Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

False Gay Marriage Rumor Sparks Kenyan Riots
BY DOUG IRELAND
GAY CITY NEWS, Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:28 PM CST

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLM0vagfOgY&feature=player_embedded

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 :

Updates on continuing anti-gay pogrom in Kenya

By Paul Canning – LGBT Asylum News

  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirms pogrom fears, writes demanding action from Kenyan authorities
  • Six gay men released from police custody, told to leave the region
  • HRW say no arrests for homosexual offences made
  • Mob attacks spread to Mombasa from nearby towns
  • Local politicians closely involved in attempted pogrom
  • Public continue to identify gay men, police arrest them
  • More reports of media incitement role
  • Anti-gay forces plan further attacks

The HRW letter, organised by Dipika Nath, researcher in the LGBT rights program, details the investigations carried out by local human rights bodies and backs the account of events first circulated by Kenyan gay groups in the immediate aftermath of the attempted pogrom.
HRW say that events began with in late January with unsubstantiated rumours about a “gay wedding” scheduled for February 12 (other reports say it was a joke made in a barbers). Radio stations discussed the rumour then on February 7 several imams and muftis (Islamic scholars) told their congregations during Friday prayers to be vigilant and to “expose” homosexuals in Mtwapa, a town north of Mombasa.

On February 11 Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and Bishop Lawrence Chai of the National Council of Churches of Kenya held a news conference.

As reported by Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation and confirmed by other witnesses who spoke to HRW, they demanded an investigation of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Mtwapa, a government health center that provides HIV/AIDS services. They criticized the government for “providing counselling services to these criminals” and demanded that the KEMRI office be shut down.

In a statement after the meeting, the religious leaders promised to “flush out gays”, local activists told HRW.

The next day an armed mob of 200 to 300 people, which HRW say appeared planned rather than spontaneous, surrounded the KEMRI health center. HRW say that a KEMRI staff member was pointed out as homosexual because he wore a T-shirt promoting safer sex and arrested, the report from local gay groups say the T-shirt had a pink triangle on it (the symbol worn by gays in Nazi death camps).

The mob continued to pull two people from a home and beat senseless another man who was approaching the health center and was about to set him on fire when the police arrived and took him into custody as well. Others went to the homes of gays and threatened them.

Local activists told HRW that none of the men were charged and they have all since been released, and that the police were attempting to protect them from violence by taking them into custody. However HRW says that the men were asked to submit to forensic examinations to determine if they are homosexual. Five of them refused and the sixth consented and was examined, although no “evidence” of homosexuality is reported to have been found.

Human Rights Watch said:

Forensic medical examinations to “prove” homosexual conduct are archaic and discredited. If conducted without genuine consent, they may constitute torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.

The mob were addressed outside the police station where the gay men were being held by speakers including a religious leader saying all homosexuals should be driven out and another (a former local MP according to other reports) saying to not bother bringing homosexuals to the police but rather to take the law into its own hands.

A Dutch man, Jankees de Ridder, who was traveling through Mtwapa the next day, Saturday 13 Feb, reported that the mob were holding the Kenyan newspaper the Saturday Nation with their photograph on the front page.

Police in a pick-up could hardly prevent the mob from beating a man, lying in the vehicle. I was shocked. I was even more shocked as I had read about a bishop and a Imam in the Friday newspaper calling on youths to harass homosexuals.

GALCK’s David Kuria says that reports coming in to them are that police have initiated an operation to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals. Local politicians are actively involved in the exercise of identifying people as are members of the public.

Most of the people have been arrested from their offices or as in the case of two of the men, while boarding public transport – each in a different location.

Kuria says that medical professionals were relocated from attending normal hospital operations to help the police with quick identification of the homosexuals through medical examinations. He says that it is assumed that many people will be arrested during the police swoops and the medical professionals will help in filtering those who will be taken to court and those to be released.

The BBC say that police spokesman Martha Mutegi told them that the gay men taken into custody had been advised to leave the area for their own safety and ‘to avoid angering the local community’.

