Archive for December, 2007
A court in the Netherlands has ruled that Mehdi, the gay Iranian teenager, has to be returned to the United Kingdom, where he faces deportation back to Iran.
He fled England last spring when a Home Office tribunal dismissed his appeal against deportation.
“I was refused the right to appeal of asylum in the Netherlands because of the Dublin Treaty,” he said by telephone this afternoon.
The Dublin Treaty, or Convention, is a European Union law that prevents asylum applicants from applying in multiple members states.
“Obviously, I am very disappointed at judge’s decision.”
“My lawyer is making a final appeal to the Netherlands High Court,” he added.
Mehdi, who is 19, said that he was worried that the early decision from the court – the decision was expected to be handed down early in the New Year – meant that his deportation to the UK would be made over the holiday period.
“My main fear at the moment is that the UK Home Office would disregard appeals and send me back to Iran before any offices reopened after the holiday,” he said.
The young Iranian said he is frightened that he will be executed if he is return to Iran.
Before leaving Iran in 2004 to continue his education in England – he had a student visa issued by the UK authorities, Mehdi had a boyfriend. It was while he was in the UK, he learned that the Iranian authorities had arrested his boyfriend, who had given interrogators Mehdi’s name before being executed. (Click here for Mehdi’s full story)
One of the main reasons that Mehdi’s asylum appeal failed was because the tribunal “judge” found that dates on Iranian paperwork did not tally with what the teenager had said, his uncle, who lives in southern England, told UK Gay News.
The tribunal apparently refused to accept that the Iranian calendar is different from the Western (Gregorian) calendar.
See also :
Gay Iranian Teen Awaits Decision of Dutch Court Over Return to UK.
A young gay Iranian, who fled the United Kingdom in fear after his asylum application with the Home Office’s Border and Immigration Agency failed earlier this year, will be spending the festive season hoping that a Dutch court will allow him to stay in the Netherlands. (UK Gay News, December 21, 2007)
Young Gay Iranian Soon on His Way Back to UK?
Mehdi, the young gay Iranian who fled the United Kingdom in April, could be back in the country within weeks, his uncle revealed last night. (UK Gay News, October 17, 2007)
Nineteen Year Old Says ‘I Am an Iranian Gay’.
The following email has been received by the IRanian Queer Organisation in Toronto from a young gay man who was studying at school in UK and, after difficulties with the UK Home Office over asylum managed to flee England, ending up in the Netherlands. The letter is published here as written. (UK Gay News, September 26, 2007)
Don’t Leave Iranian Gays Abandoned. By Mehdi.
This article was written by a 19-years-old gay Iranian who tells how, while he was a student in London, his boyfriend back home was executed for being gay. Mehdi says he was scared of returning home and meeting the same fate when his student visa expired last year – and of his asylum application to the Home Office. (UK Gay News, April 18, 2007)
Peter Tatchell celebrated his fortieth year of campaigning on 10th December, Human Rights Day.
The Australian-born activist began campaigning for human rights, democracy and global justice in 1967, aged 15.
Now, at 55, his eyes still have the vividness and energy of a teenager, and he has no intention to retire, because, he says, there is still much work to do.
Speaking in his home in South London, surrounded by hundreds of documents on human rights issues, books and magazines about LGBT rights, and satirical posters of religious leaders, he talks about his long career and his many experiences.
But the list is so long, including campaigns against apartheid, dictators and torturers, and in favour of green issues, gay marriage and revision of the age of consent, that it is hard to believe he can cope with all that.
PinkNews.co.uk: How can you manage to campaign for all these issues?
Peter Tatchell: With great difficulty. I haven’t got much leisure time, not nearly as much as I would like. I desperately need an office, and a couple of paid staff to work.
Most of my campaigns are in response to appeals for help from individuals and organisations in Britain and around the world, but I get many more questions that I can possibly cope with, so I have to choose.
I tend to focus on issues where there is very little knowledge or coverage.
PinkNews.co.uk: For example?
PT: I helped highlight the loss of benefits to many same-sex couples in civil partnerships, that was an issue that no other organisation was covering.
