Archive for June, 2008
First South Asia LGBTI Partnership Building Workshop
September 3-4 2008, Kathmandu, Nepal
We are very pleased to announce the first South Asia LGBTI Partnership Building Workshop organized by LLH Norway and Blue Diamond Society, Kathmandu. The workshop will take place at Hotel Astoria in Lazimpat area of Kathmandu September 3 and 4, 2008.
The aim of the workshop is to form partnership amongst South Asian LGBTI groups and communities, share experiences, learn form each other and support LGBTI movements in South Asia to advance our rights and ensure justice. We also aim to strengthen our knowledge in the field of South Asian social and cultural sexuality.
The 2008 workshop theme will focus on strengthening old and new LGBTI movements in South Asia. There have been many successful South Asian LGBTI movements in some countries, and new groups are emerging that can contribute the South Asian movement.
The primary workshop language will be English.
Gayasylumuk condemns “inhumane, anti-gay” Labour government
23rd June, 2008
The campaigning group gayaylumuk today called the comments of British Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith about retuning gays and lesbians to Iran “outrageous, shameful, inhumane and anti-gay”.
In a letter to the LibDem MP Lord Roberts, Smith echoed government policy by claiming that it was safe to return people if they were “discreet”.
Spokesperson, Paul Canning, said “we are calling for protest to be directed at Gordon Brown over the issue. Sign the petition.”
“We hope that gay and lesbian Labour voters in particular will consider changing their vote if the policy isn’t changed before the next election. This is one way to get the message through on their hypocrisy regarding lesbian and gay rights issues — when embassies in other countries are flying the rainbow flag they aren’t doing this in Tehran, Kingston or Kampala.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW), the respected international authority often quoted by the government, has documented the persecution and torture of gays and lesbians in Iran, where sex can attract the death penalty.
In March they issued an alert over the raiding of a private party in Ishfahan. In May the Home Office was added to their ‘Hall of Shame’.
Scott Long of HRW said: “Torturing and killing gays is legal in Iran: you don’t need to view the bodies to prove it. International law bars Britain from returning people to the risk of torture. Britain must give gay Iranians asylum.”
“Human Rights Watch has shown how Britain tries to redefine its obligations on torture, so it can send people back to states where they face grave risk. Usually it happens in the context of counterterrorism. But with gay Iranians, too, the government aims to change the rules, denying that legal torture is “persecution”.”
Gayasylumuk believes that the number of such asylum seekers in the UK is small, maybe 30. Such small numbers is also the case in other countries.
“The Dutch experience shows that a proven, tested model exists of how to operate a humane asylum policy for gays and lesbians – and they haven’t had a ‘flood'”, said Canning.
“Similar policy and practice exists in the United States, Canada and Sweden – why is the UK alone in being inhumane and disregarding international law?”
Gayasylumuk countered the government’s position, as restated in the Medhi Kazemi case in the House of Lords by the Home Office Minister, Lord West.
“We are extremely cautious about the way in which we treat these cases”
They have shown no evidence of caution. For a number of years they have consistently refused asylum to gays and lesbians and transgender people who would suffer persecution if returned, because that is their policy. Some of these people have committed suicide rather than be returned. There is a mass of evidence that Iran and other countries like Jamaica and Uganda are a ‘deathzone’.
“We give detailed consideration to these cases”
This is not the experience of asylum seekers, and this is well documented. They do not consider the stated opinion of their own colleagues in the Foreign Office and never have. They misrepresent evidence of torture and systematic harassment by Human Rights Watch and other NGOs.
“They go through a rigorous appeals and court process”
As Smith has just reiterated, there is a Home Office policy that gays and lesbians can be returned if they are ‘discreet’. Further, there is a history of the Home Office accepting bland assurances from the Iranian and other governments. Further, there is a lot of evidence of homophobic attitudes within the Appeals Court process.
“Obviously we have to follow and respect the integrity of that process”
Not if it is biased. Not if the outcome is guaranteed because of their (unstated) policy. There is no integrity to this process for gays and lesbians.
