Archive for November, 2007
By Doug Ireland
I wrote the following article for Gay City News — New York’s largest lesbian and gay weekly newspaper — which published it today:
President George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not agree on much, but tragically they may find common ground about the disposability of Hassan Parhizkar’s life.
Since November 7, this mild-mannered 40-year-old gay Iranian businessman from Rockville, Maryland has been sitting in jail in the Frederick County, Maryland Detention Center, housed with common criminals, in the living hell of limbo between the freedom he has known since he came to the United States as a young man 17 years ago and the certain persecution, imprisonment, or worse that will be his fate as a gay man if he is sent back to Iran.
A deportation order to send him back to Iran has been issued, and any day he could be put on a plane back to Tehran, where he was born.
“I am very afraid, and so very frustrated,” Hassan Parhizkar told me in a truncated, collect telephone call from jail.
“My asylum request has never been before an immigration judge. I just don’t know what to do, I just don’t know what to do…” he added in a voice choked with tears.
“I work hard, I pay my taxes, and I live a quiet life without bothering anybody,” Parhizkar told this reporter.
Parhizkar was arrested out of the blue earlier this month during a routine visit to an immigration office. He and his attorney explained that for the past five years he fully observed the terms of a supervised probation that stemmed from a 1999 deportation order, of which he was unaware until 2002 because he had the bad fortune of hiring, back in 1992, a man fraudulently presenting himself as a licensed attorney to pursue an asylum claim. And those five years of waiting were years of unspeakable dread. Parhizkar said he has never been a burden on US taxpayers. When he came to this country, he joined his much older brother, who had emigrated to the US at the age of 17 and eventually opened a used car sales and repair business in which Parhizkar worked.
“My brother came to the US before the [1979 theocratic] revolution in Iran, and was completely Americanized, so he accepted me as I was, and never had an issue with my being gay,” Parhizkar told this reporter. “When my brother died, sadly, in 2003, he left the entire business to me. I also own the property on which it is located.”
To follow here :
Russian Judge Backs Another Gay Demo Ban: Organisers ready to go up to the European Court of Human Rights
A Moscow court has dismissed a complaint from the organisers of the picket in support of the EU visa ban for Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for his violations of human rights and particularly the right to freedom of assembly.
The picket, organised by several organizations including LGBT Human Rights Project, GayRussia.Ru and movement LGBT Rights, was supposed to take place on 27th June, the day Mr. Luzhkov was being confirmed by the City’s Duma (parliament) for other term in office.
Organisers planned to picket the office of the representation of the European Commission in the Russian Federation and give the letter to EU authorities asking for the EU entrance ban for Luzhkov.
Organisers informed the prefercture of the Central Area of Moscow about the picket on 22nd June.
On 25th June the deputy prefect informed them that the prefecture has nothing against holding of the picket two days later.
On 27th June, right before the start of the picket, organisers were given another letter signed by deputy prefect dated 26th June in which the picketing was banned due to rebuilding works next to the office of the European Commission representative.
The prefecture said this created a threat to the security of the participants.
Around 25 activists showed up to take part in the picket with placards carrying the slogans “Luzhkov: Moscow – Strasbourg – The Hague” and “Europe, Ban Luzhkov’s EU entrance.”
Three of the participants, including the chief organiser Kirill Nepomnyaschiy, were arrested by the police and taken to the local police station. They were later released.
In their complaint to Taganski district court organisers maintained that prefecture breached the time limits set by the law for the consideration of the notifications and did not offer any alternative place or time of the event.
Organisers insisted that the ban on the picket was due to the information that appeared in the media after the authorisation that there are representatives of sexual minorities among the organisers and participants.
The representative of the prefecture said in court on Wednesday that prefecture did not ban the event but terminated it due to security reasons.
In which case they were not obliged to offer any alternative place.
Despite the fact that the second letter of the prefecture clearly bans the picket and not terminates it.
According to Russian law a public event can be terminated only after it already started.
Judge Mikhail Kazakov sided with the arguments of the prefecture and dismissed organiser’s complaint.
Moscow Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev, who was one of the organisers, of the picket, was in court yesterday.
“What is going on in Moscow courts is really becoming outrageous,” he said.
“There is not rule of law anymore because the law is being interpreted in the way that is suitable for the authorities.
“Yesterday’s decision is the outrageous proof of it. We are going to appeal the decision to Moscow City Court when it is ready in the final version and then we will send this case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”
Next week the same judge, Mikhail Kazakov, will consider another ban on the picket against homophobia organised by gays in front of the office of the Fair Russia political party.
On 10th December the same judge will consider the ban of the picket against restrictions on blood donations by homosexuals which was supposed to take place next to the Health Ministry.