I have taken up the cause of a number of gay Muslim asylum seekers, who couldn’t get help from other organisations. Until recently, very few Western gay organisations were supporting the campaigns of activists in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Iran, Palestine and Iraq.
PinkNews.co.uk: What about the UK? What do you think about gay rights here?
PT: We have got formal legal equality, but we haven’t got liberation. Even the battle for equal rights is incomplete. We still have a ban on same-sex marriage, which is a form of sexual apartheid.
If the government banned Jewish or black people from getting married and offered civil partnerships instead, people would be on the streets.
But the LGBT community has rolled over and accepted this inferior, second-class legal status.
PinkNews.co.uk: What exactly do you think gay people should aim for?
PT: Equality is not enough. There is little point being equal in a fundamentally unjust society. The idea that straight people live in some kind of paradise is absurd.
We need to transform society, not to conform to it. I advocate civil commitment pacts, in which people can choose their own individualised, tailor-made partnership agreements.
In our society there is a great variety of relationships and the law needs to recognise this diversity.
PinkNews.co.uk: What do you think about the Vatican and its attempts to hamper protection and recognition for gay people?
PT: The sooner someone outs Pope Benedict, the better. His homophobic policies remind me of the Inquisition, and the Hitler Youth, of which he was a member.
All the closeted homophobes in the Vatican should be outed, they are destroying the lives of LGBT people worldwide.
PinkNews.co.uk: A few days ago, the pope said that gay people threaten peace, how would you respond to that?
PT: These are the rantings of a semi-deranged Christian fundamentalist and a theocrat, whose ego is so enormous that he believes he has a hot-line to God.
If any ordinary person in the street did it, they’d probably put them in a mental asylum. It is amazing the indulgences that are allowed for the so-called “men of God.”
Pope Benedict he is the ideological inheritor of the Nazi homophobia. He’d like to eradicate homosexuality, but since he can’t put LGBT people in physical concentration camps, is doing his best to put them in psychological concentration camps.
PinkNews.co.uk: An issue that you are fighting for is the change of the age of consent.
PT: I am astonished by the way so many LGBT organisations are reluctant to challenge the often unrealistic age of consent that exists in Britain.
The age of 16 is totally out of step with young people, as the average age they start having sex is 13 or 14 in the UK.
I’m not saying that they should have sex, but if they do, they shouldn’t be criminalised. Under British law, two young people, gay or straight, under the age of 16, who kiss or cuddle can face a prison sentence up to five years.
PinkNews.co.uk: What is your view of the LGBT organisations in the UK, such as Stonewall?
PT: Stonewall has a very conformist, assimilationist agenda. It doesn’t question the legal status quo, it merely conforms with it.
Obviously equality is better than inequality, but it isn’t sufficient and is not liberation.
PinkNews.co.uk: Let’s talk about yourself. What is the thing you are most proud of?
PT: Many. The citizen’s arrest of Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe in 1999 and 2001, for his crimes against humanity. The ambush of Tony Blair in 2003 to protest against the impending war in Iraq.
The interruption of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1998 during one of his sermons, to condemn his discrimination against gay people.
PinkNews.co.uk: Name a person you admire.
PT: There is more than one. Gandhi, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Sylvia Pankhurst.
PinkNews.co.uk: OK. To finish, in two words maximum, how would you describe these people or groups?
Pope Benedict XVI: homophobic hypocrite.
Rowan Williams: coward.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad: theocratic fascist.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: Stalin lite.
Stonewall: equality only.
Gordon Brown: new Blair.
Tony Blair: tragedy.
Outrage! (the movement founded by Tatchell in 1990): effective.
A Roman Catholic Cardinal has suggested that gay people should be banned from political office.
Latvia’s Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis resigned last week and the Archbishop of Riga Janis Pujats warned new candidates not to support LGBT related issues.
He asked that all candidates running for the post of Prime Minister state whether they intended to “defend the Latvian nation against the invasion of homosexuality in public life.
“Anyone who is not a stern advocate of the people’s moral values, must neither run nor be nominated for prime minister,” he said, urging candidates to give a public answer on the issue, as he said people were “entitled to it.”
During public debates yesterday, all three Prime Ministerial candidates voiced tolerant views about people with different sexual orientations.