HRW say that attacks on gays have spread to Mombasa.

They say that none of the attackers have been arrested but that several people have gone into hiding; others are preparing to flee their homes at a moment’s notice.

Gay Uganda reports that further demonstrations are planned after Friday prayers (Feb 19). HRW say that Sheikh Ali Hussein had announced this on the radio and that local activists fear that demonstrations may extend to mosques along the coast, including in Mombasa. Hussein told Islam Online:

We are ready to shed our bloods to protect the dignity of Mtwapa town and we want our people to rise up against the vice.

Human Rights Watch’s Dipika Nath said:

The government is sitting silent while mobs try to kill human rights defenders and assault people they suspect are gay. Inaction is complicity, and silence can be lethal.

The police need to arrest the attackers and put a halt to what appears to be a coordinated nationwide attack on people perceived to be homosexual. The disruption of lifesaving HIV/AIDS work could mean a public health catastrophe as well as a human rights disaster.

The attacks and hate-mongering and the government’s failure to act have spread fear in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, Human Rights Watch said.

Meanwhile the BBC continues to carry a completely different account of events from those coming from human rights and gay groups.

Local reporter Odhiambo Joseph continues to claim that “five people [were] arrested for planning a “gay wedding”” and in its latest report now says that “the rallies were apparently sparked by US President Barack Obama’s condemnation of planned anti-gay legislation in neighbouring Uganda.”

He also claims that (my emphasis) “police began a crackdown on the gay community last week following anti-gay protests”.

The reporting echoed that of Islam Online which claimed that:

Muslim and Christian residents of Mtwapa, a district in the outskirts of the port city of Mombassa, recently joined hands in disrupting a planned nuptial involving two local tribesmen on the ground of being completely an alien practice in their largely conservative community.

They quote Bishop Laurence Chai, of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, about the non-existent marriage:

We may be on the verge of being doomed had these criminals managed to conduct their evil exercise within our neighborhood.

Full Story:

See also:

URGENT CALL TO ACTION

Italy, February 18th, 2010

ITALY, TWO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FROM EVERYONE GROUP RECEIVE A PENAL ORDER (A CRIMINAL CONVICTION WITHOUT GOING TO TRIAL) FOR THEIR HUMANITARIAN WORK: “IT IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE WORLD”

THE NEWS GIVEN BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION: “A CONVICTION BASED ON INACCURATE EVIDENCE GIVEN BY A POLICE OFFICER. IT IS THE UMPTEENTH EPISODE OF ABUSE OF POWER BY THE ITALIAN AUTHORITIES”

EVERYONE GROUP APPEALS TO THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND THE FRONTLINE FOUNDATION: “WE ARE ASKING FOR SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, VICTIMS IN ITALY OF VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION AND JUDICIARY ABUSE OF POWER, A WORSE SITUATION THAN IN TOTALITARIAN REGIMES WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL IS AT LEAST GUARANTEED THE RIGHT TO DEFEND HIMSELF

On February 12th, 2010, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau, co-presidents with Matteo Pegoraro of EveryOne Group, international human rights organization based in Italy, received notification of a penal order, with the prison sentence commuted into a heavy fine. In the decree, issued on 5/11/09 by the Pesaro Justice Court – Office of the Magistrate for Preliminary Investigations – condemns the activists for the offence punishable by art. 110, 340 of the Italian Criminal Code, because on December 20th, 2008 “in complicity with each other, they caused the interruption, or at least disturbed a police operation aimed at identifying three foreign citizens, and used abusive and disparaging language towards the officers from Pesaro-Urbino Police Headquarters, and interfered in the carrying out of their duty.”

“It is the umpteenth episode of abuse from the authorities (and in particular from the Police Headquarters) we have been subjected to in Pesaro and in Italy” say the co-presidents of the Group. ”Throughout 2008 and in the early months of 2009 we were repeatedly summoned to police headquarters because of our humanitarian work in defence of the Roma community living in our Country”.

