Archive for November, 2008
MEPs have welcomed the decision of Cyprus interior minister to grant resident status to an gay Iranian asylum seeker.
Labour’s Michael Cashman, Lib Dem Baroness Ludford, Tory John Bowis and Greens Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas were among 13 MEPs who put their name to a parliamentary question to the European Commission on the issue.
They wanted to know if the refusal of asylum to Abbas Bagherian by Cyprus on the grounds of sexual orientation was a breach of EU directives.
After Cypriot MEP Panayiotis Demetriou raised the case in discussions with the interior minister, Mr Bagherian was granted residency.
“I strongly welcome the decision to allow Mr Bagherian to remain in Cyprus,” said Baroness Ludford, Liberal Democrat justice and human rights spokeswoman and an MEP for London.
“A rejection of his application and his return to Iran would have left him vulnerable to imprisonment, torture and in the worst case the death penalty, simply for being gay.
“I hope that we are starting to see a general move in EU countries to recognise the validity of asylum claims based on the risk of persecution due to sexual orientation.
“There should be a consistent EU policy, because such fears may be absolutely justified regarding a country like Iran.”
The treatment of lesbian and gay Iranians in the UK became a subject of controversy earlier this year when a campaign by The Independent newspaper, MPs, MEPs, gay rights groups and members of the House of Lords led Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to grant asylum to a young Iranian man.
Mehdi Kazemi, 20, left Iran in 2004 to travel to England on a student visa and continue his education.
Two years later while still in the UK he learned that Iranian authorities had arrested his boyfriend Parham, who had been forced to name Mr Kazemi as someone with whom he had had a relationship.
Mr Kazemi’s father then received a visit from the Tehran police, with an arrest warrant for his son.
In late April 2006, Medhi’s uncle told him Parham had been put to death.
Mr Kazemi’s request for asylum was turned down by the United Kingdom.
After fearing for his life he fled to Netherlands and sought asylum there. The Dutch authorities returned him to the UK.
He was finally granted asylum but there are other gay people facing deportation back to Iran.
Since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, human rights groups claim that between 3,000 and 4,000 people have been executed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.
(New York, November 24, 2008) – In an unexpected move, the National Assembly of Burundi passed a law on Friday November 21, 2008, making same-sex acts punishable by between 3 months and two years in prison, along with a substantial fine. The following day, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Association pour le Respect et les Droits des Homosexuels (ARDHO) issued strongly worded letters to the entire membership of Burundi’s Senate, asking them to vote against the legislation, which would criminalize homosexuality for the first time in the history of the country. The Senate may vote on the bill as early as tomorrow and if it passes Burundian President Nkurunziza will likely sign it into law.
IGLHRC and ARDHO also wrote to President Nkurunziza, asking him to veto the legislation should it be presented to him for his signature. Both groups encourage others to contact Burundian authorities to protest the measure.
“Imprisoning people simply because of who they love offends every principle of human rights practice, which is to ensure dignity and respect for all people,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director. “This is less about sexuality and more about the visibility of a growing community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Africa refusing to be treated as dirt. These laws are meant to silence and terrorize our community and must be stopped.”
Burundi—a small country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west—has been locked in an ethnically-based conflict for much of its post-independence history. A negotiated peace settlement, brokered with the assistance of a number of African states, has led to the installation of a multi-party government. The last few years have seen a certain level of reconstruction in the country, increased stability and the emergence of a nascent civil society.
The government of Burundi’s latest move comes in the context of considerable hostility to homosexuality in the region; two-thirds of African nations maintain criminal penalties for consensual same-sex behavior. In recent years several countries, including Nigeria and Uganda, have threatened to strengthen laws against homosexuality. New criminal codes in Zimbabwe broaden the definition of sodomy to include “any act that involves physical contact… that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act.” Several nations, including Burundi, have enacted legislation criminalizing same-sex marriage, though little or no advocacy to promote such marriages has taken place. These laws appear to be emerging in response to an increasingly visible, outspoken, and organized sexual rights movement.
