Information about PlanetRomeo Health Support

BACKGROUND
PlanetRomeo Health Support is a unique project that gives our users access to reliable information and advice about HIV prevention, such as Safer Sex, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

Our Health Supporters are specially trained individuals working either as volunteers or professionals for organisations concerned with HIV prevention among men who have sex with men. Many different organisations in various countries are involved, some of which provide special counselling for people living with HIV/AIDS and some of which are also concerned with sexual health in general, as well as the prevention and treatment of STIs. Their participation is coordinated centrally by Deutsche AIDS Hilfe in Germany and GGD Zuid Limburg in the Netherlands. If you have any special concerns or enquiries, you can contact the project coordinator by email here.

HOW IT WORKS

When you have a question about safer sex, sexual transmitted infections or living with HIV/AIDS , send a message to one of the Health Supporter profiles in Health Support. If possible, choose one who is located close to you or who at least speaks your language. Ask your question, by sending him a message, just like you would to a regular profile.

If the Health Supporter is online, he will answer your enquiries directly. If he's busy talking to somebody else and can't answer you right away, he will tell you. In this case you can either wait until he is free or contact another Health Supporter.

It’s difficult to estimate when Health Supporters who are offline will be able to answer your questions, so it's better if you only contact those Supporters who are currently online.

If there is nobody online, you can wait until a Health Supporter logs on, or you can try contacting the helplines of the Health Support organisations directly. Their websites are usually shown in the Health Support profiles. In most cases you will receive a response in 1-3 working days.

INTERNATIONAL DIFFERENCES

Currently our Health Supporters are based at organisations in Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria. They will advise you no matter where you are in the world, but bear in mind that services available and health systems vary from country to country, so if you are in a different country from the Supporter they may only be able to give you general advice. For that reason, try to choose a Health Supporter who is close to you – but if that’s not possible, don’t let that put you off from seeking advice.

WHAT OUR SUPPORTERS WON’T DO

When our Health Supporters are online, they are working. They are not looking for private meetings or dates. They will not enter into such discussions nor will they answer any questions about their own private lives. Health Supporters are required to draw a very clear line between their work on PlanetRomeo and their own "private needs". For example, if you meet in other circumstances, they will act as if they don’t know you. In this way we are confident of offering a truly professional and competent Health Support service that is safe and confidential for both sides. Thank you for your co-operation!

CONFIDENTIALITY
We work closely with our partners to ensure that Health Support on PlanetRomeo is as confidential and secure as possible. All Health Supporters have signed a non-disclosure agreement and will never download or store your personal details. Additionally, PlanetRomeo employees have no access to the conversations that take place between Health Supporters and Users. When logging on, Health Supporters always use SSL encryption and we advise you to do the same. (You can do this by clicking “Activate SSL” before logging in.)

Even so, complete and total data security can never be guaranteed on an open platform like PlanetRomeo. This also means that there are some themes our Health Supporters cannot really deal with in depth, which is one reason why sometimes they might refer you to another agency.

STATISTICS
To monitor and evaluate how the Health Support system is working, the Health Support providers may collect anonymous statistics about the type and quantity of enquiries they receive. They may also use anonymous parts of conversations for training purposes. In all cases this is for internal use only and there is no possibility of connecting any of this data with a particular User.

Do you want advice from a Health Supporter? Choose one here.

If you have a complaint, concern or other enquiry about the Health Support project, please send an email to the project coordinator.

COORDINATING PARTNERS
Deutsche AIDS Hilfe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland);
GGD Zuid Limburg (The Netherlands)


 

Am I gay? Am I bisexual? Who should I tell? How will my friends react? And why should I really tell anybody about it?

Coming out is perhaps not the easiest period boys and men go through, but it sure is one of the most important. Some guys find that coming out is associated with rejection and discrimination. Many others say that they have never felt such a wonderful feeling of freedom as when they came out and that coming out really has strengthened bonds with family and friends.

If you're considering coming out or are in the middle of it, the questions and answers below covering a whole range of aspects on the theme might help you to make your own personal decisions.

 


Coming out?
Coming out means in the first place that you yourself are clear that you are gay or bisexual and secondly that you tell your friends, family, colleagues at work – the whole circle of people with whom you have dealings – that you have now accepted the fact for yourself. Whether you do this, and just how you do this, is your decision and yours alone.

Why should I come out?

There are a million reasons for you to come out – but equally there are sometimes very good reasons not to. It's up to you and you alone to decide whether and how you should come out.

Let's first look on the positive side:
Apart from the sheer sense of relief that goes with finally telling someone what you are, there's a whole bag of other reasons in favour of coming out. You can stop carrying a big secret around with you. You can share your WHOLE life with the people who are dear to you. You will be no longer in a permanent state of anxiety that somebody somewhere might find out. You will no longer be under pressure to produce – or pretend to have – a girl friend. AND you can at last start flirting with the guy round the corner whom you always found so cute ;-).

Apart from all that, your coming out can also give you a very special kind of self confidence – after all, you've coped with a really difficult situation in your life and come through it, and, even if you're not all that old, you've gained a whole load of very valuable experience.
And this experience can stand you in good stead when you have to cope with other difficult situations in your life.

Of course there's still another very good reason for coming out which might not seem all that important at first glance. The more people come out and stand by being gay or bisexual the better it makes life for all of us. Because only in this way can we show how many and how varied we are and demonstrate that our love and sexuality is just as valuable as that of the heterosexual kind.

Many boys and men who are secretive about their sexuality are so because of the particular situation they have to face. Perhaps because there's a real danger they'll be thrown out of the house by their parents or because they might be bullied or isolated at school or because they might lose their job or because they're frightened of losing the love and respect of their family and friends. Perhaps because they're financially or otherwise dependent on their parents. And many guys don't come out simply because they're not yet ready for it.

So if you don't want to or can't come out, that's fine. Don't let anyone put you under pressure! Some things just need to take their time.

It would help if you could talk with somebody who's been through his own coming out or somebody whose work is connected with coming out and who can give you some professional advice.

Their advice and experience can make coming out a whole lot easier for you, and what's most important, you'll feel less alone. At least it will be a big relief for you that you've finally been able to share what is so secret and so important for you with another person.
Phone a gay advice and support line, join a gay youth group or go to a youth centre. Try your local library or visit web sites connected to the theme. At the bottom of the page you'll find a list of useful web addresses. And of course you can always talk to users here on GayRomeo! Look in the Club Search under ‘youth' and you'll find a number of Clubs dedicated to coming out. But please remember that the Internet isn't always just like the real world so please keep the useful tips about safety in mind!.

Who should I tell?
In most cases telling the friends you trust that you're gay or bisexual makes your relationship with them stronger. After all, friendships are built on mutual trust and showing such a mark of confidence in a friend can only strengthen these bonds. If somebody should turn away from you just because you tell him that you're attracted to people of the same sex, then he never was your real friend anyway.

A lot of guys who've had their coming out later in life say that they've put it off and put it off because they've been frightened that all their friends would show negative reactions and distance themselves. But once they actually did come out they found that this anxiety was totally unjustified.

The bottom line is that although it's impossible to predict with absolute certainty how your circle of friends will react, very often it turns out that the fear and anxiety that results from your uncertainty is much bigger and much more threatening than the actual real-life situation.

What can I expect?

No two comings outs are ever the same. Some people will try to dish you all kinds of weird and wonderful reasons why you couldn't possibly be gay whilst others might try to look for a “logical” explanation. Some people might be angry, sad, confused, incredulous or hurt. Some people won't mind one bit, others will be pleased for you or proud that you've had the confidence to be out in the open with them. And others will tell you that they've known all along ;-).

To get an better idea about how people around you might react, you could perhaps sound them out about their opinions on gayness and bisexuality. You can do this by watching their reactions when the conversation turns in this direction – perhaps because a programme on a gay-related topic is running on the TV. You could raise the subject yourself indirectly or just let others speak.
But when you do this you should bear in mind that people react differently when “gayness and bisexuality” is discussed on a general abstract level. It might be quite different when it's not a question of “them” but of “my own son” or “my best friend”.

One thing is for sure:
coming out is an on-going process that never really ends. You are always going to meet new people who don't know you and you'll see perhaps how often the subject of your own sexual identity comes up indirectly in the course of general chit-chat.
Instead of coming out with a full-frontal statement like “I'm gay” or “I'm bisexual” you might enjoy finding ways to introduce the topic casually. For instance you could casually mention your boyfriend or say that you're really looking forward to this year's Christopher Street Day or Gay Pride or that your favourite clubs are all gay venues.

Even though you might be making these kinds of remarks in an off-hand, casual manner this doesn't mean that they are any the less important. Because by making them you are preventing other people from making false assumptions about you and these unspoken assumptions can solidify around you like concrete making it more and more difficult for you to come out – or break out – with each subsequent meeting.

SEX – What do I do when it starts getting serious?
Now we're getting close to the wire – let's talk sex! If you've found your “mate” and you and he want to get down to it, you should always remember a few key rules.

Only have Safer Sex! If it's anal sex use a lot of lubricant and NEVER forget the condom! If it's oral sex don't get sperm in your mouth and NEVER swallow! And don't let yourself be sweettalked into anything because youth is no protection against AIDS! Your partner mustn't necessarily know for sure if he's HIV positive – or he could be simply not telling you the truth.

And don't let yourself be persuaded to do things in bed that you don't really want. Only do the things that you really want! This doesn't mean of course that you shouldn't listen to and respect the sexual needs of your partner but only go along with them when it's something you want as well.

One last tip
Many guys have found that keeping some form of diary or journal during their coming out period is a big help. It's a place where you can put down your emotions, thoughts and experiences during this critical time. Perhaps keeping a diary's not your thing and you would be more comfortable with another medium like poetry, painting or music. Whatever's most suited to you yourself!

Even if you're writing only for yourself and nobody else is going to see it, you'll find that putting things down on paper is a good way of bringing some kind of order into your (conflicting) feelings and a good way of getting to know yourself better. But besides all this, it's also an excellent way of recording the progress you're making!

Just make sure that you keep your diary in a safe place so that it doesn't become the unwilling means of springing your coming out on you earlier than you reckoned with ;-).

Written in collaboration with Anyway Youth Centre, Cologne.


 

Have you ever asked yourself what makes a good profile? Well, we've compiled a few tips for success – whatever that means to you!

A profile with a purpose

Everybody has specific objectives for their profile. And these should be clear to anyone viewing it. Photos, stats and text, all have a role to play. And they should be completely different depending on whether you are looking just for sex or for the love of your life!

Text

Good text is vital to arouse the interest of your visitors. Take your time and sit down quietly for an hour or so while you draft it. On GayRomeo you can have up to 35,000 characters of text in your profile (that's about 14 A4/letter pages)! Of course, that doesn`t mean you have to use all that o)

You should also pay attention to your headline. That's what gets displayed in search results and can really attract the attention of other users. A good slogan is worth its weight in gold!


It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it!

While there's nothing wrong with pimping yourself up a bit, you should definitely stick to the truth. I mean, none of us want a nasty surprise on the first date!

There's also nothing wrong in clearly stating what you're looking for. But avoid abusing whole groups of other users - “no grandpas” “no brats”. Remember, you were young once – and you'll get old too! If you present your tastes in a positive way, most users will respect you for it.


Tips:


Photos

It's often said that a picture is worth a thousand words - and it's true! Basically nothing will happen without one! Profiles without pictures get much less attention. Lots of users systematically avoid them.
The most important picture is your preview picture. It gets displayed in search results and draws maximum attention to your profile. For a good first impression make sure your best photos are displayed directly in your profile. You can put your other pictures in your galleries. It's a good idea to structure your galleries thematically. You can also add an explanatory caption to each image.
With older photos, state the year the photograph was taken or your age at the time, so that visitors don't get the wrong idea ;-)

Quality

Photography is an artform. A few thumbnail size webcam shots won't impress anyone very much. Of course you don't have to go to a professional studio for your photos, but with a little bit of care you can easily get some good results. To start with, think about the background. If you want to show off your body, don't stand in front of your dirty dishes or a messed up couch.

Often outdoor photos come over better than posed interior shots. It also often helps to rework the photos a bit afterwards - brightness, contrast, saturation and cropping can all work wonders!

Tips:

How much to reveal?

How much you choose to reveal about yourself is really up to you. But don't be too timid because profiles can seem really boring if they don't give out any information about the user. Also not many users will find you via our search engine if all your entries read “no entry”.
On the other hand you shouldn't reveal too much about yourself. After all, you don't know who is going to be reading it. So rather than being a completely open book, design your profile to arouse interest. After all if you've already revealed everything about yourself in your profile, you'll have nothing to chat about in your messages!

Doubts about authenticity

What's the point of looking great if everybody thinks you're a faker? Users who have been mislead in the past will be more careful in the future. Either they won't contact you at all or they'll be suspicious when you start chatting. To reassure people that you are real, think about your photos. Make sure they are not all from one photosession, choose a variety of different poses and show your face! As a rule fakers will steal just a single photosession from the internet.

If you prefer to stay anonymous, keep some face pictures in reserve that you can send to users in your messages. You can even state in your profile text that that's what you prefer to do.

Even more important is our "Known" system. Ask your personal friends to mark you as "Personally Known". Then do the same for them. That way a network of users who are “personally known” develops. This enables the system to make a judgement about your authenticity. This information is then displayed under "Friends & Clubs" in your profile.


 

The information gathered here is intended to help escorts and their customers get a better understanding of each other's needs, and to help prevent disappointments, misunderstandings and just plain bother!

Background
It's no coincidence that prostitution is called the oldest profession on earth. Sex workers have been active throughout history in all social classes, but even so there's still a great deal of stigma attached to it. You only have to look at the shock-horror headlines that regularly appear in the media - most corruption scandals generally have a sex worker mixed in somewhere along the line.

The popular cliché of the gorgeous young guy with huge balls, a rod of iron and a life of sheer luxury is more the exception than the rule. Because there's no such thing as a "typical" escort. Age, appearance, career history, reasons for entering the sex industry and the way the job is tackled all vary enormously from escort to escort. In fact one of the main attractions of this profession is the fact that it doesn't have any fixed rules or guidelines and so can easily be fitted in to your own current lifestyle.

The average age of escorts is generally higher than that of guys who work on the streets or in rent bars - generally between 20 and the mid 30s. Qualities like reliability, honesty and customer care, together with special services or targeting specific niche markets enable some escorts to keep on working at an age when others have long since started drawing their pensions! Some escorts see their work as their main long-term source of income, others do it alongside their regular day jobs perhaps in banking or insurance, to finance their studies or pay off their debts.

 


Looking good is an advantage of course, but that doesn't mean that all escorts have to be glamorous top models. Top of the client's wish-list are boy-next-door types, experienced lovers, dominant masters, slim lads in sneakers, hairy (or hairless) bodybuilders and, well, the list of customer wishes is just as wide and varied as the kind of guys on the market.

Rules of Conduct
First of all an escort should never forget that he's dealing with a human being, not just a piece of meat or a wallet on two legs.

The escort and his client should always be polite and show respect in dealing with one another. A pleasant manner is essential for both parties - after all, sex is meant to connect two people and relax them.

Always talk about and clear up any questions beforehand. Don't be afraid to clearly express your wishes, needs and expectations. There's really no need to feel embarrassed about this. After all you're going to be doing much more than just talking later!

A clear agreement should be made between you both about where you will meet, the price, any extra expenses, the kind of services offered, and the length of your meeting. Clearing up such issues beforehand helps avoid misunderstandings and problems later on.

Special Internet Concerns
The Internet offers a whole new range of possibilities.

You can settle the business side of things beforehand via the messaging system. But don't get carried away - remember the point of the exercise is not cybersex but a steamy real-life encounter.

As it's very difficult for an escort to see if his client is really seriously interested in his services, it's always best to swap telephone numbers at an early stage and talk directly to one another. This allows you to get some feeling for your prospective partner and to set up the first live contact. It also generally sorts time-wasters from genuine customers. It can also be useful to check under "Friends & Clubs" in the user profiles to see how well known the user is.

We also offer the possibility of leaving a message or rating in the escort's Guestbook. Such notices don't necessarily tell the whole story as the escort can delete uncomplimentary messages at any time. That's something we have to allow - otherwise anybody could write in any old rubbish without the escort having a chance to answer back.

If the Guestbook shows a large number of positive assessments whose writers have signed their nicknames (and not just "anonymous"), then there's a good chance that they are all genuine. And you can even get in touch with the clients directly if you have any questions.

More Success for Online Escorts
Your escort profile is your visiting card and should show you in the best possible light. Photos are really important! You shouldn't be afraid of investing a little money in this and contacting a professional photographer.

It's best if you consider your own preferences and personal limits and try to specialize in and appeal to a particular target audience. It's simply ridiculous trying to pass yourself off as a passive boy if you're over thirty and don't like getting fucked. Remember too that as an escort you should also enjoy giving good sex. That's the only way you're going to get ahead in this profession in the long term and deliver truly professional services.

After meeting your client ask him if he wouldn't mind placing an entry in your Guestbook or including you as "known personally" in his profile. This really helps enhance the seriousness and reliability of your profile, which is particularly important when it comes to getting online bookings.

If you speak a foreign language, why not translate your profile text as well? If you're not too sure of your grammar, better get a friend to check it beforehand - after all your text should intrigue and stimulate the client not make him laugh out loud!

Health Matters
Always take good care of your personal hygiene (unless your client specifically wants something more cheesy!!). If you've got any sexually transmissible diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, urethritis or even pests like crabs, you should absolutely avoid sex with others until the matter is fully cleared up. Then you can have sex once more with a clear conscience. Regular medical check-ups are a golden rule for escorts!

Safety
When arranging a meeting make sure the address and directions on how to get there are clear and genuine. Both parties should recognize the need for discretion here, after all each of you is meeting a total stranger. Discretion for both partners is absolutely essential.

When inviting a stranger into your house don't leave money lying around. And if you've got a lot of valuables, don't put them on show - as the old saying goes "opportunity makes the thief".

Alcohol and drugs might break down inhibitions but they can also quickly make either partner lose control of his reactions. This can lead to aggression and unpleasantness. In contexts like this a little is often more than enough!

It is also recommended to tell a friend about the guy you are going to meet and where you're going to meet him. This is one of a number of general safety tips we give here.

In a conflict situation always try to keep cool. Shouting, violence and threats don't help - they only make a bad situation even worse. It's better if the client or the escort just gives up on his money!

As the legal situation varies a lot from country to country, it's always best to find out about it in advance. If you've got nothing to hide and the worst has come to the worst (assault/theft etc.) then you shouldn't hesitate to go to the police and make a report.

Keeping the Feel-Good Factor
Escorts are sex workers who perform a good job if they really enjoy what they do. But personal limits should always be respected and neither the client nor the escort should ever be forced to do something they don’t want to.

The client benefits when the escort feels good because the sex with him will be less inhibited and more relaxed – simply hotter! The escort has also an interest is making the client feel good – because a satisfied client is a client who comes back! And working with a book of regular clients certainly simplifies things.

It can also be an advantage if the escort has a regular partner with whom he works. This opens up a whole new dimension of threesome services!


 

Our site is open to all honest, adult, gay, bisexual or transgender men anywhere in the world. Just like in the real world, it's important to observe a few key safety rules when online. Of course there's no such thing as 100% security but you can do quite a lot to reduce the risks.

General Points
Your password should be longer than 8 letters and also contain some numbers. When choosing your password, don't use anything that's easy to guess (like your username or a variation of your username). Never tell other people which login data you use – GayRomeo teamsters will never ask you for your login data. Only use the “Remember details” function on your login when you're certain that other people don't have access to your PC. Check that the email address you have given really is correct and that you're the only one with access to your email account.

 


Designing your Profile
Don't forget that your profile is likely to be read by people who aren't as well-intentioned towards you as you would like. But apart from the plain malicious, you have to consider that there are web crawlers and automatic robots out there trawling the web for email addresses and other choice bits of information. And some things are only dangerous when brought together – like your home address combined with the helpful tip you've left that you're off on holiday!

Some things are just better omitted from your profile text like:


Never upload any third-party photos from the Internet onto your profile. In the worst case scenario the real copyright holder could prosecute you for unauthorised use or send you an outrageous bill for use of his property.

Dishonest Users
Users who play fast and loose with the truth as usually referred to as “fakers”. Their deceitfulness can range from fairly harmless misleading statements (like giving the wrong age!) to completely fictitious profiles. There are a number of reasons why people do this. Harmless fakers are generally out for hot pix or cybersex or want the excitement of taking on a fantasy role. But there are still serious cases which end in fraud, scams, theft or blackmail.

So when you're chatting:

Be very wary of giving your telephone number, address or other confidential information
If the other guy's profile seems a bit odd or strange, don't send all your own private photos straight away

And before your first meeting:


How can I recognise a faker?
The best protection against fakers is not to let all the blood lite out of your brain for those nether regions. No genuine user will take it badly if you have a few polite enquires about things that don't seem clear to you. Not every profile without photos is automatically a fake profile, but the owner of the profile could at least send you a PHOTO MESSAGE. In an age of webcams, scanners and cheap digital cameras, there's really no valid reason for not putting up a few personal shots.

Some Tell-tale Signs of Fakers:


Probably genuine:
Every profile has a “Friends and Clubs” section where you can see how many other users have stored the profile owner as “KNOWN PERSONALLY”. If there a number of them and they're visibly shown, you can take that as a good sign that the user is probably genuine. But even so, don't be afraid to get in touch with one or two of these linked users and ask them in a friendly way if they really do know the user PERSONALLY. But please remember that if a user doesn't have any entries in this section, that does not automatically mean that he's a faker.
Other points to look for which generally indicate that a user really is who he seems to be include a variety of different photos, various different entries in the Guestbook and a well-rounded, well-balanced profile text.

Online at your workplace
If you go online at your place of work avoid misunderstanding and inform yourself beforehand about the regulations governing the private use of the Internet. For instance, your employer or your co-workers could check which sites you're visiting during working hours or even read your messages. In a worst case scenario private use of the Internet during working hours could be grounds for dismissal!


 

Raise the subject of barebacking and you'll soon find that some of the attitudes and positions it engenders are more extreme and violent than with any other topic across the gay spectrum. More often than not discussions on barebacking soon degenerated into hysterical slanging matches that leave both sides more entrenched and embittered than before.

At PlanetRomeo we've often come in for a lot of criticism because we haven't banned barebacking profiles and Clubs. We would like to take this opportunity to state our own position in the debate. First and foremost, we would like to say that we have a clear and unambiguous commitment to Safer Sex and that we view the trend to a devil-may-care attitude to Unsafer Sex, especially among young people, with rising concern.

What we can do
We are fully aware of our responsibility in the matter, and we have put a great deal of effort and thought into the subject in an endeavor to find solutions that really do bring tangible results and benefits when applied in day-to-day terms.

Makeshift bans
Technically speaking, it would be no big deal to remove the "Safer Sex" entry from the profile listings and search engine and to conduct regular profile screenings for words like “barebacking”. Some websites are already doing this. But as we're always hearing this still doesn't prevent these sites from harboring users who practice unsafe sex – you just don't see it any more because it's gone underground.

At PlanetRomeo we believe that “sweeping the subject under the carpet” is not an effective solution. You can't solve a problem by making it invisible and pretending it doesn't exist. If key words like "barebacking" are not allowed, users will soon find acceptable alternative descriptions. Or in the worst case scenario they can simply ask the guy they're chatting to if he fucks without a condom – sooner or later someone's bound to come up with the answer they want to hear.

Effective bans
Enforcing a really effective ban means automatic screening of every message, user note and so on for key words. If this were introduced users would soon resort to paraphrases and other ways of not mentioning the “b” word while making their meaning clear. You also have to consider that a fine-meshed filter would react to messages saying something like “I don't go in for barebacking”. And this would mean that we'd have to install a wide filter and then have somebody there literally reading and checking thousands and thousands of messages!

In our view this is a totally unacceptable way of treating private communications. And we're not even going to get onto the subject of the violations of Data Privacy law this could constitute!

What we can do
After a lot of thought and debate we've finally arrived at the conclusion that we can be most effective when we treat the subject in an open-handed way and don't waste our time trying to enforce specious bans. Only in this way can we reach users and use the resources available to us to increase the level of awareness.

So we've made the "Safer Sex" line in the user profiles into a hyperlink that takes you to our Info Page about barebacking.

Plus all users have the opportunity to include a Red Ribbon with an active link in their profile as a way of drawing attention to the theme.

Giving it straight – our advice to you
Don't just accept what other people might tell you about Safer Sex - find out about the pros and cons of Safer Sex yourself and make up your own mind. Because waiting till you're horny as hell and crawling round the floor with your tongue hanging out and a hard condom-less dick pushing against your little red rosette is not exactly the best time to take such a vital decision.

So take all the time you need – after all it's your own health and life that's at stake! Have a nice wank first to clear your head, then read up on Safer Sex and make your own mind up.

Once you've taken your decision you should stick to it no matter how tempted you might get. Sure, you can always reconsider the choice you've made when you get another of those quiet free evenings at home. But you can't make a rational informed choice when the hots come on again!


 

In the Internet and also on our site you will find very many profiles or dating ads looking for “bareback sex”. Bareback sex is a term originally coined by HIV positive gay men who have taken a clear decision to ignore Safer Sex guidelines when having sex with one another – because they already have an HIV infection. However, by now men who identify themselves as HIV negative, and gay men who have never taken an HIV test are also looking for bareback sex and the term has now come to mean all kinds of unprotected sex.

Whoever takes part in unprotected sex risks infection with HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis and hepatitis C which are now reaching epidemic proportions among gay men.

Recommendation for People who frequently change their Sex Partners
The Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe strongly recommends Safer Sex for people with frequently changing sex partners. Safer Sex protects from HIV and lowers the transmission risk of other sexually transmitted infections. As you can pick up some of these infections even while practising Safer Sex – i.e. syphilis, or gonorrhoea while sucking or fisting – we would also recommend that you take a regular medical check-up for sexually transmitted infections. You should also get yourself vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.

Recommendation for People in a Steady Relationship
If you live in a steady relationship and the two of you have taken an HIV test with negative results for both of you, you can do without condoms in your relationship provided that both of you have consistently practised Safer Sex during the three months before taking the test and up to the time when the test results came through. This kind of decision demands a great deal of mutual respect, confidence and openness. If one of you has had unsafe sex outside of the relationship, then he must be able and willing to talk openly about this with his partner – after all nothing less is at stake than the whole of your future together – and if need be he must be willing to take another test.

What HIV risk do I run as HIV negative if I do Bareback-Sex?
If you have unprotected sex as an HIV negative man, you do risk infection with HIV (and other sexually transmitted infections). There is no known cure for HIV and once infected it cannot be eliminated from the body. The drugs used in treatment help stop the virus from reproducing but some of them have serious side-effects and most of them loss their impact after some time. This then means a change in drug “regime” – and there aren’t all that many to choose from. More and more people are becoming infected with a strain of the virus against which one or more drugs are completely ineffective. This means that therapy options become limited and it could also mean a significant reduction in quality of life and life expectancy.

There is still a risk of infection even if your partner says he’s HIV negative. After all, those Internet profiles aren’t exactly renowned for telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth – and that goes for everything from age and body weight right through to dick size. But also because a negative test result doesn’t paint the whole picture – it simply means that in the 12 weeks or so before the blood sample was taken no HIV infection was present – the test can’t say anything about what happened during those 12 weeks and the time after taking the test. The golden rule holds true – if you have unprotected sex after having a negative HIV result you should considered yourself as untested (unless your partner was really and truly 100% negative).

What HIV risk do I run if I do Bareback Sex and haven’t taken an HIV Test?
If you don’t know your own HIV status, you run the risk of infecting yourself or your partner – after all, you could be HIV positive yourself. If you haven’t taken a test, you should behave as though you were HIV positive (see below).

With an HIV test you can be certain whether an HIV infection is present (HIV test positive) or not (HIV test negative). Unlike earlier tests, present-day tests have a high therapeutic significance: if the test result is positive you will be now advised to make further medical tests on whose outcome you can base your decision about if and when to begin a course of therapy. But if an HIV infection is detected at a later stage it could well be that by then the body’s immune system is so damaged that all the medical options for therapy can no longer be properly used.

