Stressful life events appear to increase the risk of HIV infection for gay men, Canadian researchers report in the online edition of AIDS.
Men testing HIV-positive were more likely than those who tested HIV-negative to report five or more recent stressful events.
“We observed that gay and bisexual men…who reported stressful life events were at increased risk of HIV infection, and there was evidence that this effect was at least partially mediated by sexual risk behaviour”, comment the investigators.
Stress has been associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections amongst heterosexuals. However, the impact of stress on HIV risk for gay men is little understood.
Therefore, investigators from the Polaris HIV Seroconversion Study group in Ontario, Canada, undertook a retrospective case-controlled analysis to determine the impact of stress on the risk of infection with HIV.
Gay and bisexual men testing HIV-positive (123) were matched with gay and bisexual men who tested negative (240). All 363 individuals completed a questionnaire asking about their recent experience of 35 stressful life events, which were related to health, relationships, bereavements, finances and employment, and crime.
Information was also gathered on sexual risk behaviour.
The men diagnosed with HIV reported a higher median number of stressful life events than those who were HIV-negative (3 vs. 2, p = 0.002).
Stress related to health (p = 0.005); relationships (p = 0.02); because of bereavement (p = 0.01); due to finances or employment (p = 0.005); and because of crime (p = 0.02) were all reported significantly more often by men testing HIV-positive.
Experiencing a greater number of stressful events was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting unprotected receptive anal intercourse with an HIV-positive partner, or a partner of unknown HIV status. This association fell just short of statistical significance (p = 0.06).
Moreover, a higher proportion of HIV-positive men reported five or more recent stressful events (33% vs. 20%).
The investigators’ first set of statistical analyses showed that experiencing five or more stressful events significantly increased the risk of infection with HIV (odds ratio, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.3-4.7).
However, the relationship between stress and infection with HIV was weakened and was no longer significant when the investigators took into account sexual risk behaviour. The relationship was further attenuated when they took into account reported unprotected receptive sex with a partner who was HIV-positive or of unknown status.
Three possible reasons why stress could increase the risk of HIV are proposed by the investigators.
First, they suggest that stress can damage mental health. Interviews with 30 men recently infected with HIV found that they were in a poor emotional condition.
Second, they propose that stress could lead to engagement with sexual networks where there is a higher prevalence of HIV. For example, men who reported that they were stressed were more likely to say that they met sex partners at dance or sex clubs.
Finally, they posit that stress could damage the immune system. Separate research has shown that individuals who are stressed are more likely to be infected with the viruses such as the common cold.
“If stressful life events do increase HIV infection risk, this has implications for prevention”, comment the investigators.
Prevention campaigns could promote effective coping strategies, they suggest.
Furthermore, the investigators “advise clinicians informing patients of an HIV-positive test result to be aware that patients may be simultaneously under stress from other life events and to provide counselling supports as needed.”
Archive for June, 2010
Stressful life events appear to increase the risk of HIV infection for gay men, Canadian researchers report in the online edition of AIDS.
The historic Proposition 8 trial reaches its final stage Wednesday when lawyers on both sides have their last chance to influence a federal judge deciding the fate of California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has scheduled a full day of arguments, the final step before he rules on a lawsuit that argues that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. The first federal court test in the nation of a state law forbidding same-sex nuptials, it is widely expected to ultimately push the gay marriage issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In January, Walker conducted an unprecedented three-week trial in San Francisco featuring a number of experts and other witnesses who testified on the impact of the law, which California voters backed in 2008, that restored the state’s ban on gay marriage. To prepare for the upcoming arguments, Walker issued 11 pages of questions to the attorneys covering all corners of the legal debate over Proposition 8. The wide-ranging questions asked, among other things:
# Is there evidence that the voters intended to discriminate by enacting the gay marriage ban?
# Does that matter?
# Is there any legal significance to the fact marriage has through history been defined as being between a man and a woman?
# Did the evidence at trial prove that same-sex marriage would alter the institution of marriage?
# Is there anyjustification for the state to distinguish between domestic partnership rights and marriage?
“The judge has thought all the way through this,” said Marc Spindelman, an Ohio State University law professor who reviewed the questions. “There are lots of avenues for decisions being opened up here.”
Walker’s ruling, which is likely to come this summer, is expected to be just a prelude to a legal fight most believe is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whatever Walker decides, the case is expected to be appealed first to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
While the case will decide whether gays and lesbians can wed in California in the future, it will not affect the more than 18,000 same-sex couples married in the months before Proposition 8 went into effect in 2008. Those marriages remain legally intact.