In May the controversial Cardinal defined homosexuality “total corruption in the sexual arena” and “an unnatural form of prostitution.”
He also called on people to take to the streets of Latvia’s capital Riga to oppose the Pride march on June 3rd.
“If there are 1,000 sexually crazy people acting foolishly in the square of Pride, then the people’s march in Riga should have at least 40,000 or 50,000,” he wrote in a letter.
“That proportion would give the government and public thought enough reason to leave sexual perversion outside the law.”
What does it mean when your very existence is criminalized? When you can be sentenced to death or prison just for being yourself? When stepping outside your house makes you a target for violence or for being picked up by police? While these scenarios might initially seem to be the stuff of Kafkaesque fantasy, in many parts of the world they constitute the daily reality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—a reality that is brutal and relentless—and worthy of attention on this International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2007.
Many of us responded with disbelief last September when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that there were no gay people in his country. But the Iranian President’s words betray a twisted truth. While there are plenty of LGBT Iranians, there is no public, visible gay presence in Iran. Because the penalty for same-sex conduct between men in Iran is death, gay life in Iran remains hidden, under threat of extermination. The execution just last week of Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old Iranian man accused of having sex with other young boys when he was 13 years old makes this point excruciatingly clear.
In other words, when your existence is criminalized, your human rights are compromised. Your rights to life, liberty and security of the person are eviscerated. Your privacy is a chimera. You don’t count.
And of course, this doesn’t just happen in Iran. More than 75 countries worldwide—from Afganistan to Zimbabwe, and from Sri Lanka to the Solomon Islands—still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships. Many of these laws are vestiges of colonial attempts to “civilize the savages.” In all countries, these laws are strictly oppositional to modern standards of human rights and respect for individual choice with regard to family, sexuality and relationships.
In Nigeria, homosexual acts can be punished by 14 years of imprisonment. And the situation for LGBT people in that country is grim. An activist living in northwest Nigeria says that she has “worked on a case of a transgender person who was picked up by police simply for being transgender… [and] helped a girl who was perceived by the community to be gay. She was beaten, raped and left unconscious.” In Nigeria, being gay means contending with a stark choice: hide who you are or become a target for violence and abuse.
Cameroon is another country where LGBT individuals experience consistent and severe human rights violations. Here more than 13 people have recently been detained under an article of the penal code that prohibits consensual same-sex sexual relationships between adults. On International Human Rights Day, various human rights organizations will stage demonstrations outside Cameroonian embassies in Paris, Pretoria and Washington, D.C., to protest that country’s treatment of LGBT citizens and those who stand in solidarity with them.
When your existence is criminalized, it is important that others stand in solidarity with you—both to protest injustice and to fight for a better world, one where people are treated with dignity, not distain.
International Human Rights Day marks the day in 1948 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This central global human rights principle states that, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” This year, International Human Rights Day also marks the start of Dignity and Justice for All, a yearlong United Nations campaign designed to emphasize the universality of human rights—a universality that has often felt lacking to LGBT communities.
Dignity and respect for LGBT people must start with each country abolishing laws that criminalize consensual relations between two men or two women. Without freedom from criminalization, all other freedoms for LGBT people are compromised. We must call on each nation to show their belief in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by repealing laws that are so clearly an affront to dignity and respect.
By Peter Tatchell
This weekend President Robert Mugabe will stride the stage at the EU-African Union Summit in Lisbon. He will be welcomed and feted, alongside all the other leaders of Africa and Europe.
For the people of Zimbabwe it will be a sickening spectacle to see their blood-soaked oppressor wined and dined by the Portuguese President, Aníbal António Cavaco Silva.
Mugabe is not the world’s only tyrant and not even the worst. Nevertheless, he has killed more black Africans than even the murderous apartheid regime in South Africa. His slaughter of 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s was the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for over nine months.
According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Mugabe’s despotic regime is guilty of detention without trial, torture, rape, extra-judicial killings, media censorship, financial corruption, election fraud, mass starvation and the violent suppression of strikes and protests.
Instead of embracing President Mugabe as an honoured guest, the Portuguese government should instruct its police to arrest him on charges of torture.