What HIV risk do I run if I do Bareback Sex as an HIV positive man?
As an HIV positive man you run a high risk of infecting an HIV negative sex partner with the HIV virus. You also run the risk of infecting yourself or an HIV positive sex partner with other strains of the HIV virus which can lead to serious complications in the course of the infection, restrictions in the therapeutic options available to you, and a reduction of quality of life and life expectancy. As the issue of “multiple infection” is a very complicated field, we recommend that you seek expert advice.

Text: Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V., March 2005


 

Safer Sex protects against HIV and lowers the risk of catching another sexually transmitted infection (STI). We’ve put together some info about risks and tips on how to protect yourself in the most common forms of sex.

Oral Sex
Aka cock sucking. Stimulating a cock with your mouth or tongue is seen as low-risk provided no blood comes into play. What’s important is not to get sperm in your mouth or on any cuts, on mucous membranes or in your eyes. If you do get cum in your mouth, don’t swallow it but spit it out quickly and wash out your mouth – ideally with alcohol. If you get cum in your eyes, wash them out quickly under water. To be completely safe, use a condom for oral sex – this will also eliminate the chances of picking up oral gonorrhoea.

Penetration with Fingers
Fingering the ass is also seen as low-risk, even if the skin has cuts (but make sure your finger nails are well clipped!).

Anal Sex
The risk here of picking up HIV or some other sexually transmitted infection is particularly great. The arse is well supplied with blood and its mucous membranes can very easily be torn. The “active” partner too – that’s the one who introduces his cock in the arse – can also become infected. This is because the sensitive glans (penis head) and meatus (opening of the urethra or “piss pipe”) can also come into contact with the virus. Condoms used together with a non-fatty lubricant provide good protection for anal sex.

Fisting
Whether it’s anal or vaginal, fisting is a low-risk sexual practice as long as no blood-with-blood or blood-with- mucous membrane contact occurs. Rubber gloves give good protection (keep those finger nails well clipped!). If you use a fatty lubricant (like Crisco), anal or vaginal intercourse after fisting is high risk as the fat damages most condoms and removes their protective function.

S/M (Sado-Maso)
S/M rituals are no-risk as far as HIV is concerned – but only provided there are no cuts on the skin where blood or sperm can get in or no blood or sperm comes into contact with the eyes, mucous membranes or the mouth. S/M toys are safe too – as long as no blood comes into play. If your toys have been used by or on other people, always give them a good cleaning with soap and water before using them again.

Games with Sex Toys
As far as HIV is concerned, dildos, vibrators and other sex toys are safe if they are only used by or on the same person. If they are going to be used by or on other people, slip a new condom on them or wash them properly with soap and water.

Other Sex Practices
Practices involving piss (golden showers) and shit (scat) like arse licking (rimming) involve no risk of HIV infection (provided always no blood is in play). Even so, you can still infect yourself with other STIs like hepatitis. You can get yourself vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
Deep kissing, mutual masturbation and massage, rubbing yourself against your partner and other such practices all carry no risk of HIV infection so long as no blood or cum comes in contact with your mouth, eyes, mucous membranes or with any cuts.

Bi-Sex: Sex with Women
No, that’s not a misprint! In general I want to pack every woman-related topic in this section and not have ‘em scattered throughout the text. I’ll just touch on the main issues and refer you to the links for more in-depth information. If I put this info under all the separate headings, there’d be complaints!

The same rule applies here too – using condoms for anal or vaginal sex offers the best protection. Licking female genitals is seen as low-risk except during menstruation (if you want to be completely risk-free, place a cut-open condom or a sheet of food wrap between your mouth and the clitoris). Penetration of the vagina with fingers is also low-risk, but during menstruation finger caps, condoms or rubber gloves should be used.

Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V., March 2005


 

For a long time people thought that syphilis had practically been eliminated in Europe – but for a number of years now the number of reported cases of infection has dramatically increased. In Germany too there has been an alarming upswing in the infection rate. Current statistics from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) show a huge increase in infection, particularly among men who have sex with men. On the other hand, a great many gay men seem to have no awareness of this infection which is mainly transmitted through sex or tend to downplay its seriousness and the risk of infection through contacts on the gay scene or in the private sphere. On the up side syphilis is relatively easy to treat. But if you wait around before getting treatment it can lead to very serious consequences for own health and generally means that you will pass on the infection to your own sex partners.

We’ve collected the main points you should know about syphilis in the question and answer format below.



How can I catch syphilis?

The short answer is – very simply sorry to say. Getting infected with the syphilis bacterium is a lot easier than getting infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). Syphilis is transmitted through contact of the bacterium with the skin or mucous membranes (linings) of the genital area, mouth or anus. No kind of sex is syphilis-safe but transmission via the mucous membranes is a lot easier than transmission through unbroken skin. This is why most infections in gay men appear on the glans (tip) of the penis or on the penis shaft, in the anus or rectal passage and in the mouth or throat and much less seldom on the fingers or the hand – though such cases are also known to occur.

Syphilis is also known as the “great imitator” because its early symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases. In addition, the first symptoms disappear without any treatment within the first few weeks which means that many cases are simply not recognised or recognised too late when the infection is in an advanced stage and risks becoming chronic. Protection against this is offered with treatment with suitable antibiotics.

How do I recognise the first syphilis symptoms?
About three weeks after the time of infection a moist ulcer the size of a ten cent coin may appear on the place of infection. Although it may appear, it must not necessarily appear! When it does this ulcer is completely painless yet highly infectious – this is the period when syphilis can be transmitted through simple contact or rubbing. Generally the ulcer clears up without any need for treatment. Because of its small size and the fact that it generally appears on parts of the body that are awkward or impossible to see, it often goes completely unnoticed. In the first stage of the disease the appearance of the ulcer - or what the medical experts call the “primary effect” - can be accompanied by swollen lymph glands.

What are the further stages?
If the primary stage goes untreated, within around two to six months after the time of infection the secondary stage develops with general symptoms like an attack of flu. You feel sick, get a mild fever and have pains in your joints. You can also get a brown rash all over your body and your lymph glands become so swollen they can be felt. At the same time a rash of brown, wart-like sores (“papules”) may appear in the mouth, and on the cock and ass. This rash will disappear after a few weeks without any treatment, but it can reappear at any time, particularly on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Sometimes it leaves discoloured patches of skin behind. It's often associated with patchy loss of hair. In this stage all bodily fluids can be infectious.

When this secondary stage is over, the syphilis may lapse into a latent stage without any symptoms which can last for years or even decades.

The earliest tertiary stage is about two years after the time of infection. In this third stage syphilis damages the inner organs like the heart, blood vessels and nervous system. About one third of people who have had untreated secondary syphilis go on to develop the complications of third stage syphilis. This stage is characterised by the appearance of inflamed cancerous growths called “gumma” which can appear anywhere in the body – in the skin, in bones, in internal organs, in blood vessels or the central nervous system. As they destroy the body tissue in the place where they appear, they can lead to a wide variety of complications. They can also result in cardiac complications, including heart attacks and chronic arterial diseases.

The fourth and final stage of syphilis mainly occurs after ten to twenty years when the disease starts to damage the brain and the nervous system. The symptoms in this final stage include progressive paralysis, acute pain, blindness and disorientation, and mental illness resulting in death.

All the symptoms associated with the various stages of the disease can appear but must not necessarily do so! Single stages can go by completely unnoticed or can even be “skipped”. Because the progress of syphilis varies enormously from person to person. And this particularly true of people with HIV (see below).

I'm not sure if I've got syphilis. What should I do?
The best thing to do is to go to your doctor or a healthcare center and ask for a syphilis test. A simple blood sample is all they need for diagnosis. The diagnosis can also distinguish between a fresh infection and one that's considerably older.

The rate of syphilis infection among urban gay men has shown a remarkable increase (in some areas over 40% up!) so it's really advisable for men with one of two sex partners a month to take a syphilis test every three months. All other sexually active men should take a test every six months or at least once a year.

What kind of treatment will I get?
If syphilis is diagnosed early on, treatment is simple. In the primary stage treatment involves a course of penicillin injections in the buttocks which usually lasts from two to three weeks. Later stages can also be treated with penicillin but the treatment is much longer and a stay in hospital for a course of infusions will also be necessary. Plus complications to inner organs caused by the disease cannot be reversed. So it's obviously better to start treatment as soon as possible!

How can I protect myself and others from syphilis?
Avoid any kind of contact with open cuts and wounds! Condoms and rubber gloves can reduce the risk of infection but cannot completely eliminate it. Dildos and other sex toys should either be used by one person alone or should be thoroughly disinfected before being used with another partner.

Information, awareness and early, full and proper treatment are the three factors that can lead to a sharp drop in the rate of new infections. If you find you're infected, it's absolutely vital that you inform all your sex partners so they can take a test and get early treatment if necessary. And until the treatment course is really finished and you get a clean bill of health from your doctor or healthcare provider, you really should abstain from sex.

Does syphilis increase the risks of infection with HIV?
Yes it does! If you're HIV positive and also have syphilis, then it's much easier to transmit HIV to your sex partners via the syphilis sores. If your sex partner has syphilis (or another sexual transmitted disease) then it's much easier for him to get HIV than via unbroken skin or mucous membranes. Protecting yourself – and others – from the risk of HIV infection is another reason why it's vital to get treatment for your syphilis very early on.

If I'm HIV positive what special things should I watch out for in connection with syphilis?
Blood samples from HIV positive people don't always show a clear syphilis antibody diagnosis. So it's important that you get the test carried out by a competent doctor or healthcare provider who is specialised in HIV and syphilis. What's more, the course of syphilis can run much quicker with people who have an HIV immune system deficiency and the third or tertiary stage (see above) can happen much more rapidly. Plus there are also special precautions to be taken in treating syphilis in someone who's HIV positive. That's another reason why it's so important for people who are HIV positive to seek out a doctor who is specialised in both HIV and syphilis.

PLEASE REMEMBER: People with HIV/AIDS need special kinds of syphilis treatment and if syphilis is not treated it will make much quicker progress than in people without HIV/AIDS. If you are diagnosed with syphilis and you don't know your HIV status, it makes sound sense to take an HIV test. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about this.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) and answers about Syphilis
Q: Penicillin is freely available in Germany – hasn't that taken care of syphilis?
A: Sad to say, it hasn't. The infection rates for syphilis have risen dramatically in the past few years and show no sign of abating – especially in urban centers like Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg and so on. It's a sad fact but it's getting much easier to catch syphilis than many people realise. Obviously the risk is at its most intense in places where a lot of sex takes place – like darkrooms, saunas, porno cinemas, and sex parties.

Q: I know all my sex partners personally because I meet them on the Internet, and I never have sex in darkrooms or saunas. So aren't I really minimizing the risks of catching a sexually transmitted disease?
A: No you're not! Just because you know your sex partners doesn't mean that they couldn't have syphilis or some other STD. And even if you ask your partner if he's got an STD doesn't mean to say that what he tells you is really up-to-date.

Q: If I get syphilis then won't I be sure to notice it?
A: That ain't necessarily so! The symptoms of syphilis can be blatant or latent or might not show themselves at all. That's why, if you're sexually active with changing partners (at least two a month), it's important to take a syphilis test once every three months.

Q: Syphilis isn't as serious as breaking your leg is it?
A: True enough! Even so, syphilis still remains a serious infectious disease that will lead to life-threatening consequences if it's not treated early on.

Q: Nowadays nobody talks about sexual transmitted diseases any more – are they really as widespread as all that?
A: The simple answer is yes they are! It's a sad fact but many people are still reluctant to talk about STD's because they feel embarrassed or ashamed of them. But feeling sorry for yourself or wasting your time with useless self-recrimination won't help one bit. One the contrary you should feel downright glad when your sex partner tells you he has syphilis, because he's given you the opportunity to do something about it straight away. And likewise you should get in touch with all your sex partners immediately if you're diagnosed with an STD. It's the only way to work quickly and effectively to curb the new infection rate of syphilis and other STD's –and to keep the fun and pleasure in sex!

Text: Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V., September 2004


 

Men with multiple sex partners run a relatively high risk of infecting themselves with a hepatitis virus that can lead to serious health complications depending on the type of hepatitis virus involved. What kind of risk situations there are and how you can best protect yourself are briefly explained below.

What is "Hepatitis"?
Hepatitis is a disease of the liver (= "hepar" in Greek) which is the organ responsible for the exchange and transformation of substances in the body. A number of liver diseases are caused by viruses which explicitly target the liver. There are a number of types of these viruses: Hepatitis A Virus (HAV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and so on. We will focus here on Hepatitis A, B and C because they are the most frequent types and are also sexually transmissible.

Hepatitis A
Type of transmission: mainly fecal-oral - i.e. transmission of hepatitis A virus through contaminated water in areas with poor sanitary conditions and through oral-anal sexual contact (rimming/ass licking).

Symptoms:
often there are no symptoms or only slight ones similar to flu (fever, tiredness, nausea, loss of appetite). In a few cases there may be jaundice symptoms (yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine and light colouration of the stool/shit). Symptoms usually last around 4 weeks.

Treatment: No specific therapy available. Keep off alcohol, medicines that affect the liver, and drugs.

Protection: Excellent protection with Hepatitis A vaccination (can be combined with Hepatitis B vaccination).

Hepatitis B
Type of transmission: mainly through sexual contact and through blood.

Symptons: in the actute phase often with no symptons or flu-like symptons (fever, tiredness, nausea, loss of appetite) and abdominal pain. In approx. one third of all cases jaundice symptoms (yellowing of skin and eyes, dark urine and light colouration of stool/shit). Chronic infection occurs in around 5% of all cases (or 25% of those infected with HIV). Symptons usually last from 4-6 weeks.

Treatment: no specific therapy in the acute phase. Keep off alcohol, medicines that affect the liver and drugs. If you have chronic hepatitis you may need a course of therapy.

Protection:
Excellent protection with Hepatitis B vaccination (can be combined with Hepatitis A vaccination). Using condoms minimises risk of transmission.

Hepatitis C
Type of transmission: through blood and blood contact (also from injecting drug use); transmission also possible through sexual contact. People with an immunodeficiency syndrom (e.g. people with HIV) are more liable to infection.

Symptons:
In 50-80% of cases acute hepatitis C has no symptoms. In 10-20% of cases flu-like symptoms appear and in 10% of cases jaundice symptoms occur (yellowing of skin and eyes, dark urine, light colouration of stool/shit). 50-80% of cases involve chronic hepatitis C which can result in serious liver damage after several years. Otherwise symptons last up to 6 months. Chronic hepatitis C in conjunction with a HIV infection can result in quicker liver damage and complications.

Treatment: drug-based therapy.

Protection: Condoms reduce the risk of transmission during sexual contact. Avoid coming into contact with blood (use rubber gloves epecially for fist fucking); do not share syringes and needles for IV drug use. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Vaccination against Hepatitis A and B
You can protect yourself by getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. There is no vaccination against hepatitis C! The Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe recommends vaccination against hepatitis A and B. However, if you've already had hepatitis A or B (and possibly haven't even noticed it!) you will be immune to renewed infection. That's why before getting vaccinated you should always get a check-up with your doctor to see whether you already have hepatitis A/B antigens (or to see if you still are immunised from an earlier vaccination!). There's no need to put an unnecessary burden on your immune system, especially if you are already HIV positive.

There is a difference between “active” and “passive” forms of vaccination. In an active vaccination harmless virus fragments (inactivated or “dead” vaccine) stimulate the body to produce its own antigens. The incubation period for these antigens lasts around one month and they generally offer a ten year period of immunity. In a passive vaccination antigens are directly injected into the body. Immunity is immediate but the period of immunity only lasts from one to three months.

Vaccination and HIV
An HIV positive status is no hindrance to getting vaccinated. But the success of the vaccination will depend on the state of your immune system. About 30% of HIV positive people show an insufficient reaction to a hepatitis B vaccination. If the vaccination is not effective, repeat vaccination with higher doses in several stages is recommended. Thus it is vital that when you have been vaccinated you should always get a check-up to see that the vaccination has been successful. Vaccination should always be carried out by an experienced doctor.

Vaccination: What it Costs
The Robert Koch Institute and the World Health Organisation recommend that people who are at higher risk of infection should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B. This includes people who inject drugs, people who are sexually active with different sex partners, and dialysis patients. You do not have to tell your doctor about your sexual orientation, it's enough to say that you may be at risk. Often your health insurance scheme will cover the costs. If your risk of infection is higher because of your job (e.g. hospital personnel) perhaps your employer will pay the costs for you.

IN SHORT
The best protection against hepatitis A and B is vaccination. To date the best protection against hepatitis C is safer sex and safer use


Text: Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V., September 2003

 


 

The red ribbon
stands for loss, mourning, sadness, pain, fear and illness – but also for kindness, compassion, understanding and countless acts of positive practical support. People who display the red ribbon show they are aware of the social problems connected with AIDS.

 

What is AIDS and HIV?
Aids is the English acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (a “syndrome” = a complex of various different symptoms). The immune system is there to protect you against the various infections – like bacteria, fungi and viruses – that can get into your body.

Aids is caused by an infection with HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV-1 was discovered in 1983/84 followed a little later by HIV-2. Both types of virus and their subgroups (subtypes) show special features and appear with degrees of frequency that vary from continent to continent. But whatever type the virus might be, the selfsame ways of protecting yourself against it still apply. Aids refers to the stage of HIV infection where the body can develop certain life-threatening infectious diseases and tumours.

How does HIV weaken the Immune System?
HIV infects the white blood cells (also known as CD4 cells or T4 cells) and uses them to make new copies of HIV. The white blood cells are important because it is they that set the immune system in motion when the body is invaded by organisms like bacteria and viruses.

When HIV infects a body, the white blood cells mount a defence against it. But the antibodies produced by the defence mechanism cannot rid the body of HIV. A small number of infected CD4 cells are directly destroyed by the virus while many more have their indirect mechanisms damaged by the virus so that the defence they provide is inadequate or faulty. In this way the number of healthy CD4 cells is greatly reduced. And as the number of CD4 cells decline this means that the body is less and less able to defend itself against infection. In an advanced stage of immunodeficiency life-threatening diseases or “opportunistic infections”, allergies and various cancerous growths can occur.

What is the course of an HIV infection and what symptoms are there?
The course of an HIV infection can vary widely from person to person and each single case generally shows a wide degree of fluctuation. Symptoms can – but must not necessarily – appear. And between the various stages of the illness there are often long periods when no symptoms at all appear. A fully developed immunodeficiency can even occur without there being any signs of sickness (= symptoms) until the outbreak of very serious illness.

Measuring the “virus load” (= the number of viruses per millilitre of blood) is a way of showing how far the virus has reproduced itself and damaged the immune system. The greater the virus load is, the quicker the body’s immune system will be destroyed. But also counting the number of white blood cells per millilitre of blood tells us about the condition of the immune system – the fewer CD4 cells there are, the more the immune system is damaged.

The First Weeks
Shortly after infecting a body the HIV virus begins to reproduce itself heavily. In this period the risk of infecting someone else is particularly high! Usually in the first weeks after infection flu-like symptoms appear (“primary effects”) which then disappear by themselves after one to two weeks. Many people hardly notice these symptoms or take them to be signs of an ordinary cold or flu. But in each case where there is an HIV infection the body reacts by producing antibodies. And these can usually be reliably diagnosed by an HIV antibody test [Link] about 12 weeks after the initial infection.

Symptom-free Phase
The HIV infection then enters into a discreet phase – in other words there are no noticeable symptoms. This phase can last a few months or a few years. But the virus still continues to reproduce and damage the immune system.

Phase with General Symptoms
At some point symptoms can occur. They are usually general symptoms like prolonged lymph node swellings at various points of the body (under the armpits, around the top of the legs), heavy night sweats and prolonged periods of diarrhoea. The symptoms which appear with an HIV infection are all non-specific – in other words they can equally occur with many other forms of illness. This is why only doctors who are experienced in this field are able to tell whether the immune system has been damaged or not.

Chronic Immunodeficiency
If certain opportunistic infections occur in a person whose immune system has been badly damaged by HIV we speak of “Aids”. These opportunistic infections include pneumocistis carinii pneumonia (PCP), a rare form of pneumonia, and infections of body organs like the gullet with the fungus candida albicans. Viruses like herpes simplex and herpes zoster can also cause serious infections. The most common tumours occurring in connection with AIDS are virus-caused forms of cancer like kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer and lymphomas (malignant immune system tumours). Because HIV also infects the central nervous system, during the course of an HIV infection this can also lead to nerve damage and brain damage which usually begin slowly and without any symptoms.

How is HIV NOT transmitted?
HIV is one the infections which is very difficult to transmit. The virus itself is sensitive and cannot live long outside the human body under normal conditions. Standard hygiene at home and in hospital is enough to make it ineffective. Even so, the virus can still survive for several days in blood smears in used injecting needles!

Although HIV has been detected in urine, shit, spit, sweat and tears, it has been in such very small quantities that there is generally no danger of transmission. This means that there is no danger of transmission through shaking hands, hugging, play and sport, coughing and sneezing or using the same plates, cutlery or glasses. Equally there is no danger of transmission from using the same toilet, towel, bed linen, using the same swimming pool or sauna or working and living with people with HIV/Aids. Nor is there any danger of HIV transmission with kissing (so long as there are no cuts on the lips or in the mouth). And insects like mosquitoes and animals cannot transmit HIV either.

How can HIV be transmitted?
HIV can only be transmitted when a sufficient quantity of it enters into the bloodstream or comes into contact with a mucous membrane. Infection is possible with blood – including menstrual blood – sperm, vaginal fluid and breast milk – all of which can hold high concentrations of the virus. The risk of infecting yourself and others with HIV is also much greater if you already have a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis, gonorrhoea or herpes. This is why it is very important to recognise these infections at an early stage and get them treated!

The HIV Test
An HIV test tells you for sure whether you have an HIV infection (“positive” test result) or not (“negative” test result). Knowing that you have an HIV infection enables you to start an early course of treatment which will stop or slow down serious damage to the immune system and the resultant chronic opportunistic infections.

Whether you take an HIV test or not is your own decision to make. An HIV test should never be made without your knowledge and consent, and nobody should force anyone to take a test. What is truly vital is that you should be given enough information about the test and feel that you have been adequately counselled. A counsellor should also inform you about the possible social and legal disadvantages that could result from the test or a possible positive test result. If you want to know for sure about your HIV status you should take the test three months after the last HIV risk situation at the earliest. But the HIV test is not a preventive measure. You can only protect yourself against HIV by practising Safer Sex and sticking to the Safer Sex guidelines.

Costs/Anonymity (Germany)
To find out the place to take the test that’s best suited to your own circumstances, you should consult with your local charity or trust specialised in helping people with HIV / Aids.
As a general rule, though, public health agencies usually offer the test for free or for a small charge (around € 10-15). The big advantage here is that the test is made anonymously – in other words your name is not mentioned and the result is not “documented”. If the test is made for instance at a GP’s, it will indicate your name – in other words the test and its result will be documented and this can have all kinds of consequences (for instance for your insurance). If you have reason to believe that you have been infected, your health insurance scheme will bear the costs of the test.

Reasons for taking an HIV Test
To be certain after being in a situation where a risk of transmission was involved.
You’re not sure whether you’re infected with HIV because you’ve been in a situation where a transmission risk was present – and you want to know for sure.

The “Stock-taking Test” / “Engagement Test”
You are in a closed relationship and want to do away with using condoms. And you want to be certain that neither of you is HIV positive.

Symptoms/ Starting Therapy
You have symptoms that could indicate a HIV infection and/or want to start early treatment. The HIV test has a high therapeutic significance.

Taking out a Health Insurance Policy
Some insurance companies require you to take an HIV test or present the result of a recent test before you can take out a policy.


Text: Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe e.V., March 2005

 

 


 

Here is a list of our current job vacancies. If you wish to apply for any of these positions, please follow the instructions in the relevant job description below. We look forward to receiving your application!


 

USER BLOG

Part of the mission of PlanetRomeo Foundation is to contribute to the realization of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere. Over the years PlanetRomeo has received reports from users, and blog entries about local gay rights situations from around the world. The Foundation wants to offer a platform for these reports which show that there is still a lot of work to be done. Scroll down for more information.


 

Why should I advertise on PlanetRomeo?
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What is frequency capping?
What is language targeting?


 

Fakers are one of the things we receive most emails about. Complaints range from mild exasperation ("pity there are so many fakers here") to indignation ("when are you going to do something about it?") to sheer hate ("All fakers should be lined up against the wall and shot!"). In fact some emails reach such heights of hysteria, we are reminded of witch hunts back in the dark ages. So let's take a little time now to examine the issue in more detail.

Background
"Fakers" are profiles that create deliberately false impressions, where the operator is actually quite different in reality. People get pleasure from role playing, and the internet offers the perfect space for transforming yourself into the dream person you've always wanted to be. But it's more complex than that. There are many different motives for faking: boredom, basking in the glory of somebody else's photos, looking for cybersex, criminal scams, deception or plain old-fashioned revenge. In our view fakers can be divided into several different categories - although the dividing line between them is often quite fluid.

1. Making yourself more interesting
The age has been adjusted downwards, the photos aren't exactly recent, the bulge that looked so promising in the photos has shrunk and as for being active? .... dear oh dear. In our view this kind of discreet retouching isn't really wicked, but it can be pretty exasperating and annoying. Sometimes in reality you just have to learn to live with this kind of human behavior.

2. Virtual role playing and photo collectors

The internet is the ideal medium for taking on a fantasy persona. These profiles have nothing to do with the actual person behind them. But which of us never wanted to be a sex god with an army of devoted admirers and an endless stream of fan mail? In reality, the amount of fun you can get out of this and the dodgy photos you upload is not justified when compared to the numbers of users you're fooling. Perhaps no real damage is caused by this kind of deception, but that's no defence - so we delete such profiles when we find them. Mind you, identifying these fake profiles can be quite tricky because there are so many genuine sex gods out there on PlanetRomeo!

3. Scams
The people behind these profiles have criminal intentions. Messages from these profiles typically promise millions of dollars tied up in a bank account from Africa or huge winnings in some lottery or other. These people don't advertise their scam directly in their profile, instead they use the messaging system to contact users personally. If you receive any such messages, don't reply, just report them to us directly, so that we can take appropriate action.

4. Revenge
"Revenge is sweet" or so they say, but creating a profile complete with photos of your "ex" or someone you "hate" is not allowed! Normally such profiles don't hold back from making libellous statements like "I'm a total whore and anyone can fuck me!" We don't need to tell you that morally there's no excuse for such behavior - but remember, posting stuff like this can constitute defamation of character and the person that's been insulted could quickly take you to court!

What
PlanetRomeo can do
There's no question that fakers are a big headache and we need to be vigilant about them. But we don't have a crystal ball to tell us whether a user is genuine or not. Nor is there a magic switch "Delete all fakers from the system" which we're just too lazy to use. Our Admins have a few extra tools and methods they can use, but even so we often have to rely on plain old common sense when it comes to assessing profiles.

So long as a user is not proven "guilty" we must presume that he's innocent. Simply saying "he stood me up on a date so he's a faker" is not enough. After all, how are we supposed to check on this? Just imagine what would happen if we gave instant credibility to each complaint that came in - a furious maelstrom of bitter accusations and counter accusations would blaze up and spread like a prairie fire!

The bottom line is that we must strive to find a balance between freedom and security. Sure, now and then we may make a wrong decision and we're not always on the spot within 5 minutes to delete a blatant fake profile - but we really are doing our level best.

Every day we get around 100 faker reports from users. We deactivate or delete around 2/3 of these profiles. In other words, each month we eject some 1000 - 1500 fakers!

One of the reasons why there are a lot of fakers is that there are also a whole lot of users who fall for them and their tricks. We often get the feeling that some users throw all caution to the winds when they see the profile of a sexy young guy with hot pics and an XXL dingaling.

A few things we ask you to really take to heart:


The bottom line
Let's spell it out plain and simple: we are taking action against fakers, yet even so we can never guarantee a completely faker-free system. What we can also do is appeal to the sense of personal responsibility of each and every one of our users - because in the long run it's the only way to ensure true satisfaction with online chatting. Here are also some further tips covering issues of security. We wish all our users lots of faker-free fun!


