Archive for the ‘Doug Ireland’ Category
BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Doug Ireland, a journalist and activist who came of age in the New Left politics of the 1960s and whose interests and professional pursuits ranged from foreign and domestic politics to literature and philosophy, died in his East Village home on October 26.
He was 67 years old, and, according to his longtime friend Valerie Goodman, had suffered in recent years from the after-effects of childhood polio and from diabetes and severe sciatica. Though no cause of death has yet been established, Ireland had at least two major strokes over the past several years.
Goodman, one of the few intimates who spent time with him in recent years while he felt too ill to leave his apartment or have company, said she was contacted by the NYPD after Ireland’s body was found in his home.
Despite chronic, at times debilitating pain and frequent hospitalizations, Ireland remained a dogged reporter and book critic in recent years, writing articles for nearly every issue of Gay City News –– where he has been the international contributing editor –– since mid-2005 and also reporting on American politics for French-language publications in France.
Gay City News is preparing a full remembrance of Doug’s life.
Tino (1985) by Lionel Soukaz and Guy Hocquenghem with Doug Ireland :
Saudi jailed and flogged for gay video – Sent by Doug Ireland
The following appeared today on Al Bab, the blog on the Middle East by the former Middle East correspondent of The Guardian, Brian Whitaker (author of “Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian life in the Middle East”). To see the video, click on the link to Brian’s blog:
Saudi jailed and flogged for gay video:
A 27-year-old Saudi man from Jeddah has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, a year in jail and a fine of 5,000 riyals ($1,330) after appearing in an amateur gay video (above).
The film, which lasts 2 minutes and 46 seconds, shows him dressed in a police uniform asking to inspect someone’s driving licence and then flirtatiously demanding “physical comfort” after saying the licence is expired. He later opens his shirt and rubs his chest, removes his cap flaunting his long hair and waves a gun suggestively. That’s as far as it goes.
Arab News says: “The video quickly spread online and through SMS… Attempts have been made to block the video from being viewed in Saudi Arabia.”
The man has not been officially named but he is named on the internet as Ahmad al-Faqih. He was arrested in January and reportedly tried in a closed court. He was charged with impersonating a police officer, committing a “general security” offence and being homosexual.
The man who filmed the video was also arrested but his fate has not been reported.
In the coastal town of Mtwapa in Kenya’s Kilifi district, media hysteria and outrage by clerics over a non-existent gay wedding whipped up mob violence that began on February 12, unleashing a house-to-house witch hunt by anti-gay vigilantes, street attacks targeting gay men, the sacking of an AIDS-fighting medical center, and a widening wave of ultra-homophobic national media coverage.
Many gay men have gone into hiding or fled the area.
From Nairobi, the nation’s capital, Denis Nzioka, a prominent 24-year-old gay activist, told Gay City News, “Ever since the outburst of violence in Mtwapa, gay people have had to fear for their lives. Vigilante groups are hunting down gay men, going door to door, and anyone who is overly flamboyant is attacked in the street.”
According to an internal report jointly prepared by on-scene representatives of both the leading Kenyan queer group, the two-year-old Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a non-governmental organization formed two decades ago, the wave of anti-gay violence had Kafkaesque origins in a false rumor about a gay wedding supposedly planned for February 12.
“There is even a suggestion that it was a planted story,” said the GALCK-KHRC report, adding, “In any case, the most repeated version is that about two weeks ago a well-known and popular gay man in the Mtwapa area went to a barbershop for a haircut. When one of the barbers commented that his hair looked really nice and asked him where was going, he responded jokingly that he was going to get married. However, the barber took it seriously and went to his local mosque and reported that there was a planned gay wedding set for Friday, February 12 in Mtwapa.”
That mosque’s imam then announced the so-called “wedding” to his congregation and instructed his flock to begin monitoring any community gatherings to insure that no gay weddings could take place.
After this, “a local radio station, Kaya FM, picked up the story and started a series of programs on gays,” according to the GALCK-KHRC report, which Nzioka told this reporter included phone-in talk shows filled with homophobic discourse and incitements to violence.
“Kaya FM presents in Swahili and many of the Minikenda languages, and therefore has a real grassroots reach,” the report said, adding, “The main focus of the discussions was the impending ‘wedding’ of two men in Mtwapa. Other local radio stations also picked up the story, including Baraka FM, Rahma FM, and ultimately national radio stations including Kiss and Classic FM.”