The United Nations has condemned laws that criminalize homosexuality as being violations of the rights to privacy and equality and has called upon member states that maintain such laws to review them. Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights have condemned physical attacks on and the imprisonment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
International and local human rights defenders have expressed grave concern not only about the nature of the current legislation in Burundi, but also about the way in which it has been promulgated. “The government has moved this bill quickly and unjustly through the legislative process,” said a representative of ARDHO. “The whole process has happened over the course of a weekend, with no input from civil society or general discussion about the issue of homosexuality and freedom of expression within Burundi.”
If the current legislation passes, it is likely that the country’s HIV prevention efforts will suffer. Burundi has made commendable efforts to fight HIV and AIDS during the last decade. But IGLHRC’s 2007 report on HIV and AIDS in Africa, Off the Map, demonstrates how laws that criminalize homosexuality drive communities underground, making men who have sex with men less able to access HIV-related prevention information. UNAIDS, the Global Fund and other key international institutions concur.
An action alert related to this issue will be posted on IGLHRC’s website on November 25, 2008. For an update on the status of the legislation in Burundi, or to take action, visit: www.iglhrc.org.
Iranian homosexual threatened with deportation to Iran – Urgent need for action
Mr Abbas Bagherian Noveiri, citizen of Iran, came to Cyprus and applied for asylum in June 2004 and for the last three years he has been living with his Cypriot partner. Mr Bagherian had an initial interview at the Asylum Service in July 2005. At the interview, He was not able to reveal that the genuine cause of his persecution in Iran was his sexual orientation, because he was afraid that this information would have been leaked to the Iranian authorities and in case of a rejection of his application for international protection, he would face, upon his forced return to Iran, imprisonment, torture, even death sentence.
Mr. Abbas Bagherian informed the Asylum Service of the above and in April 2007 he had another interview at the Asylum Service. During his interview, Mr Bagherian informed the Asylum Service that he was a homosexual and that he was arrested and detained at the age of 15 by the authorities of Iran because of his homosexual relations. In addition, Mr Bagherian informed the Asylum Service that he had been arrested four or five times by the authorities of Iran, during which he had been detained and beaten up.
Mr Bagherian also informed the Asylum Service that he was afraid that in case he returned to Iran, the Iranian regime would arrest, torture and execute him. Despite this, on April 2007 the Asylum Service decided to again reject his application for asylum.
In May 2007, Mr Bagherian filed an appeal at the Refugee Reviewing Authority against the decision of the Asylum Service. In October 2008 the Refugee Reviewing Authority rejected his appeal.
At present, Mr Bagherian is considered to reside in Cyprus “illegally”. As a result, he was arrested and now held in detention with detention and deportation orders issued by the Migration Officer and could be either detained indefinitely (according to national law) or deported to Iran any time.
Unfortunately, in Cyprus there are no judicatory procedures for the examination of the substance of the decisions of the Refugee Reviewing Authority. If Mr Bagherian files an appeal at the Supreme Court of Cyprus against the decision of the Refugee Reviewing Authority, the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to examine only the procedures used by the Refugee Reviewing Authority for the examination of his application for asylum.
In light of the above, we believe that both the Asylum Service and the Refugee Reviewing Authority have unjustifiably rejected Mr Bagherian’s application for asylum.
Moreover, we believe that Mr Bagherian’s case raises serious concern about the fairness and effectiveness of the asylum procedures in Cyprus.
With this letter we urge you to send a letter to the Minister of Interior and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (see below their contact details) expressing your solidarity to Mr Bagherian and requesting his immediate release.