The group is calling on all British people outraged by government policy to sign the petition, established by Durham Methodist minister Walter Attwood, which says: ‘we the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality’. to Gordon Brown (at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Stopdeportinggay/).
This petition says: ‘we the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality’.
The petition has almost 3000 signatures but needs many more to achieve significance in the Number Ten petitions system, established by Downing Street to affect and inform policy.
gayasylumuk is a campaign group established by Omar Kuddas. It has supporters in the UK, USA, Europe and around the world.
* Further information on asylum seekers the Iranian lesbian threatened with deportation to torture and possible death by stoning, Pegah Emambakhsh, can be found on ‘LGBT asylum news (formally Save Mehdi Kazemi)’, the campaign’s website
* Human Rights Watch: Iran: Private Homes Raided for ‘Immorality’
Authorities Escalate Arbitrary Arrests, Harassment
* Human Rights Watch adds Home Office to ‘Hall of Shame’
* Further information on Rev. Walter Attwood
A button promoting the petition to Gordon Brown, for use on websites and blogs, can also be found on our website.
Frank Mugisha, SMUG, +256 772 616 062
Victor Juliet Mukasa, IGLHRC, +27 762 544 951
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today condemned the arrests of three Ugandan LGBT activists and called for their immediate and unconditional release. The three — Onziema Patience, (an FTM transgender, 28), Valentine Kalende (female, age 27) and Auf (male, age 26) — were arrested yesterday morning by the Uganda Police Force at the 2008 HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting currently taking place in Kampala, Uganda. Along with other LGBT and HIV and AIDS activists, they were peacefully protesting statements made by a Ugandan government official that no funds would be directed toward HIV programs targeting men who have sex with men. SMUG and IGLHRC have fears for the safety of the three activists.
On 2 May, 2008, Kihumuro Apuuli, Director General of the Uganda AIDS Commission, stated that, “gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda, but because of meagre resources we cannot direct our programmes at them at this time.” The SMUG activists staged a peaceful protest at the HIV Implementers meeting to protest the Minister’s statements and gross neglect on the part of the Ugandan government in responding to a growing HIV epidemic among the country’s LGBT community. They were arrested and detained at the Jinja Road Police Station immediately after taking the stage at the meeting, distributing leaflets and holding up small placards demanding attention to HIV vulnerability among LGBT.
“Today I realized how dangerous it is for us LGBTI people to express our constitutional rights,” said Frank Mugisha, Co-Chairperson of SMUG. “I am worried about my comrades who are in police custody.”
According to a recent report by the University of Nairobi and the Population Council, gay men in neighboring Kenya have a sero prevalence rate of 26%. Twenty-six years since the beginning of the epidemic, Uganda hasn’t implemented a single program to prevent transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men in the East African nation.
“The remarks made by the head of the AIDS Commission were very disturbing to members of the LGBT community,” said Kasha Jacqueline, Chairperson of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian organization in Uganda. “If they want us to die, let them ask themselves if they wish themselves the same. Excluding us is just going to make the situation worse.”
The HIV Implementer’s Meeting is an annual event described as an opportunity for HIV program implementers to share lessons learned and best practices in the scale-up of HIV/AIDS programs. It is co-sponsored by the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS, the World Bank, the Global Fund, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+). IGLHRC is also requesting that the co-sponsors of the Implementers’ Meeting contact the Ugandan Government to demand the release of these activists.
“Gay men and lesbians are not ‘drivers of disease’,” said Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “Homophobia drives HIV. Silence drives HIV.”
In November 2004, the Ugandan government fined a local broadcaster, Radio Simba for airing a program that discussed anti-gay discrimination and the need for HIV/AIDS services for lesbians and gay men. The government claimed that Radio Simba had violated federal law promoting broadcasting that is contrary to “public morality.”
L’office français pour la protection des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA) a accordé le 28 mai le statut de réfugié à Paul Patience Nguimbous, un homosexuel camerounais qui craignait de retourner dans son pays à cause de son orientation sexuelle. «Je me sens comme libéré, comme rescapé», a confié à Têtu le jeune homme de 29 ans.