During the trial, much of the evidence was presented by the plaintiffs’ high-powered legal team, led by trial lawyer David Boies and former Republican U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson. They put on a string of experts who testified on everything from the history of discrimination against gays and lesbians to the scope of gay and lesbian political clout.
The plaintiffs also presented emotional testimony from the two same-sex couples challenging Proposition 8 and from San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who testified on his political change of heart after learning his daughter is a lesbian.
Defenders of Proposition 8 put on just two witnesses. But they insist they did not need to mount much of defense because, they argue, the plaintiffs failed to prove the law is unconstitutional.
They plan to argue that Walker does not have legal justification to overturn a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution, and that there are a host of reasons to justify restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, from tradition to the need for society to encourage procreation.
Boies and Olson plan to argue that the Proposition 8 side has effectively conceded.
“This is a case we said from the beginning is a very simple case,” Boies said last week. “It’s one in which the facts are really not in dispute. And they just have a circular bumper sticker for a case.”
Andrew Pugno, the attorney for the Proposition 8 campaign, said lead attorney Charles Cooper will argue that there is no “federally protected right to same-sex marriage.”
“The record is very strong to uphold the reasonableness of the people’s vote to pass Prop. 8,” he said.
from The Mercury News
SOUTH AFRICA – Three Transkei boys have been admitted to Mthatha’s Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital with gangrenous penises following illegal circumcisions, says yhe Eastern Cape health department.
The health department’s spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the boys, from the Ngqeleni area, would receive specialist care in a bid to avoid amputation.
They were part of a group of six originally taken to Libode’s St Barnabas Hospital.
Kupelo said a 20-year-old man was arrested in the Libode area on Wednesday morning after he circumcised six other under-age youths.
Health department officials were on Wednesday afternoon preparing to rescue eight youths from an illegal circumcision school in the Ngqeleni area following information that they were ill.
Kupelo said it had emerged that a 14-year-old arrested last week for performing illegal circumcisions on his age-mates, was responsible for previous botched operations that had already resulted in nine penis amputations.
The youth, who had been released from custody, was being dealt with under the newly-implemented Child Care Act.
He is scheduled to appear before a traditional council on Thursday.
from Times Live
In a famous episode of “Seinfeld,” Jerry complains that people constantly assume he’s gay because he’s single, obsessively neat — and thin. As it turns out, at least part of that punchline may be anchored in fact.
A new study shows that gay men really are leaner than straight men. And conversely, it also found that gay women tend to be heavier than their heterosexual counterparts.
Boston researchers determined that gay women were more than twice as likely as straight women to be obese, while gay men were 50 percent less likely to be obese compared to their heterosexual counterparts, according to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health.
After scrutinizing a health survey of more than 67,000 Massachusetts residents between the ages of 18 and 64, the researchers found that 14 percent of gay men were obese versus 21 percent of straight men. The opposite was true of gay women: 26 percent were found to be obese, as compared with 17 percent of the straight women.
The researchers also found that both gay men and gay women were more likely to be current smokers compared to their heterosexual counterparts. And gay women were more likely to have multiple heart disease risk factors than straight women.
Earlier studies that looked at health in the gay community focused mostly on sexually transmitted diseases and mental health, rather than on chronic illnesses like obesity and heart disease, says the study’s lead author Kerith Conron, an associate research scientist at Northeastern University and a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. “This may mean that we in the public health community need to come up with more tailored messages to reach these groups, just as car dealers do when they want to reach a specific target audience,” she said.
Conron suspects that cultural differences might at least partly explain the weight divide. It may be more acceptable in the lesbian community for women to be full-sized, she said.
That explanation makes sense to Esther Rothblum, a professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. “People in sexual relationships with men — heterosexual women and gay men — get more pressure to look thin and to otherwise conform to attractiveness norms than do people in sexual relationships with women — lesbians and heterosexual men,” Rothblum said.
The best evidence for that comes from an older study of bisexual women, Rothblum adds. When the bisexual women were asked to describe their experiences with women and men, the differences were dramatic: they often reported that they got more pressure to be thin when they were with men.