- – – – – – Form Letter – – – – -
7 November 2008
To: Minister of Interior, Mr Neoklis Sylikiotis,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Marcos Kyprianou
Subject: Iranian homosexual threatened with deportation to Iran
Mr Abbas Bagherian Noveiri, citizen of Iran, came to Cyprus and applied for asylum in June 2004 and in July 2005 had an initial interview at the Asylum Service. At the first place, because of his fear, he didn’t draw the attention to the Asylum Service about his homosexuality but in April 2007, informed the Asylum Service that he was a homosexual and that he was arrested and detained at the age of 15 by the authorities of Iran because of his homosexual relations. The authorities also arrested and detained him four or five times beaten him cruelly. Despite this, on April 2007 the Asylum Service decided to again reject his application for asylum. In May 2007, he filed an appeal at the Refugee Reviewing Authority against the decision of the Asylum Service. In October 2008 the Refugee Reviewing Authority rejected his appeal. As a result, he was arrested and now held in detention with detention and deportation orders issued by the Migration Officer and could be either detained indefinitely (according to national law) or deported to Iran any time.
Dear Minister, we’re urging you to re-examine this case under the spirit of the respect of human rights and we’re asking you his immediate release and to grand this person the fully state of asylum.
– – – – – – – End of Form Letter – – – – – -
Minister of Interior
Mr Neoklis Sylikiotis
Dimostheni Severi ave
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr Marcos Kyprianou
Presidential Palace ave,
Vatican’s anti-gay witch-hunt continues
The Pope’s plan for psychological tests to purge gay men from the priesthood is a new low.
By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
The Vatican has announced the “psychological screening” of all new applicants for the priesthood, in a bid to weed out men who are deemed to be psychologically flawed. It has taken this initiative following the widespread sexual abuse of children by its clerics.
In a diversionary tactic to deflect attention from the child sex abuse scandal, one of the main aims of these psychological tests is to weed out gay men, not paedophiles.
The Vatican identifies homosexuality as a deep-seated personality disorder and psychological flaw; condemning same-sex acts as “grave sins,” “objectively disordered”, “intrinsically immoral” and “contrary to natural law.” Even men who have a gay orientation but abstain totally from sex are condemned by the Pope as possessing a “tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil.”
Accordingly, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education has issued a new document, Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood.
It proposes psychological tests to root out men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” from seminaries.
Estimates of the number of gay men in Catholic seminaries and the priesthood typically range from 25 percent to 50 percent, according to a review of research in the US by the Rev. Donald Cozzens, author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood. A similar proportion of priests is thought to be gay in the UK and Europe, including a number of bishops and cardinals.
The new Vatican document states that seminary candidates should undergo psychological evaluations whenever there is a suspicion of personality disturbances or doubts about their ability to live a celibate life, such as any manifestation of masculine weakness or a homosexual orientation.
When assessing a candidate’s ability to be celibate, the Vatican document insists that “it is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity” but that it is also necessary “to evaluate his sexual orientation”.
It advises that would-be priests must have “a positive and stable sense of their own masculine identity.”
Surely all this makes Pope Benedict himself a prime candidate for psychological testing and exclusion? After all, he wears a dress, loads of jewellery, Prada shoes and has a penchant for high church, high camp ritual and theatrics. While I don’t want to indulge in stereotypes, Benedict is not exactly macho. In fact, he’s quite effeminate. He is also surrounded exclusively by men, has an unusually young and handsome male private secretary and has no known close friendships with women.
He would not be the first gay Pope. There have been several others, most scandalously
Pope Julius III (1487 to 1555), who was more a pederast than a homosexual. He took a 13 year old boy as his
lover and made him a cardinal at the age of 17, showering him with such wealth that he became one of the richest men in Europe.
Anyway, I digress.
Commenting on the new Vatican document, Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, advises:
“The candidate does not necessarily have to practice homosexuality. He can even be without sin. But if he has this deeply seated tendency, he cannot be admitted to priestly ministry precisely because of the nature of the priesthood, in which a spiritual paternity is carried out. Here we are not talking about whether he commits sins, but whether this deeply rooted tendency remains…It’s not simply a question of observing celibacy as such. In this case, it would be (required for him to have) a heterosexual tendency, a normal tendency.”
