Archive for the ‘Queer’ Category

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UK urged to act on Malawi arrests

Foreign Secretary receives OutRage! appeal for action

Tatchell letter delivered to jailed men

London, UK – 8 January 2010

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is being urged to press the Malawian government to release two men, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who are being held on remand over their alleged homosexual relationship, to drop all charges against them and to repeal the country’s anti-gay laws.

Mr Miliband is also being asked to seek a halt to the arrest and prosecution of three Malawian human rights campaigners, who publicly defended the jailed men and secured them legal representation.

The call comes from the London-based LGBT human rights group OutRage! Spokesperson, David Allison, has written to the Foreign Secretary, appealing to him to make representations to the President of Malawi, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

A copy of Mr Allison’s letter follows below.

Meanwhile a letter of “support and solidarity” from OutRage!’s Peter Tatchell is being delivered to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga in Chichiri Prison, Malawi. The two men, who were arrested following their engagement ceremony late last year, are being held on remand on gay sex charges ahead of their trial on 15 January

A copy of Mr Tatchell’s letter follows below.

For background on the Malawi arrests, see here:

http://www.petertatchell.net/international/malawi-gay-marriage-trial-on-15-january.html

Protest to the Malawian High Commissioner in London:

His Excellency Dr. Francis Moto, High Commission of Malawi, 70 Winnington Road, London N2 0TX, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44(0) 20 8455 5624, Fax: +44(0) 20 3235 1066. Email: malawi@malawihighcommission.co.uk

Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Malawian human rights group CEDEP

directorcedep@yahoo.com

Copy of the OutRage! letter to David Miliband MP, British Foreign Secretary:

David Miliband MP

Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH

6 January 2010

Dear Secretary of State,

This letter is in support of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, citizens of Malawi, who are being held in custody in Chichiri Prison, Malawi, and denied bail, on charges of consenting adult homosexuality following their same-sex engagement ceremony.

In doing so they have committed no criminal offence under the laws of Malawi. The ceremony is legal in Malawi and no laws were broken by the two participants.

The news release below provides more comprehensive details about their case.

We ask you to intercede with the President of Malawi, his Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to urge that these two men are not ill-treated while in prison, to urge that they are swiftly released on bail and to urge that all charges against them are dropped.

We further ask you to press the Government of Malawi to initiate moves to decriminalise homosexuality in accordance with the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the Malawian constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Finally, we ask that you call upon the Malawian government to halt police harassment and legal proceedings against HIV educators and human rights defenders from the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP); three of whose workers have recently been arrested following their public defence of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga and following their HIV education work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I hope that you feel able to make these humanitarian representations to the leaders of Malawi and that you will advise us at your earliest opportunity.

Thank you.

David Allison

OutRage! – The LGBT Human Rights Campaign

Copy of Peter Tatchell’s message the jailed men, Tiwonge and Steven:

Dear Tiwonge and Steven,

May 2010 bring you and all Malawians justice, freedom and equality.

Congratulations on your courageous witness for gay human rights, as you battle for your right to be accepted, without discrimination.

Millions of people around the world know about your arrest and detention. You have received worldwide news coverage.

Stay Strong. We are with you in this period of trial and tribulation.

You are inspirations to us all. We salute you.

Take heart. You will win in the end. Justice and freedom will triumph.

You follow in the footsteps of the Malawians who fought against colonialism and the South Africans who battled against apartheid. They were arrested and persecuted, but they were victorious eventually.

Tell the judge that Malawi’s anti-gay law was not devised by Malawians. It is was devised in London in the nineteenth century and imposed on the people of Malawi by the British colonisers and their army of occupation. Before the British came and conquered Malawi,

there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African laws.

You are making history, and history will honour you.

I send you love and solidarity!

Peter Tatchell, OutRage! London, UK

Donate to the Malawi Defence Campaign

To make a donation from a UK bank within the UK, make an electronic bank transfer to OutRage!

Account name: OutRage!

Bank: Alliance and Leicester Commercial Bank, Bootle, Merseyside, GIR 0AA

Account number: 7780 9302

Sort code: 72-00-01

For electronic transfers from abroad, please ADDITIONALLY quote this:

IBAN: GB65ALEI72000177809302

Or post a cheque payable to “OutRage!” to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT. Enclose a note giving your name and address and stating that your donation is for the Malawi Defence Campaign. OutRage! will pass the money donated to the LGBT campaign team in Malawi. Thank you.

OutRage! – 0208 240 0222 and outrage@blueyonder.co.uk

Further information:

Gift Trapence, Executive Director of the Malawian human rights group CEDP

directorcedep@yahoo.com

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

peter@petertatchell.net
www.petertatchell.net

You can follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s

Republic of Georgia Frames Gay Leader – Arrest of Paata Sabelashvili, LGBT group founder, chills nascent liberation drive – Gay City News
By Doug Ireland

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

http://inclusive-foundation.org/home/?page=publications&lang.en
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

http://direland.typepad.com/

BBC debate: Should homosexuals face execution?

Have Your Say team criticised, but debate encouraged

London – 17 December 2009

A storm of controversy has erupted after the BBC News Channel hosted an online debate – “Should homosexuals face execution?” – on its website on Wednesday 16 December 2009.