Other researchers have found further evidence of this male effect while studying personal ads and dating sites like Match.com, Rothblum explains. “Men will say they are looking for a partner who is not above 35 years old and not above 135 pounds,” she said. “Women don’t typically do that. They say they are looking for someone with good sense of humor, intelligence, and creativity, or someone who is not an alcoholic.”
A nearly 25-year study concluded that children raised in lesbian households were psychologically well-adjusted and had fewer behavioral problems than their peers.
The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, followed 78 lesbian couples who conceived through sperm donations and assessed their children’s well-being through a series of questionnaires and interviews.
Funding for the research came from several lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy groups, such as the Gill Foundation and the Lesbian Health Fund from the Gay Lesbian Medical Association.
Dr. Nanette Gartrell, the author of the study, wrote that the “funding sources played no role in the design or conduct of the study.”
“My personal investment is in doing reputable research,” said Gartrell. “This is a straightforward statistical analysis. It will stand and it has withstood very rigorous peer review by the people who make the decision whether or not to publish it.”
Gay parenting remains a controversial issue, with debates about topics including the children’s psychological adjustment, their parents’ sexual orientation and adoption restrictions.
Wendy Wright, president of the Concerned Women for America, a group that supports biblical values, questioned the legitimacy of the findings from a study funded by gay advocacy groups.
“That proves the prejudice and bias of the study,” she said. “This study was clearly designed to come out with one outcome — to attempt to sway people that children are not detrimentally affected in a homosexual household.”
Gartrell started the study in 1986. She recruited subjects through announcements in bookstores, lesbian events and newspapers throughout metro Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California, and Washington.
The mothers were interviewed during pregnancy or the insemination process, and additionally when the children were 2, 5, 10 and 17 years old. Those children are now 18 to 23 years old.
They were interviewed four times as they matured and also completed an online questionnaire at age 17, focusing on their psychological adjustment, peer and family relationships and academic progress.
To assess their well-being, Gartrell used the Child Behavior Checklist, a commonly used standard to measure children’s behavioral and social problems, such as anxiety, depression, aggressive behavior and social competence.
The answers were coded into a computer and then analyzed. This data was compared with data from children of nonlesbian families.
The results surprised Gartrell.
“I would have anticipated the kids would be doing as well as the normative sample,” she said. “I didn’t expect better.”
Children from lesbian families rated higher in social, academic and total competence. They also showed lower rates in social, rule-breaking, aggressive problem behavior.
The involvement of mothers may be a contributing factor, in addition to the fact that the pregnancies were planned, Gartrell said.
The children “didn’t arrive by accident,” she said. “The mothers were older… they were waiting for an opportunity to have children and age brings maturity and better parenting.”
This also could have occurred because “growing up in households with less power assertion and more parental involvement has been shown to be associated with healthier psychological adjustment,” Gartrell wrote in the study.
Some of the teenagers reported being stigmatized by peers because of their parents’ sexuality. Researchers compared the figures in terms of the psychological adjustment between children who had experienced stigma versus those who did not.
“We found no differences,” Gartrell said. “That leads us to asking why and how are young people managing discrimination? That will be the topic of future papers. We’ll look into what the ingredients are to allow them to cope despite adversity.”
Gartrell studied only lesbian families, because circumstances surrounding gay male families are different. Gay men becoming fathers is newer in comparison with lesbians, because their options have been limited to adoption or surrogacy. Lesbians often conceive through donor insemination.
“This study shows that the 17-year-old adolescents who have been reared by lesbian families are psychologically happy and high functioning,” said Gartrell, a Williams distinguished scholar at the UCLA School of Law. Restrictions of child custody and reproductive technologies based on sexual orientation are not justified, she said.
Wright questioned the objectivity of Gartrell’s research, saying the author can “cherry pick people who are involved and the info they release.”
“In essence, this study claims to purport that children do better when raised by lesbians,” she said.
Studies have shown that children thrive having both a mother and a father, Wright said.
“You have to be a little suspicious of any study that says children being raised by same-sex couples do better or have superior outcomes to children raised with a mother and father,” she said. “It just defies common sense and reality.”
NEW YORK – Kylie Minouge stunned revellers at a gay club in New York on Friday night (04Jun10) when she debuted tracks from her upcoming album more than a month before its release.
The Aussie superstar made a surprise appearance at the Big Apple’s Splash nightclub and shocked fans by taking to the stage.
The 41-year-old gay icon whipped the crowd into a frenzy, performing with semi-naked male dancers and singing her new single All the Lovers and the title track of her upcoming album, Aphrodite, which hits stores next month (Jul10).