 

We were prompted to write this letter by an article that's been doing the rounds recently in various german gay mags. Entitled "No Queers, No Turks" it deals with that hot-button issue Gay Nazis in Chatrooms and on PlanetRomeo. As a good number of other articles also touch on this topic, we want to take the opportunity and make our own position absolutely clear.

Hot Topics, Controversial Issues
Just like in real life the profiles on PlanetRomeo reflect the rich and varied personalities of the people behind them. When we set up PlanetRomeo we deliberately didn't want to make it just a sex platform but a place where members could also talk about their non-sexual personal interests as well. So far so good - but this also opens the door to controversial topics too. Very soon you're faced with the question - what should we tolerate and what should we delete?

Our Position on "Nazis in Gay Chatrooms"
Gays suffered dreadfully under the crimes of the Nazis. Nazis are not tolerated on PlanetRomeo and once reported their profiles are immediately deleted - just like all other racist and defamatory content. This means a whole lot of work for us as such unwanted guests are always trying to reregister (from other countries too) and there's very little we can do to stop them trying. That's the way it is and even though we don't like it that's the way it's going to be - and not just on PlanetRomeo. Even so, we take our commitment very seriously and do our level best to fulfill it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Who draws the line?
When it comes to questions like "Who is a Nazi?" and "Where do we draw the line?" opinions start to divide. Not everyone who wears Doc Martins or has a passion for Celts, Vikings or Leni Riefenstahl is automatically a Nazi. Even if it opens us to accusations of "turning a blind eye", as operators of a major Gay Community we have to keep within the limits of what is legally permissible. And the boundaries of what is legally allowed have constantly been redefined in the course of heated democratic debate over the years.

As PlanetRomeo operators and Admins, just like everybody else we've got our own private opinions as to what should be tolerated and what not. Yet even so we should not and will not try to turn our own private sensibilities into a yardstick with which to measure all gays. We do not believe it is our role to decide on what is good and what is bad from our own personal standpoints nor on who should be allowed into the Gay Community and who should stay outside.

Freedom versus Security?
In our view the long-term dangers incurred by what starts out as a well-meaning dictatorship of the vox populi are risks that nobody can see the end of. Once you've started down that road, it becomes all to easy to get rid of everything that doesn't personally appeal to you. If we had a devout Catholic Admin, would that mean that all criticism of the pope would have to go? We at least are not prepared to sacrifice freedom bit by bit for some dubious concept of security.

Because nobody can look inside peoples' heads and we don't have a crystal ball to help us establish just what the real motivations of a profile owner might be. We can't see whether somebody is a Nazi with a clean profile, a fetish skinhead or just a plain conservative. And it's no use making stabs in the dark - the only thing that really counts are hard facts. One of the basic principles of our law that's shown its worth is that everybody is innocent until proven guilty. So attitudes like "better be safe than sorry" can't be right in the virtual world either.

Freedom might be sometimes hard to cope with - but it's essential!

To say it again plainly. It really gets up our nose that our liberal attitude can - and does! - awaken the impression that we're giving right wing radicals a helping hand. That is definitely NOT the case! Radicals and other fuck-heads can go to hell as far as we're concerned and good riddance to the lot of them!

However, we are determined to resist every attempt to use us for political ends. Users who flirt with the limits of legality just to be provocative will be banned - we have no intention of letting ourselves be exploited in this way. Obviously such limits are sometimes difficult to define - but on the whole we think that basing ourselves on the law gives us a good base on which to reach reasonable decisions.

So is freedom really thick-skinned?

We get a constant influx of demands for censorship on a huge range of topics - politics, caricatures, discrimination against the elderly, religion, S&M, fetishes, IQ, stupidity, outrageous queens, effeminate guys, fat guys, handicapped guys, AIDS... and the list goes on - even the battle of election times carries over into our Community where the Admins get a flood of complaints about political statements of hated parties appearing in user profiles.

So yes, freedom is thick-skinned, freedom hurts, freedom is uncomfortable. But at the same time freedom is the best guarantee we have for leading an independent, fulfilled life according to our own wishes and dreams. Gays are political animals, religious animals and some of us have very bizarre sexual preferences. We don't have to subscribe to them all but we must grin and bear them as long as they're legal! Because that is the bulwark of every pluralistic democratic society. And the same - no more, no less - should also hold true for an open online Gay Community.

In conclusion, some quotations


Rosa Luxemburg: "Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently."

Noam Chomsky: "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."

Benjamin Franklin: "They who would give up an essential liberty for a temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."


 

The official theme of Amsterdam Gay Pride 2009 was ExtraOrdinary – and for all of us working at PlanetRomeo, it was!

Not only did we have a fabulous boat in the Canal Parade we also hosted the Official Opening Party. All of this was made possible with the generous sponsorship and participation of our partner Gyro Center.

Mother had a great time too and she’s uploaded loads of pics of both events to her profile's photo album. Unfortunately she was the one taking all the photos – so there aren’t any of her ;-) Mind you that may be a blessing, because she’s no oil painting!


 

The opening party was hosted by Amsterdam’s legendary Dolly Bellefleur, and there were dazzling performances by The Boy George Experience who also sang for the crowds from our boat.


 

Since autumn 2007 we have had a policy of giving free PLUS accounts to all users registered in countries where homosexuality is illegal. This is not just a friendly gesture. One of the benefits of GayRomeo PLUS is the option of using SSL encryption which makes internet communication more private – very important in countries where your sexuality could land you in jail.

In response we regularly receive emails from users, telling us what it’s like to live in a country where homosexuality is criminalized. Some of these testimonies are tough and disturbing, others are inspirational. We can't directly change the situation in these countries, but we can give a voice to the guys who write to us, by publishing their stories here.


 

Pink Istanbul is a recurring event that combines social and artistic elements to raise the profile of the Turkish LGBT communities in Amsterdam and Istanbul. The event is a project of Stichting Pera, based at Paradiso in Amsterdam.

It’s a popular, vibrant and creative initiative that GayRomeo is proud to support.



(Image Source: Stichting Pera)

The most recent edition of Pink Istanbul took place in a packed Paradiso on March 28th. It was a great success with music, dance and performances from Turkish band Beduk (Istanbul), DJ Lupe (Amsterdam), Wannabeastar (Amsterdam), U.F.U.K. (Istanbul), Otherside (Istanbul), Ipek (Berlin) and many others.



(Image Source: Stichting Pera)

The event started with a debate about the difficulties faced by gays of Turkish descent in the Netherlands, the rights and problems of gays in Turkey and their depiction in the media. Participants, like Yesim Basaran from Turkish LGBT organization Lambdaistanbul, gave the audience some insight into the situation for gays in Turkey.

 


(Image Source: Stichting Pera)

Other participants included TV presenter and media specialist Gulden Yilmaz, Can Celebi of Homoloket, Tania Barkhuis of COC Amsterdam, Elvan Tutkun of I-Psy and Dutch MEP of Turkish descent, Emine Bozkurt (PvdA).

The sequel

The next Pink Istanbul will be on November 7th, 2009 at Paradiso in Amsterdam. The whole place will be transformed for one night only by renowned Istanbul gay clubs. Social issues and artistes from the Amsterdam and Istanbul gay scenes will fuse into an incredible party. At the nearby Melkweg there will also be a photo and movie expo about the LGBT life in Istanbul.



(Image Source: Stichting Pera)

Then on November 21st it will be time for Pink Amsterdam in Istanbul!

For more information:
Website: clubpera.nl
GayRomeo Profile: Pink-Istanbul
Facebook: Pink Istanbul | Art & Dance Event


 

We have been working in our new office for half a year already, so of course its time for some new pictures. The old office was simply too small in the end, so we looked for something new – no we haven’t become fat ;o)



The beginning – we now officially hate moving!



This is what it looks like now.



High commitment is achieved by …



low priority for food…



a never-ending supply of coffee…



and radical measures.



Nothing goes by unnoticed thanks to our new office dog.



Jumping after the thousandth faker report…



is not really a good idea.



After all we have a lovely view …


and some great colleagues to share a beer with after work :-)


 

10 YEARS OF GAY MARRIAGE (April 28, 2011)
Just before midnight on March 31st, 2001, journalists, media and well-wishers from around the world gathered at Amsterdam’s city hall to witness an historic event. The world’s first same-sex marriages. Moments after the clock struck twelve, the city’s mayor pronounced four couples (three male and 1 female) “husbands” and “wives”. A revolution in gay rights had begun.

Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have got married in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam alone there are approximately 200 same-sex marriages each year. Interestingly the divorce rate is lower than that for heterosexual couples.

A WORLDWIDE MOVEMENT
It took many years of campaigning to achieve this level of equality in the Netherlands. Gay rights campaigners have been working hard in other countries too. 10 countries have fully legalized gay marriage: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. It also exists in some states of the USA and in Mexico City.

Some countries, wary of making marriage fully accessible to same-sex couples, but still wanting to grant legal status to gay relationships, have created institutions called Civil Unions or Partnerships. Denmark was the first country to do this back in 1989.


Image Source: Peter Tatchell Foundation

PROGRESS? OR NEW INEQUALITIES
The existence of two different kinds of legal relationships, marriage and civil unions, while increasing the legal rights of LGBT people, has led to some new inequalities entering into law.

For example, not all countries in the EU recognise registered partnerships as being equal to marriages. This means not all EU citizens have the same rights to "free movement" between countries.

In the UK, Civil Partnerships are exclusively for same-sex couples, whereas marriage is exclusively for heterosexuals. The legal rights of both are roughly the same, but heterosexual couples cannot choose for civil partnership and gays cannot choose for marriage. It’s a strange kind of 'apartheid' that does not apply to any other social group. It means for example that you reveal your sexual orientation when filling in official documents or job applications, because you have to tick either the “Married” box or the “Civil Partnership” box. Information you might not want all people or organizations to be aware of.

Peter Tatchell, known worldwide for his human rights work is a staunch supporter of Equal Love, a campaign that aims for true equality for both heterosexual and homosexual couples in the UK. He explains, "There would be uproar if the government banned Jewish people from marriage and offered them civil partnerships instead. We would call it an anti-Semitic law; something we would expect in Nazi Germany not democratic Britain. Well, Jews are not banned from marriage but gay people are.”

MARRIAGE: IS IT FOR EVERYBODY?
While many people agree that LGBT people should have equal rights to marry if they choose, there are also many within our community who are not personally interested in getting married. For years gay men and women have lived together, in solid relationships, often for decades, without the option of getting married. While some have jumped at the chance to finally get legal recognition for their relationships, others choose to stay together unmarried.

Marriage has bad associations for some – they have seen messy divorces in parents or heterosexual friends, and don’t want to go down the same road. But if same-sex couples don’t or can’t get married, they should consider taking additional steps to protect themselves. Sadly, the families of partners, hospital administrators, financial institutions and employers do not always respect the wishes of same-sex partners, unless there is legal documentation. This can lead to problems regarding inheritance, hospital visits and medical treatment and pensions.

Sources of Information:
Gemeente Amsterdam
Peter Tatchell Foundation
ILGA Europe


 

2011 - PROGRESS & STRUGGLE (March 10, 2011)

In December 2010 a massive majority at the United Nations voted to restore part of a resolution condemning the execution of people based on sexual orientation. To us it might seem obvious that it's not okay to kill someone just because they are gay. But just a few weeks earlier, African countries successfully argued that the reference to sexual orientation should be removed - a move that seemed to legitimise the killing of LGBT people.

Other countries were outraged, and thanks in part to the efforts of the Obama Administration, a new vote saw 93 countries demonstrating their support for LGBT people. 55 voted against, 27 abstained and 17 didn't take part.

A victory? Absolutely. But it demonstrates a global split, with more than half the United Nations countries are unwilling to accept even our most basic human right - the right to life.

 

A WIND OF CHANGE?
The news and images coming out of Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, remind us of all the LGBT people who suffer or have been the victims of violence at the hands of the state or society. We can't choose where we are born, or who we are destined to love. Nor can we forget the cruel and tragic images of youths being hung in Iran - a country where death remains a real threat for anyone accused or suspected of being gay.


Image Source: Ice Queer - LGBT people were among the crowds in Tahrir Square, Cairo

In the past weeks, many gay people have taken part in the mass protests across North Africa and the Middle East. Their heartfelt aspirations they have for their countries and for their own rights are deeply inspiring. We must hope that whatever "freedoms" are won will include and not exclude the rights of sexual and other minorities. Experience shows that while governments and regimes can sometimes fall overnight, it takes much longer for a society to lose its prejudices.

AFRICA - MANY CHALLENGES AHEAD
No continent seems so deeply polarised on gay issues as Africa. From progressive South Africa which legalised gay marriage in 2006, to Uganda where the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" threatens to introduce prison or the death penalty for gay men and women. A wave of extreme anti-gay hostility continues to sweep across many countries, often fuelled by religious leaders, politicians and the media.



Image Source: Queerty.com - Frontpage of Rolling Stone Newspaper, Uganda

 

In Uganda, David Kato a prominent activist for LGBT rights was brutally murdered in his home on January 26th 2011. His murder came just days after he and two fellow activists successfully obtained a court injunction preventing local newspaper "Rolling Stone" from publishing the names, addresses and photos of gay people. In October 2010 the newspaper published his photo together with the details of 100 others under the headline "Hang Them". The newspaper along with other media and religious organisations stirred up anti-gay hysteria focused on HIV and the alleged "recruitment of children". All this increased public support of the government's proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which advocates the death penalty for "serial" homosexuals and prison for friends or family members who do not denounce them.

 

YouTube Video: Can a Ugandan Witch Doctor turn Scott Mills Straight?

In a remarkable BBC TV documentary, openly gay DJ Scott Mills recently visited Uganda to find out exactly what it's like to be gay there. The documentary exposed him to serious risk. It also revealed just how deeply homophobia is rooted in public opinion, and showed the true courage of those men and women who take a different view. In this amusing, but disturbing clip, a witch doctor attempts to cure Scott of his homosexuality using fire, water and a live chicken! 

 

In Malawi last year we reported the tragic story of Tiwonge and Steven who were imprisoned for holding a gay engagement ceremony. The sad end to their story is that although they were pardoned, months spent in prison and in the media spotlight took their toll. The couple split up. Steven publicly denied his sexuality and denounced Tiwonge, who was later reported to be seeking asylum abroad. This year Malawi has taken another backwards step by making lesbian sex illegal for the first time, bringing it in line with similar laws for men. This kind of equality we definitely don't need!

 

Image Source: BBC - Tiwonge and Steven - Found guilty of love


HOPE IS NOT ENOUGH
These are not the only struggles. All around the world there's a lot to do, whether it's campaigning for marriage rights in the US and UK, challenging public opinion with visibility in India, Russia or Malaysia, or demanding action against LGBT murders in Honduras. When change comes it will be thanks to the dedication and courage of those people, some well known, others not, who work openly or quietly behind the scenes to influence, persuade and demand the right to live and love without fear or shame.

Freedom and respect for all.
The PlanetRomeo Team, Amsterdam

 

Information Sources: PinkNews, BBC, Ice Queer, Queerty, Têtu, Outrage!, Queer.de


 

Iraq: No Place to Hide (July 14, 2010)

 

Iraq is one of the most dangerous places for LGBT people on the planet. That’s why London based group Iraqi LGBT set up a small network of “safe houses” for people at risk of violence or assassination. These homes have literally been life-savers for those taking refuge in them.

 

But last month, one safe house in Karbala was raided and there is growing concern that the Iraqi government is supporting a witch-hunt against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

 

After the Raid (source: Iraqi LGBT)

 

Twelve police officers are reported to have burst into the house, and then violently beaten up, and blindfolded the six occupants before driving them away in three vans. According to a witness, the police also confiscated computer equipment and then burned the house down.

 

Since the raid, one of the arrested people has turned up in hospital with his throat cut.

 

The slashed throat of one victim (Source: Iraqi LGBT)

 

Nothing is known about the whereabouts of the other five individuals, which include two gay men, one lesbian and two transgender people. It is feared they may have been taken to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad where, it is reported, many gay people have been tortured and executed in the last two years.

 

Government forces are said to have seized people at roadblocks and then handed them to militias who have tortured them before dumping their bodies.

“Over 720 LGBT people have disappeared or been murdered, many of whom have been tortured to death. There is strong evidence that the government is colluding with these militia groups, by rounding up known homosexual and transgender people. Media and politicians have been too quiet for too long about the violence towards LGBT people in Iraq,” said Ali Hili, leader of Iraqi LGBT.

With the arrests and the seizure of computers in this raid, activists fear that the government may step up efforts to round up more of the country’s LGBT population.

 

This month, GayRomeo has written to the embassies of the UK and US expressing our deepest shock at these reports and our belief that they should use their influence in the region to ensure greater safety for the LGBT population.

 

Your GayRomeo Team

Amsterdam

 

Information Sources: Iraqi LGBT, UKGayNews


 

Iraq: No Place to Hide (July 14, 2010)

 

Iraq is one of the most dangerous places for LGBT people on the planet. That’s why London based group Iraqi LGBT set up a small network of “safe houses” for people at risk of violence or assassination. These homes have literally been life-savers for those taking refuge in them.

 

But last month, one safe house in Karbala was raided and there is growing concern that the Iraqi government is supporting a witch-hunt against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

 

After the Raid (source: Iraqi LGBT)

 

Twelve police officers are reported to have burst into the house, and then violently beaten up, and blindfolded the six occupants before driving them away in three vans. According to a witness, the police also confiscated computer equipment and then burned the house down.

 

Since the raid, one of the arrested people has turned up in hospital with his throat cut.

 

The slashed throat of one victim (Source: Iraqi LGBT)

 

Nothing is known about the whereabouts of the other five individuals, which include two gay men, one lesbian and two transgender people. It is feared they may have been taken to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad where, it is reported, many gay people have been tortured and executed in the last two years.

 

Government forces are said to have seized people at roadblocks and then handed them to militias who have tortured them before dumping their bodies.

“Over 720 LGBT people have disappeared or been murdered, many of whom have been tortured to death. There is strong evidence that the government is colluding with these militia groups, by rounding up known homosexual and transgender people. Media and politicians have been too quiet for too long about the violence towards LGBT people in Iraq,” said Ali Hili, leader of Iraqi LGBT.

With the arrests and the seizure of computers in this raid, activists fear that the government may step up efforts to round up more of the country’s LGBT population.

 

This month, the management of GayRomeo wrote to the British and American ambassadors to the Netherlands, as well as to the Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, to express their deepest shock at these reports and their belief that they should use their influence in the region to ensure greater safety for the LGBT population.

 

PlanetRomeo Foundation

Amsterdam

 

Information Sources: Iraqi LGBT, UKGayNews


 

UPDATE: Breakthrough in Malawi – President pardons gay couple (May 31, 2010)
On Saturday May 29th, President Bingu of Malawi granted a full pardon to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (read the story below).


Previously they had been sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour. The pardon and their subsequent release from prison came after 4 months of intense international pressure. But their future remains uncertain. Public opinion in Malawi is very hostile, and under the law, if they continue their relationship, they can again be arrested, tried and convicted for their love.

 

A Matter of Life and Death (February 2, 2010)

URGENT ACTION FOR IRAN, UGANDA & MALAWI

 

Over the past few years there has been a lot of progress on Gay Rights around the world. But recently we’ve been made aware of three countries where things seem to be moving backwards instead of forwards. These developments in Iran, Uganda and Malawi are so worrying, we feel it is our duty to inform you about them.

 

Basically, men (and women too) face the prospect of death or imprisonment just for being gay, or for protecting someone who is. In this article we’ve summarized what’s going on. Please read it and consider what you might be able to do to help.

 

Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

 

IRAN – Waiting on Death Row

An unspecified number of men are in prison in Iran awaiting the death penalty for the “crime” of “Lavat” (sodomy). It’s almost impossible to get clear information about individual cases, but 3 have been brought to our attention. Nemat S., Mehdi P. and Mohsen Gh. were each sentenced to death for crimes committed while they were still under 18. As “minors” they could not legally be executed. Instead they were imprisoned long enough to ensure that they could be eventually be executed as adults after their eighteenth birthdays.

 

This situation is unjust on so many levels there’s no point in going into further details here. The fact remains if something is not done about this, pretty soon we can expect to see more cruel and tragic images of hanging youths like this one which was widely circulated in 2005. We really don’t want to have to publish any more such pictures here on GayRomeo.

 

 

UGANDA – “Anti-Homosexuality” law proposed

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. Men and Women can face life imprisonment if convicted. But this isn’t enough for some homophobic politicians. A new law “the anti-homosexuality bill” has been proposed that would take this injustice to a frightening new level. You can download a PDF of the proposed law here.

 

Death or Life in Prison

The law would introduce the death penalty for a new crime called “aggravated homosexuality” which includes any homosexual act with a person under 18, or committed by a person with HIV (with or without condoms), or by a person in authority. The death penalty would also apply for “serial offenders” – anyone who commits a homosexual act more than once. The law would also extend the penalty of life imprisonment to all other same sex behavior including the mere touching of another person with the “intent” to have homosexual relations.

 

Additionally, anyone guilty of “promoting” homosexuality would face a prison sentence of 5-7 years. This would include any member of an organization offering support or advice to LGBT people, safer sex info etc. It would equally apply to any family member or landlord allowing two men or women to share a room. Finally, anyone holding a position of authority who knows of a homosexual person would be legally obliged to report that person to the police within 24 hours – or face 3 years in Prison.

 

MALAWI – 14 years in prison for engaged couple

In December two young Malawian men, Tiwonge and Steven, decided to demonstrate their love by holding a traditional Malawian engagement ceremony. The event got reported in the media and the two men were promptly arrested for “public indecency”. They face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

 

 

On the first day in court, the couple were jeered and laughed at by the public. Tiwonge got sick and collapsed. No one assisted him. Eventually he got to his feet and was allowed to clean himself up. He was then expected to publicly clean up the floor of the courtroom himself. The trial has now been postponed, but in the meantime the two men remain in prison, facing “medical” examinations to “prove” that they have had homosexual relations.

 

Apart from the inhuman treatment of Tiwonge and Steven, members of CEDEP an NGO which offered legal support to them were also arrested on trumped up charges of “pornography” relating to the organization’s safer sex work.

 

What can you do?

IRAN: the Canadian-based Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) has started a campaign called 346 No Execution. It calls for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran and it’s supported by a growing number of LGBT organizations internationally. We encourage you to take a look and take part.

 

UGANDA: There have already been protests and petitions in various countries, and statements of condemnation from various NGOs and governments including the EU and USA. Contact your local LGBT rights organization to find out what is going on in your country. You can also sign this global petition.

 

MALAWI: The organizations supporting Tiwonge and Steven need help. Check the websites of petertatchell.net and IGLHRC for more information about how you can support them. You can also take part in the IGLHRC letter writing campaign.

 

We will report any further developments as they happen. We sincerely hope there will be some good news.

 

In the meantime, we’d like to thank all users who wrote to us about these issues. Special thanks also to IRQR, Peter Tatchell, IGLHRC and UKgaynews for providing further information and resources.

 

Your GayRomeo Team

Amsterdam


 

UPDATE: Breakthrough in Malawi – President pardons gay couple (May 31, 2010)
On Saturday May 29th, President Bingu of Malawi granted a full pardon to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (read the story below).


Previously they had been sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour. The pardon and their subsequent release from prison came after 4 months of intense international pressure. But their future remains uncertain. Public opinion in Malawi is very hostile, and under the law, if they continue their relationship, they can again be arrested, tried and convicted for their love.

 

A Matter of Life and Death (February 2, 2010)

URGENT ACTION FOR IRAN, UGANDA & MALAWI

 

Over the past few years there has been a lot of progress on Gay Rights around the world. But recently we’ve been made aware of three countries where things seem to be moving backwards instead of forwards. These developments in Iran, Uganda and Malawi are so worrying, we feel it is our duty to inform you about them.

 

Basically, men (and women too) face the prospect of death or imprisonment just for being gay, or for protecting someone who is. In this article we’ve summarized what’s going on. Please read it and consider what you might be able to do to help.

 

Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

 

IRAN – Waiting on Death Row

An unspecified number of men are in prison in Iran awaiting the death penalty for the “crime” of “Lavat” (sodomy). It’s almost impossible to get clear information about individual cases, but 3 have been brought to our attention. Nemat S., Mehdi P. and Mohsen Gh. were each sentenced to death for crimes committed while they were still under 18. As “minors” they could not legally be executed. Instead they were imprisoned long enough to ensure that they could be eventually be executed as adults after their eighteenth birthdays.

 

This situation is unjust on so many levels there’s no point in going into further details here. The fact remains if something is not done about this, pretty soon we can expect to see more cruel and tragic images of hanging youths like this one which was widely circulated in 2005. We really don’t want to have to publish any more such pictures here on GayRomeo.

 

 

UGANDA – “Anti-Homosexuality” law proposed

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. Men and Women can face life imprisonment if convicted. But this isn’t enough for some homophobic politicians. A new law “the anti-homosexuality bill” has been proposed that would take this injustice to a frightening new level. You can download a PDF of the proposed law here.

 

Death or Life in Prison

The law would introduce the death penalty for a new crime called “aggravated homosexuality” which includes any homosexual act with a person under 18, or committed by a person with HIV (with or without condoms), or by a person in authority. The death penalty would also apply for “serial offenders” – anyone who commits a homosexual act more than once. The law would also extend the penalty of life imprisonment to all other same sex behavior including the mere touching of another person with the “intent” to have homosexual relations.

 

Additionally, anyone guilty of “promoting” homosexuality would face a prison sentence of 5-7 years. This would include any member of an organization offering support or advice to LGBT people, safer sex info etc. It would equally apply to any family member or landlord allowing two men or women to share a room. Finally, anyone holding a position of authority who knows of a homosexual person would be legally obliged to report that person to the police within 24 hours – or face 3 years in Prison.

 

MALAWI – 14 years in prison for engaged couple

In December two young Malawian men, Tiwonge and Steven, decided to demonstrate their love by holding a traditional Malawian engagement ceremony. The event got reported in the media and the two men were promptly arrested for “public indecency”. They face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

 

 

On the first day in court, the couple were jeered and laughed at by the public. Tiwonge got sick and collapsed. No one assisted him. Eventually he got to his feet and was allowed to clean himself up. He was then expected to publicly clean up the floor of the courtroom himself. The trial has now been postponed, but in the meantime the two men remain in prison, facing “medical” examinations to “prove” that they have had homosexual relations.

 

Apart from the inhuman treatment of Tiwonge and Steven, members of CEDEP an NGO which offered legal support to them were also arrested on trumped up charges of “pornography” relating to the organization’s safer sex work.

 

What can you do?

IRAN: the Canadian-based Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) has started a campaign called 346 No Execution. It calls for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran and it’s supported by a growing number of LGBT organizations internationally. We encourage you to take a look and take part.

 

UGANDA: There have already been protests and petitions in various countries, and statements of condemnation from various NGOs and governments including the EU and USA. Contact your local LGBT rights organization to find out what is going on in your country. You can also sign this global petition.

 

MALAWI: The organizations supporting Tiwonge and Steven need help. Check the websites of petertatchell.net and IGLHRC for more information about how you can support them. You can also take part in the IGLHRC letter writing campaign.

 

We will report any further developments as they happen. We sincerely hope there will be some good news.

 

In the meantime, we’d like to thank all users who wrote to us about these issues. Special thanks also to IRQR, Peter Tatchell, IGLHRC and UKgaynews for providing further information and resources.

 

Your GayRomeo Team

Amsterdam


 

Crisis in Kenya: Muslims & Christians lead “witch-hunt” (March 4, 2009)

 

In Africa, the media’s feeding-frenzy on homosexuality continues. Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law and the fate of the gay couple in Malawi have renewed interest in gay rights, but have also led to a rise in homophobic rhetoric and action across the continent.

 

Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

 

In Kenya, this erupted into hysteria and a public witch-hunt against homosexuals. False rumors about a gay wedding circulated in the coastal resort of Mtwapa, and soon religious leaders were calling on their followers to be “vigilant” and to “expose” local homosexuals.

 

Many people took up this call, invading gay-friendly organizations and attacking individuals. Check this link for more information about what happened: GayCityNews

 

Here is a message we received from one of our users in Kenya.

 

Hi,

 

My name is Ishmael from Kenya and I want to write and tell you about the problems we have here on the Kenyan coast. There has been misinformation in the media both local and internationally.