Five days before the date of the alleged wedding, “many of the muftis and imams discussed the impending wedding during Friday prayers and asked the community to be vigilant against homosexuals. They told their congregants to demonstrate and to flush out homosexuals from the midst of Mtwapa and to ensure that no gay wedding took place,” the GALCK-KHRC report declared.
Nzioka told this reporter, “Mtwapa is predominantly Muslim, and the imams have a lot of power and influence there.”
Some 60 percent of Kenya’s Muslim population lives in the coastal area where Mtwapa is located. Kenya is roughly 10 percent Muslim, 33 percent Roman Catholic, and 45 percent Protestant, according to the country’s entry in the CIA World Factbook.
As a harbinger of things to come, on the evening of the February 7, following anti-gay preachings in Muslim mosques, a group of young men invaded Kalifornia, the main gay club in Mtwapa, and while dancing warned in the form of a song, “Gays have no joy and this time round they will have no joy or happiness for them.” In the days that followed, calls were heard from rioters to burn down Kalifornia.
On February 11, a homophobic press conference condemning the next day’s purported wedding was held by Sheikh Ali Hussein, regional coordinator of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), together with Bishop Lawrence Chai, regional representative of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).
According to a story in the Daily Nation about the press conference, “The clerics claimed that a large number of youths were being recruited into gay clubs and warned that ‘God is about to punish the fastest growing town in the Coast region. Come night, come day, we shall not allow that marriage to be conducted in this town tomorrow. We shall stand firm to flush out gays who throng this town every weekend from all corners of this country,’ the religious leaders said.”
The two clerics “said they had given the government seven days to close down night clubs they accused of fuelling homosexuality in the town,” the Daily Nation reported, adding that the two “asked the government to ‘save the country from the shame of being used to conduct a marriage between people of the same sex.’ They also warned the owner of a building in the town, who was allegedly renting rooms only to homosexuals, to evict them or face their wrath. They gave him a seven-day ultimatum to throw out tenants.”
The two clerics also denounced the Mtwapa clinic run by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), a large national organization with 750 staff members nationwide that runs a research program co-sponsored by Britain’s Oxford University. The clinic has an AIDS program for counseling and treating men who have sex with men.
Sheikh Hussein and Bishop Chai demanded that the government investigate the KEMRI clinic for providing services to homosexuals.
“How can a state institution be involved on the pretext of providing counseling to these criminals?,” the two clerics said, according to the Daily Nation, and they added, “We ask that the government shut it down with immediate effect or we will descend on its officials.”
The day after this inflammatory press conference, a well-organized mob of some 200 to 300 people armed with sticks, stones, and other weapons, and led by a vigilante leader named Faridi surrounded the KEMRI clinic, which was alleged to be the site of the non-existent wedding, and demanded that all the “shogas” come out of the building. “Shoga” is a Swahili word used as a pejorative against homosexuals — the equivalent of “faggot” — but also by women when referring to their close female friends.
Faridi, the vigilante leader, entered the clinic accompanied by police officers and confronted a staff member wearing a World AIDS Day T-shirt with a pink triangle that read “Condoms prevent AIDS” in Swahili. The vigilante is reported to have said, “This man is a shoga,” and at his demand, the police arrested him. Another KEMRI staffer was arrested later, also at Faridi’s insistence.
Nzioka told Gay City News that the KEMRI clinic was subsequently sacked, with material including computers destroyed, and was forced to shut down. This disruption of the clinic’s work means that many HIV-positive people who access care and treatment there have not been able to get their medications for days, which has serious health consequences for them.
Later that same day, “after Friday prayers” in Mtwapa’s mosques, “mobs of individuals went to the homes of suspected homosexuals looking for them,” said the GALCK-KHRC report, which also recounted speeches to a large mob that had gathered outside the local police station. Sheikh Hussein addressed the crowd in a manner “that was inciting, and he kept talking about Sodom and Gomorrah and the need to root out all homosexuals from the Mtwapa area,” the report said.
A former member of Kenya’s parliament, Omar Masumbuko, was one of several politicians who also addressed the mob. “He said that homosexuality must be stopped and every means used to make that happen,” according to the GALCK-KHRC report. “He told the crowd they should not even bother to bring the homosexuals they find to the police station but should take care of the issue themselves,”
Sodomy and sex “against the order of nature” are crimes in Kenya, punishable by ten years in prison, under a law inherited from the period of British colonial rule, which ended in 1963.
