Belgium: Gay Man’s Death May Be First To Be Classed As Homophobic
Pink News UK reports:
The death of Belgian man whose body was found this week may be the first to be treated as a homophobic killing under Belgium’s new laws.
Belgian news sources are reporting that the body of Ihsane Jarfi was discovered by two hikers after his disappearance on 22 April.
Ihsane Jarfi, 32, had been at a gay bar in Liège on the night he disappeared. Reports say he left the club and entered a Volkswagen Polo with other men. On Tuesday, his body was found in a field away from a road leading out of the city.
Tetu.com reports that one of the man who was present in the car subsequently used the victim’s phone to send a text message. When he was arrested, he gave the identities of the three other men who had left the bar with them. One is still being sought.
Nieuwsblad.be reports that Edouard Delruelle, adjunct-director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism said the organisation would step forward as a civil party if the prosecutor recognises it as a homophobic hate crime.
Vincent Bonhomme, project coordinator at Arc-en-Ciel Wallonie said it would be the first death to be a result of homophobic violence under the 2003 Belgian law which made sexuality an aggravating factor for such offences.
He said: “We suspect the general population and the government underestimate homophobia and we demand the government provide us with a anti-discrimination plan. This probably isn’t the first homophobic murder, but it will be the first one to be officially labeled as such. Since 2006 public prosecutors and police are obliged to mention such motives.”
Two suspects said the deceased man was still alive when they left him in the field, having physically beaten him. RTL reported that they claimed the victim had made a sexual advance. The third suspect denies everything.
Tetu.com reported that the men had been charged with robbery, forcible confinement and assault causing death without intention, with homophobic intent possibly forming an aggravating factor.
Belgium: Gay Prime Minister Sworn In
Elio Di Rupo, the openly gay head of Belgium’s Socialist Party, took the oath of office yesterday before King Albert II. Di Rupo becomes the world’s second openly gay head of government after Iceland’s Johanna Sigurdardottir.
In a ceremony at the ornate royal palace, the son of Italian immigrants completed a remarkable personal journey that took him from an impoverished childhood in Belgium’s rustbelt south to become the leader of Belgium. Amid small talk and jokes with King Albert II, the 13 ministers and 6 state secretaries took the oath, much to the relief of the nation of 6.5 million Dutch speakers and 4.5 million French speakers frustrated with lawmakers’ inability to form a government over linguistic differences.
Di Rupo is Belgium’s first French-speaking leader in 40 years. He has vowed to learn Dutch.
Belgium: First Gay Prime Minister To Hold Office
Belgium’s national election was last summer, but it was only this week that the European debt crisis finally forced the formation of a coalition government. And leading that coalition will be the quietly gay head of the Socialist Party,Elio Di Rupo. In 1996 journalists demanded to know if Di Rupo was gay. His famed response: “Yeah. So?”
Judging by media reports, the real problem Di Rupo will face is that he doesn’t speak Dutch.
- Mr. Di Rupo, the son of an Italian immigrant, will take office committed to cutting 11.3 billion euros (about $15.2 billion) from the national budget. He has also promised to improve his spoken Dutch, which is glaringly weak in a country where officials and politicians routinely are fluent in both of the country’s main languages, and in English, another tongue that gives Mr. Di Rupo trouble. “If you’re looking for public support for a government, it may be a problem when the leader of that government has difficulty speaking the language of the majority,” Yves Leterme, the caretaker prime minister who will yield to Mr. Di Rupo on Monday, said on Dutch television.
The Guardian also worries about Di Rupo language skills.
- At 60, he will be Belgium’s first French-speaking prime minister in 30 years, a rare centre-left voice in a European Union that has veered right, and one of few proudly gay world leaders. He’s also the first Socialist to take the premiership in Belgium since 1974. But he speaks poor Dutch. This is a serious problem in a country where language is so important and so fiercely protected that, in areas of Dutch-speaking Flanders, town council meetings can find their decisions annulled if anyone is heard to utter a word of French.
Given that the Kingdom of Belgium is a Catholic one, let’s see how this settles with its Monarchy and the Catholic Church (I know, it’s predictable).
To get an idea of how complicate politics are in Belgium, take a look.
Belgium: Student Protest Forces Lesbian Vice Principal To Resign
The Advocate reports:
The lesbian vice principal of a Belgian school said she was forced out of her position after a student-led riot broke out.
About 200 Euros (or US$277) wend missing from a student’s bag during a physical education class on Oct. 12, according to Belgian newspaper LeSoirand Care2. Students at l’Institut des Filles de Marie were asked to sign waivers, giving authority for school administrators to search their property. Eventually the money was found in a girl’s sock.
The vice principal, identified as Eliane, said shortly after the search took place, students began spreading rumors that the vice principal conducted unauthorized naked searches. Students said Eliane forced girls to undress, and mandated religious observers to remove head scarves. Protests shortly broke out among students, with at least 100 refusing to go to class, and others wearing t-shirts and buttons condemning Eliane, calling for her to resign after a 33-year career. Many referred to Eliane as a “perverse lesbian.”