After the protests of our Organization for the endless camp clearances of Roma families (without any offer of assistance) and after our protests over the illegitimate expulsion of a group of Afghan refugees who had applied for asylum, the Pesaro Police Commissioner issued Roberto Malini a verbal warning on the following grounds: “Seeing the Roma are notorious criminals, I consider EveryOne Group part of a criminal organization and I invite it to cease its activity”. Following this warning, the activists of EveryOne Group were subjected to various episodes of intimidation and provocation, while the brutal operations aimed at driving the Roma out of the city continued. The attitude of the Police Commissioner and the anti-Roma programme carried out by the Pesaro authorities have been the subject of various Parliamentary questions, leading to the transfer of the Police Commissioner to a different detachment.

Following the camp clearance (in mid winter) of the last Roma families to take refuge in Pesaro, EveryOne Group filed a complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the same Pesaro Justice Court – reporting both the violation of human rights and the open hostility shown towards human rights defenders.

“We were expecting the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the abuse committed by the local authorities towards the Roma community”, say Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau, “actions that have led to several deaths (due to the hardship suffered by seriously ill people, who were suddenly left without a shelter over their heads), miscarriages (due to the stress and fear experienced by the pregnant women faced with so many armed police officers) and serious humanitarian emergencies.

Instead, the same authorities made use of a legal instrument that exists only in Italy, an instrument that violates article 24 of the Italian Constitution. We are talking about a conviction without a trial, yet another intimidatory tool used against human rights defenders which allows an untrue statement made by a police officer to become law without the accused being given the opportunity to contradict him.

We are aware that there is a danger of falling into a legal ‘black hole’, but we have decided to oppose the sentence and we will continue to oppose it on all levels, even if this means taking the case before the European Court of Human Rights. It is a fundamental principle of civility and democracy which does not only concern this episode, but international activism as whole, and the endless obstacles and dangers involved in defending the lives and the dignity of our most vulnerable citizens”.

As for the case in question, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau say “on the evening of December 20th, 2008 a police officer was talking in an arrogant manner to a young Roma man, while his colleague waited in the patrol car in front of the bar to be served with sandwiches and drinks. We greeted the young man, Nico Grancea, who we knew very well seeing we had been offering him assistance for over year. In answer, we received from the first officer a brusque and threatening invitation to show some identification. We have had dealings with the police force for years and therefore have sufficient experience to know not to rise to the bait. The police officer took down our details without issuing any notification. The magistrates investigating the case did not listen to what the owner of the bar, Mr. Grancea, or the EveryOne activists had to say. The Pesaro investigating magistrate then decided for “a conviction without a trial”.

“Through our appeal and the relevant procedures for defending our humanitarian work” says EveryOne Group, “we intend to bring the case to the attention of the authorities in charge of protecting human rights defenders, in order for them to establish efficient organisms that defend the work of activists who are forced to operate in extremely difficult conditions”.

On February 14th, 2010 Malini and Picciau’s case was brought up by the co-president of EveryOne, Matteo Pegoraro, in Dublin, during the 5th Frontline Platform for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, which EveryOne Group (the only European organization) had been invited to attend along with 99 other human rights defenders from all over the world – activists who have received several threats during the course of their human rights activities. “We are appealing to the Frontline Foundation (which protects human rights activists all over the world in cooperation with the United Nations and European institutions) to take up our case. We hope too that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, – always very alert to episodes of this kind – to immediately intervene against this judiciary abuse, which has no precedent in European activism. We will fight” says Pegoraro, “to ensure that these two human rights defenders – who have been involved for many years in difficult campaigns in defence of minority groups – are not subjected to this violation, even more so if we consider that as co-presidents of EveryOne, they were operating in Pesaro and on Italian territory on behalf of the European MP, Viktoria Mohacsi with the precise aim of investigating the behaviour of the authorities towards the Roma people in Italy.

On behalf of our group, we invite civil society, the politicians who are more alert to matters of fundamental rights, the human and civil rights associations and organizations and the European and international institutions and authorites, to express their criticism of an action that goes against all the charters on the human rights of the individual – as well as violating the international laws on the protection and freedom of action and movement of human rights defenders”.