February 12 was punctuated by numerous attacks on gay people. At 8 that morning, before leading the mob attack on the KEMRI clinic, Faridi was joined by police in storming and ransacking the home of a gay man, who was arrested along with a friend who was visiting from abroad. While searching the guest’s luggage, they found jewelry that included some rings. Faridi immediately said that these were the rings for the intended wedding.
In a separate incident, a 23-year-old security guard was descending from a bus heading toward the center of Mtwapa when he was set upon by a mob that threatened him with death and beat him senseless. A female sex worker tried to protect him with her body and yelled at the crowd that they can’t kill people like that and that the man had not done anything, but the mob doused the man with kerosene, preparing to burn him alive. At this point the police arrived, but instead of arresting anyone in the mob, they arrested the man it had attacked. The bloodied, dazed man was incarcerated and denied medical attention.
The following day, a volunteer at the KEMRI clinic was attacked by a mob, which chanted that it was actually his wedding they had disrupted. The man was severely beaten and burnt with cigarette butts. As the mob prepared to douse the man with kerosene, he too was arrested. After his arrest, a mob attempted to attack the Mtwapa police station but was repulsed with tear gas.
In total, six men presumed to be gay were arrested, some of them forced to undergo medical examinations for evidence of sodomy, and all were scheduled for a court appearance on February 15. But Nzioka told this reporter that, after intervention by an attorney provided by KHRC, all six were released from custody, and have now fled the area.
Nzioka also said that the wave of anti-gay violence and protests in Mtwapa had received “huge” publicity in all the national media, particularly radio and television, but that “all of it was, sadly, very, very homophobic,” and that the media had utterly failed to reach out to representatives of the gay community. Instead, he said, gay-baiting commentaries and reactions from imams and other religious and anti-gay leaders were featured.
Asked by Gay City News if the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was sending a staff member to Kenya from its branch office in Johannesburg, South Africa, the organization’s executive director, Cary Alan Johnson, replied in an e-mail, “We are not sending a staff member to Kenya at this point, as we have full confidence in the local LGBT movement, which is grouped together under the banner of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) to respond to the situation. Also, a number of national and local mainstream human rights partners, particularly the Kenya Human Rights Coalition, are engaging with the clear recognition that an attack on the rights of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is an attack on the freedoms of all Kenyan citizens.”
GALCK is not a membership organization but an alliance of five other groups — Ishtar, a health group for men who have sex with men; Gaykenya.com, a web site; Minority Women in Action, a lesbian group; the Gender Education and Advocacy Project (GEAP), a group for transgendered and intersex people; and The Other Man in Kenya (TOMIKI), a social network of gay professionals in the medical, legal, and other fields, most of whom, Nzioka said, are “very discreet.”
The consciousness informing at least some in GALCK’s leadership has raised concerns. In a statement demanding government protection for gays published on the group’s website, its general manager, David Kuria, wrote, “We also call upon the religious leaders in Kenya to appreciate that compulsory heterosexuality is not the way to enforce their religion. GALCK members are willing to enter into dialogue with them, and if they truly have a cure for homosexuality, then we are most happy to take it, BUT NOT UNDER CONDITIONS OF DURESS.”
Since the American Psychiatric Association and most of its Western peer groups have not only completely discredited the notion that there can be a “cure” for homosexuality, but also affirmed that attempting to inflict such a “cure” on those with a same-sex orientation can be extremely harmful psychologically, it is quite disturbing to see the leader of a gay group like GALCK say that his members would be “happy to take” such a so-called cure if available.
Kuria could not be reached for comment by press time.
GALCK has five paid staff members and, Nzioka told this reporter, receives the bulk of its funding from LLH, the Norwegian LGBT Association.
There is no immediate prospect of repeal of the anti-gay sodomy statute in Kenya. Nzioka told Gay City News that Kenya’s gay community has “copiously” inundated the experts drafting a new national constitution with documents supporting the repeal of anti-gay laws and the extension of human rights to LGBT people, but that the committee has turned a deaf ear, and “has even buckled under to homophobia by removing a section which said that ‘every person has a right to start a family,’ which was interpreted as giving gays the right to have or adopt children.”
Moreover, said Nzioka, while there are a handful of friendly elected public officials and politicians with whom queer groups are in contact, “all are secretive, very discreet” about their support for gay rights and there is no organized evidence of that support in the national parliament.
Meanwhile, the Mtawapa witch-hunt shows no signs of letting up: at the beginning of this week, Sheikh Hussein launched radio appeals for a mass anti-gay demonstration in Mtawapa on February 19.