During the gig, she told the audience, “Thank you so much. It means so much to me that you are here and the support (sic) you’ve given me for such a long time – I love you!”
from Contact Music
LISBON, PORTUGAL – Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, both divorced mothers in their 30s who have been together since 2003, married at a Lisbon registry office.
The couple – who had campaigned for a change to the law – described it as a “great victory, a dream come true”.
The Socialist government had faced fierce opposition to the law in what is a mainly Catholic country.
But a petition against the change failed to gain enough support for a referendum.
The bill was passed by parliament in January and ratified by President Anibal Cavaco Silva in May – making Portugal the sixth European country to recognise same-sex marriages.
from The BBC
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PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY – Americans’ support for the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations crossed the symbolic 50% threshold in 2010. At the same time, the percentage calling these relations “morally wrong” dropped to 43%, the lowest in Gallup’s decade-long trend.
Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted each May, documents a gradual increase in public acceptance of gay relations since about 2006. However, the change is seen almost exclusively among men, and particularly men younger than 50.
Additionally, Gallup finds greater movement toward acceptance among independents and Democrats than among Republicans, and a big jump in acceptance among moderates. Liberals were already widely accepting of gay relations in 2006, and have remained that way, while conservatives’ acceptance continues to run low.
Notably, there has been a 16-point jump in acceptance among Catholics, nearly three times the increase seen among Protestants. Acceptance among Americans with no religious identity has expanded as well.
The same May 3-6 Gallup poll finds the slight majority of Americans still against legalizing gay marriage; however, at 53%, the extent of that opposition is down slightly this year.
Acceptance for the legality of gay and lesbian relations has varied over the past decade, but, at 58% today, it is near the highest Gallup has measured (60% in 2003).
Americans remain closely divided over the factors contributing to being gay. Currently, 37% say being gay is due to upbringing and environment while 36% say it is a trait one is born with.
The division on this question has been the norm for most of the past decade, although the plurality response has fluctuated. Longer term, however, there has been a major change in Americans’ views on this question, with far fewer today than in the 1970s and 1980s believing that being gay or lesbian is the result of upbringing and other life experiences.
There is a gradual cultural shift under way in Americans’ views toward gay individuals and gay rights. While public attitudes haven’t moved consistently in gays’ and lesbians’ favor every year, the general trend is clearly in that direction. This year, the shift is apparent in a record-high level of the public seeing gay and lesbian relations as morally acceptable. Meanwhile, support for legalizing gay marriage, and for the legality of gay and lesbian relations more generally, is near record highs.
HAVERHILL, MASSACHUSETTS – Tim Coco and Genesio Oliveira married in 2005, among the throngs who wed after same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. But for nearly three years, they lived apart — Coco in Haverhill and Oliveira in his native Brazil — because federal law does not recognize their union.
On Wednesday, Oliveira returned to Massachusetts for an emotional reunion after federal immigration officials took the rare step of granting him permission to stay for one year on humanitarian grounds, clearing the way for him to try again for legal residency. His return followed personal appeals by Senator John F. Kerry, US Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on their behalf.
“We’re overjoyed. Words can’t express it,’’ Coco, 49, an ad agency owner, said yesterday from their home in Haverhill, where he had decorated his yard with yellow ribbons to mark their long separation. “Every new moment now is a fresh new moment in our life.’’
Kerry called the couple heroes for persevering in their marriage.
“Here were two people who loved each other and were as committed to each other as you could ever imagine, and a quirk in the law was being allowed to keep them apart. I just wanted to do everything I could to reunite them,’’ he said in a statement.
Kerry also praised Napolitano and Holder, saying, “They really listened, and they righted this wrong.’’ Unlike heterosexuals, gays and lesbians cannot sponsor their immigrant spouses for legal US residency.
Oliveira was allowed to return because US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, granted him humanitarian parole. Parole is a rarely used mechanism that permits otherwise inadmissible people to enter the United States for “urgent humanitarian reasons’’ or “significant public benefit,’’ said agency spokesman Chris Bentley. About 250 to 350 people are granted such parole every year, he said.
He declined to comment on Oliveira’s case because of privacy laws. Holder’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Humanitarian parole is temporary, but Coco said the couple might seek to reopen Oliveira’s case or try another venue so that he can remain permanently.