High-ranking school administrator Daniel Pint told LeSoir that they have “never discriminated against anyone.” He added that Eliane was not open about her sexuality to students, and her work was exceptional. Still, Eliane said she was still urged to leave her post by other administrators.
Prague Pride 2011
The Prague Daily Monitor reports:
Thirteen embassies seated in Prague, including Canada, Germany, Spain and the United States, supported the Prague Pride homosexual carnival that will be held next week, the British Embassy that initiated the joint support action told CTK Friday.
The British Embassy said this support has no connection with the statements of Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Petr Hajek, the deputy head of Klaus’s office, who criticised Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda for being the carnival’s patron.
"We express our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the Czech Republic, supporting their right to use this occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to raise awareness of the specific issues that affect them," the embassies say in their joint statement.
"Our governments seek to combat such discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by promoting the human rights of all people," the embassies write in the statement, also signed by the ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
Klaus said the carnival is not a manifestation of homosexuality but “homosexual-ism” which he fears similarly like any other modern “-isms.”
Hajek wrote that the homosexual carnival is a pressure action and a political demonstration of a world with deformed values, and he also called homosexuals “deviant fellow citizens.”
The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) and the junior government Public Affairs (VV) said they considered Hajek’s statements unacceptable and they called on Klaus to distance from them. Klaus resolutely rejected it.
I love the spot.
I’ll be looking for videos of the event.
Ordanized Crime [The Catholic Church]
Dan Savage reports:
What’s the difference between the Catholic hierarchy and those “global pedophile rings” that occasionally get busted? The best I can come up with is ordination, massive real estate holdings, and tax-exempt status. Reuters:
- A Belgian Catholic bishop who resigned in disgrace after admitting to sexually abusing his nephew has left the country for “spiritual and psychological treatment” abroad, a Vatican ambassador said on Saturday. Former Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, 74, went into hiding after shocking the Belgian Church with his public confession in April 2010. He first stayed at a Belgian monastery but later left it, and his exact whereabouts were not made public. Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, the papal nuncio or ambassador to Belgium, said in a statement the Vatican’s doctrinal department had investigated his case and decided he needed to go abroad for treatment. He did not say where the bishop went….
- Berloco spoke out after the Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws reported Vangheluwe had taken refuge in the Vatican embassy, a step that would shield him from Belgian justice authorities… “[Vangheluwe’s] departure recalled the 2002 case of Boston Cardinal Francis Law, who quietly slipped out of the United States amid allegations he had actively covered up cases of child molestation by priests in his archdiocese.
You have to wonder what the reaction is at the Vatican when a massive pedophile ring—some other massive pedophile ring—gets busted. (“Asked to comment on the arrests during a press availability today at the Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence, Benedict XVI shrugged and said, ‘Amateurs.’ The Pontiff drove the point home by repeating his one-word statement in Latin, French, Italian, and his native German.”)
It’s so frustrating that the only “punishment” this sons of bitches get is to go on to retirement to a “life sentence of pray and penitence”. And people still want to Canonize John Paul II. What the fuck is wrong with people?
Belgium’s Rabid Bigot Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard Hit With 4 More Pie Attacks
It was custard, in case you’re looking for the recipe of the pie that was smooshed into the face — FOUR TIMES! — of Belgium’s Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, who’s claimed that mankind’s AIDS epidemic is what we get for letting the gays run around. The video is the work of “The Glooper,” who creamed the Catholic clergyman at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, near Brussels. Of course this isn’t Leonard’s first pie face: He was hit in November at an All Saints Day service. But when you aid and abet child molesting priests, a few unsolicited calories are the least of your troubles.
Here’s the other video when the Archbishop was attacked with a pie last November.
Belgians sure now how to approach their foes. I’d never advocate for doing things like this or any other kind of violent act, but this is hilarious!
A Heartwarming Report - Belgian Gay Dads’ Update
Moorfiled Storey Blog reports:
We are pleased to offer this Belgian report on Peter, Laurent and Samuel. We actively campaigned to encourage people to protest to the Belgian embassy about their treatment of Samuel. That campaign was successful and the Belgian authorities allowed Samuel to go home, after 2 1/2 years of forcing him to live in an orphanage. There are some very sad moments as it becomes clear that Samuel’s treatment in the orphanage was less than it should have been.
I don’t usually like children nor the idea of having one, but by seeing this story, seems like the experience of parenthood is worthy. Too soon to think of this kind of scenarios, thou. By the way, the Ghilain-Meurrens Family is the cutest family ever.
Boy stuck 2 years in Ukraine arrives in Belgium
The Associated Press reports:
BRUSSELS (AP) — A baby trapped more than two years in Ukraine by bureaucratic hurdles has arrived in Brussels with his parents, a pair of legally married Belgian men, ending the couple’s long legal battle to bring their son home.
Samuel Ghilain arrived with his parents — Peter Meurrens and Laurent Ghilain — shortly after 10 p.m. (2100 GMT, 4 p.m. EST) Saturday to a crowd of thrilled relatives and waiting journalists.
"It has been better than we thought to see him again after one year," Meurrens said at Brussels’ main airport, adding that he felt "lots of joy and relief to him again."
