News Briefs: Anti-Gay-Marriage Referendum in Romania, African Nations Seek to Get Rid of 1st UN LGBT Expert & More!

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US Pastor to Ask Judge to Reject Uganda Anti-Gay Lawsuit

(AP) A Massachusetts evangelist will ask a federal judge to reject a lawsuit that accuses him of waging a long campaign to persecute gays in Uganda.

An East African gay advocacy group filed the lawsuit in 2012 against minister Scott Lively under a statute that allows non-citizens to file U.S. court actions for violations of international law.

Lively's Springfield church is known as Redemption Gate Mission Society. He has called the lawsuit "absurd" and "completely frivolous."

Lively said he has preached against homosexuality, but advised therapy, not punishment.

The New York-based group Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda.

A hearing will be held Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield on Lively's request for summary judgment to keep the case from going to trial.


African Nations Seek to Get Rid of 1st UN LGBT Expert

(AP) African nations are seeking to initially suspend and then get rid of the first U.N. independent expert charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Botswana's U.N. Ambassador Charles Ntwaagae said Friday that African nations want the General Assembly to delay consideration of a Human Rights Council resolution adopted on June 30 that authorized the appointment of an expert to monitor LGBT rights in order to discuss "the legality of the creation of this mandate."

Ntwaagae told the 193-member world body that a General Assembly resolution introduced by African nations seeking a delay also calls for suspending the activities of the first expert, Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand, who was appointed on Sept. 30, pending a determination of the legality.

The assembly is expected to vote on the African resolution on Tuesday.

The Human Rights Council resolution establishing the LGBT expert was adopted by a vote of 23-18 with 6 abstentions, reflecting the deep divisions internationally on gay rights.

The U.N. has worked to improve the rights of the LGBT community in recent years but has repeatedly run into opposition from some member states - especially from countries in the Middle East and Africa as well as China and Russia. According to a U.N. human rights report last year, at least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalize and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults.

Ntwaagae said African nations "are alarmed" that the Human Rights Council is delving into national matters and attempting to focus on people "on the grounds of their sexual interests and behaviors, while ignoring that intolerance and discrimination regrettably exist in various parts of the world, be it on the basis of color, race, sex or religion, to mention only a few."


Romania: Political Dispute Over Anti-Gay-Marriage Referendum

(AP) The leader of Romania's biggest party has asked two colleagues to withdraw a bill calling for an anti-gay-marriage referendum to be organized on the same day as parliamentary elections.

Two Social Democratic Party senators submitted a draft bill to Senate Thursday, calling for a referendum on changing the constitution to specify that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The initiative is backed by a petition signed by almost 3 million people who fear Romania may legalize same-sex marriage.

Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democrats, said Friday the two issues should not be mixed.

If Parliament approves the bill in 2 weeks, there will be a referendum on Dec. 11, together with parliamentary elections. The current constitution says marriage is an act between spouses.

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