A video report on the Mtwapa incidents from Kenya’s NTV is at:
The web site of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) is at http://galck.org/index.php.
Gaykenya is at http://www.gaykenya.com.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission is at http://www.khrc.or.ke/.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typepad.com/
Full Story :
F.Y.I., Radio Zamaneh is the Persian-language service of Radio Netherlands. It has been particularly good about covering persecution of Iranian queers, and its website reprinted my December report (http://tinyurl.com/ycmpk7b) about the 12 youths, 8 of them teenagers, now facing execution for “sodomy” in Iran. The so-called “Cyber-Army” is under the control of the Iranian Ministry of Interior.
Dutch-based Persian language website hacked
January 31st, 2010 – 12:04 UTC
by Andy Sennitt
Iran has hacked the website of the Persian language, Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh, Fars News Agency reported on 31 January. Zamaneh’s website has been hacked by Iran’s Cyber Army which according to Fars became active following the post-election incidents in Iran. The Cyber Army has posted this message on Zamaneh’s website: “Iran’s Cyber Army warns all treasonous mercenaries that it will not leave them at peace even at the bosom of their masters.”
Fars report maintains that Radio Zamaneh is financially supported by the Netherlands’ government. The report also indicates: “It has been a primary priority for this radio to deal with artistic, literary, social, cultural and even religious topics along with intellectual slogans, however with political implications. In fact, “soft overthrow” should be mentioned as the most important tactic of this radio.”
According to the Reformist website Rahesabaz (on 31 January), Zamaneh website has not been accessible since Friday night, 29 January. However, the radio programmes of Zamaneh are available through satellite.
(Source: Fars News Agency website, Tehran, in Persian 0925 gmt 31 Jan 10 via BBC Monitoring)
- International broadcasters on Iran’s ’seditious’ list
- Radio Zamaneh begins shortwave broadcasts to Iran
- Radio Zamaneh
I recently wrote an article for Gay City News about 12 Iranian youths now threatened with or sentenced to execution for “sodomy”. Now I’ve just received the following press release from my friend Arsham Parsi, the Iranian gay activist:
Today, five human rights advocacy groups in five Western nations announced the official launching of the 346 No Executions campaign, a coordinated worldwide effort to inspire at least 346 citizens in each member nation to submit letters of petition to their respective foreign ministries, specifically requesting that diplomatic pressure be applied to the government of Iran to abolish its death penalty. The Iranian regime routinely carries out government-sanctioned executions in arbitrary, capricious and inhumane fashion to homosexuals, women, young girls, religious minorities, minors and now Green protesters, all of which are in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory.
The five participating groups in the 346 No Executions campaign to date are: The Iranian Homosexual Human Rights Councils (Canada, United States), OutRage! (United Kingdom), The Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation (Germany) and the Everyone Group (Italy). The participants hope to recruit more human rights groups in other countries to the campaign as word spreads. ’346′ is derived from the official figure of executions carried out in Iran in 2008, according to the latest Amnesty International report.
Mr. Arsham Parsi, who represents the campaign as communications director of the Iranian Homosexual Human Rights Councils, recently stated that AI’s official figure of 346 does not accurately reflect the actual number of executions carried out annually by the Iranian regime:
“Three-hundred and forty-six is a conservative estimate,” Mr. Parsi stated in a recent interview. “The unofficial number is likely much higher. Iran must stop taking innocent lives in such cavalier, arbitrary and brutal ways. Our campaign’s mission is to petition member governments to apply diplomatic pressure on Iran to cease and desist with these barbaric and unjust executions.
“It is the express goal of the 346 No Executions campaign to bring these arbitrary executions in Iran to an end. We seek to do this through letters of petition and by expanding the campaign to other nations, particularly in the European Union. Many EU member states conduct a great deal of commercial trade with Iran, yet the EU is also signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This dichotomy between principles and actions represents a clear conflict of interest in the EU vis-a-vis trade with Iran and the fundamental human rights EU member nations swore to uphold in the Universal Declaration.
“It is our hope that these letters of petition will compel as many governments as possible to address the situation in Iran, and will as a result apply diplomatic pressure on the regime to uphold its own legal, moral and human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration. We also hope that by increasing awareness of this intolerable situation in Iran to concerned citizens and human rights advocacy groups around the globe, that even more governments will pressure Iran. There is great strength in numbers.”