"This morning was the most stressful of my life until we got the final message from Lviv in Ukraine that they passed border control and were on the plane," he said. "That was incredible."
He said the couple wept when the met the boy again at a prearranged meeting point in Warsaw and that Samuel was immediately at ease when they held him.
Some of the pair’s relatives wept, as well, when the couple and the boy came into view at the Brussels airport. Meurren’s mother, Dina de Graer, carried a yellow stuffed duck as a gift for her grandson.
Samuel, now aged 2 years and 3 months, was born to a surrogate mother in Ukraine in November 2008. Meurrens and Ghilain cradled him in their arms shortly after his birth and saw him a number of times after that.
But for more than two years, bureaucratic hurdles kept the baby from being issued a Belgian passport. According to Meurrens, the problems usually seemed minor — just one more document to fill out, a missing stamp to be obtained, or a translation that was deemed unacceptable.
The problems persisted until this week, when the Belgian Foreign Ministry, following a court decision in the couple’s favor, finally issued Samuel a passport.
Belgian law is silent on surrogate motherhood, leaving wide room for interpretation. There is no specific legal bar to a gay couple — or any couple — using a surrogate mother abroad and bringing the child back home.
But Ghilain and Meurrens ran into continued obstacles. The couple believes that some bureaucrats, both in Ukraine and in Belgium, were anti-gay.
Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere said in a statement earlier this month that a “gap in the law” made it problematic for the country to recognize the use by Belgians of surrogate mothers in other countries. He asked for new regulations on surrogate mothers to explicitly prevent all forms of “commercial exploitation.”
For lack of a passport, Samuel spent the first 16 months of his life with a foster family in Ukraine, at a cost of euro1,000 a month. When Meurrens’ and Ghilain’s money ran out, they tried in March 2010 to smuggle the boy, who is Ghilain’s biological son, out of Ukraine and failed. They had not seen him since then, until Saturday, when they were reunited in Warsaw, where he was brought by their lawyer.
After the failed attempt to spirit him out of the country, Samuel was taken to an orphanage in Lviv, Ukraine, where he spent almost all of the last year. Ghilain took a DNA test to prove paternity so the orphanage would not allow the boy to be adopted by some other family.
Ghilain and Meurrens plan now to take the boy to their home in a small town in southern France, where they moved before Samuel was born so he could have a quiet childhood.
I’ve been following this case for a while, now. It’s such a relief and such a happiness to know that they’ve been already reunited after all they’ve been through. best wishes to them. Aren’t they the cutest family ever?
"It’s over… We won. There will be no appeal and Samuel will receive all the papers to bring him back next week. The administration will not delay, they may be there next weekend. It is hard to believe, I am writing this with tears in my eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone…really."
Parent of Samuel Ghilain, whom since birth (around two years now) was denied by the Belgian Foreign Ministry to live with his parents Laurent, and his husband Peter Meurrens (both Belgian citizens), by not issuing him a Belgian passport given that Samuel was born in Ukraine via surrogacy. Surrogacy is not regulated in Belgium.
Baby, stranded in Ukraine, to join Belgian parents
The Washington Post reports:
A baby born to a surrogate mother in Ukraine - then stranded there for two years by bureaucracy - will soon come to Belgium to join his parents, a gay married couple.
Peter Meurrens, one member of the couple, said his son, Samuel Ghilain, had received a Belgian passport Monday. Meurrens said the child, who has been living in an orphanage in Lviv, Ukraine, will fly into Belgium in the coming days to be reunited with his parents, who last saw him nearly a year ago.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry’s decision to issue the passport followed a court decision saying bureaucrats had erred, and the boy, the biological child of Meurrens’ husband, Laurent Ghilain, was entitled to the document.
"Finally, I am starting to believe I will see him in a few days," Meurrens said.
Oh my… I genuinely feel happy for them. I hope everything goes smoothly from now on.
Wanna know their story? Click here.
Belgian Boy Growing Up In Ukrainian Orphanage Because Belgium Won’t Let His Fathers Take Him Home
Dan Savage reports:
"A Belgian gay couple has a son through a Ukrainian surrogate (surrogacy is illegal in Belgium)," writes Griet, a Slog tipper and occasional LineOut contributor who lives in Belgium. "However, when their son was born and they went to pick him up they were not allowed to leave the country with him. He was in a foster home for a year, until the foster mother demanded more money and threatened to put the boy in an orphanage. They went to the Ukraine and tried to take him over the border with them, but of course that didn’t work either, it was considered abduction. Ever since, Samuel has been in an orphanage. The Belgian foreign ministry says there’s nothing they can do. Officials in Ukraine don’t seem to care."
Greit sent along a link to this news report—click CC for English subtitles: [watch video above]
"It might be hormones," writes Griet, "or it might be the fact that my son is now 8 months old. But the story won’t leave me alone. I was wondering if there was anything you could do? I don’t know… post it on Slog, just ask people to sign a petition?"
There’s a petition here. Jan Matthysen is Belgium’s ambassador to the United States. You can write him an email by clicking here.