See the BBC Have Your Say Africa website here:

http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?forumID=7347&edition=1&ttl=20091217021326

Following protests, the title of the debate “Should homosexuals face execution?” was changed to “Should Uganda debate gay execution?” But opening sentence of the text below still read: “Should homosexuals face execution?”

The debate was about legislation before the Ugandan parliament that would introduce the death penalty for people who commit repeated homosexual acts.

See the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill here:

http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/09/Nov/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009_Uganda.pdf

“I think it perfectly reasonable for the BBC to host a debate about the current Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but not in the terms that it was framed,” said Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and spokesperson for the LGBT equality group, OutRage!

“The BBC would not hold online debates such as: Should Jews be exterminated? Was the Rwandan genocide justified? Should the people of Darfur be massacred? Is it right to stone women to death in Somalia?” added Mr Tatchell.

“Moreover, the BBC’s commentary announcing the debate put a very weak case against the execution of lesbian and gay Ugandans. It read like an open invitation for homophobic endorsements of the state-sponsored killing of gay people.

“It is a good thing to promote awareness and debate about this vile legislation, even if it means giving homophobes an opportunity to air their prejudice and hatred.

“We have to acknowledge that violently homophobic views still exist in many parts of the world, even in Britain. Bringing this homophobia into the open is a wake up call. It usefully jolts liberal-minded people out of their complacency.

“Engaging bigoted views in debate is the best way to change them, or at least to change some of them. Challenging and refuting homophobic ignorance is the key to overcoming it.

“Closing down debates and censoring people is dangerous. It threatens free speech and drives hatred underground, where it cannot be countered,” said Mr Tatchell.

Peter Tatchell

www.petertatchell.net

Photo: Across Africa, gays and lesbians are fighting prejudice and demanding equality (Reuters: Antony Njuguna) Source

A Commonwealth of homophobes

Despite the Commonwealth’s commitment to human rights, its member states include prominent anti-gay tyrannies
By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

The Guardian – Comment is Free – London – 26 November 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/26/commonwealth-homophobes

The Commonwealth is tainted. More than a few of the leaders who will dine with the Queen this weekend at the Commonwealth nations summit in Trinidad and Tobago have blood on their hands. They abuse the human rights of their own citizens. Some retain the death penalty and condone torture and detention without trial. Others muzzle the opposition, media and civic organisations. A number are mired in corruption; having amassed huge personal wealth while most of their people live in dire poverty.

In too many countries, the key principles of the Commonwealth – human rights, equality, non-discrimination, opportunity for all, liberty of the individual and personal dignity – are routinely violated.

And what does the Commonwealth do? Mostly nothing. No expulsions, no sanctions. Not even a condemnation.

Typical is the Commonwealth’s indifference to the widespread homophobic persecution that exists in most member states. Many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Commonwealth citizens are at risk of arrest, torture, rape, imprisonment and extra-judicial murder.

The Commonwealth secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, has failed to speak out. In particular, he has ignored requests to condemn Uganda’s new anti-homosexuality bill, which proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and “serial offenders”.

This is par for the course. For two decades, successive Commonwealth leaders have shown a systematic, persistent failure to challenge homophobic discrimination and violence – no matter how extreme.

The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, last year promised “stricter laws than Iran” and began his witch-hunt by ordering LGBT people to leave the country and threatening to “cut off the head” of any gay person who remains. The Commonwealth leadership did not rebuke him for his murderous threats.

Around 80 countries worldwide continue to outlaw homosexuality, with penalties ranging from one year’s jail to life imprisonment – and even execution. More than half of these countries are former British colonies. A majority are members of the Commonwealth, headed by the Queen.

Of the 53 Commonwealth member states, more than 40 still criminalise same-sex relations, mostly under anti-gay laws that were originally imposed by the British government in the 19th century, during the period of colonial rule.

These homophobic imperial laws, which were forced on the colonies and then retained after independence, are wrecking the lives of LGBT people throughout the Commonwealth. They criminalise otherwise law-abiding citizens and contribute to a hostile social atmosphere that demonises LGBT people as unnatural, abnormal, marginal and criminal.

This renders LGBTs liable to blackmail, imprisonment, mob violence, rejection by their families, excommunication from their faith, eviction from their homes, dismissal from their jobs; making many of them high risk for depression, mental illness and suicide. Such bigotry and ill-treatment is a stain on the Commonwealth.

According this year’s global survey by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, some Commonwealth nations rank among the most homophobic on Earth. Same-sex relations carry maximum penalties of life imprisonment in Uganda, Bangladesh, Guyana and Sierra Leone. It is 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia, and 14 years in Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi and Papua New Guinea. Twelve states in Nigeria have sharia law and the death penalty.

Earlier this month, I wrote an open letter to the Commonwealth secretary general, pointing out that he is “entrusted to defend and promote the Commonwealth’s humanitarian values” but was neglecting to so, on LGBT human rights and on a range of other humanitarian issues:

It is extremely disappointing that the Commonwealth leadership appears to not regard LGBT rights as human rights and that it has neglected to protect LGBT citizens in the Commonwealth family of nations. This inaction is de facto collusion with victimisation.