 

Gay men are being hunted by Muslims and Christians. Our houses are not safe anymore. Some of them broken into and our possessions stolen by the hooligans.

 

Some gay men have been arrested and some in are in hospital due to the attacks. We cannot change towns as everyone seems to recognise us because our faces were all over in the news.

 

We wonder when the Muslims and Christians began working together here on the coast. The attacks are well organised and it makes us feel that there could be some mechanism behind this.

 

Kindly let me know if there is any way that we can make this information available to all so that our guys are safe and also so that we can correct the information appearing on international news about a wedding that never was.

 

With love we say thanks for your support.

 

Ishmael


 

Crisis in Kenya: Muslims & Christians lead “witch-hunt” (March 4, 2009)

 

In Africa, the media’s feeding-frenzy on homosexuality continues. Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law and the fate of the gay couple in Malawi have renewed interest in gay rights, but have also led to a rise in homophobic rhetoric and action across the continent.

 

Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

 

In Kenya, this erupted into hysteria and a public witch-hunt against homosexuals. False rumors about a gay wedding circulated in the coastal resort of Mtwapa, and soon religious leaders were calling on their followers to be “vigilant” and to “expose” local homosexuals.

 

Many people took up this call, invading gay-friendly organizations and attacking individuals. Check this link for more information about what happened: GayCityNews

 

Here is a message we received from one of our users in Kenya.

 

Hi,

 

My name is Ishmael from Kenya and I want to write and tell you about the problems we have here on the Kenyan coast. There has been misinformation in the media both local and internationally.

 

Gay men are being hunted by Muslims and Christians. Our houses are not safe anymore. Some of them broken into and our possessions stolen by the hooligans.

 

Some gay men have been arrested and some in are in hospital due to the attacks. We cannot change towns as everyone seems to recognise us because our faces were all over in the news.

 

We wonder when the Muslims and Christians began working together here on the coast. The attacks are well organised and it makes us feel that there could be some mechanism behind this.

 

Kindly let me know if there is any way that we can make this information available to all so that our guys are safe and also so that we can correct the information appearing on international news about a wedding that never was.

 

With love we say thanks for your support.

 

Ishmael


 

LGBT rights: What are you afraid of? (December 2nd, 2009)
by Scott Long, Human Rights Watch

 

 

Where do YOU feel safe?
You’re probably feeling pretty secure right now, typing in emoticons, invulnerable through the glass of the computer screen. So do millions of people around the world who network over the Web. It’s cheap, easy, handy—and, when you want, private.

Back in 2001, that was what a 21-year-old Egyptian I know thought too. He met a man in a chatroom who seemed infinitely attentive and kind. The man wanted to know all about my friend’s life. My friend was just coming out in a small city along the Suez Canal; he was desperate for companionship and understanding. He told his new pal everything, including the one and only sexual experience with a man he’d ever had in his short years. A few weeks later, he took a bus to Cairo to meet his new cyber-confidant, who he hoped might be the love of his life. At the rendezvous, policemen showed up instead.

They seized my friend, tortured him, produced his printed-out “confession” to that one sex act as evidence at his trial—and got him sentenced to three years in prison. The loving, curious figure he chatted with was working for the cops. The authorities feared the Internet as a threat, a new way of spreading “perversion” across the nation’s porous borders. They were dead set on punishing and rooting out those who took part.

These days, many of us feel safe in our homes or with our families. Prejudice is receding. Parents are learning to understand and accept their LGBT children. Mothers and fathers of lesbians and gays have even marched and testified on behalf of their right to marry, from South Africa to Massachusetts.

Yet a young man from Iraq told me how, when his uncles in Baghdad found out he was gay, they gathered the family together to decide how to “cleanse” the stain from the tribal honor—by killing him. They planned to take him to an ancestral village in the north, and begin the work of slaughtering him there. Warned, he fled to a nearby country, escaping only in the nick of time. But his uncles learned where he was and pursued him there. One day he saw them talking to the receptionist at his workplace, asking directions, so they could get on with the postponed murder. He only barely got away with his life.

 

"Death to the people of Lot" (Image Source: Human Rights Watch)

 

Our neighborhoods for many of us are like an extended family. The bars and cafes, shops and often cruisy streets are safe zones where we can lose ourselves in familiarity and friendships. Here, we’ve built communities: people we can turn to and rely on, and places we can enter and feel welcome. These visible urban villages, these pockets of intimacy in alienating cities, show how LGBT people’s lives have indelibly marked life in the modern world.

Yet in Italy, a wave of recent violence targeted even the streets where LGBT people feel most carefree. When an attacker saw two men kiss while leaving a club in Rome this August, he knifed one of them and almost killed him. Police only arrested a suspect after days of public protests. Not long after, somebody dropped two homemade bombs in a gay-friendly Roman street; in Florence, two assailants beat up a young gay man coming from a peaceful demonstration opposing homophobia. Meanwhile, Italy’s parliament voted down two bills that would have protected LGBT people against discrimination and abuse. Some deputies said any such safeguards would simply be “special rights.”

Is it a “special right” to have the police protect you? Is it a “special right” not to fear for your lives?

At Human Rights Watch, in our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights division, we fight against that violence—and the dangerous argument that freedoms are a privilege you have to earn. We are one of the world’s best-known and most respected international rights organizations. We are uniquely suited to defend the idea that “universal” doesn’t carry exceptions, that “equal” never means “special,” that human rights must be everywhere and always and for all. Our reporting ended the mass arrests of gay men in Egypt. We helped dozens of endangered Iraqis flee to safety from a massive murder campaign. We’ve defeated repressive laws and forced hypocrites and killers alike to back down.

Worldwide, more and more people are rising to defend their rights as LGBT people. There’s much to be done. Some 80 countries around the world cling to sodomy laws that criminalize two people who love one another. (Most of these remaining laws are relics of colonialism, although ironically leaders in Jamaica or Zimbabwe defend them as part of true “national culture.”) A few countries punish homosexual conduct with death. From Colombia to Kuwait, police harass transgender people under laws that punish “causing public scandal” or “wearing the clothes of the opposite sex.” Lesbian and bisexual women, in many countries, face discrimination under the law, forced marriages, and horrific violence from parents or spouses.

Yet activists and ordinary people stand up to the repression, with incredible courage.

In South Africa, Eudy Simelane was a popular, 31-year-old soccer player in her township near Johannesburg—and an out lesbian. In April 2008, a gang of men raped her and brutally killed her. They said the reason was she fought back "like a man."

Across South Africa, rape gangs target lesbians, dealing out sexual abuse mean to “cure” them, or murder meant to punish them for being who they are. South Africa has one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, the first ever to protect sexual orientation. But these clauses mean little where intense poverty breeds hatred and violence. South African activists, though, refuse to fall silent. At Eudy’s accused killers’ trial, hundreds of lesbians marched to remember her life, protest the violence, and demand justice. A Human Rights Watch researcher was there, and saw their passionate call for equality. Their voices sent a message across the country: lesbian women will no longer be afraid.

 

In Nepal, Sunil Pant started a small group to defend the health and sexual rights of men who have sex with men, and metis, a Nepali term for transgender people. He found that more than HIV and STIs endangered them, though. Police patrolled cruising areas and raided private rooms to torture and brutalize “effeminate” people they despised. Things worsened after a 2006 coup made it open season for men in uniform to terrorize anyone “different.” Despite threats and abuse, Pant and his organization kept fighting. They built alliances with human rights groups and drew international attention to the crisis. They brought a case to the country’s Supreme Court that, in an earthshaking 2007 ruling, mandated full equality for LGBT people across Nepal. And when democracy returned, Sunil Pant was elected to Nepal’s Parliament—the first openly gay lawmaker in South Asia.

In Nigeria in 2006, when the president proposed a draconian anti-homosexuality law that would punish even two men or women holding hands, lesbian and gay activists fought back. They brought feminists, human rights groups, and international allies into a coalition to shame the government for its repressive move. Given only 48 hours’ notice to prepare for a parliamentary hearing—meant to show massive religious support for the bill—they rushed to the capital from all corners of the nation. When officers tried to bar them from entering the Parliament building to speak, they pressed their way through.

These Nigerian activists’ testimony at the hearing proved the nation did not speak with a single voice. They showed lawmakers that the world was watching. And they stopped the bill in its tracks.

Their courage should be a model for us.

 

 

You can stand up too. Support Human Rights Watch and its work on LGBT human rights. Learn about what courageous LGBT movements around the world are doing. We no longer need to be frightened of repression and violence. We stand with thousands carrying on the struggle. We can shame and stop the homophobes and torturers, our abusers and accusers.

What are you afraid of?

 

Scott Long

Program Director - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights

Human Rights Watch

 


 

LGBT rights: What are you afraid of? (December 2nd, 2009)
by Scott Long, Human Rights Watch

 

 

Where do YOU feel safe?
You’re probably feeling pretty secure right now, typing in emoticons, invulnerable through the glass of the computer screen. So do millions of people around the world who network over the Web. It’s cheap, easy, handy—and, when you want, private.

Back in 2001, that was what a 21-year-old Egyptian I know thought too. He met a man in a chatroom who seemed infinitely attentive and kind. The man wanted to know all about my friend’s life. My friend was just coming out in a small city along the Suez Canal; he was desperate for companionship and understanding. He told his new pal everything, including the one and only sexual experience with a man he’d ever had in his short years. A few weeks later, he took a bus to Cairo to meet his new cyber-confidant, who he hoped might be the love of his life. At the rendezvous, policemen showed up instead.

They seized my friend, tortured him, produced his printed-out “confession” to that one sex act as evidence at his trial—and got him sentenced to three years in prison. The loving, curious figure he chatted with was working for the cops. The authorities feared the Internet as a threat, a new way of spreading “perversion” across the nation’s porous borders. They were dead set on punishing and rooting out those who took part.

These days, many of us feel safe in our homes or with our families. Prejudice is receding. Parents are learning to understand and accept their LGBT children. Mothers and fathers of lesbians and gays have even marched and testified on behalf of their right to marry, from South Africa to Massachusetts.

Yet a young man from Iraq told me how, when his uncles in Baghdad found out he was gay, they gathered the family together to decide how to “cleanse” the stain from the tribal honor—by killing him. They planned to take him to an ancestral village in the north, and begin the work of slaughtering him there. Warned, he fled to a nearby country, escaping only in the nick of time. But his uncles learned where he was and pursued him there. One day he saw them talking to the receptionist at his workplace, asking directions, so they could get on with the postponed murder. He only barely got away with his life.

 

"Death to the people of Lot" (Image Source: Human Rights Watch)

 

Our neighborhoods for many of us are like an extended family. The bars and cafes, shops and often cruisy streets are safe zones where we can lose ourselves in familiarity and friendships. Here, we’ve built communities: people we can turn to and rely on, and places we can enter and feel welcome. These visible urban villages, these pockets of intimacy in alienating cities, show how LGBT people’s lives have indelibly marked life in the modern world.

Yet in Italy, a wave of recent violence targeted even the streets where LGBT people feel most carefree. When an attacker saw two men kiss while leaving a club in Rome this August, he knifed one of them and almost killed him. Police only arrested a suspect after days of public protests. Not long after, somebody dropped two homemade bombs in a gay-friendly Roman street; in Florence, two assailants beat up a young gay man coming from a peaceful demonstration opposing homophobia. Meanwhile, Italy’s parliament voted down two bills that would have protected LGBT people against discrimination and abuse. Some deputies said any such safeguards would simply be “special rights.”

Is it a “special right” to have the police protect you? Is it a “special right” not to fear for your lives?

At Human Rights Watch, in our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights division, we fight against that violence—and the dangerous argument that freedoms are a privilege you have to earn. We are one of the world’s best-known and most respected international rights organizations. We are uniquely suited to defend the idea that “universal” doesn’t carry exceptions, that “equal” never means “special,” that human rights must be everywhere and always and for all. Our reporting ended the mass arrests of gay men in Egypt. We helped dozens of endangered Iraqis flee to safety from a massive murder campaign. We’ve defeated repressive laws and forced hypocrites and killers alike to back down.

Worldwide, more and more people are rising to defend their rights as LGBT people. There’s much to be done. Some 80 countries around the world cling to sodomy laws that criminalize two people who love one another. (Most of these remaining laws are relics of colonialism, although ironically leaders in Jamaica or Zimbabwe defend them as part of true “national culture.”) A few countries punish homosexual conduct with death. From Colombia to Kuwait, police harass transgender people under laws that punish “causing public scandal” or “wearing the clothes of the opposite sex.” Lesbian and bisexual women, in many countries, face discrimination under the law, forced marriages, and horrific violence from parents or spouses.

Yet activists and ordinary people stand up to the repression, with incredible courage.

In South Africa, Eudy Simelane was a popular, 31-year-old soccer player in her township near Johannesburg—and an out lesbian. In April 2008, a gang of men raped her and brutally killed her. They said the reason was she fought back "like a man."

Across South Africa, rape gangs target lesbians, dealing out sexual abuse mean to “cure” them, or murder meant to punish them for being who they are. South Africa has one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, the first ever to protect sexual orientation. But these clauses mean little where intense poverty breeds hatred and violence. South African activists, though, refuse to fall silent. At Eudy’s accused killers’ trial, hundreds of lesbians marched to remember her life, protest the violence, and demand justice. A Human Rights Watch researcher was there, and saw their passionate call for equality. Their voices sent a message across the country: lesbian women will no longer be afraid.

 

In Nepal, Sunil Pant started a small group to defend the health and sexual rights of men who have sex with men, and metis, a Nepali term for transgender people. He found that more than HIV and STIs endangered them, though. Police patrolled cruising areas and raided private rooms to torture and brutalize “effeminate” people they despised. Things worsened after a 2006 coup made it open season for men in uniform to terrorize anyone “different.” Despite threats and abuse, Pant and his organization kept fighting. They built alliances with human rights groups and drew international attention to the crisis. They brought a case to the country’s Supreme Court that, in an earthshaking 2007 ruling, mandated full equality for LGBT people across Nepal. And when democracy returned, Sunil Pant was elected to Nepal’s Parliament—the first openly gay lawmaker in South Asia.

In Nigeria in 2006, when the president proposed a draconian anti-homosexuality law that would punish even two men or women holding hands, lesbian and gay activists fought back. They brought feminists, human rights groups, and international allies into a coalition to shame the government for its repressive move. Given only 48 hours’ notice to prepare for a parliamentary hearing—meant to show massive religious support for the bill—they rushed to the capital from all corners of the nation. When officers tried to bar them from entering the Parliament building to speak, they pressed their way through.

These Nigerian activists’ testimony at the hearing proved the nation did not speak with a single voice. They showed lawmakers that the world was watching. And they stopped the bill in its tracks.

Their courage should be a model for us.

 

 

You can stand up too. Support Human Rights Watch and its work on LGBT human rights. Learn about what courageous LGBT movements around the world are doing. We no longer need to be frightened of repression and violence. We stand with thousands carrying on the struggle. We can shame and stop the homophobes and torturers, our abusers and accusers.

What are you afraid of?

 

Scott Long

Program Director - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Rights

Human Rights Watch

 


 

(Translated from the French orginal)

Letter from a Tunisian User (November 19, 2009)


Hi,

I’m 24 now and I don’t live in my home country Tunisia any more. When I was 18 I started to meet gays over the internet in the capital city. Later I started to meet guys outside of the capital as well. Since other Tunisian cities are actually quite small, I got arrested by the Police, who had been following me for 2 days, tracking me with my mobile phone. But like any country, there’s corruption and I was able to escape from the police and other legal bodies thanks to the terrible power of money!

 

Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


But the most horrible thing was the reaction of my parents to this incident. They had me committed to a psychiatric clinic, to be treated like a sick person by a psychiatrist who told me that homosexuals are perverted and dangerous criminals. After 5 long months in this clinic my parents took pity on me and asked my psychiatrist to release me because this had been a good lesson for me.

But I want to make it clear. I was treated like a dog, with injections when I got fed up of being treated like a sick person. Drugs which meant I could only stay awake for 10 minutes per day. Even 6 years afterwards I have still not recovered from this experience, to me it was like slavery. Thanks all the same to the morning staff of the clinic who did not always carry out the instructions of the psychiatrist, which the nurses and doctors considered too strong for my health.

Apart from that, my parents continued to punish me, denying me a mobile phone and privacy (no key for my bedroom), no internet or pocket money and even more shocking, I was locked out of all the other rooms in the house because my Mother ordered that I should feel like I was in prison. Later I was able to leave my parents and go legally to Europe, but they believed I was cured. When I was 22 they found out I was gay via a colleague of my father. My father hasn’t spoken to me since and relations between me and my mother are very strained. My father has officially disinherited me.

So that’s my experience of Tunisia and above all of an extremely homophobic family.

R.


 

(Translated from the French orginal)

Letter from a Tunisian User (November 19, 2009)


Hi,

I’m 24 now and I don’t live in my home country Tunisia any more. When I was 18 I started to meet gays over the internet in the capital city. Later I started to meet guys outside of the capital as well. Since other Tunisian cities are actually quite small, I got arrested by the Police, who had been following me for 2 days, tracking me with my mobile phone. But like any country, there’s corruption and I was able to escape from the police and other legal bodies thanks to the terrible power of money!

 

Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


But the most horrible thing was the reaction of my parents to this incident. They had me committed to a psychiatric clinic, to be treated like a sick person by a psychiatrist who told me that homosexuals are perverted and dangerous criminals. After 5 long months in this clinic my parents took pity on me and asked my psychiatrist to release me because this had been a good lesson for me.

But I want to make it clear. I was treated like a dog, with injections when I got fed up of being treated like a sick person. Drugs which meant I could only stay awake for 10 minutes per day. Even 6 years afterwards I have still not recovered from this experience, to me it was like slavery. Thanks all the same to the morning staff of the clinic who did not always carry out the instructions of the psychiatrist, which the nurses and doctors considered too strong for my health.

Apart from that, my parents continued to punish me, denying me a mobile phone and privacy (no key for my bedroom), no internet or pocket money and even more shocking, I was locked out of all the other rooms in the house because my Mother ordered that I should feel like I was in prison. Later I was able to leave my parents and go legally to Europe, but they believed I was cured. When I was 22 they found out I was gay via a colleague of my father. My father hasn’t spoken to me since and relations between me and my mother are very strained. My father has officially disinherited me.

So that’s my experience of Tunisia and above all of an extremely homophobic family.

R.


 

Letter from a user in Malaysia (September 24, 2009)


Hi Romeo,

I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is an Islamic country made up of multi-racial communities - Malay, Chinese, Indian and others. Generally we respect each other and live peacefully despite the differences in our culture, religion and ethnicity, however when it comes to homosexuality, it is a different story. Basically, we live in a closet. Here “coming out” merely means an individual has the courage to meet other gays and to admit to himself that he is gay. It doesn’t really mean we are able to tell our straight friends and family, we are gay. Only a few lucky ones are able to do that.

Kuala Lumpur is the modern capital city of Malaysia, This is where the iconic KLCC (PETRONAS Twin towers) located. We recently celebrated our 52nd National Independence day on 31th August. Being a Malaysian, I should be proud of the achievements that my country has made. But I feel that freedom is not for all Malaysians. The “One Malaysia” concept is not for all. Our country is under the heavy influence of Islamic law and Penal code Section 377A for non-Muslims.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


The gay community is often directly or indirectly harassed by the authorities and the media. The media report negative things about homosexuality to boost their sales. This often triggers police actions against gays. In 2006, intensive police raids followed a report in the “Malay Mail”. These raids then featured in a local TV show, strengthening the public’s negative perception of homosexuality as immoral. Up until now only a few journalists have written fairly about respecting sexual orientation as part of this country’s diversity.

Recently, homosexuality was even linked to H1N1 (Mexican/Swine Flu). Yes, you are reading correctly (Gay and H1N1). Luckily after strong objections, the author removed these misleading statements from his blog. Read this.

What does freedom mean to us?? We are citizens of this country. We pay our taxes, being responsible citizens like anyone else. We breathe the same air. We work hard. We proudly say we are from Malaysia. What do we want? We want and deserve to be treated fairly. Stop abusing us. Stop stereotyping us. Stop assuming we are the bad guys. Stop disrupting our lives by using the laws against us. Stop chasing us!!!

There have been constant raids in gay places in recent years. In the Penang region a few years ago, the authorities launched a campaign called “Zero Homosexuality”. They proudly said “Homosexuality is not a lifestyle for our communities. We must do something to eradicate it”. Gosh, as I read that, I was torn down. I am so disappointed, sad and angry that there are such barbarians (uncivilized people) in this modern world. We are not cows that can be erased. We are human, made from flesh. We have feelings. We have the right to live as individuals in this world. If this is a sin, who are they to punish us?? They are not God.

During the raids at saunas and other gay places many gays got handcuffed and locked up. The police seized condoms as evidence that sex parties were held. These actions mean that many operators are now scared to supply condoms, undermining a Safe sex campaign that was lauded by the PT (Pink Triangle) Foundation.

In Kuala Lumpur there were recently more raids in gay clubs. I hear many got caught and sent to police stations and I expect they were subjected to harassment and got police records. However, I am unable to find out what really happened and I shouldn’t speculate. I hope they are fine. The authorities also seized items from the clubs, preventing them from functioning. This kind of harassment recently forced an organizer to cancel all their parties. We were supposed to celebrate Independence Day at a club. But suddenly all parties were cancelled for our safety. I was very disappointed and angry. We also deserve to enjoy ourselves and to celebrate Independence Day in our own way.

It’s not easy for individuals in this country to come out and be brave enough to admit what we are. There are so many challenges, our own feelings, our families, workplace, the public and even within our small gay community. But after this personal struggle, we face the greater challenge of the authorities who abuse us with laws just because we have a different sexual preference.

Politicians often say that homosexuality is a lifestyle, a choice, and that we are influenced by our environment. They refuse to accept that we are born to be gay. There has been a lot of research on homosexuality carried out around the world. Can’t they read? Most of us know while we are still small. I knew I was different when I was small, and at that time there was no TV or anything that could have influenced me to be gay.

I will be 29 soon and I hope I will live to see all these anti-gay raids and harassment come to an end. But to hope for a better future for gays in this country seems like a dream that will never come true. Who can help us? Sadly it’s considered a domestic issue and the world can only watch and write letters to object.

A Malaysian


 

Letter from a user in Malaysia (September 24, 2009)


Hi Romeo,

I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is an Islamic country made up of multi-racial communities - Malay, Chinese, Indian and others. Generally we respect each other and live peacefully despite the differences in our culture, religion and ethnicity, however when it comes to homosexuality, it is a different story. Basically, we live in a closet. Here “coming out” merely means an individual has the courage to meet other gays and to admit to himself that he is gay. It doesn’t really mean we are able to tell our straight friends and family, we are gay. Only a few lucky ones are able to do that.

Kuala Lumpur is the modern capital city of Malaysia, This is where the iconic KLCC (PETRONAS Twin towers) located. We recently celebrated our 52nd National Independence day on 31th August. Being a Malaysian, I should be proud of the achievements that my country has made. But I feel that freedom is not for all Malaysians. The “One Malaysia” concept is not for all. Our country is under the heavy influence of Islamic law and Penal code Section 377A for non-Muslims.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


The gay community is often directly or indirectly harassed by the authorities and the media. The media report negative things about homosexuality to boost their sales. This often triggers police actions against gays. In 2006, intensive police raids followed a report in the “Malay Mail”. These raids then featured in a local TV show, strengthening the public’s negative perception of homosexuality as immoral. Up until now only a few journalists have written fairly about respecting sexual orientation as part of this country’s diversity.

Recently, homosexuality was even linked to H1N1 (Mexican/Swine Flu). Yes, you are reading correctly (Gay and H1N1). Luckily after strong objections, the author removed these misleading statements from his blog. Read this.

What does freedom mean to us?? We are citizens of this country. We pay our taxes, being responsible citizens like anyone else. We breathe the same air. We work hard. We proudly say we are from Malaysia. What do we want? We want and deserve to be treated fairly. Stop abusing us. Stop stereotyping us. Stop assuming we are the bad guys. Stop disrupting our lives by using the laws against us. Stop chasing us!!!

There have been constant raids in gay places in recent years. In the Penang region a few years ago, the authorities launched a campaign called “Zero Homosexuality”. They proudly said “Homosexuality is not a lifestyle for our communities. We must do something to eradicate it”. Gosh, as I read that, I was torn down. I am so disappointed, sad and angry that there are such barbarians (uncivilized people) in this modern world. We are not cows that can be erased. We are human, made from flesh. We have feelings. We have the right to live as individuals in this world. If this is a sin, who are they to punish us?? They are not God.

During the raids at saunas and other gay places many gays got handcuffed and locked up. The police seized condoms as evidence that sex parties were held. These actions mean that many operators are now scared to supply condoms, undermining a Safe sex campaign that was lauded by the PT (Pink Triangle) Foundation.

In Kuala Lumpur there were recently more raids in gay clubs. I hear many got caught and sent to police stations and I expect they were subjected to harassment and got police records. However, I am unable to find out what really happened and I shouldn’t speculate. I hope they are fine. The authorities also seized items from the clubs, preventing them from functioning. This kind of harassment recently forced an organizer to cancel all their parties. We were supposed to celebrate Independence Day at a club. But suddenly all parties were cancelled for our safety. I was very disappointed and angry. We also deserve to enjoy ourselves and to celebrate Independence Day in our own way.

It’s not easy for individuals in this country to come out and be brave enough to admit what we are. There are so many challenges, our own feelings, our families, workplace, the public and even within our small gay community. But after this personal struggle, we face the greater challenge of the authorities who abuse us with laws just because we have a different sexual preference.

Politicians often say that homosexuality is a lifestyle, a choice, and that we are influenced by our environment. They refuse to accept that we are born to be gay. There has been a lot of research on homosexuality carried out around the world. Can’t they read? Most of us know while we are still small. I knew I was different when I was small, and at that time there was no TV or anything that could have influenced me to be gay.

I will be 29 soon and I hope I will live to see all these anti-gay raids and harassment come to an end. But to hope for a better future for gays in this country seems like a dream that will never come true. Who can help us? Sadly it’s considered a domestic issue and the world can only watch and write letters to object.

A Malaysian


 

Letter from a user in Namibia (1st September 2009)


Dear Mother of GayRomeo

I am living more than 6 years in Namibia, Africa. Back in 2003 it was very hard to live as a gay person here, but after 2 years there was a change in this country with a new president.

The first Gay Bar opened his doors in the center of Windhoek in 2005 and it was an exciting moment in the history of the gay community in Namibia. Since then more people and organizations are accepting our local gay community projects. We are still a small community here in Namibia but hopefully soon more gay people will come out of their closets.

 

 

Our former president is still active in the government and rules the strongest party here. Every now and then he talks about the “disease of being gay” but it is already a scandal if he speaks about it because he is not allowed to do that anymore.

At the beginning of this year, me and my partner registered an official Gay Travel Agency and we had no trouble at all to open for the public. Of course I was a big influence on my partner because I know the laws in my native country in Europe and I had no worries to be “out”.

One of my biggest projects beside the Travel Agency is to keep the Namibian Gay Community aware that we are close to having rules and regulations on Gay Partnerships like in South Africa. All we need to do is to get into the public. Not to demonstrate, but just to make the government aware that we are going to be more active in Namibia now. We do have The Rainbow Project (TRP) here and we are looking forward to some exciting news soon.

I read often that gay people in Africa are forced to be married. It is true. This is popular in indigenous cultures. However, those native tribes are also very open in their sexuality and they are allowed to have their lovers! It doesn't matter if they like male or female.

Most of the marriages of native tribes are just combined to keep the family generations on, but that does not have anything to do with their love life at all. They can continue with their sexual affairs or second relationship as long as they want. The local natives are very open about sexuality. I hope that I can change the picture that gay peoples are forced to get married in Namibia. Nothing personal - I just want to keep foreigners aware of the fact that life still goes on here.

Joe


 

Letter from a user in Namibia (1st September 2009)


Dear Mother of GayRomeo

I am living more than 6 years in Namibia, Africa. Back in 2003 it was very hard to live as a gay person here, but after 2 years there was a change in this country with a new president.