For further information:

EveryOne Group

+39 393 4010237 :: +39 334 3449180 :: :: +39 331 3585406

www.everyonegroup.com :: info@everyonegroup.com

budapestpride2009
On the occasion of the 2009 Budapest Pride Festival, the embassies of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States express their support for, and solidarity with, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Hungary. The embassies support the right of these communities to use this traditional occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to express their desire to end the silence surrounding the specific issues that affect them.

Human rights — including justice, equality, humanity, respect and freedom of expression — and the rule of law are the foundations upon which democratic states are built. Indeed, international human rights law is grounded on the premise that all individuals are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is this respect for fundamental human values that obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and to ensure that all people enjoy equal opportunities.

Today, many individuals face discrimination, both systemic and overt, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Our governments seek to combat such discrimination by promoting the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge all governments to ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity form the basis for criminal penalties.

Our governments` policies in this area are in accordance with the principles set out in the Joint statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December, 2008.

Link to the Budapest Pride website: http://www.budapestpride.hu/en

Budapest Pride March 2008:

HRW-Report-Iraq

New HRW Report :
“They Want Us Exterminated”
Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq

August 17, 2009

This 67-page report documents a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009. The killings began in the vast Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, and spread to many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen have promoted fears about the “third sex” and the “feminization” of Iraq men, and suggested that militia action was the remedy. Some people told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing.

Iraq: Stop Killings for Homosexual Conduct
No Protection by Authorities from Widening Murder Campaign
August 17, 2009

Related Materials:
“They Want Us Exterminated”

Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate. Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.
Scott Long, Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – Iraqi militias are carrying out a spreading campaign of torture and murder against men suspected of homosexual conduct, or of not being “manly” enough, and Iraq authorities have done nothing to stop the killing, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch called on Iraq’s government to act urgently to rein in militia abuses, punish the perpetrators, and stop a new resurgence of violence that threatens all Iraqis’ safety.

“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.”

Silence and stigma surrounding sexuality and gender in Iraq make placing a precise figure on the number killed almost impossible, but indications are that hundreds of men may have died.

One man told Human Rights Watch that militiamen kidnapped and killed his partner of 10 years in April: “It was late one night, and they came to take my partner at his parents’ home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. … He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.”

The killers invade homes and pick people up in the street, witnesses and survivors said, interrogating them before murdering them to extract names of other potential victims. They practice grotesque tortures, including gluing men’s anuses shut as punishment. Human Rights Watch spoke to doctors who said that hospitals and morgues have received dozens of mutilated bodies, living and dead.

“Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality,” said Rasha Moumneh, Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq’s post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens.”

Consensual homosexual conduct between adults is not a criminal offense under Iraqi law. Although many militias in Iraq claim to be enforcers of Islamic law, the Human Rights Watch report also shows how the killings – committed without evidence or trial, on the basis of prejudice and whim – violate standards in Sharia law for legality, proof, and privacy.

International human rights law forbids all forms of torture and inhuman treatment and guarantees the right to life, including the right to effective state protection. In its 1994 decision in the landmark case of Toonen v. Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee held that the protections against unequal treatment in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) extend to sexual orientation as a protected status.

The report also documents how fears that Iraqi men’s masculinity is under threat propel the killings as much as prejudices about sexuality. Many men told Human Rights Watch that their parents or brothers have threatened them with honor killings because their “unmanly” behavior threatens the reputation of the family or tribe. In a provision left over from the Saddam Hussein era, Iraqi law allows mitigated penalties for crimes committed “with honorable motives.” This exception encourages gender-based violence.

Many Iraqis who fear being attacked have sought safety in surrounding countries, but those countries are no safe haven, the report says. Consensual homosexual conduct is criminalized in most of these countries, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity fosters violence and discrimination in all of them. Human Rights Watch urges the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as governments that accept Iraqi refugees, to offer rapid resettlement to these endangered people.