This indicates a serious hardening of Vatican homophobia. It reverses the previous Catholic stance that only same sex acts are wrong, not the homosexual condition itself.
Cardinal Grocholewski elaborated:
“In a certain sense, when we ask why Christ reserved the priesthood to men, we speak of this spiritual paternity, and maintain that homosexuality is a type of deviation, a type of irregularity, as explained in two documents of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith….Therefore it (same-sex love) is a type of wound in the exercise of the priesthood, in forming relations with others. And precisely for this reason we say that something isn’t right in the psyche of such a man. We don’t simply talk about the ability to abstain from these kinds of relations.”
The Vatican is recommending that the people who do the testing should have “solid human and spiritual maturity”, and a “Christian concept of the human person, sexuality, the priestly vocation and celibacy”. In other words, conformity to homophobic Catholic doctrine takes precedence over professional qualifications.
It is now revealed that the Catholic Church in England and Wales has jumped the gun. They have already introduced psychological tests for candidate priests.
Who conducts these tests? What are their qualifications? Have the tests been vetted and approved by a professional psychological authority? What is their scientific validity and reliability? Do they operate within a professional code of conduct? Is there sufficient protection for vulnerable applicants exposed to these procedures? Even if candidates consent to being tested, is that sufficient? These are questions the Catholic Church has not answered.
The Vatican’s new policy aimed at excluding gay men from the priesthood is bigoted and hypocritical. It will encourage dishonesty, fuel homophobia and lead to Vatican sex spies snooping on trainee priests.
If these rules had existed in the past, many existing archbishops and cardinals would have never been allowed to enter the priesthood. Given the high proportion of gay clergy in senior positions in the Vatican, this new policy is rank hypocrisy.
Instead of paving the way for witch-hunts and purges of gay seminarians, the Pope should concentrate on rooting out child sex abusers. Sadly, the fundamentalists in the Vatican have often chosen to protect paedophile priests, while hounding gay clergy.
PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND:
Donations are requested to help Peter Tatchell’s campaigns promoting human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid and receives no grants. He depends on donations from friends and supporters. To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go to Donations at: www.tatchellrightsfund.org
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Note: This page was taken from
The Remembering our Dead Web Project and The Transgender Day of Remembrance are owned by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, All Rights Reserved
Another transgender friend was murdered in Ankara
November 15, 2008
Press Release by KAOS GL (released on November 11, 2008)
As we were getting ready for the “November 20th, Remembrance Day for Transgender victims of hate murders” we were devastated by a news we received. On November 10, 2008, around 9:00 PM in Etlik, a district of Ankara, our friend Dilek was attacked with a pump action shotgun. She passed away at the Ankara Diskapi Education and Research Hospital at around 12:30 AM on November 11, 2008.
According to an eye-witness; while they were in the car with Dilek in the Etlik-Iskitler district, they were startled by a shot and the sound of a shattered window coming from the back of the car. A few minutes later, another fire was opened from the side of the car aiming Dilek’s head, who was sitting in the driver’s seat. When she was taken to a hospital where she was taken into intensive care. Eight shots were found in her head. This verifies that the assault might have been done with a shotgun. It was told that the assaulters ran away with a dark colored car and they were more than 2 people.
Dilek was one of the transsexuals who had filed complaints against the attackers in the Eryaman incidents. During the trial, she had also sat at the witness chair and testified against the assaulters. The suspects of the Eryaman incidents were released during the hearing on October 17, 2008.
Condolences to all of us.
Written by Baris Sulu, translated into English by Sedef Cakmak
A Nepali MP has said his “eyes were filled with tears” when he read the full written decision of the country’s Supreme Court on a writ petition from four organisations representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people.
A summary decision was issued in December 2007, when the court issued directive orders to the Nepal government to ensure the right to life according to their own identities and introduce laws providing equal rights to LGBTIs and amend all the discriminatory laws.