The most homophobic Commonwealth country is Uganda. The anti-homosexuality bill, currently under consideration by the Ugandan parliament, proposes the death penalty for certain homosexual acts and life imprisonment for all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have gay sex. Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex mariage. Membership of LGBT organisations and funding for them, advocacy of LGBT human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people will result in a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of seven years for “promoting” homosexuality.

A person in authority who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will incur three years behind bars. Astonishingly, the new legislation has an extra-territorial jusridiction. It will also apply to Ugandans who commit these ‘crimes’ while living abroad, in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda.

See this appeal against the bill by Human Rights Watch and other human rights defenders, and this call to action by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission:

The Ugandan bill violates the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Uganda is a signatory. These breaches of international humanitarian commitments undermine the right to privacy and individual liberty and thereby set a dangerous legal precedent which threatens the human rights of all Ugandans. They are part of a wider drift towards an authoritarian state. President Museveni is fast turning into another Robert Mugabe.

The anti-homosexuality bill has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists and the World Aids Campaign. You can lobby the Commonwealth secretary-general here. Homophobic and transphobic persecution in Uganda and other Commonwealth states breaches international human rights law. It is time the Commonwealth took a stand against it. Over to you, Kamalesh Sharma.
www.petertatchell.net

You can follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s.

“Kill gays” preacher hosted by London universities

Vice Chancellor urged to resign, after ignoring complaints

Student’s Union backs hosting Islamist hate-mongers

London – 24 November 2009

“University College London is planning to host an extremist Islamist preacher, Abu Usamah, who endorses the murder of gay people and of Muslims who give up their faith. He also encourages the beating of little girls who refuse to wear the hijab,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“The university would never allow a lecture by a white supremacist who used racist abuse and advocated the murder of black people. Why the double standards?” queried Mr Tatchell.

Abu Usamah has been invited to address the Islamic Society at University College London next Monday, 30 November.

On 4 November, he was given a similar platform by City University.

“The Vice Chancellor of City University London, Julius Weinberg, should resign. He has ignored student’s complaints after the Islamic Society organised an on-campus meeting addressed by Abu Usamah.

“It is utterly disgraceful that the student’s union has defended the hosting of this hate preacher, and that the Vice Chancellor has not responded to protests from students. This violates the equal opportunities policies of the university and the student’s union,” added Mr Tatchell.

Abu Usamah was recorded for Channel Four’s television documentary, Undercover Mosque, as saying: “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man ….and throw him off the mountain…. If I was to turn around and I was to call homosexuals perverted, dirty filthy dogs that should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech isn’t it?”

On Muslims who leave the faith he said: “Kill him in the Islamic state…If the Imam wants to crucify him, he should crucify him. The person is put up on the wood and he’s left there to bleed to death for three days.”

Abu Usamah was also filmed by Channel Four deriding women as “deficient”, inferior to men and religously and intellectually “incomplete.” He advocates violence against little girls who refuse to wear the hijab: “She should start hijab from the age of seven, by the age of ten it becomes an obligation on us to force her to wear hijab and if she doesn’t wear hijab, we hit her.”

Another speaker given a platform at the same City University event on 4 November, Murtaza Khan, was also caught on the Undercover Mosque documentary calling Jews and Christians “enemies” and non-Muslims “filthy”.

“The Vice Chancellor seems unwilling to uphold the university’s equal opportunities policy. He has failed to defend Muslim, Jewish, Christian, gay and women students and staff against these hate-mongers. Having neglected to ensure that the university is a safe, non-threatening place to work and study, Julius Weinberg should stand down,” said Mr Tatchell.

A copy of the City University newspaper news report and editorial on the case follows below.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell – 0207 403 1790

Fran Singh, Editor, The Inquirer
fran@cityinquirer.com
0781 799 8889

A copy of the City University newspaper news report and editorial on the case:

Storm over extremist preachers

The Inquirer, City University London newspaper

18 NOVEMBER 2009
By Gemma Meredith

http://cityinquirer.com/?p=1156

Lesbian and gay students have condemned City’s Islamic Society for hosting an extreme Islamist preacher at a campus event.

Abu Usamah spoke at the Islamic Society’s charity fundraising event “The People of Paradise and Hellfire” on Wednesday 4 November. He is notorious for his appearance in a Channel 4 documentary two years ago making inflammatory comments about homosexuals, women, non-Muslims and those who have left the faith.

The film recorded him saying: “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.” On Muslims who leave the faith he said: “If the Imam wants to crucify him, he should crucify him. The person is put up on the wood and he’s left there to bleed to death for three days.”

He also claimed on the record that women were inferior to men: “Allah has created the woman, even if she has a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete. Deficient. She may be suffering from hormones that will make her emotional. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the one witness of the man.”

The City University Lesbian, Gay , Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Society released a statement on Usamah’s appearance, saying: “Providing publicity for extremists who preach hate risks not just freedom of speech, but all human rights, democracy and ultimately, the well-being of students at City University.

“We strongly oppose the decision to invite extremist Abu Usamah to speak at one of the largest lecture theatres at City University. Inviting such a controversial extremist who has previously expressed offensive views about homosexuals, women and non-Muslims to our university campus is morally and ethically wrong.