For more information on the 346 No Executions Campaign, members of the press and the media are welcome to inquire further at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.noexecution.com.
If you are a member of a human rights organization or NGO and would like launch your own 346 No Executions campaign in your country, we will gladly assist you.
Please contact Mr. Arsham Parsi direct at email@example.com.
Gay City News Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010
In the Republic of Georgia, a muscular December 15 raid by homophobic security forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) on the country’s LGBT organization, the Inclusive Foundation, resulted in the arrest of founder and president Paata Sabelashvili. The officials framed Sabelashvili on trumped-up drug possession charges.
In an exclusive interview with Gay City News by telephone from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital and largest city, with one million residents, the 31-year-old Sabelashvili said that 13 lesbians present at the Inclusive Foundation’s offices were roughed up and strip-searched by the MIA officers, who hurled homophobic insults at them and “threatened to photograph them and out them to their families.” The officers seized computer disks containing some of the organization’s files, though it is unclear whether they obtained its membership list. “We don’t know what they took off the computers,” Sabelashvili reported.
The warrantless raid, during which police officers refused to give their identities, was denounced by the Georgian Young Lawyers Association as riddled with illegalities and part of “a campaign against NGOs [non-governmental organizations] recently.” The Lawyers Association called for an official investigation and disciplinary procedures against officers involved in the raid, saying that in addition to numerous violations of Georgian law, “we consider that abasement of dignity of sexual minorities by MIA officers during fulfillment of their duties, as well as the use of uncensored vocabulary, threats made against foundation members, use of homophobic expressions intended to intimidate them, is directed against ethical norms and is discrediting MIA at the same time.”
Sabelashvili, who speaks excellent English, told this reporter that he was arrested “the day after I had returned from Brussels, where I had been attending a seminar run by ILGA-Europe [a branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association], ironically on the topic of ‘Hate Crimes and Cooperation with the Police.’” Sabelashvili, who is a member of ILGA-Europe’s board of directors, said the MIA police accused him of “having smuggled significant quantities of LSD, ecstasy, and other illegal hard drugs into the country” on his return from Brussels, although no such drugs were found during the raid or subsequently. The police claimed to have found a tiny quantity of marijuana, “enough for five or six joints,” in an unlocked drawer of one of the desks, Sabelashvili said, but he suggested the pot may have been planted there, as the desk was easily accessible to any of the many visitors to the Inclusive Foundation’s offices. The group runs a resource center, book and video library, and drop-in counseling service there, and also serves as a safe space for meetings of LGBT Georgians.
“Sure I smoke pot, I didn’t deny it, but smoking pot is not a crime, only a civil code violation punishable by a fine of around 200 Euros [or about $288],” Sabelashvili told Gay City News, adding that “drugs are always a very convenient excuse for this kind of raid.” He unequivocally denied having smuggled marijuana or any other kind of drug into the country, saying, “I’d never be so stupid as to do that, especially when abroad as part of my work for ILGA-Europe and the Inclusive Foundation, as I would never expose the organizations I love to any danger.”
Sabelashvili said he was incarcerated for 12 days under conditions he described as “very humiliating and disgusting. First, I was interrogated for six hours, then I was put in a small cell designed to house only six people but that had 28 people stuffed into it, and I was constantly subjected to anti-gay name calling. When after three days I was transferred to prison, the police told the other prisoners I was gay, so they all knew. I was hit by police during my transfer to the prison.”
Speculating on the timing of the MIA raid, Sabelashvili noted that just two weeks before, he’d resigned his full-time job as a program officer for the Georgian office of the Danish Refugee Council, where he had been employed for six-and-a-half years, to devote full time to his LGBT work, “and they probably waited until I was no longer working for the Danes so as not to arouse an international outcry.” Sabelashvili learned that after he left his job with the Danish organization, he was the target of an intensive police investigation; “they interrogated my neighbors about me,” he said.
But Sabelashvili, a well-known figure among human rights activists in Georgia, said that since his arrest the Inclusive Foundation had already heard from both official European bodies and from the political officer at the US Embassy in Georgia, and that he has a meeting scheduled for January 8 with Washington’s deputy ambassador.
Georgia is one of the most culturally homophobic countries among the former republics of the Soviet Union; four-fifths of its population of some 4.3 million people are faithful to the Georgian Orthodox Church, one of the country’s most influential institutions and one militantly opposed to homosexuality. Even after the USSR legalized homosexuality in 1923, it remained a crime in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. (Homosexuality was re-criminalized in the USSR under Stalin in 1933.)