The final judgement was issued today.
It reiterates that all LGBTIs are defined as a “natural person” and their physical growth as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, expression are all part of natural growing process. Thus equal rights, identity and expression must be ensured regardless of their sex at birth.
The writ petition was filed by Blue Diamond Society and other 3 LGBTI organisations in Nepal demanding the protection and defence of the equal rights of sexual and gender minorities.
“Reading this decision my eyes were filled with tears and I felt we are the most proud LGBTI citizens of Nepal in the world,” said Sunit Pant, Nepal’s only gay MP.
“A legal note of point has been raised for the new constitution of Nepal while ensuring the equal rights to individuals, like the bill of tights from South Africa, and non-discrimination provisions on the grounds of sexual orientations and gender identities must be introduced.”
The Court has also issued a directive order to form a seven-member committee, with a doctor appointed by Health Ministry, one representative from National Human rights commission, the Law Ministry, one socialist appointed by government of Nepal, a representative from the Nepal police, a representative from Ministry of Population and Environment and one advocate as a representative from the LGBTI community, to conduct a study into the other countries’ practice on same-sex marriage.
Based on its recommendation the government will introduce a same-sex marriage bill.
Mr Pant, founder of Blue Diamond Society, was named in May as one of five representatives of the Communist Party of Nepal-United in the 601 member new constituent assembly.
The Maoists are the largest party with 220 seats.
Maoist insurgents, who fought a ten-year guerrilla war against monarchist forces at a cost of over 12,000 lives, finally signed a peace agreement with the new democratic government in November 2006.
LGBT people joined the Maoist rebels and others to protest in a democracy movement against the king, demanding a freely elected, secular government.
King Gyanendra eventually relinquished sovereign power to the civilian government and elections were finally held for a new assembly on 10th April.
Gays and lesbians in the Himalayan kingdom previously suffered persistent persecution from security forces during the absolutist rule of King Gyanendra. The harassment of lesbian, gay and trans people continued at the hands of Maoist rebels.
The assembly will draft a new constitution, decide the fate of the monarchy and govern Nepal for the next two years.
Mr Pant is a hero to many gay activists across the world. On a visit to India last week he said:
“We have moved from being a marginalised and persecuted lot who were thrown out of homes, schools and jobs to people who have human rights and are now protected by the police, the same people who once harassed us.
“In Nepal, the LGBTI communities were part of the campaign for garnering votes for the Communist Party of Nepal.
“They approached me to campaign and I managed to secure 15,500 votes. It makes a statement that LGBTI people are interested in matters of politics and governance and not just sex.
“The campaign not only gave LGBTI issues visibility but a platform to negotiate for rights.
“It is one thing to clean up the city and stop transgenders from begging but one must provide them with alternative means of living.
“India is a very big country and a single strategy may not work. However, I’m sure it won’t be long before a political party will tap the LGBTI vote bank¯there are millions of untapped votes.”
In May 2007 the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission gave its Celebration of Courage award to Mr Pant.
The incident: On 20th October, Bengaluru police brutally attacked five sexual minority activists and arrested them on false charges when they tried enquiring about the illegal detention of five hijras (working class male-to-female transgenders). Police illegally detained and assaulted a large number of human rights defenders when they held a peaceful protest against the illegal police actions. Police also arrested 31 human rights defenders on false charges.
Coalition for Sexworkers and Sexual Minorities (a coming together of social movements and human rights groups in Bengaluru to resist police violence and to defend sexual minority human rights) requests you send emails or faxes to Indian authorities demanding action against guilty police for the crimes committed against human rights defenders. More information about the incident and the pretest actions is available at http://sangamablog.blogspot.com/
Please send a copy of your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A sample letter and email/fax details of the Indian authorities is given below.