Accounts from the report (all names are aliases, to protect the speakers)

“[The killers'] measuring rod to judge people is who they have sex with. It is not by their conscience, it is not by their conduct or their values, it is who they have sex with. The cheapest thing in Iraq is a human being, a human life. It is cheaper than an animal, than a pair of used-up batteries you buy on the street. Especially people like us. … I can’t believe I’m here talking to you because it’s all just been repressed, repressed, repressed. For years it’s been like that – if I walk down the street, I would feel everyone pointing at me. I feel as if I’m dying all the time. And now this, in the last month – I don’t understand what we did to deserve this. They want us exterminated. All the violence and all this hatred: the people who are suffering from it don’t deserve it.”
– Hamid, in Iraq, April 24, 2009

“We’ve been hearing about this, about gay men being killed, for more than a month. It’s like background noise now, every day. The stories started spreading in February about this campaign against gay people by the Mahdi Army: everyone was talking about it, I was hearing about it from my straight friends. In a coffee shop in Karada, on the streets in Harithiya [Baghdad neighborhoods], they were talking about it. I didn’t worry at first. My friends and I, we look extremely masculine, there is nothing visibly “feminine” about us. None of us ever, ever believed this would happen to us. But then at the end of March we heard on the street that 30 men had been killed already.”
– Idris, in Iraq, April 24, 2009

“They did many things to us, the Mahdi Army. … They kidnapped [my partner] for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he can’t describe, even to me. They wrote in the dust on the windshield of his car: ‘Death to the people of Lot and to collaborators.’ They sent us veiled threats in text messages: ‘You are on the list.’ They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size. The note said, ‘Which one do you want in your heart?’ … I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I can’t. There is no way out.”
– Mohammad, in Iraq, April 21, 2009

“At 10 a.m., [Ministry of Interior officers] cuffed my hands behind my back. Then they tied a rope around my legs, and they hung me upside down from a hook in the ceiling, from morning till sunset. I passed out. I was stripped down to my underwear while I hung upside down. They cut me down that night, but they gave me no water or food. Next day, they told me to put my clothes back on and they took me to the investigating officer. He said, ‘You like that? We’re going to do that to you more and more, until you confess.’ Confess to what? I asked. ‘To the work you do, to the organization you belong to, and that you are a tanta’ [queen]. For days, there were severe beatings, and constant humiliation and insults. … It was the same form of abuse every day. They beat me all over my body; when they had me hanging upside down, they used me like a punching bag. … They used electric prods all over my body. Then they raped me. Over three days. The first day, 15 of them raped me; the second day, six; the third day, four. There was a bag on my head every time.”
Nuri, on April 15 and 27, 2009

HRW Page Link

See Also:

STOP EXECUTIONS OF GAY IRAQIS
MEMBERS OF IRAQI LGBT GROUP ON DEATH ROW
ACTION NEEDED TO HALT JUDICIAL EXECUTIONS

http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2009/03/stop-executions-of-gay-iraqis.html

London, 27 March 2009

gwb09iraq-2Urgent action is needed to halt the execution of 128 prisoners on death row in Iraq. Many of those awaiting execution were convicted for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality, according to IRAQI-LGBT, a UK based organisation of Iraqis supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Iraq.

According to Ali Hili of IRAQI-LGBT, the Iraqi authorities plan to start executing them in batches of 20 from this week.

IRAQI-LGBT urgently requests that the UK Government, Human Rights Groups and the United Nations Human Rights Commission intervene with due speed to prevent this tragic miscarriage of justice from going ahead.

“We have information and reports on members of our community whom been arrested and waiting for execution for the crimes of homosexuality,’’ said Mr Hili. “Iraqi lgbt has been a banned from running our activities on Iraqi soil.”

“Raids by the Iraqi police and ministry of interior forces cost our group the diapering and killing of 17 members working for Iraqi lgbt since 2005,” added Mr Hili.

“Death penalty has been increasing at an alarming rate in Iraq since the new Iraqi regime reintroduced it in August 2004.
In 2008 at least 285 people were sentenced to death, and at least 34 executed. In 2007 at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 were executed, while in 2006 at least 65 people were put to death. The actual figures could be much higher as there are no official statistics for the number of prisoners facing execution,” he said.