“Events such as this, led by a speaker who shares generally immoral views including homophobia, is likely to lead to an already increasing rise in hate crime in London.”

Usamah avoided controversy at the City event, delivering a moderate speech. Although he condemned killing in the name of jihad (holy war), he also said: “Jihad is from our religion. We will not renounce our religion.”

It is not only Usumah’s appearance that has caused concern. The opening speaker, Murthadah Khan, was also caught on the Undercover Mosque documentary calling Jews and Christians “enemies” and “filthy”. Publicity for the event said: “Bring all your friends; Muslims, kuffaar.” Kuffaar is a derogatory term for non-Muslims.

The Inquirer offered an interview to the Islamic Society, which declined to comment. Acting vice-chancellor Julius Weinberg was also unavailable for comment.

Marcus Mikely, vice-president of communications and publications for City students’ union, said: “The university has no right to stop this from happening as the event was based around charity, not his views on other subjects. If the union had received complaints prior to the event, we would have looked into it.”

This is not the first time the Islamic Society has courted controversy. In April it invited Anwar al-Awlaki to address a meeting via video link from Yemen.

Al-Awlaki, an American, has been accused by the US Government of encouraging “terrorist acts” via the internet. He was interviewed by the FBI after the 9/11 attacks, when he was accused of serving as a spiritual adviser to two of the terrorists. He recently had communication with Major Nidal Hassan, the US soldier who killed 13 people at the Fort Hood army base. He has described Hassan as “a hero”.

In April the university officials intervened, warning the society that broadcasting al-Awlaki’s speech would break university rules. The university’s official code of practice on freedom of speech says: “We will guarantee by policy and action the right of free speech within the university community unless the exercise of such a right can be shown to lead to or increase significantly the probability of the discrimination of individuals or groups, harm to individuals or groups within the university, or the university or the community within which the university is located.”

EDITORIAL – The Inquirer says

19 NOVEMBER 2009

http://cityinquirer.com/?p=1281

Tragically, the Islamic society has become both victim as well as a perpetrator of discrimination within the space of a week. The horrific mob attack in which four Asians were stabbed (two of them City students), appears to have been racially motivated.

There is no evidence to suggest the attack is in anyway linked to the invitation of radical Muslim preachers Abu Usamah and Murthadah Khan, which was strongly condemned by the LGBT society, but there must be questions asked as to why extremism has been allowed to prosper in the Islamic society. Consider these quotes by Abu Usamah and Murthadah Khan: “Do you practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.”

“Allah has created the woman, even if she has a PhD, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete. Deficient. It takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the one witness of the man.” “Those whom the wrath of God is upon is the Jew and the Christian. These people are enemies towards us.”

Why does the Islamic society continue to invite hate preachers to the university? It certainly does nothing to promote integration with other communities and can often lead to dangerous and incorrect stereotyping.

It is not the university’s place to ban everyone who challenges and pushes the boundaries – as it has done on past occasions with varying inconsistency. Free speech is a universal right and should be defended, but hate speech should not. Equally, we should be free to criticise those who wish to divide us, spread homophobia and sexism, and call Jews and Christians “filthy”.

The Islamic Society needs to take more responsibility about whom it extends invitations to. The university, a place for education, should not be the arena for non-educational talks from radicals, especially when it causes serious offence to large proportions of the student population.

Since the attacks the Islamic Society has published a graphic on its website saying “Islamaphobia is terrorism”. It also added: “Non-Muslims are also encouraged to take care of themselves and be cautious of any suspicious behaviour. Our concern is not restricted to Muslim welfare only.” With no pun intended, perhaps the society needs to practice what it preaches a little bit more. It doesn’t appear to be too concerned about the welfare of those whose Khan and Usamah’s opinions so actively risk.

Further information: Fran Singh, Editor, The Inquirer
fran@cityinquirer.com
0781 799 8889

ENDS

www.petertatchell.net

Terror Campaign Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Iraqis Continues Unchecked by Iraqi Government

IRAQI LGBT – November 2009 – The rise of fundamentalist groups in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. led invasion has proven deadly to LGBT Iraqis, who are now being forced to either hide or face the consequences.

Using the internet as a means to track down new victims, militia members are now employing computer analysts to monitor traffic on gay dating and networking websites in the region. They work with internet café owners to single out people who frequent these sites and set up fake profiles in the attempt to lure them out.

On the 28th of August, police raided the houses of Asad Galib and Faeq Ismail, both 24 years old, and took them into custody. They were held and questioned for about four hours, accused of viewing gay websites in an internet café on the 21st of July. Both men denied the accusations and explained that the websites had already been open when they had begun using the computers. They were later released and are now in contact with Iraqi LGBT, a London based organization working to support and protect LGBT individuals in Iraq.

Others who have been accused or are suspected of such activities have not been as lucky.

On the 2nd of September, the body of 21-year-old student Mizher Hussien was discovered in Al Najaf, a city south of Baghdad. His head and genitals had been severed, and he had the word “pervert” written in black across his chest. The details of his murder are unknown, and Iraqi police have refused to launch an investigation into the cause or motivation of the crime.