The first Gay Bar opened his doors in the center of Windhoek in 2005 and it was an exciting moment in the history of the gay community in Namibia. Since then more people and organizations are accepting our local gay community projects. We are still a small community here in Namibia but hopefully soon more gay people will come out of their closets.

 

 

Our former president is still active in the government and rules the strongest party here. Every now and then he talks about the “disease of being gay” but it is already a scandal if he speaks about it because he is not allowed to do that anymore.

At the beginning of this year, me and my partner registered an official Gay Travel Agency and we had no trouble at all to open for the public. Of course I was a big influence on my partner because I know the laws in my native country in Europe and I had no worries to be “out”.

One of my biggest projects beside the Travel Agency is to keep the Namibian Gay Community aware that we are close to having rules and regulations on Gay Partnerships like in South Africa. All we need to do is to get into the public. Not to demonstrate, but just to make the government aware that we are going to be more active in Namibia now. We do have The Rainbow Project (TRP) here and we are looking forward to some exciting news soon.

I read often that gay people in Africa are forced to be married. It is true. This is popular in indigenous cultures. However, those native tribes are also very open in their sexuality and they are allowed to have their lovers! It doesn't matter if they like male or female.

Most of the marriages of native tribes are just combined to keep the family generations on, but that does not have anything to do with their love life at all. They can continue with their sexual affairs or second relationship as long as they want. The local natives are very open about sexuality. I hope that I can change the picture that gay peoples are forced to get married in Namibia. Nothing personal - I just want to keep foreigners aware of the fact that life still goes on here.

Joe


 

Gays in Prison – An aid worker's view (18 August 2009)


Hola, I work with Doctors Without Borders and everywhere I go, gays are illegal.

 

 

In Guatemala they would not allow gays to enter the country’s only HIV program because the health minister said gays were people of low social impact and others had more right to life.

In Kyrgyzstan I visited jails where the caste system inside has gays at the bottom, literally. They must do sexual performances for all inmates and they suffer sexual abuse from all. Most have their teeth knocked out so they can suck better and no one is allowed to touch them (fucking is the exception) or you become a “pethuki” like them.

In Ethiopia I met three men who were in prison for having sex. The top got 12 years and the other two bottoms - life sentences. The introduction to jail was to be in a cage outside (55 degrees in the sun) for one month. I paid a judge 100 dollars and got them all freed.

We need to celebrate our freedom and somehow use our freedom to bring others to light. It is a very small number of us who can marry, inherit and live among others as equals. Most live under the threat of violence or breaking the laws which unfortunately are strictly enforced.

Carlos


 

Gays in Prison – An aid worker's view (18 August 2009)


Hola, I work with Doctors Without Borders and everywhere I go, gays are illegal.

 

 

In Guatemala they would not allow gays to enter the country’s only HIV program because the health minister said gays were people of low social impact and others had more right to life.

In Kyrgyzstan I visited jails where the caste system inside has gays at the bottom, literally. They must do sexual performances for all inmates and they suffer sexual abuse from all. Most have their teeth knocked out so they can suck better and no one is allowed to touch them (fucking is the exception) or you become a “pethuki” like them.

In Ethiopia I met three men who were in prison for having sex. The top got 12 years and the other two bottoms - life sentences. The introduction to jail was to be in a cage outside (55 degrees in the sun) for one month. I paid a judge 100 dollars and got them all freed.

We need to celebrate our freedom and somehow use our freedom to bring others to light. It is a very small number of us who can marry, inherit and live among others as equals. Most live under the threat of violence or breaking the laws which unfortunately are strictly enforced.

Carlos


 

Editorial note: Great news from India! (03 July 2009)
Since this story was sent to us there has been an important step forward for Gay Rights in India. The High Court in Delhi has just overturned Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code (02 July 2009). That was the old colonial law that criminalized homosexuality. So for the first time since 1860, gays in India are no longer criminals. Of course, this is not the end of the story. The court’s ruling may still be challenged, and there are still other legal battles to be fought, but for now it’s a sweet victory :o)

 

Report from a GayRomeo user in India (03 July 2009)
Hi, I am from India. I am 21 yrs old and I have been gay since I can remember. That is to say I was born gay. Here in India, being gay as such is not criminalized, but yes, having sex with a person of the same sex is considered unnatural and is a punishable offence. You can even be imprisoned for it.

Also the Indian film Industry “Bollywood” hasn’t been very supportive. Gays are portrayed as effeminate and the butt of jokes. Although there have been a few sensible movies in the recent past. The fact remains that because of the law, you can and sometimes will be harassed. So the whole gay community remains closeted.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Although a few LGBT organizations have appealed against this discriminatory law, the government’s stand was that it is against Indian culture. It is ironic though, that this same country was the source of the “Kama Sutra” which doesn’t hold back on this subject. It was the British who criminalized homosexuality in India, and now the government continues with this colonial law.

The media has been largely supportive of the gay movement and it is a widely accepted fact that the fashion industry has many gay people. But in other professions, you can’t be openly gay.

I haven’t heard of any crackdown on gay websites or persons using them. Many people have uploaded original pics of themselves on such gay sites (including me). Up till now there have been no problems, however any change in government policy could land us in deep trouble.

Some sensible portrayals in recent Bollywood movies have led to an opening up of the matter. Also, the Health Minister asked the government to change the law as it was hindering the HIV/ AIDS campaign in the LGBT community because of the fear of being harassed when seeking counseling etc. The government rejected the proposal, and the issue lingers on.

The fact remains that there is near zero acceptance (except for a few close friends). But I guess the scene is gradually changing, at least in the large metropolitan cities.

D.


 

Editorial note: Great news from India! (03 July 2009)
Since this story was sent to us there has been an important step forward for Gay Rights in India. The High Court in Delhi has just overturned Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code (02 July 2009). That was the old colonial law that criminalized homosexuality. So for the first time since 1860, gays in India are no longer criminals. Of course, this is not the end of the story. The court’s ruling may still be challenged, and there are still other legal battles to be fought, but for now it’s a sweet victory :o)

 

Report from a GayRomeo user in India (03 July 2009)
Hi, I am from India. I am 21 yrs old and I have been gay since I can remember. That is to say I was born gay. Here in India, being gay as such is not criminalized, but yes, having sex with a person of the same sex is considered unnatural and is a punishable offence. You can even be imprisoned for it.

Also the Indian film Industry “Bollywood” hasn’t been very supportive. Gays are portrayed as effeminate and the butt of jokes. Although there have been a few sensible movies in the recent past. The fact remains that because of the law, you can and sometimes will be harassed. So the whole gay community remains closeted.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Although a few LGBT organizations have appealed against this discriminatory law, the government’s stand was that it is against Indian culture. It is ironic though, that this same country was the source of the “Kama Sutra” which doesn’t hold back on this subject. It was the British who criminalized homosexuality in India, and now the government continues with this colonial law.

The media has been largely supportive of the gay movement and it is a widely accepted fact that the fashion industry has many gay people. But in other professions, you can’t be openly gay.

I haven’t heard of any crackdown on gay websites or persons using them. Many people have uploaded original pics of themselves on such gay sites (including me). Up till now there have been no problems, however any change in government policy could land us in deep trouble.

Some sensible portrayals in recent Bollywood movies have led to an opening up of the matter. Also, the Health Minister asked the government to change the law as it was hindering the HIV/ AIDS campaign in the LGBT community because of the fear of being harassed when seeking counseling etc. The government rejected the proposal, and the issue lingers on.

The fact remains that there is near zero acceptance (except for a few close friends). But I guess the scene is gradually changing, at least in the large metropolitan cities.

D.


 

(Translated from the German original)

Successful Gay Rights Event in Singapore (18 June 2009)
Hello guys,

Just for a change, here is something positive to report about gay rights.

I live in Singapore together with my boyfriend. This city state is not known as the most liberal place. But last Sunday, for the very first time in the country's history, a public event 'Freedom to love' took place.


Aerial shot of the Pink Dot in Singapore (Source: pinkdot.sg)


Religious and cultural groups came together for a little scene. As you can see from the website, it was very peaceful and pink! And two well known people stood up in public for the rights of sexual minorities.


Pink Dot - LOVE (Source: pinkdot.sg)


According to my Singaporean friends, this kind of statement as well as the whole event was a real revolution and never happened before like this. The attendant crowd was very moved emotionally and you could see that many people for the first time were encouraged to come out in public as gay or lesbian.

Best wishes
Oliver


 

(Translated from the German original)

Successful Gay Rights Event in Singapore (18 June 2009)
Hello guys,

Just for a change, here is something positive to report about gay rights.

I live in Singapore together with my boyfriend. This city state is not known as the most liberal place. But last Sunday, for the very first time in the country's history, a public event 'Freedom to love' took place.


Aerial shot of the Pink Dot in Singapore (Source: pinkdot.sg)


Religious and cultural groups came together for a little scene. As you can see from the website, it was very peaceful and pink! And two well known people stood up in public for the rights of sexual minorities.


Pink Dot - LOVE (Source: pinkdot.sg)


According to my Singaporean friends, this kind of statement as well as the whole event was a real revolution and never happened before like this. The attendant crowd was very moved emotionally and you could see that many people for the first time were encouraged to come out in public as gay or lesbian.

Best wishes
Oliver


 

Personal Story from Russia (13 May 2009)
President Yeltsin decriminalized male homosexuality in Russia on May 27th 1993. At that time I was 15. I already knew I was gay but I didn’t think that one day I would embrace gay activism. The Soviet Union was history and modern Russia was being built. Later, I studied Public Administration at the Moscow State University where I graduated with honour. Gay activism started for me when the Moscow State University rejected my postgraduate diploma work. I passed all the exams but when the head of the Faculty heard that the topic of my work would be gay marriage, he gave me the choice to resign or to be resigned. So I was sacked from this prestigious University.

That was the first time I was discriminated against for being openly gay. I had the chance to be supported by my partner who I met in late 1999 on the internet. This year, we will celebrate our 10 years together.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


In 2005 I decided to start my own gay web site. I was frustrated by the Russian Gay Internet. They was very little accuracy in all that was published and the sites were only dealing with pornography. I created GayRussia.Ru as a way to bring daily news on gay issues in Russian to our community. And English news about Russian gay life abroad. We launched the website on the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17 2005. No journalist came to our press conference. In July of the same year, we announced the first Moscow Pride to be held on May 27 2006 to celebrate 13 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality. The result was above all our hopes. The decision of the Mayor of Moscow to ban Pride and his anti gay speech resulted in a lot of media attention. More than 100 journalists came to the press conference of the first Moscow Pride. The event was shown all around the world on TV and it is estimated to have reached an audience of more than 1 billion. I was arrested, but after I was released by the police CNN invited me for a 4 minutes live interview in their evening news.


Sergey Androsenko and Nikolai Alekseev (Source: GayRussia.Ru)


We organized Moscow Pride in 2007 and 2008 as well. As usual, it was banned. As usual, we were beaten by homophobes and arrested by the police. From Germany, we had strong support from the Bundestag member Volker Beck. Volker was not like most politicians, who first agreed to come to Moscow and then got scared at the last minute. He came in 2006 and was severely injured but still came back the year after. He also worked hard with German diplomats for the early release of activists who were arrested.

We extended our advocacy to other fights. In 2008, we managed to get the Ministry of Health to end the ban on gays donating blood. It took us 2 years, but we got it. We also launched the largest ever legal battle around gay rights, appealing at the European Court of Human Rights against the decision of the Russian authorities to ban more than 170 of our events over the past 3 years. But the Court is not in a hurry to help us. Despite the fact that Freedom of Assembly is expressively mentioned in the European Convention of Human Rights, the Council of Europe is unable to make Russia respect it. We denounced the policy of trading gas against human rights on numerous occasions. We even travelled to Strasbourg and organized a protest there against the European Court!

We don't only work on Russian issues. We joined the campaign against the execution of gays in Iran and work extensively with the IDAHO Committee. We actually managed to get Luxembourg to officially recognize the day in its calendar.

This year, working closely with Belarusian activists, Moscow Pride has become Slavic Pride and will be held in Moscow on May 16, the same day as the finale of the Eurovision Song Contest.


Slavic Pride gets extensive media attention (Source: GayRussia.Ru)

 

Gay Activism has taken all my time for past 5 years. I am working on it 24/7. Our organization doesn’t get grants and I don’t get paid for my activism. Not that I don’t need money but I do believe that independence has its price. Independence is the key in activism and I will never compromise my ideals. I hate injustice at all level and I never miss a chance to denounce it.

Nikolai Alekseev,
Founder of GayRussia.Ru
Chief Organizer of Moscow Pride/Slavic Pride


 

Personal Story from Russia (13 May 2009)
President Yeltsin decriminalized male homosexuality in Russia on May 27th 1993. At that time I was 15. I already knew I was gay but I didn’t think that one day I would embrace gay activism. The Soviet Union was history and modern Russia was being built. Later, I studied Public Administration at the Moscow State University where I graduated with honour. Gay activism started for me when the Moscow State University rejected my postgraduate diploma work. I passed all the exams but when the head of the Faculty heard that the topic of my work would be gay marriage, he gave me the choice to resign or to be resigned. So I was sacked from this prestigious University.

That was the first time I was discriminated against for being openly gay. I had the chance to be supported by my partner who I met in late 1999 on the internet. This year, we will celebrate our 10 years together.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


In 2005 I decided to start my own gay web site. I was frustrated by the Russian Gay Internet. They was very little accuracy in all that was published and the sites were only dealing with pornography. I created GayRussia.Ru as a way to bring daily news on gay issues in Russian to our community. And English news about Russian gay life abroad. We launched the website on the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17 2005. No journalist came to our press conference. In July of the same year, we announced the first Moscow Pride to be held on May 27 2006 to celebrate 13 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality. The result was above all our hopes. The decision of the Mayor of Moscow to ban Pride and his anti gay speech resulted in a lot of media attention. More than 100 journalists came to the press conference of the first Moscow Pride. The event was shown all around the world on TV and it is estimated to have reached an audience of more than 1 billion. I was arrested, but after I was released by the police CNN invited me for a 4 minutes live interview in their evening news.


Sergey Androsenko and Nikolai Alekseev (Source: GayRussia.Ru)


We organized Moscow Pride in 2007 and 2008 as well. As usual, it was banned. As usual, we were beaten by homophobes and arrested by the police. From Germany, we had strong support from the Bundestag member Volker Beck. Volker was not like most politicians, who first agreed to come to Moscow and then got scared at the last minute. He came in 2006 and was severely injured but still came back the year after. He also worked hard with German diplomats for the early release of activists who were arrested.

We extended our advocacy to other fights. In 2008, we managed to get the Ministry of Health to end the ban on gays donating blood. It took us 2 years, but we got it. We also launched the largest ever legal battle around gay rights, appealing at the European Court of Human Rights against the decision of the Russian authorities to ban more than 170 of our events over the past 3 years. But the Court is not in a hurry to help us. Despite the fact that Freedom of Assembly is expressively mentioned in the European Convention of Human Rights, the Council of Europe is unable to make Russia respect it. We denounced the policy of trading gas against human rights on numerous occasions. We even travelled to Strasbourg and organized a protest there against the European Court!

We don't only work on Russian issues. We joined the campaign against the execution of gays in Iran and work extensively with the IDAHO Committee. We actually managed to get Luxembourg to officially recognize the day in its calendar.

This year, working closely with Belarusian activists, Moscow Pride has become Slavic Pride and will be held in Moscow on May 16, the same day as the finale of the Eurovision Song Contest.


Slavic Pride gets extensive media attention (Source: GayRussia.Ru)

 

Gay Activism has taken all my time for past 5 years. I am working on it 24/7. Our organization doesn’t get grants and I don’t get paid for my activism. Not that I don’t need money but I do believe that independence has its price. Independence is the key in activism and I will never compromise my ideals. I hate injustice at all level and I never miss a chance to denounce it.

Nikolai Alekseev,
Founder of GayRussia.Ru
Chief Organizer of Moscow Pride/Slavic Pride


 

History of a Belarusian activist (13 May 2009)
During my childhood, I had a negative view of my homosexuality from listening to all those bad jokes and anecdotes about “sodomites”. I wasn’t really unhappy due to sexual dissatisfaction, it was more because of my solitude.

With no access either to the internet or to gay literature I could only get small bits of information from the very few articles about homosexuality that sometimes appeared in the press.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

Everything started for me when I was 16 and when, for the first time in my life I decided to go to a private Gay Party in Minsk. I always knew that I was gay, and my sexual orientation was no surprise to me. But, during this party I actually realized that I was not alone and that many other boys were like me. I understood that I was gay, that I should be proud of it and that the LGBT community was my big family. I also understood that we had to take action and no longer remain in the closet and underground clubs.

I created my first gay website, which I set-up initially with free hosting. After a while, several people got acquainted with me via my web site and then I understood that it was time to create a movement for the rights of sexual minorities in this country.

I love my country. I know that in [western] Europe, people are so free. They can travel, they have rights, they speak openly, meet openly and make their voices heard in the streets. We in Belarus are limited in our rights and freedom. I understand this even more after I visited Europe last February. I was invited by our Russian partner from GayRussia.Ru (with whom we are co-organizing “Slavic Pride” in Moscow in May) to attend several meetings within the European Institutions in Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Geneva.

We still have a long way to go before we can get close to the rest of Europe in terms of human rights. Nevertheless gays, lesbians, and transsexuals exist in our country even if our culture is mostly underground.

Generally speaking, aggressive homophobia is not a strong characteristic of Belarusian society. A Gay Pride march in Minsk would be easier to host than in Moscow, Riga or Belgrade. The Church is not influential in Belarus. But still, to obtain authorization for a public action is just Mission Impossible!


Sergey Androsenko (Source: GayRussia.ru)


Last year, 5 events organized by the LGBT community in 3 different cities were denied. In Belarus, we cannot appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Our country has never been a member of the Council of Europe. Even our observer status was suspended. Belarusian legislation is made for the government, not for the citizen. It must be changed. Our last public actions in the streets of Minsk were all held illegally.

In our country, it is impossible to register a gay organization. Actually, it is impossible to register any type of organization. The process has been made especially complex to discourage anyone. And the authorities sometimes take criminal charges against non registered organizations on the basis that it compromises the “happy future of Belarusian people”. So, the majority of activists, whether gay or not, are potential criminals.

In Minsk, it is possible to have fun as there is an underground gay life. We have unofficial gay clubs, bars, restaurants, internet café and also private parties. But still, I would like to welcome you in my country. I am sure you would be surprised. And sometimes also, charmed!

Sergey Androsenko
Founder of GayBelarus.By


 

History of a Belarusian activist (13 May 2009)
During my childhood, I had a negative view of my homosexuality from listening to all those bad jokes and anecdotes about “sodomites”. I wasn’t really unhappy due to sexual dissatisfaction, it was more because of my solitude.

With no access either to the internet or to gay literature I could only get small bits of information from the very few articles about homosexuality that sometimes appeared in the press.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

Everything started for me when I was 16 and when, for the first time in my life I decided to go to a private Gay Party in Minsk. I always knew that I was gay, and my sexual orientation was no surprise to me. But, during this party I actually realized that I was not alone and that many other boys were like me. I understood that I was gay, that I should be proud of it and that the LGBT community was my big family. I also understood that we had to take action and no longer remain in the closet and underground clubs.

I created my first gay website, which I set-up initially with free hosting. After a while, several people got acquainted with me via my web site and then I understood that it was time to create a movement for the rights of sexual minorities in this country.

I love my country. I know that in [western] Europe, people are so free. They can travel, they have rights, they speak openly, meet openly and make their voices heard in the streets. We in Belarus are limited in our rights and freedom. I understand this even more after I visited Europe last February. I was invited by our Russian partner from GayRussia.Ru (with whom we are co-organizing “Slavic Pride” in Moscow in May) to attend several meetings within the European Institutions in Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Geneva.

We still have a long way to go before we can get close to the rest of Europe in terms of human rights. Nevertheless gays, lesbians, and transsexuals exist in our country even if our culture is mostly underground.

Generally speaking, aggressive homophobia is not a strong characteristic of Belarusian society. A Gay Pride march in Minsk would be easier to host than in Moscow, Riga or Belgrade. The Church is not influential in Belarus. But still, to obtain authorization for a public action is just Mission Impossible!


Sergey Androsenko (Source: GayRussia.ru)


Last year, 5 events organized by the LGBT community in 3 different cities were denied. In Belarus, we cannot appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Our country has never been a member of the Council of Europe. Even our observer status was suspended. Belarusian legislation is made for the government, not for the citizen. It must be changed. Our last public actions in the streets of Minsk were all held illegally.

In our country, it is impossible to register a gay organization. Actually, it is impossible to register any type of organization. The process has been made especially complex to discourage anyone. And the authorities sometimes take criminal charges against non registered organizations on the basis that it compromises the “happy future of Belarusian people”. So, the majority of activists, whether gay or not, are potential criminals.

In Minsk, it is possible to have fun as there is an underground gay life. We have unofficial gay clubs, bars, restaurants, internet café and also private parties. But still, I would like to welcome you in my country. I am sure you would be surprised. And sometimes also, charmed!

Sergey Androsenko
Founder of GayBelarus.By


 

Letter from a User in Saudi Arabia (7 May 2009)
Hello to all Gayromeo users,

My name is A. and I’m from a small town not far from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. When I was a teenager I didn't know what being gay meant. I thought it was a temporary feeling and that I would be attracted to the other sex when I get older, but that didn't happen!

I was confused, sad, and depressed. I felt rejected and different and could not talk about it with anyone, because no one would listen to me especially when it comes to sex!

In my early 20’s I realized that I was gay and that heterosexuality was not an option. I had to accept this fact in myself and keep it hidden it to be safe. I still thought there might be a cure for homosexuality. Now I am older I understand more about homosexuality. We can all know and learn more what homosexuality means now, thanks to the media, TV and internet.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Islam condemns homosexualty. But Saudi Arabia seems to be the only country which strictly applies Shari'ah law. Sodomy is punishable by death. Although that penalty is seldom applied, just last February [2007] a man in the Western Province was executed for having sex with a boy, among other crimes.

If you ask many Saudis about homosexuality, they'll show their disgust. The majority would say "I disapprove, men aren't supposed to be with men." Or even worse: "Men who commit sex with other men should be beheaded!"

Despite this legal and public condemnation, there is considerable space for homosexual behavior in this country. As long as gays and lesbians maintain a public front of obeisance to Islamic norms, they are left to do what they want in private. Vibrant communities of men who enjoy sex with other men exist in cosmopolitan cities like Jeddah and Riyadh. They meet in schools, cafés, in the streets, and on the Internet. You can be cruised anywhere in Saudi Arabia, any time of the day, but there is always the risk of being arrested by Religious authority members called ["Muatwwa'in"].

Another thing which might be surprising, at least from a Western perspective, is that some of the men having sex with other men don't consider themselves gay. For many Saudis, the fact that a man has sex with another man has little to do with "gayness." The act may fulfill a desire or a need, but it doesn't constitute an identity.

To be gay in Saudi Arabia is to live a contradiction—to have license without rights, and to enjoy broad tolerance without even the most minimal acceptance. The closet is not a choice; it is a rule for survival.

I have managed the unusual feat of staving off marriage without revealing myself to be gay. Marriage would devastate me and the exposure of my homosexuality would devastate my family. So I have employed an elaborate series of stratagems: a fake girlfriend, a fake engagement to a sympathetic cousin, the breaking off of the engagement. I schemed, and I planned. I don't like to trick people, but I had to do that for my family.

You might expect such subterfuge to exact a high psychological cost. But your closet doesn't feel so lonely when you know so many others, gay and straight, are in it too. My life is still as double as ever, but finally I have had to accept the fact that I was born this way and can live with it!

Peace to everyone. A.


 

Letter from a User in Saudi Arabia (7 May 2009)
Hello to all Gayromeo users,

My name is A. and I’m from a small town not far from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. When I was a teenager I didn't know what being gay meant. I thought it was a temporary feeling and that I would be attracted to the other sex when I get older, but that didn't happen!

I was confused, sad, and depressed. I felt rejected and different and could not talk about it with anyone, because no one would listen to me especially when it comes to sex!

In my early 20’s I realized that I was gay and that heterosexuality was not an option. I had to accept this fact in myself and keep it hidden it to be safe. I still thought there might be a cure for homosexuality. Now I am older I understand more about homosexuality. We can all know and learn more what homosexuality means now, thanks to the media, TV and internet.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Islam condemns homosexualty. But Saudi Arabia seems to be the only country which strictly applies Shari'ah law. Sodomy is punishable by death. Although that penalty is seldom applied, just last February [2007] a man in the Western Province was executed for having sex with a boy, among other crimes.

If you ask many Saudis about homosexuality, they'll show their disgust. The majority would say "I disapprove, men aren't supposed to be with men." Or even worse: "Men who commit sex with other men should be beheaded!"

Despite this legal and public condemnation, there is considerable space for homosexual behavior in this country. As long as gays and lesbians maintain a public front of obeisance to Islamic norms, they are left to do what they want in private. Vibrant communities of men who enjoy sex with other men exist in cosmopolitan cities like Jeddah and Riyadh. They meet in schools, cafés, in the streets, and on the Internet. You can be cruised anywhere in Saudi Arabia, any time of the day, but there is always the risk of being arrested by Religious authority members called ["Muatwwa'in"].

Another thing which might be surprising, at least from a Western perspective, is that some of the men having sex with other men don't consider themselves gay. For many Saudis, the fact that a man has sex with another man has little to do with "gayness." The act may fulfill a desire or a need, but it doesn't constitute an identity.

To be gay in Saudi Arabia is to live a contradiction—to have license without rights, and to enjoy broad tolerance without even the most minimal acceptance. The closet is not a choice; it is a rule for survival.

I have managed the unusual feat of staving off marriage without revealing myself to be gay. Marriage would devastate me and the exposure of my homosexuality would devastate my family. So I have employed an elaborate series of stratagems: a fake girlfriend, a fake engagement to a sympathetic cousin, the breaking off of the engagement. I schemed, and I planned. I don't like to trick people, but I had to do that for my family.

You might expect such subterfuge to exact a high psychological cost. But your closet doesn't feel so lonely when you know so many others, gay and straight, are in it too. My life is still as double as ever, but finally I have had to accept the fact that I was born this way and can live with it!

Peace to everyone. A.


 

Report from a Syrian User (14 April 2009)
I'm from Syria, I live in Aleppo, the second largest city in the country. I'm 32 years old now, & have been struggling with the situation here ever since I knew I was gay.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


I will make this short & state some points that are very noticeable and tell you about a devastating experience I have been through;

1. It's ILLEGAL to be gay in this country and one might go to jail if known as gay.
2. People think it's immoral to be gay or to have homosexual desires.
3. We have some cruising areas in the country and they get raided frequently now, so the internet is the safest place to meet people.
4. People who try to pay for anything that is defined as gay-related over the internet would be followed & arrested sometimes, so it's scary to subscribe for any online services.
5. People who are noticed accessing homosexual sites from an internet cafe could be arrested too.

One devastating experience I had was when I was fired for being gay and was threatened to be exposed if I sought the remainder of my benefits & salary.

Currently we cannot see any changes in the way this country treats homosexuals. The situation is getting worse than it was years ago, with undercover cops trying to get people arrested just for wanting to have sex.

I hope the information above tells something about the situation here. All what I hope for is to try to make up a counseling forum to help people who are struggling with their sexuality. I have heard of 2 suicides last year, and although I cannot confirm the validity of that news, I think it's true because of all the suffering and stress in this country and in the Middle East in general.

M.


 

Report from a Syrian User (14 April 2009)
I'm from Syria, I live in Aleppo, the second largest city in the country. I'm 32 years old now, & have been struggling with the situation here ever since I knew I was gay.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


I will make this short & state some points that are very noticeable and tell you about a devastating experience I have been through;

1. It's ILLEGAL to be gay in this country and one might go to jail if known as gay.
2. People think it's immoral to be gay or to have homosexual desires.
3. We have some cruising areas in the country and they get raided frequently now, so the internet is the safest place to meet people.
4. People who try to pay for anything that is defined as gay-related over the internet would be followed & arrested sometimes, so it's scary to subscribe for any online services.
5. People who are noticed accessing homosexual sites from an internet cafe could be arrested too.

One devastating experience I had was when I was fired for being gay and was threatened to be exposed if I sought the remainder of my benefits & salary.