It is time to end the culture of impunity, which allows tyrannical leaders to get away with human rights abuses. Torture is a crime under international law. Mugabe, and other torture-condoning despots, should be prosecuted. Giving them state immunity is collusion with their crimes.
There is evidence from Amnesty International and from Zimbabwean human rights groups
that President Mugabe and his government have sanctioned and colluded with acts of torture. He should be arrested and put on trial, in the same way that President Milosevic of Yugoslavia was tried in The Hague.
Portugal is legally obliged to enforce the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, which it has ratified and pledged to uphold.
The Convention Against Torture has universal jurisdiction. It allows any signatory state to arrest and put on trial any person who authorises, commits or acquiesces in the infliction of torture anywhere in the world. In other words, Mugabe can be lawfully arrested and tried in Portugal for crimes that he has aided and abetted in Zimbabwe.
Despite past legal rulings granting government leaders exemption from prosecution, the trend in international law is towards rejecting the right of Heads of State to enjoy absolute immunity for crimes against humanity, such as torture.
This legal evolution began with the Versailles Treaty of 1919. The signatory nations accepted that high state officials who stand accused of “offences against international morality” cannot plead that they are above the law. Article 227 of the Treaty set the precedent in international law that Heads of State are not immune from prosecution, when it arraigned the German Emperor, William II.
The 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal reiterated this precedent by ruling that the top Nazi leaders, including Karl Doenitz, Hitler’s successor as German leader, did not enjoy immunity for crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal stipulated that: “The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.” Doenitz was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years jail.
Principle Three of the Nuremberg Principles, agreed by the nations of Europe as international law, declared: “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”.
For Portugal and the EU to now renege on the Nuremberg Principles is a monstrous betrayal of the millions who perished in the Holocaust and the millions more who sacrificed their lives to end the tyranny of the Third Reich.
Iran, Iraq and that gay-hunt the Left keeps ignoring, The Cat’s Blog
By Gabriele Zamparini
From Iran to New Iraq
The horror Amerika brought to New Iraq has outshined the Third Reich’s. This is true for all Iraqis and particularly for Iraqi homosexuals, the most vulnerable and targeted community in New Iraq.
“The U.S, and other allied forces are doing nothing to stop the massacres of any ordinary Iraqi, not to mention the homosexuals, the most unpopular portion of Iraqi society under the new evil regime” recently said Ali Hili, a 34-year-old Iraqi exile now living in London.
Hili, who launched Iraqi LGBT in late 2005 “after hearing about the killing of so many of my friends”, also said: “Homosexuality was generally tolerated under Saddam. There certainly was no danger of gay people being assassinated in the street by police. Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of gays and lesbians is commonplace. Life in Iraq now is hell for all LGBT people; no one can be openly gay and alive.”
Long-time human rights activist Peter Tatchell wrote last year:
Two militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of major parties in the Bush and Blair-backed Iraqi government. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s government coalition. Both militias want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship – or worse. Some of the anti-war left in Britain and the US support Muqtada al-Sadr, despite his goal of clerical fascism and his militia’s involvement in death squad killings. They hail him as a national resistance hero for fighting the US and UK occupation of Iraq; totally ignoring his militia’s sectarian murder of innocent Sunni Muslims, women and gay people. The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But victory for the Madhi or Badr militias would result in a reign of religious terror many times worse. The execution of lesbian and gay Iraqis by Islamist death squads and militias is symptomatic of the fate that will befall all Iraqis if the fundamentalists continue to gain influence. The summary killing of queers is the canary in the mine – a warning of the barbarism to come (…) while Saddam was in power, discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. There was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in the street by religious fanatics. Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is commonplace. It is actively encouraged by Iraq’s leading Muslim cleric, the British and US-backed Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In late 2005, he issued a fatwa ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. His followers in the Islamist militias are now systematically assassinating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as indicated by the following sample reports received from my clandestine Iraqi LGBT activist contacts inside Iraq… (Read more here)
The violence against Iraqi homosexuals has also been denounced by the United Nations. A Human Rights Report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) released in January reads:
Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq. (…) HRO [UNAMI Human Rights Office] was also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be “tried,” “sentenced” to death and then executed.