Mr. B. S. Yeddyurappa, The Honorable Chief Minister of Karnataka
Dr. Manmohan Singh, The Honourable Prime Minister of India
Ms. Sonia Gandhi, The Respected Chairperson of United Progressive Alliance
Mr. S. Rajendra Babu, The Honourable Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission
Dr. Girija Vyas, The Honourable Chairperson of National Commission for Women
Ms. K. Sujatha Rao, The Respected Additional Secretary and Director General of National AIDS Control Organisation
Mr. Subray Rama Nayak, The Honorable Chairperson of Karnataka State Human Rights Commission
Dr. V. S. Acharya, The Honorable Minister for Home, Karnataka
Mr. S. Suresh Kumar, The Honorable Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights, Karnataka
Mr. P. M. Narendra Swamy, The Honorable Minister for Women and Child Development, Karnataka
Mr. B. Sriramulu, The Honorable Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka
Mr. Sree Kumar, The Respected Direct General & Inspector General of Police, Karnataka
The Respected Project Director of Karnataka States AIDS Prevention Society
Subject: Police harassment and suppression of rights of sexual minorities and human rights defenders in Bengaluru
We bring to your urgent notice the intense and targeted harassment of hijras (working class male-to-female transgenders) by the police of Bengaluru city over the past week. We are also shocked at the treatment meted out by the same police force on human rights activists who sought to enquire after the mistreatment of the hijras.
On 20th October morning, five hijras were caught by the police and taken to the Girinagar police station. In the station, the hijras were beaten up by the police, including the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), H. T. Ramesh. False charges under section 341 (wrongful restraint) and 384 (extortion) of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) were brought upon them. They were produced before the magistrate at 7:30 pm and were sent into judicial custody. All through the hijras were handled by men police and no medical treatment was given to the injured hijras in police or judicial custody. They were released on bail on 22nd October, 2008.
Upon receiving a call from one of the arrested hijras, five crisis team members of Sangama rushed to the Girinagar police station. Sangama is a human rights organization that has been working among hijras and other sexual minorities on issues of their rights and health for the past ten years. Sangama’s crisis intervention is recognized as an effective practice by the Indian Government through its National AIDS Control Plan III, 2006-2011 to be emulated by organizations working with sexual minorities and sexworkers across India. The crisis team members tried to enquire of the police about the arrested hijras.
To the surprise of the members, they were roundly abused by the police, and subjected to physical and verbal assault. All had their organizational ID cards with them, but this did not prevent them from being illegally assaulted and detained by the police at the Banashankari police station, and later at the Girinagar police station. All of them were accused of offences punishable under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), 145 (joining unlawful assembly ordered to be dispersed), 147 (rioting) and 353 (obstructing government officials in performing their duty) of the IPC. They were produced before the magistrate at 8.45 PM and were sent into judicial custody. These 5 crisis team members were released on bail on 22nd October, 2008.
Around 150 human rights activists and lawyers from various organizations gathered outside the Banashankari police station by the evening of October 20. They tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the ACP and the Police Inspector to release the Sangama crisis team members. At around 7pm a peaceful protest started in front of the police station. The police then called in six of the protesters as delegates into the police station. The delegates were representatives of various women’s rights, dalit, trade union, sexworkers and sexual minority organizations. The policemen then proceeded to detain the six delegates for nearly four hours, without any drinking water or toilet facilities, and subjected them to physical, verbal and sexual assault. The policemen and officers also very categorically said that they knew what they were doing was illegal, but they were following orders from the top of the police hierarchy.
At around 7.45pm men police brutally attacked the peaceful protesters with sticks and subjected them to physical, verbal and sexual assault. Police crammed 31 of them into a small 12-seater police van, with no room to stand or breathe for 7 long hours. Police tried to avoid proper production of the accused before the magistrate to avoid protestors from complaining against assault, abuse and torture by police. They were produced only after serious protest and demonstration by lawyers at 1:30am. All of them were accused of offences punishable under Section 143, 145 and 353 read with 149 (common intention) of the IPC. These 31 activists were released on bail on 21st October, 2008.