Currently we cannot see any changes in the way this country treats homosexuals. The situation is getting worse than it was years ago, with undercover cops trying to get people arrested just for wanting to have sex.

I hope the information above tells something about the situation here. All what I hope for is to try to make up a counseling forum to help people who are struggling with their sexuality. I have heard of 2 suicides last year, and although I cannot confirm the validity of that news, I think it's true because of all the suffering and stress in this country and in the Middle East in general.

M.


 

User report from Morocco (07-01-2009)

My name is N.I live in Casablanca and I can summarise my situation in one phrase – “I am unhappy.” Homosexuality is prohibited in my country: “All immoral acts between 2 persons of the same sex are punishable by a fine and a prison sentence of 6 months to 3 years.”


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

 

Any attempt to create an association to defend our rights ends in police raids and crackdowns. The power of religion and morals within our society prevents the vast majority of gays and lesbians from being open or from coming out. We are condemned to live in the closet. I am a student and there is no place I can go to and no person with whom I can have a normal sexual relationship. As a result I’m nervous and stressed. I have insomnia and am on the brink of depression. Even if I had a partner it would be impossible for me to walk hand in hand with him in the street, to kiss him in public or for him to take me in his arms before sunset. At university I get insulted and they make fun of me. In the street I am threatened and harassed. At home my parents accuse me and nobody is there to defend me: I am alone against everyone and I seriously start to develop suicidal ideas.

I urge you all to exert pressures on your Western governments so that they make pressure on ours so that we can get our fundamental rights. I took an enormous risk writing to you. Thank you in advance grandmamma you are currently my one hope and it gave me a smile to write to you, a smile which I lost since my adolescence. :)

N.


 

User report from Morocco (07-01-2009)

My name is N.I live in Casablanca and I can summarise my situation in one phrase – “I am unhappy.” Homosexuality is prohibited in my country: “All immoral acts between 2 persons of the same sex are punishable by a fine and a prison sentence of 6 months to 3 years.”


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

 

Any attempt to create an association to defend our rights ends in police raids and crackdowns. The power of religion and morals within our society prevents the vast majority of gays and lesbians from being open or from coming out. We are condemned to live in the closet. I am a student and there is no place I can go to and no person with whom I can have a normal sexual relationship. As a result I’m nervous and stressed. I have insomnia and am on the brink of depression. Even if I had a partner it would be impossible for me to walk hand in hand with him in the street, to kiss him in public or for him to take me in his arms before sunset. At university I get insulted and they make fun of me. In the street I am threatened and harassed. At home my parents accuse me and nobody is there to defend me: I am alone against everyone and I seriously start to develop suicidal ideas.

I urge you all to exert pressures on your Western governments so that they make pressure on ours so that we can get our fundamental rights. I took an enormous risk writing to you. Thank you in advance grandmamma you are currently my one hope and it gave me a smile to write to you, a smile which I lost since my adolescence. :)

N.


 

User report from Uganda (07-01-2009)

I am really happy to hear that you guys care about us who are living in such countries that do not allow people to do what they want. To my surprise, here in Uganda, many guys are so inquisitive to know the secret behind this and so I am seeing many men resorting to doing this!!!


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Anyway, the situation here in Uganda is so alarming. Things are getting tougher and tougher day by day. Many gays have been arrested with or without our knowledge but we are told they are arrested. The government is so much against it. We are being taken to prisons, beaten, or even for the family members to disown us. The minister for ethics is really against homosexuality and if he can not support us, then we have no future in this country.

For my own experience, my family realized that I was gay since I have been so long with out children or even a girlfriend. Then I was chased away from family matters so I try to live alone now but very careful knowing that may be one day I will be arrested!

There has been no hope for my country to take gay people as normal people. They only put more strict laws that will even force us out of our mother land. So please, if you have a way of saving us please go ahead. I know you can not change the laws of our countries but may be relocate some of us if possible. Thanks a lot.

A.


 

User report from Uganda (07-01-2009)

I am really happy to hear that you guys care about us who are living in such countries that do not allow people to do what they want. To my surprise, here in Uganda, many guys are so inquisitive to know the secret behind this and so I am seeing many men resorting to doing this!!!


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Anyway, the situation here in Uganda is so alarming. Things are getting tougher and tougher day by day. Many gays have been arrested with or without our knowledge but we are told they are arrested. The government is so much against it. We are being taken to prisons, beaten, or even for the family members to disown us. The minister for ethics is really against homosexuality and if he can not support us, then we have no future in this country.

For my own experience, my family realized that I was gay since I have been so long with out children or even a girlfriend. Then I was chased away from family matters so I try to live alone now but very careful knowing that may be one day I will be arrested!

There has been no hope for my country to take gay people as normal people. They only put more strict laws that will even force us out of our mother land. So please, if you have a way of saving us please go ahead. I know you can not change the laws of our countries but may be relocate some of us if possible. Thanks a lot.

A.


 

User report from Iraq (16-12-2008)
There is nothing in the Iraqi constitution that says being Gay is illegal, however, depending on where you live, meaning which area or neighborhood, it is something which is frowned upon. Culture and religion especially tend to regard homosexuality as a social defect which threatens the marital institution.

Culturally homosexuality is frowned upon by the Abrahamic faiths due to the fact that these religions viewed homosexuality as a threat to the marital institution. In Mesopotamian culture, homosexuality was regarded as a higher level of spiritual lovemaking and was widely practiced, even in the pre-Islamic Arab culture it was practiced and bi-sexuality was common.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

Nowadays the mentality in Iraq and the Middle East generally speaking is that if you are a top you are regarded and perceived as a stud. Even if you engage in a homosexual act you can pretty much get away with it. But if you are a bottom you are a victim. Some may see you as a prostitute and treat you as such, passing you on from one person to another. If you sleep with a guy before he gets emotionally attached to you, you can be sure that you will no longer be respected.

That is why I don't date when in Iraq. I prefer to get involved with someone when I travel to other countries. Of course there are decent men and guys you can count on, but they are kind of harder to find. You can have sex with straight or bi-sexual men, they are all over the place, but my advice is you to be careful at work and in your neighborhood. Depending where you live you could be seen as a target by militia's who could threaten or blackmail you.


(Source: Talat Model Management)

You can be gay in Iraq and many people will accept it, friends won’t stop associating with you just because you are gay. Its the effeminate guys and women who are overtly masculine that may struggle and get picked on at times. But even in professional institutions people don't pick on someone because they noticed he is gay or even if he acts in a feminine manner.

There was talk in the media about ‘death squads’ targeting gays in Iraq. But I think the media exaggerated it by presenting it as something which was taking place all over the country. This is not true. It was mainly guys who were working as prostitutes that were targeted and I am sure that these guys were used as double agents by the various factions of these militias and so they were eliminated. The homosexuals who were targeted and eliminated by militants were mainly from the impoverished neighborhoods of Baghdad.

 

A.


 

User report from Iraq (16-12-2008)
There is nothing in the Iraqi constitution that says being Gay is illegal, however, depending on where you live, meaning which area or neighborhood, it is something which is frowned upon. Culture and religion especially tend to regard homosexuality as a social defect which threatens the marital institution.

Culturally homosexuality is frowned upon by the Abrahamic faiths due to the fact that these religions viewed homosexuality as a threat to the marital institution. In Mesopotamian culture, homosexuality was regarded as a higher level of spiritual lovemaking and was widely practiced, even in the pre-Islamic Arab culture it was practiced and bi-sexuality was common.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

Nowadays the mentality in Iraq and the Middle East generally speaking is that if you are a top you are regarded and perceived as a stud. Even if you engage in a homosexual act you can pretty much get away with it. But if you are a bottom you are a victim. Some may see you as a prostitute and treat you as such, passing you on from one person to another. If you sleep with a guy before he gets emotionally attached to you, you can be sure that you will no longer be respected.

That is why I don't date when in Iraq. I prefer to get involved with someone when I travel to other countries. Of course there are decent men and guys you can count on, but they are kind of harder to find. You can have sex with straight or bi-sexual men, they are all over the place, but my advice is you to be careful at work and in your neighborhood. Depending where you live you could be seen as a target by militia's who could threaten or blackmail you.


(Source: Talat Model Management)

You can be gay in Iraq and many people will accept it, friends won’t stop associating with you just because you are gay. Its the effeminate guys and women who are overtly masculine that may struggle and get picked on at times. But even in professional institutions people don't pick on someone because they noticed he is gay or even if he acts in a feminine manner.

There was talk in the media about ‘death squads’ targeting gays in Iraq. But I think the media exaggerated it by presenting it as something which was taking place all over the country. This is not true. It was mainly guys who were working as prostitutes that were targeted and I am sure that these guys were used as double agents by the various factions of these militias and so they were eliminated. The homosexuals who were targeted and eliminated by militants were mainly from the impoverished neighborhoods of Baghdad.

 

A.


 

User report from Egypt (07-11-2008)

In Egypt, there are many classes for gays; some are of the higher class, they are well educated & work; some of the lower class, who cruise in streets, but they are not the majority, they are just the visible ones. But, gays of the scene are not that much in streets; they are few and only appear at certain places. In general, all gays feel afraid of police officers & we never feel safe when we meet someone new. We should be extremely cautious. Straight community are not accepting or understanding what is homosexuality AT ALL!


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

I knew someone online before & met him 3 times. The third time I met him, he set a trap for me and stole my mobile and his friend could kill me with his knife!

Many people meet to steal, while we can't have our rights. We can’t tell the Police what happened to us just 'cause we are gays. I knew someone else that was murdered, called "S." He was killed in the age of 23! 3 months ago & the press distorted this story but nobody cared anyway.

I heard that unfair treatment for homosexuals in Egyptian prisons has decreased, but I don't believe that. Egypt’s policies are very bad and it's getting worse, especially the ruling family. Everything seems to get better, but it is getting worse in its core also for democracy and freedom of speech!

D.

 

User report from Egypt (07-11-2008)

In Egypt, there are many classes for gays; some are of the higher class, they are well educated & work; some of the lower class, who cruise in streets, but they are not the majority, they are just the visible ones. But, gays of the scene are not that much in streets; they are few and only appear at certain places. In general, all gays feel afraid of police officers & we never feel safe when we meet someone new. We should be extremely cautious. Straight community are not accepting or understanding what is homosexuality AT ALL!


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

I knew someone online before & met him 3 times. The third time I met him, he set a trap for me and stole my mobile and his friend could kill me with his knife!

Many people meet to steal, while we can't have our rights. We can’t tell the Police what happened to us just 'cause we are gays. I knew someone else that was murdered, called "S." He was killed in the age of 23! 3 months ago & the press distorted this story but nobody cared anyway.

I heard that unfair treatment for homosexuals in Egyptian prisons has decreased, but I don't believe that. Egypt’s policies are very bad and it's getting worse, especially the ruling family. Everything seems to get better, but it is getting worse in its core also for democracy and freedom of speech!

D.

 

User Story from Uzbekistan (01-10-2008)

I must admit that this is not easy to live with thing like this in country like Uzbekistan, and the problem mostly is in people's attitude to it.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


The majority of society is still very traditional, it means that is hard to accept what is out of the majority and what, in some people’s words, is a sin. In this country of more than 25 million population there are no single gay club, disco, etc. Most of the people are meeting online, then trying to have a date. But most of people are afraid of showing pictures or any kind of personal information which might be discovered.

Everyone is afraid that it might be known by other people which would to jokes and insults and being called ‘gay’ That's considered one of the most hurtful insults. Me personally I’m telling it to no one. That's why I probably will never post the picture of me, while I am in Uzbekistan. Personally, there were some situations where I've been sent insults to my address, when I was in school, and a couple times on the street. I've been hurt by such words, but then I've understood that I will not show my reaction.

Nothing much is changing in this country in the rights of gays. Nothing can actually happen while there is even a law prohibiting homosexuality. I really hope that something will happen someday, but I am afraid that it's not very soon.

B.

 

User Story from Uzbekistan (01-10-2008)

I must admit that this is not easy to live with thing like this in country like Uzbekistan, and the problem mostly is in people's attitude to it.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


The majority of society is still very traditional, it means that is hard to accept what is out of the majority and what, in some people’s words, is a sin. In this country of more than 25 million population there are no single gay club, disco, etc. Most of the people are meeting online, then trying to have a date. But most of people are afraid of showing pictures or any kind of personal information which might be discovered.

Everyone is afraid that it might be known by other people which would to jokes and insults and being called ‘gay’ That's considered one of the most hurtful insults. Me personally I’m telling it to no one. That's why I probably will never post the picture of me, while I am in Uzbekistan. Personally, there were some situations where I've been sent insults to my address, when I was in school, and a couple times on the street. I've been hurt by such words, but then I've understood that I will not show my reaction.

Nothing much is changing in this country in the rights of gays. Nothing can actually happen while there is even a law prohibiting homosexuality. I really hope that something will happen someday, but I am afraid that it's not very soon.

B.

 

User report from the United Arab Emirates (20-08-2008)

This place is teeming with many good looking men who are gay who just don’t have the courage to "out" themselves for fear of being persecuted by family, friends, religion and the law. Sad it is, to think that homosexuality in this part of the region is, in some unexplainable way, very much a part of the culture. Maybe I am wrong but having stayed here for so many years, I just cant ignore that fact and deny it as much as they the locals can. It happens, even if only in dark alleyways or the privacy of certain places considered safe by those in desperate need of companionship or just plain sexual release.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


There are many instances of gays being persecuted here. Some of them are really very mundane or superficial. Yet walk in a crowded mall as a gay man and you are surely bound to find invitations. Well, some not so nice ones but there are also those that are legitimate come-ons for sex.

I respect the laws and this place's culture and do not encourage homosexuals here to flaunt themselves. Just to be taken as an individual and not treated differently from others, without fear of being tagged a criminal or whatever insane accusations.

On the other hand, this is also where I found love in so many forms. I got bruised and broken here and yet continue to love this place. This is where I make a living. This is where I enjoy life.

There are so many stories I can tell. Some of them happened to me, in the desert, in malls, in small dingy apartments, with locals and expatriates alike, with men in uniform, with Adonis-like men from countries I can not even recall. Some I wish to forget, but some I treasure and savor each memory of. I got raped and humiliated and thrown in jail for certain things I did not commit. Luckily, I got out. This place will continue to persecute homosexuals while closing its eyes to much of what takes place, and in the process, find themselves with an erection whenever a smooth, fair-skinned lean bodied man walks by.

J.

 

User report from the United Arab Emirates (20-08-2008)

This place is teeming with many good looking men who are gay who just don’t have the courage to "out" themselves for fear of being persecuted by family, friends, religion and the law. Sad it is, to think that homosexuality in this part of the region is, in some unexplainable way, very much a part of the culture. Maybe I am wrong but having stayed here for so many years, I just cant ignore that fact and deny it as much as they the locals can. It happens, even if only in dark alleyways or the privacy of certain places considered safe by those in desperate need of companionship or just plain sexual release.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


There are many instances of gays being persecuted here. Some of them are really very mundane or superficial. Yet walk in a crowded mall as a gay man and you are surely bound to find invitations. Well, some not so nice ones but there are also those that are legitimate come-ons for sex.

I respect the laws and this place's culture and do not encourage homosexuals here to flaunt themselves. Just to be taken as an individual and not treated differently from others, without fear of being tagged a criminal or whatever insane accusations.

On the other hand, this is also where I found love in so many forms. I got bruised and broken here and yet continue to love this place. This is where I make a living. This is where I enjoy life.

There are so many stories I can tell. Some of them happened to me, in the desert, in malls, in small dingy apartments, with locals and expatriates alike, with men in uniform, with Adonis-like men from countries I can not even recall. Some I wish to forget, but some I treasure and savor each memory of. I got raped and humiliated and thrown in jail for certain things I did not commit. Luckily, I got out. This place will continue to persecute homosexuals while closing its eyes to much of what takes place, and in the process, find themselves with an erection whenever a smooth, fair-skinned lean bodied man walks by.

J.

 

Turkey - Lambda Istanbul’s Legal Battle (20-06-2008)

I’m Emrecan. I’m a 30-year-old gay man who’s been volunteering for Lambdaistanbul, an LGBT rights organisation in Turkey, since last March. Lambdaistanbul has been working as a meeting place, cultural centre and a helpline for Turkish sexual minorities since 1993. At the time Lambda was being formed in Istanbul, I was discovering my (homo)sexuality in my hometown, Ankara. Lambdaistanbul has been the longest running LGBT group in Turkey, and it made perfect sense to somehow get involved. So, when I moved to Istanbul, I joined this group of volunteers to work for our rights.

Lambda Istanbul

However, on May 29th, a local court decided to close down Lambdaistanbul. The association had been fighting this legal battle since July 2007, upon the complaint of the Governor’s Office of Istanbul, which pursued the case in a higher court, even though the Prosecutor rejected the initial request to close down Lambda. The final ruling came on the grounds that this association was formed for “immoral purposes” and that it is “against Turkish family values.”

Volunteers of Lambdaistanbul are now getting ready to take the case to the Court of Appeals, which will hopefully overrule this decision. If not, the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. In any case, we are outraged and greatly saddened by this unlawful decision which infringes on our very basic human rights.

Thankfully, we have been receiving an incredible amount of national and international support. Our press conference and demonstration were both highly successful, garnering a lot of attention to issues of LGBT people in Turkey. Also, in the past few weeks, there have been demonstrations in France, Germany and the Netherlands to protest the court’s decision, which arrived merely a week after the Human Rights Watch published a report on LGBT rights in Turkey, and a month before the Istanbul Pride Week that is organised by Lambdaistanbul volunteers.

Istanbul Pride

There have been many attempts to celebrate Pride Week in Istanbul in the past decade but we have been regularly and successfully celebrating it since 2005. In Istanbul, the last week of June is full of concerts, panels, plays, parties and activities that culminate in the highly expected Pride parade in the city centre. Last year’s Pride Parade has been the biggest ever with 1500 people, which included artists, ambassadors and politicians. We hope to gather an even bigger crowd this year on June 29th, to get louder and fiercer in our struggle for rights and freedom as citizens of this country. Many friends and supporters are going to join our parade from Europe and from all over the world, including two Members of the European Parliament. You can find the full Pride program here on GayRomeo or on the Lambdaistanbul site in English and Turkish.

While the appeal is underway, Lambdaistanbul will continue to function as usual, providing help and information to LGBT persons and their families, documenting human rights violations against sexual minorities, and seeking visibility, acceptance and legal rights. We will also run a campaign, titled “Hands Off My Association,” to bring this matter to the attention of politicians.

It is our hope that Lambdaistanbul will be the last LGBT group to face closure in Turkey. If you support Lambda’s cause and LGBT rights in Turkey, please sign our petition (with text in Turkish, English, French and German), which will be sent to the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Head of the Constitution Commission.

If you want to stay informed about the appeal and Lambdaistanbul’s activities, you can visit Lambdaistanbul.org, or join the “Lambdaistanbul” group on Facebook.


 

Turkey - Lambda Istanbul’s Legal Battle (20-06-2008)

I’m Emrecan. I’m a 30-year-old gay man who’s been volunteering for Lambdaistanbul, an LGBT rights organisation in Turkey, since last March. Lambdaistanbul has been working as a meeting place, cultural centre and a helpline for Turkish sexual minorities since 1993. At the time Lambda was being formed in Istanbul, I was discovering my (homo)sexuality in my hometown, Ankara. Lambdaistanbul has been the longest running LGBT group in Turkey, and it made perfect sense to somehow get involved. So, when I moved to Istanbul, I joined this group of volunteers to work for our rights.

Lambda Istanbul

However, on May 29th, a local court decided to close down Lambdaistanbul. The association had been fighting this legal battle since July 2007, upon the complaint of the Governor’s Office of Istanbul, which pursued the case in a higher court, even though the Prosecutor rejected the initial request to close down Lambda. The final ruling came on the grounds that this association was formed for “immoral purposes” and that it is “against Turkish family values.”

Volunteers of Lambdaistanbul are now getting ready to take the case to the Court of Appeals, which will hopefully overrule this decision. If not, the case will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights. In any case, we are outraged and greatly saddened by this unlawful decision which infringes on our very basic human rights.

Thankfully, we have been receiving an incredible amount of national and international support. Our press conference and demonstration were both highly successful, garnering a lot of attention to issues of LGBT people in Turkey. Also, in the past few weeks, there have been demonstrations in France, Germany and the Netherlands to protest the court’s decision, which arrived merely a week after the Human Rights Watch published a report on LGBT rights in Turkey, and a month before the Istanbul Pride Week that is organised by Lambdaistanbul volunteers.

Istanbul Pride

There have been many attempts to celebrate Pride Week in Istanbul in the past decade but we have been regularly and successfully celebrating it since 2005. In Istanbul, the last week of June is full of concerts, panels, plays, parties and activities that culminate in the highly expected Pride parade in the city centre. Last year’s Pride Parade has been the biggest ever with 1500 people, which included artists, ambassadors and politicians. We hope to gather an even bigger crowd this year on June 29th, to get louder and fiercer in our struggle for rights and freedom as citizens of this country. Many friends and supporters are going to join our parade from Europe and from all over the world, including two Members of the European Parliament. You can find the full Pride program here on GayRomeo or on the Lambdaistanbul site in English and Turkish.

While the appeal is underway, Lambdaistanbul will continue to function as usual, providing help and information to LGBT persons and their families, documenting human rights violations against sexual minorities, and seeking visibility, acceptance and legal rights. We will also run a campaign, titled “Hands Off My Association,” to bring this matter to the attention of politicians.

It is our hope that Lambdaistanbul will be the last LGBT group to face closure in Turkey. If you support Lambda’s cause and LGBT rights in Turkey, please sign our petition (with text in Turkish, English, French and German), which will be sent to the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Head of the Constitution Commission.

If you want to stay informed about the appeal and Lambdaistanbul’s activities, you can visit Lambdaistanbul.org, or join the “Lambdaistanbul” group on Facebook.


 

User report from Mauritius (13-06-2008)

Gay life in Mauritius is not easy. Although we are a mainly tourist country, there is still much prejudice and gender violence. Gays and Lesbians are prone to many stereotypes and violence. Personally I think the biggest issue here is the violence against gay men, whether verbal or physical. I myself have had verbal abuse from straight people, who will openly show their disrespect towards a gay person.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Although in Port Louis the situation is better because of the tourists, the further one moves away, the more conservative it gets. Recently a lesbian friend of mine was sodomized by straight men, who said that "they'll make her straight”, since "being gay is unafrican". She was very traumatized by this and there's also no real psychological help she can seek since one doesn't know whether to trust the doctors and shrinks by telling them you're gay.

In addition, the church is also a big obstacle for gays not only in Mauritius but in the whole of Africa. One would expect that the church is the place where one can go to find comfort and seek refuge, but this is the complete opposite. I’ve been told various times by a priest that I'll rot in hell if I don't change my way of living and stop being gay.

I remember in school how we were punished, the first time I was caught in the 1980's. It’s normal for children at that age to experiment, and a teacher caught me and another boy. We punished by the cane and couldn't sit for more than a week. The most excruciating experience was that we knew if we get home we'll get another hiding since our parents are religiously VERY conservative and old-fashioned.

5 Years ago, a gay friend of mine was caught with a tourist and the men who caught them, pushed a pen up into his penis as a punishment for being gay. There are various instances that one never reads in the media of what happens to gay people in Africa. We have no rights, we have no freedom, one always have to be scared and very discreet. You can't really be open to your family and if you are open towards friends, you have to trust them with your life. Being gay can also mean unemployment since in certain jobs, when words spread around that you're gay/lesbian, you're black-labelled.

For many gay and lesbian Africans the only light out of hell is to flee to South Africa where as a gay person you can get married, or abroad to other countries or to find a partner somewhere else, however this is not the perfect solution. What we need is to liberate Africa from its conservativeness. I mean really, Africa today is more Christian than Christianity itself, and Christianity is not even part of Africa. But today religion is our biggest enemy to have a free sexual orientation on this continent.

To conclude, I think we need a new media focus on Africa. Too many times people only focus on the poverty and the "backwardness" of the continent, instead of focusing on us, the people. Although we have a lot of development taking place, what we need is to show the world how deeply divided African society is, and how in 99% of the cases this has been caused by religion, whether Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or African religions.

I hope for a free and fair change one day in my country, where I can walk with my husband/ partner/ lover/ boyfriend hand-in-hand and enjoy the freedom of not being stared at, insulted at or attacked.

A.

 

User report from Mauritius (13-06-2008)

Gay life in Mauritius is not easy. Although we are a mainly tourist country, there is still much prejudice and gender violence. Gays and Lesbians are prone to many stereotypes and violence. Personally I think the biggest issue here is the violence against gay men, whether verbal or physical. I myself have had verbal abuse from straight people, who will openly show their disrespect towards a gay person.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)


Although in Port Louis the situation is better because of the tourists, the further one moves away, the more conservative it gets. Recently a lesbian friend of mine was sodomized by straight men, who said that "they'll make her straight”, since "being gay is unafrican". She was very traumatized by this and there's also no real psychological help she can seek since one doesn't know whether to trust the doctors and shrinks by telling them you're gay.

In addition, the church is also a big obstacle for gays not only in Mauritius but in the whole of Africa. One would expect that the church is the place where one can go to find comfort and seek refuge, but this is the complete opposite. I’ve been told various times by a priest that I'll rot in hell if I don't change my way of living and stop being gay.

I remember in school how we were punished, the first time I was caught in the 1980's. It’s normal for children at that age to experiment, and a teacher caught me and another boy. We punished by the cane and couldn't sit for more than a week. The most excruciating experience was that we knew if we get home we'll get another hiding since our parents are religiously VERY conservative and old-fashioned.

5 Years ago, a gay friend of mine was caught with a tourist and the men who caught them, pushed a pen up into his penis as a punishment for being gay. There are various instances that one never reads in the media of what happens to gay people in Africa. We have no rights, we have no freedom, one always have to be scared and very discreet. You can't really be open to your family and if you are open towards friends, you have to trust them with your life. Being gay can also mean unemployment since in certain jobs, when words spread around that you're gay/lesbian, you're black-labelled.

For many gay and lesbian Africans the only light out of hell is to flee to South Africa where as a gay person you can get married, or abroad to other countries or to find a partner somewhere else, however this is not the perfect solution. What we need is to liberate Africa from its conservativeness. I mean really, Africa today is more Christian than Christianity itself, and Christianity is not even part of Africa. But today religion is our biggest enemy to have a free sexual orientation on this continent.

To conclude, I think we need a new media focus on Africa. Too many times people only focus on the poverty and the "backwardness" of the continent, instead of focusing on us, the people. Although we have a lot of development taking place, what we need is to show the world how deeply divided African society is, and how in 99% of the cases this has been caused by religion, whether Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or African religions.

I hope for a free and fair change one day in my country, where I can walk with my husband/ partner/ lover/ boyfriend hand-in-hand and enjoy the freedom of not being stared at, insulted at or attacked.

A.

 

Report of a User from Nigeria (17-05-2008)

Hello to you Beloved Mother that Cares for her sons,
My Name is C. I was born in Enugu state of Nigeria where I live with my Parents who work for the Government. We are 3 boys and 3 girls in the Family.
I am the 3rd of the Kids and I love my family and have always be a good son. As I grew up I started to see that I have an eye on men. This is how I got to know I am Gay.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

The present situation about Gay life here in Nigeria especially here in Lagos is that Gay is still a forbidden thing. When one hears or learn that his best friend is Gay there is always a bad reaction and people have been hurt, killed and also humiliated because they are Gay.

My Experiences: I was once dating in my senior class at school and we are both in love with each other. We bath together and also we have one secret that no one knows about us but we know it ourselves. One day I have to be sent to Lagos state University where i was schooling and I had a friend who was bisexual. I am not worried because I can at least see someone that will be having fun and sex with me which I know is difficult here in Nigeria to find.

One day I wake up and was busy reading and he knocked at my door. I open the door and he called me and say he want to talk to me. I say yes. This was morning around 7.29am and we sat and he was asking me if I am in any secret cult. I say no and he say what is wrong with me? I say nothing. He say there must be an Evil in me that is pushing me to seduce him and others to have sex with me.