IRAQI LGBT is concerned that the Iraqi authorities have not disclosed the identities of those facing imminent execution, stoking fears that many of them may have been sentenced to death after trials that failed to satisfy international standards for fair trial.

Most are likely to have been sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), whose proceedings consistently fall short of international standards for fair trial. Some are likely to have. Allegations of torture are not being investigated adequately or at all by the CCCI. Torture of detainees held by Iraqi security forces remains rife.

Iraq’s creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases, with the result, we fear, that numerous people have gone to their death after unfair trials.

The Iraqi government must order an immediate halt to these executions and establish a moratorium on all further executions in Iraq, particularly since due process cannot be guaranteed. The state executing people for ‘morals’ crimes is also obviously unacceptable and deplorable.

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to make public all information pertaining to the 128 people, including their full names, details of the charges against them, the dates of their arrest, trial and appeal and their current places of detention.

The immediate urgent priority is to Support and Donate Money to LGBT activists in Iraq in order to assist their efforts to help other Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans gender Iraqi’s facing death, persecution and systematic Targeting by the Iraqi Police and Badr and Sadr Militia and to raise awareness about the wave of homophobic murders in Iraq to the outside world.
Funds raised will also help provide LGBTs under threat of killing with refuge in the safer parts of Iraq (including safe houses, food, electricity, medical help) and assist efforts help them seek refuge in neighboring countries.

Iraqi Lgbt
22 Notting Hill Gate
Unit # 111
London , W11 3JE
United Kingdom
Mob: ++44 798 1959 453
Website : http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

See also: Iraq’s brutal executions by Kate Allen, Guardian

Iraqi gays claim government executing them by Paul Canning

Amnesty International: 128 prisoners to be executed in Iraq by Therion

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See also previous post about this subject:

Iran-Italy: “Makwan: A Letter From Paradise”, video-poem by Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau dedicated to Makwan Moloudzadeh

Follow the link to see the film

“Makwan: A Letter From Paradise” is a video-poem by Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau dedicated to 21-year-old Makwan Moloudzadeh who was hung in prison (Tehran) last December while the international campaign to save his life was collecting signatures and gaining momentum all over the world.

Makwan died an innocent boy. He has become a symbol, both in Iran and throughout the world, for all those who are committed to fighting the inhuman logic of the death penalty.

Thousands of activists all over the world had made a desperate appeal to the authorities and sent them white and red flowers in an attempt to stop the executioner taking his young life. At his funeral a large crowd of townspeople accompanied Makwan’s mortal remains, and prayed that his sacrifice would serve to save other human lives by inviting those in power and the judges to realise the horror of the death penalty. This video-poem was made with the support of the Moloudzadeh family, and Makwan’s Uncle Mahmoud who lives in Germany.

Two great actors have given their important contribution to the work, lending their voices to this message to humanity: Emiliano Coltorti in the Italian version; Norman Nawroski in the English version. “Makwan: a Letter from Paradise” opposes the death sentence and its terrible significance (which embodies hatred and revenge) with a respect for life; because murder constitutes, without exception, the greatest possible violation of human rights.

EveryOne Group

Full article

See also the video at the morgue
And the video of the funeral, December 6, 2007
All articles about Makwan, here

Gay refugees face prejudice across the world

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/view.php?id=7403

15th April 2008 18:20
Adam Lake

Biplob Hossain, a gay refugee from Bangladesh who is seeking asylum in Australia, and Joaquin Ramirez, facing deportation to El Salvador, have highlighted the plight of gay men who flee their countries to escape persecution.

Mr Hossain, 25, moved to Australia on a student visa when he was 19.

He applied for asylum on the basis that he would suffer persecution in Bangladesh. He was placed in a detention centre for 29 months.

After three rejections by the Refugee Review Tribunal and a failed High Court bid, Mr Hossain is hoping for a personal intervention from the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans.

