Friday, December 24, 2010

WikiLeaks & Gays: Sarkozy Lobbied Putin;
Complaints Against Mariela Castro

At the end of October I blogged about Duncan Osborne's reporting for Gay City News about cables in a WikiLeaks document dump shed light on how the U.S. knew about the torture and murder of gay men in Iraq in 2005, but little was done to confront the situation.

In November, reports surfaced about another gay angle in the WikiLeaks cache, this time about a gay politician in the United Kingdom, Alan Duncan, the shadow pensions minister for the Conservative Party and a Member of Parliament. A dossier was compiled on him by the U.S. embassy in London earlier this year, in case the Conservatives came to power, the U.S. wanted to know if he'd play a key role should the party form a government.

Since last month, there doesn't seem to be any other gay-related stories appeared connected to the millions of U.S. Department of State cables, so I searched WikiLeaks this week for additional gay content and found these items.

I believe the most significant find is this cable from our embassy in Paris, dated June 7, 2007. This is the first I've read about the French leader broaching gay rights in Russia with that country's president:

In their meeting, Sarkozy had raised with Putin human rights concerns, including the situation in Chechnya, the violent repression of a recent gay rights parade in Moscow, and the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya. Putin reacted by attacking human rights (prison conditions) in France.

Also from Paris, but in May of 2007, was this minor notation about another French politician:

Social conservative Christine Boutin has been named Minister for Housing and Cities. [...] Boutin rose to  national prominence for her opposition to the 1999 legislation which provided a range for civil union, tax benefit, inheritance and surviving partner rights to gay and lesbian couples. After losing that battle, Boutin ran for the presidency 2002, obtaining just over 1 percent of the first round vote.

The U.S. embassy in Berlin sent a cable in September 2009 to the State Department containing general information on a leading out-of-the-closet politician:

[German Foreign Minister Guido] Westerwelle is openly gay. He has said that this was not a problem at home since he was raised to be self-confident and his family was very liberal. In addition, Bonn, where Westerwelle went to university was a liberal town. Westerwelle officially came out rather quietly in the political world in 2005 at Merkel's 50th birthday party when he brought his partner, Michael Mronz, a sports manager, to the party. Mronz is currently a steering board member of the 2009 Berlin World Track and Field World Championships.

Ironically, Westerwelle is conservative on gay rights. He is keen to protect the special status of marriages and families under German law. He opposes adoption by same sex couples but says that he wishes he could have children.

Our embassy in Madrid saw fit to make passing reference to a gay matter in a May 2008 cable about a rising political figure:

Fernandez Bermejo will manage and attempt to inject change into a judicial system in which some "conservative" judges have not been supportive of GOS-sponsored initiatives, including homosexual marriage and autonomous community statutes.

Related to Spanish politics, but from our Vatican City embassy, was a July 2006 cable about the Pope's visit to the country:

While making his points on the relevant "family" issues clear, Benedict himself was keen to accent the positive during the conference. When asked by reporters about the legalization of gay marriage in Spain, the pontiff said he preferred to encourage heterosexual families, while at the same time offering help and respect to homosexuals. Monsignor Paolo Gualtieri (protect throughout), Vatican MFA Country Director for Spain, told us Benedict wanted to avoid direct criticism of the Spanish government.

In June of 2009 the U.S. embassy in Lisbon relayed a cable including small details about a leftist party in Portugal:

On social issues like abortion, divorce, and gay marriage, PS [Socialist Party] policies are in line with European norms, but alienate the country's socially conservative Catholics, a key voting bloc.

From the U.S. embassy in New Dehli was a very detailed February 2010 cable about advances for the gay community across India. This is the most extensive gay-content cable that I could find, and I'm pleased it's regarding a number of positive steps for local gays, and it's related to love and Valentine's Day:

February 14 marked the first time some couples were able to paint the town pink in India. On July 2, the Delhi High Court overturned some provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era law that outlawed same gender sex between two consenting adults. The GOI allowed the historic ruling to stand after deciding not to appeal it. Over six months later, Archie’s, India’s largest greeting card company, gave the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community another cause for celebration by selling cards targeted for the community in 500 stores across New Delhi and major Indian cities to celebrate Valentine’s Day. 

Archie’s spokesman Yohan Arya told the Times of India that the company had been considering making available several LGBT cards for some time. They decided the time was right after the July 2 high court judgment. “The court judgment ...clearly said that it’s legal to be gay... so we felt this was the right time to add these cards,” Arya added. (It is not yet known how well these new cards sold.) New Delhi also embraced the LGBT community by focusing on them as customers for Valentine’s Day celebrations. A Peaceful Valentine.

The U.S. special interests section in Havana transmitted a June 2007 cable addressing a few gay concerns, and their larger context in Cuba:

THE BATTLE FOR PRIVATE SPACE: Besides the parts of the cultural community who challenge the status quo, and those who are working towards racial integration, there are other not officially sanctioned groups trying to address social issues. They don't view their work as related to the political opposition. These include advocates for homosexual rights and those trying to work on women's issues. The homosexual advocates, while welcoming statements against prejudice by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro who heads the Center for Sexual Education, are upset that she says nothing about employment discrimination and police harassment.

Finally, from Brasilia our embassy made reference to gay rights and Brazil's foreign policies in a January 2010 cable:

With both sides unwilling to promote distinctive alternatives to prevailing economic policy in a pre-election environment, Brazil's two principal rival parties - President Lula's Worker's Party (PT) and front-running presidential candidate Jose Serra's Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) - are increasingly eager to air their differences on foreign policy.
The PSDB and PPS also have exhibited strong socially liberal streaks in their foreign policy statements, frequently criticizing Iran and other authoritarian governments for their positions on gay rights, abortion, and other issues that the PT is reluctant to address even domestically. 

If there are other gay references in other WikiLeaks cables, please let me know as I want to track as much of the gay content in the documents as possible.

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