes and sensual dance moves are forbidden by Islamic law.

The chairman of the Islamic Defenders Front, Habib Rizieq, said his group could not guarantee security if the concert were held.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.

In March, the pop star got a thumbs-down by the country's highest Islamic authority, according to The Jakarta Globe.

Indonesian Council of Ulema chairman Cholil Ridwan was urging Muslims not to attend the controversial singer's upcoming concert in Jakarta, the newspaper reported.

"(The concert is) intended to destroy the nation's morality," Ridwan told the Globe.

I think Ridwan is correct: Lady Gaga probably did direct the Born This Way Ball toward Indonesia, in part, because she dislikes what passes for sexual morality there. What's mystifying is why Indonesian clerics, despite their vast power, would feel threatened by a 26-year-old pop singer from the Lower East Side. They've allegedly got God on their side, and righteousness, and culture and history and whatnot. With so much going for them, why should they become unmanned by a few pop tunes and a bit of latex?


Obama's Transgender Former Nanny Living as Outcast in Jakarta

The AP profiles Evie, President Obama's transgender former nanny, who lives in a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia. Like most of the trans population there, Evie is treated as an outcast. Here's part of the post which deals with an earlier time in her life when she was a sex worker:

EvieThe raid that changed everything came in 1985. She and her friends scattered into dark alleys to escape the swinging batons. One particularly beautiful girl, Susi, jumped into a canal strewn with garbage.

When things quieted, those who ran went back to look for her.

"We searched all night," says Evie, who is still haunted by the memory of her friend's face. "Finally ... we found her. It was horrible. Her body swollen, face bashed in."

Evie tells the AP she's just waiting to die:

"I don't have a future anymore."

She says she didn't know the boy she helped raise won the 2008 U.S. presidential election until she saw a picture of the family in local newspapers and on TV. She blurted out that she knew him.

"I couldn't believe my eyes," she says, breaking into a huge grin.
Her friends at first laughed and thought she was crazy, but those who live in the family's old neighborhood say it's true.

Evie said Obama was 8 (she met their familiy in 1969 and began work after his mother was impressed with her cooking): "He was so young," says Evie. "And I never let him see me wearing women's clothes. But he did see me trying on his mother's lipstick, sometimes. That used to really crack him up."


Grindr Hacked! 100,000 users exposed down under!

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Grindr, the the wildly popular mobile app "has been compromised by a Sydney hacker, potentially exposing intimate personal chats, explicit photos and private information of users,"  the Sydney Morning Herald reports.  

With recent statements claiming 3 million users globally, the company has been "pushed into a security crisis that has left its users seriously vulnerable considering the vast amounts fo private information traded thorugh the app -- in many cases naked pictures."

The paper was tipped to the story last week, but founder Joel Simkhai denied knowing anything about it in a phone interview with the  paper last Friday, adding that the service had never had a "major breach." But by Tuesday he was forced to admit the site had been compromised as by then the hacker posted user photos, passwords and other information on a site, and it was becoming clear others had discovered the exploit as well.

The hacker site has since come down. Simkhai says protecting user privacy is their highest priority and promised a secure update to the app in days.

Love online: 100,000 Grindr users exposed in hack attack [sydney morning herald]


News: 'True Blood,' Monogamy, Military Marriage, Volcano

LafayetteJesusTB  road Census figures show that about 1,600 gay male couples and 1,860 lesbian couples are raising adopted children in Oklahoma.

 road The New York Post keeps it predictably classy while reporting on a transgender sex workers' death: "Fire Kills Tranny in Dairy Den."

 road Kevin Alejandro, who plays Jesus Velasquez on True Blood, explains why his fictional relationship with Nelson Ellis' Lafayette Reynolds works so well: "What makes Jesus and Lafayette work is just how opposite of each other they are... It's a nice balance."

 road Sears revoked an accidental $69 iPad deal, disappointing dozens of customers, including a mother whose son has Asperger's Syndrome and uses an iPad for school.

 road Michele Bachmann's political philosophy in a nutshell? "Same-sex marriage was not much of an issue here when Mrs. Bachmann..arrived at the Statehouse as a new senator in January 2001... Then, in November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared that state’s law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Mrs. Bachmann sprang into action."

IndonesiaVolcano  road Once considered Rupert Murdoch's protege, former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was arrested for her role in the phone hacking scandal that threatens Murdoch's media world.

 road Top London cop Paul Stephenson has resigned as commissioner after hiring a former News of the World editor accused in the phone hacking scandal.

 road Casey Anthony was released from prison this morning, and an angry mob was there to greet her.

 road Movie magic: the final Harry Potter flick breaks records with $476 million worldwide gross during its opening weekend.

 road Indonesia's Mount Lokon continues to erupt, and today let loose its largest ash and smoke cloud yet.

 road The Batmobilie prepares for filming in Pittsburgh.

 road At least 700 hundred New York religious leaders backed the state's marriage equality legislation.

 road Monogamy's many faces: "What we find is that the idea that it takes a village to raise a child is absolutely true. Humans are what we call cooperative breeders. It takes multiple people to raise offspring, and that's the mechanism by which we're socially monogamous. People commonly mistake sexual monogamy and social monogamy. Few animals on the planet are sexually monogamous."

GingrichDebt road The next LGBT military battle: "With the military’s ban on openly gay troops expected to end this fall, advocates for gay and lesbian service members are already looking ahead to the next battle: winning equal benefits for same-sex married couples."

 road Zac Efron makes a great looking race car driver.

 road Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign is $1 million in debt. Can the anti-gay Republican hang on through primary season?

 road Gay and lesbian prison guards in the Philippines are prohibited from frisking inmates of the same sex.


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