He was released from Villawood Detention Centre in October 2006, but is not allowed to work or collect social security benefits.

Sandi Logan, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, told Australian SX News:

“A person’s sexual orientation does not of itself enable that person to be granted asylum.”

“We provide protection for asylum seekers under the UN definition of a refugee, under the Convention 67 protocol, which doesn’t include their sexual orientation or their fears of persecution associated with that orientation.”

Bangladeshi law states that gay sex acts are illegal and will be punished with deportation, fines and life imprisonment.

The national law itself is rarely directly enforced however there have been numerous reports of incidents of vigilantism.

People suspected of homosexuality have also been sentenced to death by a fatwa.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a gay man is facing deportation to his native El Salvador where he claims that three police officers who raped him are now out to kill him.

Joaquin Ramirez, a 39-year-old HIV-positive man said the accused perpetrators have visited his family and threatened to kill him because he infected them with the HIV virus.

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board doubted Mr Ramirez’s claims, asking why he did not seek legal support in his own country when the incident occurred.

Mr Ramirez told Canadian newspaper The Star:

“How could I go to the same people and ask them to protect me when it’s those people who did this to me?”

Mr Ramirez worked as a volunteer outreach worker with the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Salvadoran Network of People Living with HIV.

He said he was picked on by three drunken officers at a restaurant in 2006 and driven to a plantation field where he was allegedly beaten and raped.

Five months later he claims a stranger called his sister and threatened to kill him for infecting them with the virus.

The refugee didn’t believe Ramirez left El Salvador because of the alleged assault as he had already planned to leave in November 2005.

The two stories come just weeks after the much published case of Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi.

Mr Kazemi came to London in 2005 to study English but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case.

Last week the International Lesbian and Gay Association released the latest version of their map of LGBT rights across the world.

In 76 countries people face jail for having gay sex.

Homosexual acts officially carry the death penalty in several nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.

In many Muslim countries, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria and the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines, or corporal punishment.

In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws.

Some liberal Muslims, such as the members of the Al-Fatiha Foundation, accept and consider homosexuality as natural pointing out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love.

However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law not to return refugees to a place where they would face persecution.

Full Article Pink News

http://www.rue89.com/2008/04/15/la-police-sapprete-t-elle-a-ficher-les-homosexuels
Par Antonin Sabot | Etudiant en journalisme | 15/04/2008 | 16H04

Le fichier informatique Ardoise permettra de préciser si une victime, un témoin ou un suspect est homosexuel, SDF, syndicaliste…

Pas encore en service, le prochain système d’exploitation des données de la Police, baptisé Ardoise fait déjà débat. Recueillant les informations lors des enquêtes de police et de gendarmerie, il devrait remplacer les actuels logiciels Stic et Judix. Lundi 14 avril, le Collectif contre l’homophobie (CCH), basé à Montpellier, a saisi la la Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations (Halde) et la Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (Cnil) pour s’opposer à sa mise en oeuvre. L’association dénonce un recueil abusif de données à caractère personnel par ce logiciel.

Lorsque les fonctionnaires rempliront le ficher Ardoise, une fenêtre s’ouvrira leur demandant de spécifier “l’état de la personne”. Etat qui pourra contenir des données personnelles comme savoir si elle est homosexuelle, handicapée ou représentante syndicale; quel que soit son rapport avec l’affaire en cours, simple témoin, victime ou suspecte.

Averti par des fonctionnaires de police en formation sur Ardoise, le Collectif contre l’homophobie s’inquiète de la possibilité de création de fichiers catégoriels. Pour l’association, la police doit qualifier des faits et non pas “profiler des personnes”. “Rien n’exclut qu’ici où là quelqu’un fasse des extractions des données”, explique Hussein Bourgi président du CCH:

De son côté, le ministère de l’Intérieur joue l’apaisement. Selon lui, les fichiers Ardoise ne contiendront pas d’informations qui ne figuraient pas déjà dans le logiciel Stic employé jusqu’à aujourd’hui. En effet, ces fichiers contiennent bien une entrée “état de la personne”, mais qui n’était remplie que pour la victime et le suspect. Ardoise ne serait qu’une modernisation des précédents logiciels et permettrait l’unification des données détenues par la gendarmerie et la police.

