Global LGBT Briefs: Ukraine Assault, Apology in Australia and Farewell to Beck

Human Rights Watch calling for action after gay-rights leader beaten in Kiev, while Australian Salvation Army clarifies, and last gay Holocaust survivor dies


Leading Ukrainian Gay Activist Attacked

Taras Karasiichuk, an LGBT rights activist and head of the Kiev Pride 2012 organizing committee, was attacked on his way home from the subway June 22, according to Human Rights Watch, which is demanding action by Ukrainian authorities.

Rachel Denber, HRW’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, characterized the attack as a hate crime, noting that in Ukraine’s criminal code, Article 161 provides for prosecution of crimes that violate a ”citizen’s equality … including race, skin color, political, religious, and other convictions, sex, ethnic and social origin.”

The attack left Karasiichuk’s jaw broken in two spots, along with various cuts and bruises.

”The authorities have a duty to investigate this heinous crime and bring the attackers to justice to demonstrate zero tolerance for these kinds of attacks,” Denber said in an HRW release issued June 26. ”They should also ensure protection for Karasiichuk and other activists who are being targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

This is the second attack on Karasiichuk in recent weeks, and follows a pattern seen by HRW, Amnesty International and others of LGBT activists being targeted in Ukraine.

Gad Beck, Last Out Gay Holocaust Survivor, Dies

Gad Beck, believed to have been the last out gay Holocaust survivor, died June 24 Germany, six days short of his 89th birthday, the Jerusalem Post reported. Beck, born in Berlin to a Jewish father and a gentile mother who converted to Judaism, is famous for disguising himself in a Hitler Youth uniform to rescue his boyfriend, Manfred Lewin, from a Nazi deportation center. Lewin chose not to abandon his family, and all perished at Auschwitz.

During the war, Beck joined a youth resistance network, Chug Chaluzi.

”As the child of a mixed marriage, I was not deported to the east when other German Jews were,” Beck explained, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. ”I remained in Berlin, where I became involved in the underground, helping Jews escape to Switzerland. As a homosexual, I was able to turn to my trusted, non-Jewish, homosexual acquaintances to help supply food and hiding places.”

Beck was among those profiled in the 2000 documentary, Paragraph 175.

Salvation Army Seeks To Build A Better Relationship With LGBT Community

During an Interview with LGBT journalists for the radio show, Salt and Pepper, Maj. Andrew Craibe, Salvation Army territorial media relations director for the Southern Territory in Victoria, Australia, cited biblical Scripture as his reason for believing that gays and lesbians should be put to death, according to Truth Wins Out, a U.S. gay-advocacy organization. TWO posted a recording and transcript on its website.

Another Australian Salvation Army representative, Maj. Bruce Harmer, however, quickly apologized to the LGBT community following Craibe’s comments. The ”physical death” Craibe justified should have been cited as ”spiritual death,” Harmer said, adding that Harmer ”miscommunicated” the Salvation Army’s mission that ”promises to treat each person with dignity, respect, and nondiscrimination.”

”In Maj. Harmer’s statement, the Salvation Army promises to treat each person with dignity, respect and nondiscrimination,” Wayne Besen, TWO executive director, said in a June 23 release from his organization announcing the apology. ”But this pledge means very little unless it is accompanied by a reversal of the Salvation Army’s discriminatory, anti-gay teachings.”

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