About these “religious courts”, a note in the UN Report explains:
According to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, “the trials, presided over by young inexperienced clerics, are held (…) in ordinary halls. Gays and rapists face anything from 40 lashes to the death penalty.(…) One of the self-appointed judges in Sadr City, believes that homosexuality is on the wane in Iraq. “Most [gays] have been killed and others have fled,” he said. Indeed, the number who’ve sought asylum in the UK has risen noticeably over the last few months. (…) He insists the religious courts have a lot to be proud of, “We now represent a society that asked us to protect it not only from thieves and terrorists but also from these [bad] deeds.” Institute for War and Peace Reporting: Baghdad Gays Fear for Their Lives (20 October 2006), (http://www.iwpr.net)
The UN Report continues:
According to the Iraqi LGBT society, twenty-six of their members have been killed since 2003. This include the murders in 2006 of two minors, eleven-year-old Ameer and fourteen-year-old Ahmed, because of their alleged sexual orientation even though both were reportedly forced into child prostitution. Another two young women were murdered in Najaf also because of their allegedly sexual orientation. Allegedly, three Fatwas would have been issued by Islamic clerics authorising “good Muslims” to hunt and kill homosexuals.”
Independent journalist and long-time human rights activist Doug Ireland reported in January:
“The Badr Corps – the military arm of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the country’s most powerful Shiite political group – launched a campaign of “sexual cleansing,” marshaling death squads to exterminate homosexuality, following a “death to gays” fatwa issued in October 2005 by the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the 77-year-old chief spiritual leader of all Iraqi Shia Muslims, to whom the SCIRI and the Badr Corps owe total allegiance. Late last year, the Badr Corps – whose members up until then had been paid their salaries by Iran – was integrated into the Iraqi national police under the Ministry of the Interior, and its death squad members now have full police powers and wear police uniforms, which they don to carry out murders of gays. Death squads of the Mahdi Army, the armed militia under the control of fundamentalist Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr, have also carried out assassinations of gays.”
Persecuted by the new regime installed by the Amerikan Occupation and supported by the Iranian theocracy, Iraqi homosexuals can be persecuted, tortured and killed openly and freely in New Iraq.
Disgracefully too many Western minds, both pro and against the war, have this queer idea that this is the norm in Middle East countries. The pro-war nuts tell us that we cannot blame the US-led war of aggression against Iraq for causing this horror against Iraq’s homosexuals; as the many other horrors in New Iraq, we are told Iraqis, their culture and their sectarianism are to blame. The anti-war folks instead tell us that we can blame neither New Iraq’s sectarianism nor Iran for its nefarious role in New Iraq; we are told these horrors are exaggerated and in any case we must understand a different culture without demonizing it.
I believe all these arguments – when not the fruit of homophobia, still very present among us, even in the so-called “Left” – are the result of hypocrisy and racism, both when they come from the pro-war side and when they come from well-intentioned anti-war folks.
First of all, the horror Iraqi homosexuals have been forced to live is not the norm in Middle East countries and certainly it was not the norm in pre-invaded and pre-occupied Iraq. That horror stems directly from the supreme international crime, the war of aggression waged by Amerika and its allies.
“The US has unleashed bloodshed in Iraq that is rarely known even in countries we think of as violent and torn by civil strife. It is amazing to think that this has occurred in what was only recently a liberal and civilized country by the region’s standards. This was a country that had a problem with immigration, particularly among the well-educated and talented classes. They went to Iraq because it was the closest Arab proxy to Western-style society that one could find in the area. It was the US that turned this country into a killing field”, wrote this past September Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., the president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a research and educational center of classical liberalism, libertarian political theory, and the Austrian School of economics.
Now the mass murderers of the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army, responsible of huge crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing against the Iraqi people, are the Amerika’s New Iraq’s “security forces”. As for the puppet, sectarian New Iraqi government, both the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army have the full support of Iran, whose fanatic regime likes to see homosexuals tortured and hanged.
The Iranian connection to the many horrors inflicted upon the Iraqi people is indeed the Grand Taboo in many quarters on the “Left” and within what is known as “the anti-war movement”. Besides the guilty ignorance, the immoral denials, the hypocritical justifications and the opportunistic explanations of activists and intellectuals who prefer to close both their eyes or to look through the deforming lenses of their arrogance or indifference, there is one argument that instead deserves much more serious consideration.