I was shocked and asked him what does that mean? He is embarrassing me and he started shouting at the House and all the neighbours come out to listen to us and he is telling them that I am Homosexual and that ever since he knew me that he never see me with any Girl and my neighbours also agreed and say yes that they had never set their eyes on me with any Girl. This brought big problem between me and them and everyone started avoiding me at the compound and also talking all things against me. They report me to the owner of the House where am living and the man called me and tell me to be careful for my life.

Though I thank God that he understand that God create Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender and I listen and also thank Him. All the while my friend stays close to my family. They knew that we are best of friend but didn’t know that we are having any sexual affair. My family did not know I am Gay till the guy called them on phone and told them everything about me and that am having quarrel with him because he refuse to have sex with me. This cause my mum to fall sick and my brothers called me on phone and say all sorts of thing.

My sisters also say they don’t want to see me anymore and that am not part of the family again. I cried and was alone and was a rejected thing, but still I am not shaken because I know that I am not the one that created myself or chose to be this way. I was also forced out from the church am attending where I was one of the Choir members. And I was banned not to come again and be among their group. I started living and doing things alone like an outcast and my family never care about me anymore even to send me food stuffs to eat or support me for my education.

This lasted like 3 good months before one day my Mum called me and tell me that she is not angry about my life and she called to ask how am living and I answer that call with tears in my eyes and I later called my brothers and tell them the same and my sisters and they all accept me later the way I am and they say there is nothing they can do about it .But if that is how my God created me that I should be careful and not to fall into any problem because the Government will kill me and they wouldn’t come to rescue me.

All the people on my compound that rejected me now today talking to me and greeting me and I talk to them as well and also greet them too. We are just like best of friends and chat and talk. For sexuality they have their girlfriends but they are today respecting me for the way I am.

I am 100% gay and I know also that one day in this earth I will surely meet a man that is for me and who knows and will understand my life style and who will be mine for ever and also remain with him.


C.


 

Report of a User from Nigeria (17-05-2008)

Hello to you Beloved Mother that Cares for her sons,
My Name is C. I was born in Enugu state of Nigeria where I live with my Parents who work for the Government. We are 3 boys and 3 girls in the Family.
I am the 3rd of the Kids and I love my family and have always be a good son. As I grew up I started to see that I have an eye on men. This is how I got to know I am Gay.


Geographical Position (Source: Wikipedia)

The present situation about Gay life here in Nigeria especially here in Lagos is that Gay is still a forbidden thing. When one hears or learn that his best friend is Gay there is always a bad reaction and people have been hurt, killed and also humiliated because they are Gay.

My Experiences: I was once dating in my senior class at school and we are both in love with each other. We bath together and also we have one secret that no one knows about us but we know it ourselves. One day I have to be sent to Lagos state University where i was schooling and I had a friend who was bisexual. I am not worried because I can at least see someone that will be having fun and sex with me which I know is difficult here in Nigeria to find.

One day I wake up and was busy reading and he knocked at my door. I open the door and he called me and say he want to talk to me. I say yes. This was morning around 7.29am and we sat and he was asking me if I am in any secret cult. I say no and he say what is wrong with me? I say nothing. He say there must be an Evil in me that is pushing me to seduce him and others to have sex with me.

I was shocked and asked him what does that mean? He is embarrassing me and he started shouting at the House and all the neighbours come out to listen to us and he is telling them that I am Homosexual and that ever since he knew me that he never see me with any Girl and my neighbours also agreed and say yes that they had never set their eyes on me with any Girl. This brought big problem between me and them and everyone started avoiding me at the compound and also talking all things against me. They report me to the owner of the House where am living and the man called me and tell me to be careful for my life.

Though I thank God that he understand that God create Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender and I listen and also thank Him. All the while my friend stays close to my family. They knew that we are best of friend but didn’t know that we are having any sexual affair. My family did not know I am Gay till the guy called them on phone and told them everything about me and that am having quarrel with him because he refuse to have sex with me. This cause my mum to fall sick and my brothers called me on phone and say all sorts of thing.

My sisters also say they don’t want to see me anymore and that am not part of the family again. I cried and was alone and was a rejected thing, but still I am not shaken because I know that I am not the one that created myself or chose to be this way. I was also forced out from the church am attending where I was one of the Choir members. And I was banned not to come again and be among their group. I started living and doing things alone like an outcast and my family never care about me anymore even to send me food stuffs to eat or support me for my education.

This lasted like 3 good months before one day my Mum called me and tell me that she is not angry about my life and she called to ask how am living and I answer that call with tears in my eyes and I later called my brothers and tell them the same and my sisters and they all accept me later the way I am and they say there is nothing they can do about it .But if that is how my God created me that I should be careful and not to fall into any problem because the Government will kill me and they wouldn’t come to rescue me.

All the people on my compound that rejected me now today talking to me and greeting me and I talk to them as well and also greet them too. We are just like best of friends and chat and talk. For sexuality they have their girlfriends but they are today respecting me for the way I am.

I am 100% gay and I know also that one day in this earth I will surely meet a man that is for me and who knows and will understand my life style and who will be mine for ever and also remain with him.


C.


 

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User report from Tanzania (28-03-2008)

Although homosexuality is illegal in East-Africa, homosexuals do meet through various media. We do not congregate in one venue but mostly in peoples' private homes. The network is quite active and although we are a minority we tend to be divided for silly issues e.g. formation of GLBT associations however in the case of death or positive event in the community, the unity of the gay community is very present. However kindly note that like anywhere in the world, the gay and lesbian communities only come together for specific topics.


Geographical position of Tanzania (Source: Wikipedia)


Another notable fact is the hustler situation. One can find very nice boys who do have sex with men on the condition that these are taken out in expensive bars/clubs, given money or any other material gifts. Some have even made an art of looking extremely good but never having sex with men however much money is thrown at them. These men do have women in their sexual lives and ensure that these are not aware of their "double" life.

I'll just recount two personal experiences (one positive and negative one): - I had applied for an executive position in a large company (40 branches in Africa). They were very much interested in my profile and the contract was already signed. However a local tabloid published of the 100 most prominent gay members in the country and my name was on this list. Two days after the paper was published, I got a call from my new employer stating that my contract would be cancelled. I asked for an explanation and was told that they didn't want to be associated with someone who might have illegal behaviours.

Luckily enough, I had not yet resigned from my previous job and am still working there. To top it all, the tension in my current office is quite high and most men don't really talk to me; fearing I might give them the "homosexuality" virus. - I also do some side jobs to supplement my income and I get most of my jobs as my clients believe that a homosexual has a got a more sensible side and can compliment their requirements better than any other being…

In the beginning of the year (2007), Victor Juliet Mukasa (a lesbian transgender) was attacked in her house by a police raid claiming that she had lesbian pornographic material. During the raid, she was sexually molested by the police officers who took upon themselves to remind Victor of his "real" gender and the roles of a woman. She then decided to take the officers to court and have this matter made known public. Ever since, the topic of "homosexuality" is often put on the carpet and on various occasions, religious groups have expressed their disgust at the practise of homosexuality.

These religious groups just like the LGBT associations get most of their funding from western countries and mainly the US However society is intricately homophobic by nature because homosexuality does not celebrate Man and his powers on society as heterosexuality does. For instance, in a heterosexual couple, roles are imposed e.g. the woman is to give birth, take care of the kids and the house however independent and educated she might be. As per the African society roles and models, homosexuality does not in any way favour the Man's position in a relationship.

Often heterosexual ask homosexuals: "Who is the woman in the couple?" and to top it all, some homosexuals view this as an important role distribution where one goes to look for the money and the other stays home to take care of the domestic affairs; needless to say that the sexual roles are also a determining factors here.

Interestingly, no one has ever been charged in East-Africa and prosecuted for being homosexuals. Some of the crimes made against the homosexuals are mostly non-violent but as we all know it's the crimes against the psyche that hurt the most…

East-Africa has a long way to go before homosexuality will be accepted and for that to be done, one has to ensure that the cultural aspect is taken care of. It's the popular belief that homosexuality is a disease from the West and something that can be cultivated. Often one hears people talking about how they recruit homosexuals. I am sure that none of you have been recruited to suck cock. You are what you are! To a certain extent, some cultivated people believe that mature homosexual men walk around in nappies because they cannot hold their stool since they overuse their anuses. It is such myths that actually prevent homosexuality from being accepted by society…

Lastly, due to the enormous funding from the "staunch" Christian American movement, a lot of people quote the Bible as a reference against homosexual practices, however the Bible contains 42 verses against homosexuality and more than 280 against heterosexual fornication. So if one is to read the Bible carefully, it is just better to be gay according to religion, right?


J.


 

User report from Tanzania (28-03-2008)

Although homosexuality is illegal in East-Africa, homosexuals do meet through various media. We do not congregate in one venue but mostly in peoples' private homes. The network is quite active and although we are a minority we tend to be divided for silly issues e.g. formation of GLBT associations however in the case of death or positive event in the community, the unity of the gay community is very present. However kindly note that like anywhere in the world, the gay and lesbian communities only come together for specific topics.


Geographical position of Tanzania (Source: Wikipedia)


Another notable fact is the hustler situation. One can find very nice boys who do have sex with men on the condition that these are taken out in expensive bars/clubs, given money or any other material gifts. Some have even made an art of looking extremely good but never having sex with men however much money is thrown at them. These men do have women in their sexual lives and ensure that these are not aware of their "double" life.

I'll just recount two personal experiences (one positive and negative one): - I had applied for an executive position in a large company (40 branches in Africa). They were very much interested in my profile and the contract was already signed. However a local tabloid published of the 100 most prominent gay members in the country and my name was on this list. Two days after the paper was published, I got a call from my new employer stating that my contract would be cancelled. I asked for an explanation and was told that they didn't want to be associated with someone who might have illegal behaviours.

Luckily enough, I had not yet resigned from my previous job and am still working there. To top it all, the tension in my current office is quite high and most men don't really talk to me; fearing I might give them the "homosexuality" virus. - I also do some side jobs to supplement my income and I get most of my jobs as my clients believe that a homosexual has a got a more sensible side and can compliment their requirements better than any other being…

In the beginning of the year (2007), Victor Juliet Mukasa (a lesbian transgender) was attacked in her house by a police raid claiming that she had lesbian pornographic material. During the raid, she was sexually molested by the police officers who took upon themselves to remind Victor of his "real" gender and the roles of a woman. She then decided to take the officers to court and have this matter made known public. Ever since, the topic of "homosexuality" is often put on the carpet and on various occasions, religious groups have expressed their disgust at the practise of homosexuality.

These religious groups just like the LGBT associations get most of their funding from western countries and mainly the US However society is intricately homophobic by nature because homosexuality does not celebrate Man and his powers on society as heterosexuality does. For instance, in a heterosexual couple, roles are imposed e.g. the woman is to give birth, take care of the kids and the house however independent and educated she might be. As per the African society roles and models, homosexuality does not in any way favour the Man's position in a relationship.

Often heterosexual ask homosexuals: "Who is the woman in the couple?" and to top it all, some homosexuals view this as an important role distribution where one goes to look for the money and the other stays home to take care of the domestic affairs; needless to say that the sexual roles are also a determining factors here.

Interestingly, no one has ever been charged in East-Africa and prosecuted for being homosexuals. Some of the crimes made against the homosexuals are mostly non-violent but as we all know it's the crimes against the psyche that hurt the most…

East-Africa has a long way to go before homosexuality will be accepted and for that to be done, one has to ensure that the cultural aspect is taken care of. It's the popular belief that homosexuality is a disease from the West and something that can be cultivated. Often one hears people talking about how they recruit homosexuals. I am sure that none of you have been recruited to suck cock. You are what you are! To a certain extent, some cultivated people believe that mature homosexual men walk around in nappies because they cannot hold their stool since they overuse their anuses. It is such myths that actually prevent homosexuality from being accepted by society…

Lastly, due to the enormous funding from the "staunch" Christian American movement, a lot of people quote the Bible as a reference against homosexual practices, however the Bible contains 42 verses against homosexuality and more than 280 against heterosexual fornication. So if one is to read the Bible carefully, it is just better to be gay according to religion, right?


J.


 

How much does it cost to advertise?

Advertising on PlanetRomeo is sold in blocks of 1,000 impressions.

In general
Total cost = number of impressions ÷ 1,000 x CPM

Examples
100,000 impressions at 6 EUR CPM
100,000 ÷ 1000 x 6 = 100 x 6 = 600 EUR

To calculate how many impressions you would get for 900 EUR at 6 EUR CPM
900 ÷ 6 x 1000 = 150.000 impressions.


 

What kind of advertisements does PlanetRomeo offer?

PlanetRomeo offers display advertisements (banners) with rates calculated on the basis of CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Banners (also called "Creatives”) are images (JPG,GIF, PNG or Flash) often animated to maximize impact.


 

Despite what you might think, we all work really hard here at PlanetRomeo – whether it’s developing new features, answering your questions as quickly as we can, or telling off naughty users. So once in a while Mother tells us that it’s time to have some fun and let our hair down.

So for Amsterdam Gay Pride in 2008 she planned something special for us: the first PlanetRomeo boat in the famous canal parade. (In case you didn’t know, in Amsterdam Gay Pride takes place on the water!)

Mother surprised us all by making her first public appearance. As always she made sure that we behaved ourselves, but she joined in the fun as well, wicked old thing that she is. We even caught her knocking back a few beers when she thought no one was looking!

In addition to our own team, friends and business partners also joined in, so that all in all there were around 50 people on the boat. The whole occasion was generously co-sponsored by our data hosts Reasonnet & Co-locate.

We all had a lot of fun and we are looking forward to repeating that next year ;-)




First of all, the boats all gather together.



Then it’s off to the canals and 4 hours of partying!



Take a bow! You’re worth it!



And Mother came too!



Our new working clothes – compulsory from now on ;)



Mother’s bad, but sexy stepdaughter from her first marriage.



It starts with just one beer …



… and ends in sexual harassment!



Well, what can we say? ;-)



Thank you darlings, and see you again next year!


 

Iran (28 Feb. 2008)
I was born in September 1980, in Iran. As a teenager growing up in Shiraz, I was lonely and filled with self-loathing. I had never met another queer, and I thought I was a freak. I prayed to become a good person, a normal person. Other people fasted for one month, but I fasted for three. Then I found the internet. And I discovered that I was not alone.


 

After that, I started to understand who I am and come to terms with my sexual identity. I began to do advocacy work for the queer community in Iran, but my work earned me the attention of the Iranian authorities and I was forced to flee Iran on Mar 4, 2005 It was 12:45 pm. I have never forgotten that time. I had to leave all my own things in my motherland and go into exile. It was intolerable.

My train took me to Turkey, where I was able to register as a refugee at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ankara. I had stopped praying by then. When I fled to Turkey, I promised my God that I would continue my support for Iranian queers and that would be my form of worship.

Three months after arriving in Turkey, my case was accepted, and two months later I was invited to Canadian Embassy in Ankara. Eight months later, here I am in Canada. Homophobia runs deep into Iranian society. This, of course, partly reflects the influence of the conservative Islamic legal and religious standards promoted by the government. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini notoriously called for homosexuals to be extirpated as "parasites and corruptors of the nation" who "spread the stain of wickedness."

 

It also reflects a patriarchal social system in which sexuality is controlled and feared, except when at the service of reproduction. Before I fled to Turkey, three of my closest friends committed suicide because of their sexual orientation. More recently, Iranian police arrested two gay men in their 20s for hosting a small house party. The men received 80 lashes each; I doubt that I would be able to endure one. I admire their courage. After getting his punishment, one of the men asked the person who executed this inhuman sentence whether he felt closer to God by this savagery.

Their lives, like many if not all the other LGBTs in Iran, is miserable.

"Since childhood I could not find any attraction to the opposite sex; yes of course I am a homosexual," says Farsad, 26. At 21, in order to meet other people like himself, he set up a successful blog. The secret police found his address through his IP and arrested him. He spent three weeks in solitary confinement, and then he was accused of obscenity, advocating decadent values and homosexuality.

Last winter, Farsad met Farnam in a gay chat room. After corresponding they moved in together to start life as a couple, in disguise but together. They invited a small group of their friends to celebrate this union. Just 15 minutes after the party began, the police broke into their house and arrested everyone. They were brutally beaten, says Farsad, and then transported to a police detention centre. They spent the entire Persian New Year holidays in a prison cell. "We were beaten to the point that my spine hurt permanently; I still feel the pain caused by the fists pounding my face," Farsad says.

Within the Middle East, Iran is distinguished by the overt severity of the penalties it imposes on consensual, adult homosexual conduct. "Sodomy" or lavat (consummated sexual activity between males, whether penetrative or not) is punishable by execution, regardless of whether the partner is passive or active.

Article 111 of the Islamic Penal Code states that, "Lavat is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will." According to Articles 121 and 122 of the Penal Code, Tafkhiz (the rubbing together of thighs or buttocks, or other forms of non-penetrative "foreplay" between men) is punishable by one hundred lashes for each partner. Recidivism is punishable by death on the fourth conviction.

Article 123 of the Penal Code further provides that, "if two men who are not related by blood lie naked under the same cover without any necessity," each will receive 99 lashes. Iranian lesbians are not allowed to have an existence in Iran either. Many are forced by society and/or family to live a lie and marry a man. Women convicted of lesbian sex face flogging or, after conviction for a fourth time, the death penalty.

Each time they are arrested, they are raped, whipped and tortured to death. If they are raped by strangers or acquaintances, they and their family members are often reluctant to file a formal complaint because being raped is itself a matter of shame and disgrace.

According to Iran's Penal Code, which is consistent with Islamic law, an accused person can be convicted of sodomy if he reiterates a confession to the act four times. The practice of torture is prevalent in Iran, and the practice of torturing prisoners to extract confessions is common. Forced confessions are openly accepted as evidence in criminal trials. The death penalty for lavat is not merely a paper punishment in Iran: it is enforced.

Trials on morals charges in Iran are held in camera, and international outrage over the frequency of executions has led the government to exercise tight controls over press reporting of the death penalty. For these reasons, confirming the frequency of executions for lavat is effectively impossible.

On Nov 13, 2005 the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the government publicly hung two men, Mokhtar, 24, and Ali, 25, in Gorgan. The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." On Mar 15, 2005 the newspaper Etemad reported two men were sentenced to death, after the wife of one of the men discovered a videotape of the two engaging in homosexual acts.

In November 2005 an 18-year-old boy was set on fire by his father in Rasht. Outraged and saddened with the news of his son's homosexuality, the father first poured gasoline on his son and then on himself in order to save his family's honour. The boy died from severe burns. The father survived with burns on his hands and face.

Other queer Iranians managed to flee, as I did, and tell their own stories. On Nov 14, 2006, however, Iran's state-run news agency, IRNA, reported that Shahab Darvishs, was executed in Kermanshah. According to Justice Department, he was found guilty of the despicable act of sodomy.

 

Taraneh is an Iranian lesbian refugee who now lives in Europe. She was 21 years old when she was arrested for the first time. She spent 27 months in prison and received 280 lashes of the whip. She says she was severely tortured there, and was forced to confess to her lesbianism. She spent several days in solitary confinement while bleeding and lacking access to sanitary and medical accessories.

Sayeh is one of the many Iranian transgenders who have experienced such governmental acts of arrest and torture first hand. She was arrested several times by police forces and experienced humiliation and abuse at their hands. Police forces pushed her into a black car, bombarded her with demoralizing and dehumanizing words and took her to a detention centre.

Above are just a few examples to show how in Iran, the state, society and family are often united in creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and danger for Iranian queers. I have many more stories I could tell, but my point is this: Iranian queers do exist in Iran. President Ahmadinejad's statement that "we don't have homosexuals like in your country" is simply not true.

There are many gay and lesbian people in Iran, and they need your support. Right now.


Arsham Parsi
Executive director of the Iranian Queer Organization
(IRQO) based in Toronto.
Check out www.irqr.net
IRanian Queer Organization – IRQO
Formerly Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization – PGLO
tel: 001-416-548-4171


 

Iran (28 Feb. 2008)
I was born in September 1980, in Iran. As a teenager growing up in Shiraz, I was lonely and filled with self-loathing. I had never met another queer, and I thought I was a freak. I prayed to become a good person, a normal person. Other people fasted for one month, but I fasted for three. Then I found the internet. And I discovered that I was not alone.


 

After that, I started to understand who I am and come to terms with my sexual identity. I began to do advocacy work for the queer community in Iran, but my work earned me the attention of the Iranian authorities and I was forced to flee Iran on Mar 4, 2005 It was 12:45 pm. I have never forgotten that time. I had to leave all my own things in my motherland and go into exile. It was intolerable.

My train took me to Turkey, where I was able to register as a refugee at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ankara. I had stopped praying by then. When I fled to Turkey, I promised my God that I would continue my support for Iranian queers and that would be my form of worship.

Three months after arriving in Turkey, my case was accepted, and two months later I was invited to Canadian Embassy in Ankara. Eight months later, here I am in Canada. Homophobia runs deep into Iranian society. This, of course, partly reflects the influence of the conservative Islamic legal and religious standards promoted by the government. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini notoriously called for homosexuals to be extirpated as "parasites and corruptors of the nation" who "spread the stain of wickedness."

 

It also reflects a patriarchal social system in which sexuality is controlled and feared, except when at the service of reproduction. Before I fled to Turkey, three of my closest friends committed suicide because of their sexual orientation. More recently, Iranian police arrested two gay men in their 20s for hosting a small house party. The men received 80 lashes each; I doubt that I would be able to endure one. I admire their courage. After getting his punishment, one of the men asked the person who executed this inhuman sentence whether he felt closer to God by this savagery.

Their lives, like many if not all the other LGBTs in Iran, is miserable.

"Since childhood I could not find any attraction to the opposite sex; yes of course I am a homosexual," says Farsad, 26. At 21, in order to meet other people like himself, he set up a successful blog. The secret police found his address through his IP and arrested him. He spent three weeks in solitary confinement, and then he was accused of obscenity, advocating decadent values and homosexuality.

Last winter, Farsad met Farnam in a gay chat room. After corresponding they moved in together to start life as a couple, in disguise but together. They invited a small group of their friends to celebrate this union. Just 15 minutes after the party began, the police broke into their house and arrested everyone. They were brutally beaten, says Farsad, and then transported to a police detention centre. They spent the entire Persian New Year holidays in a prison cell. "We were beaten to the point that my spine hurt permanently; I still feel the pain caused by the fists pounding my face," Farsad says.

Within the Middle East, Iran is distinguished by the overt severity of the penalties it imposes on consensual, adult homosexual conduct. "Sodomy" or lavat (consummated sexual activity between males, whether penetrative or not) is punishable by execution, regardless of whether the partner is passive or active.

Article 111 of the Islamic Penal Code states that, "Lavat is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will." According to Articles 121 and 122 of the Penal Code, Tafkhiz (the rubbing together of thighs or buttocks, or other forms of non-penetrative "foreplay" between men) is punishable by one hundred lashes for each partner. Recidivism is punishable by death on the fourth conviction.

Article 123 of the Penal Code further provides that, "if two men who are not related by blood lie naked under the same cover without any necessity," each will receive 99 lashes. Iranian lesbians are not allowed to have an existence in Iran either. Many are forced by society and/or family to live a lie and marry a man. Women convicted of lesbian sex face flogging or, after conviction for a fourth time, the death penalty.

Each time they are arrested, they are raped, whipped and tortured to death. If they are raped by strangers or acquaintances, they and their family members are often reluctant to file a formal complaint because being raped is itself a matter of shame and disgrace.

According to Iran's Penal Code, which is consistent with Islamic law, an accused person can be convicted of sodomy if he reiterates a confession to the act four times. The practice of torture is prevalent in Iran, and the practice of torturing prisoners to extract confessions is common. Forced confessions are openly accepted as evidence in criminal trials. The death penalty for lavat is not merely a paper punishment in Iran: it is enforced.

Trials on morals charges in Iran are held in camera, and international outrage over the frequency of executions has led the government to exercise tight controls over press reporting of the death penalty. For these reasons, confirming the frequency of executions for lavat is effectively impossible.

On Nov 13, 2005 the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the government publicly hung two men, Mokhtar, 24, and Ali, 25, in Gorgan. The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." On Mar 15, 2005 the newspaper Etemad reported two men were sentenced to death, after the wife of one of the men discovered a videotape of the two engaging in homosexual acts.

In November 2005 an 18-year-old boy was set on fire by his father in Rasht. Outraged and saddened with the news of his son's homosexuality, the father first poured gasoline on his son and then on himself in order to save his family's honour. The boy died from severe burns. The father survived with burns on his hands and face.

Other queer Iranians managed to flee, as I did, and tell their own stories. On Nov 14, 2006, however, Iran's state-run news agency, IRNA, reported that Shahab Darvishs, was executed in Kermanshah. According to Justice Department, he was found guilty of the despicable act of sodomy.

 

Taraneh is an Iranian lesbian refugee who now lives in Europe. She was 21 years old when she was arrested for the first time. She spent 27 months in prison and received 280 lashes of the whip. She says she was severely tortured there, and was forced to confess to her lesbianism. She spent several days in solitary confinement while bleeding and lacking access to sanitary and medical accessories.

Sayeh is one of the many Iranian transgenders who have experienced such governmental acts of arrest and torture first hand. She was arrested several times by police forces and experienced humiliation and abuse at their hands. Police forces pushed her into a black car, bombarded her with demoralizing and dehumanizing words and took her to a detention centre.

Above are just a few examples to show how in Iran, the state, society and family are often united in creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and danger for Iranian queers. I have many more stories I could tell, but my point is this: Iranian queers do exist in Iran. President Ahmadinejad's statement that "we don't have homosexuals like in your country" is simply not true.

There are many gay and lesbian people in Iran, and they need your support. Right now.


Arsham Parsi
Executive director of the Iranian Queer Organization
(IRQO) based in Toronto.
Check out www.irqr.net
IRanian Queer Organization – IRQO
Formerly Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization – PGLO
tel: 001-416-548-4171


 

Please visit our new sales page for more information about our advertising opportunities and rates.


 

Do you offer advertisements based on cost-per-click (CPC)?

No. We only offer display advertisements based on CPM (cost per thousand impressions).


 

Where will my ad appear?

Your ad will be shown on planetromeo.com and gayromeo.com. There are two advertisement spots:

 

  1. On top of Search Results pages.
  2. On top of the Logout page.

 

Search Results pages include the results a user sees after searching for profiles in the “Detailed User Search”. They also include the following pages “My Visitors”, “Users Online”, “Travelers”, “New Users” and “Saved Searches”.


 

What kind of banners can I use?

On Search Results pages you can advertise with a 626x100 pixel banner (width = 626, height = 100 pixels) or with a “full banner” (width = 468, height = 60 pixels).

On the Log-out page you can advertise with a “leaderboard” banner (width = 728, height = 90 pixels).

Banners can be JPG, GIF, PNG or Flash formats. Maximum file size is 50kB.


 

How can I pay?

Payment is always in advance. You can pay by bank transfer into our bank account in The Netherlands. Sorry, no cheques/checks!


 

What are Creatives?

We call banner files "Creatives". We allow JPG, GIF, PNG or Flash Creatives. Maximum file size is 50kB.


 

What are Impressions?

Impressions (in the context of online advertising) are the number of times an ad is displayed, whether or not it is clicked on. Each time your ad is shown, it is counted as one impression. Advertising at PlanetRomeo is sold in blocks of impressions. For example, if you buy 1 million impressions, it means that your ad will be shown 1 million times on our website, spread evenly over the period of your campaign.


 

What is CPM?

Our advertisement rates are calculated per 1000 impressions (CPM / Cost-Per-Mille).
For example: 6 EUR CPM means that it will cost 6 EUR to show your ad 1000 times.


 


PlanetRomeo Foundation aims to support the needs of the LGBT community. The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are central to this aim. The Foundation supports activities in the spheres of education, culture, health, emancipation and sport. Other projects which seek to mobilize and activate the community may also qualify for support.



PlanetRomeo Foundation was founded in 2009 by PlanetRomeo BV, the operator of PlanetRomeo.com. The Foundation was established to professionalize and expand PlanetRomeo’s charitable work, and to make it more international.


 

VISION AND MISSION

Vision

PlanetRomeo Foundation envisions a world without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity; a world in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have the same rights and opportunities as heterosexuals; a world which values and respects differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Mission
PlanetRomeo Foundation aims to support:

 


While not initiating projects itself, the Foundation aims to support activities in the above contexts. Most supported activities and projects will be focused on effecting societal change to improve the position of LGBT people.