On the 18th of September in Al Shatra Amara, two bodies were found exhibiting signs of torture. They had both been decapitated and left with a paper stating, “This is the end of all pervert homosexuals”.

Iraqi LGBT has been working since 2003 to raise awareness of the abuses being committed against LGBT people in Iraq, as well as provide protection to those who have been targeted. The organization currently funds a number of safe houses in the region, with nearly 100 individuals in Iraq directly benefitting from their work. In addition, Iraqi LGBT has been involved in securing asylum for Iraqi refugees who have been forced to flee the country.

Unfortunately, Iraqi LGBT has not been able to help everyone. The organization estimates that over 720 LGBT men and women have been murdered by these extremist militias in the last six years. The Iraqi government has largely been absent in pursuing the roaming death squads who carry out these acts, likely due to the influence of extremist Shia religious parties that are calling for a moral cleansing of Iraq.

With extremist militias threatening all those known to support LGBT rights, including the 2006 raid of an Iraqi LGBT planning meeting in which five activists were arrested, there is little hope for Iraqis suffering under the new socio-political climate. Once the most liberal and secular of the Arab nations, nowadays a religious extremism has taken hold of the country to the detriment of its people.

Iraqi LGBT calls for immediate international action to prevent the further torture and execution of LGBT people in Iraq. More information and details on making donations to the safe houses effort can be found at the Iraqi LGBT blog:

http://www.facebook.com/l/97cbb;iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2009/11/terror-campaign-against-lesbian-gay.html

Sent by Maurizio Cecconi

Dear friends,

The reason why we’ve decided to contact you is because we believe that your support to our cause is vital. It could help us raise the profile of the struggle for equality that we are fighting in our own country.

We are outraged and appalled at the wave of homophobia we are seeing growing every day, and at the increasing number of hate crimes being committed against people because of their sexual orientation, both in Italy and abroad. The recent cases in Italy as in the rest of Europe are testimony to this awful spread in violence.

But we would like to draw your attention on something which might be happening at thousands of kilometres away, but nevertheless affect us all because it shows how barbaric, violent and homophobic our so-called “Western civilisation” is becoming.

The Italian parliament just yesterday scrapped a bill aimed at protecting gay people from hate crimes, on the grounds that it would violate the country’s national constitution. A debate over the introduction of such legislation had stemmed from the wave of murders, beatings, verbal aggressions and acts of bullying against LGBT people occurred in Italy in the last few months.

However, the Italian parliament’s justification for throwing out the bill – which would have raised penalties against acts of violence motivated by homophobia – was simply absurd: they said that it would give “unequal protection” to gays compared to other groups, violating the principle of equality.

A number of MPs even motivated their choice by saying that the very expression “sexual orientation” is in itself “ambiguous”, as it could include things like paedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia, incest and so on. And they didn’t simply state it verbally, but put it writing in a legal document that the majority of the parliament then approved.

This is delirious and insulting for our own dignity of Italians, but also for the dignity of every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual person living anywhere in Europe and in the world. It effectively touches each and every one of us living in the EU, because we are all part of the same Union, and there are basic principles of equality and respect that all of our governments are bound to respect.

Following the bill rejection, the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Italian Parliament’s stance is a “step backward for human rights in Italy”.

We ask you to support us in our battle for equality, by helping us organise and hold a protest/demonstration in front of the Italian embassy as soon as possible, involving as many people as possible to have our voice clearly heard.

Helping us protect LGBT rights in Italy today also means protecting your own rights to be yourselves, to live and to exist tomorrow in every part of the world.

Arcigay – Gay & Lesbian Italian Association

www.causes.com/decriminalisation

www.arcigay.it

Italian Embassies All Around The World
http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Ministero/Rappresentanze/default.htm?LANG=EN

Write An E-Mail To:

Giorgio Napolitano – President of Italian Republic
https://servizi.quirinale.it/webmail/

Gianfranco Fini – President of House of Representatives
fini_g@camera.it

Renato Schifani – President of Senate
schifani_r@posta.senato.it

Silvio Berlusconi – Prime Minister
http://www.camera.it/altresezionism/1568/1567/email.asp?recipient=berlusconi_s@camera.it
or
berlusconi_s@camera.it

Mara Carfagna – Minister for Equal Opportunities
antidiscriminazioni@pariopportunita.gov.it

Jamaican Gay bashingJamaican Gay Bashing, Don’t Panic

The global struggle for queer freedom

Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2009

by Peter Tatchell

Most of the world is still living in the homophobic dark ages, but LGBT people are defiant and making gains.

Delivered 13 October 2009 at Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln, UK.

It is a very great honour, and joy, to deliver the Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2009. Caroline was a friend and comrade. I remember her with much affection. She left us with a fine humanitarian legacy as a leading advocate of comprehensive education and better educational opportunities. She also lives on, in spirit, through her inspiring, passionate support for socialism, trade union rights, women’s equality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) freedom. She was a true progressive, who dedicated her life, with much honour and nobility, to the upliftment of humanity. I am very proud to have known Caroline, and salute her life and work with this lecture.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have made great progress in Britain, especially in the last decade. But in large parts of the world, homophobic and transphobic oppression remains rife.