“Our application concerning the ban of the first Gay Pride in Moscow on 27th May 2006 is in Strasbourg since January and shortly we are going to send to the European Court the application concerning the ban of this year’s Gay Pride,” said Mr Alekseev.
Three Iraq safe houses forced to close
No funds to pay rent or utility bills
30 gay people left to fend for themselves
London and Baghdad – 6 November 2007
Three out of five gay safe houses in Iraq are closing down, due to a lack of funds to pay their rent and utility bills.
The refuges were set up two years ago, to provide a place of safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) Iraqis who have fled homophobic threats and attempts to kill them by religious fundamentalists and death squads.
“Iraqi lgbt has made a huge effort to keep all of its five safe houses running, to provide refuge for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iraqis who have fled homophobic violence and threats to kill them,” said Ali Hili, founder and coordinator of the human rights group, Iraqi lgbt.
“Many of the people we helped have been targeted by the Iraqi police and by Shia militia and other fundamentalist factions.
“Because of a lack of funds, three safe houses have had to close their doors. This decision will break a lot of hearts, but we have no other choice. We don’t have the financial support to sustain these refuges.
“Over 30 gay residents who we cared for in these three safe houses now have to take their chances in a country where religious militia regularly seek out gays and execute them.
“Several months ago, two lesbians working with Iraqi lgbt were assassinated in the safe house they were running in Najaf, along with a young boy the women had rescued from the sex industry.
“We feel deserted by the international gay community. Few people seem to care about our fate.
“Many brave lgbt Iraqis assisted our efforts. We would like to acknowledge their exceptional commitment.
“Sabah, Gada, Sana and Mona are four lesbians who dedicated their time and energy to provide food, cleaning and support to people in the safe houses in their area. We’d also like to thank Hasan , Safa , Jawad, Laith , Gasaq and Rami,” said Mr Hilli.
“The world has let us down so badly,” said Sabah, a 29 year old lesbian, who worked as a carer and ran a safe house in the south of Iraq.
“Nowadays, we don’t dare be seen in the neighbourhoods where we used to live. It is too dangerous for anyone known to be gay or to have had a homosexual past,” said Safa, a gay man in the city of Ammara, where he has been hiding for the last eight months from the police and Shia death squads. Safa fled his hometown of Najaf because he was known to be gay and feared assassination.
“Iraqi lgbt is doing amazing, heroic work,” said Peter Tatchell of the UK-based lgbt organisation, OutRage!
“It’s members inside Iraq are taking huge personal risks to protect the victims of homophobic persecution. Their efforts are truly inspirational. I urge the international lgbt community to rally round and raise the funds needed to sustain the remaining two safe houses. Please give generously,” he urged.
Meanwhile, Iraqi lgbt blames the western invasion and occupation of their country for unleashing religious fanaticism and causing the current homophobic killing spree:
“Much of the world failed to oppose the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and to prevent what has turned out to be the worst western intervention catastrophe in modern history,” added Mr Hili.
“The Iraqi gay community feels badly let down in our moment of need.
“Are gay people in the United States, Britain and Australia aware of what their governments have done to our country? Their armies invaded and occupied our land, destroyed the infrastructure of government, and created the chaos and lawlessness that has allowed religious fundamentalism to flourish and to terrorise woman and gay people.”
“Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be ‘killed in the worst, most severe way possible.’
“Since then, lgbt people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as by the Badr organisation and other Shia death squads. Badr is the military arm of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is one of the leading political forces in Baghdad’s western-backed ruling coalition,” said Mr Hili
Can you make a donation to help Iraqi lgbt sustain its magnificent efforts?
The UK-based gay human rights group OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to support its work. Iraqi LGBT is coordinated by Ali Hili from the safety of London UK. The group does not have its own bank account.
Operating an Iraqi LGBT bank account in Baghdad would be suicide. For this reason, it has to operate its finances from London. All the group’s members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum. Their lack of proper legal status makes it difficult for them to open a bank account in the UK. This is why Iraqi LGBT is asking that cheques be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK.
OutRage! then forwards the donations received to Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire transfer to activists in Baghdad.
Ali Hili 079 819 594 53 (from abroad +44 79 819 594 53)
Photos of some of the LGBT victims are available here:
NB: Sorry, we do not have high resolution versions.
Peter Tatchell, OutRage! 020 7403 1790
Milan, November 16, 2007
President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian judges have granted a pardon to the young homosexual Makvan Mouloodzadeh
The petition for the life of Makvan and the “Flowers for Life in Iran Campaign” – promoted by Gruppo EveryOne and backed by Irqo, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International – have obtained a memorable result. “A sensational victory for human rights”, say Malini Pegoraro, Picciau (Gruppo EveryOne) and Paula Ettelbrick of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The Iranian judge who annulled the death sentence defined the previous sentence “a violation of Islamic precepts and human ethics”.