 

STRATEGY

The rights of LGBT people are central to the work of the Foundation. It supports projects in the spheres of education, culture, health, emancipation and sport. Projects which aim to mobilize and activate the LGBT community may also qualify for support, as could activities with which the LGBT community demonstrates solidarity.

In its funding policy PlanetRomeo Foundation strives to find a balance between accessibility (supporting small community based projects) and quality control (justifiable spending). Supporting small scale initiatives based within the community is a priority. Precedence will be given to projects which do not have access to mainstream sources of funding.

In exceptional cases the Foundation may deviate from these guidelines.

PlanetRomeo Foundation is cautious about funding requests from organizations that have primarily political, ideological or religious aims, as well as commercial organizations and projects where financial profit is a goal.

The Foundation will not normally grant funding requests that are primarily for running costs, fundraising costs or activities aimed solely at promoting an organization. Overhead costs are also not eligible for funding. Finally, applications from individuals for living, travel and/or study costs will not be granted.


 

MANAGEMENT BOARD & BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Management Board
The Management Board takes care of the Foundation’s ongoing activities, like raising funds, granting funding requests and management of the Foundation’s resources. In addition, the Board is responsible for the policies of the Foundation and for reporting on its work. The Management Board reports to the Board of Trustees. The Management Board consists of three members:

Janneke Harting, Chairperson
University lecturer in the department of Social Health at the Academic Medical Centre University in Amsterdam.

Björn van Roozendaal, Secretary
International Advocacy Officer at LGBT organization COC Netherlands in Amsterdam.

Herman Bijkerk, Treasurer
One of the managing directors of PlanetRomeo BV in Amsterdam.

The Management Board is supported by Marc van Zijp, Coordinator.

Board of Trustees
In accordance with Dutch law, and in keeping with the serious aims of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees has a supervisory role. As such, the Board of Trustees has final responsibility for the decisions and work of the Foundation and its Management Board. The Board of Trustees consists of three members:

Michèl Tromp, Chairperson
Communication and Web-Advisor at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam.

Roy van den Munckhof, Secretary
Legal Expert at MCA Legal in Amsterdam.

The position of Treasurer is currently vacant.


 

Right from the start PlanetRomeo has been a platform for the gay and bisexual male and transgender community. We are a place for dating, sex, making and meeting friends, sharing ideas and offering mutual support. Life should be a rich experience, and we want our community to reflect that.

We started local, just a network of friends in Berlin. We grew quickly, never expecting to become the global community we are today. We recognise that success brings new responsibilities. We take those responsibilities very seriously and we like to think that’s one of the things that makes us different.

ABOUT US


We’re gay-owned and operated! Just about everyone working at PlanetRomeo is either gay, bisexual or transgender. Ok, so there are a few who don’t fit those categories (naturally as an employer we don’t discriminate) – let’s just say everyone is “gay-minded”.

We are what you make us.
Essentially PlanetRomeo is just a platform. It’s you and other users who populate our space and make things happen. Users are also at the very core of key functional areas like picture classification and supporting other users. We never forget that it’s users who make our Planet go round.

We believe in freedom of expression.
We also believe that the freedom to communicate should not be based on the ability to pay. For that reason we are committed to keeping the most important features of PlanetRomeo free of charge for everyone, without the annoying limits that some other communities impose on free users. How can we afford to do this? It’s simple. We don’t spend all our money on expensive advertising campaigns. We prefer to invest as much as possible in improving our service, and we trust that satisfied users will spread the word.

We use PlanetRomeo ourselves.
We’ve all got our own personal PlanetRomeo profiles – so we have first-hand experience of how things work – the good and the bad. We’re always trying to make things better!

TOLERANCE & RESPECT


Tolerance, respect, openness, freedom of expression…. These are not just empty words. Without them a community like ours could not survive. We want our community to be open to as many people as possible. This includes people of all nationalities, religions, and political persuasions – from left to right, black to white, top to bottom – and everything in between. Sexually we’re very broad-minded too!

We do our best to respect diversity and we expect our users to do their best too. Naturally there are limits. No one under 18 is allowed. Racism, discriminatory insults and cruelty to people or animals are absolutely forbidden. We also don’t allow our platform to be used for religious or political extremism because that would conflict with the fundamental principles of our community.

In general we don’t see it as our job to tell people how to behave, what to do or what not to do. We are all adults here and we should all take responsibility for our own actions. But we will step in and take firm action when necessary. Check our Terms of Use for more detailed information.

HEALTH

A healthy community is a strong community and the first step to good health is good information. The health needs of men who have sex with men are not always adequately met, so we have partnered with leading specialist health advice organizations in various countries to deliver clear information and advice on PlanetRomeo. If you’ve got any concerns or questions about your sexual health check the health information in our Info Zone or chat confidentially with a trained health professional in Health Support.

PLANETROMEO FOUNDATION - SUPPORTING THE WIDER COMMUNITY


Back in 2003 as PlanetRomeo BV started to grow and become more successful, we began to give financial support to a number of gay community projects and good causes. In 2009 we decided it was time to do more, so we established PlanetRomeo Foundation, a registered public benefit organization. This allowed us to professionalize and make PlanetRomeo’s charitable giving independent, transparent and more international. PlanetRomeo BV is now the main supporter of the Foundation.

Find out more about PlanetRomeo Foundation here.


Giving back in this way is really important to us, and we’re very aware that we are only able to do it because of loyal supporters like you.

Thank you.


 

What is frequency capping?

Frequency capping is a term in advertising that means restricting (capping) the number of times (frequency) a specific visitor is shown a particular advertisement.

With frequency capping you can specify the number of impressions that will be delivered to a single user in a specific period of time. For example, you can set a frequency cap limiting your ad to be shown a maximum of 3 times per day to the same user. It is also possible to apply multiple rules. For example, you can set a frequency cap limiting the same user to one impression per day and three impressions per week.

Frequency capping is an additional option. Without it, your ad impressions will still be spread evenly over the period of your campaign.


 

FUNDING REQUESTS

What projects qualify for funding?
To qualify for funding, projects must fall within the Mission of the PlanetRomeo Foundation. See Strategy for the most important criteria.

When to submit a funding request?
The Management Board of the Foundation meets four times a year to consider funding requests. Funding requests should be submitted at least four months prior to the start of a project, bearing in mind the following submission deadlines: January 1st; April 1st; July 1st; October 1st.

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their request within one month of the deadlines mentioned above.

The Foundation recognizes that in special circumstances a project may require more immediate support. In such cases please contact the Foundation directly by email: info@planetromeofoundation.org. Please write in English only.

How to submit a funding request?

Funding requests should be submitted in English using the Foundation’s Funding Request Form which can be requested by sending an email to info@planetromeofoundation.org. Detailed guidelines are included with the form. Please read them carefully.

Request forms should be submitted and signed by a legal representative of the organization and can be submitted in one of the following ways:

Email to: info@planetromeofoundation.org
Fax to: +31 848 674 114
Post to: Stichting The PlanetRomeo Foundation, Karspeldreef 14, 1101 CK AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands

Only forms that have been fully completed will be considered. Incomplete request forms will need to be resubmitted.


 

CONTACT

 

You can contact PlanetRomeo Foundation by email: info@planetromeofoundation.org
Please write in English only.

Funding requests should be submitted in English only, using the Funding Request Form which can be requested by sending an e-mail to: info@planetromeofoundation.org. Please see Funding requests for more information.

Address, Registration and Bank Account information

Stichting The PlanetRomeo Foundation
Karspeldreef 14, 1101 CK AMSTERDAM
The Netherlands

Chamber of Commerce, registration number: 34350443

ING Bank, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Account number: 651 8569 73
IBAN: NL12 INGB 0651 8569 73
BIC/SWIFT: INGBNL2A



 

CONTACT

 

You can contact PlanetRomeo Foundation by email: info@planetromeofoundation.org
Please write in English only.

Funding requests should be submitted in English only, using the Funding Request Form which can be requested by sending an e-mail to: info@planetromeofoundation.org. Please see Funding requests for more information.

Address, Registration and Bank Account information

Stichting The PlanetRomeo Foundation
Karspeldreef 14, 1101 CK AMSTERDAM
The Netherlands

Chamber of Commerce, registration number: 34350443

ING Bank, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Account number: 651 8569 73
IBAN: NL12 INGB 0651 8569 73
BIC/SWIFT: INGBNL2A



 

We’ve been making lots of changes here at PlanetRomeo, such as our new RADAR search and a powerful new mobile app. We’ve been working hard to provide a better experience for all our Romeos!

We’ve also been listening to you, and for some time your feedback has been that our PLUS membership needed improvement. Two points you made clear were that the PLUS package was too complex, and the value was spread across too many small benefits. We agree. Even we found it hard to explain all the benefits!

So we decided to rebuild PLUS from scratch with the goal of delivering greater value to our PLUS users who make PlanetRomeo possible, while continuing to make our platform worthwhile for free users as well. We have tried to keep the balance of free to PLUS benefits, while improving the package for both.

So what has changed?

Our most popular benefits for PLUS users are still there: XXX picture access, customizable search results, RADAR location search, and the option to turn off ads. In addition there are major new benefits like Unlimited Storage & Stealth Mode.
Overview of all PLUS benefits.

A few things are going away

“Happy Friday” just wasn’t an effective way to promote PlanetRomeo PLUS and it was quite confusing for free users to see various PLUS features come and go from one day to another.

Also, we have to abandon video downloads. This was not an easy decision, as it was a popular feature. However, PLUS users rightly complained that our films had become repetitive or didn’t suit their tastes. It's simply no longer possible for us to acquire good movie licenses in a way that makes financial sense, especially now that there are so many new sites providing porn as their core business.

As a farewell to video downloads, all of our licensed movies will soon be available for download one more time, in a special offer we are calling “Porn-o-rama!”

Rest assured, we have made these changes with your experience as users, both PLUS and Free, foremost in our minds. We want PlanetRomeo to be easier to use and to offer better value to you.

Best regards,

Your PlanetRomeo Team
Amsterdam


 

With around 120 members, Gay Swim Amsterdam (GSA) is one of the biggest gay swim clubs in the Netherlands.

 



The GSA water polo team was formed in time for the 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam, and it was during the Games that they scored their first victory! Back then, they were Europe’s first gay water polo team, but not anymore. Now there are teams in London, Paris, Manchester and Copenhagen. There are about 40 active water polo players in GSA right now, and it’s not just guys either - there are women players too!

 



The team competes both in specifically gay international sport tournaments as well as in the Dutch national (KNZB) water polo competition. In 2009 the A-team won gold in Copenhagen at the Outgames/IGLA (International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics) championship, making GSA the first European team to ever win an IGLA championship!

 



Other important victories include the 1998 Gay Games (Amsterdam), the 2002 Gay Games (Sydney) and the 1998 Eurogames (Barcelona). They have also frequently gone home with gold medals from friendly tournaments with other water polo teams in Europe. Next year, the team will take part in the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne.

 



GayRomeo began sponsoring the GSA water polo team in January 2009. As a result, the team now has improved training and practice facilities and is able to give more attention to apprentice water polo players. What’s more, the entire team got fabulous new GayRomeo outfits, as well as new caps and balls!


For more information about GSA, membership, training schedules and events check: gayswimamsterdam.nl

 


 

What is language targeting?

Language targeting is an additional option. It is useful when you want your ad to be shown only to users with a specific browser language. For example to all users in Europe that have French as their default browser language. If your ad is being shown in France or Paris, it is not really necessary to add French language targeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

You must have seen her – the middle aged (we’re being kind) woman who sometimes pops up on our Startpage. Then there are those messages signed “Mother and your PlanetRomeo Team,” but who or what is Mother…..?

Mother is both our mascot and the alter-ego of the PlanetRomeo server system. She first got her name back in 2004. Back then, we had frequent server crashes and the engineers decided to give the troublesome system a name they could love. As the system has grown over the years, so has Mother’s personality. Now she stands up for gay rights, cares passionately about your freedom to communicate and isn’t afraid to take the blame when things go wrong.

Personal Information
Name: Mother (also Mutti, Mere-grand, Madre, Mama, Мамочка, etc.)
Age: Don't be rude!
Sex: Not lately, but like to see others enjoying themselves!
Weight: The average server weighs 15 kg, I’ve got more than 100. Go figure!
Politics: I try to be green, but I’m not allowed to vote.
Diet: RAM, data, sustainable energy
Status: Single Mother
Occupation: Matchmaker
Favorite Color: Blue (of course)
Likes: Honesty, integrity, XXL
Dislikes: Dishonesty, Homophobia, XXL fakers


Isn’t she pretty?

The guardian of all your secrets!
All your profile data, pictures and messages pass through Mother. She knows all about you, from your hair color to your dicksize. But don’t worry. She’s not a gossip. She takes your privacy very seriously indeed.

Take a look at our Privacy Statement for detailed information about how we look after your data.

Keeping Mother Healthy

Mother has grown a lot over the years to cope with this volume. You could say she has gained quite a lot of weight. It’s not surprising that sometimes she gets a bit out of breath. Our technicians are her medical team. They make sure she sticks to a good diet and fitness regime and they perform minor surgery and even resuscitation when needed.


The Doctor checks to see if Mother's footprint infection cleared up.

Eco-Mama
Like many women of her age Mother sometimes gets hot flashes. (It’s a menopausal thing.) For that reason we make sure she lives in air conditioned comfort all year round. It keeps her happy. On the other hand, her medics need to wrap up warm whenever they visit.

The servers and air-conditioning consume a lot of electricity. That’s why Mother, who is always thinking of others and of the environment, insisted that her data center home be powered entirely by renewable energy!

She’s green – and so are your dates!


 

Once upon a time there was a young East German lad from Berlin named Jens. He was wide-eyed and innocent and his head was full of adventure and exciting ideas. But deep down he longed to meet the man of his dreams. He had heard of a great city named London in a far off land of fairies. It was said that there, thanks to a magical thing called the “Internet” boys like him could get what they wanted, when they wanted it! (Perhaps he wasn’t so innocent after all.) So he packed his bags and off he went to seek his true love.

Gaily he set out upon his quest with only a few gold coins in his pocket. His mother had warned him to spend his coins wisely, but he soon discovered that London’s magic Internet wasn’t free. In fact it was guarded by a greedy ogre who liked nothing better than to take advantage of lonely young men. Little Jens soon realised he would have to part with his precious coins if he was to succeed. If not, he would constantly be reaching his daily limit of messages and never hooking up with any Prince Charmings! (Well, almost never.)

So he gave his gold coins to the ogre and was able to start searching in earnest. At that time, there was no “automatic prince search” and as London was such a big city, the process was quite exhausting. He kissed man after man, frog after frog, but sadly, none of them could fit in his sneakers, though many tried.

Then one morning, he ate some magic baked beans with his bacon and eggs, and got an idea. It grew and grew and got larger and longer and taller and wider until hey presto, there it was. A magic internet for men that was ogre-free. GayRomeo was about to be born and everyone would live happily ever after!

Of course this was just the beginning. Here’s what happened after Jens got his big idea.

2002 – Berlin Beginnings
When Jens returned to Berlin after his fairy tale visit to London, he got together with his friend Manuel to create GayRomeo. It wasn’t too difficult because they were able to re-use a lot of code from an Escort site they had created earlier that year called Erados. The main difference was GayRomeo was for ordinary guys and “non-commercial” contacts. It caught on very quickly. By the end of the year it already had 3000 users - mainly local guys in Berlin. In contrast to other gay dating sites, GayRomeo (now called PlanetRomeo) was free to use with no limits on sending and receiving messages. You know what? It still is.


The fairy tale cottage in London where it all began.

2003 – It’s alive!
The number of people using GayRomeo grew so quickly and dramatically it soon became clear that it could no longer be run by volunteers out of their own pockets. In autumn 2003 the “PLUS” option was introduced as a way of funding further development and daily maintenance. Feature enhancements were introduced for PLUS subscribers. At the same time we started giving financial and practical support to various charitable causes – a policy which continues to this day via PlanetRomeo Foundation.

2004 – Mother’s here!
More users meant more servers, more staff and bigger offices. In autumn 2004 the strains began to show. Our server system (now officially called “Mother”) frequently collapsed under the sheer weight of users online. The technical staff had to work 24/7 to keep things running. Social lives vanished, and whenever the staff did venture out into Berlin’s bars, clubs and dungeons they were swiftly jumped on by users eager to give their “feedback”. Through this difficult period, Mother revealed her inner strengths. She came out of it leaner and fitter and things got much better for our users from then on.

2005 - Getting professional
A limited company (PlanetRomeo GmbH) was formed to operate GayRomeo.com. A second domain was purchased (planetromeo.com). New staff joined and more servers were acquired. Things were going well until…

2006 - Exile!
The German government announced that it would introduce new measures to “protect” the nation’s youth. Any person accessing German websites with adult content would have to prove their age and identity in person at a post office or other official location! Obviously this would have made it impossible for a community like ours to continue to exist – so the momentous decision was made to move to the Netherlands - a country with a much more tolerant and pragmatic attitude to sex. A Dutch company was formed (PlanetRomeo BV) to take over operations and we’ve been located in Amsterdam ever since!


Thousands lined the canals to celebrate our arrival in Amsterdam. (Actually this was our boat in the Amsterdam Pride Canal Parade...)

2007 - Going Global

Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan melting-pot so we were really able to focus on going international. Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese versions of our website were created alongside English and German. We also started to focus more on gay rights around the world. As part of this we started giving PLUS subscriptions to users in countries where homosexuality was illegal, enabling greater security through the use of SSL encryption.


Our Spacious Amsterdam Office.

2008 – Eat, play, work, eat

We quickly outgrew our small 3 room office in Amsterdam and moved to a much larger space in glamorous ;-) Amsterdam South-East. Our international team of Translators and Support Administrators expanded further and our offices started to look and sound like the Tower of Babel! We now had 15 language versions online, but there were other benefits too. Every month we had International Cooking Day, where one of us would cook lunch for the rest of the team - Thai, Italian, Greek and endless varieties of German sausage. Yum!

2009 – A million Romeos
When we joined up with Guys4men.com a whole new network of friends joined us, taking us well over the million user mark. PlanetRomeo was starting to live up to its name. Meanwhile, back in the office, we were adopted by a new office dog - Nelly. She’s amazing. She watches us patiently while we cook, sits patiently with us at mealtimes, open doors to interrupt meetings, but she never, ever barks! She’s the least bitchiest bitch we know.


Nelly, the sneaker seeker

2010 – Mother goes mobile

This was a year for strategic planning, behind the scenes development and going mobile! Our developers, who are still based in Berlin at Erasys GmbH, delivered a beautiful mobile version, which together with the launch of our iPhone app brought us right up to date. Through the year, everyone involved with PlanetRomeo got together for some active brainstorming and workshops to think about where we’re going and what’s important to us – our mission and vision. Some very inspiring ideas came out of that. Now we’re working hard to make them reality!

2011 – To the future and beyond!
We are working on further improvements to PlanetRomeo as well as a few surprises that we hope will delight Romeos for many years to come!

To be continued….


 

MANAGEMENT BOARD & BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Management Board
The Management Board takes care of the Foundation’s ongoing activities, like raising funds, granting funding requests and management of the Foundation’s resources. In addition, the Board is responsible for the policies of the Foundation and for reporting on its work. The Management Board reports to the Board of Trustees. The Management Board consists of three members:

Janneke Harting, Chairperson
University lecturer in the department of Social Health at the Academic Medical Centre University in Amsterdam.

Björn van Roozendaal, Secretary
International Advocacy Officer at LGBT organization COC Netherlands in Amsterdam.

Herman Bijkerk, Treasurer
One of the managing directors of PlanetRomeo BV in Amsterdam.

The Management Board is supported by Marc van Zijp, Coordinator.

Board of Trustees
In accordance with Dutch law, and in keeping with the serious aims of the Foundation, the Board of Trustees has a supervisory role. As such, the Board of Trustees has final responsibility for the decisions and work of the Foundation and its Management Board. The Board of Trustees consists of three members:

Michèl Tromp, Chairperson
Communication and Web-Advisor at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam.

Karen Kraan
Self employed project manager, evaluator, fundraiser and management consultant in Amsterdam.


 

DONATE NOW!

Do you want to donate or support our activities?

Financial contributions are welcome at:

ING Bank, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Account number: 651 8569 73
IBAN: NL12 INGB 0651 8569 73
BIC/SWIFT: INGBNL2A

Stichting The PlanetRomeo Foundation
Karspeldreef 14, 1101 CK AMSTERDAM
The Netherlands

Would you like to support our activities in another way?

Contact PlanetRomeo Foundation by email: info@planetromeofoundation.org
Please write in English only.


 

STRATEGY

The rights of LGBT people are central to the work of the Foundation. It supports projects in the spheres of education, culture, health, emancipation and sport. Projects which aim to mobilize and activate the LGBT community may also qualify for support, as could activities with which the LGBT community demonstrates solidarity.

In its funding policy PlanetRomeo Foundation strives to find a balance between accessibility (supporting small community based projects) and quality control (justifiable spending). Supporting small scale initiatives based within the community is a priority. Precedence will be given to projects which do not have access to mainstream sources of funding.

In exceptional cases the Foundation may deviate from these guidelines.

PlanetRomeo Foundation is cautious about funding requests from organizations that have primarily political, ideological or religious aims, as well as commercial organizations and projects where financial profit is a goal.

The Foundation will not normally grant funding requests that are primarily for running costs, fundraising costs or activities aimed solely at promoting an organization. Overhead costs are also not eligible for funding. Finally, applications from individuals for living, travel and/or study costs will not be granted.


 

VISION AND MISSION

Vision

PlanetRomeo Foundation envisions a world without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity; a world in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have the same rights and opportunities as heterosexuals; a world which values and respects differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Mission
PlanetRomeo Foundation aims to support:

 


While not initiating projects itself, the Foundation aims to support activities in the above contexts. Most supported activities and projects will be focused on effecting societal change to improve the position of LGBT people.


 

NEW ABOUT US STRUCTURE - GAYROMEO PICTURES > BERLIN OFFICE 2006 SUBPAGE

 

[This new page will contain images/captions showing the Berlin Office in 2006 and will be linked to from the GayRomeo_Pictures CMS page]

 

 

 


 

NEW ABOUT US STRUCTURE - GAYROMEO PICTURES > AMSTERDAM OFFICE 2007 SUBPAGE

 

[This new page will contain images/captions about the move to the Amsterdam Nijenburg Office in 2007 and will be linked to from the GayRomeo_Pictures CMS page]

 

 

 


 

We have been working in our new office for half a year already, so of course its time for some new pictures. The old office was simply too small in the end, so we looked for something new – no we haven’t become fat ;o)




The beginning – we now officially hate moving!



This is what it looks like now.



High commitment is achieved by …



low priority for food…



a never-ending supply of coffee…



and radical measures.



Nothing goes by unnoticed, thanks to our new office dog.



Jumping after the thousandth faker report…



is not really a good idea.



After all we have a lovely view …


and some great colleagues to share a beer with after work :-)


 

In October 2006, the Volleyball-Diaspora Club was created on our site by two Gayromeo users. The founders of the club, Boy-Johan Quedens and Volker Schmidt, wanted to establish a Gay Volleyball Team to participate in the so-called “fun tournaments’ of the gay Volleyball league. Both guys had played Volleyball in other teams before, so they were sufficiently experienced.

Logo ZerSteut

As a result of their GayRomeo club, and with a lot of work and sweat, they successfully recruited enough people to make a team. They started playing in the 2007 Season and they had their first international tournament in December that year in Frankfurt/Main in Germany.



Because this multinational team had no formal structure or membership fees it was difficult for them to get enough money together to buy the necessary equipment for the following Season.



When they approached us for sponsorship we liked their idea and history and we agreed to give them financial support for the next season, and some great “Team Zerstreut” outfits!. That’s how the Gayromeo Volleyball Team “Zerstreut” was born. They played their first game In March 2008 in Munich.

Co-founder Boy-Johan Quedens sees the foundation of the team as an experiment and as a way of bringing together Gay men who are interested in sports activities without being dependent on having a local gay sport team in their city.



Naturally we are really happy to be a part of this project and we wish the team all the best for their future games and tournaments!

 


 

AIDSmemorial.nl has been online since November 30, 2007. The idea is based on the AIDS Memorial Quilt which consists of decorated pieces of cloth the size of a human grave to commemorate people who died of AIDS. The Quilt began in 1987 in San Francisco. Friends and relatives took up their needles and thread to inspire action in the struggle against HIV and AIDS.



The idea of the quilt has now moved to the digital world. On AIDSmemorial.nl, you can create profiles for people who died from AIDS and you can add digital data such as text, photos, videos and music. Think of personal stories, vacation photos, artistic works, political actions or prevention campaigns. Together, all these materials are their legacy to us and form a digital quilt. Please note that inclusion on AIDSmemorial.nl is limited to people that had a connection to the Netherlands.

Image: AIDS Quilt Unfolding Ceremony (Source: AIDSmemorial.nl)

 

GayRomeo is one of the two main sponsors of this project which was initiated by NAMES Project Netherlands (stichting NAMENproject Nederland) and we encourage you to visit and contribute to this living monument.


Image: The Memorial Quilt panel of Rene Smits (Source: AIDSmemorial.nl)

In addition, the editorial team of AIDSmemorial.nl is seeking volunteers to help process all the data. If you are interested in helping out, please send an email to: info@aidsmemorial.nl




Image: Volunteer workers of AIDSmemorial.nl (Source: AIDSmemorial.nl)

Mother and her team think this initiative is a valuable way to honor those people who died much too soon.


Image: Quilt panels exhibited at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam (Source: AIDSmemorial.nl)

For more information on the AIDS Quilt and other digital memorial projects around the world, you might like to check out these other sites.

Wikipedia – Aids Quilt
The Names Project Foundation, USA
Canadian Aids Memorial Quilt
La Courtepointe Commemorative Canadienne du SIDA

Project Stitch, Vancouver, Canada
Names Project, UK
Names Project, Austria
The Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt
La Manta de México
AIDS Memorial at The Body, USA
The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, USA
Key West AIDS Memorial, USA
Columbia University AIDS Memorial, New York, USA
Aktiv Gegen Das Vergessen, Germany


 

Not everything in life is so simple. The open letters published here express our opinions and attempt to clarify our position on controversial issues.

 

Fakers & Faking

Fakers are one of the things we receive most emails about. Complaints range from mild exasperation ("pity there are so many fakers here") to indignation ("when are you going to do something about it?") to sheer hate ("All fakers should be lined up against the wall and shot!"). In fact some emails reach such heights of hysteria, we are reminded of medieval witch hunts. So let's take a little time now to examine the issue in more detail.

 

Freedom vs Security
We've written this letter in response to an article that appeared in a few German gay magazines entitled "No Queens or Turks". It deals with the  issue of "Gay Nazis" in Chatrooms and on PlanetRomeo. It's a hot-topic, especially in Germany, so we're taking this opportunity to make our own position absolutely clear.

Bareback / Unsafe Sex
We've sometimes been criticized for not banning bareback profiles and Clubs. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify our position in this debate.

 

 


 

Ever wondered what your PlanetRomeo Team looks like? These galleries show us (and some of our friends) at work and at play! There are even a few pics of Mother ;-) We'll add new pics here from time to time.

 

 

Amsterdam Pride 2009 (August 2009)

The official theme of Amsterdam Gay Pride 2009 was "ExtraOrdinary" – and for all of us working at PlanetRomeo, it was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam Canal Pride 2008 (August 2008)

The first PlanetRomeo boat in Amsterdam's famous canal parade. (In case you didn’t know, Amsterdam Gay Pride takes place on the water!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Amsterdam Office (Spring 2008)

We quickly outgrew our first Amsterdam office and had to move to more spacious accommodations. No, we didn't get too fat ;o)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our First Amsterdam Office (February 2007)

Aah, memories. The comfort and chaos of our first offices in Amsterdam plus Kira - the company dog. We miss you Kira, [sniff].

 

 

 

 

 

 


Office Life in Berlin (Summer 2006)

We shot these photos in 2006 to show the tough realities of life in our Berlin offices before we moved to Amsterdam.