Take Jamaica, a country with which Britain has close ties. It is a parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth. It is not a police-state dictatorship. Yet male homosexuality is criminalised and punishable with up to 10 years hard labour. Homophobic discrimination and violence is endemic and the government refuses to take any serious action to protect LGBT Jamaicans.

One of my Jamaican colleagues was the AIDS educator and gay rights activist, Steve Harvey. He was a trail-blazer for LGBT people and especially for people with HIV. In late 2005, a gang burst into his home, kidnapped him, took him to a remote place and shot him dead in an execution-style killing.

Soon afterwards, Nokia Cowen drowned when he jumped into Kingston harbour to escape a violent homophobic mob that had chased him through town. A few weeks later, Jamaica’s trade ambassador, Peter King, was found dead with his throat slashed and multiple stab wounds. Then there was the gruesome discovery of the mutilated bodies of two lesbians, who were found dumped in a septic pit behind the house they shared. All these horrific, homophobic killings happened just weeks apart.

Only this summer, John Terry, the British consul in Jamaica, was brutally mudered in his own home by a killer who left a note abusing him as a “batty man” (Jamaican patois slang for faggot), and warning that the same fate would happen to “all gays.”

Homophobic violence is routine in Jamaica, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. LGBT victims of hate crimes seldom get justice. Police sometimes ignore anti-gay attacks and some officers have been known to abuse, threaten, beat and arrest gay-bashing victims. The perpetrators of homophobic violence are rarely put on trial and convicted.

What is happening in Jamaica is symptomatic of a much wider homophobic persecution.

Around 80 countries continue to outlaw homosexuality, with penalties ranging from one year’s jail to life imprisonment. Just under half these countries are former British colonies and current members of the Commonwealth – a community of nations supposedly committed to uphold democracy and human rights. The anti-gay laws in these Commonwealth nations were originally legislated by the British government in the nineteenth century during the period of colonial rule. They were never repealed when these nations won their independence from Britain.

As well as homophobic laws, British imperalism imposed homophobic prejudice, by means of the fire and brimstone Christian fundamentalist missionaries who sought to “civilise” the so-called “heathen” peoples of the colonies. Some civilisation! The British conquerers instilled in these countries a homophobic hatred that lives on to this day, which is wrecking the lives of LGBT people.

Homophobia is particularly extreme in the Islamist states that impose the death penalty for same-sex relations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan and the Yemen. In some regions of other countries, such as Nigeria and Pakistan, Sharia law is enforced and lesbians and gays can be stoned to death.

Amid this gloom, last December something truly remarkable and historic happened. Sixty-six countries signed a United Nations’ statement calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and condemning homophobic discrimination and violence. This was the first time the UN General Assembly had addressed the issue of LGBT human rights. Previously, all resolutions that attempted to get UN committees to endorse LGBT equality had been blocked by an unholy alliance of the Vatican and Islamic states.

Despite this breakthrough statement, even today no international human rights convention specifically acknowledges sexual rights as human rights. None explicitly guarantee equality and non-discrimination to LGBT people. The right to love a person of one’s choice is absent from global humanitatrian statutes. Relationships between partners of the same sex are not officially recognised in any international law. There is nothing in the many UN conventions that concretely guarantees LGBT equality and prohibits homophobic discrimination

Nor are specific LGBT rights and protections included within the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It is only in the last decade or so that the ECHR’s equality and privacy clauses been interpreted to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

In the late 1990s, British LGBT citizens filed appeals at the European Court of Human Rights, against the UK’s then discriminatory, homophobic laws. They cited the ECHR’s right-to-privacy and anti-discrimination clauses to successfully challenge centuries-old anti-gay UK legislation. These victories at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg forced the British government to repeal the unequal age of consent for gay men, discriminatory sexual offences laws and the ban on lesbians and gays serving in the armed forces.

ECHR judgments also successfully pressured Romania and Cyprus to decriminalise homosexuality. The ECHR has thus played an important role in challenging and overturning homophobic legislation.

Of the 192 member states of the UN, only a handful have repealed all major legal inequalities against LGBT people: including the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, New Zealand and, more recently, the UK.

Britain’s record was not always so positive. In the 1980s, the UK had a greater number of homophobic laws than the then communist-ruled Soviet Union. Nowadays, we are one of the most progressive European countries. We’ve gone from zero to hero in a mere decade.

In large parts of the world, however, homophobia is still rampant. Hundreds of millions of LGBT people are forced to hide their sexuality; fearing ostracism, harassment, discrimination, imprisonment, torture and even murder.

Some of this violence is perpetrated by vigilantes, including right-wing death squads in countries like Mexico and Brazil. They justify the killing of queers as “social cleansing.”
Other homophobic persecution is officially encouraged and enforced by governments, police, courts, media and religious leaders.

This persecution is happening even in Europe and the US. In echoes of Margaret Thatcher’s notorious Section 28, Lithuania has just passed a new law banning the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality. The US maintains a federal ban on same-sex marriage and openly LGBT people are not allowed to serve in the armed forces.