In a recent poll of Georgians by the Caucuses Research Center, when asked, “Would you be on friendly terms with gays?,” 81.4 percent replied “No,” with 71.4 percent responding “No” to the question, “Would you work with a homosexual?” Sabelashvili described gays and lesbians as “the most despised and stigmatized group in Georgia,” with sneering, homophobic media attacks launched with regularity.
Georgia legalized homosexuality in 2000, but only to meet the requirements for its membership in the Council of Europe, a body composed of the foreign ministers and parliaments of 47 nations which since 1949 has worked for European integration, and which emphasizes human rights in its work. (Membership in the Council is important for trade and commerce among its members under treaties it sponsors, and is a necessary first step toward membership in the European Union. A number of former Soviet satellites, including Bulgaria and Romania, also decriminalized homosexuality only in response to European pressure.)
There are no gay bars or explicitly gay-oriented businesses in Georgia.
Georgia’s Inclusive Foundation was founded three-and-a-half years ago by Sabelashvili and a handful of friends and acquaintances, with sponsorship from a five-year Central Asian Project run by the Dutch LGBT group COC, the world’s oldest queer organization, founded in 1946. Other countries included in this COC project were Moldavia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Sabelashvili said that the Inclusive Foundation has an annual budget of between 70,000 and 80,000 Euros (or some $100,000 to $115,000), most of which comes from the Dutch government, with other support coming from the Swedish Development Corporation and ILGA-Europe.
The foundation has a small, part-time staff, including three program staffers, two lawyers, two doctors (a medical doctor for AIDS counseling and a psychologist), a webmaster, and a graphic designer for its magazine ME (“that’s pronounced ‘may’ in Georgian,” said Sabelashvili, “and means the same as ‘me’ in English, a name chosen to emphasize the personhood and human equality of all people, including LGBTs.”)
ME, Georgia’s only LGBT publication, with a print and PDF circulation of about 3,500, is published in both Georgian and English, with funding from COC and the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany, founded by the German Green Party and named after the 1972 Nobel Laureate for Literature and noted peace activist.
The Inclusive Foundation has been under frequent attack by the Georgian Orthodox Church, and because the level of homophobia is so high and most LGBT Georgians are in the closet, large public meetings are difficult to hold. The last public event was a May 20 meeting marking the International Day Against Homophobia, which was disrupted and brought to a halt by thuggish members of the Orthodox Parents Union. “It drew an audience of 50 people — and for us Georgians, that’s large!” Sabelashvili said with a chuckle.
“A lot of our public work consists of sending guest speakers to events organized by other groups,” the Inclusive Foundation’s president said. “For example, we recently sent guest speakers to a non-curricular seminar organized by second-year law students — it was an ice-breaking experience, for there was a lot of negative attitudes at the beginning, but by the end of the discussion, which was supposed to last only an hour, it had gone on for over three hours, and people were very interested in learning more and taking our materials.”
Sabelashvili said he decided to become a gay activist when studying international relations in Hungary under a scholarship to the Central European University, founded two decades ago by Hungarian-born US philanthropist George Soros’ Open Society Institute to encourage democracy in former Soviet bloc nations. At the university, he made friends with a gay-friendly young American woman and eventually joined an LGBT club that held weekly meetings. “The university was a pretty safe space, and I came out in Budapest,” he said. On his return to Georgia, Sabelashvili said, he “decided to use my organizational skills and my knowledge of writing grant proposals to do something to fight for gay people. I’d always been involved with the causes of marginalized people. But it was not easy to get people together to start Inclusive.”
Sabelashvili said he was released from prison only when, in a plea bargain, he signed a statement, “on the advice of my lawyer,” admitting to having brought a small quantity of marijuana into the country on a previous trip abroad, with a fine of 1,600 Euros (roughly $2,300) and a five-year suspended sentence, during which he is subject to re-arrest and imprisonment for any violation of law. Even though he says he committed no wrong, Sabelashvili said, “I signed because I just wanted to get out. I didn’t think at the time that I was getting any help, and it seemed the only way to avoid a prison sentence. Only after I got out did I learn of the considerable international attention that my case was receiving, and that’s probably why that authorities agreed” to the plea bargain.
The raid and Sabelashvili’s arrest have already had a chilling effect on the Inclusive Foundation’s work. The activist says that “two of our board members have resigned, and some of our volunteers have dropped out — especially after police were spotted by two of our members who were in a café making post-raid nocturnal visits to our closed office and a group of four other police were stationed outside it to follow our members and visitors as they left.”