According to the 2000 US Census, some 35,000 same-sex couples include one US citizen and a partner who is not.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, criticized the move, saying it seemed unfair to grant a special exception for Oliveira when so many others, such as earthquake survivors in Haiti, are clamoring to get into the country.
“It’s a side-door attempt at changing the Defense of Marriage Act,’’ he said, citing a 1996 federal law declaring that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. “That’s the problem with our immigration laws; it’s just this vast collection of exceptions for people who get the attention of a particular bureaucrat or judge or politician.’’
But Kerry and others contended that Oliveira was a victim of injustice. He had applied for asylum in 2002, saying a doctor had raped him in Brazil when he was 16 and he suffered discrimination in his native country because he is gay. An immigration judge found his story credible but rejected his asylum claim, noting that Oliveira had returned to Brazil twice without incident, including for his father’s funeral.
Oliveira was ordered to return to Brazil in 2007. By then, he had been married two years and living in Haverhill with Coco and their dog, Q-tip.
For nearly three years, the couple talked nightly over the Internet and lobbied lawmakers and others for Oliveira’s return. Coco estimates they spent about $250,000 in legal fees and other expenses on the case.
Oliveira missed the death of Coco’s mother in 2008 and lived in near seclusion just blocks from the doctor who had assaulted him as a teen in his hometown in eastern Brazil.
Though Brazil recognizes same-sex marriage for immigration purposes, violence against gays persists. More than 100 homosexuals and transvestites were killed last year in Brazil, according to the US Department of State’s human rights report.
Wednesday night, the couple celebrated with family and friends. They finished each other’s sentences. Oliveira whipped up a batch of chicken Alfredo, with strawberries for dessert.
“It seems like I never left,’’ Oliveira said. “This has made Tim and I stronger than ever. Our commitment for each other, I always say to him, is unbreakable.’’
from The Boston Globe
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Obama extended Wednesday a wider range of benefits to the same-sex partners of eligible federal workers, including access to medical treatment, relocation assistance, credit unions and fitness centers.
The move goes beyond a memo Obama signed last June, which permitted same-sex partners to use the government’s long-term-care insurance and other fringe benefits. The Office of Personnel Management said Tuesday that same-sex partners will become eligible for such insurance next month.
Obama also ordered federal agencies last year to identify other benefits that could be offered to same-sex partners. A review by the Office of Personnel Management and Justice Department determined that at least some agencies could also permit credit union and gym memberships and access to counseling services, adoption counseling, and agency events or outings.
A limited number of intelligence and financial regulatory agencies, Obama’s memo said, will be able to provide reimbursements for health-insurance premiums, dental and vision insurance, business travel accident insurance and tax reimbursements for gym memberships, physical exams and homeowners’ insurance.
These benefits do not cover uniformed members of the military. Last week, the House voted to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which bans gays and lesbians from openly serving in uniform, and the Senate is scheduled to vote on a repeal in the coming weeks. If a repeal is included in the final version of the annual defense spending bill, the Pentagon would take steps next year to address the treatment of gay and lesbian service members.
Though Obama has extended a greater number of benefits to gay federal workers than any of his predecessors, he is prevented by federal law from providing full benefits to same-sex partners. To that end, he reiterated support for House and Senate legislation that would grant all federal benefits to same-sex partners.
from The Washington Post
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard said Wednesday that he will launch a new church from his Colorado Springs home, 3 1/2 years after he resigned from his ministry amid an embarrassing and devastating sex scandal.
“This is my resurrection day,” he declared.
Haggard said his new venture would not be a megachurch like New Life Church, the congregation he founded in 1985 and then left in 2006 after a male prostitute said Haggard paid him for sex.
Haggard said he doesn’t know how many people will attend his new church, but he said the ordeal he and his wife, Gayle, went through has prepared them to help others.
“I have an incredible heart for broken people,” he said. “I think we’re qualified to hold people’s hands” in times of trouble.
Haggard made his announcement outside his home, a two-story, brick-fronted structure with a large barn, a swimming pool and white-fenced corrals on Colorado Springs’ north side, not far from New Life Church. Wearing an open-neck shirt and jeans, Haggard sounded both optimistic and chastened, calling himself a repentant sinner and a broken man who believes he can still help others.
“When the crash came in my personal life, it was so incredibly embarrassing and heartbreaking,” he said. “It broke me. And I’m still broken, some.”
Haggard said a television documentary on the birth of his new church was a possibility but nothing was certain.