On November 2nd, 2007, Gruppo EveryOne promoted throughout the world, through websites, networks and the printed press the “Flowers for Life in Iran” campaign”: http://www.petitiononline.com/everymak/. It entailed a petition for the life of Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old gay Iranian boy accused of the crime known as “Lavat” (sodomy) by Islamic criminal law and sentenced to death. The boy is alleged to have committed the “crime” when he was only 13 years old.
With the collaboration of Arsham Parsi – a member both of Gruppo EveryOne and the IRQO association for GLBT rights in Iran – the activists of Gruppo EveryOne, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro, Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson and Ahmad Rafat prepared a dossier on the case of the young man condemned to death. A campaign was initiated to save Makvan’s life and protest against the executions in Iran. A new form of protest already experimented successfully in the campaign against the deportation to Iran of the lesbian woman Pegah Emambakhsh.
The campaign, in fact, invited people from all over the world to sign the petition, and at the same time send President Ahmadinejad, a red rose and a white rose through international floral delivery services with a message attached to them: “The white rose symbolises the respect for the human rights of the young homosexual Makvan, and all the dissidents, women, free thinkers and homosexuals sentenced to death as “enemies of Allah”; the red rose is to say no to the blood of innocent victims shed on the scaffolds prepared for capital punishment”. The Flowers Campaign has obtained considerable favour in all the countries of the free world.
“The two petitions collected over a thousand signatures in a matter of days”, say the leaders of Gruppo EveryOne, “and hundreds of roses reached the palace of President Ahmadinejad in Pasteur Avenue, in Teheran. The invitation: “yes to clemency, no to capital punishment” was attached to the flowers.
Over the next few days the liberal and progressive part of the Islamic world took up the invitation of Gruppo EveryOne to make the pacifist campaign its own. Dozens of activists and political figures from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries sent e-mails, letters and flowers to the President and judges of Iran. Hakan Yildrim, the Turkish GLBT rights activist, defined the campaign as follows: “It is a peaceful campaign for the life of innocent people, in keeping with the Koran. A brilliant idea”. Many Swedish MPs of different parties – Liberals, Greens, Radicals – sent flowers and requests for a pardon to Teheran: Gunilla Wahlen, Mats Pertoft, Camilla Lindberg. On November 5th the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission joined forces with Gruppo EveryOne and Irqo, collecting further support and sending a letter to the government of the Islamic Republic.
The following day Amnesty International joined the campaign amplifying the echo of the petition for Makvan’s life. A few days later the head of the Iranian Justice Department, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, overruled the previous death sentence, defining it “a violation of Islamic teaching, of Shiite law and human ethics.”
“This is a sensational victory for human rights and further proof of the power of global protest”, said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of IGLHRC, together with Gruppo EveryOne, Irqo, Amnesty International and other organizations involved in the Flowers Campaign. “It is a victory for everyone concerned”, continue members from EveryOne, “movements for life and peace, but also for Islam, because the Iranian judge paid more attention to the humanitarian campaigns than the governments of democratic countries usually do. The effects of international mobilization proved more important than the empty rhetoric of the powerful international associations, that have difficulty overcoming interests and bureaucracy – making the basic dispositions concerning the protection of weaker minorities, the right to asylum and humanitarian urgencies unfeasible.
Gruppo EveryOne has been the driving force behind a new commitment to human rights, a commitment that is becoming a vast international movement for life, and against prejudice. It is now essential that those in positions of power do not waste this opportunity for change – but begin to hold talks with the movement to seek out solutions indispensable for ensuring a future of peace and coexistence for Planet Earth which is heading closer and closer to human and environmental catastrophes of unthinkable proportions”.
For Gruppo EveryOne, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro, Dario Picciau, Arsham Parsi, Ahmad Rafat, Glenys Robinson, Salvatore Conte, Irene Campari, Steed Gamero, Fabio Patronelli, Laura Todisco, Loredana Marano, Aisha Ayari, Alessandro Matta, Saimir Mile, Stellian Covaciu, Christos Papaioannou, Udila Ciurar, Lilì, Jasmine.
Website: http://www.everyonegroup.com – http://www.annesdoor.com
Tel: (+39) 02 92278423
Tel: (+39) 334 8429527
Successfully 4th Equality March in Poznan by Lukasz Palucki
On the November the 17th, The 4th Equality March took place in Poznan, the western city of Poland. It was full success of organizers and triumph of tolerance and freedom.