We are shocked at the callous attitude of the Bengaluru police force, in not only physically assaulting the arrested hijras, but also the Sangama crisis team members, and the representatives of various sexual minorities, sexworkers, dalit, women, trade union and other human rights organizations, who went to enquire after them. We find that the reported assault on hijras and sex-workers in the city has been on the increase in the last few months. They are picked up by the police and detained or assaulted without any provocation. The statements of the police officers at Banashankari police station clearly points to an organized and systematic crackdown on these people. We need not point out to you that in the eyes of the law, all citizens have equal rights, irrespective of their religion, language, gender identity, sexual preference or employment. Therefore the targeted attack by the police on any particular community, whatever be the reason, is against the law that your Government is mandated to uphold.
We therefore demand:
1. Dismiss the guilty police including H. T. Ramesh (ACP) and M. Shivashankaramurthi (PI); and prosecute them for the crimes (assault, abuse, sexual assault and illegal detention) committed against human rights defenders
2. Stop brutal police violence (physical and sexual) against hijras and sexworkers on the streets of Bengaluru and punish the perpetrators of violence
3. We hope that your government will take immediate action to ensure that these demands are met, and that such human rights violations do not recur in the city.
Mr. B. S. Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka
Fax: +91-80-22253660/ 22281021/ 22253660
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Fax : + 91-11-23019545/ 23016857
Email : email@example.com
Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of United Progressive Alliance
Mr. S. Rajendra Babu, Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Dr. Girija Vyas, Chairperson of National Commission for Women
Fax : +91-11-23236988
Ms. K. Sujatha Rao, Additional Secretary and Director General of National AIDS Control Organisation
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Mr. Subray Rama Nayak, Chairperson of State Human Rights Commission, Karnataka
Fax: +91-80-22392206/ 22392207
Dr. V.. S. Acharya, Minister for Home, Karnataka
Mr. S. Suresh Kumar, Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights, Karnataka
Mr. P. M. Narendra Swamy, Minister for Women and Child Development, Karnataka
Mr. B. Sriramulu, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka
Mr. Sree Kumar, Director General & Inspector General of Police, Karnataka
Project Director of Karnataka States AIDS Prevention Society
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression and/or HIV status.
Chicago – Haram Iran, written by Jay Paul Deratany and directed by David Zak, is based on the true story about the trial of two Iranian teenagers in Mashad, Iran in 2005.
“Haram Iran tells the story of two boys coming of age, and struggling with their identities as Arab Iranians, and as typical teenagers longing to discover their place in the world. Ayaz Marhouni and Mahmoud Asgari, two fifteen year old boys who may have been gay or may have been experimenting with their sexuality — like many teenagers do, however, they get caught in a compromised position, publicly humiliated and tried in the Iranian legal system. The story follows the boys’ passions — one for literature and the other for sports — and both for each other. The play takes the audience into the complexity of their relationship, and then the horrifying ordeal of being tried by an unforgiving Iranian legal system which misinterprets the Muslim law of Sharia.
The dates, names and many of the facts are true, however the trial scenes and much of the side story of the boys is fictional since it is not known exactly what occurred during the trial. What is known is that they were adolescents, who were tried and sentenced for the “sin” of homosexuality. Then, after the international press became outraged. the judge increased the charges to “rape of a younger man.”
In Iran thousands of people, including children, are jailed or killed each year, some because they are women who have had pre-maritial sex, and others because they are considered to be homosexual.
Haram Iran involves some nudity, and violence, and a criticism of Iranian politics and their very flawed legal system. This play does not, however critique or criticize Muslims, or the Muslim faith, which is a loving and peaceful religion. In fact, to the contrary, the writer draws the distinction between a loving faith and some of its misguided extremist followers.