At his new church, Haggard said he will teach that God intended marriage to be a monogamous union of a man and a woman. But he said heterosexual marriage was just one ideal in a long list of things God wants people to do, including pray, be healthy and stay monogamous.
He also said the biblical ideals are sometimes hard to live up to.
“Earth is not heaven. And here on Earth, sexuality is very complex and very confusing,” he said.
“There is a complex process people have to go through between their personal beliefs and their own ideals that they themselves fail at, and I am a glaring example of that,” he said.
In an interview with The Associated Press after his announcement, Haggard said he was in counseling from the time of his 2006 downfall until recently, dealing with both his sexual identity and the feelings of shame and embarrassment that followed the scandal.
Without offering any specifics on the allegations against him, Haggard said his counselors told him he is heterosexual but that his behavior was influenced by a childhood incident when he molested by an adult male.
Haggard said he takes responsibility for his actions as an adult and does not mean to use the molestation as an excuse. He also said he did not want to imply that homosexuality was caused by childhood trauma.
“I don’t know what goes on with the homosexual and what makes a homosexual a homosexual. I don’t know dynamics there and I don’t judge it,” he said.
He said counseling helped him reduce the emotional impact of the childhood encounter.
“I remember all of that. I just don’t have compulsive thoughts or actions because of it,” he said.
Haggard told the AP that after his downfall, he doesn’t feel qualified or entitled to return to the ministry, but that he feels compelled to do so by love for others. He cited conversations he had this week with a woman fighting drugs and with an unmarried couple expecting their second child.
“I’m certainly not going to say no to people (who need help) because of my personal shame. I’ve got to overcome my personal shame and be willing to help somebody that knocks on our door,” he said.
Haggard said the new church won’t compete with others in Colorado Springs, noting that many people in the city of 375,000 don’t attend any church.
from The Associated Press
Ted Haggard Is Cured From Gay Urges!
SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. District Court has awarded Titan Media more than $1.35 million in damages from a tube-site operator whose users infringed the gay adult studio’s intellectual property rights.
In addition, Judge Maxine M. Chesney issued a permanent injunction barring Antelope Media LLC and its owners, representatives and subsidiaries from making any further infringing use of Titan’s property to line their own pockets with advertising revenues and membership fees.
In order to give Titan an opportunity to collect on the summary judgment—rendered in default after the defendants failed to respond to Titan’s lawsuit—Chesney also permanently enjoined Antelope and its associates from transferring domain names and proceeds from domain operations until the judgment has been satisfied in full.
“This ruling clearly shows that the financial and monetary benefits of advertising, affiliate program commissions, and charging membership fee for access quashes the tube sites’ defense as an internet service provider,” Titan Vice President Keith Webb said. “Once you profit directly from the infringement, you become liable for the infringement itself.
“Without income streams adult tube sites cannot survive,” he added. “With income streams they become liable for the content they are profiting from. Doesn’t sound like a very good position to be in these days.”
Titan filed the copyright-infringement suit last year and served German citizens Thorsten Palicki and Maik Herrmann with court documents in August while the men were on U.S. soil at the Internext trade show in Hollywood, Fla. According to General Counsel Gill Sperlein, Titan filed the original lawsuit in August 2008 and had been chasing Palicki and Herrmann through an evolving web of shell companies until it caught up with them at Internext.
The amended complaint with which Palicki and Herrmann were served is the third to be submitted to the court and the first to name the two men as respondents. Previously, as soon as Titan served the corporate entities listed as the owners of MonsterCockTube, the corporations dissolved and ownership of the website was transferred to another business entity in a new country, Sperlein told AVN. In every case, the new corporation was owned or controlled at least in part by Palicki and Herrmann.
When the suit originally was filed, MonsterCockTube was owned by Antelope Media LLC of Arizona. Antelope dissolved nine days after being served, and MonsterCockTube was transferred to a British company, Sunrise Media Ltd., which disappeared when ownership was transferred to the current domain registrant, Newhaven, located in The Netherlands.
In her ruling, the judge called Antelope’s infringement “particularly egregious.”
“First, defendants gained commercial advantage by using plaintiff’s copyrighted works, specifically, by displaying plaintiff’s works on defendants’ websites, for which they charge their customers, including California residents, a monthly access fee, and on which they earn revenue by selling advertising space, and by enrolling in ‘affiliate programs through which [d]efendants receive payments for directing individuals to other websites,” Chesney wrote.