The Inclusive Foundation’s bi-lingual magazine, ME, is available online in at
The Georgian Young Lawyers Association statement detailing the illegalities in the police raid on the Foundation is at http://tinyurl.com/yc8cyae
(Click through to the report from the lower right hand portion of the page)
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at
Walter Trochez, a well-known LGBT activist in Honduras who was an active member of the National Resistance Front against the coup d’etat there, was assassinated on December 13. Trochez, who had already been arrested and beaten for his sexual orientation after participating in a march against the coup, had been very active recently in documenting homophobic crimes committed by the forces behind the coup.
American University Assistant Professor of Anthropology Adrienne Pine has translated into English on her blog a statement about the Trochez murder by the Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH — the Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Honduras), which you can find here:
She has also translated a moving statement about the Trochez murder from the influential youth organization Los Necios, which is here:
Adrienne e-mailed me that “Walter has been one of the most important figures in the LGBT community in Honduras for years. Unfortunately, most of what’s written about him is in Spanish. A volunteer is translating one of his last open letters to the resistance condemning the large number of targeted political assassinations of members of the LGBT community since the coup, which I am pasting below (in case you read Spanish). That letter will be available in English on my website by tomorrow.” For more info, contact Adrienne Pine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amnesty International has issued a statement calling for an investigation of the murder, which you can read here:
More in Spanish on Trochez’ assassination at:
and there are several news articles in Spanish available on Google News.
Trochez’s November 19 e-mail on LGBT assassinations in Honduras since the coup, in Spanish, is below.
El 16 de noviembre de 2009 13:44, Walter Trochez escribió:
Incremento de los crímenes de odio y homofobia hacia la Comunidad LGTTB a raíz del golpe de Estado cívico- religioso-militar en Honduras
El golpe de Estado cívico-militar sucedido en Honduras el 28 de junio pasado ha dado un vuelco brutal a la nueva perspectiva que se había abierto en el siglo XXI en América Latina. En efecto, la región estuvo sellada en los últimos diez años por la instauración de gobiernos de diferentes características cuyo denominador común es que significaron un cambio de rumbo respecto de las políticas neoliberales que alcanzaron su apogeo en la región en la última década del siglo XX. En muchos casos la forma parlamentaria asumida por los gobiernos de la región enmascaró hasta cierto punto la continuidad e identidad de las políticas sociales y económicas del neoliberalismo con las instauradas en la época de las dictaduras militares. La situación en Honduras vuelve a hacer manifiesta esa indisociabilidad entre las políticas sociales y económicas neoliberales y los intereses a cuyo servicio se perpetraron los crímenes de lesa humanidad por gobiernos de facto.
También vuelve a hacer manifiesto un dato más o menos disimulado por la retórica del “consenso” y la “tolerancia” a que se pretendió reducir la noción de democracia en el período subsiguiente a las dictaduras militares y guerras civiles que devastaron la región: no sólo la persistencia sino el rearme de los sectores civiles que recurrieron en otra etapa a las fuerzas armadas y de seguridad para imponer sus intereses, y que ahora combinan hábilmente su adaptación a los procedimientos democráticos con la conocida prepotencia e ilegalidad con que se imponen a poblaciones seminermes, semi cómplices. Sin ir más lejos, no es difícil ver en las fuerzas que sacaron ventaja en las elecciones legislativas en Argentina el mismo 28 de junio el apoyo, en algunos casos explícito, al golpe de Estado en Honduras, y una comunidad de intereses con el empresariado, las corporaciones mediáticas y la Iglesia Catolica y Evangélica que lo promovieron. A nuestros efectos es de destacar el explícito apoyo de la cúpula religiosa de Honduras al golpe cívico militar que el 28 de junio de 2009 impidió la realización de un plebiscito organizado por el gobierno legitomo constitucional y colocó en el Poder Ejecutivo a el Dictador Roberto y Micheletti.