Homophobic injustice is rife in much of Africa. Cameroonian gay men have been arrested and jailed in the last year, without any clear evidence that they had same-sex relations.

In Nigeria, in 2005, six teenage lesbians, one only 12 years old, were ordered to be punished with an agonising 90 lashes for consensual same-sex relations. Last year, a Nigerian gay pastor and another Christian gay activist were forced to flee the country after threats to kill them.

In Nepal, there is a long, sad history of transgender people being regularly beaten, raped, arrested and detained without trial.

Government ministers in Namibia, echoing the homo-hatred of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, have denounced lesbians and gays as unAfrican, as traitors and as spreaders of HIV/AIDS.

In the new post-Saddam Hussein “democratic” Iraq, the rise of Islamist fundamentalism has led to the creeping, de facto imposition of Sharia law, with deadly consequences for LGBTs – and for women who refuse to be veiled. Iraqis who murder LGBT people to defend the “honour” of their family escape punishment. The US and UK-backed Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a fatwa calling for the execution of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.” Islamist death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias are assassinating LGBT people in their homes and streets, with impunity.

Russian religious leaders have united to orchestrate a campaign of hatred against the LGBT community. The Orthodox Church has denounced homosexuality as a “sin which destroys human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death.” The Chief Mufti of Russia’s Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin, says gay campaigners “should be bashed… Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.” Russian Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, has condemned gay pride parades as “a blow for morality,” adding that there is no right to “sexual perversions.”

The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, has denounced gay people as “satanic.” He has repeatedly banned Gay Pride marches. This violates Russia’s constitution and law, which guarantee freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest. LGBT people who have attempted to march have been violently arrested.

The Iranian persecution of LGBTs continues unabated. Twenty-two year old Amir was entrapped by via a gay dating website. The person he arranged to meet turned out to be a member of the morality police. Amir was jailed, tortured and sentenced to 100 lashes, which caused him to lose consciousness and left his whole back covered in huge bloody welts. He is just one of many Iranian LGBTs who have been subjected to lashings, torture, imprisonment and, sometimes, execution.

The western-backed regime in Saudi Arabia retains the death penalty – usually beheading – for homosexuality. In early 2006, its neighbour, the United Arab Emirates, imposed six years jail on 11 gay men arrested at a private party. They were not imprisoned for sexual acts, but merely for being gay and attending a gay social gathering.

The election of a right-wing, Catholic fundamentalist government in Poland in 2005 resulted in the abolition of the government office for combating discrimination against women and LGBTs. The same year, the Mayor of Poznan banned the Gay Pride parade. LGBT people marched anyway. Over 60 were arrested. Many more were injured after the police failed to protect them from the violence of far right counter-protesters.

Uganda is gripped by the state-sponsored victimisation of LGBT people. Typical is the fate of gay rights activist Kizza Musinguzi. He was jailed in 2004 and subjected to four months of forced labour, water torture, beatings and rape. Another gay Ugandan, Isaac K, narrowly escaped an attempted summary execution by a homophobic mob acting with the connivance of local government officials.

Those who speak out against anti-gay violence risk dire consequences. Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo was dismissed by the Church of Uganda for defending the human rights of LGBT people.

In recent years, the Ugandan government has passed a law banning same-sex marriage, fined Radio Simba for broadcasting a discussion of LGBT issues, and expelled a UN AIDS agency director for meeting with gay activists.

LGBT people have nevertheless made huge strides forward in many parts of the world. A mere four decades ago, “queers” were almost universally seen as mad, bad and sad. Same-sex relations were deemed a sin, a crime and a sickness. It was in only 1991 that the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as an illness, and that Amnesty International agreed to campaign for LGBT human rights and to adopt jailed LGBTs as prisoners of conscience.

Nowadays, the global tide is shifting in favour of LGBT emanicipation. An out gay man and LGBT activist, Sunil Pant, was elected to the parliament of Nepal in the post-monarchy elections. In 1999, Georgina Beyer took office in New Zealand, becoming the world’s first openly transgender MP. Uruguay, formerly a military dictatorship, this summer lifted its prohibition on gay servicemen and women. The Lebanon has made history by becoming the first Arab Middle East nation to allow the open, legal establishment of an LGBT welfare and human rights group, Helem.

While fundamentalist religion is still a major threat to LGBT equality, we also have our allies in many faiths. The anti-aparheid hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has compared homophobia to racism, and described the battle for LGBT freedom as the moral equivalent of the fight against apartheid.

Six countries now outlaw sexual orientation discrimination in their constitutions: South Africa (1996), Fiji (1997), Ecuador (1998), Switzerland (2000), Sweden (2003) and Portugal (2004).

In almost every country on earth, there are LGBT freedom movements – some open, others clandestine.

For the first time ever, countries like the Philippines, Estonia, Lebanon, Columbia, Russia, Sri Lanka, and China are hosting LGBT conferences and Pride celebrations. Via the internet and pop culture, LGBT people in small towns in Ghana, Peru, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Vietnam, St Lucia, Palestine, Fiji and Kenya are connecting with the worldwide LGBT community. The struggle for LGBT liberation has gone global. We’ve begun to roll back the homophobia of centuries. Bravo!