The people of Poznan are marching every year on this date because of The International Tolerance Day (UNESCO).
The Equality March in 2007 is the second March which was successfully and demonstrators took the final place at Freedom Square. In 2004 March was blocked by hooligans, who treat participants with stones and eggs. They were screaming: faggots, deviants etc. In 2005 the March was banned by the Mayor of Poznan and police brutally treated and arrested about 70 of participants. In 2006 the March was a great victory.
In 2007 there were some protests against the place of start of The Equality March, which took place at historical Adam Mickiewicz Square. There was fighting’s between Polish workers and communist forces in 1956. The right wing politicians and combatants said, that it is a saint place, not for deviants.
But the freedom of assembly is guaranteed by polish law and the major of Poznan said “yes” to the demonstration at this controversial square.
Bill Schiller from ILGCN (International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network) honored the organizers by The Grizzly Bear award just before the Equality March. It was given “for the especially ferocious struggle against intolerance and homophobia; for combining progressive human rights, social and political groups together – and in defiance of homophobic threats and intolerance – triumphantly blending culture and politics into a powerful weapon for tomorrow’s battles; for inviting foreign colleagues to join you on the barricades surpassing national and psychological barriers… and for your fierce determination to covert dreams into realities”.
After the Equality March Sergiusz Wroblewski (one of the organizers) said:
Today Poznan is the international capital of tolerance and we are very happy about this, but we remember about Minsk, Moscow and Vilnius. Dear majors of these cities! Do not be so happy today, because the Equality March is walking and will visit your cities soon”.
After the March there was wonderful concert of Rae Spoon, the transgender vocalist from Canada, which took place at Mescal Café in Poznan.
GREAT NEWS FROM NICARAGUA! SODOMY LAW REPEALED!
Great news from Nicaragua – the Legislative Assembly just passed a new version of the penal code without the sodomy prohibition; in other words, they’ve just decriminalized sodomy in Nicaragua!
The new penal code should come into effect in March next year. Here’s one report in English about the reform:
So well-done to everyone who organized protests, visited the Nicaraguan ambassadors and sent letters over these last two years. We’ll never know how much effect all these campaigns actually had, but at least the final result is what we wanted; another domino down in the long campaign to decriminalize sodomy around the world.
This also means that Latin America is now pretty much free of sodomy laws, although it seems there are still some dormant sodomy laws on the books in a couple of Latin American countries as far as we can tell.
The one disappointing element in all this is that, despite the victory for LGBT rights, the new Nicaraguan Penal Code maintains a total ban on abortion.
Well, it’s a great joy to deliver good news for once! Congratulations again to everyone for a sustained, timely and ultimately effective campaign. I think champagne could be in order!
Amnesty International Mexico
Lack of funds may force group to return imperiled gay Iraqis to the streets
Julie Weisberg, The Raw Story
Published: Tuesday October 16, 2007
Iraq’s lesbian, gay and transgendered residents have become an all-too frequent target of that occupied nation’s lawlessness. Now they face the possibility of losing the lone organization that has sought to protect them from violence.
Friends of Iraqi LGBT, an all-volunteer human rights organization currently based in London, runs a series of safe houses in Iraq for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Iraqis who have been targeted for persecution — including beatings, imprisonment and even death — by militant Shia death squads that roam the war-torn nation’s streets.
Last year, five members of the group were taken into custody by Iraqi police during a raid on Iraqi LGBTs headquarters in Baghdad. So far, only one of the five has been accounted for.
Amjad, 27, was found dead and mutilated in the same area three days later.
Iraqi LGBT was formed early last year after reports of homophobic violence in Iraq spiked. The organization provides financial assistance to LGBT individuals in particularly dangerous areas of Iraq, allowing them to move to relatively safer parts of the country, or seek refuge in neighboring countries.
In all, the group has assisted some 40 gay Iraqi asylum seekers in the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Sweden, Germany, Canada, Holland, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
But now Iraqi LGBT’s life-saving work is in jeopardy, as the organization is facing a critical shortage of funding. Ali Hili, the group’s founder and coordinator, spoke to RAW STORY in a recent phone interview from London.
According to Hili, 34, the cost of funding a safe house — which serves 10 to 12 people at a time — is about $1,800 a month: $800 for rent, usually paid three months in advance; $400 for the salaries of two armed guards for each house, an essential part of securing each facility; and $600 per month for gas, fuel for electricity generators, food, clean drinking water and hygienic supplies…
MAKE A DONATION (follow the link “Make a donation”)
See also : En Irak, la chasse aux gays est ouverte, Blaise Gauquelin, Rue 89