Producer/Writer Jay Paul Deratany has said “this play is about exposing the human rights violations being committed on a daily basis, therefore I will be donating a significant portion of the of the profits from this play to Amnesty International for the aid and assistance to Iranians who suffer from torture and injustice.” So when you buy your ticket, remember that some of your ticket price will go to help those who are in desperate need of our care and love.
Below are some links to articles which will help the reader understand the tragedy that befell Ayaz and Mahmoud… may they not have died in vain.”
Jay Paul Deratany
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The show runs Nov 8 through December 7.
Cast: Anand Bhatia, Matios Simonian, Nawaf Gasem, Anita Chandwaney, Ayman Samman, Benjamin D. Zavala, Jeremy Cohn.
Jack Straw blocks Cardinal Newman information
Collusion with Catholic Church
Media plan to deflect criticism
Catholic Minister approved Vatican request
London – 31 October 2008 – By Peter Tatchell
The Catholic Church put the government under sustained pressure to grant it a licence to exhume and rebury Cardinal Newman in Birmingham Oratory Church, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
This revelation comes on the eve of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor conducting a special service for Newman at Birmingham Oratory – a ceremonial first step on the road to making Newman a saint. This service will take place tomorrow, Saturday 1 November.
Newman’s casket will contain no exhumed bodily remains, as none was found when his grave was dug up last month.
“The documents show that the Ministry of Justice worked in close cooperation with the Catholic Church to deflect criticism of the reburial plans, which violated Cardinal Newman’s expressed wish to remain buried with the man he loved for over 30 years, Father Ambrose St John,” said Mr Tatchell.
“They reveal high level collusion between the government and the Catholic Church, including devising a ‘Media Plan’ to rebut criticisms.
“It is now apparent that the Ministry of Justice was initially slow and hesitant about granting the licence and delayed a decision until July this year. It took repeated emails from Peter Jennings of the Catholic Church, and reference to the concerns of the Vatican, to get ministerial authorisation.
“The licence application was approved by Catholic Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice MP, which raises conflict of interest issues. Did she show unwarranted favouritism towards the Vatican-backed request for the reburial of Newman?
“Most of the FOI documents are heavily censored, with whole pages blacked out. This suggests the Ministry of Justice has something hide.
“Nevertheless, we can see that the Catholic Church subjected the government to constant and strenuous lobbying to get its way.
“Fifty-five documents concerning legal advice have been withheld. Other documents have been suppressed by the Justice Minister under section 36 of the FOI, which concerns ‘Prejudice to effective conduct
of public affairs’. The government has declined to state the content of the suppressed documents.
“Answers to my FOI application to the Ministry of Justice took much longer than the 20-day rule. I had to make repeated reminders to get them released.
Regarding Newman’s sexuality and relationship with Ambrose St John, Mr Tatchell said:
“All the evidence from the letters and diaries suggests that Newman and St John had a passionate long-term same-sex relationship. No one can know for certain whether their relationship included sexual intimacy and affection; possibly not.
“They were mentally and spiritually in love; sharing a deep bond and intense relationship. They were inseparable; living together for over 30 years, like a married husband and wife. At Newman’s explicit request, he was buried in the same grave as St John.
“The Christian historian Alan Bray has done major research on the relationship between Newman and St John, sifting through the Cardinal’s diary, letters and notes. His findings are published in his book, The Friend (2003):
They include the following admission that Newman wrote in his diary about Ambrose’s love for him: “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” He later added: “As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last….he was my earthly light.'”
Newman stated that St John was “fair and Saxon-looking, my Angel Guardian,” who, he said, had come to him as Ruth came to Naomi and as the angel Raphael came to Tobias.
Reflecting on St John’s death in 1875, Newman compared their love to that of a married couple: “I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone’s sorrow can be greater than mine….This is the greatest affliction I have had in my life.”
“There were allegations during his lifetime about his circle of young homosexual friends. Close relations with women did not feature at all in his life,” said Mr Tatchell.
Was Cardinal Newman gay?
Violating Cardinal Newman’s wishes