Le porte-parole du ministère, Gérard Gachet, fait valoir que “lors d’une affaire avec des circonstances aggravantes comme une agression de personne homosexuelle, il faut bien que ces renseignements apparaissent quelque part”. Mais ce type d’information n’apparaît pas lorsque la personne est hétérosexuelle fait valoir le CCH. Ces informations doivent aussi aider les enquêteurs à résoudre certaines affaires et elles ne seront d’ailleurs renseignées que si elles ont un lien avec l’affaire assure le ministère: “Un avertissement clair sera affiché à ce propos.” Argument qui ne convainc pas Hussein Bourgi:

Quant à la date d’entrée en vigueur de ce système d’exploitation, le porte-parole du ministère avoue qu’il “ne sait pas” lui-même quand elle aura lieu. Elle devait intervenir au second semestre 2008, mais les tests (à Ecully, en région Lyonnaise) et les formations ne sont pas encore finies. De plus le logiciel devra être validé par la Cnil avant d’être installé.

As some of you already know, the HIV/AIDS hospice run by Blue Diamond Society was shut down because of deep-rooted homophobia.

‘Anti-gay bias evicts dying AIDS patients in Nepal’ (Thaindian News):
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/anti-gay-bias-evicts-dying-aids-patients-in-nepal_10029692.html

I’m sure you all know BDS’s commitment for equal rights for all people including LGBTI. Situation surrounding LGBTI people in Nepal is very difficult and homophobia and human rights violation are still widespread.

Sunil Pant, president of BDS has told me (and several other friends of his) that they can purchase a house and start a hospice again if they have some 100,000 US Dollars. I’ve launched a fund-raising campaign here in Japan for them and I know a few in the UK have personally donated BDS. But, the amount of donations we’ve collected so far is not enough to help BDS at all.

So, I’d like to ask you to help BDS by donating some amount and to circulate this message to your friends who will understand BDS’s grassroots and vital activism for LGBTI in Nepal.

Below is the BDS’s bank account information which I received from Sunil.
Please choose one of them and help BDS.

Thank you.

Azusa Yamashita
GayJapanNews
Tokyo, Japan

*****
INFORMATION ABOUT BDS:
Name of organization: Blue Diamond Society
Address: Shiv Bhakta Marg: 344, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +977 1 4443350 Fax: +977 1 4438600
Email: bluediamondsociety@yahoo.com
Contact person at organization: Mr. Sunil B Pant (Title: Director)

Name of Bank : Everest Bank Limited
Full street address of bank : EBL, Lazimpat-2,Kathmandu Nepal
Telephone and Fax numbers of bank: 977 1 4443377, 977 1 4443160
Account Name: Blue Diamond Society VII
Name, address and telephone of the bank account holder: Blue Diamond Society,
Lazimpat-2,Khursanitar, Shiva, Bhakta Marga, House No 344
Bank account number: 014 030400 A
SWIFT IBAN number of bank EVBLPAXXX

OR INFORMATION ABOUT OUR LOCAL BANK:
Bank Name: Himalayan Bank Limited,
Bank Address: Tridevi Marg, Thamel
City, State, and Postal Code: Kathmandu
Country: Nepal
Organization’s bank account name: Blue Diamond Society
Our organization’s bank account number: 001 00211060012
SORT CODE / SWIFT / BIC#: HIMANPKA

INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BANK’S CORRESPONDING US BANK:
Corresponding U.S. Bank’s Name: American Express Bank
Corresponding U.S. Bank’s Address: New York
City, State, and Postal Code: New York
Our bank’s account # with Corresponding U.S. Bank: 723262
9 Digit ABA (American Bank Association) Number: FED ABA
No: 124071889, (Chips No: CP 0159, SWIFT No: AEIBUS33)

GayJapanNews - Azusa Yamashita
azusa@gayjapannews.com
http://gayjapannews.com





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