Un comunicado de la Conferencia Episcopal de Honduras, firmado por los once obispos de la Iglesia Católica, justifica con supuestos fundamentos constitucionales el secuestro, la transitoria desaparición y expulsión del país del presidente constitucional: “las instituciones del Estado democrático hondureño están en vigencia y sus ejecutorias en materia jurídico-legal han sido apegadas a derecho…”. Además define la situación actual como “nuevo punto de partida para el diálogo, el consenso y la reconciliación…” Por otra parte, en consonancia con la reacción y declaraciones de los movimientos sociales, especialmente LGTTB, campesinos, indígenas, del país, no se hicieron esperar las reacciones de las distintas organizaciones, Lésbicas, Gay, Bisexuales, Transexuales, Travestis (LGTTB), organizaciones, redes y movimientos juveniles, organizaciones Afrodecendientes,organizaciones de mujeres, activistas y defensores de derechos humanos, organizaciones y redes de derechos humanos condenando el golpe de Estado y llamando a la solidaridad regional e internacional con el Estado de derecho y con las víctimas de la represión del gobierno de facto.
Las organizaciones, redes y movimientos LGTTB en resistencia por ejemplo; condenan “el golpe político militar contra el estado de Honduras con el apoyo financiero de los empresarios de la ultraderecha latinoamericana y norteamericana, la promoción de las corporaciones mediáticas nacionales, la protección del Ombudsman mercantilista Ramón Custodio del Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humano de Honduras (CONADEH) y la bendición de las Iglesias católica y evangélica” atraves de sus máximos representantes como es el mismo Cardemal Oscar Andres Rodríguez,monseñor Darwin Andino, Pasquel Rodríguez, Monseñor Garachana de la diócesis de San Pedro Sula, el pastor Oswaldo Canales actualmente presidente del Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción CNA, el pastor Evelio Pistero de la Iglesia Vida y pisto Abundante, el Pastor René Peñalba y el pastor Alberto Solórzano y los ancianos cofundadores de la Iglesia Evangélica CCI . Expresan su “apoyo irrestricto al regreso del orden constitucional en Honduras que pasa por la restauración de la democracia”, y exige “el cese de la represión que vivimos las y los activistas y defensores de derechos humanos, las organizaciones que nos manifestamos contra el golpe por parte de los cuerpos militares y policiales retirados responsables de los desaparecidos y desaparecidas de la década del 80 en Honduras comandados por el asesino Billy Joya.
“Por su parte la Asociación LGTTB Arcoiris y el Colectivo TTT de la Ciudad de San Pedro Sula, activistas y defensores de derechos humanos, denuncian que desde el pasado 29 de junio del año en curso horas anteriores que se había generado el Golpe de Estado se incrementaron los crimes de odio y Homofobia promovidos por la Cupula Religiosa Hondureña en complicidad con los Grupos Opresores como son la Fuerzas Armadas, la Secretaria Nacional de Seguridad, la Empresa Privada, los Grupos Próvida, el Opus Dei, Estos delitos ponen una vez más en evidencia los altos niveles de odio, estigma y discriminación contra personas de la diversidad sexual, lo que llamamos, homofobia, lesbofobia, bifobia, y sobre todo transfobia, de los que somos objetos las personas que tenemos una orientación sexual o identidad de género diferente a la del patrón de la norma heterosexual. En la ocasión de la pérdida de dos amigas más esta última semana, reiteramos que NO es ACEPTABLE que en estos últimos 4 meses, durante un tan corto periodo, hayan muerto de forma violenta cruel e inhumana 9 compañeras trans y compañeros gay, 6 de ellas/os en el sector de San Pedro Sula y 3 en la ciudad de Tegucigalpa”.
Las y los mártires de la Comunidad LGTTB.
1. Viki Hernández 29 de junio, San Pedro Sula
2. Martina Jackson 30 de junio, Choloma
3. Fabio Zamora 05 de julio, Tegucigalpa
4. Héctor Maradiaga 11 de agosto, Tegucigalpa
5. Michelle Torres 30 de agosto, San Pedro Sula
6. Salomé Miranda 20 de septiembre, Choloma
7. Saira Salmerón 20 de septiembre, Choloma
8. Marión Lanza 09 de octubre, Tegucigalpa
9. Montserrat Maradiaga 11 de octubre, San Pedro Sula.
“Sépanlo bien: ni los corrompidos (corruptos) ni los impuros, ni los explotadores y explotadoras, que sirven al dios Dinero, tendrán parte en el reino de Cristo y de Dios”.
“Como revolucionario, estaré hoy, mañana y siempre en las primeras filas de mi pueblo, aún estando consiente que se nos podrá ir la vida”.
Walter Orlando Trochez
Activista y Defensor de los Derechos Humanos de Honduras Y Latinoamérica sector (VIH y Sida, LGTTB, Juventud y Adolescencia, Niñez)