“Second, defendants, within a week of learning of the instant lawsuit, transferred ownership of their websites to fictitious names, in an apparent attempt to evade service and hinder plaintiff’s ability to locate and identify the infringing parties,” she continued. “Third, defendants have continued their infringing activities after being notified of the instant action. Fourth, defendants engaged in various technological steps to block plaintiff from gaining access to defendants’ websites, in an apparent attempt to prohibit plaintiff from learning the full extent of the infringing conduct.”
Perhaps most offensive to the judge was the defendants’ repeated attempts to hide their assets. Even though Herrmann and Palicki are foreign nationals, their first company was registered and based in Arizona. Not until MonsterCockTube.com ran afoul of American intellectual property law did Herrmann and Palicki intentionally bankrupt the company by transferring its assets to shells in European nations. That, noted Chesney, was a clear-cut violation of California’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.
“Given that defendants fraudulently transferred ownership of the domain names from a domestic company, which could have been readily located, to companies and individuals residing outside the United States, it is readily apparent defendants were attempting to preclude or at least make it considerably more difficult for plaintiff to locate any party against whom a judgment could be executed,” Chesney wrote. “Under such circumstances, and given that plaintiff apparently is aware of the current location of the entities who presently own the domain names, the Court finds it appropriate to prohibit defendants from further transferring ownership of the domain names, or the proceeds thereof, and the record discloses no equitable reason why plaintiff should not be granted [injunctive] relief.”
The lawsuit may turn out to be the least of the German men’s woes. Reportedly well-known and liked within the gay adult industry, Palicki and Herrmann also own and operate the AlphaMaleCash affiliate program. Prior to service of the lawsuit, the connection between AlphaMaleCash and MonsterCockTube was not common knowledge. Subsequently, several large affiliate programs cut their ties to AlphaMaleCash.
Neither Herrmann, Palicki, nor any other representative from AlphaMaleCash or MonsterCockTube has responded to GAYVN’s repeated requests for comment.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga had been given 14-year jail terms for “gross indecency and unnatural acts” after celebrating their engagement.
They were pardoned during a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
But a government minister told the BBC the men could be re-arrested if they continued their relationship.
The case sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country.
Monjeza, 26, and Chimbalanga, 20, were released from prison on Saturday evening, hours after Mr Mutharika announced their pardon.
Gift Trapence, director of the campaign group Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep) which had been supporting the couple, said they had been taken separately to their home villages.
“The prison authorities told them they had been given instruction from above that they should take them to their respective homes,” he told the AFP news agency.
Mr Trapence said they had been “warmly welcomed by their respective relatives” when they arrived home.
But Patricia Kaliati, Malawi’s Minister of Gender and Children, said Monjeza and Chimbalanga’s release did not mean they could continue their relationship.
“It doesn’t mean that now they are free people, they can keep doing whatever you keep doing,” she said.
Ms Kaliati said they could be rearrested if they “continue doing that”.
The men’s lawyer said they were unlikely to be treated in the same way if they were arrested again.
“The pardon only applies to the offence under which they were convicted. If, for example, they go back and the state is of the view that they have recommited the offence, the pardon will not apply,” said Mauya Msuku.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga were arrested in December last year, a day after they celebrated their engagement and had been in custody ever since.
They were convicted of engaging in gay sex under a law dating back to colonial rule by Britain and sentenced to 14 years with hard labour.
Judge Nyakwawa Usiwa-Usiwa said their actions went “against the order of nature”.
But on Saturday, Mr Mutharika said he was pardoning the pair on humanitarian grounds.
“In all aspects of reasoning, in all aspects of human understanding, these two gay boys were wrong – totally wrong,” he said.
“However, now that they have been sentenced, I as the president of this country have the powers to pronounce on them and therefore, I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released.”
His comments came after a meeting with UN chief Mr Ban, who praised the decision as courageous.
But Ms Kaliati insisted that the president had not bowed to international pressure in releasing the men.
She said Malawi would not now reconsider its laws against homosexuality.
“We have our own rules and laws which we are following, and our own constitution. Our constitution is not the same as your constitution,” she said in her BBC interview.
Many of Britain’s former colonies have similar laws outlawing homosexuality – India overturned it last year.
In Uganda, MPs are debating whether to strengthen the laws to include the death penalty for some gay people – a move which has infuriated Western governments and human rights campaigners.
from The BBC