This argument warns us that we must be very careful not to play into the warmongers’ hands and fall in the human rights trap now that Iran would be under Amerika’s military threat. This is a very serious argument and certainly human rights have been used to sell wars, imperialism and colonialism to the Western audiences, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Iraq, from the White House to Human Rights Watch.
But can this argument justify the silence over ethnic cleansing and massive crimes against humanity committed by the pro-Iranian Iraqi government installed by the Amerikan occupation and its sectarian militias, the Badr Corps and the Mahdi Army, supported, trained and funded by Iran? Can this argument justify the silence over the devastating role Iran has had in the annihilation of Iraq? Should we ignore the many cries for help coming from Iraq? Should we ignore the truth?
Not only have many on the so-called “Left” and in what is known as the “anti-war movement” been ignoring those cries, lying and spreading conspiracy theories on the responsibilities of heinous crimes, denigrating those few people within the movement who have been trying to highlight the truth from the beginning, they have also been actively supporting the pro-Iranian factions within Iraq responsible for those heinous crimes. In most cases, the result has been to hijack the Left and the anti-war movement toward a sectarian direction, spreading propaganda and helping the infamous Amerikan project known as the “political process”. Influential intellectuals, activists and “anti-war” organizations have contributed to manufacture this consent around the New Iraq, its Quisling government and those sectarian militias responsible, together with the Amerikan occupation, for reducing Iraq into a wilderness.
Fight Homosexuality, Kolini Tells Churches by Vanrozenheim
(Rwanda) – Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini has called on churches in the East African region to fight against homosexuality for the ‘good of the society.’ The leader of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda insisted that Anglican churches in East Africa will not mingle with the homosexuals in the affairs of the church for the good of the community. “We are reformed Anglicans who want to adhere to the original creeds of the Bible, and that’s why our church has decided to ignore the 2008 Lambeth Conference because it has not done much to fight homosexuality in the communion,” he said on Sunday. He was addressing a big congregation gathered for a three-day ‘peace crusade’ at Remera St. Peter’s Church. The crusade, which was organised by the Anglican Church of Rwanda, brought together Christians from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and hosts Rwanda.
IGLHRC: The Treatment of LGBT Individuals in Rwandan Law and Society
The worsening situation of gays and lesbians in Rwanda poses a serious threat to the security and freedom of individuals in the country, and warrants immediate attention. Particularly alarming has been the recent use of the media to advocate violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation, and a seeming increase in arbitrary detention of individuals on the same basis. Rather than protecting the rights of gays and lesbians in the country, certain authorities have chosen to abuse their power in violation of the rights of these individuals.
Police officers and other officials must investigate and immediately put an end to illegal detentions of homosexuals, and must ensure that their safety and rights are being protected in their communities. The constitution clearly protects the privacy of individuals and in no way suggests that homosexuality be considered a criminal offense. Moreover, there are strong protections in place against discrimination and abuse of individual or group rights, which must be respected. There is also an urgent need for activism to encourage the government to immediately stop and punish any individuals who abuse the press as a tool to incite violence or discrimination against individuals, particularly given the painful past of Rwanda, when the radio was used to incite the population to commit genocide.
Finally, there is an urgent need for well-planned and targeted advocacy to oppose an amendment to the penal code to criminalize homosexuality. Institutionalizing discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation not only violates the fundamental principles and freedoms outlined in the constitution of the country, but also sets a dangerous precedent for discrimination and division in a country that has battled these issues for many decades.
This is a call to action for human rights defenders, both inside and outside of the country, to stand up for individuals whose rights are being abused on the basis of their sexual orientation, and for the government to take action to ensure that these individual’s rights are protected.
Iranian born artist Sooreh Hera, is decided to expose the hypocrisy regarding homosexuality and Islam. She says it is frequent that married muslim men have sexual relations with other men (she mentions specifically Iran and Saudi Arabia).
If you check out her pictures you’ll see that homosexuality is a major part of her work.
When she invited two Iranian men to pose they asked to wear a mask in order not to be recognized. The masks she chose were the ones you see in the pictures below: Muhammed and his son-in-law Ali.