Postscript:

LGBT movements worldwide are urging every government to legislate LGBT equality and human rights and to tackle homophobic and transphobic prejudice, harassment, discriminatiion and violence. These demands include:

1 – Decriminalise same-sex relations; in particular, abolish the death penalty and flogging.

2 – Allow the formation of LGBT organisations and the advocacy of LGBT human rights; and consult with these organisations and their spokespeople when drafting new laws and policies.

3 – Outlaw discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in employment, housing, education, advertising, health-care and the provision of goods and services, such as hotel accommodation and service in bars and restaurants.

4 – Establish an equal age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual acts.

5 – Grant legal recognition and rights to same-sex partners; either via civil marriage or civil partnerships / civil unions.

6 – Teach gay-inclusive sex and civic education in schools, in order to challenge homophobia and promote understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.

7 – Crackdown on homophobic hate crimes, to protect LGBTs from hate-motivated violence.

8 – Revise all laws to make them sexuality-neutral, so there is no legislative differentiation between heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality, and so that heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual people have the same rights and responsibilities in law.

9 – Provide access for same-sex couples to fertility treatment and give them the right to foster and adopt children.

10 – Offer gay-inclusive HIV education and prevention campaigns, non-discriminatory HIV care and support services, and LGBT access to free or low-cost condoms.

Onward, upward and forward to queer liberation worldwide.

* Peter Tatchell has campaigned for LGBT human rights for over 40 years. For more information about his campaigns and to make a donation: http://www.petertatchell.net


NOTE: Please do not reply via this automated email system.

www.petertatchell.net

You can also follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s

Stop Witch-Hunting Gay Ugandans

Ugandan MP proposes that gays should be executed

By Jessica Geen • October 15, 2009 – Pink News

A Ugandan MP has proposed that lawmakers should create a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which would be punishable by death.

Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, of the ruling party, tabled the private member’s bill in parliament on Tuesday.

According to his bill, those convicted of having gay sex with disabled people and those under the 18 would face the death penalty.

The bill, titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, would give the same punishment to anyone infected with HIV who has sex with someone of the same gender.

It also imposes life imprisonment on those who have homosexual sex. Although this is already the case in Uganda, the new law widens the definition of the offence.

Other offence include promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house “for purposes of homosexuality”.

Bahati said his bill would protect children, youths and the “traditional family”.

Human rights activists say Uganda, with a population of 31 million, has some 500,000 gays and lesbians.

Ugandan officials have previously blamed Europe and human rights groups for ‘spreading’ homosexuality.

President of Uganda Kaguta Yoweri Museveni and other officials have spoken out against gays on numerous occasions.

Mr Museveni spoke of his country’s “rejection” of homosexuality during a speech he gave at the wedding of a former MP’s daughter last year.

He said the purpose of life was to create children and that homosexuality was a “negative foreign culture.”

Earlier this year, a number of gay groups were accused of “recruiting” children into homosexuality by methods such as giving them pocket money.

It was reported that men describing themselves as born-again Christians were “confessing” to persuading children to become gay before finding God and “quitting” homosexuality.

Full Article

Out In Africa - Our Gorgeous Posters Have Been Trashed

Our gorgeous posters have been trashed
By Out In Africa • Sep 15th, 2009 • Category: Film Festival News •
http://www.oia.co.za/

Article by Jason Warner

http://www.oia.co.za/film-festivals/our-gorgeous-posters-have-been-trashed/

A gay and lesbian film festival has been “devastated” after more than 700 posters showing same-sex couples kissing were removed from lamp posts.

An outraged Out in Africa South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival director Nodi Murphy has lodged a complaint with police.

“Some stupid twits with more time on their hands than brains trashed our gorgeous posters. And for what?”

Out In Africa - Our Gorgeous Posters Have Been Trashed

Launched in 1994 to celebrate the constitution prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, the festival is on at the Nu Metro V&A waterfront until Sunday.

Alerted by a Sea Point resident, Murphy had driven around the city and had “seen empty places where my posters have been”.

She said she suspects the “two-day systematic removal of the 700 posters” had been carried out by fundamentalist religious or right-wing groups.
Murphy said she hoped to see the vandals “in the court of law, with them doing community service at a gay and lesbian project”.

She said the organisers had been advised to lodge a complaint so that they could receive permission to view CCTV footage of where many of the posters had been.

The office of the executive mayor of Cape Town approved and paid R32 000 for the posters, Murphy said: “It’s their money that’s been wasted and I can’t imagine them being too happy. I’ll be in their office tomorrow discussing the matter.”
She believed the festival had helped to promote tolerance.

“I kept thinking that there was an end to my work and that people have come to tolerate gays and lesbians. I don’t know why there has been this upsurge (in homophobia) all of a sudden. I think it’s because we’re an easy target. When there’s fear in the world its easier to go after a minority group.”

Murphy said there had been many messages praising the poster design as well as queries as to where the posters had gone.

“I’m outraged. It’s my right to advertise, we have a constitution and our rights are protected.
This breaking news flash was supplied exclusively to iol.co.za by the news desk at our sister title, The Cape Times.

http://www.oia.co.za/





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