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by Rex Wockner

Singapore censors Oscars

Singapore's MediaCorp TV censored its replay of the Academy Awards Feb. 23, removing portions of Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speech.

Black won the original screenplay Oscar for Milk, and said: "When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Tex., to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.

"If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are "less than' by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours."

Sean Penn's acceptance speech also was truncated. He won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey Milk.

Penn said: "You commie, homo-loving sons of guns. ... For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect, and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

Read more story below....

Subscribers to one of the main Singaporean gay e-mail lists were outraged at the edits.

"This sort of bigoted, intolerant and ignorant action by a national broadcaster is better suited for Iran or North Korea than a nation that puts itself forward as a modern world-class city," wrote one.

MediaCorp/Channel 5 censorship manager David Christie said the broadcast "would have been in serious breach of the MDA ( Media Development Authority ) Programme Code if such controversial content was not editorially managed."

"The code explicitly disallows content that sympathizes with, promotes or normalizes such a lifestyle from being broadcast," he said.

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore.

The Asian satellite TV service STAR also censored the two men's speeches, dropping the audio each time the word "gay" or "lesbian" was uttered.

STAR beams into more than 50 countries to some 300 million viewers.

Thai pride parade canceled after protest

The second gay pride parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was called off at the last minute Feb. 21 following virulent on-site protests by 30 members of a group called Rak Chiang Mai 51, The Nation newspaper reported.

Pride organizers said they feared the march would descend into violence, despite the presence of 150 police officers.

Rak Chiang Mai 51 spokesman Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul said pride events should be held in other cities, such as Phuket and Pattaya.

"Chiang Mai people cannot accept this and will stop the parade by all means, even violence," he said.

Belarus gays sue to hold pride parade

Pride organizers in Gomel, Belarus, filed suit Feb. 17 over the city's ban of a Feb. 12 gay pride parade.

The complaint says the ban violated organizers' right to freedom of assembly as guaranteed by the Belarusian Constitution.

"The organizers see this denial of permission as part of a pattern of infringement on the rights to assembly and they are concerned that homophobia may be a significant factor in the refusals," they said in a statement. "A similar application was submitted to the authorities in Minsk and this permission was also denied."

HIV rate climbs in Asia

Gay and bisexual men in Asia are having risky unprotected sex, causing dramatic climbs in HIV infection rates, said officials attending a World Health Organization HIV/AIDS conference Feb. 18 in Hong Kong.

The gathering heard that more than 30 percent of gay and bisexual men in Bangkok are HIV-positive, while some Chinese cities report a rate as high as 18 percent, and China as a whole has a rate of 3.8 percent among gay/bisexual men.

The director of China's AIDS-control center, Wu Zunyou, said amphetamine use and Internet hookups are factors in the climbing infection rate.

HIV now is China's deadliest infectious disease, according to a new report from the Ministry of Health.

More than 8 percent of gay and bisexual men in Jakarta are HIV-positive, the conference heard, as are 7.8 percent in Cambodia.

"Assistance: Bill Kelley

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