She was going to be at The Hague Municipal Museum but she was denied because her exposition “could offend certain groups”.
The city museum of The Hague has decided not to include in an exhibition a work of art that may offend Muslims, it was reported on Monday.
The picture, made by Iranian artist Sooreh Hera, is entitled Adam and Ewald and shows two gay men wearing masks of the Muslim prophet Mohammed and his son-in-law Ali.
It is part of a photoseries the Gemeentemuseum has included in the 7up exhibition due to open on December 15.
The Gemeentemuseum’s director Wim van Krimpen told reporters the museum is interested in purchasing Hera’s complete series, which he called “high quality works of art”.
However, he added he will not exhibit Adam and Ewald in the next few years because “certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive”.
Hera responded she was “disappointed” and added “apparently a Muslim minority decides what will be on display in the museum”.
Liberal-rightist Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, condemned the museum’s decision, adding it was “based on fear”.
Wilders has requested a reaction on the matter from Education and Culture minister Ronald Plasterk.
Meanwhile Siebe Weide, director of the Museum Association, told reporters “all Dutch museums are free to choose what they exhibit and what not”.
© 2007 AAP
See also: “Allah o gay-bar”: censurate le foto
“Could I tell my mother that I am gay? She is nearly eighty-years-old now. I would never want to cause her such trauma at this stage in her life. My father – when he was alive – asked me, but I could not admit it to him either,” recalls the man in his forties, too afraid to give his name, too self-conscious, constantly looking over his shoulder.
Getting in touch with Gjerji, as he wants to be called, was not an easy task. A form of underground credibility must be established through a network of intermediaries. Repeated cases in the past have taught the homosexual community that, in a traditional society like Albania, going public with their sexual orientation means losing their jobs, risking threats and possible rejection by their families.
“From what we know, the data that we have, there is a community of nearly 3,500 in Tirana alone,” says Genci Terpo, a lawyer with the Albanian Human Rights Group, AHRG.
Though the Albanian Parliament legalized homosexual relationships in 1995, more than a decade later, gays and lesbians are still heavily stigmatized, and a majority of them are choosing to leave, amidst fears that if their sexual orientation is discovered, their safety will be endangered.
“The attitudes toward homosexuality have not changed much, and they have to protect themselves,” says Terpo. “It’s not that now, in 2007, there is any real difference to what we have seen before. They continue to be subjected to discrimination in all walks of life, and that includes state institutions,” he adds.
In the past the majority of homosexuals leaving the country tended to pass through the illegal smuggling routes that were such a familiar feature of the Balkans during the 1990s. Now a growing number is turning to human rights organizations, like AHRG.
“Our biggest problem is identifying ourselves and the possibility of having a shared space where we can meet without fear. There are gay and lesbian clubs all over the world, even in Arab countries which are historically more traditional than ours, and yet here we live in fear” says S.L., a member of the Albanian Gay and Lesbian Association, ALGA.
S.L. says he has good reason for such fear. “We were sitting in a park when two police vans pulled over. The officers got out of the van and dragged us away. One of the drivers came over to me and kicked me repeatedly, his boot hitting my stomach. When I begged him to stop, he just shouted ‘Shut up you faggot’, and continued kicking me”, adds S.L., recalling the incident.
ALGA and AHGR have been trying to bring to the public’s attention the treatment of homosexuals in Albania. In addition to its publicity work, AHGR also provides legal representation, free of charge, for ALGA members in case of arrest or mistreatment.
According to S.L. a number of members from the organization are currently applying for asylum in EU countries due to the discrimination they face, and a few of them have already left.
The first case registered by ALGA was in 2002, when one of its members was granted asylum in the Netherlands through the assistance of AHRG, after being subjected to repeated psychological and physical violence from police officers.
Human rights reports on Albania concede that ingrained attitudes among the public leave Albanian gays and lesbians on the fringes of society. According to AHRG, Albanian homosexuals face “intolerance, physical and psychological violence – often from the police – and discrimination in the workplace.”
A.A., another member of ALGA, has been granted asylum in Sweden. After being repeatedly harassed by police, he turned to AHRG to seek a way to leave the country.